PROPOSALS

THE conversation just related took place in a passage where the two men
kept watch outside the room in which Everell was temporarily confined.
It was a small chamber with an iron-barred window, and the Jacobite sat
gazing into the flame of a candle on the mantelpiece, while his fate was
being discussed in the drawing-room. He was still under the restraint of
the cords, which, like that of lock and key, was warranted by his
persistent refusal to give his word that he would not escape. The master
of the house had personally seen, however, that the prisoner’s
surroundings were made as endurable as the necessities of the case
allowed.

“So this,” said Foxwell, as he then rejoined his guests in the
drawing-room, “is what lay behind our Georgiana’s prudery. How the deuce
could she have met the Jacobite?”

“The question is,” said Rashleigh, “what the deuce are you going to do
with the Jacobite?”

“I wish I knew,” replied Foxwell, looking at the document presented to
him by Jeremiah Filson. “’Tis clear enough what our duty is, as loyal
subjects, and so forth.”

“’Twere a pity such a lovable fellow should be thrown to the hangman,”
said Mrs. Winter.

“A thousand pities,” said Lady Strange. “And so loving a fellow, too! If
ever a man had a true lover’s look!—well, to be sure, the little
Georgiana is a pretty thing, but—”

“But the young blade might look higher if he had better taste—is that
what you were thinking, Diana?” asked Mrs. Winter, with ironical
artlessness.

“No such thing, neither!” said Lady Strange, indignantly. “I admire him
for his constancy—for I warrant he is constant to her, and will be
constant to her; and I wouldn’t have him else, not for the world. Thank
Heaven, I am above envy.”

A slight emphasis upon the I—so slight as scarce to seem intended—was
perhaps what drew from the other lady the answer:

“Don’t be too sure of the young fellow’s constancy. You know, Diana
dear, you always have been somewhat credulous of men’s constancy—’tis
your own fidelity makes you trustful, of course.”

“Doubt as much as you like, Isabella: we are all aware you have
particular reasons to complain of men’s fickleness.”

Feeling that the preservation of the peace required an immediate
diversion, Rashleigh broke in with the first remark that occurred to him
as appropriate:

“Certainly this young man is a lover who has risked his life for the
sake of love.”

“Ay, and that proves you and I were right at dinner, Cousin Rashleigh!”
cried Lady Strange.

“Hardly so, my lady,” said Foxwell. “This young gentleman merely
_risked_ his life in coming to meet his beloved. He by no means counted
surely upon losing it: his active endeavours to escape prove that. Mrs.
Winter’s contention, which I supported, was that no man would
deliberately give his life for the sake of love—by which I mean the
passion of love, itself, apart from pity or duty or other consideration.
Now, had this gentleman come to meet his beloved, knowing certainly that
death awaited him in consequence, then indeed he would have proved your
assertion.”

“Well, and how do you know he wouldn’t have done so, if the
circumstances had required?” asked Lady Strange. “For my part, I believe
he would.”

“Provided, of course,” added Rashleigh, “that by failing to meet her he
might lose her for all time.”

“That is implied, certainly,” said Foxwell. “The alternative we are
imagining is: Death for love gratified—life for love renounced.”

“Catch a fellow of his years and looks choosing death on any such terms,
if the choice were offered him,” said Mrs. Winter, derisively.

“’Tis precisely his youth that would make him give all for love,” said
Rashleigh; “the more so if this be his first serious love.—But what _is_
to be his fate, Bob? If you hand him over to the authorities, he will
certainly be hanged, unless that paper lies.”

“Egad, I was just thinking,” replied Foxwell, with the faint smile that
comes with a piquant idea; “an Italian duke, a century or two ago, would
have amused his visitors, and settled the point of our dispute, by
putting this young gentleman to the test. I must say, experiments upon
the human passions have an interest, though the loggish minds of our
countrymen don’t often rise to such refinements of curiosity.”

“I see nothing in it to balk at,” said Rashleigh. “At the worst, the
young man can but die, as he must if you do your plain duty as a loyal
subject. ’Twould really be giving him a chance for his life. It seems an
excellent way out of your own indecision as to what you should do with
him: you transfer his fate from your will to his.”

“I believe he does love the girl,” said Foxwell, revolving the notion in
his mind. “And certainly his life is in my power—we may let him go if we
choose, and the government be none the wiser, or we may dutifully hand
him over to the law. We can offer him, on the one hand, his life and
freedom if he will give up his love upon the instant and for ever, not
to set eyes upon the girl again: on the other hand, a brief period of
grace, which he may pass with her on the footing of a favoured suitor,
on condition of handing him over to the authorities at the end.”

“And if he decline to choose?” asked Rashleigh.

“Then I can send word straightway to Jeremiah Filson to fetch the
officers. In that event, young Troilus will lose both life and love.
Either choice will be a gain upon that.—But you may save your pity, Lady
Strange: he will choose to live and go free, depend on it.”

“I will not depend on it. He will obey the dictates of his love, and
choose death rather than never see her again.”

“Indeed, I shall not be surprised if he does so,” said Rashleigh. “You
take too little account of his youth, Bob. When men are of his age, and
of an ardent nature, their love shuts out everything else from their
view. ’Tis their universe. Beyond it, or apart from it, there’s
nothing.”

“Fudge and nonsense!” exclaimed Mrs. Winter. “He will prefer to run away
and live to love another day.”

“We shall see,” cried Lady Strange, “if Bob will really put it to the
test. I’m so sure of the man, I’ll lay five guineas he will choose love
and death.”

“Well, my lady, I’ll take your wager,” said Foxwell. “Your five guineas
will be a cheap price for the lesson, that we men are not such devoted
creatures as you do us the honour to suppose.”

“Never fear my doing _you_ that honour, Foxwell. But thank you for
taking the wager. I’m dying of curiosity to see how the young fellow
will receive the proposal.”

“There is no need you should linger in suspense,” replied Foxwell,
pulling the bell. “Let us have the matter out now, while we’re in the
humour.”

Taking up his sword, for use only in case of some desperate attempt on
the prisoner’s part, Foxwell stationed himself at the door of the room,
whence he could see across the hall and up the passage to the place of
confinement. He then sent Caleb to request, in terms of great
politeness, Mr. Everell’s company in the drawing-room, whither he was to
be attended, of course, by the two men now guarding him.

While Caleb was upon this errand, it was possible for Foxwell both to
keep eyes on the passage and to talk with his friends.

“Will you bet five guineas against me, too, Bob?” asked Rashleigh.

“Nay, I’ll do that,” put in Mrs. Winter, quickly, “and five more, if you
like.”

“Done—ten guineas,” said Rashleigh.

“Good!” cried Mrs. Winter. “I believe I know how far a man is capable of
going for love’s sake—even when young and of an ardent nature.”

“For all your talk,” answered Rashleigh, with barefaced affability,
“you’ll not make me believe you’ve never found a man who would face
death for love of you.”

“I may have found some who said they would,” replied Mrs. Winter,
complacently swallowing the flattery despite all her sophistication,
“but that’s a different thing. Let us see how this Romeo comes out of
the test.”

“How are you going to put the matter to him, Foxwell?” asked Lady
Strange.

“Leave it to me,” was the reply. “Either he shall go free and never see
her again, or he shall be our guest here for a stipulated time, and then
be given up. The only question is, how long shall that time be?”

“A day,” suggested Mrs. Winter.

“Cruel!—a month,” said Lady Strange.

“I cannot have him on my hands so long,” said Foxwell. “Say a week.
Shall the wagers stand, on that condition?”

Rashleigh made no objection, and the two ladies were brought to a hasty
acceptance of the compromise by Foxwell placing his finger on his lip in
warning of the prisoner’s approach.

Everell came as rapidly as the restraint upon his motions would allow;
and stopped as soon as he had entered the room, to avoid proceeding
farther with his shuffling steps before the company. Foxwell had a chair
placed for him. Caleb and the two other men were ordered to stand ready
outside the door, which was then closed. Foxwell sat down near the
ladies and Rashleigh, so that the Jacobite now found himself confronted
by four pairs of eyes, which paid him the compliment of a well-bred
regard vastly different in its effect from the rude stare of the vulgar.
His own glance had swiftly informed him that Georgiana was not present.

He sat with undissembled curiosity as to what this interview might
unfold. He had obeyed the summons with alacrity, eager to be informed of
what was to come. He was neither defiant nor crushed; exhibited neither
sullenness nor bravado. In the solitude of his place of detention, he
had been tormented with the reproach of having brought trouble upon
Georgiana; and he had been sobered and humbled by the knowledge that at
last his rashness had laid him by the heels. What could he say to
Roughwood now, if that wise friend were there to see the fulfilment of
his warnings? But these feelings did not banish hope. Everell’s nature
was still buoyant. He was, at least, under the same roof with Georgiana.
Death seemed far away: he scarcely thought of it as the natural sequel
to his situation. He now looked with frank inquiry at the face of his
principal captor for enlightenment as to what was intended concerning
him.

“Sir, I have solicited this meeting,” began Foxwell, “in order to
discuss our positions—yours and my own. My friends were witnesses to the
occurrence by which you fell into my—that is to say, by which you became
my guest. They know why I felt bound to detain you, and they will share
my confidence to the end of the affair. It would, of course, be their
right—perhaps their duty as loyal subjects—to act independently in the
interests of Government, if I chose not to act so. But they have agreed
to abide by my course, whatever that shall be. So it is well, I think,
that they should be present at this interview.”

“I am far from making the least objection, sir,” said Everell, bowing to
the ladies and regarding the whole company with an amiable though
expectant composure.

“You are aware, of course,” Foxwell continued, “of what will follow if I
give you up to the nearest justice. Perhaps you may not know that one
Jeremiah Filson is actively concerning himself about you in this
neighbourhood on behalf of the Government. He has caused a warrant to be
issued against you, he is circulating descriptions which show him to be
an accurate and thorough observer.” Foxwell put his hand upon the paper
which Rashleigh had laid on the table. “He waits only for news of your
whereabouts, to bring the constables upon you. He will be one of the
witnesses against you, and the other, I believe, is now at York or
Carlisle—I know not which, but the judges have been trying and
sentencing your unlucky comrades by the score, gentlemen as well as the
lower orders.”

As Foxwell paused, Everell, for want of knowing what better reply to
make, answered in a half-smiling manner, though his heart was beating
rather faster than usual:

“Sir, I have nothing to say to this—except that ’tis a pity so many poor
fellows should die for being on the losing side. Nor do I own that I am
the man you think.”

“Too many circumstances leave me no doubt on that point, sir,” said
Foxwell, with a serenity which showed the hopelessness of any contest on
the ground of identity. “’Tis in your power and right certainly to deny
and temporize; but, if you choose to tire me by those methods, I have
only to deliver you up at once.”

There was something in the speaker’s quiet voice and cold eyes that gave
the whole possibility—trial, sentence, the end—a reality and nearness it
had never had in Everell’s mind before. He was startled into a gravity
he had not previously felt.

“But,” Foxwell went on, “if you choose that we shall understand each
other, there is a chance for your life—a condition upon which you may
have immediate liberty.”

Everell looked frankly grateful. The form of death assigned to traitors
and rebels, with its dismal preliminaries and circumstances, had not
allured him the brief while he had contemplated it. It wore a vastly
different aspect from that of a glorious end in the self-forgetfulness
of battle. “Immediate liberty?” he repeated, with some eagerness.

“With my warranty,” continued Foxwell, “that neither my friends, nor
myself, nor my servants shall pursue you, or give information against
you, or in any manner hinder your departure from this country—”

“Sir,” Everell broke in, “I should be an ingrate not to be moved by such
generosity—you are worthy to be her kinsman!—”

“Upon the single condition—” went on Foxwell, without any change of
manner.

“Ah, yes; conditions are but reasonable,” said Everell.

“The single condition,” said Foxwell, “that you will never again, during
the whole length of your life, see or communicate with my niece:—and for
this you will give me your word of honour.”

“Never—see her—again?” said Everell, faintly, gazing at Foxwell as if
unsure of having heard aright.

“Upon your word of honour,” replied Foxwell, who did not alter either
his attitude of easy grace nor his tone of courteous nonchalance during
the interview; “but, indeed, as a part of the condition, you will leave
this neighbourhood at once. That will be for the comfort of all of us
concerned, as well as for your own safety. If, after twenty-four hours,
you are seen hereabouts, or in this county, I shall be freed of my
obligation: in that event, beware of Jeremiah Filson and the justice’s
men. And, in the meantime, my niece will be inaccessible. I will make it
my care to see that she is soon married, so there will be no hope for
you in that quarter. But as the old ballad says that love will find out
the way,—though I greatly doubt the possibility in this case,—I must,
nevertheless, make doubly sure by requiring, as I have said, your word
of honour that you will never of your own intention see or address her,
directly or indirectly, in this world. That is all, I think.”

“It is too much that you ask!” cried Everell. “Your condition is too
hard—I can’t accept it—no, sir, I cannot.”

“Yet if I hand you over to the law straightway,” said Foxwell, quietly,
“you will not see her again.”

“There will still be the possibility of escape,” replied Everell; “there
will be no binding word of honour. But go free without _one_ hope of
ever meeting her again?—no, make the condition something else, I beg
you, sir; or hand me over to the law, and let me retain my right of
escape.”

Lady Strange’s eyes shone with applause, but Rashleigh and Mrs. Winter
waited for the scene to continue. After a moment’s silence, Foxwell
began anew:

“Well, sir, I must congratulate my niece upon your devotion. Rather than
give her up for ever, you will risk death. You hazard all upon your
chance of escape. ’Tis a slight chance enough: that you will own.”

“No doubt,” replied Everell, in a faltering voice; “but ’tis something.”

“Suppose it fails you. Then, in losing your life, you lose the lady,
too. Your chance of seeing her again is even smaller than the small
chance of your escape: you may be sure that special precautions will be
taken with you—such that your chance will be hardly worth calling by
that name.”

Everell sighed deeply, and it is no use denying that he looked plaintive
and miserable.

“But what if I propose an alternative?” said Foxwell. “What if I offer
to make you our guest here—for a week—as free as any other guest, except
that you may not leave the grounds or put yourself in danger of
discovery,—a guest with all the opportunities of meeting my niece that a
recognized suitor might have?”

It was a moment before Everell could speak. “Sir, what does all this
mean?” he cried. “Is it a jest? In God’s name, don’t hold out such a
prospect merely to play with me.”

“’Tis a prospect in your power of realizing, upon my honour.”

“Then your generosity—but generosity is too mean a word—I know not how
to describe your action, nor to express my gratitude.”

“Pray wait till you have heard the condition: to everything there is a
price.”

“Whatever it be, ’twere cheap payment for such happiness. I won’t
disguise my love for your niece, sir: why should I, when I began by
confessing it? To be with her all the day, without anxiety or risk—”

“For a week, I said.”

“Such a week will be worth a lifetime!” Everell declared.

“’Tis well you count it so, for that is the price at which it is
offered. At the end of the week, I mean, you shall be given up to the
authorities. If you accept this proposal, you will engage upon your
honour to surrender yourself at the appointed hour, and to forego all
chance of escape—though at the same time every precaution will be taken
to make sure of you.”

“At the end of the week—given up?” repeated Everell, again startled and
open-eyed.

“Given up to the officers of justice, with advice to use special care
against your escape—though, indeed, your word of honour will be the
better security. As to what will follow—your conveyance to York, your
trial, and the rest—” Foxwell gave a shrug in lieu of finishing the
sentence.

“A week,” said Everell, rather to himself than to the company, “a week
with _her_—to be absolutely _sure_ of that!—”

“A week with her,” said Foxwell, “and then to face the judges. A few
tedious days of imprisonment and trial—hardly to be reckoned as days of
life—and ‘the rest is silence,’ as the play says. How many possible
years of life is it you would forfeit to pay for this week? Two score,
perhaps,—and some of them years of fine young manhood, too. Well, the
choice is yours. You may give life for love, if you wish. Or love for
life, if you will:—my first offer still holds—’tis still in your power
to go from this neighbourhood at once, perfectly free, and to find your
way abroad. Egad, when I think how many joyous days and merry nights lie
between your age and mine!—Life is pleasant in France.”

“I well know that,” said Everell, whose thoughts had responded to the
other’s words.

“There are friends, I dare say, who would not be sorry to see you
again.”

“Friends, yes,—dear friends!” mused Everell.

“’Tis not fair, Foxwell,” Lady Strange put in; “you are influencing
him.”

“I say no more. Those are the alternatives, sir. Once your choice is
made, there shall be no going back upon it: Love, or life:—if you
decline to choose, you are pretty certain to lose both.—Well, sir, take
a few minutes to think upon it. I see these ladies are eager to hear
your decision, but for once you may leave them to their impatience.”

Everell was not heedful of the ladies. Certain words were echoing in his
mind, each accompanied by a rush of the ideas attached to it:
life—love—friends—joyous days and merry nights—but never to see her
again!—to fly from this neighbourhood, from the garden.—Ah, the dear
garden! To be with the adored one for seven days—blissful days, with her
by his side, her hand in his, her eyes softening to his, her voice—

“Sir, could you doubt a moment?” said the young lover. “I choose her!—a
week with her! I hold you to your word—I’ll not shirk mine when the time
comes.”

“Bravo! I knew it!” cried Lady Strange, clapping her hands.

“Lady Strange, I owe you five guineas,” said Foxwell, gallantly. “Mr.
Everell, at this hour a week hence—ten o’clock, shall we call it?—you
are my prisoner.” He rang the bell, and Caleb entered. “Cut this
gentleman’s cords—there has been a mistake. And nothing is to be said of
his presence here, or of what has occurred to-night—nay, I’ll give
orders separately to all the servants.” He waited till Everell stood
entirely freed; he then sent a message to Miss Foxwell, asking her to
come to the drawing-room if she had not yet retired.

“I take it,” he explained to Everell, when Caleb had left the room, “you
would have her know at once how matters have fallen out—as far as you
would have her know at all for the present—that you are to be our guest
for awhile, at least.”

“Certainly,—but”—and here Everell turned pale—“she must not know the
condition.”

“I agree with you there,” said Foxwell, smiling. “For the comfort of
both of us, she had best not know—till afterward, at least.”

“Afterward!” echoed Everell; “and what will be her feelings then? I
hadn’t thought of that.”

“We have all overlooked that, I own. We have thought only of you and
your feelings. But you need not be dismayed—the most devoted of women
are not inconsolable.”

“’Tis not that I think she loves me much; but she is of so tender a
nature, when she learns the price I shall have paid—yet how could I have
chosen otherwise, even considering her feelings?—what would she have
thought, had I preferred to renounce her? Or suppose I had declined to
choose?”

“Why, then, her feelings would be the same, on your being handed over to
justice at once, as they will be a week hence. Nay, indeed, in a week’s
time she may not be as sorry to be rid of you. We shall see when the
time comes: if need be, we can hide the truth from her then as now—when
the week is over, you can take your leave upon some pretext, and trust
time to efface your image from her heart. Take my advice, trouble
yourself not about her feelings: be happy for a week, and don’t think of
‘afterward.’”

Everell sighed, but in truth he could not at that time see how her
feelings could have been spared in any measure by either of the other
courses open to him. Indeed, it seemed to him that fidelity to her
required him to elect as he had done; that any other choice would have
been a renunciation of her, a treason to love. So let him be happy for a
week: at the end, it would be time to think how to save her feelings.

“Very well, sir,” he said to Foxwell; “let her know nothing but that I
am to be your guest for the present.”

“So be it; and you will help us all to keep your presence here a secret
from the outside world. Best never appear on the side of the house
toward the road.—But we can talk of that to-morrow, at breakfast. I will
lay the servants under the heaviest charges, that they will hardly dare
mention you to one another. If you are discovered by Jeremiah Filson or
any such, not only may I fall under suspicion, but your week may be cut
short.”

“I will be cautious, sir, if I have never been so in my life before.”

“And you had best go by some other name in the household. Shall we call
you—ah—Mr. Charlson?”

Everell signified his willingness, and the next moment Georgiana
entered, still dressed as she had been in the garden. Her face was pale
and anxious, but her eyes brightened as they fell upon Everell released
from his bonds. She was close followed by Prudence, whose nose shone red
with the weeping in which she had copiously indulged to the delight and
self-approval of her romantic soul.

“Georgiana,” said Foxwell, before his niece could speak, “this
gentleman, Mr. Charlson, will be our guest for a time. His visit must,
for certain reasons, be kept secret; and you, I am sure, will not fail
in the duties of a hostess. I am going now to give orders for his
accommodation.—Await me here, if you please, Mr. Charlson. Ladies, I
will join you presently—in the library—and you, Rashleigh.”

The three London visitors took the hint and sauntered into the adjoining
room as Foxwell passed out to the hall.

“What does it mean, Everell?” asked Georgiana, in astonishment. “He has
become your friend?”

“I am to be your guest, as he has said,” replied Everell, smiling as he
took her hand. “I shall be near you all the long day—as many hours as
you find it in your heart to give me. Sweet, ’tis too great happiness!”
He put his arm gently around her.

“Happiness!” said she, looking up into his eyes. “’Tis more than I dare
believe. My uncle shelters you and befriends you!—Then there is nothing
to separate us—we may be happy together, day after day—for ever!”

He smiled, and summoned his wonted gaiety. “Well, not—quite—for ever, my
darling!”

The smile and the gaiety had so nearly died out ere he finished those
few words, that he was fain to draw her closer to him, that she might
not see his face.

LET us do Mr. Foxwell justice. He had honestly believed that Everell
would choose to renounce love and be set free. This indeed would have
been the most humane event that any reasonable person could have
expected Foxwell to bring about. He might, of course, have played the
part of a beneficent deity, and at once aided the Jacobite’s escape,
approved of his love, and sanctioned the future union of the lovers. But
he was no Mr. Allworthy. Indeed it is more than doubtful whether Mr.
Allworthy himself would have carried benevolence to that length. A
flying rebel, with a price on his head, whose possessions in the
kingdom, if he had any, were liable to confiscation, was not the suitor
a young lady’s relation could be supposed to favour offhand. One even
fears that the virtuous Allworthy would rather have interpreted the
duties of loyalty in all strictness, and placed the captive in the hands
of justice immediately. But Foxwell, with all his selfishness and
callousness, was not the man to make patriotism a vice to that extent,
unless there was something to gain or save by it. He might be a
heartless rake, but he was too much a gentleman to practise that degree
of Roman virtue without any personal motive of profit or fear.

So the best course had seemed to be to send the fugitive packing, and
nip this love-affair in the bud. And that was what Foxwell had supposed
would result from the alternative offers. In any reasonable issue of the
matter, there must have been separation for the lovers and sorrow for
Georgiana. Would that sorrow be ultimately greater for the postponement,
and for the probable deepening of the attachment between the lovers?
Perhaps; but Foxwell had not looked for this outcome. The cruelty of his
little experiment upon the human passions, then, consisted in his
exposing the young lover’s heart, and playing upon it, for the amusement
of onlookers. The cruelty of the intention was not lessened by the fact
that Everell himself, wholly concerned as to his fate and his love, did
not at the time see himself as a man exhibited and played upon.

Perhaps Foxwell and his friends underwent some self-reproach. However
that be, it is certain they had the delicacy to refrain from spying or
intruding upon the lovers during the week for which Everell had so
devotedly bargained. The party of four went their way, and the party of
two, attended by the faithful Prudence, went theirs, both parties
meeting twice or thrice each day at meals. On these occasions, a
pleasant courtesy prevailed, and there was no rallying of the lovers, no
inquisitive observation of them. Indeed it is doubtful if the feelings
of young lovers were ever more nicely considered. The two found
themselves always favoured by that conspiracy which good-natured people
customarily form for the benefit of a young lady and her favoured
suitor. Everell found that he was not even expected to remain at the
table with the other gentlemen after the ladies had gone, nor was it
required that he and Georgiana should join the latter at the tea-table
or at cards. The lovers’ chief place of resort within the house was the
library, a room quite neglected by the others, who preferred only the
newest plays, poems, and magazines for their reading. In good weather
the lovers sat in the old garden, or strolled in the park, Foxwell and
his visitors going farther afield for their outdoor amusements, and
receiving no company from the neighbourhood. Thus the young couple, from
their meeting at breakfast to their parting at night, passed all the
hours together, in a singular freedom from observant eyes.

We shall imitate Foxwell and his friends in this abstention from prying;
not because the love-making of the two young people is sacred from us,
but because such love-making, interesting as it is to the participants,
is sadly tedious to the spectator. The love-stories of actual people are
interesting for the events that give rise to their love, and to which
their love gives rise; not (excepting the critical moments of the
awakening, the unintentional disclosure, the first confession, and such)
for the regular course of its own manifestation. The reader who has
dreaded the slow account of a week’s love-making—the sighs, the gazes,
the silences, the hand-holdings, the poutings, the forgivings, and all
the rest—may breathe freely. The peculiar pathos of the situation of
these young lovers—a pathos as yet perceptible only to Everell—did not
much alter their conduct from that of other young lovers. For Everell
made fair shift to put the future out of sight, to regard only the day:
he was resolved not to look forward till the last hour of his term
should arrive. As long as he was with Georgiana, he could keep to this:
’twas only when he had retired to his own chamber that visions of the
approaching end would harass him in the darkness; only then would he
count the hours that yet remained.

On the eventful night of his capture, and after Georgiana had retired,
Everell had obtained Foxwell’s permission to communicate with John Tarby
by means of the keeper, who, as he had learned from Tarby himself, was
privately on excellent terms with the poacher. By this medium, then,
Everell had taken leave of his former host with due expressions of
thanks, both in words and in gold, and had obtained the cloak-bag
containing his travelling equipment. Tarby had been left under the
impression that the young gentleman, after being sheltered secretly for
a time at Foxwell Court, was to proceed upon his journey.

That indeed was the impression of the servants at Foxwell Court, and of
Georgiana herself. Everell did not tell her how long or short was to be
his visit, and she, glad enough to postpone all thought of his
departure, never broached the subject. Only once did he hint at the
probability of his leaving her before many days. It was when, on
Saturday evening, she spoke of going to church next day. “Nay,” he
pleaded, with a sudden alarm in his eyes, “you will have Sundays enough
for church-going, when I am not here.” It was not necessary to say more;
but he had to feign excessive lightness of heart to quiet the vague
apprehension his own earnestness had raised in her mind.

Foxwell and his friends appeared at church that Sunday without
Georgiana. Her absence was noted by one important person, at least, for,
after the service, Squire Thornby accosted Foxwell outside the church
porch, with a lack of preliminary salutation, blurting out:

“How now, neighbour Foxwell, ’tis no illness, I hope, keeps Miss Foxwell
home such a fine day?”

“No illness, thank you,” replied Foxwell, mildly; “nothing of
consequence, that is: my niece slept rather badly last night, because of
the wind.”

“I’m glad ’tis nothing serious. Tell her I said so, with my best
compliments. Tell her she was missed. We could better ’a’ spared you,
Foxwell,—and that’s a true word spoken in jest, if ever there was one.”

This pleasantry was accompanied by a smile of such confident insolence
that the onlookers set their ears for the piercing retort they thought
sure to come. It was on the tip of Foxwell’s tongue; but he checked it,
dropped his eyes, and sought refuge in a feebly counterfeited laugh. His
enemy looked around triumphantly, and walked off. Foxwell, who saw
nothing in the Squire’s concern for Georgiana but a pretext for rudeness
to himself, digested his chagrin in silence, though aware of the
surprised glances of Rashleigh and the ladies, to whom he had mentioned
his former method of dealing with this booby.

The next morning, as Foxwell was about to set forth on horseback with
his friends, the gamekeeper sought an interview. Being ordered to speak
out, the man said that Squire Thornby’s people had again broken down the
fence on t’other side of the four beeches, and were busy putting it up
again on the hither side. “Us were going to drive them back, and were
a’most come to blows, when the Squire’s agent told us we’d best come
first to your Honour, and see as if you hadn’t changed your mind about
the rights o’ that bound’ry. He said it in such a manner, sir, as how I
thought maybe there was some new agreement, or the courts had decided,
or something—begging pardon if I’m wrong, sir. So, after a few words, I
thought I’d better see your Honour afore us starts a-breaking heads.”

Foxwell had been able to keep a clear brow, and to stifle a bitter sigh,
but he could not prevent his face from turning a shade darker. His
visitors, who had heard the keeper’s tale, looked with curiosity for the
answer. After a moment’s silence, Foxwell said: “Oh, damn the
fence!—’tis no matter:—yes, we’ve made a new agreement; let Thornby’s
men alone,” and turned his horse to ride off with his guests.

He was by turns morose and excessively mirthful on that day’s excursion.
In the afternoon, as the four were riding up the slope toward the house,
they saw a mounted gentleman emerge through the gateway. Nearing them,
he proved to be Thornby. Foxwell dissembled his inward rage, and had
sufficient self-command to greet his enemy with polite carelessness.

“I suppose you came to see me in regard to the fence,” he added, reining
in his horse. His companions also stopped, on pretence of viewing the
distant sun-bathed hills to the west; but they listened to what passed
between their host and his foe.

“Fence?” said Thornby. “Oh no, sir,—no need to see you in regard to
that. I don’t consult anybody as to what I do on my own land—not even
such a wise fellow as you, Foxwell.”

“Oh, I merely thought it required some particular occasion to persuade
you to visit us at Foxwell Court. I heard you were—rebuilding the fence
by the four beeches.”

“So I am, that’s true enough. I intend to do a considerable amount of
rebuilding of that sort; but I sha’n’t need to come to Foxwell Court on
that account. No; ’twas just the whim brought me to Foxwell Court
to-day—just a neighbourly visit, that’s all.”

“Then pray turn back with us,” said Foxwell.

“No, thankye, sir. I’ve got business awaiting me at home. Glad to find
Miss Foxwell is quite herself again.—No, I won’t trouble you in respect
of my fences, Foxwell,—not me. Good evening to you.”

The Squire’s assured, derisive manner made his speeches doubly
exasperating. As Foxwell rode on with his guests, he could only suppose
that his enemy had come to Foxwell Court for the purpose of exulting
over him upon this new settlement of the old boundary dispute. As the
reader knows, however, Foxwell Court had another attraction for Mr.
Thornby. He had, in fact, rejoiced at Foxwell’s absence, and, upon
arrival, had asked to see Miss Foxwell. The servant found her walking in
the garden with Everell; but she sent her excuses to the visitor, whom
she then casually described to Everell as a neighbour having some
business with her uncle. But the servant presently returned, saying that
Mr. Thornby declared his business important, and would come to her in
the garden if it was a trouble for her to go to him in the house.

Fearing a second refusal might make the Squire too inquisitive,
Georgiana obtained leave from Everell to go and get rid of this
gentleman. As she entered the drawing-room, where Thornby waited, she
began abruptly by saying that she was very much occupied, and that she
hoped his business would not take many minutes.

“Why, now, I’ll tell you truth, Miss Foxwell,” was the reply, “’twas
just for another glimpse of yourself that I came.”

“But you said important business,” answered Miss Foxwell, looking her
displeasure.

“Well, and it was important to me. When I thought of you, I couldn’t let
my horse pass the gate without turning in. To tell the truth again,
’twas the thought of you that made me ride in this here direction. You
wasn’t at church yesterday—I’d been looking forward to see you there.
For my life, I ha’n’t been able to get your face out of my head this
whole week past, odd rabbit me if I have!—not that I ever wanted to,
neither.” The rustic gentleman had lapsed into a state of red-faced
confusion which at another time Georgiana would have pitied; but just
now she was merciless in showing her annoyance.

“I’m vastly flattered, Mr. Thornby; but you have come at a time when I’m
very much taken up with my own affairs—very much taken up. So I beg
you’ll excuse me.”

“Oh, now, wait a minute, Miss Foxwell, as you’ve got a kind Christian
heart. Why, rat me! if you knew as how I’ve pined to see you again since
t’other day, I’ll warrant you’d never go to treat me so unneighbourly.
If you knew as how—”

“Really I must go, Mr. Thornby,—really.”

“Why can’t we be neighbourly, Miss Foxwell,—us two? Your uncle and me
ha’n’t always been sworn brothers, so to speak, but I think as how we
shall be mending that; and if you’d only just—er—ah—be neighbourly
like—”

“I’m perfectly willing we should be good neighbours, Mr.
Thornby,—perfectly. But just now if you’ll do me the favour to excuse—”

“Ah, that’s what I hoped for from such a sweet, gentle face, Miss
Foxwell. Perfectly willing to be good neighbours. You make me a happy
man, by the lord Harry, you do that! Ecod, if you knew as how I’ve laid
awake nights this week past—”

Georgiana, convinced that fair means would not serve, feigned a sudden
dizziness, which threw the Squire into such embarrassment, as he knew
nothing of what to do for a lady in a faint, that he was very glad to
leave the field, though he manfully remained until she declared she was
better and would entirely recover if left alone. As soon as she saw him
ride out of the courtyard, she went back to Everell in the garden.

“How long you stayed!” said he.

“Nay, if you knew this gentleman!—so stupid, and repeating himself a
hundred times:—and after all, ’twas nothing I could be of use in.”

Alluded to in this careless manner, the personality of Thornby awakened
no curiosity in Everell’s mind. He vaguely remembered the name as that
of a landowner in the neighbourhood, whom the innkeeper and John Tarby
had mentioned. How glad Mr. Foxwell would have been could he have felt a
like indifference with regard to the Squire! The reader is aware of
their encounter as Thornby was riding down the slope that afternoon. As
soon after that as Foxwell found himself alone with Rashleigh, his
vexation broke out in words.

“Damn that Thornby! Damn, damn, damn him!”

“The gentleman you were accustomed to take down in company, didn’t you
tell us?” said Rashleigh with marked innocence.

“Ay, George, laugh at me: I deserve it, I own. But something has
happened since I told you that. No doubt you remember, the fellow came
to see me the other day. Do you know what he showed me then?”

“Not I—unless it was a list of men he had killed.”

“Alas, nothing of that sort. To make a long story short, years ago in
London, when I was in bad straits, I wrote a foolish letter—imbecile
that I was!—wrote it in the madness of anger, poverty, imprisonment,—in
the recklessness of drink.”

“We make such blunders now and then, certainly,” was Rashleigh’s sage
comment.

“I soon enough realized my blunder. The recipient of the letter—he is
dead now—told me he had burnt it. It contained things I should be sorry
to have everybody see.”

“But if it was burnt?”

“It wasn’t: there was trickery somewhere. And the letter is now in the
possession of this Thornby. ’Tis the real letter—I recognized it. He
will show it to the world if I provoke him. Till I can get it from
him—and heaven knows how that is to be done: he is a cunning fellow, and
on the _qui vive_—well, now you understand my meekness. He really has me
at his mercy—hardly less than I have the Jacobite yonder at mine.”

From the window the gentlemen could see Everell and Georgiana strolling
within the verge of the park. As Foxwell evinced no mind to say more
about Thornby or the letter, but rather seemed to dismiss them with a
sigh of disgust, Rashleigh took the cue for a change of subject.

“Will you really hand over the Jacobite, after all, Bob?”

“I haven’t thought much of that matter,” replied Foxwell. “I frankly
didn’t expect him to choose as he did.”

“His time is coming to an end,” said Rashleigh. “You will soon have to
decide.”

“Why, deuce take it, has he not decided for himself? What can I do but
hand him over? Were I to let him go free, he would probably be caught,
nevertheless: in the end I should be in trouble for having harboured
him.”

“You’ll pardon me, of course, for introducing the subject. We’ve all
avoided it, as you set the example of doing. But to-day Lady Strange was
hoping that you could find it in your heart to let the young fellow go.”

“Oh, I could find it in my heart; but should I find it to my interest?
Several possibilities have occurred to me, but they all seem attended by
risk or inconvenience. The safest and easiest course is clearly to
observe both the law and our agreement. The man Filson is still in the
village. He seems to have an instinct that his prey is in the
neighbourhood—nay, as he looked at me yesterday at church, I could
almost imagine he suspected something. He has a clue, perhaps. He told
Caleb he might be hereabouts for another fortnight. So you see—well, I
can make up my mind at the last moment if need be—one can always toss a
coin. ’Tis time we were changing our clothes.”

On the afternoon of the last day of Everell’s week, something occurred
to bring Foxwell to a decision without recourse to the toss of a coin.
Georgiana having mentioned to Everell a miniature portrait of herself,
he had eagerly expressed a desire to see it. He had thought she would
send Prudence for it, but Georgiana, saying that she alone could find
it, and that she would return in a minute, left Everell in the garden.
As she entered the hall, on the way to her apartments, she saw her uncle
there in the act of greeting Squire Thornby, who had evidently just
dismounted from his horse. She curtsied, and essayed to pass swiftly to
the stairs, but Thornby intervened.

“Nay, one moment, Miss Foxwell,” said he, with precipitation, and
looking very red in the face. “I’m going to say something to your uncle
that concerns you.” As he stood directly in her way, she had no choice
but to stop. She did not conceal her impatience. “It needn’t keep you
long,” Thornby went on, “for I won’t beat about the bush. Mr. Foxwell, I
may say without vanity I’m a man of some substance as fortunes go in
this here part of the world. And, in course, you know I’m a bachelor.
Not because I’m a woman-hater, but because, to be all open and
aboveboard, I never yet saw the woman in these parts that I thought fit
to be mistress of Thornby Hall—damn me if I ever did!”

“I can understand your feeling, Mr. Thornby,” said Foxwell, while the
Squire paused and glared at both uncle and niece.

“That is to say,” resumed Thornby, “never till a few days ago. Ecod, it
seems more than a few days, one way I look at it! I mean, I saw your
niece—yes, you, Miss Foxwell, I say it to your face. Now the secret’s
out. I hadn’t thought to come to the point so soon—I thought to go
softly, and court the young lady awhile, and so forth—but hang me if I
desire to wait and give somebody else a chance to carry off such a
prize.—Well, what d’ye say, Miss Foxwell?”

Georgiana was quite too confounded to say anything.

“She says you do us a great honour, Mr. Thornby,” put in Foxwell,
discreetly; “a very great honour. My niece, I am sure, is fully sensible
of the honour. But are you aware how small her fortune is?”

“Hang fortunes! I’ve enough for two!” cried Thornby.

“And then, sir,” went on Foxwell, with quiet frankness, “upon her
marriage, you must know, the division of our estate will leave me rather
ill provided for. That would not influence me, were she not so young;
but, as it is, she can very well afford to wait two or three years,
during which I may improve my affairs.”

“You sha’n’t suffer, Foxwell,” said the Squire, bluntly: “you shall come
out of the affair as well provided for as both of you now are together.
But what does the lady say?”

“The lady says, no!” And emphatically she said it, too, now that she had
found her voice. “I thank you very much, Mr. Thornby; but ’tis not to be
heard of!”

“Oh, come now, Miss Foxwell! Don’t be so determined all in a moment.
Consider it—be kind—be—be neighbourly!”

“’Tis not to be heard of, I assure you, Mr. Thornby. No, no, no, I say!
I will never consider it—I will never—” As Thornby still barred her path
to the stairs, she turned suddenly and hastened from the hall by the way
she had entered. After making sure she was not followed, she rejoined
Everell, with an excuse for postponing her quest of the miniature. She
trusted to her uncle to soften the refusal of Thornby’s offer; for she
could not but think, although she had nobody’s word for it, that Foxwell
had decided to favour Everell as her suitor—a turn she attributed to
some assurance of Everell’s prospects in France, which, she supposed,
the fugitive had given Foxwell on the night of the capture. Indeed in no
other way could she account for the strange situation that existed; she
was glad enough to accept without question a state of affairs in which
she found joy for the present and hope for the future.

But her exit from the hall did not finish the scene there. Thornby,
after staring open-mouthed a moment, addressed himself to Foxwell:

“Ecod, why should she fly out like that—well, well, I haven’t the gift
of fine speech. You have that, Foxwell, and I look to you to persuade
her, d’ye hear? I’ll make it worth your while. The day I marry her, you
shall have back that there letter we both know of; but if she won’t have
me, damme if I know what use I sha’n’t make of it!”

“I hold you to that promise,” said Foxwell, quickly, “and to what you
mentioned in regard to terms of settlement.”

“As to providing for you, and so forth? You’ll find me as good as my
word: I’ll have my lawyer ready for yours the minute she gives her
consent.”

“’Tis but a girl’s coyness that stands in the way: we shall break that
in a little time.”

“Nay, no force, neither!” said Thornby. “It must be of her own free
will—she must tell me herself she takes me willingly—you’re to persuade,
not compel.”

“Certainly.”

“I dare say I’d best not see her again to-day,” the Squire faltered.

“Not for a few days, at the least, I should advise.”

“Well, I suppose you know. I’ll do my best to bide patient for two
days.”

“But I scarcely hope to change her mind within a week,” said Foxwell,
thoughtfully.

“I’ll come to see how you fare, nevertheless.—If you _do_ succeed sooner
than you hope, send me word immediately.”

Left alone, Foxwell paced the hall, in cogitation. He was joined
presently by Rashleigh.

“Egad, Bob, your meditations must have grown pleasanter, to make you
smile to yourself.”

“Was I smiling? Well, you must know my excellent niece has received an
offer of marriage—a mighty advantageous one. The little fool spurns it:
the Jacobite stands in the way, of course, and will as long as he is
alive to communicate with her. I shall have to do my duty as a loyal
subject of King George, I see.”

“But will she be the more favourable to another suitor, while the one
she loves is about being hanged?”

“Perhaps I can keep the Jacobite’s fate from her knowledge. ’Tis plain
he hasn’t told her of our bargain: he probably will not tell
her—probably will but announce his departure on some pretext—may indeed
say nothing of it, leaving us to break it. I will deliver him up
to-night, but not in her presence. At ten o’clock his claims cease. If
he has meanwhile prepared her for his going, well and good: if not, she
shall think he has taken sudden leave for his own reasons. Hearing no
more of him, she will put his silence down to inconstancy; in that case,
pride may incline her to the other man. If she learns the truth, she
will be too broken to resist my persuasions long.—I’m sorry for the
rebel: but there’s much at stake for me in the affair—and ’tis only what
he agreed to and expects—what he risked before ever I saw him—his just
deserts under the law. The girl will suffer, too,—but not for many days.
I hope he will not tell her the full truth.”

Everell himself was in doubt as to what he should tell her. He was
trying still to postpone consideration of the end so close at hand. He
was sorely perplexed for her sake, for he knew now how far beyond mere
compassion her love was.

EVERELL’S last meal at Foxwell Court was not marked by lively
conversation. He had his own thoughts, or, rather, his own confused and
whirling state of mind, so that he scarce knew whether the others spoke
or were silent. Outwardly he still maintained a brave face, so that
Georgiana might not yet be alarmed. The young lady herself had never
taken much part in the table talk. Lady Strange and Rashleigh felt the
occasion too sensibly to be capable of easy discourse, and Foxwell knew
a gentleman’s part too well to intrude a gaiety either real or feigned.
He quietly kept the ball rolling, however, with Mrs. Winter, who
alone—save Georgiana—seemed untouched by the shadow of coming events.

As soon as the ladies had finished, Georgiana left the room for the
library. Everell, with a bow to the company, turned to follow her.

Lady Strange, already risen, laid a gentle hand upon his sleeve and
said, softly: “Upon my soul, sir, I pity you!”

He looked at her a moment; then, summoning a smile, answered: “I thank
you from my heart; but ’tis not near ten o’clock. I have some hours yet
remaining. Ladies, your servant.”

When he had gone out, Mrs. Winter said: “So you may keep your pity till
ten o’clock, Diana. Sure the young fellow carries it off well. ’Twill be
worth seeing if he does so to the end. Ten o’clock—’tis several hours
off, and card-playing begins to be tedious. What a long evening ’twill
be!”

“Short enough for those two young lovers,” said Lady Strange, with a
sigh, as she passed to the drawing-room.

“I suppose you have made your arrangements, Bob,” said Rashleigh, when
the two gentlemen were alone; “for delivering him up, I mean.”

“They are very simple. I will send Joseph with a message to Jeremiah
Filson an hour or so before ten o’clock. Filson will require a little
time to muster the justice’s men; he may have to go to Thornby Hall—no
doubt Thornby’s clerk will command the party, to make sure that all is
regular. So ’twill scarce be possible for them to arrive before ten: in
any case, I’ll warn Filson they mustn’t do so. Till ten I may not call
the rebel from Georgiana’s presence. I hope he will leave her in
ignorance. Well, we shall see.”

In the library Georgiana sat reading to her lover. What the words meant,
what the book was, he hardly knew; she would have preferred to be the
listener, but in that case he would have had to keep his eyes upon the
page, and he would rather keep them upon her face. He could interrupt
when he chose, and then her eyes rose to meet his; so that he often
interrupted. Suddenly he remembered the miniature she had started to get
for him in the afternoon; and now the desire to possess it—to have that
image of her beauty to carry with him to the end—grew strong in a
moment. He reminded her.

She rose at once to go to her room for it, saying, as before, that only
she could find it. He followed her through the dining-room; which was
now deserted, as Foxwell and Rashleigh had soon joined the ladies in the
drawing-room. In the wide entrance-hall, as Everell could accompany her
no farther, he caught her hand lightly, and said:

“Don’t be long in finding it, I pray. Remember, every moment—” He
checked himself, and turned the supplication to gaiety by a smile. “Be
considerate of my impatience, dear.”

Struck by his manner, she looked searchingly at his face. But he kissed
her hand in a playful way, and gave it a little toss toward the
stairway; up which she hastened a moment later, reassured.

There was a footman stationed in the entrance-hall, and Everell, not
wishing his mood to be observed, went back into the dining-room to await
Georgiana’s return. He still held in one hand the book from which she
had been reading. He turned the pages, gazing at the words, but
receiving no impression from them. The table remained as the gentlemen
had left it, except that the candelabrum had been removed, only two
candles in wall-sconces remaining to light the room. The fire in the
chimney-place was low, and the air rather chill, for the evening had set
in with a cold wind. “Little do I care, though it freeze and blow,”
thought Everell, standing by the fireplace. “Why does she delay?
Cruel!—but she knows not. The minutes!—the minutes I am losing!”

But in truth she was expeditious, and so quiet in her return that she
entered the room before he had heard her step. He went to her with a
subdued cry, seized the miniature from her hand, and pressed it—and then
the hand itself—with passionate tenderness to his lips.

“It shall never leave me,” he said. “It shall be the last thing I look
upon—it shall feel the last beat of my heart.”

“But that will be many, many years in the future,” said Georgiana, with
a half-comic air of complaint, “and meanwhile you don’t even look at the
picture now!”

“Time enough for that!—Let me look only at you now.”

“What do you mean? There is time enough for looking at me, too. Tell me
if the likeness flatters me.”

“Nothing could do that. ’Tis a lovely portrait—never was a lovelier; but
the eyes are not as sweet as the original’s—nor the face as angelic—nor
the hair as soft—nor the colour as fair—nor the look as tender. ’Tis
nothing to the life—and yet ’tis adorable. ’Twas kindly thought, to give
it me,—more kindly than you know, dear.”

He kissed it once more; then, having placed it carefully in the breast
pocket of his waistcoat, took both her hands, and regarded her with an
intentness that reawoke the vague alarm she had felt in the hall.

“Why do you look in that manner, Everell? Why do you speak so strangely
this evening? You make me almost afraid—for you, that is—nay, for both
of us. What is it?”

“Nothing—nothing, sweet!” But whatever he might say, it was no longer
possible for him to counterfeit either gaiety or unconcern with any
success. “God knows, I would be the same now—I would have us both be the
same now—as we have been all this week. I grudge every thought that we
give to anything but our love. Let us have the full worth of each
moment, to the very end.—Nay, what am I saying? I rave, I think. Yes,
yes, dear, I speak strangely—strangely was well said.”

“Everell, you frighten me! What is behind all this?—what is it you have
in mind?”

“Only you, dear: you, as you are at this instant. There is nothing but
this instant—no past, no future!—there is only _now_, with you in my
arms, and your eyes looking into mine. Oh, if the course of time could
be stopped, and this moment last for ever!”

“I should be content,” said Georgiana, taking refuge in the possibility
that his manner might be the effect of a transient excess of emotion,
such as ardent lovers sometimes experience. “But haven’t we all our
lives in which to love each other? We must only guard against your being
taken. But you’ll be safe once you are out of England—as you will be by
and by—not yet, of course. And then after awhile we shall meet again in
France. My only dread is of the separation meanwhile—’tis fearful to
think of separation, even for a short time, but doubtless it must be—”
She broke off, with a sigh.

“Ay, must be!” Everell replied, in a low voice.

“But it must not be long. I believe my uncle will be glad of an occasion
to visit France. And then, when danger and separation are past, what
happiness!”

She had, it will be seen, formed her own plans for the future; and had
talked of them, too, more than once in the last few days, taking her
lover’s acquiescence for granted, as indeed his manifestations of love
gave her full right to do. Such initiative on the woman’s side is, by a
convention of romancers, assumed to be indelicate; if it be so, then the
world must grant that real women are not the delicate creatures they
have been taken for. Be that as it may, Georgiana’s dreams of the future
had been bitter-sweet hearing to Everell, though he saw nothing
indelicate in her mentioning them. Yet he could not bring himself to
disillusion her. But now at last, when the hour was drawing near—

“Nay, talk not of the future, dear,” he said, holding her close in his
arms, and endeavouring to speak without wildness. “There is only the
present, I say. Life is full of uncertainty. Who can tell? This
separation—it may be final—we may not see each other again.”

“Now you start my fears again!” cried Georgiana. “You puzzle me
to-night, Everell. There’s something in your thoughts—something in your
heart. Look at me: you are pale—one would suppose a calamity was before
us. What is it? Oh, in the name of heaven, tell me!”

“Nay, ’tis nothing, I protest.—And yet you must know too soon. Why not
from me? Who has such love for you as I have? who can feel for you as I
can? who would try so fondly to console?”

“You are right, Everell; let me hear it from you! Oh, speak, dear!”

“’Tis—only this, sweetheart,” he said, when he could command his voice:
“we are to part soon. I am going away.”

“Soon? How soon? Certainly, you must go to France—but not yet.”

“Ay, that is it, dear: I must go, I know not how soon. Perhaps—this very
night.”

“This night? Impossible! You have said nothing to me of going—’tis too
unexpected!”

“Forgive me, dear,” he pleaded, simply. “I wished not to cloud our
happiness with any thought of separation; so I never spoke of—my day of
departure.”

“Nay, but I must have time—to strengthen my heart! And we have arranged
nothing yet—in regard to meeting again—no particulars. There is
everything to be discussed before you go. This separation—how long is it
to last?” Her voice and eyes were on the verge of tears.

“Longer, dear, than I have the heart to tell!—Oh, sweet, forgive,
forgive me! When I bargained for one blissful week, ’twas only of myself
I thought—I weighed my happiness against only the price _I_ was to pay.
I considered not what you might feel—that a week might turn your fancy
into love, and make our parting as cruel for you as for me. Forgive me,
dearest, and charge the sin to my love of you—my unthinking,
inconsiderate love!”

“Nay, dear, there is nothing to forgive,” she said, with sorrowful
compassion. “Parting will be hard—heaven knows it will!—but I must set
my thoughts on our next meeting. The separation will be—somewhat long,
do you say?—ah, that’s sad to hear. How long, Everell?”

He turned his face from her.

“Speak, Everell,” she pleaded; “how long?—a year?”

“Longer than that,” he whispered.

“Longer!—oh, pity me, heaven!”

Besides the doors at either end of this dining-parlour, to the library
and the hall, there was at one side a third, which led to the
drawing-room. This door now opened, and Lady Strange appeared: seeing
the lovers, she closed it gently behind her. They stood clinging to each
other, with looks sorrowful and distraught.

“You have told her, then?” she said, in a tone softened by compassion.

“Almost,” replied Everell; and Georgiana began to sob.

“My poor child,” said Lady Strange, “from my heart I grieve for you.
Sir, we are all much to blame. Had we foreseen this a week ago!—Would
that this week could be recalled, for the sake of this child’s
happiness! I have pleaded with Foxwell; but he is determined to deliver
you up.”

“What!—deliver—” Georgiana became for a moment speechless; then uttered
a scream, and was like to have fallen to the floor, had not Everell
grasped her more tightly in his arms.

“Heaven pity her!—my dear love!”

“Why, then—did she not know?” cried Lady Strange.

“Not the whole truth—only that I was going away.”

He was about to carry Georgiana to a chair, but she suddenly regained
her strength.

“Deliver you up!” she said, excitedly. “My uncle shall not! You shall
put it out of his power! Escape now, while you may! Go—we’ll meet
again.” She essayed to push him toward the hall, keeping her glance the
while on the drawing-room door by which her uncle might enter.

“I cannot,” said Everell. “I’ve given him my word—’twas to purchase this
week of love, sweet.”

“Your word! He shall not claim it of you! Your word!—oh, heaven help me,
you would keep your word though it broke my heart!—honour, you call
it!—’tis men’s madness, women are no such fools!—Nay, forgive me, I
would not love you else. But he shall not hold you to your word. He
shall not deliver you up. He shall release you.” She broke from
Everell’s clasp, and flung open the drawing-room door, calling, “Uncle!
Uncle!”

Foxwell appeared, with some playing cards in his hand. He was slightly
pallid, and wore the frown of one to whom has fallen a vexation he has
dreaded.

“Uncle, you will not deliver him up? You will release him from his word?
You will let him go free, will you not? ’Tis no gain to you that he
should die. Speak!—uncle, tell me you’ll not deliver him up.”

“My child, you do not understand these matters,” replied Foxwell,
patiently resorting to a judicial softness of speech. “Mr. Everell
himself, as a soldier, who assumed the chance of war and lost, knows
what my duty is—knows I once even offered to forget that duty, had he
but accepted the condition.”

“Certainly I have but myself to blame,” said Everell. “For myself I make
no complaint. For her, alas! my heart bleeds. I can but pray she will
soon forget.”

“Forget!” cried Georgiana. “Indeed, no! I say you shall not die,
Everell. Uncle, I beg you, on my knees—his life! Sure you can’t be my
kinsman and refuse—you can’t be a sharer of the same blood as flows in
me, and be so cruel. Answer me, uncle!—you will spare him, will not you?
You say you once offered to forget your duty: if you could forget it
once, you can again, cannot you?”

[Illustration: “‘UNCLE, I BEG YOU, ON MY KNEES—HIS LIFE!’”]

“Nay, ’tis not possible now, niece; circumstances have altered. ’Twould
be useless for me to explain. I can only beg you to end this
supplication, Georgiana,—it will not serve you. I am not to be moved.
Mr. Everell will say whether I have dealt fairly with him—would have
dealt more than fairly, had he but willed. ’Tis all vastly to be
regretted. Had he chosen so a week since, your sorrow had been much
less. Had you bestowed your confidence upon me when he first came here,
you might have been spared all sorrow. As it is, events must take their
course.”

“Oh, my God, can one’s own kin be so heartless? To send him to death,
who is more than life to me! What has he done?—what injury to you? He
only fought for the prince in whose right he believed. Had his side won,
_he_ would have been merciful. What harm will it do you to let him
go?—what harm to the kingdom, now the rebellion is put down? ’Tis
profitless, ’tis needless, ’twill serve nothing, that he should die.—Oh,
heaven, soften my uncle’s heart!—let him see as I see, feel as I feel!”

Foxwell, little relishing these vehement appeals, or the sight of the
kneeling girl with supplicating hands, turned to Everell:

“Sir, this can accomplish nothing. I will leave you with her till the
appointed time—though perhaps it were more kind to—”

“No, no!” cried Georgiana, grasping her uncle’s coat-skirt as he made to
step back into the drawing-room. “Do not go!—uncle, hear me! Anything
for his life!—only his life! I will do anything, give anything—only that
he may not die!”

Foxwell looked down at her. The birth of a thought showed on his face,
clearing away his frown of annoyance. Again he turned to Everell, and
said, quietly:

“Sir, will you grant me a few minutes alone with my niece? The time
shall be made up after, if you choose.”

Everell stood hesitating.

“Go, Everell,” said Georgiana, eagerly; “’tis for our advantage.”

“I pray it may be for yours, sweet,” replied Everell, gently, and went
into the library, closing the door after him.

Lady Strange, conceiving herself not wanted, would have passed Foxwell
to retire to the drawing-room; but he softly closed that door, and said:

“Nay, Lady Strange, don’t go. I had as lief you heard this. Georgiana,
you ask for this gentleman’s life: now if that were all—” He paused for
effect.

“All!” echoed Georgiana, now risen to her feet; “’tis everything! I ask
no more. You will grant it, then?—you will make me happy?”

“If you would indeed be content with that—and his freedom—” Foxwell
still seemed to halt in doubt.

“I will be,” Georgiana declared, emphatically; “only say he shall live.”

“If you would abandon any dreams you may have entertained of marriage—of
future meetings with him—of correspondence, in the event of my saving
him from the gallows—”

“I will abandon whatever you require,—only to know that he goes free,
only to feel that somewhere in the world he lives!”

“Well,” said Foxwell, slowly, “I will let him go free—”

Georgiana uttered a cry of joy.

“—if,” continued Foxwell, “you will accept the proposal—the very
advantageous proposal—which Mr. Thornby has done you the honour of
making.”

“Accept the proposal—of Mr. Thornby?” repeated Georgiana, in utter
surprise.

“Yes—give your consent to the marriage, of your own free will, letting
it be clear that there has been no force or compulsion to influence
you.”

“But,” Georgiana faltered, looking distressedly toward the door by which
Everell had left the room, “I cannot love Mr. Thornby.”

“’Tis not absolutely necessary you should love him,” replied Foxwell,
dryly.

“Oh, no, no!” cried Georgiana, as her imagination fully mastered the
case. “I cannot! ’Twould be like—’twould be horrible!”

“’Twould be saving your Everell’s life,” said Foxwell, dispassionately.

“’Tis an excellent match, dear,” put in Lady Strange, softly, “if Mr.
Thornby’s estate is what I take it to be.”

“Oh, but, Lady Strange,—you are a woman—_you_ should understand.”

“I do, child,” replied the elder lady, with an inward sigh, “but—these
matters reconcile themselves in time. ’Twill not be so intolerable,
believe me. And who knows—” Whatever it was that who knew, Lady Strange
abruptly broke off to another line of thought. “The point is, to save
your lover’s life, my dear.”

“Ay,” said Foxwell, beginning to show impatience, “ere the opportunity
is gone. Now lookye, Georgiana, I must hear your answer without more
ado. I am going to have a horse saddled at once. It shall carry either
your acceptance to Mr. Thornby, or word of this rebel to those who will
not be slow in securing him. ’Tis for you to say which, and before many
minutes.”

Instead of calling a servant, Foxwell went out to the hall to give the
order, consigning Georgiana by a look to the persuasions of Lady
Strange.

“Come, my dear,” said that lady, bending kindly over Georgiana, who had
sunk weeping into a chair by the table; “’tis but marrying him you love
not, for the sake of him you love.”

“’Tis being false to him I love,” sobbed the girl.

“False to him, but to save his life—a loyal kind of falseness, poor
child!”

She continued in this strain, though with no apparent effect upon
Georgiana, who presently flung her arms upon the table and, bowing her
head upon them, shook with weeping. In this attitude her uncle found her
when he returned from ordering the horse.

“Nay, persuade her no more, Lady Strange,” said he, testily. “God’s
name, miss!—be true to your lover, if you think it so, and send him to
die for your truth. I am going now to write a line for my messenger to
carry. It might have been a line to Thornby, accompanied by a few words
of your own inditing. But, as it cannot be so, it must be to those who
want news of the rebel.” With that, Foxwell was about to go to the
drawing-room.

“No, no!” exclaimed Georgiana, rising to stop him. “I will consent—I
will save the rebel. False to him, for love of him!—he will understand.”

“Nay, but he is not to understand,” objected Foxwell. “He is to know
nothing of this. Do you not see, he might rather give himself up than
have you marry another?—might refuse to be saved by such means. For his
own sake, he mustn’t know the condition. You had best not see him again:
leave me to dismiss him. I make no doubt he will accept his liberty now
for your sake, and agree to the voiding of our compact, whereof he has
had near the full benefit. Best not see him: you might betray all.”

“Not see him!” wept Georgiana.

“’Tis best not. If he stand to our agreement and demand to see you, why,
then, so it must be, and I know not what will ensue. Do not fear I shall
misrepresent you to him. He shall know you have won his life by your
pleading, upon condition he goes away forthwith—that is all. ’Tis agreed
to, then?”

“Yes,” said Georgiana, faintly; and added as if speaking to herself, “I
shall know that somewhere he lives!”

At this instant the door from the library opened, whereupon Foxwell
looked around sharply, thinking Everell had taken it upon himself to
reappear unbidden. But the intruder proved to be the waiting-woman
Prudence, who had fallen asleep over her sewing while Georgiana was
reading to Everell, and whom the lovers had left unnoticed in her
corner. Having just now wakened, and seen Everell alone before the
fireplace, looking strangely pale and excited, she had come forth in
quest of her mistress. In obedience to Foxwell’s imperious motion, she
shut the door, and hastened to the half-swooning niece.

“Then,” said Foxwell to Georgiana, “I beg you will go to your room and
write a brief letter to Mr. Thornby, informing him you accept his
proposal of marriage, conditionally upon such terms as your
representative—and so forth. Lady Strange will perhaps be so kind as to
advise you in the wording—the form matters little, only let it be plain
you act of your free will.”

“Of my free will—yes,” murmured Georgiana, wearily, accepting the
guidance of Lady Strange’s hand.

“When the letter is finished, send it down to me straightway; and best
keep to your room for the rest of the evening,” added Foxwell, as Lady
Strange and the girl passed out to the hall.

Prudence followed them up the stairs, but stopped for a moment outside
Georgiana’s anteroom, to give oral expression to her feelings: “Marry
Mr. Thornby! Oh, lor! What will the Jacumbite say to this, I wonder?”

Continue Reading

THREATS

“TO thank me?” she repeated, round-eyed. “You mean that is what brings
you here—to thank me for such a little thing?”

“Not such a little thing, either,” he replied with a smile, as he rose;
“the saving, perhaps, of my life and my comrade’s.”

“Oh, indeed, yes—a very great thing!—but a little thing to do—so easily
done. And to come all the way hither to thank—” She stopped short and
looked at him steadily, then blushed deeper. “Oh!—you will think me a
fool, sir:—for a moment I believed exactly what you said; I made no
allowance for compliment; I am inexperienced, as you can see.”

“Nay, but upon my honour I spoke the truth,” he protested in surprise.

“Then you indeed came here only to thank me?”

“To thank you, but not only that. I came to see and hear you.”

“You mean—nothing else—brought you to this neighbourhood?”

“Nothing but you. Had I not met you at the inn yesterday, I should now
be with my friend, far on the road Southward.”

The look of apprehension returned to her face.

“Oh, heaven, yes!—the danger you are in! How do you intend to save
yourself? Are you not risking your life by remaining in England?”

“Pray don’t be alarmed on that score: I have the means of leaving
England when the time comes.”

“When the time comes? When will that be? What is it that delays you?”

He was not prepared with an answer. “Why,—ah—you must know my friend has
some matters to settle before he leaves;—we are to sail together, when
he is ready.”

“Then you should have remained together. Why did you leave him? If what
you said is true, you have interrupted your flight—to see me.”

“You are worthy of a far greater compliment than that,” said he, as
gallantly as the confusion he felt in her presence allowed him to speak.

“But if danger came to you through this, how I should have to reproach
myself! Oh, I beg you, follow your friend: overtake him. Lose no time:
now that you have thanked me, go—go quickly!”

“And have you the heart to send me away when I have but just found you?”

“Nay, if your life were not at stake—no, I mean not that. I ought not to
talk with you—I ought not to stay here.”

Trembling, she made to retreat, but he gently interposed.

“Nay,” he said, very tenderly, “the ‘oughts’ and ‘ought nots’ of custom
do not apply to us, situated as we are. Are you not among people who
make you unhappy? Am I not a man whose life you have saved, and who
would do anything in the world for you? Can you not trust me as I trust
you? Why then shouldn’t you talk with me? Tell me, what if my life were
not at stake?”

“I have forgot what I was saying.”

“If my life were not at stake, you would not bid me go?”

“How can I tell?—Why shouldn’t I?”

“You were startled to see me here. Did you not think I might come?”

She could have truly answered that she had been without the slightest
expectation of ever seeing him again. Yet she had permitted her
imagination the indulgence of a vague scene of future meeting, not far
unlike that which was now taking place. The consciousness of this added
to the sweet embarrassment she felt, and she could only reply,
foolishly, “Why should I have thought so?”

Everell sighed, realizing that, as far as speeches went, he was not
making rapid progress. “At all events,” said he, rallying his powers of
gaiety, “here I am, and in this neighbourhood I mean to stay for a time,
so ’tis of no use bidding me go—”

“But are you safe in this neighbourhood?” she broke in, her eyes
forgetting their shyness in searching his face to see if his confidence
was real. “That man at the inn may have described you to many people.”

“I will take care none of them see me. I have a secure hiding-place in
the wilderness, and a friend to supply my wants. I shall be visible to
none but him—and you.”

“To me? How to me?”

“Even as I am at this moment: here, in this garden. ’Tis evidently a
deserted place; the shrubbery and walls conceal us, and escape is easy
to the glen yonder if we should hear anybody approach. No one, finding
you here alone, would suspect you had had a visitor.”

“I must not risk that discovery,—for your sake, I must not. I shall be
missed in the house, I’m afraid,—my uncle and his friends have
returned.”

“Nay, don’t go yet. Pray, not yet! I have said nothing yet, accomplished
nothing.”

“What would you say, then? Speak quickly.”

“A thousand things. I can’t unload my heart of a sudden at the cry,
‘Stand and deliver!’—you send my thoughts into confusion. Do not go
yet!—’tis not so much saying what I would, as being with you.”

“But they will be inquiring for me—my maid will be seeking. My uncle—”

“Is your uncle so heedful of you that he must always know where you
are?”

“Far from it. I am nothing to him and his friends. But if the whim
_should_ seize him—if by any chance they should find me talking with a
stranger—Oh, really, sir, I must go.”

“Again you call me stranger!”

“Why, in their eyes you would be a stranger.”

“But not in yours? Ah, thank you for that much, at least. You
acknowledge me as a friend?”

“Why, I suppose—since you declare yourself so, I must needs believe you.
Heaven knows, I have felt some want of a friend, having none in this
house. Were it otherwise, were this place my aunt’s, perhaps I should
not have stayed a moment to hear you.”

“I must bless my fortune, then, that this house is not your aunt’s. I
can even be glad you are not among friends here, since that leaves room
in your heart for me. And yet I could slay any who were lacking in the
friendship you had a right to expect of them. How can they be so, to
_you_?”

His gaze had so much ardour that her own eyes softened in it, and the
consequence of that melting was that he swiftly folded her in his arms
and pressed a kiss obliquely upon her lips.

“Now I _must_ go,” she whispered, after a moment, gently pushing him
away.

“Now less than ever, sweet,” he replied, still clasping her.

“Oh, but I must—sure I beg—Prudence will be looking for me.”

Her insistence of manner was such that he dared not hold her longer
without feeling guilty of violence. But he still retained her hand, to
say:

“And when will you be here again?”

“I know not,” she answered, hurriedly. “How can I say?”

“Well, then, whenever you do come, you will find me waiting for you.”

“No, no; that will not be safe. I had forgotten the danger you are in.
Do not come here at all—by daylight.—If you must, why, come after
sunset. They will be at their cards and wine then.”

“And you?—you are sure to be here then?”

“’Tis the safest time. They will think me in my room—well, I may be
here—to-morrow evening—if nothing prevents.”

“But why not this evening?”

“No. I will really go to my room this evening, as I did yesterday: they
will take it as a matter of course afterwards. To-morrow evening,
perhaps.”

“But ’tis so far away: so many hours must pass till then!” He still
detained her hand, though she was at arm’s length to be gone.

“You will have the more time to reconsider—to resolve upon joining your
friend, and not tarrying here longer at the risk of your life.”

“What, do you still wish me to go at once?”

“If you should be taken!—if you should have to meet the fate—oh, I dare
not think of it! How can I wish you to stay, when I think of the
danger?”

“’Tis for me to think of the danger; ’tis for you only to let me love
you—and to meet me here as often as you will.”

“Well, I shall no doubt be here to-morrow after sunset. I must take my
maid into confidence: she can keep watch at the terrace steps. Farewell,
then!—and be careful—till to-morrow sunset!”

He stepped forward in hope of repeating the kiss, but she recovered her
hand from his grasp and fled rapidly up the lane of shrubbery. Everell
followed, and saw her ascend the steps, hasten along the terrace, and
disappear without looking back. He stood and sighed, thinking how short
had been the long-awaited meeting, how tedious would be the time till
the next. But he had the kiss to comfort his reflections, at least,—the
kiss and the compliant though startled manner in which she had submitted
to it. His heart glowing at this recollection, he turned his steps to
the seclusion of the glen.

Since she would not meet him before the end of the next day—what an
interminable stretch of empty time the interval appeared!—he knew his
best course was to return at once to John Tarby’s cottage. But he found
it so hard to drag his legs farther from the Foxwell mansion, that he
decided to remain concealed among the bracken, on the possibility that
she might change her mind and revisit the garden that evening. In this
hope he tarried till an hour after nightfall, without reward. He then
betook himself reluctantly, with the pangs of hunger and the sighs of
disappointment for company, to where his road left the park. At that
place Tarby was waiting, and with little speech the two made their way
homeward. Everell took the lead, that he might test his knowledge of the
path; twice or thrice he had to fall back upon the poacher’s guidance,
but on these occasions he made such note of landmarks as should assure
him of going right in future.

When they arrived at the cot, Everell gave a different reception to his
host’s mention of supper from that which he had given on the previous
night. Though love had enabled him to go all the day without food, it
did not weaken his appetite now that supper was to be had. John Tarby
proved to be no mean cook, and the Jacobite officer, the rustic poacher,
and the poacher’s dog partook together of a hearty though simple meal
with manifest enjoyment. But love, not to be denied its proverbial
effects in all things, asserted its presence by robbing Everell of some
hours of sleep, and by directing his dreams when at last his eyes did
close.

The next day was but a repetition of that which had gone before, save
that the love-sick young gentleman, by taking the forethought to provide
himself with bread and cheese, was able, as he reclined among the
bracken, to pay some observance to dinner-time when it arrived. At last
the slow sun descended upon the Westward hills. A bit of its rim still
showed over the sky-line, when Everell glided into the garden, his heart
beating faster than ever it had beat when he was going into battle.

Georgiana did not keep him waiting long. She came down the steps, with
her finger on her lip, and with the maid Prudence, all excitement, at
her heels. “Oh, lor!” whispered Prudence at first sight of Everell; “Oh,
lor!” again, when, having taken her station near the steps, she saw
Everell lead her mistress up the lane of shrubbery; and “Oh, lor!” a
third time when the young man, not yet trusting himself to speech,
raised Georgiana’s hand in his trembling fingers to his lips.

And now Everell had to learn that the second interview in a love-affair
does not begin where the first left off. Whether it is that the ardour
of expectation produces by reaction a chill that mutually benumbs; or
whether each participant, still uncertain of the other’s heart, awaits
some assurance before again committing his or her own; or whether it be
due to any one or all of a dozen conceivable causes, the truth is that
the second meeting usually begins with an embarrassment, or shyness, or
other feeling, that seems to put the lovers farther apart than they were
at the outset; and yet under this the craving for the tokens of love is
as strong as ever. This was now Everell’s experience; he wondered why
Georgiana was perversely cool, and then why he himself was tongue-tied,
powerless to express what was in his heart.

When they had paced the more secluded walks of the garden some fifteen
minutes, speaking of anything but that which was most in Everell’s mind,
Georgiana suddenly reverted to the question of his safety. The anxious
concern with which she regarded him served to break the spell he had
suffered under. Making light of his danger, he showed himself so
grateful for her solicitude that a still more encouraging tenderness
appeared in her eyes. With love in his looks, and in the touch of his
hand upon hers, he burst out with declarations of his happiness in her
company, and of his misery in her absence. She made no verbal return for
these tributes, but the sweet agitation visible in her face was enough.
He was about to venture a similar embrace to that of the day before,
when they heard Prudence call, in a low but excited voice, “Oh,
mistress, mistress, we shall be discovered!” Georgiana, in alarm,
whispered to Everell, “Conceal yourself!—good night!” and fled swiftly
to where the maid was watching. Standing perfectly still, Everell heard
the two women go up the steps, and soon the sound of their footfalls on
the terrace died out. They had returned to the house, then; what had
caused the maid to give the alarm, he knew not, for there was no sound
to indicate any human presence.

Vexed at this abrupt termination of the interview at the very moment
when it seemed about to reward him, he waited in the hope of Georgiana’s
return. But the hope was vain, and after two or three hours of
diminishing expectancy, he sadly—nay, with heart-burning, grievous
sighing, and clenching of teeth—resigned himself to the prospect of
another long night and another endless day ere the next meeting. And
indeed there was no certainty of the meeting even after that vast
interval, for no appointment had been made. But he trusted to her
humanity, if he dared not count upon feelings fully reciprocal to his
own, to bring her to the garden at the next sunset. If she did not come,
he knew not what rash thing he might do.

His reliance upon her compassion was not in vain. She was prompt in
appearance when at last the long night and the slow day had passed.
Taking pity, perhaps, on his haggard countenance, she was kind from the
outset of their interview. Prudence attended, as before, but with
instructions to be more certain before crying danger than she had been
on the previous evening, when, as Georgiana now told Everell, the maid,
in the novelty of her duty, had given the alarm at the mere sound of
laughter in the house—the laughter of Foxwell and his visitors over
their wine and cards.

But though this, the third clandestine meeting of these two young
people, was not marred by any preliminary chill or by any waste of time,
it was soon over. Georgiana herself had set the limit of half an hour,
and, whatever it may have cost her of inner reluctance, she showed her
resolution by breaking away at the end of that time, silencing her
lover’s protests with a voluntary kiss so swiftly bestowed that, in his
delighted surprise, he let her slip from his grasp. Again he stood alone
in the garden while the dusk came on. Again that weary blank of lagging
hours faced him, with the promise of such brief joy to compensate him at
the end. He lingered late in the garden, now reviewing in his memory the
delectable scene of the evening—delectable but too fleeting!—and now
repining at the conditions under which his love had to subsist. “Oh, to
be with her one whole day—one day as long as those I pass in waiting for
the sunset!” was the burden of his thought.

He stood near the terrace steps, taking his last look at the house for
the night. The lateness of the hour, the comparative darkness, and
perhaps the petulance of his feelings, made him less than usually
cautious against observation. Suddenly he heard a patter of feet on the
terrace, and the voice of a maid servant calling, “Puss! puss! come,
puss!—Devil take the cat!” Everell remained motionless, lest any sound
might attract the girl’s attention. In a moment, a cat appeared at the
head of the steps, glided along the top of the bank, and plunged amidst
the shrubbery of the garden. It had no sooner disappeared than the girl
in chase arrived at the edge of the terrace, where she stopped and
peered down into the garden, launching imprecations at the animal that
had eluded her. Her eyes fell upon Everell, and her wrath died upon her
lips.

She stood gaping as if rendered powerless by fright, and Everell could
think of nothing better than to continue perfectly still. Wrapped in his
cloak, and with his face turned toward the maid, he did not move even
his eyes, but appeared not to be aware of her presence. His thought was
that this unlifelike behaviour might cause the rustic wench to take him
for an apparition, or a trick of her fancy, the more so as the darkness
would give vagueness to his figure. After a few seconds of this silent
confrontation, the maid, uttering a faint wail of terror, apparently at
the back of her mouth, turned and took to her heels. Everell profited by
her flight to leave the garden instantly, and made his best speed for
John Tarby’s castle. If the girl told of what she had seen, and brought
investigators to the spot, who could find nothing to verify her account,
they would doubtless believe she had suffered from a delusion. As she
herself, whether she came to their conclusion or not, was likely to
avoid the place after dark in future, Everell considered that the garden
was not the less safe as a meeting-place for this occurrence.

When he met Georgiana the next evening, he expected some allusion by her
to the incident, as he supposed the maid servant must have spread the
tale through the household. But Georgiana said nothing of the matter.
She had indeed heard nothing of it, for the isolation in which she dwelt
in the house was copied by her maid, partly in imitation and partly
because, with her Southern ideas of propriety, Prudence found herself as
much antagonized by the rude Northern servants of the house as by the
affected London attendants of the visitors. Thus she spent as much of
her time as possible in her mistress’s apartments, big with the secret
entrusted to her of the clandestine meetings. Being thus on sniffing
terms with her equals in the servants’ hall, and out of their gossip,
she remained in ignorance of the kitchen-maid’s adventure. From
Georgiana’s silence on the subject, Everell inferred that the occurrence
had created no talk in the house; and he did not mention it himself,
lest Georgiana, in her scruples as to his safety and her own conduct,
might lessen the frequency of their meetings. His periods of longing
were sufficiently endless, his tastes of joy sufficiently brief, as they
were.

But the kitchen-maid’s adventure had not really gone without
circulation. “You never told us your house was haunted, Foxwell,” said
Lady Strange, meeting her host at the breakfast-table, from which
Georgiana had already gone. Mrs. Winter and Rashleigh were yet to
appear.

“I never knew it—till this moment, at least,” replied Foxwell, stifling
a yawn which owed itself, perhaps, to the punch or primero of the
previous night. “Though every crumbling old brick-heap like this has its
ghost or so, no doubt. But what do you mean?”

“My waiting-woman has been telling me of a strange figure that appeared
to your scullery-maid the other night. In the sunken garden, I believe
it was: a man in a cloak, wearing a sword.”

“It must have been a ghost, indeed,” said Foxwell, smiling. “There is
certainly no such living man whose appearance in that garden is
probable—unless Rashleigh has taken to mooning outdoors after bedtime.”

“Not I,” said Rashleigh, who had just entered. “What are you talking
of?”

“My lady has discovered, through the servants, that a ghost walks in the
sunken garden—a man in a cloak, with a sword at his side. I say it must
be a ghost indeed, and yet there is this difficulty: suppose there _are_
ghosts of human beings, what of the clothes they appear in? What of this
ghost’s cloak and sword?—are they real cloak and sword, or are they the
ghosts of cloak and sword?—and do inanimate things have ghosts?”

“Why, certainly, ghosts always appear in clothes,” said Lady Strange,
quite ignoring the dilemma, and not entering into Foxwell’s skeptical
mirth.

“And pray what did the ghost do or say while the scullery-maid was
present?”

“Merely gazed at her in a strange, supernatural manner till she ran
away. But hadn’t you best question the maid?”

“By all means. One ought to be well informed about the ghosts that haunt
one’s house—though I don’t consider my ancestors did so much for me that
I need care a button if one of them does find his grave uneasy. I’ll
have the girl up for interrogation after breakfast.”

But this promise was driven from Foxwell’s mind just as the time came to
perform it. A visitor was announced, whose name caused him surprise: it
was that of Mr. Thornby.

“What should bring him to see me?” said Foxwell, showing his
astonishment to his guests. “’Tis my lubberly neighbour, of whom I have
told you. He abominates me because I sometimes pit my powers of speech
against his boorish arrogance, and show him what a bumpkin he is. I
thought he was sworn never to cross my threshold.”

Ruled by courtesy and curiosity, Foxwell went immediately to the
adjoining drawing-room, where he found his enemy standing on the hearth,
his legs wide apart, and his burly figure clad in a riding costume
neither well-fitting nor new.

SOMETHING confident and overbearing in Thornby’s look went to Foxwell’s
intelligence at once, and checked for an instant the speech on his lips.
But he quickly recovered his nonchalance, and began as if he noticed
nothing unusual:

“Good morning, Mr. Thornby. I am much honoured. Pray be seated, sir.”

“I’d as lief stand, sir,” was the blunt answer. “Much honoured you feel,
I dare say!”

“And why not?” said Foxwell, pleasantly. “You do yourself a great
injustice, surely, if you don’t consider your visit an honour to the
fortunate recipient. You must not undervalue yourself.”

“Well, sir, you’ll see how much honour I mean by coming here, when
you’ve learnt what brings me.”

“That, I confess, I am impatient to know. But really, will you not sit?”

“No, sir! I sha’n’t stay long enough to tire my legs with standing. My
visit will be short, I promise you.”

“I perceive you are in a mood of shortness.”

“I can choose my own moods, sir,” said the Squire, rendered more savage
by every successive speech of his enemy. “And I choose short moods for
my visits to you. Not that I meant to pay you a visit when I left home
this morning. My business took me past your gate, and, as I have
something for your ears, I thought I’d as well say it soon as late.”

“A very wise thought; for accidents will happen, and ’twould be a pity
if anything so interesting should be left unsaid—for I know it must be
interesting.”

“Maybe you’ll find it so, ecod! As for leaving things unsaid, lemme tell
you, sir, that’s a policy I recommend to you in future, whenever you
feel inclined to try your wit upon me. If a witty thing, as you consider
it, comes into your head to say against me, leave it unsaid. That’s my
commands, sir, and I look to see ’em obeyed.”

“Commands? Upon my soul, Mr. Thornby,—pardon my smiling,—but you are
exceedingly amusing.”

“Smile your bellyfull; you may laugh, too: we’ll see which on us laughs
last. Ecod, we’ll see that! Try some of your town wit upon me the next
time we meet in company! Try it, and see what happens.”

“Can’t you spare my curiosity the suspense by telling me now?”

“Yes, I can. This is what’ll happen:—I’ll answer you back by asking what
you think of a man who robs the dead.”

“Robs the dead?” quietly repeated Foxwell, puzzled.

“Ay, a dead body, in some such place as Covent Garden, for example.—Eh,
that touches you, does it?”

Foxwell’s face had indeed undergone a change: for an instant he was
quite pale and staring. But he recovered his outward equanimity.

“Please explain yourself,” he said, with composure.

“A word to the wise is enough, sir. If ever again you try to put me down
afore company, or dare to take first place o’ me anywheres, I’ll tell
the world who got Lord Hilby’s money that night in Covent Garden.”

Foxwell drew a deep breath, and then replied as calmly as before, “Are
you walking in a dream, Mr. Thornby? Really, I don’t understand you.
What is Lord Hilby’s money to me?”

“No use trying that game upon me, Foxwell. You know all, and I know all,
and there’s an end. You’ve heard my commands: act as you think best.”

“Sir, I know nothing. Your words are gibberish to me, and I say but
this: if you attempt to raise any slander against me, be sure I will
make you answer—”

“And I’ll answer, ecod, by producing this here letter,” blurted Thornby,
bringing from his pocket the document we have already seen in the hands
of Jeremiah Filson, and holding it high, with the signed part in
Foxwell’s view, “which you wrote in the sponging-house to Sir John
Thisleford, and which anybody who knows your hand can swear to—as your
face owns to it now. ‘If you don’t help me out of this, I will confess
all, and let the world know who got Lord Hilby’s money that night,’ says
you, in black and white. ‘_Confess_ all,’ d’ye see? Signed ‘R. Foxwell.’
Your wit failed you that time, I’m a-thinking. What ’ud the county say
if I exhibited this here bit o’ writing? Even your town friends, as I
hear be a-visiting you, would find this more nor they could swallow, I
dare say.”

“Let me see the letter—closer,” said Foxwell, in a hushed and quaking
voice.

“I value it too much as a bit o’ your beloved handwritin’.” The Squire
repocketed it carefully, with a grim chuckle at his own humour. “As to
how I shall use it, that depends partly on how you use me. But I don’t
promise anything. I hold it over your head, neighbour Foxwell,—like the
sword of Dionassius in the story-book—over your head, ecod! Ha! Good
day, Foxwell. Go back to your pleasures—I’ll show myself out.”

Foxwell made an effort to regain his self-possession. “’Tis a forgery—I
defy you—this is a trumped-up tale—”

“We shall see. You’d go near killing to get the letter from me, I’ll
warrant.” With this parting shot, his heavy features stretched in a leer
of triumph, the Squire stalked from the room, leaving Foxwell—silent and
shaken—to his thoughts.

The victorious Squire had to pass through the wide entrance-hall to
reach the forecourt, where his man Bartholomew awaited with the horses.
He stopped in the hall, which was for the moment deserted, in order to
refold the precious letter and place it more securely. As he pocketed it
once more, he turned his glance toward the closed door of the
drawing-room, soliloquizing after this fashion, “I’ll make him play the
whipped cur afore I’ve done with him. He shall come when I call, so he
shall,—and go when I bid, and speak when I allow, and hold his tongue
when I command. You fine beau of the town, you’ll make a jest of us
country gentlemen, will you?—you’ll teach us manners, will you?—Eh,
who’s this?”

The hall was panelled in oak, decorated with heads of stags and foxes,
provided with a large fireplace, and furnished with chairs and settles.
At one side, the stairway began which led to the upper floors, and the
Squire’s ejaculation was caused by the appearance of somebody on those
stairs—a young lady, rather slight, but well-shaped, with a very pretty
face distinguished by a somewhat rebellious expression; and with a pair
of eyes that set the Squire agape with the wonder of a new sensation, as
they rested for an instant full upon him.

“Sure I suppose you be the niece that came home t’other day,” said the
Squire, as she stepped from the lowest stair. He had not relaxed his
gaze from his first sight of her, nor did he now.

Georgiana replied by making a curtsey, and was about to pass on. But Mr.
Thornby, with as great politeness as he could put into his tone,
detained her as much by an unconscious gesture as by speech.

“Sure I heard tell as Foxwell’s niece had come home, but I ne’er
expected to see _such_ a young lady! Why, miss, or mistress, begging
your pardon if I make too free, but there bean’t your match in the
county; that there bean’t—I’ll take my oath of it! I’m your neighbour,
Thomas Thornby, at your service. Mayhap you’ve heard o’ me.”

“I have heard your name, Mr. Thornby,” said Georgiana, looking quite
tolerantly upon him.

“But not heard much good o’ me, if you heard it from your uncle, I’ll
warrant. You mustn’t believe all he has said against me, Miss Foxwell.
’Tis like he’ll give a different account o’ me after this: I’ve just had
a talk with him, and he knows me a little better. Ecod, miss, I hope you
and me can be good neighbours, at all events. Such a face!—excuse the
freedom, mistress, but we don’t run across such faces every day
hereabouts. There’ll be some, that think themselves beauties, will turn
green when they see you at the assembly ball. Ecod, we shall have
somebody worth a toast now; for between you and me, the beauties of this
neighbourhood don’t muster enough good looks among ’em all to do credit
to the punch we drink their healths in. At any rate, that’s my opinion,
and explains why I’m still a bachelor. I’m not easy pleased, ma’am; no
doubt I look a plain fellow in these here old clothes, but anybody’ll
tell you how fastidious Tom Thornby is when it comes to dogs, horses,
and women. ’Tis well known, ma’am.”

“I am the more obliged for your compliments, sir; and I wish you good
morning,” said Georgiana, amiably, and, after another curtsey, performed
with unexpected swiftness, she got away by the nearest door before her
new admirer could summon an idea for another speech.

Thornby stared wistfully at the door by which she had left. Indeed he
made a step or two toward it; but, thinking better, stopped and drew a
ponderous sigh. A servant came into the hall from the forecourt,
whereupon the Squire abruptly took his departure. As he rode mutely out
of the courtyard, followed by Bartholomew, his countenance betokened
thoughts quite other than those with which he had left Foxwell’s
presence a minute or two earlier. When he had passed through the
village, Thornby motioned his man to ride beside him, and began to
converse upon Mr. Foxwell and his present habits. In the course of the
talk, it came out, as Bartholomew had been informed by Caleb while
waiting in the courtyard, that Foxwell and his guests were accustomed to
make some excursion on horseback every day, leaving the niece at home.
The consequence of this knowledge was that next day, soon after the
party had sallied forth as usual, a servant came to Miss Foxwell in her
own small parlour to say that Mr. Thornby waited upon her in the
drawing-room.

Mystified, but desiring not to offend, she went to him immediately. He
was sprucely dressed, beaming, and all deference. For two hours he sat
and sustained the chief burden of a general conversation upon everything
in the neighbourhood. While he was more moderate and indirect in his
frequent compliments than he had been on the previous day, he maintained
a steady gaze of admiration, no less overpowering. Georgiana, wearied to
death, had finally to plead household duties in order to dislodge him.

The following day was Sunday, and Miss Foxwell, making her first
appearance at the village church, found herself again the object of the
Squire’s constant attention, as indeed of the whole congregation’s,
although she divided the latter with the London ladies. That evening she
was discussed at Thornby Hall by the cronies who happened to be sharing
the Squire’s bachelor table; and such was the praise uttered by several
gay dogs who considered themselves devilish good judges that Mr. Thornby
was kept secretly alternating between elation and jealousy. It needed
only this approval and covetousness on the part of others, to complete
the Squire’s sense of the young lady’s surpassing excellence.

In the morning, to Bartholomew’s considerable wonder, Mr. Thornby again
discovered business that took him past Foxwell Court. He had not the
courage against appearing ridiculous, to repeat his visit so soon, but
he rode very slowly in passing the place, both going and coming; and,
welcoming a pretext for remaining as long as possible in the near
vicinity, he no sooner saw, through the doorway of the village
ale-house, a man who was now a guest there, than he drew up his horse
with alacrity, saying to his attendant, “The very fellow I desired to
see: we’ll tarry here awhile, Bartholomew.”

The man in the ale-house came forth as Mr. Thornby dismounted, and
offered that respectful greeting which the Squire was so conscious of
deserving and Jeremiah Filson so capable of bestowing.

“Good day, Filson; good day t’ye. I don’t wish to come indoors: we’ll
walk to and fro here on the green.—I’ve been anxious to see you, Filson,
to know how you’re faring in respect of your Jacobite.”

“Poorly, sir, poorly as yet; though I take it most kind of your Worship
to be concerned upon the matter.”

“Concerned? In course—why the devil not? Ain’t I a magistrate? Didn’t I
give you the warrant? D’ye think I dropped the matter there? I’m as keen
upon punishing the rebels as any man in England. Once you discover where
the fellow is, you’ll see how ready my officers are to help you take
him.”

Filson was rather surprised at this sudden zeal, for the Squire, after
purchasing the Foxwell letter and granting the Everell warrant, had not
shown a desire for more of Filson’s society, so that Jeremiah had been
forced to curry favour with the justice’s clerk, that he might rely upon
the ready coöperation of the legal officers in apprehending the rebel.
But he kept his surprise to himself.

“I’m quite sure of that, sir. I hope I shall track the man to his cover,
with the aid of Providence. I hate to give a thing up, sir, once I’ve
set myself to do it. When I start upon a chase, no matter what’s the
game, I can’t leave it unfinished, and that’s why I still linger here,
though at some little expense to myself. But we act as we’re made; and
I’m made like that, your Worship.”

“It does you credit, Filson: I like a staying hound. But are you sure,
now, the man is still in this neighbourhood?”

“I don’t presume to be sure of anything, sir; but I trace him to this
neighbourhood and no farther. ’Twas on or about this very spot, your
honour, that he was seen by the postilion whom I met that same night at
the inn where I had the honour of first making your acquaintance. The
next day, you’ll remember, I had the privilege of transacting some
business with your Worship. I came directly from your house to this, but
my gentleman had fled the night before. He told the landlord a
cock-and-bull story of having found a wagon to take him on to Burndale.
But the landlord spied on him, and saw no wagon at the place he said it
was waiting. Furthermore, the landlord declares the gentleman
disappeared from sight at that very place. It was night-time, and the
truth must be, that the gentleman turned aside from the road. Howsoever,
that’s the last account I can get of him—his disappearance at the bridge
yonder. I’ve been to Burndale, but no such person has been seen there,
or between here and there. Neither is there any trace of his doubling
back over his course. And, besides, if he was bound for Burndale, or
that side of the kingdom, why should he have come so far by the road I
found him in?—there are shorter ways to Burndale from Scotland. No, sir,
if I may express an opinion to your Honour, his business must have been
in this neighbourhood, not beyond it; he has found snug hiding
hereabouts, but I’ll have him out yet.”

“Trust you for a true terrier, eh, Filson.”

“Yes, sir, with your Worship’s approval and the forces of the law to
support me. I failed in vigilance that day at the inn—allowed the
corporeal desire of sleep to get the better of me, and was punished by
the man slipping through my fingers. But Providence, after teaching me
the lesson, sent the postilion to hear my belated inquiries, which I
ought never to have postponed to the needs of the body. The question is,
where could my gentleman have gone when he vanished under the nose of
this old fool—begging your Worship’s pardon—that night?”

“There’s the Foxwell estate begins just beyond that bridge.”

“Yes, on one side of the road. And the Dornley on the other. I’ve
quietly seen Mr. Dornley, after making sure of his loyalty in politics,
and furnished him with a written description of my gentleman. I’ve
hesitated to approach Mr. Foxwell, lest perhaps you might have told him
how you came by that letter.”

“No fear o’ that; but, if he saw you, he’d soon enough guess, take my
word on’t.”

“Why, scarcely, sir, if I may venture to say so. If you told him that
Sir John Thisleford’s former valet was in the neighbourhood, and if you
gave some notion of my present appearance, then he might indeed guess.
But otherwise I’ll warrant he wouldn’t know me. You see, sir, we look
different out of livery, and my name wasn’t Filson when I served Sir
John; and in various ways my manners have altered—for the better, I
trust. So if your Honour has given him no hint of the matter, I think I
may safely go and solicit his interest in my quest.”

“Oh, do as you see fit, man. If he discovers you, ’tis your back must
abide the cudgel, nobody else’s. Ecod, the letter will serve my purpose
just as well, whether or not he knows how I came by it.”

Jeremiah Filson was not long in availing himself of the security with
which he now felt he might interview Foxwell. He thanked Providence he
had not been too late to stipulate against the Squire’s mentioning him
in connection with the letter, which he had neglected to do at the time
of their transaction. The afternoon of that same day saw him make his
very civil and yet not obsequious approach, the manner of which rather
recommended him to Foxwell, as being unmistakably of London. Learning
that his business was of a private nature, Foxwell heard him in the
drawing-room, where Filson introduced himself with a careful ambiguity
as upon a business “in the interest of Government.” Foxwell listened
with polite attention to the glib description of the “fugitive rebel,
one Charles Everell, who was of the Pretender’s body-guard of gentlemen
at Culloden,” and who was suspected of being now in hiding in the
neighbourhood, possibly upon the Foxwell estate.

Filson, being satisfied by his hearer’s unconcerned manner that Foxwell
neither knew nor cared anything about the Jacobite, explained that,
while a justice’s warrant had been made out, upon his affidavit, to
“take and apprehend” this Charles Everell, he was prosecuting the search
quietly rather than by such public means as might give the refugee the
alarm. He was, therefore, in this private manner soliciting the
coöperation of the loyal gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and begging
that, in the event of their discovering such a person, either by chance
or as a result of investigations their loyalty might prompt, they would
cause the man to be detained, and would send word to him, Jeremiah
Filson, at the ale-house in the village. “For, d’ye see, sir, I’ve
arranged matters that I can put my hand on the justice officers at short
notice. I shall be the chief witness against the rebel, and I know where
to find another, as two are required. The other, in fact, is at
Carlisle, where the trials are now on.”

Foxwell, not at all interested, went as far as loyalty ordered, in
saying that, if occasion arose for his services in the matter, he would
act as duty required; and offering the spy the freedom of the estate in
the prosecution of inquiries. Filson, after a profound bow of
acknowledgment, handed Foxwell a written description of the rebel,
calling attention to his own name and address at the bottom of the
sheet; declared himself the other’s very humble servant, bowed as low as
before, and took his leave.

Foxwell glanced carelessly over the written description, and then thrust
it unfolded into his pocket. It had not power to drive from his mind the
vexatious subject already lodged there. He frowned and sighed, and took
an impatient turn up and down the room. Then, forcing his brow to
smoothness and the corners of his mouth to pleasantness, he returned to
his friends on the terrace.

“You laughed at me the other day, Foxwell,” said Lady Strange, as he
approached, “for telling you the place was haunted. But what do you say
now? The ghost has been seen again, in the old garden yonder; and not
only that same ghost—a man in a cloak—but a female figure as well.”

“Two female figures, the girl said,” corrected Mrs. Winter.

“Wonderful, most wonderful!” exclaimed Foxwell, smiling. “And whence
comes this news?”

“The keeper’s daughter has just told us,” said Rashleigh. “Her
sweetheart, it appears, was coming last night from the village to see
her, and took a short way through the fields into the park. ’Twas he saw
the three figures in the garden; and one of them, it seems, was like
that seen by the scullery-maid the other evening.”

“The scullery-maid?” said Foxwell. “I remember: I promised to question
her, but something put it out of my mind. Well, ’tis not too late: we’ll
catechize her now—and the keeper’s daughter, too.”

But the keeper’s daughter had gone home to the lodge, and the
examination was confined to the kitchen girl, who came to the summons as
much frightened as if she were brought, not to tell of a ghost, but to
face one. Foxwell and his visitors seated themselves in the hall to hear
her story, the other servants being excluded. By patient interrogation,
Foxwell contrived to elicit an account hardly more circumstantial than
Lady Strange had previously given him. The girl had pursued the cat with
the intention of employing it against the mice in the dormitory of the
maids. Drawn thus toward the garden, she had perceived the motionless
cloaked figure, which had stared at her in a strange, death-like manner.
It wore a sword, and she thought that in life “the gentleman might have
been a king’s officer,” though she could not say what made her think so.

The word “officer” seemed to touch some association in Foxwell’s mind.
His hand went to the pocket containing the paper Filson had given him,
and he showed a faint increase of interest in the few answers the girl
had yet to make. When he had dismissed her, he turned smilingly to his
guests:

“Well, we must avail ourselves of this ghost while it is in the humour
of haunting us. Kind fortune seems to have sent it for your
entertainment. What say you to a ghost-hunt?”

“How are ghosts usually hunted?” asked Rashleigh; “with hounds? beagles?
terriers?”

“No, that would not do,” said Foxwell, thoughtfully. “As we know where
it appears—for it has been seen twice in the sunken garden, according to
the evidence—we had best set a trap for it. What do you think, ladies?
It may help enliven the night for us.”

“I should dearly love to see a ghost,” said Lady Strange; “but what
manner of trap would you use? Sure such an insubstantial thing can’t be
held by any machine of wood and iron.”

“A trap composed of three or four stout fellows armed with cudgels,”
suggested Foxwell, “would doubtless serve to hold the creature till
Rashleigh and I could arrive with our swords.”

“But a ghost is like air, is it not?” said Lady Strange. “It can’t be
caught, or stopped, or even felt.”

“I have always suspected that a ghost that can be seen can be felt,
especially if it wears clothes,” replied Foxwell. “However it be, here
is an opportunity to settle the question,—if the ghost continues to
haunt the same place. We will set our trap this evening; if we catch
nothing, we’ll try again to-morrow; and so on, till something occurs, or
we grow tired. We had best tell nobody of our purpose: the ghost may
have accomplices. Pray let none of the servants know, but the men I
employ in the affair.”

He bestirred himself at once in preparations, glad of having found fresh
means, not only of distracting his own thoughts somewhat from the letter
in Squire Thornby’s possession, but also of blinding his guests to the
disturbance of mind which that matter still caused him.

His plans were simple. Choosing three men rather for stoutness of heart
than for stoutness of body, though they were not deficient in the latter
respect either, he instructed them to post themselves, while it was
still day, in well-concealed places at different sides of the garden.
Two, the gardener and the groom, were provided with cudgels, while the
keeper took a fowling-piece, which he was not to fire except in extreme
circumstances. At the appearance of the ghost in the garden, the keeper
was to utter a signal, whereupon Foxwell and his guests—who were to pass
the evening as usual at the card-table—would come forth as quietly as
possible, the gentlemen with their swords ready to enforce the
intruder’s surrender. Should the ghost attempt flight before the
gentlemen could arrive, the three servants were to close round him,
using their weapons only as a last resource, and after due warning—for
the ghost was probably a gentleman, and Foxwell would have it treated as
such. The three watchers were to go singly to their places of
concealment, entering the garden directly from a postern in the ruinous
eastern wing of the house, so that nobody outside of the garden itself
could see them.

“And is not the pretty pouting niece to be admitted to this sport?”
asked Rashleigh.

“By no means,” replied Foxwell, with a frown. “She has elected to keep
out of all our amusements, we can spare her company in this. If the
young prude finds satisfaction in holding aloof, for God’s sake let her
do so. She disapproves of so many things we do and say, ’tis very like
she would disapprove of this. Threatening a ghost with a cudgel,
egad!—she might take it into her head to play the spoil-sport—you know
the malice of excessive virtue.”

So nothing was spoken of the matter at dinner. This meal—which occurred
at the London hour, in the late afternoon—was now the only regular
occasion upon which Georgiana joined the company. For the passing of her
days, she had her books, the care of her wardrobe and apartments, her
music, drawing, embroidery, and walks—for she took these, though never
on the side of the house toward the park, lest Everell might risk his
safety by approaching her. She still met that gentleman each evening, at
a later hour now than at first; and he it was that occupied her thoughts
all the day, whatever the employment of her hands and feet. She
acknowledged to herself her love for him, and wondered, sometimes with
hope but oftener with deep misgiving, what the end would be. At times
she had a poignant sense of the danger he was in by remaining near her,
but she shrank even then from sending him away, for their separation
must be long and might be eternal. As deeply as he, though less
vehemently, did she lament the circumstances that compelled them to be
secret and brief in their meetings. She was by no means of that romantic
turn of mind which would have made the affair the more attractive for
being clandestine. People who do romantic things are not necessarily
people of romantic notions: it is a resolute fidelity to some cause or
purpose, that leads many a generous but matter-of-fact hero or heroine
into romantic situations. Indeed, is it ever otherwise with your true
hero and your true heroine? Are not the others but shams, or at best
poseurs? Georgiana followed courageously where love led; but because she
really loved, and not because the conditions were romantic: she was no
Lydia Languish—she would joyfully have dispensed with the romance.

On this particular evening, the conversation at dinner took a turn which
gave it a disquieting significance to her, though she bore no part in it
herself. Lady Strange had mentioned a certain young lord as having died
because he preferred his love to his life. Foxwell had politely laughed.
Lady Strange had somewhat offendedly stood by her assertion, whereupon
Foxwell had declared the thing unknown in nature. Mrs. Winter supported
him; but Rashleigh took his cousin’s side, saying, “What! no man ever
died for love, then? Surely there have been cases, Bob.”

“Men have been brought to death by their love-affairs, I grant you,”
said Foxwell, “but that is because circumstances arose which they had
not foreseen, and from which they could not escape. They have even
risked their lives to prosecute their amours, but _risking_ one’s life
upon fair odds is a vastly different thing from _deliberately offering_
it in exchange for the indulgence of one’s love. That is what my lady’s
words really mean: ‘preferring one’s love to one’s life.’ Such bargains
are mentioned in ancient history—as of the youth who, being deeply in
love with a queen, agreed to be slain at the end of a certain time if he
might pass that time as her accepted lover. Only such an act can really
be described as giving one’s life for love; and not the getting killed
unintentionally in some matter incident to a love-affair.”

“But men have killed themselves at the loss of the women they loved,”
urged Lady Strange. “There was Romeo, that Garrick plays so
beautifully.”

“’Tis the work of a poet who says in another place, ‘Men have died from
time to time, but not for love.’ When men kill themselves at the loss of
a woman, you will find they have lost other things as well—fortune and
reputation; or their wits, in drink.”

But Lady Strange held that a true lover would not hesitate to mortgage
his life for a season of love, if the latter could not be obtained by
any means at a lower price. “If he is young, and in love for the first
time,” added Rashleigh. But Foxwell and Mrs. Winter remained cynical,
and the latter became even derisive, so that the dispute grew warm on
the part of the two ladies, who did not disdain to colour their remarks
with sly personalities.

The discussion promised to be endless, and was still going on when
Georgiana left the table. Not unaffected by the allusions to fatal
consequences arising from dangerous love-affairs, she waited in her own
rooms till dusk, and then, attended by the faithful Prudence, stole
softly down the stairs, and along the terrace to the sunken garden.

AS she passed below the room in which her uncle and his friends were,
she heard their voices, and observed that one of the windows was open.
But to this she attached no importance, unusual as the fact was at that
hour, for she had other matters to think of. And indeed the night was
not chill, though a slight breeze was stirring the leaves in the garden
as she entered it. Leaving Prudence at the foot of the steps, Georgiana
swiftly threaded the different alleys of shrubbery to make sure that no
person chanced to be in the garden, a precaution she had adopted since
the first meetings; but she did not peer under any of the bushes, or
behind those that grew close to the wall, for she had not conceived that
anybody might come into the garden to hide, or for other purpose than
his own pleasure. She went and stood in the gateway near the glen-side.
A moment later she saw the dark form of her lover approaching in the
gloom of the park, and presently his arms were around her.

“How you tried my patience, sweet!” said he, leading her slowly toward
the midst of the garden. “You are later than usual. I was beginning to
think you must have appeared already, and that my eyes were so blurred
watching the gateway they had failed to see you. Two minutes more, and I
should have left my thicket and come to assure myself.”

“Never do that, I beg! Never come into the garden till you see me in the
gateway—not even though you hear my voice. Promise me you will
not—promise, Everell.”

“I would promise you anything in the world when you ask with that voice
and those eyes—anything but to cease loving you or to leave you. But I
do believe the goddess of love has this garden in her keeping, and
reserves it wholly for us, we have been so safe from intrusion in it.”

“We have been very rash. I tremble to think how careless we were at
first, when you were wont to come in before I saw that the coast was
clear. But we are never perfectly safe here—as we found last night, when
that country fellow stared in at the gateway.”

“I doubt if the yokel really saw us. But, if so, he would find nothing
strange in your being here with your maid. If he saw me, he would
suppose I was your uncle or some visitor. But I will take all
precautions, dear, if only to make your mind easy. I wouldn’t have you
suffer the least fear, not even for the sake of that look of solicitude
in your eyes, which is certainly the tenderest, most heavenly look that
a woman or an angel can bestow. It goes to my inmost heart, and binds me
to you for ever. And yet I’d have you smile, for all that, if you’d be
happier smiling.”

“I might be happier smiling, but I think I should not be as concerned
for you then,” replied Georgiana, simply, and with a smile that had a
little sadness in it.

“Ah, my dearest!” said Everell, softly, with a sudden tremor in his
voice.

The silence that followed might have been longer but that the young man
could not forget, for more than a few seconds at a time, how brief their
interview was to be. He imagined, perhaps mistakenly, that the value of
such meetings was to be measured in speeches rather than in silences,
although he attached full worth to eloquent glances.

“When I feel how dull the hours are between these short glimpses of
heaven,” said he, “I marvel to think how tedious the years must have
been before I saw you, though I knew it not.—I never chafed at danger
till now. Sometimes when I lie in the bracken yonder, or pace the dark
bottom of the glen, I am tempted to ignore all risks, come boldly to
your house, seek the acquaintance of your uncle, and measure my
happiness by hours instead of minutes.”

“Oh, Everell!—do not think of it!”

“Nay, have no fear, sweet. Your commands are sacred with me—till you
command me to leave you, or not to love you.”

“But if I commanded you earnestly to leave?—resolutely, so that you knew
I meant it?”

“Could you have the heart to do that?”

“Would that I had! I ought to have. But would it be useless?”

“As useless as it would be cruel, sweet, I vow to you.”

“But ’tis cruel to let you stay. ’Tis a wonder your presence in the
neighbourhood isn’t known already—a wonder the poacher hasn’t betrayed
you.”

“Nay, he is true as steel. We are in the same galley—both rebels, he
against the game laws and the world’s injustice, I against the present
dynasty. You must know, we outlaws stand together.—You are again in the
mood of fearing for my safety. But see how baseless your fears have been
so far. Trust our stars, dearest: mine, at least, has ever been
fortunate.”

“My fears are always returning. Sometimes I have the most poignant
feeling of danger surrounding us, of reproach to myself that I was the
cause of interrupting your flight. I have that feeling now. Oh, Everell,
loth as I am to send you away, I feel in my soul that I ought! My heart,
which would keep you here, at the same time urges you to fly: with one
beat it calls to you, ‘Stay,’ and with the next cries, ‘Go!’ Oh, why did
you not go on with your friend?”

“Indeed, ’tis better he and I are apart, since that fellow at the inn
knew we travelled together,” replied Everell, trying to reassure her.
“If the man really meant to continue dogging us, our separation was the
best means of confusing him. Dismiss your fears, sweet. If your regard
for me were love rather than compassion,—love such as I have for
you,—the only impulse of your heart would be to keep me with you: beyond
that, you would not think, either with hope or fear. And yet your
compassion, so angelic,—nay, so womanly,—I would rather have than the
love of any other woman.”

He said this honestly; for she had never in plain terms owned to him
that she loved him, and he, in the humility of a man’s first love, saw
himself unworthy of her by as much as he adored her, and therefore did
not imagine himself capable of eliciting from her what he felt for her.
Her indulgence he ascribed to the pity of a gentle heart for one whose
situation, both as a refugee and as a lover, pleaded for him while his
courtesy and honour gave assurance that her tenderness was safe from
betrayal. If her heart desired him to stay near her, he supposed, ’twas
because it hesitated to put him to the unhappiness of leaving her. That
she might suffer on her own account in his absence, did not occur to
him: she herself was all loveliness, and where she was, there would all
loveliness be; what was he that she should find him necessary to make
the world complete? Were his presence needful to her content, she would
not limit their meetings to so few moments in a long day. Thus he
thought, or, rather, thus he felt without analyzing the feeling.

“’Tis the duty of my compassion, then,” she answered, “to drive you
away. I am more convinced of it now than ever. Such foreboding, such
misgiving!—why do I feel so? I pray Heaven ’tis not yet too late.—Hark!
what was that?”

“’Tis only the master and his guests a-laughing over their
dissipations,” said Prudence, near whom the lovers happened at the
moment to be standing. “They’ve left the window open, ma’am.”

“See how easily you are frightened without cause,” said Everell. “Come,
has not the mood run its course?”

“Blame me not that I bid you go, Everell!” she replied, as if not to be
reassured. “You may come to blame me that I ever stayed to hear you!”

“For that dear fault my heart will thank you while it moves.”

“It _was_ a fault!—I see now that it was. I was so solitary, so
rebellious against my uncle and his company, that when you came my heart
seemed to know you as a friend; and I listened to you.”

“Ay, sweet listener that you were! What effect your listening had upon
me! I had wished to return to France, which in exile I had grown up to
love. This England, though I was born in it, was to me a strange
country, but you have made it home!”

He raised both her hands to his lips, while she stood irresolute, her
eyes searching his face for the secret of his confidence, which she
would have rejoiced to think better warranted than her fears. The
silence was suddenly broken by a slight, brief noise in the greenery
near the steps.

“What’s that?” she said, quickly.

“The wind,” replied Everell; but the sudden straightening of his body,
and fixity of his attention upon the place of the sound, betrayed his
doubt.

“No,” whispered Georgiana, “’twas quite different.”

“Some animal moving among the shrubs,” said Everell. “I’ll go and see.”

With his hand upon his sword-hilt, he walked to the shrubbery growing
along the foot of the bank which rose to the terrace. “’Twas
hereabouts,” he said, and, drawing his weapon, thrust it downward into
the thick leafy mass. From the further side of the mass came the loud
hoot of an owl, followed by the noise of a man scrambling to his feet.

“Ah! come out, spy!” cried Everell, as the human character of the
intruder was certified by a sound of husky breathing.

He darted his weapon swiftly here and there through the shrubbery, and
then ran seeking the nearest opening by which he might get to the enemy.
But the enemy spared him that trouble by appearing on the hither side of
the barrier, from the very opening that Everell had sought. The strange
man had a gun raised, to wield it as a club.

Everell, recalling his experience of John Tarby’s fowling-piece,
nevertheless ran toward the fellow, hoping to dodge the blow, and
disable the man by pinking him in the arm or shoulder, after which it
might be possible to learn his purpose and come to terms. But just as
the young gentleman went to meet his approaching foe, a sharp scream
from Georgiana distracted him, so that, though he saved his head, he
caught the gun-stroke on his right shoulder, and his sword-thrust passed
wide of his adversary. He now heard other feet hastening toward him
through the garden: it was, indeed, the appearance of the two other men,
coming to the keeper’s aid upon his signal of the owl’s hoot, that had
caused Georgiana to cry out. Everell, seeing his first opponent draw
back to recover himself, turned swiftly to consider the newcomers,
placing his back to the high shrubbery. One was approaching on his
front, the other at his left. They both brandished cudgels; but, as they
saw him dart his glance upon them in turn and hold his sword ready for a
lunge in either direction, they stopped at safe distance.

“Oh, Everell, fly!” cried Georgiana, hastening to his side.

“What! and leave you to these rascals, sweet?” he answered.

“They’ll not harm me: they are servants here. Save yourself!—for _my_
sake!”

He looked at her for an instant, read in her eyes the pleading of her
heart, and said, softly, “For yours, yes!—we shall meet again.”

He then started toward the gateway leading to the park and glen. But the
gardener and the groom swallowed their fear of steel, and made bravely
to intercept him. He had confidence in his ability with the sword to
deal with two men armed with cudgels. But he knew that his ultimate
situation would be so much the worse if he killed either of these
fellows. His thought, therefore, was to elude them by mere fleetness, or
slightly to disable them. He soon abandoned the former hope, for at the
first turn he tried they were swift to head him off. So he charged
straight at the nearer, thrusting so fortunately as to prick the
fellow’s shoulder, making him lower his cudgel with a howl. Everell now
tried a similar lunge at the other cudgel-man, but the latter divined
his purpose, and saved himself by tumbling over backward. The wounded
man had instantly transferred his cudgel to his left hand, and now stood
again in Everell’s way, while the fellow with the gun had come up to
threaten him in the rear. Informed of this last danger by his hearing,
the Jacobite sprang aside to the right in time to avoid a second blow.
He turned swiftly upon the gun-wielder, whose fear of the sword made him
thereupon flee toward the gateway. Everell’s three adversaries were now
all in that part of the garden through which he had intended to escape.

“This way!” cried Georgiana, from behind him; “and by the terrace!”

Everell wheeled around and made a dash for the steps. His enemies were
prompt to recover from their surprise and rush after him, the fallen man
having speedily got on his feet again. But the clean-limbed Jacobite won
to the steps by more than striking-distance. He thought to clear them in
two bounds, then cross the terrace and gain the park.

“Eh! the deuce!” exclaimed a voice at the head of the steps, as a dark
form, backed by several others, appeared there. Everell, who had just
set his foot on the middle step, checked himself at the risk of his
balance, and leaped back. The newcomer, who had a sword in his hand,
thrust downward at Everell, at the same time calling out, “The light,
Caleb!”

A lantern, which had been concealed under the coat of its bearer, now
cast its rays over the scene from one side of the stair-top. Its help
was more to those who arrived with it than to Everell, whose eyes had
become used to the light shed by the stars alone. But he was now enabled
to make sure that his new intercepter was Mr. Foxwell himself; that
Rashleigh was at that gentleman’s side, with drawn sword; that the two
London ladies stood close behind, peering forward and yet shrinking
back, as curiosity disputed with fright; and that the man servant with
the lantern carried also a coil of rope. All this was the observation of
an instant. Even as he made it, Everell put his sword at guard, and
looked a questioning defiance.

“A sturdy ghost, as I live!” cried Foxwell, motioning the three fellows
at Everell’s back, who had come to a halt at the first intimation of
their master’s arrival, to stay their hands. “My niece, too!—the
guileless Georgiana!”

“Uncle!” she began, scarce able to speak, though her pale face and
terrified eyes were eloquent enough; “this gentleman—”

“Is my prisoner, till he gives an account of himself. Do you surrender,
sir?”

“No, sir,” replied Everell.

“Then I must reluctantly order these men to take you,” said Foxwell,
politely.

“Then their deaths be on your head,” said Everell, and turned to make
another dash for the gateway, determined this time to spare none who
barred the way. To this direction of escape he was limited by his
unwillingness to try fatal conclusions with Georgiana’s kinsman. But he
was robbed of choice in the matter; for no sooner had he taken two
strides than Foxwell, afraid of losing him, leaped down the steps, and
shouted, “Turn and defend yourself!”

[Illustration: “THE TWO GENTLEMEN MADE THEIR SWORDS RING.”]

Fearing that non-compliance might result in the indignity of being
struck on the back with the sword while in flight, Everell obeyed. Ere
he could think, his blade had crossed that of Foxwell, who a second time
bade the three underlings hold off. The two gentlemen made their swords
ring swiftly, in that part of the garden near the steps, Caleb moving
the lantern so as to keep its light upon them. Georgiana watched in
fearful silence, Prudence clinging to her and recurrently moaning, “Oh,
lor!” Rashleigh stood on the steps, ready to interfere at call. The
combatants seemed admirably matched, and each had reason to admire the
other’s fencing. But, to Everell’s relief, it presently became apparent
that the elder man’s arm was weakening. The Jacobite now indulged the
hope of disarming him. But Foxwell, too, saw that possibility. He
beckoned Rashleigh, who thereupon ran forward and struck up Everell’s
sword, while the groom and the gardener, obeying a swift command of
their master, seized the Jacobite’s elbows from behind. Everell made a
violent effort to throw them off, but in sheer strength he was no match
for them. Relinquishing the attempt, he said, quietly, to Foxwell,
“’Twas scarcely fair.”

“For that I beg your pardon,” replied Foxwell, still panting for breath.
“In a matter between us two alone as gentlemen, ’twould be dastardly.
But I had to take you at all cost. You would not surrender; though you
certainly owe me an explanation on one score, and are an object of
suspicion on another.”

“Oh, Everell!” murmured Georgiana, who had fallen to weeping, and was
heedful only of her lover’s plight and not at all of her uncle’s words.

“Everell, say you? Bring the lantern here, Caleb.” In the better light,
Foxwell scrutinized his prisoner’s face. “The scar on the cheek, too.
’Tis as I thought. But how Miss Foxwell happens to participate—well,
there will be time for explanations. Sir, if you will give me your
_parole d’honneur_, I need not inflict upon you the restraint of—” He
indicated the cords in Caleb’s possession.

“I thank you, but I prefer to retain my right of escape.”

“In that case, you will admit the necessity of the precautions I
reluctantly take.” And Foxwell set about directing the servants in
fastening the captive’s wrists behind him, and in tying his ankles so as
to limit the length of his steps. With a courteous “Allow me, sir,”
Foxwell disengaged the sword from Everell’s fingers and returned it to
its own scabbard, which Everell had retained at his side. This act of
grace the Jacobite acknowledged with a bow.

“Uncle, you will not detain this gentleman?” entreated Georgiana,
conquering her tears. “He has done you no offence. As to our meeting
here, I will tell you all; the fault is mine.”

“Not so!” said Everell, quickly. “If there be any fault in that, ’tis
mine. Sir, it was not by Miss Foxwell’s desire that I came here; it was
against her will that I spoke to her. My presence was forced upon her.”

“Well, well, you shall be heard presently. You have a more serious
charge to face than making love clandestinely to young ladies.—As for
you, Georgiana, I thought you were in your chamber, wrapped in the sleep
of innocence. I’ll never trust prudery again. I beg you will go in
immediately, miss.”

“Uncle, I will not go till you have set this gentleman free. You shall
have all my gratitude and obedience: I’ll give you no cause of
complaint. Be kind—generous—I pray—” Her voice failing her, she fell
upon her knees, and essayed to take Foxwell’s hand.

“Nay, sweet, you go too far,” said Everell, tenderly.

“Too far, indeed,” said Foxwell. “No scenes of supplication, I beg,—they
are sure to make me more severe. I advise you to go to your chamber,
miss. You had best oblige me in this, else stubbornness on your part may
awaken stubbornness on mine.”

“Go, dear, and trust all to me,” counseled Everell, who had been
regarding her with eyes in which there was no attempt to belie his love.
“Go—this is not the end.”

She looked at him a moment; then turned sorrowfully away, and went
slowly up the steps and to the house, followed by her maid, to whose
proffers of assistance she gave no more heed than if she had been
walking in a dream.

“Sir,” said Everell, with a slight huskiness of voice, “let me assure
you that I am a gentleman and a man of honour; and that I respect your
niece, and have every reason to respect her, as I would a saint.”

“No assurance is needful to convince me you are a gentleman,” replied
Foxwell. “I will lodge you in a manner as nearly befitting your quality
as security and my poor means will allow. I must be your jailer for
to-night, at least.—Caleb, go before with the lantern. To the hall
first. And slowly.—I trust you can make shift to walk, sir.”

Placing the gardener and the groom at either side of the prisoner, and
the keeper at his rear, Foxwell set the party in motion. The two
gentlemen, following close, gave their arms to the ladies upon reaching
the head of the steps, and the procession went on at the slow pace which
Everell’s ankle-cords made imperative.

“A mighty pretty fellow, whatever he may be,” said Lady Strange, _sotto
voce_.

“Georgiana is to be envied,” said Mrs. Winter. “Such are the rewards of
virtue.”

“He is vastly in love with her,” declared Lady Strange. “Did you ever
see such tender glances?”

“’Tis the kind of ghost you could find it in your heart to be haunted
by, is it not, Di?” queried Mrs. Winter.

“The keeper must have been in some doubt whether the ghost _was_ the
ghost,” put in Rashleigh, “before he decided to give the alarm.”

There had indeed been indecision on the part of the keeper, but upon
other ground than Rashleigh mentioned. As he sat with the gardener over
their extra beer later that night, the keeper explained to his comrade:

“I were in a powerful state o’ uncertainty, and that’s the truth of it.
For, in course, I knowed the young mistress and her maid as soon as ever
they come into the garden. And when this here young captain,—for I take
it, he can’t be no less, what with the air he have, and the way he
handle his sword,—so when the young captain appeared, I soon see how the
land lay. Though I couldn’t make out what they was a-sayin’, I could
tell it were a matter o’ clandestine love. Now I were to give a owl’s
hoot when the ghost appeared. Thinks I, ‘Devil a ghost this is, but yet
’tis the only ghost we’re like to behold. If I wait for a real ghost,’
thinks I, ‘we sha’n’t get to our beds this night; and yet I haven’t the
heart to spoil the young lady’s love-affair.’”

“And small blame to you, David,” said Andrew the gardener. “Your
thoughts was my thoughts, and I kep’ a-wondering to myself, ‘What will
David do? If he doesn’t hoot, we shall have to stay out here all night,
and then only get credit for going asleep and seeing nothing. And yet,
if he does hoot, there’ll be a pretty kettle o’ fish for the young
lady.’”

“Yes, Andrew, it were a great responsibility. I wished it had been left
to you to do the hootin’, for, thinks I, ‘Andrew’s a wiser man than me,
and he’d know the right thing.’”

“Maybe so, David, but not such a good hooter,” said Andrew, modestly.
“I’ll admit I did a’most make up my mind that such kind of love-affairs
comes to no good, and the master ought to know, so the best thing for
all of us would be for you to consider the stranger a ghost, and hoot.”

“No doubt, no doubt, Andrew, now that I hear you say so. But I couldn’t
muster up the heart, because I done my own love-makin’ in a clandestine
manner, in my lovin’ days, and I had a sort o’ fellow-feelin’ with these
young people, as you might say. So I couldn’t make up my mind. But I
happened to move my leg, which were powerful cramped with sittin’ long
in one position, an’ I made more noise nor I bargained for. And the
first thing I knew, the young gentleman were a-proddin’ at me through
the shrub’ry. So before I ever thought, the hoot come out, more as if
there was a owl inside o’ me which hooted of its own accord, than if it
was of my own free will.”

“It wasn’t of your own free will, man. Take my word for it, the matter
was took out o’ your hands altogether. The moving of your leg was
ordered from above, to bring about the end that was predestinated.”

“I believe it were, Andrew. At all events, once the hoot was out, the
fat was in the fire. It weren’t a bad hoot, though, were it?”

“Better nor a real owl could do, David,” said Andrew, raising his beer
to his mouth.

Continue Reading

RISKS

THE slender young gentleman, after his swift survey of the surroundings,
opened the door to the public dining-room.

“Come along, the place is empty,” he said, and, picking up one of the
cloak-bags, stepped briskly into the room so recently vacated by Mr.
Jeremiah Filson. “Thank God for a decent-looking inn!” he added,
heartily, tossing his cloak-bag into a corner and dropping into a chair,
where he began to hum:

“‘Charlie is my darling,
My darling, my darling;
Char—’”

“Hush!” exclaimed his companion, who had followed with the other bag and
closed the door. “Heaven’s sake, Charles, none of those songs!”

But Charles finished:

“‘—lie is my darling,—
The young Cheva_leer_,’”

and then answered, gaily: “Why not? We’re alone here?”

The face of the young man—the slender one, addressed by his comrade as
Charles—was not only handsome, but pleasant and animated, being lighted
by soft blue eyes. The nose was slightly aquiline, the other features
regular. He wore his own hair; his old suit of blue velvet carried an
appearance of faded elegance; his three-cornered hat still boasted some
remnants of silver lace; he was in riding-boots, and a sword hung at his
side.

His comrade, more broadly and squarely made in face as in body, a man
serious and resolute in aspect, was similarly dressed, in clothes now in
their decline but of a darker shade.

“Ay, alone here,” said he, putting his bag with the other’s, “but ’tis
as well to leave off habits that may be dangerous. You might as easily
break out into one of the old ditties in company as alone. I dare say
nobody finds any harm in the mere singing of them; but ’tis apt to set
people’s minds on certain matters, and we’d best not have them think of
those matters in relation to us. We excite curiosity enough, I make no
doubt.”

“Only your fancy, Will. Why should we excite more curiosity than any
other two travellers?” said Charles. “What is so extraordinary in our
appearance? Come, I’ve asked you a hundred times, and you can’t answer.
Your constitutional prudence, your natural cautiousness, which you know
I vastly admire and try to emulate—”

Will smiled at this.

“Those excellent traits of thine, dear lad,” Charles went on, “cause you
to magnify things, or rather to transfigure them altogether, so that, if
anybody looks at us, you see suspicion where there is really nothing but
the careless curiosity of a moment. Where he says in his mind,
‘Strangers,’ you can almost hear him saying with his lips, ‘Jacobites.’”

“Hush! You may laugh as you please, Charles: prudence and caution, even
carried to excess, are likelier to serve our turn than carelessness and
boldness, till we are safe out of England.”

“Why, there again! You are more apprehensive a thousand times since we
have crossed the border than you were during all the time in Scotland,
all the hiding time, and the time of dodging enemies on the alert for us
in every direction.”

“I confess it. As one nears the end of a difficult or dangerous
business, one should be the more fearful of disaster. Think how it may
turn to naught all the toils that have brought one so far. Never relax
because the goal is in sight: if you trip at the last, and through your
own folly, too, ’tis the more to be regretted.”

“All true, my dear Roughwood; and yet, for our peace of mind, ’tis
comforting to think how much safer we really are in England than we were
across the border. Nobody expects to find Jacobites on the highroads of
England.”

“There have been far too many seen on the highroads of England lately,”
said Roughwood, with a gloomy smile.

“Ah, yes, the poor fellows now at Carlisle and York,” replied Charles;
“but Jacobites uncaught are a different matter. They are all thought to
be skulking in the Highlands, the Duke of Cumberland’s soldiers closing
nearer and nearer round them. Heaven send that the Prince may escape!
Would that his chances were as good as ours! ’Tis probable every mile of
the Scottish coast is patrolled by government vessels, as every foot of
the Highlands is hunted over by regulars and militia—or will be hunted
over, ere all is done. ’Twas high time we left our quarters among the
rocks and heather, and a miracle of good luck that we slipped through
the enemy’s lines and across the border. England is the safer land for
us, and vastly easier to escape from by sea.”

Their talk was interrupted by the entrance of the landlady, who took
their orders for dinner, after which meal they intended to resume their
journey. When they were again alone, Charles continued:

“So, my dear lad, as I was about to say, let us be easy in our minds,
put away apprehensions, and avoid suspicion by showing no expectation of
it. Your mad resolve to come to England and see the beloved lady before
you flee the kingdom, turns out to be the wisest course we could have
taken.”

“Wise or mad, my dear Everell,” said Will Roughwood, “I’d have taken it
at any risk.”

“And wise or mad,” said Everell, gaily, “I’d have followed you at any
risk—for company’s sake, to say no more. But indeed there’s less risk
for me than you. Very few people in England know my face: ever since
boyhood, my life has been spent abroad, until I joined the Prince. ’Tis
different with you, who were brought up almost entirely within the two
kingdoms. Egad, there’s the advantage I derive from my father having
been the complete Jacobite—one of those who, for all their love of
country, preferred exile in order to be at the centre of the plotting.”
The young man smiled to think how all that plotting for a second Stuart
restoration had come to naught.

“There’s chance of recognition for you, too,” said Roughwood. “Consider
how many people saw you when we invaded these Northern counties last
year. And consider those of our own party who have turned traitor,
buying their lives by informing against their comrades. And we are in
constant danger of encountering men who fought against us, like that
fellow we dodged so narrowly yesterday.”

“Oh, he and I had our particular reasons for remembering each other,”
said Everell, touching the scar on his cheek. “’Tis not in chance that
we should run across him again. One such coincidence is remarkable
enough.”

“Who can tell? In any case, he is not the only soldier of the enemy who
would remember us. We are like to fall in with more; and ’tis of such,
as all accounts agree, that most of the witnesses are, who have
testified at Carlisle and York.”

“Well, then, such are to be looked for in Carlisle and York at present,
except those who are in London for the like purpose. We have given
Carlisle a wide berth, we will steer clear of York, and we’ll not go to
London. And it may be that those of the enemy who remember us are still
with the army in Scotland, hunting down our comrades.”

Roughwood smiled at his friend’s habitual power of seeing the favourable
possibilities and ignoring the adverse; and could not help wondering
that fortune had brought him unscathed through so many hazards in all
the months of flight and concealment since that fatal day of defeat in
the wind and snowfall on Culloden Moor.

“You’ll run into trouble yet, I’m fearing,” said Roughwood, with
solicitude and affection in his smile.

“As for mere busybodies here in England,” Charles Everell continued,
apparently bent upon disposing of every class from which discovery might
be possible; “people to whom the idea of fugitive Jacobites might occur
at this time, they will not look to find officers travelling openly as
gentlemen. They will suppose that fugitives of our quality, if any fled
into England at all, would come disguised. Going boldly in the dress and
manner of gentlemen, wearing swords and showing no secrecy, how can we
excite suspicion? We have nothing to fear but some unlucky chance
meeting, like that we galloped away from yesterday; and the same
accident is not like to befall us again.”

“But if that fellow who recognized you should have taken it into his
head to hound us?”

“Is he likely to have put himself to the trouble? Doubtless he has his
own affairs to pursue. Be that as it may, we got rid of him easily
enough by spurring our horses and turning out of the road at the next
byway; and, if forced to it, we can do so again.”

“We may not have the same advantage again. If there had been anybody at
hand yesterday, I am sure he would have called out and denounced us. I
don’t forget his look when he first saw us, as he stood in front of that
wayside ale-house. He was about touching his hat to us as we rode up,
when he beheld your face. His hand remained fixed in the air, and he
stared as if you had been the devil. Then he glanced wildly around, and
in at the ale-house door; he was certainly looking to see if help was in
call.”

“’Twas a question for an instant whether I should run my sword through
him,” said Everell, “but thank God such impulses never prevail with me.
So I merely decided not to stop at that house of refreshment, and gave
my horse the spur. And you were good enough to follow without question,
which speaks well for your wisdom and my own, my dear Will. Always do
so, and we shall always have similar good fortune in escaping the perils
that beset us.”

“I would I knew what our guide thought of the incident, and of our
bribing him to let his horses come so far out of the way.”

“He thought merely as I told him, no doubt:—in the first case, that my
horse bolted, and that I took it as an omen against stopping there; in
the second, that we really had a friend whose house we thought to find
by turning out of the way. But whatever he may have thought, he was a
mum fellow, and doubtless went to bed as soon as we arrived at last
night’s inn; therefore he probably had no speech with the lad who took
his place this morning.”

“Well, well,” said Roughwood, smilingly resigning himself to the other’s
sense of security, “I hope your confidence will be justified to the end
of the journey. But when we come to my own county, where I am well
known, there indeed we must needs go warily.”

“Why, then, of course, we shall stir only by night,” said Everell. “And
we shall not tarry long, if all goes well.”

“Only till I can see her,” replied his friend, in a voice low with
sadness and tenderness. A brief silence fell between the two young men,
till Roughwood added, “One last meeting! And then to part,—for how long,
God knows!”

“Oh, you may come back to England safely in two or three years. When the
government has made examples enough, there will be a general pardon; or
at worst a Jacobite may slink back and his presence be winked at. So
much if our cause be never revived; if it _be_ revived, we may be able
to come back openly enough.”

Roughwood shook his head. “’Twill never be revived to any purpose. We
can never rally a larger force than we had this time; yet one can see
plainly now how vain our hopes were from the first. No, ’twas a dream, a
dream. The house of Hanover is firmly established in these kingdoms: the
star of the Stuarts is set. If a general pardon is ever granted us, it
will be for that reason,—because we can do no harm. But, meanwhile, ’tis
the day of punishment, and we must look to our necks. After I have seen
her, we have only to find Budge, and lie hid till he happens to be
sailing.”

The arrival of a maid with their dinner put a stop for the time to this
kind of conversation, in which they but reviewed their situation as they
had done a score of times within the past few days. They had ordered
frugally, out of respect to the state of their common purse, which they
counted upon to carry them to the place near which lived both
Roughwood’s affianced wife—with whom it was his hope to exchange
assurances of faith and devotion ere he fled his native country—and the
master of a certain vessel, upon whom he relied for their conveyance
across the channel. Roughwood had relations at this place, but, as they
sympathized not with his Jacobitism, which he had acquired through his
Scottish kin, he considered it imprudent to seek a further supply of
money from them. Once in France, however, he could communicate in safety
with his sources of maintenance. As for Everell, the modest but
sufficient fortune he inherited from his Jacobite father had long been
placed in France, and would be at his command as soon as he reached
Paris. The young men were now travelling upon the remainder of the gold
with which both had fortunately been supplied a few days before the
battle of Culloden. They had not had occasion to spend money during the
months of concealment immediately following upon the total defeat of
their cause at that contest, their hiding-place—first a “bothy” and
afterwards a cave—having been on the estate of a Highland gentleman who
shared in their seclusion, and by whose adherents he and they were fed.

To this comrade in defeat they owed also the clothes they now wore, as
they had considered it better advised to appear as ordinary gentlemen in
their journey through England, than to use a disguise which it would
require some acting to carry off. Having lived a part of his time in the
great world, this Highland laird was possessed of a considerable
wardrobe besides that limited to the national dress, and in order to
furnish out his two friends he had risked with them a secret visit by
night to his own mansion, which was under the intermittent watch of
government troops. The gentleman was of a build rather lighter than
Roughwood and stouter than Everell, so that his loosest set of garments
was not impossible of wear to the former, and his tightest did not hang
too limply on the body of the latter. Discarding entirely their
battle-worn and earth-soiled clothes for these, and otherwise altering
and augmenting their equipment at their friend’s expense, the two
fugitives had, by travelling at night and making a carefully planned
dash at the most critical point, put themselves outside of the region
surrounded by the Duke of Cumberland’s forces. Thereafter they had dared
to move by day, hiring horses; and either Everell’s boldness or
Roughwood’s caution, or both, had carried them so far without other
adverse chance than the meeting with the man who remembered Everell from
their encounter at Culloden. Being without passports, they had avoided
every place where troops were said to be stationed, and in crossing the
border they had kept to the moors instead of the roads: for their
eccentric manner of travelling, their invention was equal to such
pretexts as the curiosity of horse-boys and others might require.

When the servant left them to their dinner, they reverted to their
former subject, talking as they ate.

“’Tis all plain sailing, to my sight,” said Everell, cheerfully, “until
we entrust our precious bodies to the care of your friend the smuggler.”

“I’ll warrant Budge to be true stuff,” replied Roughwood, confidently.
“He would risk his cutter to save my neck. We used to play with his
children on the cliffs, he and I.—And now I shall be looking on those
cliffs for the last time, perhaps,—and on England! Well, ’tis the fate
of losers in the game of rebellion.” He made no attempt to restrain the
sigh this melancholy reflection evoked.

“Tut, tut, lad!” protested Everell, with unfeigned lightness of heart;
“take my word for it, a man can live out of England. What is it
Shakespeare says, that my father used to quote when our
fellow-countrymen visiting us would commiserate our exile? ‘There’s
livers out of Britain.’ And that speech of Coriolanus, too: ‘I turned my
back upon my native city and found a world elsewhere.’ ’Twould surprise
some Englishmen to be convinced of it, I know, but indeed there is a
world elsewhere. ’Tis a lovely country, Britain, I grant you, and would
be my choice for living in, when all’s said and done, but—there’s livers
out of it.”

“You talk as if ’twere only the leaving England,” said the other, with a
sorrowful smile.

Everell was silent a moment, gazing at his friend as if to make out some
sort of puzzle which had repeatedly baffled him. “Sure, ’tis more than I
can understand,” he said, at last. “For that lady I have the profound
respect and admiration which your own regard for her declares her due;
for every lady who merits them I have respect and admiration: but this
power of love, as I see it manifested in you! Give me leave, on the
score of our friendship, to confide that it astonishes me. How a man can
fret his soul over a woman, be miserable at the idea of parting from
her, risk his life for a meeting with her—for though we find it the
safer course now, it _was_ risking our lives to make that dash through
the enemy’s lines and across the lowlands—”

“Yet you risked yours readily enough for mere friendship’s sake,” said
Roughwood, breaking in upon the parenthesis, and so wrecking the
sentence for ever.

“For friendship’s sake, yes!—brave comradeship, good company!—indeed,
yes, and who would not? But for love of a girl!—why, ’tis worthy of Don
Quixote! Forgive me: I speak only my mind.”

“Lad, lad, what is friendship in comparison with love of a girl—real
love of a girl? You’ll sing another tune some day.”

“Never! I can assure you, never. I know not what the disease is, of
which you speak. Certainly I’m now old enough to have had it if I ever
was to be attacked.—Not that I don’t admire the beauty of women, and
commend them for their gentleness,—when they _are_ gentle,—and
compassionate their weakness as I do that of children, and find pleasure
in their smiling faces, and soft eyes, and tender blushes. I can take
joy enough in the society of a pretty creature when it falls my lot, and
count it among the other amenities of life. I value the grace and
goodness that high-minded women diffuse in this rough world. I can be
happy with sensible women, and amuse myself with light ones. But as to
being what you call _in love_, I have not fallen into that strange
condition, and I can promise you I never shall. ’Tis not in my
constitution.”

“The day will come, and the disease be all the worse for being late, as
is the case with other ailments delayed beyond the usual time.”

“No, sir: and as for hazarding life for love of a woman, I must tell you
I put a higher value upon life than that implies. You understand me—for
_love_ of a woman. To save a woman in danger, to serve a woman in any
way, is a different matter. But merely to participate in the absurdities
of love, to exchange assurances and go through the rest of the
comedy,—will you have me believe ’tis worth staking such a gift as life
for? Pretty odds, egad!—life against love! Love, which is at most an
incident, against life, which is everything and includes all incidents!
Love, against the possibilities of who knows how many years! My dear
Will!—and yet you say I am rash.”

“I am glad to find you a convert to a sense of the value of life,”
laughed Will.

“Why, you don’t think I have held life cheap because I have sometimes
ventured it perhaps without much hesitation? Be sure I have always known
what I was doing. There has always been, as there is now, a good chance
of winning through. I have not lagged behind the boldest in a fight,
’tis true—”

“Except in a retreat.”

“Ah, well, it broke my heart to fly from the field at Culloden. When I
thought of the Prince and his hopes—when I perceived that all was ended
in the whirling snow of that bleak day—I forgot myself. For a moment
life did seem of little worth; not that I ever had the cause so much at
heart, but ’twas a sad end of a brave adventure, and I felt what was
passing in the Prince’s mind. I tarried for a last stroke of protest,
and a pity it is it fell on no better object than a dog whose only
business on the field was plunder,—for I don’t think that fellow was a
true soldier; ’twas by fool’s luck he pinked me with his bayonet.—But,
deuce take it, where was I? Ah, yes. If I’ve been venturesome now and
again, I have never felt that the danger was more than my arm and eye
were equal to,—and that’s not rashness, Will. A man is a fool who
doesn’t hold life precious. If it isn’t precious, what’s the merit in
risking it for a good cause? There are so many fine things to see and do
when one is alive, ’tis sheer lunacy to place them all in the balance
against a trifle. As for the satisfaction of looking on a pretty face
for a greater or less space of time,—no, ’tis not enough.”

“Wait till you see the right face, dear lad,” said Roughwood, quietly.

“When I do, dear lad, you shall hear of it.”

Upon this speech, blithely uttered, Everell filled their two glasses
with wine from the single bottle they had ordered. The young men were
about to pledge each other, when the sudden opening of the door caused
them to look sharply in that direction, holding their glasses midway
between table and lips. A young lady came in with quick steps. At sight
of the gentlemen, she stopped at once, and looked sweetly embarrassed.
Everell and Roughwood rose to their feet, and bowed.

“Your pardon, sirs,” said the intruder. “I was—I wanted to see
Prudence.” Her confusion, to which was due the strangeness of this
remark, became all the greater on her perceiving that strangeness, and
she blushed deeply.

“Prudence?” echoed Everell, politely. “If you mean a lady of that name,
we have not seen her here.”

“She is my waiting-woman,” explained Georgiana. “I didn’t expect to find
her in this room. She is in the kitchen, no doubt, so I thought of
coming to this room and ringing the bell. I thought there might be
nobody here, but I see I intrude.”

“Not in the least,” said Everell, earnestly. “You arrive just in time to
provide us with a toast. To those sweet eyes!”

He was about to drink, when the new wave of crimson that swept over her
face at this tenderly spoken praise of her visual organs engendered a
sudden abashment in Everell. “I have been too bold, perhaps,” he said,
in a kind of vague alarm. “If so, I entreat your pardon, madam.”

She looked at him with undisguised interest, and said, slowly, “I know
not. If you are bold, there seems a respect in your boldness,—a
gentleness and a consideration—” She stopped short, as having gone too
far. A slight quiver of the lip, and a certain note of resentment in her
last words, combined with the words themselves, conveyed a message to
his quick wit.

“Madam, some one has offended you,” he said, instantly setting down his
wine, and walking toward her and the door. “Where is the person?”

She raised her hand to check him, frightened at having created the
possibility of a scene. “Nay, ’tis nothing! Stay, I beg you, sir!”

“Who could be ungentle to one who is all gentleness?” cried Everell. “It
must have occurred but now—they must be near—in this inn. In what room?
Pray tell me.”

“’Twas nothing, sir, I assure you. I spoke in a moment of foolish
vexation. I was merely annoyed at their talk. I had no right to be—no
offence was meant.”

“People should be careful that offence is not given, as well as not
meant. They should be chastised for their carelessness, if for nothing
more.”

“Nay, it is not to be heard of. Two of them are of my own sex, and
another is my relation. I had no real cause to be angry. The fault is
all mine, indeed. I have been much in the wrong to leave them so
rudely,—and more in the wrong to speak of the matter to a stranger. Pray
forget all I have said, sir,—pray do, as you are a gentleman.”

He had been on the point of answering at the end of each sentence, but
her rapidity of speech prevented. She stopped now, with a look that
continued her appeal and besought an assurance.

“As I am a gentleman,” said Everell, “I will obey your least command—or
your greatest. But as I am a gentleman, I would not have you consider me
as a stranger. I grant we have never met before; but such true and
gentle eyes as yours make friends of all who are privileged to see them.
As for my own deserts, I can plead only the respect and tenderness your
looks compel. Believe me, nothing in the suddenness of this meeting can
make me act lightly toward you, or think lightly of you, if you will do
me the honour to count me among your friends. My name is—”

A loud “hem” from Roughwood, who had been looking on with astonishment
at his friend’s earnest and precipitate demonstration of regard, made
Everell stop short. Georgiana, who had listened and gazed with a
bewilderment that had something exceedingly novel and pleasant in it,
was at a loss how to fill the pause with speech or act. She stood
feeling quite incapable and delighted; but her face betrayed nothing
unusual except wonder, which very well became it. Everell, however, did
not leave her long suspended. With a smile at his own predicament, he
resumed:

“Egad, I have a choice of names to tell, madam. For certain reasons, I
don’t parade my true name at present.—And yet why not in this case? I
wouldn’t deal in falsehood even so slight, with one whose looks
declare—”

But Georgiana had suddenly recalled her wits to their duty, and they had
promptly informed her how the world would expect a young lady to comport
herself in such a situation. She quietly interrupted:

“Nay, sir, I haven’t asked your name, and there is no need you should
tell it, as we are not likely to meet again. I thank you for your
willingness to befriend me, and your offer of service.—There is one
thing you may do for me, if you will.”

The dejected look that had come over Everell’s face flashed into
eagerness, and he started forward. “Name it, madam!”

Georgiana smiled, but said as sweetly as possible, to compensate in some
measure for the disappointment she foresaw too late, “If you will pull
the bell-rope yonder, I shall be very grateful—_most_ grateful.”

Everell’s looks groaned for him, and he was too far taken down to move.
Roughwood laughed gently, and after a moment, as he was nearer the
bell-rope, went toward it. This restored Everell to animation.

“Nay, Will, ’tis _my_ affair!” he cried, and, stepping between his
friend and the rope, gave it so earnest a pull, with such a flourish,
that anybody must have marvelled to see how serious and magnificent a
performance the pulling of a bell-rope could be made.

Georgiana thanked him, and stood smiling, with nothing more to say.
Everell found himself afflicted with a similar lack, or confusion, of
ideas, as well as from inability to take his eyes off the young lady.
She sought relief from his gaze by walking to the window. Presently the
maid appeared, in response to the bell.

“Tell my waiting-woman to come to me,” said Georgiana. The maid having
gone, another space of embarrassment ensued, until Georgiana was fain to
break the silence by an ill-simulated cough. This was followed by a
profound sigh on the part of Everell, who had indeed never been so
tongue-tied in his life. Roughwood meanwhile stood witnessing with
amusement. He was not the sort of man to come to the rescue at such
junctures in any case, being of a reserved disposition, and he was
certainly not inclined to pity the discomposure of his gay and confident
friend.

At last Prudence made her appearance, with officious haste and
solicitude. “What is it, your la’ship?” Seeing the gentlemen, she turned
her glance upon them before her mistress could answer. “Oh, lor!” she
cried, and stood stock-still, staring open-mouthed at Everell.

“Prudence! what do you mean?” said Georgiana.

“Oh, lor!” repeated the girl. “The gentleman with the heart! Under his
right eye, too! The very place!”

“Prudence, what impertinence! Have you lost your senses?—Sir, I beg
pardon for the poor girl. I don’t know what she means, but no harm, I’m
certain.”

“Oh, mistress, your la’ship, come away!” begged Prudence, and, taking
hold of Georgiana’s sleeve, essayed to draw her from the room. In
astonishment, and hope of learning the cause of this extraordinary
conduct, Georgiana made a brief curtsey to the gentlemen, and followed
the maid out to the passage, where she bade her explain herself. But
Prudence was not content till she had led her mistress into the opposite
entry and partly up the stairs, whither it was impossible for the gaze
of the two gentlemen to reach them.

Everell, quite heedless of the maid’s behaviour, had started forward
with a stifled exclamation of protest when Georgiana had moved to leave
them. He had stopped before arriving at the door, of course; and now
that she had disappeared from view across the passage, he turned to
Roughwood with a forlorn countenance. Roughwood, however, was in no mood
for either sympathy or rallying. Prudence’s demonstration had worked its
full effect upon him, and his brow was now grave with concern.

“Did you ever see such angelic sweetness, such divine gentleness?” asked
Everell.

“Did you attend to what her waiting-woman said?” replied Roughwood,
rather sharply.

“Something about my heart, or my eye, was it not? Sure, my heart may
well have been in my eyes, when they looked on that lovely creature.”

“She was noticing the scar on your face. She has heard you described, no
doubt. News of us has travelled along the road. ’Tis the work of the
fellow we saw yesterday, I dare say. How often did I beg you to cover
that scar with a patch?”

“Pshaw, you always see the worst possibility. The boy with the horses
has been talking of us in the kitchen, that’s all. He has invented some
wild tale of us, as those people do of their masters and employers.”

“We had best order fresh horses, and pay the reckoning; and meanwhile
finish our wine—it may be some time before we think it safe to stop long
at another inn.”

He stepped toward the bell-rope, but Everell again intervened, with the
words:

“Nay, if any report of us has gone about, a hasty departure is the very
thing to confirm suspicion. Nothing in haste:—my dear Will, how often
have I heard you give that good counsel.”

“There will be no apparent haste. We have dined without hurry.”

Everell sighed, and looked toward the door. His face brightened.

“But if we wait here awhile, we may—don’t you know—perhaps we can—we may
learn why that waiting-woman cried out at the sight of my scar,—for,
look you, if we should meet the mistress again, no doubt, if it is
something harmless—”

“At least,” said Roughwood, firmly, “I will ring and give orders and
pay. Even if you still feel inclined to tarry, there’s no harm in being
ready to go.”

Everell could not reasonably dispute this, but he was so little inclined
to take a hand in anything implying an immediate departure, that he left
all to his friend, and sat looking through the open door while Roughwood
gave orders and paid the landlady. Nothing occurred to reward his watch
during the first few minutes that passed while horses were being made
ready. He took up the glass that Roughwood gently pushed to his hand,
and drank down the wine half-consciously. He dreaded to see the horses
appear, knowing that his comrade must have his way, and that he should
probably never again behold the vision that had suddenly gladdened his
sight and warmed his heart.

But meanwhile there had been activity in the yard, and now there was a
great stamping of hoofs and rattling of harness, accompanied by the
ejaculations peculiar to men who have to do with horses. Roughwood went
to the door and looked toward the yard.

“’Tis a coach-and-six making ready to depart,” he said. “And there’s a
post-chaise, too. We are not the only people who are about to leave this
inn.”

Everell was by his side in an instant. No doubt, then, the young lady
would be leaving. A fat coachman was on the box of the private vehicle,
and the postilion was in readiness to mount before the chaise, but the
passengers of neither were yet visible. There came, however, from across
the passage the sound of well-bred voices, in easy, half-jesting tones,
and then appeared a sumptuously charming lady on the arm of a handsome,
discontented-looking gentleman; a second couple, not as distinguished in
appearance; and the young lady who had so fired Everell’s fancy. The
party moved toward the conveyances, Georgiana having no share in their
mirthful talk. She had cast a quick glance at the two young gentlemen
while her face was toward them, but had given no sign of acquaintance. A
second procession, consisting of the waiting-women and men servants with
the smaller impedimenta, followed in the footsteps of the gentlefolk,
and Georgiana’s figure was almost lost to view in the crowd about the
carriages, which was now swelled by the people of the inn.

“Which way can they be going? Who is she? If I could but learn where she
lives!” said Everell.

“The knowledge would serve you little at present, I fear,” replied
Roughwood.

“Those are the people whose talk offended her. One is her relation, she
said. By Jupiter, I must find out!”

Ere his friend could stop him Everell had started for the yard, as if
upon his own business, with some general idea of questioning the inn
folk. Going near the travellers, he heard the two strange ladies and one
of the gentlemen discussing how the party should be divided between the
coach and the chaise. The taller gentleman was speaking to the landlady.
The word “baggage” caught Everell’s ear, and he stood still.

“There are three trunks following by the wagon,” the gentleman was
saying, “to be left here. You will have Timmins the carter fetch them to
Foxwell Court immediately.”

Everell needed to hear no more. The party was evidently bound for
Foxwell Court, which must be near if the baggage following thus far by
regular wagon was to be conveyed the rest of the way by a local carter.
And of course the place must be off the route of the stage-wagons—that
is to say, off the great highway. Three trunks would have been small
luggage for so numerous a party of such quality; but Everell saw baggage
on the coach, as well. This, in fact, belonged to Lady Strange and her
party. That about which he had heard directions given was of Georgiana
and her uncle.

Everell was on the edge of the little crowd, and he turned about to look
toward the midst of it, where he had last caught a glimpse of the young
lady. To his wonder, he now beheld her close in front of him, her eyes
meeting his.

[Illustration: “‘SAVE YOURSELF,’ SHE WHISPERED, RAPIDLY. ‘YOU ARE IN
DANGER HERE.’”]

“Save yourself,” she whispered, rapidly. “You are in danger here. A man
is up-stairs who is hunting you—one Jeremiah Filson. For heaven’s sake,
fly while you may!”

Before he could answer, she had slipped back through the crowd, and was
in her former place, near the two older ladies. The attention of the
lesser folk was upon the London people, who were concerned only with one
another, and the tall gentleman was still engaged with the woman of the
inn. No one had observed Georgiana.

AT last the tall gentleman turned to his friends. Everell saw Georgiana
disappear into the coach with the older ladies; saw the two gentlemen
spring into the chaise, after casting doles to the yard servants; saw
the two maids established upon outside seats, the valets mounted, the
postilion up before the chaise, the coachman gather his reins and whip;
saw the procession move off, with Caleb at the head to show the way, the
coach next, the chaise following, and the trim London lackey riding
behind all the rest. Everell followed as far as to the door, where still
stood Roughwood. The coach had already turned down the High Street.

“She’s gone,” said he. “But not far—only to Foxwell Court.”

“Pray, where and what is Foxwell Court?” asked Roughwood, leading him by
the arm into the parlour.

“I know not, but ’tis easily learned.”

“No doubt, but we shall do better to restrain our curiosity. I trust we
shall have nothing more to excite it—or to tempt you to mingle
unnecessarily in miscellaneous crowds from inn kitchens.”

“My dear Will,” cried Everell, “my going among that crowd was a stroke
of heaven-sent luck. I received a most valuable warning—and from her,
too! Think of it, those sweet lips, those heavenly eyes, that—”

“Warning? What do you mean?”

Everell told him.

“H’m!” said Roughwood. “That explains her maid’s conduct. Somebody had
described you to the maid—somebody now up-stairs.”

“Yes, and the maid no sooner tells her of it than she takes the first
opportunity to put us on our guard, at the risk even of her good name.
What divine compassion! What—”

“And the somebody up-stairs? No doubt your acquaintance of yesterday.
Why, he may chance upon us at any moment, and give the alarm. And, if he
has mentioned you to the maid, why not to a whole kitchenful of people?
’Tis high time indeed we were out of this place. How slow they are with
the horses! We should be in another county by sunset.”

“Ay, dear Will, _you_ should—and must.”

“_I_ should? _We_ should. Here are the horses at last. Come.” Roughwood
seized the cloak-bags.

“Nay, Will, I—I will follow a little later,” said Everell, taking his
own piece of luggage.

“Later? Are you mad?—Come, come, no nonsense, Charles. You will go with
me, of course.”

“From this inn, certainly. But from this neighbourhood not for a—day or
two. I mention it now, so that the boy need hear no discussion between
us. I will ride with you a mile or so, then take my own way afoot. The
boy, of course, must keep his horses together.—I will follow you, I say:
I can find your man Budge. Let his house be our rendezvous,—I can find
it from your description,—and of course I will appear thereabouts only
at night. Instruct him to be on the watch for me. If he can sail before
I arrive, make good your own escape, and bid him expect me on his
return. That is all, I think; and now to horse.”

“But, my dear lad,—my dear, dear lad,—what folly is this? Hear reason;
you must be guided by me. You know not what you would risk—”

“No more than I’ve risked before now, and for no such cause, either.
’Tis settled, Will, I intend to stay hereabouts till I’ve seen that
young lady again. Come, the boy is waiting with the horses. ’Tis you now
that delays our going.”

“Charles, listen to me!—Rash! foolish! mad!”

“No.—I said you should hear when I saw the right face, Will. I declare
I’ve seen it—and must see it again, whatever be the cost or the
consequence.”

In another minute they were on horseback, moving down the High Street.
The coach and chaise had started in the same direction, but were now out
of sight. Everell hoped to come nearly up to them, that he might see
where they left the highroad. But even after he had cleared the town and
beheld a straight stretch of road far ahead, he found no sign of the
vehicles in which he was interested. He inferred that they must have
turned off through one of the streets of the town, which was indeed the
case.

Meanwhile, Roughwood, full of sadness and misgiving, had kept up his
usual vigilance so far as to watch their guide for possible signs of
having heard any such talk at the inn as had enabled the maid Prudence
to identify Everell. But the boy did not regard either of the gentlemen
at all suspiciously; he showed no curiosity or interest, and Roughwood
was assured that, if Everell’s enemy had spoken of them at the inn, this
lad had not been a listener. Such, as the reader knows, was the case,
for Mr. Filson had thus far confided his story to nobody in the house
but Prudence, and she had excluded herself from the conversation of the
kitchen under a sense of affront, until summoned by her mistress.
Georgiana, upon hearing the cause of her alarm at the sight of the young
stranger, had put the girl under the strictest commands of secrecy, and
had kept her in attendance afterward, quietly returning to Foxwell and
his friends as they were making ready to depart.

While he still rode with his friend, Everell allowed no mention of his
resolve or of Foxwell Court to escape him, for he knew that the guide,
whom Roughwood would dismiss at the end of that stage, would be
returning with the horses, and might be interrogated by their enemy, who
by that time would probably have learned of their short stay at the inn.
On the other hand, Everell devoted some conversation to the purpose of
deceiving the boy as to his reasons and intentions in leaving his friend
and his saddle as he was about to do. Observing a house among some trees
upon a hill, he pointed it out to Roughwood as the residence of a friend
whom he meant to surprise with a brief visit. Having spoken to this
effect, as if the matter had been previously understood between them, he
added that, in order to make the surprise complete, he would approach
the house on foot among the trees, and would therefore take leave of
Roughwood, for the time, in the road. He could depend upon the gentleman
he was about to visit to furnish him with conveyance to the next town,
whence he would follow Roughwood by post-horse. This much having been
said in the guide’s hearing, Everell pulled up his horse, and, Roughwood
doing likewise, the two fugitives held a whispered conference upon the
details of their next reunion.

To the last, Roughwood tried, by voice and look, to dissuade his comrade
from this rash and sudden deviation from their original plans, but
vainly. They made a redivision of their money, for each in his heart
felt that some time must elapse ere they should—if ever—be fellow
travellers again. Then Everell slid from his horse, slung his cloak-bag
over his shoulder, gave a quick pressure of his friend’s hand, and a
whispered “God speed you, dear lad!” in exchange for a silent and
protesting farewell in the other’s clouding eyes; and stood alone in the
highway. He waited till the horses disappeared with a last wave of
Roughwood’s hand, around a turning: he then faced directly about, and
set off with long and rapid strides.

His pace very soon brought him back to the town he had so recently left.
Instead of going as far as to their former inn, he sought out one of
humbler appearance, near the beginning of the street. Here he left his
cloak-bag, for already in his brief walk he had experienced the stares
of wonder naturally drawn by a gentleman who carried at the same time a
sword at his side and a cloak-bag at his shoulder. He went into a
barber’s shop, where, as he had used his razor that morning, and very
little sign of beard had become visible in the meantime, his order for
shaving created in the barber’s mind an impression that he must be an
extremely luxurious gentleman in spite of his threadbare
clothes,—probably a lord in misfortune. Everell easily set the barber
talking about all the estates in the neighbourhood, and thus, without
seeming to have more design in regard to Foxwell Court than to a dozen
other places, elicited the information that that house was eight miles
away on the road to Burndale.

Returning to the inn where he had left his bag, he told the landlord he
was bound for Burndale, and had made up his mind to accomplish part of
the journey that afternoon, in order to arrive there betimes the next
day. He bargained for a horse and guide to take him seven or eight miles
on the way, and leave him at some place where he could pass the night
and obtain conveyance on to Burndale in the morning. In this way,
without mentioning Foxwell Court, he contrived that he should be set
down in its vicinity and yet have it supposed that his destination was
far beyond.

He had so far trusted to luck and his quickness of sight to avoid
confrontation with the enemy who, as he could not doubt, was close
enough at hand. But he breathed a sigh of relief when he at last rode
out of the town in the direction of Burndale: he believed that, whatever
inquiries might be made upon the discovery that he had passed through
the town, his traces were sufficiently confused, one set leading
southward after his friend, and the other leading to Burndale, a good
distance beyond Foxwell Court. So he rode forward with his new guide, in
as great security of mind as he had enjoyed in months.

The road lay at first between fields, and here and there great trees
stretched their boughs shelteringly over it. Sometimes green banks rose
on one hand or both, and at a certain place a stream joined the road and
went singing along in its company for half a mile. Then the way emerged
upon an open common, which undulated on one side in rounded waves of
heather till the purple mass met the gray sky, and on the other side to
the border of a wood. But presently Everell was again in cultivated
country, with stone farm-buildings set now and then upon lawny slopes
among the fields.

One great house, of which the chimneys rose in the midst of trees, and
which was to be approached by a driveway of some hundreds of yards from
a gate and lodge at the roadside, held Everell’s attention for a moment.
The guide volunteered the information that this was Thornby Hall.
Everell repeated the name carelessly, looked a second time, and thought
no more of it. Had he been able to foresee the future, he would have
given the place a longer inspection.

Two or three miles more brought them to a village. The guide said that
here was the only public-house of entertainment in the near
neighbourhood, and that if he went farther he was in danger of getting
benighted on his return. Nothing could have suited Everell’s own plan
better than this clear hint. He dissembled his content, however, and put
on a frown of disappointment as he gazed at the mere ale-house—a low and
longish building whose unevenness of line betokened its antiquity—before
which the boy had drawn up. Everell feigned a reluctant yielding to
necessity; dismounted peevishly, and showed a petulant resignation in
asking the rustic-looking landlord who appeared at the door if a decent
room was to be had for the night.

The landlord, a drowsy little old man, who was too dull, too
humble-minded, or too philosophical to resent any doubt of the
excellence of his house, replied that the best room was at his honour’s
service. Whereupon Everell, for the hearing of his guide, inquired
urgently about the possibility of getting a horse in the morning to
carry him to Burndale. Being assured on this point, also, Everell
dismissed the guide, and had his single piece of baggage taken into his
room, which proved to be not merely the best room, but the only room,
properly so-called, in addition to the long apartment which served as
kitchen, bar, living-room of the family, and general clubroom of the
village; the chambers up-stairs being mere lofts under the roof.

Everell ordered a supper of bacon and eggs, which were cooked by the
landlord’s fat, middle-aged daughter, and served by the old man himself.
Turning quite reconciled to his accommodations as soon as his guide had
left the scene, Everell drew the host into conversation, and, as the old
fellow proved to be an amiable and honest soul, even in the matter of
his charges, the traveller was shortly in possession of as many facts,
legends, and reports concerning the gentry of this and adjacent parishes
as his host had accumulated in years. All this information went through
Everell’s mind as through a sieve, with the exception of the
circumstance that the old red-brick place, with the ivy and the gables,
crowning the slope at the right, with a park behind it, which old
red-brick place his honour would have seen had he ridden a little
farther on, and would see when he rode that way in the morning, was
Foxwell Court. This piece of news did not come out till Everell had
finished his meal, and he might have learned a vast deal about the
Foxwells, for the old man’s face brightened as if at the opening of a
fresh and copious subject; but the young gentleman, with his usual
precipitancy, rose and declared his intention of stretching his legs.
Though he had cautiously refrained from being the first to mention
Foxwell Court, he no sooner knew where it was, and how near, than he
felt himself drawn as by enchantment in its direction.

As he stepped out upon the green space before the inn, a post-chaise
came rattling by at a round speed. It was empty, and Everell recognized
it as the one which had accompanied the coach from the inn yard that
day: it was now returning from Foxwell Court, as it ought to have been
doing sooner. The postilion, no doubt, had wasted time in the
sociability of the servants’ hall, and was now making his horses fly to
avoid belatement. He stared a moment at Everell, and was gone. Thinking
nothing of this meeting, so brief and casual, Everell walked rapidly off
toward Foxwell Court.

The sun had come out toward evening, and now shone bright on the
weathercock and spire of the parish church that stood embowered some
distance from the road, on Everett’s left, as he proceeded. A short walk
brought him to the end of the village street of low gray cottages in
their small gardens. Thence a little bridge bore him across a stream
that came murmuring down through a large field from the wooded land
Northward. Looking ahead on that side of the road, he perceived the
curved gables of an old house of time-dulled brick partly clad in ivy.
It stood rather proudly at the top of a broad slope and against a
background of woods or park, its upper windows ablaze with the sunlight.
The lower part of the building was hidden by the walls of a forecourt
and by a dilapidated-looking gate-house which dominated them. At the
near end of the mansion appeared a shapeless remnant of broken tower and
wing, ruinous and abandoned: from these ruins a wall extended to the
verge of a slight precipice and, there turning at a right angle, ran
back to the wood. Over the top of this wall were visible the signs of a
neglected garden or orchard.

The further, or Western, end of the house was flanked by trees and
greenery, but the slope of rich green turf which descended in one long
and gentle swell from the forecourt to the road was clear lawn. This
great convex space of green was separated from the adjacent fields, and
from the road, by a rude hedge of briar. Everell, having gazed a few
moments from the bridge, walked on along the road, intending, if
possible, to describe the circuit of the house at a respectful distance
before attempting any near approach. He came to the barred opening in
the hedge through which the private road led from the highway to the
gate-house of the forecourt, but he let only his eyes travel up the
curving way. As the hedge grew on lower ground beyond the roadside
ditch, Everell had the house in full sight while he was passing. He came
at length to where the hedge turned for its ascent, and here he found
that a narrow lane ran between it and the field adjoining.

He was speedily over the barred gate that shut this lane from the road.
Ascending toward the park behind the house, he frequently lost sight of
the latter by reason of the height of the hedge, which was, moreover,
accompanied on that side by a line of oaks. As it came to the level of
the forecourt, the hedge was interrupted by a gate. Looking across the
bars of this, Everell could see not only the house but, nearer to him,
stables and other outbuildings skilfully concealed by shrubbery and
trees. His observation from the gateway being rewarded by nothing to the
purpose, and that he might make the most use of the remaining light,
Everell went on through the lane toward the park, to which he now saw it
gave access. Passing the trees which prevented his view of the Western
end of the house, he came abreast of a terrace which lay between the
North front and the park, and which he could see across the hedge when
he stood on tiptoe. A few more steps, and a vault over a five-barred
gate, took him into the park itself, from the shades of which—for it was
not kept clear of small growth, and offered plentiful covert of bush and
bracken and other brush—he gazed upon the house as he turned and
strolled Eastward.

The balustrade of the terrace was broken here and there; and the mansion
itself, where the ivy allowed its surface to be seen, was weather-worn
and unrepaired. Yet, by virtue of its design and situation, the house
had a magnificence. This, however, did not much affect Everell at the
time, sensitive though he was to such impressions. What concerned him
was, that he saw no face at any window, nor heard any voice from any
part of the mansion except below stairs.

To complete the circuit of the place, in quest of any discovery to aid
his purpose, he walked on till he came to a deep, thick-wooded glen that
cut into the park from the grounds about the ruined Eastern end of the
house. Through this ran the stream which, subsequently traversing the
great field between the house and the village, crossed under the bridge.
Everell turned along the crest of the glen-side, and thus in a few steps
emerged, through a gate in the stone wall, upon the wild garden or
orchard, of which he had seen signs from the road. It was a neglected
place, evidently not now resorted to. Steps descended to it from the
terrace, yet it was not so much lower but that Everell could glance
along the terrace and the North front of the house. He leaned against a
vacant stone pedestal to rest and consider.

The sun had set, and, far beyond the length of the terrace, the
undulating fields and moorland, and the distant darkening mountains, was
a sky of red and gold. But Everell had eyes for nothing but the old
mansion, which was to him a case holding the loveliest jewel he had ever
beheld. As the dusk came on, light appeared at some of the lower
windows; a few notes of laughter and other vocal sounds gave evidence of
life. But nobody came forth. Everell dared not hope to catch a glimpse
of the admired one that evening. He was at last sensible that night had
fallen. All the colour had gone out of the West, and stars had appeared.

He would have moved, to warm himself by walking, but that two of the
upper windows began to glow. Were they _her_ windows? He watched with a
beating heart, stilling even the sound of his breath. But several
minutes passed without any manifestation even of a shadow momentarily
darkening the panes. The light vanished. No doubt she had gone to bed,
fatigued with the journey of the day. Certainly they must be her
windows, for the others of the party were less likely to retire so
early. Everell heaved a sigh, and threw a kiss at the windows. Of a
sudden he was uncomfortably chilly: he bestirred himself, wished he had
thought of bringing his cloak, and started off, as much upon a feeling
that he could better meditate a course of procedure while walking as
upon the impulse to set his blood in motion. But so far was he from any
desire of going back to his inn that, without much conscious choice in
the matter, he took a quite different direction, and followed the top of
the glen-side into the park.

He had been moving at a rapid pace for several minutes before he gave
any heed to his whereabouts. He had been guided safely among bush,
bracken, and the great trunks of the trees by that unconscious
observation for which in those days there was no better name than
instinct. He now saw—for in many places the trees were not too close
together for the admission of some light from stars and sky—that he had
penetrated a good distance into the park, and had left the course of the
glen. As he stood gazing into the gloom, wondering how accurately he
could retrace his steps, he heard the loud crack of a gun, fired
seemingly about two furlongs away.

“Poachers,” said he, after a moment’s thought.

He stepped forward to the edge of an open place, which sloped down
gradually to a stream—doubtless the same that threaded the glen, or a
tributary. Beyond this water the corresponding ascent was clear of trees
for perhaps a hundred yards. Down that side of the glade a dark figure
was approaching so swiftly, and in such manner else, that Everell knew
it as that of a man running for his life. There is a difference so
pronounced as to be plain even in twilight and afar between the attitude
of a man who runs in pursuit, and that of a man who runs from pursuit;
and again, in either case, between that of one who runs in accordance
with, and that of one who runs in opposition to, the law.

Having no desire to interfere with a rogue who had just fired at, or
been fired at by, somebody’s gamekeeper, or at best had taken a
forbidden shot at somebody’s game, Everell concealed himself among some
bracken of a man’s height. He waited a few minutes, hoping to be
informed by his ears when the man should have passed. But he heard
neither footfall nor panting, nor any noise of pursuit.

Supposing that the fellow had changed his course at the stream, Everell
stepped out from the bracken. He was just in time to confront a broad
figure striding toward him. Ere Everell thought of self-defence, the
newcomer uttered an ejaculation, and sprang aside with something
upraised in the air. The next thing that Everell knew—for one rarely
feels a knock-down blow on the head from such an instrument as the
butt-end of a gun—he was lying among the bracken from which he had
recently come forth.

AT his side knelt the man who had felled him, and who was endeavouring
to ascertain if he still breathed. Everell essayed to grasp his
sword-hilt, but the other caught his wrist with a powerful hand.

“Softly, master,” said a gruff but apparently pacific voice. “’Tis all a
mistake, belike, and, if so be it is, I ask your pardon humbly. I make
you out to be a gentleman, sir, and in that case not what I supposed.
But you appeared so sudden, I took it you’d been lying in wait for me. I
struck out first, and thought afterwards, which was maybe the wrong way
about. So I stayed to see what hurt was done, and lend a hand if need
be.—Nay, you’ll find I haven’t touched your pockets, sir.”

Forgetting the injury in the chivalrous after-conduct—for nine men out
of ten would have run away, whether the blow had been mistaken or
not—Everell replied as heartily as he could:

“Why, friend, you seem a very brave fellow, and I forgive you the
mistake. As for harm, I do begin to feel something like a cracked crown;
but my wits are whole enough, so the damage can’t be very great. I can
tell better if you will allow me to rise—which you can safely do, as I
assure you I’m not your enemy, nor was I lying in wait.”

Everell then explained his concealment among the bracken, relating
exactly what he had seen. “I thought you must have got far away, to
judge from your speed down yonder slope.”

“Nay, sir,” said the man, stepping back so that Everell might rise, “I
had no need to run further. I was already off the land of them that were
chasing me—the boundary is just beyond the glade: you could see the
fence among the trees if ’twere daylight—but I kept running lest they
might send a shot after me. As soon as I found covert on this side the
glade, I stopped to get my breath. Now, sir, I’ve been as frank with you
as you’ve been with me; and I’m glad to see, by the way you stand and
step, that no lasting injury is done, after all.”

Everell, whose hat had saved his skull, and who could feel only a little
blood, and that already coagulating, was able to stand without other
unpleasant symptoms than a thumping ache of the head. His new
acquaintance seemed ready to go about his own business, but Everell was
loth to part with him so soon. He was a short, thick-set, long-armed
fellow, with a broad face, whose bold, rugged features would by ignorant
people be termed ugly, and whose scowling, defiant look would by the
same people be called wicked. But something in his speech or manner, or
even in his appearance as far as could be made out in the comparative
darkness, stamped him in Everell’s mind as an honest rascal, worthy of
confidence.

“No injury, I assure you,” replied Everell. “Indeed I must thank you for
a lesson. Henceforth I shall look before I leap, in any similar case;
with my hand on my sword, too.”

“’Tis a wise resolve, master. Though I for one am glad your hand was not
on your sword to-night: for then I should have felt sure you were in
league with them yonder, and worse might have happened.”

“By ‘them yonder,’ I take it you mean gamekeepers.”

“Ay, sir, Squire Thornby’s men. ’Tis his wood, yon enclosure. Here on
the Foxwell land a fellow is safe enough, so long as it be only a rabbit
or pheasant now and then. Sure the more fool I for not thinking of that
when you appeared—I might ’a’ known the Foxwell people would never stop
a man them Thornby keepers was down upon.”

“Then the shot I heard awhile ago was fired at you by the Thornby
keepers?”

“No need to speak of that, sir. If so be you heard a shot, why, you
heard it, and there’s an end.” While he spoke, the man fingered with the
flap of a well-stuffed pocket in his coat. “How I knew it was the
Thornby people was by their voices, sir, whereby I saw fit to run. Not
that I’m afeard of e’er a body of them all, but I hold it ’ud be fool’s
work to shorten my own life or another man’s. And right glad I be to
know I didn’t shorten your honour’s, especially now I see what sort of
gentleman your honour is.”

“’Twould have been an odd twist of luck indeed,” returned Everell,
good-humouredly. “I am much in your own case, friend: far from desiring
to trip up another man, I must look to it that I’m not tripped up
myself. My fellow-feeling at present is with the fox rather than the
hounds.”

“Then belike you are seeking cover hereabouts?” inquired the poacher, in
a tone of friendly interest.

“At all events, I wish to remain in this neighbourhood a few days,
without encountering a great degree of publicity. I say as much to an
honest rogue like yourself—I mightn’t be as free with a more respectable
man.”

“You’re not far wrong there, sir,” replied the fellow, not at all
displeased, but, on the contrary, gratified at the justice done him. “I
don’t ask to know anything; I have secrets enough of my own. But if I
can be of any small service, in the way of information about the lay o’
the land or such a matter—for I see you’re a stranger hereabouts, and I
know these parts well—better than they know me, by a great deal—why,
then, I’m your servant to command. But, if not, I’ll bid ye good night
and safe lying wherever you may lodge.”

“Oh, as for that, I lodge at the ale-house in the village, for to-night,
at least. I told the landlord I would ride on to-morrow; I shall have to
find some pretext for staying.”

“Well, sir, you know your own wishes—but ’tis not the most private
place, that there ale-house, and they be inquisitive folk, them in the
village.”

“What other lodging would you recommend?” asked Everell, for the first
time seriously awake to the curiosity that his presence must arouse in
so remote a place. “I certainly desire to go and come unobserved: I have
no mind that my motions should be watched and discussed.”

“Why, that’s a question,” said the other, frankly nonplussed.

“You ought to know the answer,” said Everell. “Surely you are able to go
and come without witnesses, when upon such amusements as brought you out
this evening.”

“Be sure I don’t live at the village ale-house, master. Nor at any
village, neither; nor in sight of one.”

“Where, then, do you live?”

“I have my cottage, and my patch o’ ground that I contrive to coax a
livin’ out of—with a little assistance from outside.” He scarce
consciously laid his palm against the fat pocket. “’Tis a poor place,
sir, but has the recommendation of privacy. ’Tis so lost in the woods,
so to speak, and closed round by hillocks and thickets, I doubt you
could ever find it if I told you the way.”

“Who lives with you?”

“Nobody at present, since my last son was took by the press-gang—he was
in Newcastle to visit his brother, who’s a porter there. They would go
out to see the world, them lads!”

“Then you have room for a lodger,” said Everell, tentatively.

“Fine lodgings for a gentleman like you, sir!”

“Never mind; I’ve had worse,” Everell replied, thinking of Scotland;
“and not so long since, either.”

“And the food, sir,—with your tender stomach?”

“Man, I’ve lived two days on a wet oatcake.”

The poacher was not the sort of fellow to offer the same objections over
again, nor to be upset by the novelty of the suggestion. The two being
circumstanced as they were, and intuitively trusting each other, no
proposal could have been more natural. So far from hemming and hawing,
therefore, the man merely enumerated such further disadvantages as a
gentleman must encounter in sharing his abode and larder, and, these
being made light of, gave his assent. The question immediately arose as
to how Everell should transfer his residence from the ale-house to the
poacher’s cottage without leaving a trace. It was important that he
should depart from the ale-house in regular fashion, lest it be supposed
that he had met with foul play, and a search be made. Moreover, he must
have his belongings—for the cloak-bag contained his clean linen,
stockings, razor, and other necessaries of decent living: though he
desired to be visible to but one person while in the neighbourhood, he
desired that to her he should appear at no disadvantage. After some
discussion, a course was planned, which Everell and his intended
host—who gave his name as John Tarby—immediately set out upon.

John Tarby led the way through that part of the wood which Everell had
lately traversed. They came, at length, to the verge of the glen; but,
instead of keeping to the edge, the guide descended the bracken-covered
side into the deeper gloom of the thickly timbered bottom. Here, indeed,
Everell found what was to him complete darkness, and he had to clutch
his companion’s coat-skirt for guidance. John Tarby, however, proceeded
without hesitation or doubt, deviating this way or that to avoid tree or
thicket, the music of the stream rising or falling as the two men moved
more or less close to its border. At last they emerged from the glen’s
mouth, at the foot of the steep incline that rose to the old sunken
garden of Foxwell Court. Here John Tarby concealed his gun by laying it
across the boughs of a young oak. Where the glen and the timber ceased,
the walkers were encountered by the high palings which served to enclose
the park on that side except where wooden bars spanned the stream. By
using the bars as a bridge, Everell and his guide crossed the stream.
Tarby led the way a few rods farther, stopped, and carefully removed a
loose paling or two. They squeezed themselves through the opening, and
stood in the field. Tarby replaced the palings in their former
apparently secure position, and then the two rapidly skirted the field,
keeping close to the fence so as to profit by the dark background it
afforded their bodies. Turning at the angle of the field, and skulking
along a rough stone wall, they finally reached the village end, meeting
their former companion, the stream, just in time for a momentary
greeting ere it passed under the bridge. Leaving the poacher to lie
unseen in the shadowed corner of the field, Everell clambered over a
wooden barrier and up a low bank, and, having thus gained the road, went
on alone to the ale-house.

The village street was deserted, but the ale-house windows showed light;
and the sound of slow, broad voices, mingled in chaffing disputation,
indicated that ale was flowing in the general room. Everell went by way
of the passage to his own chamber, where a lighted candle awaited him.
He rang for the landlord.

“I’ve found a conveyance to Burndale to-night,” said Everell, when the
old man appeared. “A belated carrier, I believe, whom I met at the
bridge yonder, where he’s waiting for me. But as I took this room for
the night, you must allow me to pay for it, and the price of breakfast,
too.”

The landlord, whose face had lengthened at the first words, now resumed
his serenity, and he amiably gathered in the silver that Everell had
laid on the table. This seemed to warm him into solicitude for the
departing guest’s convenience, and he expressed the hope that the
wagoner was at the door to carry the bag.

“Nay, he wouldn’t turn back,” said Everell; “nor could he leave his
horses. But ’tis not far to the bridge.” And he took up the bag to bear
it himself.

“Nay, then, your pardon, sir, I’ll carry it,” interposed the landlord.

“My good man, I wouldn’t think of taking you from your house and
customers.”

“’Tis not far, as you say, sir, and my daughter—”

But Everell had gone, and the obliging old fellow was left to scratch
his head and wonder. The more he wondered, the more reason there seemed
for doing so. He had not heard anything like a carrier’s wagon pass, as
it must have done if it was now at the bridge and bound for Burndale. It
was strange enough that a carrier’s wagon should travel that road at
such an hour, and stranger still that it should do so without its
custodian stopping for a cup of good cheer. And the gentleman’s
unwillingness to have his baggage carried!

The ale-house keeper was not so old as to have outlived curiosity. He
slipped out, crossed the green, and stood in the middle of the road,
peering through the starlit night. Yes, there was the figure of the
gentleman, truly enough, swiftly retreating down the village street that
led to the bridge. The landlord slunk after him, keeping close to the
walls and hedges, and stepping silently. He was soon sufficiently near
the bridge to perceive that no conveyance waited there. The assurance of
this acted so upon his mind as to make him stop and consider whether it
was safe to go further. As he stood gaping, the form of the strange
gentleman suddenly vanished. The old man stared for another moment:
then, assailed with a feeling that here was mystery nothing short of
devil’s work, he turned and fled in a panic to his ale-house.

Everell, who had not once looked back, had passed from the old man’s
view by turning from the road to rejoin the waiting poacher. Without a
word, Tarby arose, relieved Everell of the cloak-bag, and led the way
over the route by which they had come from the park. The palings were
again removed and replaced, the stream was again crossed by means of the
bars. The two entered the blackness of the glen, Tarby repossessing
himself of his fowling-piece. By the time they had ascended to the
general level of the park, the moon had risen, and, as they proceeded in
a Northwesterly direction, the more open spaces, whether clothed in
green sward or in bracken of autumnal brown, wore a beauty which Everell
associated in his mind with the young lady not far away, and thus the
silent woods and glades seemed to him a forest of enchantment.

Tarby spoke only to call Everell’s attention to landmarks by which he
might know the course again. He indicated the whereabouts of the
keeper’s lodge without passing near it. They left the park by means of
another such weak place in the barrier as had served them before, the
poacher remarking that he preferred that kind of egress even when barred
gates were near at hand. They now traversed a deserted bit of heath,
covered with gorse, and plunged into a rough wood, much thicker and
gloomier than the park behind them. Following a ditch, or bed of a
dried-up stream, they emerged at last upon some partly clear, rugged
land which rose gradually before them. This they ascended, and so came
to a region of bare, rocky hills and deep wooded hollows. Tarby kept
mainly to the hollows, until at last, having crossed a little ridge, he
descended to a vale lying in the shape of a crescent, and seeming in the
moonlight to be covered with timber; but a narrow patch of clearing ran
diagonally across, watered by a little stream. Everell and his guide
came into this clearing at the end by which the brook left it. Near the
stream—so near, indeed, that they had barely room to walk between—was a
thick mass of tall gorse bushes, threatening scratches to any intruder.
Tarby turned in among these at a narrow opening, followed close by his
wondering guest. In a moment Everell discovered that the bushes, instead
of constituting a solid thicket, formed but a hollow circle, within
which was a low cottage of timber and rough plaster.

“Here us be,” said John Tarby, dropping bag and gun to respond to the
leaping caresses of a mongrel hound that had sprung up from the
door-stone. “He won’t hurt you, sir; ’tis a ’bedient animal. When I
tells him to stop here, ’tis here he stops, and won’t come out even to
meet me, unless I call or whistle.”

The dog transferred his attentions to Everell on perceiving him to be an
approved visitor, while the poacher opened the door and lighted a candle
within. Entering, Everell found a combination of kitchen,
sleeping-chamber, and living-room, the whole giving an impression of
comfort far exceeding that of the bothy he had for a time inhabited in
Scotland.

“So this is your castle,” said Everell, looking around with approbation.

“Ay, sir, with the gorse for wall and the brook for moat. And I don’t
lack a postern to escape by, if so be I was ever hard pressed in front.”
He opened a small square shutter in the back of the room. “’Tis all
gorse out there, sir, and only me and the dog knows the path through to
the rocks.”

There was at one end of the room a pallet bed, which Tarby assigned to
his guest, saying he would shake down some heather for his own use at
the opposite end. He went out, and returned with a sackful of this,
having borrowed from the reserve supply of his cow, which he housed in a
shed on the other side of the stream. He informed Everell that he kept a
few fowls also, though the great part of his clearing was made to serve
as a vegetable-garden. He asked what Everell would like for supper, and
named three or four possibilities besides the rabbit he drew from his
large pocket. But Everell had supped at the ale-house, and, as he was
now quite fatigued, he went to bed, leaving his host to partake of bread
and cheese, while the dog munched a cold bone in the corner.

When Everell awoke, bright day was shining in through the single window
and the open doorway, and John Tarby was preparing a breakfast of eggs
and bacon. Everell, despite his now eager appetite and his impatience to
be about his purpose, dressed himself with care, performing his toilet
with the aid of the stream, and putting on fresh linen and stockings. He
then ate heartily, and, having given his host a sufficient idea of where
he wished to spend his day, set forth in Tarby’s company, that the
poacher might show him the way by daylight. Taking care to note every
landmark, Everell arrived finally in that portion of the Foxwell park
which lay near the mansion. Tarby here took his leave, to attend to his
own affairs, making a rendezvous with his guest in case the latter
should not have returned to the cottage by nightfall—for it was not
certain that he could find his way after dark at the first attempt.

Everell strolled on till the gables of Foxwell Court appeared through
the trees. He found a convenient spot where he could sit and observe the
terrace that stretched between the house and the park. His highest hope
was that the young lady would, sooner or later, come to take the air
upon the terrace and extend her walk into the park.

He sat amidst bracken, peering out through countless small openings
among the browning leaves and stems. A hundred times he changed his
position, and a hundred sighs of impatience escaped him, before anything
occurred to break the monotony of his watch. And when, toward noon, the
great door of the house opened, and figures in feminine garb appeared,
they proved to be only the two ladies in whom he was not interested.
They sauntered along the terrace, arm in arm, talking and laughing,
making a graceful picture against the broken balustrade, or on the wide
steps between the moss-covered, crumbling flower-pots. They were joined
presently by the stouter gentleman, and at last by the taller. Finally,
after a half-hour of mirthful chatter, the four went indoors again, and
left the terrace empty for another long time of waiting.

In the afternoon the same four appeared on horseback in the lane which
served as the bridle-path from the courtyard side of the house to the
park. Entering the park at some distance from Everett’s hiding-place,
they were soon lost to his view among the trees. If she should appear
now, while they were absent! As time lengthened, he meditated going
boldly to the house and asking for her. But he forced himself to
patience, only moving to another watching-place a few yards away. He had
scarcely done so, and resumed his gaze, when he beheld her standing upon
the steps of the house.

He sat perfectly still, as if the least alarm might frighten her away.
She advanced slowly down the terrace, looked West, then East, then into
the park. Would that those inviting shades might lure her!—would that
she might feel and obey the beckoning of his heart! But she turned and
walked to the Western end of the terrace, and stood for awhile in
admiration of the soft landscape and distant mountains. Presently he saw
her look sharply toward the park, as if her attention had been suddenly,
and not pleasantly, drawn that way. He heard the riders, who were
doubtless coming back, and would pass near her in going through the
lane. She turned and moved toward the opposite end of the
terrace—evidently to avoid them. She did not stop till she was looking
on the neglected garden from the top of the steps descending to it.
There she stood for a few moments, contemplating the scene; then passed
down the steps, disappearing from view.

Everell took his resolution: sprang from his place, and, bending his
body forward, dashed through bracken and behind trees to the glen-side.
He darted along the crest, reached the gate in the wall, and saw the
young lady sauntering amidst the trees and shrubbery. He glided swiftly
forth, and was on his knee, pressing her hand to his lips, ere she could
do more than utter a low cry of astonishment.

The surprise in her face was quickly followed by pleasure; but
consciousness came a moment later, with a rush of scarlet to her cheeks
and a look of faint reproof and vague apprehension to her eyes.

“Good heaven, sir,” she said, in a low voice, “I never dreamed of seeing
you again!”

“Fear nothing,” he replied, in a tone as guarded as hers; “we cannot be
observed here—the shrubbery is all around us.—I have come to thank you
for the warning you gave me at the inn yesterday.”

Continue Reading

FRIENDS

A LITTLE before noon one gray day in September, 1746, a well-made young
fellow, in appearance and fact a gentleman’s servant, rode up the High
Street of a town in the North of England, and through the passageway of
an inn to the yard. Having entrusted his sorrel nag to an ostler, he
hastened to the kitchen, and proceeded to give orders to the landlady
with an absence of deference which plainly showed that he spoke not for
himself but for his master.

There are still a few English inns not unlike those of that time. This
particular house was of dull red brick, its main part extending along
the street and pierced in the middle by the passageway which led back to
the yard. In the front, the ground floor had four wide windows, and
these were matched by four above, while a fifth was over the passage
entrance. The small panes and stone facings of the windows gave the inn
that look of comfort so characteristic of eighteenth-century houses, and
this was increased by the small dormer casements in the sloping roof.
The passage itself, paved with stones worn comparatively smooth, was
capacious enough to admit a stage-coach or a carrier’s covered wagon. As
you entered it, you saw the yard beyond, which was bounded by a wing of
the main building and by stables, sheds, and sundry out-houses. Half-way
through this passage, you found at your left hand a door, which opened
to a public parlour, wherein meals were served at a common table to
stage-coach passengers and other outside guests. At the right-hand side
of the passage was a wider doorway, giving access to a small entry, from
which you might step forward into the kitchen, or rightward into the
bar, or leftward to a narrow stairway that wound steeply to the floor
above.

The kitchen was not the least attractive of these destinations,—with the
ample fire in its spacious chimney-place, the shine of the pots and pans
on its wall, the blackened beams across its low ceiling, its table
devoted to culinary business, its greater table devoted to gastronomic
business—for all guests of low station, including the servants of those
of higher station, ate in the kitchen,—and the oaken settles and
joint-stools so tempting to the tired, hungry, and thirsty traveller who
might appear in the doorway.

“And lookye, ma’am, you’ll oblige by making haste,” said the gentleman’s
servant, having communicated his orders, “for master is following so
close he may be here in a quarter of an hour. I’ll eat my bite while
he’s on the way; for he’ll be having me wait on him at table, and as
soon as he’s finished his dinner we shall be off again,—there’s eight
bad miles between here and home.”

He went to that end of the long table whereon certain cold viands stood
exposed, while the landlady set the cook and scullery-maid upon
preparations for the meal that had been ordered. She then called a
chambermaid and bade her get the Rose—the best room in the house—ready
for the meal to be served in. By this time the gentleman’s servant had
helped himself to a good slice from the round of cold beef, and a
plentiful supply of bread, had obtained a pot of beer from the tapster,
and was seated in great comfort at the table. The landlady, a fat and
tyrannical-looking creature, turned to him.

“When your master stopped here t’other day, on his way to the South,”
said she, “he had nobody with him but you. But now that he’s coming
home, he orders dinner for two in a private room, and for one in the
kitchen besides yourself. How comes that?”

“Because he’s bringing home the young mistress and her waiting-woman.”

“Young mistress, d’ye say? What, then, has Mr. Foxwell been married? Is
that what he went South for?”

“Oh, God forbid! No, ma’am, ’tis his niece, Miss Foxwell, he’s fetching
home. She’s been reared by an aunt on her mother’s side, but now her
education is finished, and, according to her grandfather’s will, she
comes home to Foxwell Court.”

“Then Foxwell Court was left to her? It seems to me I did hear summat of
that estate going to a gran’daughter.”

“’Twas left to master and her together in some way or other—my master
being the younger son, d’ye see, and she being the orphan of the elder.
They do say master would ’a’ got the most of the property but for the
wicked life he led in London,—I’ve heard he was a terrible gay man afore
he came to the country to live,—but I wasn’t with him in them days, so
can’t speak from my own knowledge.” The youth uttered an unconscious
sigh, doubtless of regret at possibilities he had missed.

“Well, from what I’ve heard now and again of goings on at Foxwell Court
since your master came to live there,” said the landlady, “he didn’t
leave all his gay ways behind him in London; but maybe report is a liar,
as the saying is, Master Caleb.”

“Oh, no doubt there’s summat of drinking, when the master can get
anybody to his mind to drink with—for, between us, Mrs. Betteridge, he
doesn’t run well with the county gentlemen—as how should he, with his
town breeding? And I don’t say there isn’t considerable gaming, and
frolics with the fair sex; but the place has been bachelor’s hall, d’ye
see,—till now the young mistress comes.”

“And now I dare say all those fine doings will have to stop,” said Mrs.
Betteridge; “—the frolics with the fair seck, at least.”

“That’ll be a pity,” said a voice behind her, whereupon the landlady,
turning indignantly, beheld the stout form and complacent ruddy visage
of her husband.

“A pity!” she echoed, in wrath and contempt. “’Tis like you to say it,
Betteridge! I hope the young lady will keep Foxwell Court clean of the
trollops. You’d be up to the same tricks in your own house if all the
maids didn’t scorn you.”

The landlord’s only reply being a placid puff of smoke from his
long-stemmed pipe, his helpmate discharged an ejaculation of disgust and
waddled away. He took her place as catechist of the serving-man, seating
himself on the opposite bench.

“What news on the road, Caleb?”

“Nothing to make a song of, as the saying is. Except at York,—we stayed
the night there. They’ve indicted a great parcel of rebels—seventy-five
all told, I hear.”

“They did better than that in Carlisle last month,—found true bills
against a hundred and nineteen. Their trials will be coming on soon.”

“Ay, before the trials at York, no doubt. Well, all I can say is, ’tis
bad weather for Scotchmen.”

“So many of ’em have come over the border to make their fortunes, ’tis
only fair some of ’em should come over to be hanged. Well, he laughs
best that laughs last. To think what a fright their army gave us last
year,—some of us, that is,—not me. Have you heard if the Pretender has
been caught yet?”

“Not I. Some think he’ll never be caught,—that he’s been picked up by a
vessel on the Scotch coast and got safe away for France.”

“A good riddance, then, say I. I don’t begrudge him his neck, seeing
there’s no fear he’ll ever ockipy the English throne. The British
Constitution is safe. Well, ’tis all over with the Jacobites; no more
‘Charlie over the Water’; they’ll have to make up their minds to drink
to King George for good and all. ’Twill be a bitter pill to swallow, for
some I could mention.”

“You can’t say that of us. My master has always been Hanoverian.”

“Ay, ay, being town bred, and a gentleman of fashion. ’Tis some of our
country gentry I’m thinking of. Well, they are singing small at present.
Lucky for them they didn’t rise and join the Pretender when he invaded
us last year.”

“There were mighty few English in his army, that’s certain.”

“Mighty few. A parcel enlisted at Manchester. And, to be sure, there was
the garrison at Carlisle that declared for him. And some had gone to
Scotland before that to meet him,—madmen, I call them. But he had no
English of any family, barring a few that came with him from France, I
hear:—chips of the old block, they were, dyed-in-the-wool Jacobites,
from the old breed, that lived abroad for their health, eh? Well, ’tis
all over now—all over now.”

Mr. Betteridge looked gratified as he said it, but there was a
suppressed sigh beneath his content. Had he, too, in his day, sometimes
held his glass over a bowl of water in drinking the king’s health?

“Except the hangings and beheadings,” he added, as an afterthought.

Caleb made no reply, being busy with his food lest his master might
arrive before he had satisfied his hunger. The post-chaise which bore
that gentleman was now approaching the town from the South, under the
guidance of a despondent-looking postilion. Within the chaise, beside
the gentleman, sat a young lady, and on the seat improvised on the bar
in front was a lady’s maid. Between the young lady and the gentleman,
who was middle-aged, silence prevailed. They did not look at each other;
and something in the air of both seemed to denote a lack of mutual
sympathy.

When we describe the gentleman as middle-aged, we mean as ages went in
the reign of George II., for it is a vulgar error to suppose that people
generally lived as long in the “good” old days as they do now. Not to
speak of the wars and the hangman, there were bad sanitation and medical
ignorance to shorten the careers of a vast number, and “drink and the
devil did for the rest.” This gentleman in the post-chaise, then, was
not over forty. Drink and the devil had made good headway upon him: one
could see that in his face, which was otherwise a face of good breeding,
wit, and accomplishment; a handsome face, lighted by keen, gray eyes,
but marred by the traces of riotous living and cynical thoughts, and by
a rooted discontent. He was tall and gracefully formed. His dress
betokened fallen fortunes. The worn velvet of his coat and breeches was
faded from a deep colour resembling that of the wine he had too much
indulged in. The embroidery of his satin waistcoat, the lace of his
three-cornered hat, the buckles of his shoes, the handle of his sword,
and the mounting of his pistols, were of silver, but badly tarnished.
His white silk stockings were mended in more places than one; his linen,
however, was immaculate. He wore his own hair, tied behind with a
ribbon.

The young lady beside him was very young, indeed; and very pretty,
indeed, having wide-open blue eyes, a delicately coloured face, a
charming little nose, an equally charming mouth, and a full, shapely
chin. Her look was at once sweet-tempered and high-spirited; for the
time being, it contained something of disapproval and rebellion. As for
this young lady’s clothes, the present historian’s admiration for
handsome dress on women is equalled by his dislike of describing it—or
hearing it described—in detail. Enough to say that her gown of dark
crimson, with its high waist, seemed to belong by nature to the small,
slender, and graceful figure it encased; and was free from the
excess—deplored by good judges then as now—so dear to overdressed
dowdiness. She had, too, the secret still lacked by some of her fair
countryfolk, of poising a hat gracefully, thus not to look top-heavy;
hers was a hat of darker shade than her gown, with a good sweep of brim.

As for the maid, on the seat in front, she, too, was rather a young
thing,—slim and tall, with a wholesome complexion, longish features, and
the artful-artless, variable-vacuous, consequential-conciliating
expression of her tribe. An honest, unlettered, shallow, not ill-meaning
creature; cast by circumstance for a super’s part in the drama of life,
never to be anything more than an accessory.

But the pretty young lady, left to her own thoughts, of what _was_ she
thinking? Did her mind cling regretfully to the life she had just
left?—to the small, well-ordered home of her widowed old aunt; the
decorous society of the staid cathedral town in the South, with its
regular and deliberate gaieties, its exceeding regard for “politeness”?
Or did it concern itself with the home for which she was bound, the
country-house she had not seen since childhood, but which she remembered
vaguely as old and half-ruinous then?—with what manner of life she was
to lead there in the society of this strange, profligate-seeming uncle,
who manifestly did not like her any more than she could find it in her
heart to like him? Or did she have some vague intimation of great things
about to happen unexpectedly?—of matters of deep import to her future
life, destined to result from the chance coming together of certain
people at the inn ahead?

Probably Miss Georgiana Foxwell had no such thought; but ’tis a fact
that at the very time when her post-chaise was coming into sight of the
church-tower of this town, other conveyances were bringing other
travellers to the same town, to the great though unintended influencing
of her destiny. To begin at the top, for that was an age of arbitrary
social distinctions, a private coach, drawn by six horses and followed
by a mounted servant, was lumbering along slowly from the North. Then
from the East cantered two well-fed horses, bearing, as anybody could
see, their owner and his man servant. From the North again, but far
behind and out of ken of the coach-and-six, came three post-horses under
saddle, one of the riders being the custodian and guide. And lastly,
somewhere between the private carriage and the hired horses, but not
within sight of either, a stage-coach ground its way over the rugged
eighteenth-century highway. Of all the vehicles and horses that raised
the dust on English roads that day, only these—with the
post-chaise—concern us.

The first to arrive at the inn, where Caleb had by this time stayed his
stomach and stepped out to look things over in the yard, were the two
well-fed horses. Their owner, a robust, red-faced, round-headed,
important-looking country gentleman of about five and thirty, slid off
his steed with agility, and, leaving the animals to the care of his man,
was met at the entry door by the landlady.

“Welcome, Squire Thornby!—a welcome to your Worship! I hope I see your
Worship very well, sir.”

He took her obsequiousness as his due, and, with no more reciprocation
than a complacent grunt, he bade her lay a cloth in the Rose and let his
man Bartholomew bring to that room a round of cold beef and a quart of
her best ale. With his snub-nosed crimson visage, he looked the part he
had been born to fill in life; and was suitably dressed for it, too, in
his brown wig, green cloth coat, brown waistcoat and breeches, large
riding-boots, and plain, three-cornered hat.

“For I’m in haste to get home,” he added, “where I’ll pay myself for a
cold dinner by a hot supper. So bestir, Mrs. Betteridge, and don’t keep
me waiting.”

“Certainly, your Worship, sir; by all means, Squire Thornby.” And she
called to a chambermaid, “Moll, lay a cloth for the Squire in the
Thistle, and be quick—”

“I said the Rose, Mrs. Betteridge. Didn’t you hear? Thistle be damned!—I
never said Thistle.”

“The Rose, Squire? The Thistle is far the better room—_far_ the better,
your Worship.”

“Lea’ me be the judge o’ that, woman. I’ll dine in the Rose, and there’s
an end.” Whereupon he turned toward the stairs.

“Your pardon, Squire,—I wouldn’t offend your Worship for anything,—but
the Rose is bespoke already for dinner-time, and truly indeed most o’
the quality that stops here prefers the Thistle.”

“But I prefer the Rose, and the quality that stop here may be hanged,
rat ’em.”

“I’m terrible sorry, your Worship. But all’s ready in the Rose for
t’other party, sir; and the gentleman as sent orders was most particular
about having the Rose—though for my part I can’t see why he should want
that room when he might ’a’ had the Thistle, and so I thought to myself
at the time, sir; and when I seed your Worship arrive just now, thinks I
to myself, how lucky it is t’other gentleman bespoke the Rose, because
now there’s the Thistle for his Worship. And sure indeed the cloth’s
laid for t’other party, and their dinner a’most cooked, and we expect
them every minute—”

Beaten down by this torrent of speech, the Squire waved his hand for
silence, and said, with surly resignation: “Oh, well, then, the Thistle.
Who is it has bespoke the Rose, drat ’em?”

“Mr. Foxwell, your Worship, a neighbour of yours, sir, if I may say so.”

The Squire gave a start, and the cloud on his brow deepened. “Foxwell!”
he echoed. “A neighbour of mine!—H’m! Yes, there is a gentleman of that
name living in my part of the county.” With a parenthetic “More’s the
pity!” under his breath, he added, in a kind of dogged, grumbling way,
“What the deuce is he dining here for?”

“Why, sir, he’s been to the South to fetch his niece home to Foxwell
Court, and they’re coming in a po’shay, and stopping here for dinner. He
sent his man Caleb ahead on horseback to order it cooked, so they
shouldn’t be delayed, for they have eight bad miles yet from here to
Foxwell Court.”

“Ecod!” said Squire Thornby, “I have the same bad miles to Thornby
Hall—or five o’ them, at least,—and I ordered a cold dinner so _I_
shouldn’t be delayed. But, damn it, now I come to think on’t, I’ll have
something cooked, so I will! I presume my belly is as much to me as Mr.
Foxwell’s is to him. I don’t see why I should eat cold while he eats
hot. Have you got anything on the fire, Mrs. Betteridge?”

He strode into the kitchen to see for himself, followed by the landlady.

“That chicken is almost done,” said he.

“’Tis what Mr. Foxwell ordered, your Worship.”

“I might ’a’ known it! The leg o’ lamb, too, I suppose. Everything for
Foxwell. Does the man think nobody else has a soul to save?”

“The leg o’ lamb isn’t his, sir. ’Tis roasting so as to be ready against
the stage-coach arrives.”

“Then I’ll have the best cut o’ that. First come, first served:—let the
stage-coach passengers take what’s left. A beggarly lot, or they’d have
coaches o’ their own to ride in. And send up a bottle o’ the best wine
you’ve got in the house. I’ll dine as well as Mr. Foxwell, rat him!”

Leaving Mrs. Betteridge to put his orders into execution, he went out to
the passage and called his man Bartholomew, to whom he communicated his
intentions.

“Very good, your Worship,” said Bartholomew, in the manner of a servant
somewhat privileged. He was a lean, hardy fellow, of his master’s own
age, with a long, astute-looking countenance. “I see Mr. Foxwell’s man
Caleb in the yard, sir.”

“Ay, and Mr. Foxwell himself will be here presently. A sight for sore
eyes, eh? If I’d ’a’ known he was coming here, I’d ’a’ stopped at the
Crown. No, damme if I would, neither! I won’t be kept from going where I
choose by any man, least of all a man I don’t like. What’s Foxwell to
me?”

“It’s small blame to you for not liking him, sir, if you’ll pardon my
saying it, after the way he acted about his gamekeeper trespassing.”

“A damned set of poachers he keeps on that place of his. ’Tis a pity for
the county he ever came into it. The neighbourhood did well enough
without him, I’m sure, all the years he was playing the rake in London
and foreign parts.”

“It makes me sick, if I may say so,” replied the faithful servant, “the
way I hear some folks sing his praises for a fine gentleman:—it does,
indeed.”

“There are some folks who are asses, Bartholomew,” said the Squire,
warmly. “Sing his praises for a fine jackanapes! Fine gentleman, d’ye
say? How can anybody be a fine gentleman on a beggarly three hundred a
year? Why, don’t you know, don’t all the county know, ’twas his poverty
drove him down here to his estate to be a plague among us? Ecod, who are
the rest of us, I wonder, solid country gentlemen of position in the
county, to be come over by this town-bred fop with his Frenchified ways?
Give me a plain, home-bred Englishman, and hang all these conceited pups
that come among us trying to put us down in talk with their London wit
and foreign manners!”

The extraordinary heat manifested by the Squire during this oration was
a warning to his man to desist from the subject, lest he might himself
become the victim of the wrath it engendered. Moreover, the outdoor
passage of an inn was a rather public place for such exhibitions, though
fortunately there was at the time no audience.

“Will you wait for dinner in your room, sir?” suggested Bartholomew,
after a moment’s cooling pause.

“No, I won’t. Tom Thornby won’t beat a retreat, neither, for any man!
I’ll stay till he comes, now that I’m here, and if he tries any of his
London airs on me, I’ll give him as good as he sends.”

Bartholomew was too well acquainted with the obstinacy of this vain,
grown-up child, his master, to oppose; and almost at that moment a
post-chaise turned in from the street, requiring both Thornby and the
man servant to stand close to the wall for safety.

THE landlady came bouncing out, followed by her husband at a more
dignified gait, to receive the newcomers. Indifferent to their
salutations, Mr. Foxwell stepped quickly from the chaise and offered his
hand to his niece, who scarcely more than touched it in alighting. Caleb
meanwhile ran up to assist the maid, but was forestalled by Mr.
Betteridge, who performed the office with a stately gallantry quite
flustering to the young woman, causing her to blush, and her legs, stiff
with the constraint of the journey, to stumble. Miss Foxwell and the
maid followed the landlady immediately to the entry and up the stairs;
but Mr. Foxwell, as he saw Squire Thornby gazing at him in sullen
defiance, stopped to greet that gentleman in the suavest possible
manner.

“Ah, Mr. Thornby, you here?”

“Yes, sir,” replied the Squire, in the shortest of tones, and as if
determined to show himself proof against the other’s urbanity;
“attending to my own business.”

“An unusual circumstance, I suppose,” said Foxwell, pleasantly, “as you
think it worth mentioning. A dull sort of day.”

“I dare say,” was Thornby’s savage reply.

Not the least altering his amiable tone or half-smiling countenance,
Foxwell continued: “Smooth roads—that is to say, for these remote
parts.”

“Sir,” said Thornby, fiercely, conceiving himself and his county alike
disparaged, “I find these parts quite good enough for me.”

“Indeed, I envy you,” said Foxwell, with a slight plaintiveness. “I wish
from my heart I could say I find them good enough for me—since I am
doomed to live in them.”

That anything good enough for Thomas Thornby could not be good enough
for another man was not a proposition soothing to Thomas Thornby’s soul.
Having no fit retort within present grasp of his tongue, however, and
knowing that even if he had one, his adversary would find a better one
to cap it with, the Squire contented himself with a fiery glare and an
inward curse. Then saying abruptly to his servant, “See that my dinner
is served the moment it’s ready, Bartholomew,” he entered the inn and
tramped up the stairs with great weight of heel.

Foxwell laughed scarce audibly, and followed with a step as light as the
other’s was heavy. Emerging from the stair-head to a passage that
divided the rear from the front rooms, he went into one of the latter,
where he found the table set, and his niece and her maid at the window,
looking down at the street. Across the way were a baker’s shop, a
draper’s, a rival inn with gables and a front of timber and plaster; and
so forth. A butcher’s boy with a tray of meat, a townswoman with a child
by the hand, and two dogs tumbling over each other, were the moving
figures in the scene—until a clatter of horses and a rumble of wheels
were heard, and then the maid exclaimed:

“Lor, mistress, what a handsome coach, to be sure! And see the man
servant on the horse behind. People of great fashion, I’ll warrant. And
they’re coming to this very inn!”

Miss Foxwell watched listlessly till the vehicle—the private coach
already mentioned as approaching the town from the North—had disappeared
beneath the window from which she looked.

Foxwell had been standing at the empty fireplace, heedless of what might
be seen in the street. He now spoke, carelessly:

“You saw the amiable gentleman who stood below, Georgiana, and who
passed this door with so fairy-like a tread as I came up?”

“I didn’t observe him,” replied Georgiana. “Somebody passed very
noisily.”

“The same. I thought you might remember him from the days before you
left home. But, to be sure, you were a child then, and he, too, was
younger. He is one of our neighbours, Squire Thornby.”

“I remember the name, but I don’t think I ever knew the gentleman.”

“If you never did, you lost little; and you’ll count it no great
privilege when you do know him,—unless you have a tenderness for
rustical boobies.”

Georgiana making no answer, the maid said to her in a lowered voice,
“Lor, m’lady, your uncle had needs know _you_ better. _I_ saw the
gentleman, and a ojus-looking man servant he had with him. I never could
abide such bumpkin fellows.” The waiting-woman came from the town in
which her mistress had received her education; she had been promoted to
her present post from that of housemaid to Miss Foxwell’s aunt, and
naturally she brought superior notions with her to the North.

Foxwell, wondering why the dinner had not arrived, went impatiently to
the door. Steps were heard ascending the stairs, accompanied by the
voices of women.

“The party from the private coach, being shown to a room,” whispered the
maid to her mistress.

At that moment Foxwell, in the doorway, called out in pleased surprise,
“Why, as I live—certainly it is! Lady Strange, upon my soul!—and Mrs.
Winter! and Rashleigh!—George Rashleigh, or I’m a saint!”

He seized the hand of her whom he called Lady Strange, and kissed it
with a gallant fervour; treated the other lady in like manner, and then
threw his arms around the gentleman who was third and last of the
newcomers (not counting two servants) in an embrace such as was the
fashion at the time.

“Why, upon my honour, ’tis Bob Foxwell,” said Lady Strange.

She was a fair woman in the thirties, of the opulent style of beauty,
being of good height, and having a fine head, and a soft expression
wherein good nature mingled with worldly nonchalance. She was dressed as
a fashionable person of the town would dress for travelling, and her
presence brought to the north country inn something of the atmosphere of
St. James’s. As far as attire and manner went, this was true of her
companions also. The gentleman, whom Foxwell had saluted as Rashleigh,
was a good-looking man of medium age and size, retaining in face and
carriage the air of youth; he was the elegant town gentleman, free from
Foxwell’s discontent, easy-going and affable without apparently caring
much for anything in the world. The second lady, Mrs. Winter, formed a
contrast to Lady Strange: she was slight, though not angular; her eyes
were gray, and her complexion clear, yet the impression she left was
that of a dark beauty; and she had a cold incisiveness of glance.

“And your devoted slave as ever, Lady Strange,” said Foxwell, kissing
that lady’s hand again. “But in heaven’s name, what are you doing in
this part of the world? Come in, that I may see you better. Come, I am
dining in this room.”

They entered the chamber, regardless of the landlady’s eagerness to show
them to a room for their own use. Mrs. Betteridge would thereupon have
ushered their man servant and lady’s maid to the room she had chosen,
but these menials refused to proceed without orders, and so remained
outside Foxwell’s door, laden with small impedimenta of various sizes
and uses, from pistols to scent-bottles.

“One never knows who may turn up,” said Rashleigh. “I was thinking of
you only yesterday, Bob, and wondering if I should ever see you again.”

“And what ill wind for _you_,” asked Foxwell, “blows this good to
me?—for an ill wind it must be to any civilized person that blows him to
these wilds.”

“I have the honour to be escorting these ladies back to London from Lady
Strange’s country-seat by the Tweed, where they have been for the
recovery of their health.”

“And our good looks,—tell the truth, Cousin Rashleigh,” said Lady
Strange. “My dear Foxwell, we have rusticated till we are near dead of
dulness,—is it not so, Isabella?”

“Dead and buried, Diana,” said Mrs. Winter, in a matter-of-fact tone.
“And to think you are still alive, Foxwell? ’Tis so long since you
disappeared from the town, I swear I had forgot you.”

“Cruel Mrs. Winter!” replied Foxwell. “But ’tis not for you to speak of
being dead and buried. You know not what rustication is. You have
passed, I suppose, a month or so out of the world, and are now going
back to it; while I have been a recluse in this county these two years,
and may be so for the rest of my life. The town, as you say, has forgot
me, and God knows whether I shall ever return. See what poverty brings
one to, and take warning.”

The reader is doubtless aware that country-house life did not occupy in
the eighteenth century the place it does to-day in the routine of the
“smart” world. People of fashion had their town houses and their
country-seats then, of course; but many such were wont to pursue more
exclusively the one life or the other,—to be town mice who sometimes
went to the country, or country mice who sometimes came up to town.
Those who preferred the gaiety of the town were more prone to count that
time lost which they had to pass out of it, and to look down upon those
who spent most of their days in the country. When the town mice left
London by choice, it was to take the waters at Bath, or to make the
“grand tour” of the Continent. Week-end house-parties had not come in,
there were no seaside resorts, and the rich did not hie themselves in
August to the moors of Scotland. “Beyond Hyde Park all is desert,” said
the fop in the play; and Robert Foxwell and his friends were so far of
_Sir Fopling’s_ mind; they valued wit, and used “fox-hunter” as a name
of scorn. No wonder, then, that Foxwell declared himself miserable in
his exile.

“’Tis for your sins, Bob,” said Lady Strange. “You were a monstrously
wicked man in London, as I remember.”

Mrs. Betteridge now contrived to insinuate herself into the notice of
Rashleigh, addressing him as “my lord,” and begging to know the wishes
of himself and their ladyships upon the matter of dinner and rooms.

He turned to Lady Strange. “What say you, Cousin Di? I suppose we shall
be driving on as soon as we have dined—”

“You shall dine with me,” broke in Foxwell. “I’ll not lose sight of your
faces. I don’t meet a civilized being once in an age.—You will set more
places, landlady: my friends will dine here.” Without waiting for their
assent, he motioned the landlady out to the passage, and there gave
further orders.

The attention of the three Londoners now fell upon the two figures at
the window. Miss Foxwell, quite ignored by her uncle since the arrival
of his friends, had remained where she was, regarding the newcomers with
a side glance in which there was no great joy at their advent. Now that
she saw their looks directed to her, she turned her face again toward
the street, with a slight blush at the scrutiny.

“What a pretty girl it is at the window,” whispered Lady Strange to her
companions.

“And what is she doing here with Foxwell?” said Mrs. Winter, eying the
young lady critically.

“The dog!—he is to be envied,” said Rashleigh.

Resentfully conscious of the cool gaze upon her, Miss Foxwell whispered
to her maid, “How rudely those people stare at us!”

“They must be very great quality,” replied the maid, reverentially.
“Their waiting-gentleman looks the height of fashion,—but their woman
isn’t no great sights.” Miss Foxwell’s maid had been quick to inspect
the attendants of the travellers, and the lackey had already put himself
on ogling terms with her, a proceeding which the other maid regarded
superciliously.

As soon as Foxwell returned to his friends, Rashleigh called him to
account in an undertone: “I say, Foxwell, if this county produces such
flowers as that at the window, ’tis not so barren a wilderness.”

“That?” said Foxwell, carelessly. “Oh, that’s my niece, Miss Foxwell.
Come here, Georgiana.”

She obeyed without haste, and was introduced. She was not in the mood to
affect for civility’s sake a cordiality she did not feel, nor was she
conciliated by the easy graciousness of Lady Strange, the sharp,
momentary smile of Mrs. Winter, or the unrestrained admiration of Mr.
Rashleigh.

“You are a sweet child,” said Lady Strange, speaking in a sweet tone
herself, “to have such a naughty uncle.”

“I dare say my uncle is not much worse than other people,” said
Georgiana, coolly, with the intention, not of defending her relation,
but of being pert.

“She means you, Cousin Rashleigh,” said Lady Strange, smiling gaily.
“She sees your character in your face.—But, my dear, you can’t have
known much of your uncle in London. I’ll tell you some tales!”

Instead of carrying out her threat immediately, however, the lady turned
her attention to her maid, bidding her put down her burdens and go and
dine in the kitchen.

The man servant and Georgiana’s attendant being dismissed for a like
purpose, Foxwell and Rashleigh, to give the ladies that brief privacy
from masculine eyes which a toilet-marring journey makes welcome, went
down-stairs and paced the yard till dinner was ready.

“So this is the place of your retreat, Bob,” said Rashleigh; “or
hereabouts, I mean.”

“An old house and some beggarly acres eight miles from here. ’Tis my
last ditch. Perhaps I was lucky in having that to fall back into.
Fortune was set upon driving me from the field in London.”

“But you might still have contrived to live there one way or another.
Men do, who have lost their all.”

“By playing the parasite?—begging of people whom I scorn?—laughing at
great men’s stupid jests, or enslaving myself to great ladies’ caprices?
Not I. Neither could I play the common rook where I had once lived the
gentleman. Nor had I any fancy for the debtors’ prison. I might have
turned highwayman, but I am too old and indolent, and the risk is too
great. No; for a gentleman who had made the figure I had, and who could
no more keep up that figure,—curse the cards and the tables, the
mercenary women and the swindling tradesmen!—there was nothing but
self-banishment to the ancestral fields.”

“’Tis a wonder you’ve kept _them_. I should have thought, from your
habits of old, you’d have converted the last inch into the ready by this
time.”

“They are beyond my power to convert. The estate is mine only in part. I
share the possession with that young person you saw up-stairs.”

“The pretty niece?”

Foxwell shrugged his shoulders. “She may be pretty—I really haven’t
concerned myself enough to study her looks. I shall doubtless find her
an intolerable drag upon me. Notwithstanding our relationship, we are
new acquaintances. She is my brother’s orphan—the only child. She was
born at Foxwell Court, the place of my retirement, and she spent her
childhood there. Both her parents died when she was very young; my
father survived them a year, and upon his death she was sent to be
reared by her mother’s elder sister. During all this time,—from before
my brother’s marriage till after this girl left Foxwell Court,—I never
came near the place. Most of the time, indeed, I was abroad, but even
when in England I preferred the South,—and my father perhaps was not
sorry for that, for, to tell the truth, I had never agreed with him and
my brother, and, as the old gentleman loved his peace, he could spare my
presence. After his death and the departure of the girl, Foxwell Court
was shut up for a long while,—that is to say, till I sought refuge there
two years ago. My father left the place to me and my niece, on such
terms that it cannot be divided till she marries, nor my share sold
during my lifetime.”

“You speak of it as a few beggarly acres. Had he nothing else to leave?”

“Not a farthing. Ours was a family of decayed fortune. You are wondering
how in that case I contrived to make the appearance I did in town and on
the Continent. By the bounty of my Uncle Richard—you remember him, of
course: the attorney who made a fortune in speculation. He looked upon
life much as I did, and not with the puritanical eyes of my father and
brother; so he provided for me while he lived, and left me half his
shares when he died,—to prove, I make no doubt, that virtue does not
always pay best. When I had melted his shares into pleasure, I resorted,
as you know, to the cards, and the tables in Covent Gardens, thinking
they might repay in my necessity what I had lost by them in my
prosperity. ’Twas a fool’s hope! For a roof to cover my head, I came
home to Foxwell Court. I have at least enjoyed liberty there. But now
that this niece has finished her education, and comes home in accordance
with my father’s plans, responsibility begins. I was never made to play
the guardian, George. The affectionate, solicitous, didactic uncle is no
part for me. And especially to a minx who has been taught to look upon
the frivolities of the gay world with virtuous horror. We have known
each other but four days, and we hate each other already. She hadn’t
been in my society an hour till I perceived righteous disapproval
written upon her face.”

“Oh, I think you mistake the girl altogether. From the glimpse I had of
her, brief as it was, I could swear she is no prude. There is, indeed, a
delicacy and sensibility in her face, but nothing the least
sanctimonious. She seems to me a young lady of spirit, a little annoyed
about something. No doubt you expected to find such a girl as you
describe, and you behaved accordingly: she was quick to take offence,
and now you mistake her natural resentment for self-righteous rebuke.”

“I know not what my expectations had to do with the matter, but I can
see plainly enough her dislike. And, damme, George, can you imagine what
a restraint upon my conduct the presence of a young unmarried female
will be?”

“Then you have only to get her married off your hands as soon as may
be,” said Rashleigh.

“Her marriage means the division of our estate, and my share then will
not suffice to feed a horse upon. But I won’t balk at that, for the sake
of freedom, if you’ll find me a man willing to take her with the little
she’ll have.”

“I grant, gentlemen of any fashion want a good settlement with their
wives, in this age. But consider her beauty:—that is an item on account
of which I, for one, would vastly abate my demands—if I were fool enough
to marry at all.”

“She wouldn’t have you, fool or no fool. I can see she will be as
fastidious when it comes to mating as if she had ten thousand a year. I
fear this region will not furnish a man to her liking—I can commend her
good taste in that. So heaven knows when I may be rid of her! But enough
of the chit: I’m saddled with her, and there’s an end. You must do
something for me, George,—you and Lady Strange and her friend.”

“Speaking for myself, I’m entirely at your service.”

“You must make me a visit at Foxwell Court,—now. Yes, you must. Your
time is your own, I am sure. It matters not whether you arrive in town
this month or the next. While I have you, I will hold you. When we have
dined, you will drive on with me, not to London, but to Foxwell Court.
You’ll give me a week—nay, a fortnight, at least—of civilized company,
for humanity’s sake.”

“Why,” said Rashleigh, “’tis rather a change of plan—though I see
nothing against it, for my part. If the ladies are willing—”

“They _must_ be willing,” cried Foxwell. “You must persuade them:—if
naught else will do, you must be taken ill and be unable to go on to
London. Egad, I’ll poison you all with the bad wine they keep here, ere
I let you escape me!”

“Nay, let me try persuasion first. I can commend you to them as a host—I
know of old that you’ll stop at nothing that has promise of amusement in
it.”

“I’ll stop at nothing to amuse them as my guests—you may warrant that.
As for my house, you will not find it entirely uninhabitable. Some of
the company I have kept there of late, though it would amuse you well
enough, would scarce be acceptable to my Lady Strange; but fortunately,
in view of my niece’s home-coming, I have issued strict decrees of
banishment,—so we shall find no rustic rake-hells, drinking parsons, or
roaring trollops on the premises. ’Tis in such company I have found
solace in my exile—and I’ll do them the justice to say, they are better
lovers of wit and real mirth than the booby fox-chasing, dog-mongering,
horse-talking, punch-guzzling gentry and their simpering, formal
womankind.”

“You are beginning to practise self-denial, Bob,—driving your boon
companions away,” said Rashleigh, smiling.

“As a gentleman I could not do otherwise, of course. Since Miss must
needs come, they must go. I must learn to seek my amusements, such as
they are, out of the house. But I sha’n’t think of that, or of anything
to come, while you and these ladies are with me. You see I have set my
heart on having you.”

They continued in this strain, walking to and fro between the street end
of the passage and the rear of the inn yard, in which different vehicles
were standing idle, until Caleb appeared with the announcement that
dinner for the whole party was ready. Ascending, they found the ladies
on terms of cool politeness as between Georgiana and the other two.
During the course of the meal, it could be seen that Mrs. Winter had
incurred the greater part of that disfavour which the girl evidently
disdained to conceal. Good cause for this could be found, not only in
the steeliness of nature suggested by the London lady’s voice and look,
but by the great freedom of topic and remark she allowed herself. Time
and again was a hot blush called to Georgiana’s cheek, and she was fain
to fix her eyes upon her plate in indignation at the disregard of her
modesty. That was an age when many young ladies were accustomed to
liberties of speech from their elders in their presence—liberties
nowadays incredible. How they contrived to ignore them while they were
necessarily conscious of them, as it is certain they did, calls for
admiration. Nothing that we know of that most delightful of young women,
Sophia Western, makes us esteem and love her more than the way in which
she endured the coarse talk of her father, never receiving from it the
slightest taint herself, never seeming to notice the outrageous portions
of it. But it was from men only, or chiefly, that tender ears were used
to hearing conversation so free. Had she been subjected to it by one of
her own sex, even Sophia Western would have made the protest of a blush.
Not that Mrs. Winter’s anecdotes and observations were of the crude
plainness of Squire Western’s language. The lady’s tongue was a rapier,
not a bludgeon, and there would have been little if anything to reprove
in the use she made of it on the present occasion, had Georgiana been
absent or ten years older. As it was, besides the offence to her modesty
itself, Georgiana felt that she was being treated with intentional lack
of consideration. She thought the lady guilty of spite as well as
license: she noted, too, and placed to her account against him, the lack
of any protest on her uncle’s part on behalf of her innocence. He
laughed and was merry, in his easy, fine-gentlemanly way; and the young
lady, in her sense of careless outrage, could scarce restrain the tears
of injury, loneliness, and revolt.

It was not till the dinner was nearly over, and a comfortable
disinclination to resume their travels had been created in his friends,
that Foxwell put his invitation before the ladies. At first they
declared such a visit impossible, but as they could mention no respect
wherein the impossibility lay, and as Foxwell knew how to mingle
flattery with appeals to their compassion, they soon yielded.

Poor Georgiana! It may be imagined how far she shared the joy of her
uncle at the prospect of playing hostess to these people, though, as he
had called upon her openly to second his invitation, she had
perfunctorily done so. This matter settled, the rest of the company
became merrier, and Georgiana more miserable, than ever.

Meanwhile, though she knew it not, nor could have dreamt how deeply it
would affect her life, the stage-coach had arrived and left a passenger;
and the two horsemen from the North, guided by the postboy, were even
now riding into the passage beneath the room in which she sat.

SQUIRE THORNBY, in the next room, had finished his dinner before the
Foxwell party had well begun theirs. In the state of his temper he had
attacked the roast lamb with a fierceness that made his usual voracity
seem delicate in comparison. But, indeed, a good appetite had something
to do with his gastronomic energy, for he had ridden that morning from
his own house through this town to an estate some miles eastward, to
look at some hounds that were to be offered for sale, and it was on his
return that he had stopped at the inn. During his meal he sometimes gave
his feelings vent in speech to the sympathizing Bartholomew, who
remained for part of the time in attendance.

“If I ever catch that there gamekeeper of his alone without a gun,” said
Bartholomew, “you shall have your revenge on that score, sir,—if I may
be so bold as to say as much.”

“Oh, rat his gamekeeper!” cried Thornby, petulantly. “You harp and harp
on the gamekeeper!—the rascal cut you out with a girl, didn’t he? When
it comes to that, what the devil do I mind as to the poaching business
and such like? Neighbourly quarrels will arise, upon trespass and
boundaries and so forth. No, ’tis none o’ that, for all the trouble he’s
put me to. I’ll tell the truth, Bartholomew, ’tis the smooth way he has
of taking me down whenever we meet,—waving me back to second place,
like,—coming over me with his damned fine airs and glib speeches. That’s
what rubs me the wrong way. _I_ was the fine gentleman in our
neighbourhood till he came; and now—well, ecod, we shall see, we shall
see!”

This, indeed, was the true secret of the squire’s animosity, as it is of
many a bitter hatred. It is easier for some men to forget a material
injury to their rights or interests than a sentimental hurt to their
vanity, and when they have to expect a repetition of the latter in some
new form at every future encounter, they must be greater philosophers
than Squire Thornby if they do not rage. Indeed, had Foxwell’s offence
not been partly wilful, his superiority in mind and manner would alone
have drawn the Squire’s hate. Thornby’s envy was not of the admiring
sort that would emulate the merits of its object: it was of that
churlish kind which, with no desire to possess those merits for their
own sake, fiercely resents the superiority they imply.

His dinner disposed of, he went down-stairs, treading heavily as he
passed his enemy’s door, which was now closed. Bartholomew had told him
of the company that had arrived, and he could hear their laughter as he
went by. He peered into the kitchen to see what their servants looked
like; and the magnificence of attire of their coachman, valet, and
waiting-woman did not put him into any better humour. He then stepped
into the yard and viewed their coach, and finally took notice of their
horses feeding in the stalls. Seeing nothing he could disparage, he
contented himself with a sniff of scorn at such extravagant fopperies,
and betook himself to the public dining-room to wait while Bartholomew
attended to his own appetite in the kitchen. The Squire had heard the
arrival of the stage-coach some time before, and he now supposed there
might be a congenial passenger or two with whom to exchange news.

He found a single passenger—a slim, discreet-looking man of less than
medium height, with a smallish brown face beginning to wrinkle, a sharp
nose and chin, a curious appearance of huddling himself together so as
not to fill much space, and lead-coloured eyes that lifted their gaze
without haste from their owner’s plate and rested intently for a moment
upon Thornby. The eyes were then deferentially lowered. The man was
decently dressed in brown and gray, and wore a wig of the latter colour.
The Squire set him down as a tradesman in comfortable circumstances, or
perhaps an attorney or attorney’s clerk, and a civil sort of fellow who
knew how to drop his glance in the presence of his betters.

“Good day, friend,” began the Squire. “You arrived by the stage-coach
from the North, I take it.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the other, briefly, but civilly.

“Travelled far?” pursued Thornby.

“From Edinburgh, though not all the way by that coach. And previous
thereto, from Inverness-shire.”

“You’re not a Scotchman, though?”

“Oh, no, sir; not me, sir. Not so bad as that. I was with the Duke’s
army in Scotland.”

“Oh, then, you helped to put down the rebellion?” said the Squire.

“In my humble capacity, sir. I was waiting-gentleman to an officer,
sir.”

(“A mighty worthy fellow,” thought the Squire, while the stranger paused
in his talk to dispose of a large mouthful of meat. “He might pass for a
shopkeeper or a quill-driver, yet he owns at once to being a
servant—though for my part, I don’t see why a gentleman’s valet
shouldn’t rank above a rascal clerk or tradesman any day—he certainly
sees better society.”)

“I did my small share of fighting,” continued the worthy fellow; “was
wounded, sir, which is the reason I’m now going home to London.”

He put back one side of his wig, and disclosed an ear minus a good
portion of its rim. Though he gave no further information on the point,
and showed no sign of deafness, it was to be assumed that some internal
injury had been caused, for it was difficult to see how the mere
mutilation of the ear, damaging as it was to the man’s appearance, could
be held sufficient reason for his retirement from service.

“Your health, sir,” said the man, raising a pot of ale to his lips.

“Thankye,—thankye, my good man,” said the Squire, approvingly.

“You live in these parts, sir, may I be so bold to ask?” said the good
man, with a deferential mildness, having swallowed a great part of the
contents of the pot.

“Yes, certainly. Why d’ye ask?”

“Because in that case you might be able, and so condescending, to direct
me to a person I’m wishing to pay my respects to,—a gentleman of the
name of Foxwell.”

“Foxwell! What do you want of him?”

The abruptness of the Squire’s speech, and the sudden clouding of his
brow, would have attracted anybody’s notice, and were not lost on the
man whose request had caused them.

“Robert Foxwell, Esquire,” added the man, quietly, “who came into this
county from London about two years back, is the particular gentleman I
mean.”

“Ay, there’s only one,” replied the Squire, gloomily, “only one Foxwell
in this county now. He’s the last of the name.”

“Pardon me, sir,” said the other, delicately, “but if I dared take the
liberty, I should judge from your manner that you’re not a friend of
his.”

“By the lord, you’re a good judge!” said Thornby, without hesitation.

“Thank you very humbly, sir. If I might take the further liberty of
asking whether he’s a man of—ah—any considerable wealth to speak of,
nowadays—”

“He’s as poor as a church mouse, and I’m not sorry to say it.”

“I’m rather sorry to hear it,” said the man, looking gravely into his
pot of ale. “Oh, not on his account, sir: on my own. I’m purely selfish
in my sorrow, sir. The truth is, I had something to sell him.”

“Well, friend,” said the Squire, taking a seat near the table’s end
where the traveller was, “if it’s something of any value that you have
to sell, my advice is to look for another customer.”

“The trouble is,” replied the man, musingly, “this that I have to sell
wouldn’t be of any value to anybody but Mr. Foxwell—unless to his
enemies.”

The last words were spoken very softly, as if they represented a
meditative afterthought of no practical utility. The man continued to
keep his eyes lowered from meeting the Squire’s, and a thoughtful pause
ensued.

“Enemies? What the devil—?” said the Squire in his mind. But presently
he broke forth in his blunt manner, “Lookye, my man, you may speak
freely to me if you be so minded. I’m all for plain-dealing, I am. My
name is Thornby,—anybody can tell you how Thomas Thornby, of Thornby
Hall, Justice of the Peace, stands in this county. Anybody can tell you
whether he’s to be trusted or not. What’s all this here about Mr.
Foxwell and his enemies? It concerns me, by the lord, for I’m at least
no friend of his, I can tell you that much and not betray any secrets,
neither.”

“Why, then, sir,” said the other, his face lighting up as though a happy
idea had that instant occurred to him, “you might be a better customer
for what I have to sell than Mr. Foxwell himself.”

“By the lord, I’m able to pay a better price,” said the Squire, with
frank self-gratulation.

“Do you know anything of Mr. Foxwell’s history, sir?” asked the
stranger.

“I know that he was born at Foxwell Court, the old seat of the family in
this country; that he was sent away to school when young, and then to
Oxford, and after that travelled in foreign parts. Fine way to bring up
an Englishman! When he did come back to his own country, he thought best
to live in London, and he never darkened his father’s door in those
days: there wasn’t any love lost between him and his people here in
their lifetime, I’ve heard. Howe’er that be, he wasn’t seen hereabouts,
so I never set eyes on him till he came back to the Foxwell estate to
live, about two years since, after squandering a fortune his uncle left
him—so the story goes. That’s all the history I know of him.”

“I can vouch for the truth of one part, sir,—as to squandering his money
in town. I had hoped perhaps his affairs had improved since he retired
from fashionable life.”

“But what of his history? I’ve told you all I know. What do _you_ know?”

The Squire leaned forward toward the traveller with an almost painful
expression of eagerness on his face.

“Why, sir,” said the other, as if with some reluctance, “as you are good
enough to take an interest, I see no reason why I shouldn’t tell you a
little story. I dare say you remember the affair of Lord Hilby,—him that
was murdered by footpads one night in Covent Garden.”

“I heard of it at the time,” said the Squire, “’twas two or three years
ago.”

“Yes, sir. His lordship had been playing till a late hour in a
gaming-house, you may remember, and had won very heavily. He was walking
away from the house, his pockets full of gold. He was attended by a
servant and a linkboy. It was a very dark night. No doubt, sir, you know
the place,—what they call the piazza in Covent Garden, where the
gaming-houses are.”

“I was there—once,” replied the Squire, with a glum look: no doubt he
had reason to repent the experience.

“Ay, sir, once is enough for many a country gentleman,” said the other,
sympathetically, “though the tables don’t always have the best of it.
There’s been fortunes retrieved there, as well as fortunes lost. And
certainly Lord Hilby had been in wonderful luck that night. Some think
that word of his large winnings had been passed out to a person in the
street, in the short time between his rising from the table and his
leaving the house. Of course everybody in the room knew how great his
winnings were, and saw where he put them. In any case, there was no
chair to be had when he came out, and he started to walk to Pall Mall.
But he hadn’t gone far when suddenly three ruffians sprang up from the
foot of one of the pillars of the colonnade, where they had been
crouching all in a heap. One of them knocked the link out of the boy’s
hand, one attacked the servant with a bludgeon, and the third caught my
lord by the throat and called for his money.”

“’Tis a wicked, dangerous place, London!” observed the Squire, in a low
voice, shaking his head.

“The linkboy ran away, leaving his torch still burning on the ground.
The fellow who had knocked it now joined him that was grappling with his
lordship. All this the servant saw, and then he was felled to the earth,
where he lay stunned for a little while. During that time, it must have
been, the footpads struck my lord dead with a bludgeon.”

Thornby gave a shiver of discomfort.

“When the servant came to,” the narrator continued, “he found that the
footpads had gone; and two gentlemen, who had left the same gaming-house
soon after his master, were now examining him to see if he was alive, by
the light of the torch, which one of them had picked up. They had seen
the scuffle as they were coming from the gaming-house, and had run up
with their swords drawn, making such a noise that maybe the footpads had
imagined them to be a large party. In any case, the footpads had taken
to their heels. The two gentlemen informed the servant they believed his
master to be dead. He joined them in a further examination, and found
that his lordship’s money was gone.”

“Ay, to be sure,” said Thornby. “The rascals got the money before they
ran away.”

“A very natural supposition, sir,—in fact, the only probable one. The
servant came to that at once, and the world accepted it afterwards,—that
the footpads had succeeded in getting the money before the two gentlemen
arrived. But, sir, do you know that in this world ’tis just as often
that the probable supposition isn’t the true one?”

“What d’ye mean?”

“Why, sir, the truth is, as I’m a living man,—and this is entirely
between us for the present, sir,—’tis a secret I’ve kept for a long
time, and if I didn’t feel I could rely on you as a gentleman with a
particular interest in Mr. Foxwell—”

“Certainly you can rely on me,—no fears on that score. But what the
deuce has this to do with Foxwell? Come, out with it, man! I can keep a
secret as well as the best.”

“Well, sir, thanking you kindly for your assurance, the truth is, the
footpads _hadn’t_ got the money before they ran away. At least they
hadn’t got all of it, or so much but that a considerable amount was
left.”

“How, then, if the servant found it was all gone?”

“Simply that those two gentlemen, having suffered heavy losses that
night, being in all likelihood at their wits’ end for a further supply
of the needful, and finding his lordship’s pockets lined with the same,
had succumbed to the temptation of an instant, and transferred the
shiners from his pockets to their own while the servant still lay
senseless on the ground.”

“The devil you say?” exclaimed the Squire.

“A shocking thing, sir, no doubt,—robbery of the dead. It has a
singularly bad sound when put that way, for some reason or other, has it
not? So _ungentlemanly_ a crime, if I may presume to offer an opinion,
sir.”

“A devilish risky one, too, I should say.”

“Why, no, sir, I should think a particularly safe one on this occasion.
The servant and the linkboy could both testify to the attack by the
footpads, and it would be taken as certain—just as everybody did take
it—that the footpads had succeeded in their purpose before they fled.”

“Ay, but the footpads themselves knew they hadn’t. They had only to come
forward and say as much.”

“But by coming forward to say it, sir, they must needs have incriminated
themselves of the murder. No, there was little reason to fear that, I
should consider: as a matter of fact, they never did come forward. Nor I
never heard of their even threatening to do so—in a way of extorting
money, you understand. No, sir, a very safe crime on the part of the two
gentlemen, if I may say so again. And, lookye, sir, how circumstances
alter the appearance of things. Suppose my lord had lost the money in
the gaming-house that night, and these two gentlemen had won it, as
might very easily have happened. There would then have been no crime in
their possessing it, no dishonour, no ungentlemanliness; they would have
had no reason for concealment. But as matters were, if the truth ever
got out, are there any bounds to the horror and ignominy with which the
names of those gentlemen would be held by the great world they moved
in?”

“But if it never got out, then how the devil do you know it? Answer me
that, man?”

“In a moment, sir. I should have thought you would be curious as to who
these gentlemen were?”

“Well, who were they? In course I’m curious.”

“One of them was a certain baronet, since deceased; the other, Robert
Foxwell, Esquire.”

“Eh!”

“Robert Foxwell, Esquire,” repeated the stranger.

Mr. Thornby’s surprise, as depicted on his countenance, was as jubilant
as if he had received sudden news of an unexpected bequest. He rose and
snapped his fingers in the air, and seemed with difficulty to restrain a
shout. But after a moment he sat down again, and eagerly demanded:

“But how do you know it?—how do you know it, man? How are you sure of
it?”

“You shall see in a minute, sir. The baronet had excellent luck with the
money he took, and was able to make as good a figure as ever. But the
adage, sir, in regard to ill-gotten gains, though it failed in his case,
was fulfilled in Mr. Foxwell’s. There _does_ seem to be a partiality
shown in the workings of Providence sometimes. Mr. Foxwell had the worst
of luck, and soon the bailiffs were after him. He was taken to a
sponging-house, and, after trying friend after friend in vain, he saw
imprisonment for debt staring him in the face. I suppose his interest in
the family estate hereabouts was tied up in some way.”

“Ay, he could touch nothing but his share of the income,” said the
Squire.

“And on that, no doubt, he had already raised what he could. A mere drop
in the bucket, I dare say. However it be, he was certainly in a
desperate condition. I don’t know whether you’ve ever seen the inside of
a debtors’ prison, sir,—”

“Ecod, man, not me!”

“Only as a matter of curiosity, sir, I meant. But you’ll take my word
for it, I hope, that ’tis really no place for a gentleman. The fear of
it would drive a man of Mr. Foxwell’s habits, I can well believe, to
desperate measures. Well, sir, what did he do, when he saw everything
failing him, but write a letter to the baronet—he had written three
before, and got no answer—a letter to the baronet, from the
sponging-house, in which he said that if the baronet didn’t come to his
assistance immediately, he’d be damned if he wouldn’t confess all and
let the world know who really got Lord Hilby’s money that night. Yes,
sir, in black and white he wrote those words, which distinctly appear in
the letter,—‘_Confess_ all and let the world know who got Lord Hilby’s
money that night.’ So the baronet obligingly went to his assistance.”

“And how did all this come to _your_ ears?” queried the Squire.

“The baronet threw the letter, as he thought, into the fire. But he had
a faithful servant, who hooked it out, as a matter of habit, read it in
private, and filed it away for future reference. He didn’t see any
occasion to refer to it, the faithful servant didn’t, for a long time.
Meanwhile, Mr. Foxwell, after various ups and downs, finally left
London; and the baronet died. The faithful servant became
waiting-gentleman to a king’s officer, and went through the campaign in
Scotland. Being wounded, and losing his place, he set out to return to
London. He had heard what county Mr. Foxwell had sought retirement in,
and, having to pass through that county on his way South, he thought it
might be worth while to look the gentleman up and see whether he
attached any value to an interesting specimen of his earlier
handwriting.”

“So you are the baronet’s faithful servant?”

“Yes, your honour,—Jeremiah Filson, at your service. And here is the
letter.”

He produced a pocket-book from the breast of his coat, and brought the
document out of a double wrapper of soft paper. Holding it tightly with
both hands, he placed it within reading distance of the Squire, having
first drawn it back with a polite “Your pardon, sir,” when the latter
made an involuntary reach for it.

“His hand, sure enough,” said the Squire, who had sufficient reason in
the correspondence preceding their litigation to know his neighbour’s
penmanship. He first examined the signature, “R. Foxwell,” and then
carefully read the note—dashed off with a scratchy pen and complete
disregard for appearance—from beginning to end. The sheet was slightly
burnt at one side, and had in all respects the evidence of genuineness.

“Lookye, Jeremiah Filson,” said the Squire at last, as he eyed the
letter covetously, “Foxwell can’t for his life give you twenty pounds
ready money for that piece of paper. In any case you may be sure I can
outbid him. Don’t you approach him at all, that’s my advice. ’Twould be
time lost, if you expect to get anything worth while; and, besides that,
he’s a shrewd fellow, is Mr. Foxwell, and he might bubble you out of the
letter before ever you knew what you were at. You’d best deal with me,
you had. Understand, I wouldn’t make any harmful use of it, though I do
dislike the man. But I have the fancy to crow over him a little, d’ye
see,—that’s all,—nothing harmful. Now what—”

At this critical moment the pair were interrupted by Bartholomew looking
in and announcing that the horses were ready. Thornby bade him shut the
door, wait outside, and be damned. The first and second of these items
being complied with, the Squire entered into negotiations with Mr.
Filson for the possession of the letter. That gentleman, having
carefully put away the document in its former resting-place, seemed in
no hurry to come to terms. He listened to the Squire with sedate
civility, but was adamant upon the point of a good round sum in ready
money. The end of their talk was that Filson agreed to call at Thornby
Hall the next day, and not to dispose of the letter in the meantime. The
Squire did not tell the man that Mr. Foxwell was even then under the
same roof with them. If Filson found this out before Foxwell’s
departure, a meeting might occur, though it was scarce likely that
Foxwell would give opportunity for it at the inn. In any case, the
Squire would have a chance to outbid his enemy. Having elicited the
further promise that Filson would not at any time tell Foxwell that he,
the Squire, was dealing for the letter, or knew of its existence, he
took his leave.

Mr. Filson heard the Squire’s horses clatter out of the passage, and
break into a trot in the High Street. As the sound died away, he drank
the last of his ale, and indulged in a comfortable smile.

“A mighty fortunate meeting,” he mused. “This booby will buy the letter
at my own price. He would give his brains, if he had any, for the means
of getting the upper hand of his enemy. And a perfectly safe man to deal
with, too. As for Foxwell, I could never be sure but he would cut my
throat if I went to him with the letter. Now that difficulty is
removed,—’tis certainly the hand of Providence.”

He yawned profoundly, and then resumed:

“I may find this Justice of the Peace a convenient friend if I have
occasion to tarry in this neighbourhood. But I’ll get his money for the
letter first: otherwise he might make his friendship a part of the
price. A fool would have gone farther at this first interview,—but
you’re no fool, Jeremiah; no, sir, a fool is what you certainly are
not.”

He rang the bell and asked to be shown to a bedroom, saying he had not
slept the previous night. Being informed by the landlady that a room
would be ready in ten minutes, he strolled out to the yard to pass the
intervening time there. He had taken a turn or two, when out from the
kitchen came a young woman who seemed to be in a huff. She was very red
in the face, and talked ostensibly to herself, but really for the
benefit of all who might hear.

“The conversation of that London maid is truly scangelous!” quoth she.

“Eh, my dear,” said Mr. Filson, stopping in front of her, “has anybody
been scandalizing those pretty ears of yours?”

Prudence—for it was Miss Foxwell’s maid—took note of the stranger with
much artless affectation of surprise, exclaiming:

“Upon my word, sir—!” But before she got any further, she saw reason for
real wonder. “Eh! speaking of ears, what has happened to yours?”

“Honourably sacrificed in war, miss,” replied Filson, readily; “slashed
by a Jacobite officer at the battle of Culloden, four or five months
ago.”

“Oh, how barbarious!” cried Prudence. “How could he ever have the heart
to do such a thing?”

“Oh, I gave him as good as I got. If you happen to see a handsome young
gentleman with his beauty improved by a mark like a heart on a
playing-card, under his right eye, you may know that he owes that
decoration to me. I did it with a bayonet, miss, and a very pretty job I
made of it.”

“Lor, I’m not like ever to see any Jacobite officer.”

“Don’t be too sure. My gentleman is probably somewhere in this
neighbourhood. So keep your pretty eyes open, my dear. His name is
Everell—Charles Everell—so I was told by a prisoner we took, who had
seen our little exchange of compliments: though ’tis scarce like he’ll
be travelling under his real name just at present.”

“Ay, for I hear they’re going to hang all the Jacobites they catch.”

“So they are, except the great ones, and them they behead. They’ve
already begun the good work in London, both ways. Whether this gentleman
is high enough to be honoured with the axe, or whether his case will be
served by a halter, I know not. He was in the Pretender’s body-guard, at
any rate.”

“But how do you know he’s in this neighbourhood?”

“Because, sweetheart, I saw him yesterday on the road the first time
since Culloden fight. Before I had a chance to lay information against
him, he had given me the slip. I spent the whole night in trying to get
on his track, at inns and other houses. I think he may still be in these
parts, and if I can manage it he shall meet his just deserts.”

“How monstrous bitter you are against him, to be sure!”

“No. I’m not bitter, my dear. ’Tis only patriotism—loyalty;—’tis our
duty, you know, to bring any of these rebels to justice when Providence
puts it in our way. And then I’m a persistent man, too; when I once get
on the scent of a thing, I can’t stop till I’ve run it down. And so,
pretty miss,” he added, playfully, “if you happen to see such a
gentleman, within the next day or two,—young and good-looking, and most
likely travelling with a friend of about the same age, who’s also a
handsome young man but summat heavier built,—why, if you see such a
gentleman, with the ace of hearts on his cheek, hold your tongue, and
send word to me in care of this inn—Jeremiah Filson—and I’ll see you get
your share of the reward.”

Mr. Filson smiled tenderly; and then yawned. A moment later the landlady
called from the entry that his room was ready.

“Remember, my dear, the ace of hearts, and Jeremiah Filson,” he said,
with a parting grin and wink, and then followed the chambermaid, whom
the landlady had ordered to show him his room. Prudence, at the entry
door, watched him ascend the stairs till he disappeared at the turn, and
heard him bestow a gallant “my dear” upon the chambermaid as he
continued on his way, whereupon she tossed her head and became suddenly
scornful.

“Poh! Quite a chivalarious gentleman!” said she. “Nasty scrub! He may
whistle for his Jacobite with the ace of hearts on his face, for all the
help he gets from me!” With that, Miss Prudence returned to the kitchen,
but sat aloof from the other servants, who were making merry over their
bread and cheese and beer. The worsting she had got in a passage of
ironical compliments with Lady Strange’s maid, which had driven her from
the company to the yard, was still sore in her mind, so that she sat in
contemptuous silence, torn between the desire to tell the others of the
Jacobite-hunting guest and the satisfaction of keeping them deprived of
subject-matter so interesting. She flattered herself that she was the
only person in the house whom Mr. Filson had taken into his confidence;
and this was true, though on his arrival he had looked into all the
public parts of the inn and questioned the landlord as to the guests
up-stairs. His disclosure to her had followed naturally upon her notice
of his ear.

Filson, being ushered into one of the back chambers, bade the maid have
his portmanteau brought up from the public room. He then took off his
shoes and threw himself on the bed. The boy who carried up the
portmanteau, two minutes later, found him snoring.

Mr. Filson had not been asleep five minutes, when three horsemen—the
three that have been mentioned more than once hitherto in the course of
this history—turned in from the street, and came to a stop at the door
to the public room. Two of the riders slid from their saddles, and the
third,—the postboy in charge,—after dropping two cloak-bags beside the
door, proceeded with the horses to the yard. The two gentlemen—for
gentlemen they were, as was plain from every appearance, though their
clothes had seen considerable service—stood for a moment glancing
around. They were young and well favoured; both of average height; one
stoutly made, the other of a slighter build. The slender fellow had a
small red scar, which indeed was rather like a heart in shape, on his
right cheek; but it did not apparently spoil the beauty of his face.

Continue Reading

SPEAKS IN THE PREDICATE

When the train from Colon came in, Miss Proudleigh was one of the first
to step on to the platform, closely followed by her niece and brother.
The old man was dressed in a suit once black, but now of a greenish tint
and shiny as though it had been polished; he also wore a bowler hat of a
pattern that had probably been fashionable thirty years before, but of
which few specimens could at this time have been extant.

Catherine and her aunt were attired in white ironed dresses and new
straw hats trimmed with black ribbon. Samuel saw that they had come
ready-dressed for the funeral, which must take place on the following
morning. The severity of Miss Proudleigh’s demeanour indicated that she
was about to officiate at a very important function, and the large straw
fan which she carried in her right hand would have informed anyone who
knew the lady that she had not brought forth her favourite symbol of
authority without a determination to establish her claim to precedence
and power at any cost.

Jones approached the little group. “I was waiting for you,” he said.

“Then you mean to tell me y’u not arrested?” was the startling question
of Miss Proudleigh. “There seems to be no law at all in Panama!”

She edged away from Jones as she spoke, looking as she did so towards an
American policeman who was strolling about the platform.

“What am I to be arrested for?” asked the young man, surprised. “What’s
the matter with you’ aunt?” he said to Catherine. “She takin’ leave of
her senses?”

“Didn’t you’ telegram say that Mackenzie dead?” asked Catherine.

“Yes; but what is that to do with me?”

“I know it wasn’t you dat kill him, me son,” Mr. Proudleigh now
observed. “When I get you’ telegram, I said to meself: ‘Mister Jones is
a man like me. Him talk a lot, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly: him is too
afraid of de court-house.’ But Deborah would insist it was you dat kill
Mackenzie, for you leave the house last night in a blind temper, an’ you
come up here to-day, an’ Mackenzie dead very sudden.”

“It is very suspicious,” said Miss Proudleigh. “I don’t understand it at
all.”

“Well, it is not everything y’u can understand,” said Catherine
practically; “and it couldn’t be Mr. Jones that kill Mackenzie,
otherwise him would be in jail.”

“Dat is so,” agreed her father; “only, I hear dat in Panama y’u can pay
ten dollars an’ kill anybody you like.”

“That is all stupidness,” said Jones impatiently; “it is the Canal that
kill Mackenzie, not me. What was I goin’ to kill him for?”

A snort from Miss Proudleigh was her only comment on this speech. She
was not willing to be persuaded that Mackenzie had not been a victim of
the machinations of Samuel and her niece.

As they went on, Jones explained how Mackenzie had come by his death,
and how he himself had been a witness of the tragedy. All of them had
heard before of the lives which the Culebra Cut had claimed, and now as
Jones spoke doubts rose once more in the minds of Mr. Proudleigh and his
sister as to the wisdom and propriety of human beings attempting to
unite two oceans.

“I always thought that some great disaster would occur because of the
iniquity of man in trying to join what God separate,” said Miss
Proudleigh; “but I never dream that de disaster was to come on me own
family; for, after all, Mackenzie was my nephew-in-law.”

But she did not seem unduly oppressed by the calamity. She found
abundant comfort in the prospect of a funeral, and in the opportunity
now given her of bewailing in public her irreparable loss. She could now
proclaim her past forebodings and hint at other tragedies that would
shortly follow upon this one. Properly managed, this funeral could not
fail to afford some edifying exhibitions of religious fortitude,
Christian resignation, and personal piety, mingled discreetly with an
insulting attitude towards those whom she might happen to dislike.

As for Mr. Proudleigh, at that moment he was chiefly afflicted with
fears for his personal safety. If a landslide or something like it could
kill Mackenzie, there was nothing to prevent a landslide from killing
him. This was a dangerous country.

“We will have to leave this place as soon as poor Mackenzie is in de
grave,” he remarked, as he laboured on. “What y’u goin’ to do wid
you’self, Mister Jones?”

“When?”

“To-morrow. After we bury me son-in-law.”

“I don’t know,” said Jones.

“You staying up here wid Miss Susan?”

“That would not be proper,” observed Miss Proudleigh sternly. “It is
none of my business, an’ I don’t want to interfere. But if the day after
Mackenzie bury, a young man should stay in the same place with the
widder, them will put her out of any church she belong to.”

“I don’t think Susan can stay here much longer, now that Mackenzie is
dead,” said Jones. “She will have to leave soon, for the American people
will want the premises.”

“Well, she better come back to Colon wid me,” said Mr. Proudleigh; “an’
now that Mac is dead, Mister Jones——”

But Samuel, guessing the nature of the old man’s forthcoming
proposition, hastily interrupted him with another recital of that day’s
tragedy. He was still speaking when they arrived at Susan’s house.

All the doors and windows were open, and three or four persons were
moving about within. These were friendly neighbours who had come over to
help Susan with her dead.

She was expecting her family. As a matter of fact she had telegraphed to
them. But having received Jones’s message earlier, they had left for
Culebra before Susan’s telegram was delivered at their house.

She was very quiet and composed. When the news of Mackenzie’s death had
been broken to her she had shrieked in terror. Her first thought was
that there had been a fight between Samuel and her husband, and that the
latter had been murdered. A few words of explanation relieved her mind
of this horrible fear, then she wept bitterly as if stricken to the
heart. She had never cared greatly for her husband; but his sudden
death, the overwhelming memory of how, that very day, she had had to
fight against the temptation to abandon him, the recollection of all his
kindnesses, touched her to genuine sorrow and regret. She recovered her
self-possession a little later on and straightway set about making
preparations for the funeral. She was still engaged on these when Samuel
and her family arrived.

She hardly appeared to notice Jones, who kept himself in the background.
She suffered herself to be embraced by her father, who thought it proper
to assure her that he had hastened to comfort her, though he himself was
grief-stricken and could not say when he should be able to take an
interest in life any more. Mr. Proudleigh then deposited his hat on a
table and elaborately wiped his eyes. This ceremony being gone through,
he sat down.

But Miss Proudleigh would not sit down. She took Susan by the hand. “It
is the will of God,” she loudly proclaimed, “an’ men can only say, ‘Thy
will be done.’ We must be prepared to meet our God. We must take up our
cross an’ follow Him. Husband-o, son-o, mother-o, wife-o, when the call
come we must give them all up to Him who gave them life. We cannot
rebel, for the Lord gave an’ the Lord taketh away—blessed be the name
of the Lord. We cannot prevent the tears from flowing, for that is
nature; but the heart must be submissive.”

She paused to note the effect of her words, which she considered
sufficiently stirring to move Susan to tears and the other people in the
house to sympathy. But most of the people there did not know Miss
Proudleigh and were paying no attention to her; Susan remained dry-eyed;
Catherine appeared unsympathetic. Only her brother seemed attentive, and
as she did not regard him as an audience worth having, she concluded
that spiritual consolations had better be reserved for a later occasion.

“You can go into the dining-room an’ wash you’ hands an’ face if you
like, Aunt Deborah,” said Susan quietly. “It is fixed up.”

“What about the body?” demanded Miss Proudleigh.

“The body fixed up already. Everything is arranged. Some of Mackenzie’s
friends looking after the funeral.”

It was bitterly disappointing to Miss Proudleigh to find that she had
been forestalled; still, opportunities for usefulness might present
themselves later on. She went into the dining-room as invited, feeling
that Susan’s calmness was most unbecoming at such a moment. A widow,
with a proper sense of what was expected of her, should have given way
to a wild outburst of grief at the sight of her sympathizing family.

Presently Susan asked her aunt to go into the room where Mackenzie’s
body was laid out. Mackenzie had been struck mainly by descending masses
of earth; thus he had escaped disfigurement. Miss Proudleigh glanced at
the set face, saying with real feeling, “Poor fellow; just as if he was
sleeping.” Then she mastered this inclination to weakness, and, laying
her hand upon the cold, sheeted figure, she shook her head determinedly.
“Not enough ice,” she said.

“Quite enough,” replied one of Susan’s helpers, a young woman who had
developed a marked fondness for assisting at funerals.

“You will excuse me,” said Miss Proudleigh with great firmness. “I bury
a lot of my relatives an’ friends, an’ therefore it stands to reason
that I must know about de treatment of corpses.

“Mr. Mackenzie was my nephew-in-law, an’ I know he would like to bury
decently an’ in a good condition; in consequence of which I would advise
his wife to take my foolish advice an’ get some more ice. Susan, ’ave
you a little gurl?”

“One is outside,” Susan answered.

“Send ’er for more ice!”

“All right, Aunt Deborah,” said Susan resignedly; “you can send ’er.”

This was a victory of considerable importance; it placed Miss Proudleigh
in charge of all arrangements affecting the corpse. She adapted her
voice to suit her new dignity and now spoke in impressive stage
whispers.

But where was Samuel? Susan had lost sight of him; he had quietly
slipped out of the house after observing how she was conducting herself;
he was glad to see her calm and collected, but a certain delicacy of
feeling warned him that he should not remain in the house just now. He
was damp and dirty; but there were shops in the town where he could buy
some ready-made clothing. He bought a suit and was allowed to put it on
in a room behind the shop; if it did not fit him well, at least it was
clean and dry.

The day’s work was over in the Cut; everybody he met was talking about
the accident. He noticed that they all spoke well of Mackenzie; he
wondered whether, if he had died like Mackenzie, his acquaintances would
have spoken like that of him.

The rain had ceased entirely, but the sky was sombre still. He
remembered that he had eaten nothing from morning, but he had no
appetite, did not feel like eating. He lingered about the houses and the
shops till long after darkness had fallen. At about eight o’clock, he
went back to Susan’s house.

He entered and silently took one of the many chairs that had been
borrowed from friendly neighbours for the accommodation of the people
who had come and were coming to sit up for a few hours with Susan. Every
one was quiet and reverential, and those who talked did so in low and
mournful tone.

A solitary light was burning in the room where the body of the dead man
lay. Those who wished to do so, stole into the room and peeped at it,
then stole back gloomily to their seats. The subdued conversation was
about Mackenzie in particular and death in general, and when an elderly
woman remarked that Mackenzie was a man who could always be depended
upon, and groaned by way of emphasizing her remark, Miss Proudleigh
groaned also, as though parting with Mackenzie had been one of the most
awful experiences of her life.

Then the young woman who had contradicted Miss Proudleigh in the matter
of the ice felt it incumbent upon her to say something.

“I remember poor Mr. Mackenzie when he first come up to Culebra,” she
said. “Such a quiet, mannerly gentleman. And to think he die so sudden!”

“In the midst of life we are in death!” retorted Miss Proudleigh
aggressively.

“I not stayin’ here one day longer than I can help it,” said Mr.
Proudleigh earnestly. “I never did want much to come to Colon at any
time; but me children wishin’ to see if them could make a good living
over here, I say to meself, ‘I mustn’t desert them. Don’t care what
happen to me, it is me juty to go wid dem.’ So I come here, but I not
goin’ to stop any longer, because it must be a very funny country where
a hill-side broke down without nothing do it, and kill me son-in-law. Ef
I are to die, I want to die in me bed in Jamaica.”

“Parents must devote themselves to their children,” said one of Susan’s
neighbours.

“That is what I ’ave always done,” said Mr. Proudleigh with dignity.
“But if Susan take my advice, she will go back wid me to Jamaica as soon
as she bury her husban’. I can’t teck any more risk in Panama.”

“The Lord is strong to save, wherever His people are,” remarked Miss
Proudleigh rebukingly. Her laundry was proving very profitable, and she
needed no further evidence to assure her of the omnipresent care of
Providence.

Just then the young woman who had already angered Miss Proudleigh,
feeling that she was being eclipsed, went up to Susan, and, throwing her
arms about the widow’s neck, exclaimed, “My heart bleed for you,” and
audibly wept. But Miss Proudleigh was mistress of ceremonies, and Susan
herself was now subject to her aunt’s authority. That a stranger, an
insolent stranger, should have dared to set the example of tears in the
midst of a conversation, was more than Miss Proudleigh could stand.
Extraneous sympathy must not be allowed to pass the bounds set by
decorum and established practice. Happily Miss Proudleigh knew that she
was equal to any emergency. Whipping out of her pocket a hymn-book which
she had thoughtfully brought with her from Colon, in a shrill and
belligerent treble she began to sing “Peace, Perfect Peace.” The hymn
sounded like a declaration of war without quarter, and the sobbing young
lady recognized it as such and struggled by means of louder sobs to
maintain the position she had won. But Miss Proudleigh had great allies.
For most of the guests, tired of talking or sitting still, joined in the
hymn, singing with genuine feeling.

Rising and falling in measured cadence, the sound floated far away, and
men and women in other houses listened, thinking perhaps of the days
when they too had watched beside the corpse of some one dear to them.
Perhaps their memory was touched, and they thought of a grave somewhere
on a mountain-side, under the shade of rustling trees, in some far-off
West Indian island which they called home.

The singing ceased; then another hymn, even more pathetic than the
first, was started: All took it up, singing softly:

“Days and moments quickly flying
Blend the living with the dead,
Soon shall you and I be lying
Each within his narrow bed.”

A picture of Mackenzie lying alone in the room, cold, motionless,
swathed in dripping cerements; a picture of him as he went forth that
morning, cheerful, confident, strong, with never a thought of death in
his mind, rose before Susan’s mental vision.

She broke down and cried.

Jones wiped his eyes repeatedly.

Others were crying quietly. For the first time that night they felt
themselves to be strangers in a strange land, men and women who had come
to seek a livelihood in a foreign country from which, for all they knew,
they might never return.

When Susan lifted her head a little while after, her eyes caught those
of Jones. Each knew what the other was thinking of. In the forenoon of
that same day they had wronged Mackenzie in thought, almost in act, and
he had died without knowing it. But did he not know? Did he not know
now? Neither one could boast of being free from superstition: what if
Mackenzie’s spirit were near, reading all that was passing in their
minds and hearts? Susan shuddered. Samuel’s heart failed him in spite of
his desperate inward struggle with his fears. They lowered their eyes
again.

Twelve o’clock came, and most of the people rose to leave. Only a few
would remain until the morning. Some, however, would return in time for
the funeral. They all endeavoured to persuade Susan to go and lie down,
and try to sleep, but she was afraid. She might dream. In her sleep
Mackenzie’s spirit might accuse her!

So all night she and Samuel sat in the same room, wakeful, alert,
thinking over and over again of what had taken place between them a few
hours before, and of the tragedy in Culebra Cut.

At six o’clock in the morning Miss Proudleigh began to set things in
order, and, shortly after, the men who were looking after Mackenzie’s
funeral arrived. They worked quickly: by seven the body was in the
coffin, which was lifted into the sitting-room uncovered, in order that
all who knew Mackenzie might take last leave of him. Flowers were scarce
at Culebra, but the mourners had gathered a few. These they strewed over
the corpse, and the evergreens they had brought were arranged here and
there about the room, giving to it a fresh and verdant appearance.

One by one the men and women who had come to attend the funeral stepped
up to the coffin, gazed a little while at the dead man’s face, and
turned away. Then the minister, a young Englishman connected with
Jamaica, who had followed the people to Panama that they might still be
kept in touch with the religion of their own country, arrived. The
people made way for him respectfully, glancing at him with pride and
admiration; he went up to Susan and shook hands with her
sympathetically, speaking a few words which he meant to be consoling,
but feeling, not for by any means the first time in his life, how poorly
words express real sympathy. Then he was taken possession of by Miss
Proudleigh, who led him to a chair which she had covered, for no very
obvious reason, with a white lace curtain.

“Ready?” he asked her quietly, book in hand.

“Yes, minister; but” (she hesitated a little) “don’t it is right to read
the will first?”

“That depends,” said the parson. “Does Mrs. Mackenzie want it read? Is
there a will?”

Miss Proudleigh looked at Susan inquiringly. It was not usual to read
the will before a funeral; but Miss Proudleigh feared that if she did
not make use of the present opportunity she might never know what
Mackenzie had left, and whether he had bequeathed his property to Susan
alone or not. As for Susan, she was not anxious that her private affairs
should be exposed, but her aunt was now the predominant person in the
house, and she did not want to appear secretive. “My husband used to
keep his papers in his own trunk,” she said; “I will look.”

In a minute or two she returned with a document which she thought must
be the will; which it was. Miss Proudleigh took it from her and handed
it to the minister, asking him to read it.

So the will was read. A small house in Kingston, ten acres of land in
St. Andrew (not far from Kingston), a life insurance policy worth a
hundred pounds, and all the money lodged in Mackenzie’s name in a bank
in Panama—everything was left to Susan. His will had been made three
weeks after Mackenzie’s marriage, and Susan knew that he had at least
eighty pounds in the bank. She was well-off! That was her thought as the
parson ceased reading. “It is my old luck!”—the words formed themselves
in her mind: her good fortune, her luck, never seemed to desert her for
long. She was a woman with property, money. She saw in the faces of the
people in the room that they were surprised that Mackenzie had left so
much.

Miss Proudleigh was conscious of a feeling of resentment, born of envy.
But with it struggled a feeling of pride: she was glad that she had
asked that the will should be read. For was she not related to all these
riches; was it not she who had directed the funeral arrangements in the
house of a man who had left his widow in so comfortable a position?
There was dignity in her look and voice as she said to the minister:

“Minister, will we proceed?”

The offices of the dead took up but little time. Six strong men lifted
the coffin, and, headed by the minister, the funeral cortège moved
slowly out of the house.

Susan and her father walked immediately behind the coffin, the rest of
the mourners following without regard to precedence. Mr. Proudleigh’s
thoughts were not of an unpleasant nature. Never had he heard of any
young widow like Susan possessing so much riches. He concluded that she
must be worth hundreds of pounds, and to a mind which, for some years,
had been content to think financially in terms of sixpence, shilling and
eighteenpence, a hundred pounds meant nearly as much as a million. Never
had he thought so highly of Mackenzie, never had he felt so pleased with
Susan’s marriage. Jones? What was Jones compared with Mackenzie? When
would a man like Jones ever be able to accumulate a fortune? He was more
likely to waste one; and here Mr. Proudleigh began seriously to think
that Susan ought to be warned against having anything to do with Samuel
Josiah in the future. Mr. Proudleigh saw his duty as a father plain
before him, but gravely doubted whether he should ever muster enough
courage to perform it. However, he, as Susan’s father, a parent too who
had always been tender and considerate, should now be comfortable for
life. He marched bravely on, forgetting to be fatigued. Panama was not
such a bad place after all, if you knew just when to leave it.

Catherine wondered at her sister’s luck. She was not of an envious
disposition; she felt quite able to make her own way in the world. But
Susan seemed to be extraordinarily lucky; even incidents that at first
appeared unfortunate were afterwards seen to have contributed to Susan’s
good fortune. Catherine wondered why this was so. She had been told at
school that there was no such thing as luck, that one only got what one
worked for or deserved. She was by no means assured that that was true.

And Jones? He too since the reading of the will had realized that a
great change had taken place in Susan’s financial situation. She was
actually better off than he was—very much better off. She might care
for him. But he could not forget that she had left him to marry
Mackenzie, and only yesterday had refused to desert Mackenzie for him.
Now therefore that she knew herself to be independent, how would she
act? Many men would be glad enough to marry her now: she could afford to
wait, and to pick and choose. She was vain; she would try to make the
most of her improved position. She was very lucky. But there seemed no
end to his ill fortune.

Susan alone, during that procession to the cemetery, did not dwell on
her good fortune. After her first thrill of pleasure on hearing the
terms of the will, she had become depressed and sad: she was again
realizing that Mackenzie’s kindness and thoughtfulness were of sterling
worth. And he was dead, dead and gone for ever, this man who had done so
much for her, and it was of him she thought. Soon they came to the
cemetery. The funeral service was read, the grave filled, and Susan
turned away, the one real mourner there that morning. But not the most
demonstrative, for Miss Proudleigh, feeling that full justice had not
been done to Mackenzie’s memory, burst into loud sobs when the last
spadeful of earth was thrown upon the grave, and had to be led away by
two unnecessarily sympathetic men.

“What a lot of things happen to me since I come to Panama,” said Susan,
as with her hands she smoothed out the black skirt, heavily trimmed with
crape, which she wore.

“This is a world where y’u don’t know to-day what goin’ to happen
to-morrow,” remarked her father, his tone suggesting that in
better-regulated worlds one would know beforehand everything that was
likely to occur.

“A few months ago I was only Susan Proudleigh,” the widow continued,
“an’ I had to work for me living; now I am a widow and everybody respect
me an’ sympathize with me.”

“You are more than a widder,” said Mr. Proudleigh; “you are a young
ooman of property, an’ there is very few that can say de same thing.”

“For which we must be thankful,” Miss Proudleigh interposed. “Providence
is always looking after the widow an’ the orphant; but sometimes they
don’t deserve it, and that is why, peradventure, that some widows with
their money go like butter against the sun. But Sue is not goin’ to be
one of those.”

Since the reading of Mackenzie’s will Miss Proudleigh had come to see
qualities in Susan which she had not been able to perceive during all
the previous months she had lived in Panama. Cordial relations had
therefore been re-established between the two, and Miss Proudleigh had
now reverted to her long-ignored habit of seeing most things that
concerned Susan from Susan’s point of view.

“I am glad y’u make up you’ mind to go back home, Sue, now that you not
married any more, for the house which you’ husband, who is now in
heaven, leave to you in Kingston, needs somebody to look after it, an’
you ’ave other property in Jamaica to see about. An’ you can’t trust no
strange person to do it, for them will rob your eye out of you’ head;
and if you take them to law the judge may tell you to make up the case
peacefully, like that time when you bring up Maria. Therefore,” Miss
Proudleigh concluded, “go and look after your business you’self.”

“I ’ave nothing more to do with court-house,” said Susan, “nor wid Maria
and her mother either. They can’t trouble me again.”

“They have not troubled you at all,” said her aunt. “All their
wickedness have been turned aside, an’ you have not dashed your foot
against a stone. That is what I say from the first. You see what it is
to ’ave faith?”

In her cheap black muslin dress (provided by Susan) Miss Proudleigh
looked as though, by faith, she would be able to move mountains, if only
she should determine to exert herself to that extent.

“Even Tom try to make mischief against me,” continued Susan, still bent
upon recounting her experiences; “but he didn’t succeed any more than
Maria an’ her mother.”

“Well, me dear daurter,” said Mr. Proudleigh, “dat was because I was
always having y’u in me thoughts. I don’t know what you could do without
me. Tom was a bad young man; but when I kneel down every night an’
thoughted about him, an’ pray dat some harm would befall him because he
was tryin’ to disturb y’u, I felt that my pr’yer would be answered.”

“Anything happen to him?” asked Susan.

“Not exactly—yet,” replied her father; “but I hear this morning that
him gone away to de capital with a female who used to beat her other
intended; an’ don’t you see dat if she could beat one, she will do de
same with Tom?”

Susan, knowing Tom as she did, thought it highly probable.

“Let him go about his business,” she said, thus dismissing Tom and his
affairs from her mind. “I am sorry, Aunt Deborah, that you an’ Kate
won’t come home with me; but of course you can do better here.”

Miss Proudleigh nodded affirmatively. “But next year, please God,” she
said, “I will take a trip home to see how everybody is getting on.”

It was the ninth day after Mackenzie’s death. Susan had been allowed to
remain for a few days in the house at Culebra, during which she had made
arrangements for her departure from Panama. She had determined to go to
Jamaica without delay, to see after her property there, and she was
leaving to-morrow. But before going there was one function to be
attended to; this was Mackenzie’s Ninth Night, the final taking leave of
Mackenzie’s spirit, the last ceremony to be held in his honour. For this
purpose she had come to Colon.

This Ninth Night is a survival of an African purification ceremony, the
origin and meaning of which neither Susan nor her relatives knew. All
that they did know was that the Ninth Night was a custom which it was
not considered altogether proper to neglect, and yet which it was not
considered altogether proper to observe after the manner of the lower
classes. With these it tended sometimes to degenerate into an orgy; in
Miss Proudleigh’s view it should only be a quiet prayer-meeting, a sort
of love-feast, eminently respectable and edifying. The theory was that
Mackenzie’s spirit, though ultimately destined for heaven, was for some
nine days fated to hover near those who had been connected with him, and
might continue so to do for years unless the Ninth Night ceremony was
performed. This theory not being countenanced by the churches, Miss
Proudleigh defended it by pointing out that the soul was not the spirit;
and that though the soul went straight to heaven or to hell, after the
decease of the body, the spirit, assuming the form of a ghost, might be
unpleasantly present on earth. When this explanation was held to be
unsatisfactory by some sceptic, Miss Proudleigh took refuge in asserting
that it was all very well to scoff, but that plenty of people had seen
ghosts and every one was afraid of them. Then she would instance the
raising of Samuel’s spirit by the Witch of Endor, a fact which could
only be got rid of by being dismissed as untrue.

On Ninth Nights both Susan and Catherine looked with some disrespect;
they were of the younger generation. But Mr. Proudleigh stood up for
them, not only on religious grounds, but because he knew from experience
that much good cheer was provided at them, and many opportunities
afforded for oratory. Therefore a Ninth Night was highly desirable. So
Susan had decided to wait for the Ninth Night; and Jones, knowing that,
had waited also, and had booked his passage by the same steamer in which
she was going to Jamaica.

Susan and her people were now waiting for the guests. The room in which
they sat was provided with a number of extra chairs; in the centre was a
table covered with a white cloth; on the table were a few hymn-books and
a Bible. The lamps were lighted, for it was already dark.

“Everything is prepared,” said Miss Proudleigh, after she had announced
her intention of going to Jamaica on a visit in the following year. “The
chocolate is good chocolate, an’ I parch ah’ grind the coffee meself.”

“You ’ave any rum?” inquired Mr. Proudleigh anxiously.

“Plenty. You think we could ask people to come an’ have a little quiet
pr’yer and talk with us, and don’t treat them decently?”

“No,” agreed her brother heartily, and would have launched out into a
lengthy account of those Ninth Nights at which he had not been treated
decently, but that his sister refused him the chance of doing so.

“We have bread, an’ bun, an’ cake, an’ fish, cheese, bananas, an’ rum,
an’ a bottle of whisky, an’ lemonade, besides coffee an’ chocolate,”
recited Miss Proudleigh with pride. “Mackenzie can’t feel ashamed
to-night!”

Mr. Proudleigh inwardly determined that, when the time came, he would
make all these good things “look foolish.” He complacently disposed
himself to wait for that happy hour.

Presently Catherine came in, accompanied by a tall young man of her own
complexion, who appeared to be very attentive to her. These were
followed by other persons, and then the ceremony of the evening began.

Miss Proudleigh suggested a hymn, which was sung; then she volunteered
to lead in prayer. This she did, taking the opportunity of reminding her
audience, under guise of a general supplication, that she was not as
other women were, but might more properly be likened to the ancient
Deborah or to some other equally superior character, having been
strenuous in following the light, and having, beyond the shadow of a
doubt, set a noble example to all with whom she had come in contact.

She prayed for Susan, Catherine, and for all her other relatives, and
she informed the angelic host that she knew that Mackenzie was in
heaven, enjoying all the felicities prepared for the righteous before
the foundations of the world were laid. Then she proceeded to review the
events of the times as she had heard of them, and asked earnestly that
peace should be established on earth. She did not forget the King and
all the Royal Family. Jamaica was included as a place which sadly needed
regeneration. It seemed as if she would never cease, and her brother,
who himself had prepared a nice little prayer for the occasion, began to
feel jealous; Deborah had touched upon every subject he had intended to
deal with, and more besides. Susan felt decidedly bored. The guests
began to shuffle uneasily on their knees. Warned by certain slight
though ominous sounds, Miss Proudleigh at last brought her eloquence to
a close. As she rose from her knees she began chanting the Hundredth
Psalm. Everybody joined her. At that moment Samuel Josiah Jones entered
the room.

Jones had left Culebra immediately after the burial of Mackenzie, and,
yielding to the urgent advice of Miss Proudleigh, had not returned
thither to see Susan. He had written to her, and had received in reply a
brief letter telling him that she was going to Colon, to her relatives,
as soon as her affairs at Culebra were settled. It was from Mr.
Proudleigh that he had learnt when Susan was leaving for Jamaica.
Susan’s aloofness, he thought, might be due to grief, or to the
circumstance that her husband was only a few days dead, or to her
improved financial position, and a determination, the result of that
improved position to have nothing more to do with Samuel Josiah. Well,
he would find out what it was. No woman should say that her money
frightened him. He could always earn a good living, either in Jamaica or
in Panama; in a few years he could save as much as Mackenzie had saved,
though he did not see any good reason why he should.

All eyes were turned on him as he entered the room and deliberately
asked a youth to let him have his chair. The youth had been sitting next
to Susan. Jones installed himself in his place.

“Sorry I am late,” he whispered, wishing at the same time that the
people would sing more loudly. Miss Proudleigh seemed to divine his
wish. Her voice shrilled out astonishingly.

“You are quite in time,” said Susan quietly.

“No; I miss you every minute I am not with y’u.”

“Sh-h. People will hear y’u.”

“It is all _in camera_.”

“You mustn’t talk, Mr. Jones.”

The “Mr. Jones” was disconcerting. But he would not be repulsed.

“I want to talk to _you_,” he said.

“Later on,” she answered, and would not pursue the conversation.

Hymn followed hymn, and the good things so freely provided by Miss
Proudleigh (who had received an advance for that purpose from Susan)
were duly handed round. The guests enjoyed them, eating and drinking to
their hearts’ content; and Mr. Proudleigh, reflecting that it might be
long before he should assist at another Ninth Night, worthily led them
on in this satisfactory effort. Then, when it was nearly twelve o’clock,
he thought he saw his opportunity, and, forestalling his sister, he rose
and intimated that it was his intention to make a few remarks.

“It is shortly toward midnight, dear friends,” he began, “an’ before we
finish an’ terminate this firs’ part of our gathering, we must call to
mind certain things. Every meeting have an end, an’ every end has a
termini.” (He paused to allow this term to have its full effect upon the
audience. It was one he had learnt from Jones.) “But before we proceed
to bid Mackenzie good-bye,” he went on, “an’ the younger folkses begin
to enjie themself, which is natural, for I remember that in de old days,
which I always tell my fambily, for none of them know what I know, an’
so to speak a man like me is expected to ’ave experience, an’ as I was
saying——” But the difficulty was that he could not for the life of him
remember what he had been saying. His sister had given him no
opportunity of speaking earlier that night, and in the meantime sundry
glasses of rum and water had inflamed his ambition without strengthening
his mind. There was now, therefore, a struggle between the orator and
the liquor, and his refusal to own himself vanquished as he strove to
recall what he had intended to say would have been magnificent had it
not appeared to the audience supremely ludicrous. Mr. Proudleigh wanted
to pronounce a eulogy upon Mackenzie. He had an idea that Mackenzie’s
spirit was hovering near, and he would have liked it to hear his speech.
He felt that Mackenzie deserved special posthumous praise for having
left Susan so comfortably off. He bravely began once more.

“Mackenzie was me son-in-law. He was a very kind young man. An’ when he
write me for Miss Susan” (here Susan stared) “I wouldn’t refuse him. I
say to him . . . I say . . .” Once again Mr. Proudleigh halted, and in
the midst of the momentary silence the little clock on the shelf just
above his head struck the midnight hour. A hush fell on the company as
Miss Proudleigh sank upon her knees. That lady afterwards declared that
as the last stroke of the clock died away she had felt something like a
cold wind rushing by her, as though an invisible presence were leaving
this mundane sphere for ever; and after hearing of her experience Mr.
Proudleigh also asserted that he too had been touched by Mackenzie’s
departing spirit that night. His sister, recollecting his condition,
secretly doubted his story; but as moral support is always of value when
proof is not forthcoming, she never contradicted him.

“Let us pray,” said Miss Proudleigh when the clock had ceased to strike.

This time she prayed that all wandering spirits might find eternal rest,
and that the dead might never be allowed to intervene in the affairs of
the living. She made it known to all and sundry whose place was another
world that, however much their company may have been pleasant and
interesting when they were alive, the proper sphere for their activities
now was heaven, where, she indirectly assured them, they would be far
more happy than if they returned to earth. This prayer closed with a
loud Amen from the assembled guests, who entirely shared the sentiments
expressed by Miss Proudleigh. “Well, we are done wid poor Mackenzie
now,” she said, satisfied, as she rose from her knees.

Mr. Proudleigh, with his undelivered speech still in mind, understood
from these words that the end of that speech would never be heard by
that audience. He felt that an advantage had been taken of him, and his
bitterness was intense.

* * * * *

It was a relief to the younger guests and members of the family when
Miss Proudleigh signified that the religious portion of the Ninth Night
ceremony was over, and Mackenzie finally dismissed to his last home. In
a moment their emotions changed from grave to gay, and they all settled
themselves down to gossip, joke, laugh, and otherwise enjoy themselves,
while more refreshments were handed round. Every one present addressed
Susan punctiliously as Mrs. Mackenzie. Jones still sat by her side, and
his gestures and movements were marked by the company, whose chief
diversion was to discuss the private affairs of their neighbours and
friends.

“We can’t always mourn,” sententiously observed one young lady, who saw
in Samuel a suitor for Susan’s hand, and who wished to gain merit by
indirectly suggesting that she personally knew of no reason for
unlimited grief. “Life is short, an’ when we ’ave done our best, we must
do what we can.”

An enigmatical speech, but well understood by those who heard it, and
who saw the significant glance which the speaker directed towards Susan
and Jones.

“Sorrow endureth for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” commented
Miss Proudleigh. “Sue, will you take a little ginger-wine? Or do you
prefer chocolate?”

“She prefer love,” said Jones shamelessly. “Love is better than wine.”

“Behave you’self!” cried Susan. “Y’u forget where you are?”

“After a storm there comes a calm, after a funeral, why not a wedding?”
said the lady who had previously suggested the futility of endless
weeping.

“That’s not the sort of conversation for a Nine-Night,” primly suggested
Susan. “I will never marry again, an’ so what y’u say don’t concern me;
but still, this is not the time to talk about weddings.”

“I don’t know dat I agrees wid Sue,” said her father. “Mister Mac is
dead, an’ if Mister Jones write me for y’u, I——”

But the old man, doomed it would appear to perpetual interruptions, was
not allowed to complete his remark. Miss Proudleigh felt that the limits
of decorum were in danger of being overstepped. She immediately and
loudly began to tell of an arrest she had witnessed a day or two before
in Colon, an arrest which had almost caused the death of the prisoner,
he having been unmercifully clubbed by the policemen. This was an
interesting topic of conversation, and while the company were discussing
the demerits of the Republic’s peace officers, Jones quietly suggested
to Susan that they might go and sit together for a little while on the
veranda.

She agreed, and they went out, remarked by all. But such pairings-off
were customary; it was felt, moreover, that the widow had the right to
do as she pleased, on account of her youth and her superior financial
position.

She and Samuel sat on the chairs they took out with them, and, leaning
over the veranda, looked down into the silent street. They had placed
themselves where they could not easily be seen by the people in the
room, though the door stood open. After a few seconds Jones stretched
out his hand and placed it on Susan’s shoulder. “Sue,” he whispered,
“when you going to Jamaica?”

“To-morrow. Don’t you know it already?”

“I am going with you.”

“I can’t stop y’u, Sam. The ship is for you as well as for me.”

“Stop that foolishness, Sue. It is all very well when you makin’ fun to
talk like that. But now I am talking in the Predicate and in the verb To
Be; I am serious. I am going to marry you.”

“But suppose I don’t want to get married again? I know what marriage
mean, an’ you don’t. Besides that, I am all right now, an’ I can live
comfortable without anybody. When you could marry me y’u didn’t, and I
don’t forget how y’u used to leave me in the night when we was together.
It’s better we remain apart, for what ’appen once will ’appen again.”

“You know you don’t mean what y’u say,” replied Jones with conviction.
“Jamaica is not Colon, and it will be all right when we get there. I
will be steadier. I was steady there.”

“Cho!” exclaimed Susan, but there was something in her voice which
denoted satisfaction. “Y’u going to go on the same way in Jamaica as you
went on here,” she added.

“Well, we will have to make the best of it,” said Jones philosophically,
“though you know quite well I am not a drunkard. We will get married in
Parish Church.”

Fully a minute passed before she replied—

“As poor Mackenzie is just dead, don’t tell anybody here about it.”

* * * * *

When, two days after the Ninth Night ceremony, Susan and Jones, with Mr.
Proudleigh standing between them, saw the grey-green mountains of
Jamaica rising into view as the ship drew nearer the shore, they felt
for the first time in their lives what a homecoming meant. Susan eagerly
pointed out object after object as her eyes roved over the scene
stretched out in front of her; Jones was enthusiastic; Mr. Proudleigh,
contrary to his habit, was silent. But when the ship entered the
harbour, and Kingston appeared, and he saw again the houses and the
piers with which he had been familiar all his life, he broke his silence
and spoke the thoughts that were in his mind.

“Fancy a old man like me go quite to Colon an’ come back,” he said
reflectively. “Who is to tell what is gwine to happen in dis world! An’
I leave me second daurter and me sister behind me! Well, God will take
care of them, same as Him take care of me. I am glad to come back. I
really glad.”

“No place like home,” said Jones heartily.

“That’s a fact,” was Susan’s sincere comment.

_Printed by_
MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED
_Edinburgh_

METHUEN’S
COLONIAL LIBRARY

A SERIES OF COPYRIGHT BOOKS BY EMINENT AND POPULAR
AUTHORS, PUBLISHED AS FAR AS POSSIBLE SIMULTANEOUSLY
WITH THEIR APPEARANCE IN ENGLAND

FICTION

ALBANESI, E. MARIA
SUSANNAH AND ONE OTHER
I KNOW A MAIDEN
THE INVINCIBLE AMELIA
THE BLUNDER OF AN INNOCENT
PETER, A PARASITE
THE GLAD HEART
OLIVIA MARY
THE BELOVED ENEMY

ALLERTON, MARK
THE GIRL ON THE GREEN

ANNESLEY, MAUDE
THIS DAY’S MADNESS
WIND ALONG THE WASTE
SHADOW-SHAPES

‘ANONYMOUS’
HUNGERHEART
FROM BEYOND THE PALE

ANSTEY, F.
PERCY AND OTHERS

ARNOLD, Mrs. J. O.
HONOURS EASY
REQUITAL

BAGOT, RICHARD
A ROMAN MYSTERY
ANTHONY CUTHBERT
LOVE’S PROXY
THE HOUSE OF SERRAVALLE
DARNELEY PLACE

BAILEY, H. C.
STORM AND TREASURE
THE LONELY QUEEN
THE SUBURBAN
THE SEA CAPTAIN
A GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER

BARING-GOULD, S.
KITTY ALONE
NOÉMI Illus.
THE BROOM-SQUIRE Illus.
PABO THE PRIEST Illus.
WINEFRED Illus.

BARB, ROBERT
IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS
THE MUTABLE MANY
THE COUNTESS TEKLA

BARRETT, WILSON
THE SIGN OF THE CROSS
THE NEVER-NEVER LAND

BEACON, EVELYN
ONCE OF THE ANGELS

BELLOC, H.
A CHANGE IN THE CABINET

BENNETT, ARNOLD
CLAYHANGER
HILDA LESSWAYS
THE CARD
A MAN FROM THE NORTH
THE MATADOR OF THE FIVE TOWNS
BURIED ALIVE
THE REGENT
WHOM GOD HATH JOINED
THE PRICE OF LOVE

BENSON, E. F.
DODO

BIRMINGHAM, G. A.
SPANISH GOLD
THE BAD TIMES
THE SEARCH PARTY
LALAGE’S LOVERS
THE ADVENTURES OF DR. WHITTY

BOWEN, MARJORIE
I WILL MAINTAIN
DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
GOD AND THE KING
THE QUEST OF GLORY
A KNIGHT OF SPAIN
THE GOVERNOR OF ENGLAND
MR. WASHINGTON
THE PRINCE OF ORANGE
PRINCE AND HERETIC
THE CARNIVAL OF FLORENCE

BRAMAH, ERNEST
MAX CARRADOS

BURNETT, YELVA
WINGS OF WAX

CAPES, BERNARD
WHY DID HE DO IT?
JEMMY ABERCRAW

CASTLE, AGNES and EGERTON
FLOWER O’ THE ORANGE Illus.
THE GOLDEN BARRIER
FORLORN ADVENTURES

CHESTERTON, G. K.
THE FLYING INN

CONRAD, JOSEPH
THE SECRET AGENT
A SET OF SIX
UNDER WESTERN EYES
CHANCE
VICTORY

CONYERS, DOROTHEA
SALLY
SANDY MARRIED
OLD ANDY
A MIXED PACK

COOK, W. VICTOR
ANTON OF THE ALPS
A WILDERNESS WOOING

CORELLI, MARIE
A ROMANCE OF TWO WORLDS
VENDETTA
THELMA
ARDATH
THE SOUL OF LILITH
WORMWOOD
BARABBAS
THE SORROWS OF SATAN
THE MASTER-CHRISTIAN
TEMPORAL POWER
GOD’S GOOD MAN
HOLY ORDERS
THE LIFE EVERLASTING
BOY
THE MIGHTY ATOM
CAMEOS

CROCKETT, S. R.
LOCHINVAR Illus.
THE STANDARD BEARER

CROKER, B. M.
ANGEL
JOHANNA
A NINE DAYS’ WONDER
KATHERINE THE ARROGANT
BABES IN THE WOOD

CURTOIS, M. A.
THE STORY OF A CIRCLE

DANBY, FRANK
JOSEPH IN JEOPARDY

DE LISSER, HERBERT G.
JANE’S CAREER

DOYLE, Sir A. CONAN
ROUND THE RED LAMP

DUNCAN, SARA JEANNETTE
THE BURNT OFFERING

FINDLATER, JANE H.
THE GREEN GRAVES OF BALGOWRIE

FINDLATER, MARY
THE ROSE OF JOY
A BLIND BIRD’S NEST Illus.
THE NARROW WAY

FRANCIS, M. E.
HARDY-ON-THE-HILL

FRY, B. and C. B.
A MOTHER’S SON

GIBBON, PERCEVAL
MARGARET HARDING
THE SECOND-CLASS PASSENGER

GIBSON, L. S.
THE OAKUM PICKERS

GISSING, GEORGE
THE CROWN OF LIFE

GLANVILLE, ERNEST
THE KLOOF BRIDE Illus.

GLEIG, CHARLES
A WOMAN IN THE LIMELIGHT

GREY, LINCOLN
SARAH MIDGET

HALIFAX, ROBERT
THE WHITE THREAD
RED HAIR

HARRADEN, BEATRICE
IN VARYING MOODS
THE SCHOLAR’S DAUGHTER
HILDA STRAFFORD Illus.
INTERPLAY

HAUPTMANN, G.
A FOOL IN CHRIST

HEATH, E. CROSBY
ENTER AN AMERICAN

HICHENS, ROBERT S.
TONGUES OF CONSCIENCE
THE PROPHET OF BERKELEY SQUARE
FELIX
THE WOMAN WITH THE FAN
THE GARDEN OF ALLAH
THE BLACK SPANIEL Illus.
THE CALL OF THE BLOOD
BARBARY SHEEP
THE DWELLER ON THE THRESHOLD
THE WAY OF AMBITION

HILLIERS, ASHTON
REMITTANCE BILLY

HOLDSWORTH ANNIE E.
THE LITTLE COMPANY OF RUTH
DAME VERONA OF THE ANGELS

HOPE, ANTHONY
A MAN OF MARK
A CHANGE OF AIR
THE GOD IN THE CAR
THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT ANTONIO
PHROSO Illus.
SIMON DALE Illus.
THE KING’S MIRROR
QUISANTÉ
A SERVANT OF THE PUBLIC Illus.
TALES OF TWO PEOPLE Illus.
THE GREAT MISS DRIVER Illus.
MRS. MAXON PROTESTS

HOPE, MARGARET
CHRISTINA HOLBROOK
MESSENGERS
LITTLE MRS. LEE

HORNIMAN, ROY
CAPTIVITY

HYNE, C. J. CUTCLIFFE
MR. HORROCKS, PURSER Illus.
FIREMEN HOT

INGE, CHARLES
SQUARE PEGS

JACOBS, W. W.
MANY CARGOES
SEA URCHINS
A MASTER OF CRAFT Illus.
LIGHT FREIGHTS Illus.
THE SKIPPER’S WOOING Illus.
ODD CRAFT Illus.
AT SUNWICH PORT Illus.
DIALSTONE LANE Illus.
THE LADY OF THE BARGE Illus.
SALTHAVEN Illus.
SAILORS’ KNOTS Illus.
SHORT CRUISES Illus.

JACOMB, AGNES
THE FRUITS OF THE MORROW

KEATING, JOSEPH
TIPPERARY TOMMY

KING, BASIL
THE WILD OLIVE
THE STREET CALLED STRAIGHT
THE WAY HOME
THE LETTER OF THE CONTRACT

LEBLANC, GEORGETTE
THE CHOICE OF LIFE

LE QUEUX, WILLIAM
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW Illus.
BEHIND THE THRONE
THE CROOKED WAY

LISLE, DAVID
A PAINTER OF SOULS
A KINGDOM DIVIDED
WHAT IS LOVE?

LONDON, JACK
WHITE FANG Illus.

LOWNDES, Mrs. BELLOC
THE CHINK IN THE ARMOUR
MARY PECHELL
STUDIES IN LOVE AND IN TERROR
THE LODGER
THE END OF HER HONEYMOON

LUCAS, E. V.
MR. INGLESIDE
LONDON LAVENDER
LANDMARKS

LUNN, ARNOLD
THE HARROVIANS

LYALL, EDNA
DERRICK VAUGHAN, NOVELIST

LYNEGROYE, R. C.
LOTTERIES OF CIRCUMSTANCE

MAARTENS, MAARTEN
THE NEW RELIGION
BROTHERS ALL
THE PRICE OF LIS DORIS
HARMEN POLS

McCARTHY, JUSTIN HUNTLY
THE DUKE’S MOTTO

MACNAUGHTAN, S.
CHRISTINA M’NAB
PETER AND JANE

MAKGILL, Sir GEORGE
BLACKLAW
MALET, LUCAS
THE WAGES OF SIN
THE CARISSIMA
THE GATELESS BARRIER
A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION
COLONEL ENDERBY’S WIFE Illus.
SIR RICHARD CALMADY

MANN, MARY E.
MRS. PETER HOWARD
THE PARISH NURSE
ASTRAY IN ARCADY
THERE WAS A WIDOW

MARSH, RICHARD
A ROYAL INDISCRETION
LIVE MEN’S SHOES
JUDITH LEE
IF IT PLEASE YOU!

MARSHALL, ARCHIBALD
MANY JUNES Illus.
THE SQUIRE’S DAUGHTER
THE ELDEST SON
THE TERRORS, AND OTHER STORIES

MAUD, CONSTANCE
A DAUGHTER OF FRANCE Illus.

MAXWELL, W. B.
VIVIEN
THE RAGGED MESSENGER
THE GUARDED FLAME
ODD LENGTHS
THE COUNTESS OF MAYBURY
HILL RISE
THE REST CURE

MILNE, A. A.
THE HOLIDAY ROUND
THE DAY’S PLAY
ONCE A WEEK

MITFORD, BERTRAM
THE SIGN OF THE SPIDER Illus.

MOBERLEY, L. G.
THE HIGHWAY

MONTAGUE, C. E.
A HIND LET LOOSE
THE MORNING’S WAR

MORDAUNT, ELEANOR
SIMPSON
BELLAMY
THE FAMILY

MORRISON, ARTHUR
TALES OF MEAN STREETS
A CHILD OF THE JAGO
THE HOLE IN THE WALL
DIVERS VANITIES
TO LONDON TOWN

NESBIT, E.
THE RED HOUSE
DORMANT

NEWTON, DOUGLAS
WAR
THE NORTH AFIRE

NORMAN, Mrs. GEORGE
LADY FANNY
DELPHINE CARFREY
THE SILVER DRESS
THE SUMMER LADY

OLLIVANT, ALFRED
OWD BOB Illus.
THE TAMING OF JOHN BLUNT
THE ROYAL ROAD

ONIONS, OLIVER
THE EXCEPTION
GOOD BOY SELDOM
THE TWO KISSES
A CROOKED MILE

OPPENHEIM, E. PHILLIPS
MASTER OF MEN
THE MISSING DELORA Illus.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MR. ALFRED BURTON
A PEOPLE’S MAN
THE WAY OF THESE WOMEN
THE VANISHED MESSENGER

ORCZY, BARONESS
FIRE IN STUBBLE

OSBOURNE, LLOYD
THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD

OXENHAM, JOHN
A WEAVER OF WEBS Illus.
PROFIT AND LOSS Illus.
THE LONG ROAD Illus.
THE SONG OF HYACINTH
MY LADY OF SHADOWS
LAURISTONS
THE COIL OF CARNE
THE QUEST OF THE GOLDEN ROSE
MARY ALL-ALONE
BROKEN SHACKLES

PAIN, BARRY
THE GIFTED FAMILY
THE EXILES OF FALOO

PARKER, GILBERT
THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD Illus.
WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC
AN ADVENTURER OF THE NORTH
PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE
MRS. FALCHION
THE SEATS OF THE MIGHTY Illus.
THE POMP OF THE LAVILETTES
THE BATTLE OF THE STRONG Illus.
THE TRANSLATION OF A SAVAGE
NORTHERN LIGHTS
THE JUDGMENT HOUSE

PEMBERTON, MAX
THE FOOTSTEPS OF A THRONE
LOVE THE HARVESTER Illus.
TWO WOMEN

PENROSE, Mrs. H. H.
CHARLES THE GREAT

PERRIN, ALICE
THE CHARM
THE ANGLO-INDIANS
A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND

PHILLPOTTS, EDEN
SONS OF THE MORNING Illus.
CHILDREN OF THE MIST Illus.
LYING PROPHETS
THE RIVER Illus.
THE HUMAN BOY Illus.
THE AMERICAN PRISONER
THE PORTREEVE Illus.
THE STRIKING HOURS
DEMETER’S DAUGHTER

PICKTHALL, MARMADUKE
SAĪD THE FISHERMAN
BRENDLE

‘Q’
THE MAYOR OF TROY
MAJOR VIGOUREUX

RAWSON, MAUD STEPNEY
HAPPINESS
SPLENDID ZIPPORAH

RIDGE, W. PETT
A SON OF THE STATE
NAME OF GARLAND
SPLENDID BROTHER
MRS. GALER’S BUSINESS Illus.
NINE TO SIX-THIRTY
THANKS TO SANDERSON
DEVOTED SPARKES
THE REMINGTON SENTENCE
THE HAPPY RECRUIT
BOOK HERE

RITCHIE, Mrs. DAVID G.
THE HUMAN CRY

RITTENBERG, MAX
SWIRLING WATERS
EVERY MAN HIS PRICE

ROHMER, SAX
THE MYSTERY OF DR. FU-MANCHU

SCHOFIELD, Mrs. S. R.
CASSANDRA BY MISTAKE

SHELLEY, BERTHA
THE EVOLUTION OF EVE

SIDGWICK, Mrs. A.
THE KINSMAN
THE LANTERN BEARERS
ANTHEA’S GUEST
LAMORNA
BELOW STAIRS
IN OTHER DAYS

SNAITH, J. C.
THE PRINCIPAL GIRL
AN AFFAIR OF STATE

SOMERVILLE, E. Œ., and ROSS, M.
DAN RUSSEL THE FOX

STRAUS, RALPH
THE ORLEY TRADITION

SWINNERTON, FRANK
THE HAPPY FAMILY
ON THE STAIRCASE

SYRETT, NETTA
THE JAM QUEEN

THYNNE, MOLLY
THE UNCERTAIN GLORY

TOWNSHEND, R. B.
A GIRL FROM MEXICO

VAN VORST, MARIE
THE ADVENTURES OF JIMMY BULSTRODE
IN AMBUSH

WAINEMAN, PAUL
A ROMAN PICTURE

WALFORD, L. B.
DAVID AND JONATHAN IN THE RIVIERA

WATSON, FREDERICK
SHALLOWS
THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE

WATSON, H. B. MARRIOTT
THE BIG FISH
THE FLOWER OF THE HEART

WEALE, PUTNAM
THE REVOLT
THE ROMANCE OF A FEW DAYS
THE ETERNAL PRIESTESS

WEBLING, PEGGY
VIRGINIA PERFECT
A SPIRIT OF MIRTH
FELIX CHRISTIE
THE PEARL-STRINGER
EDGAR CHIRRUP

WELLS, H. G.
THE SEA LADY
BEALBY

WESTRUP, MARGARET
TIDE MARKS
ROGER INGRAM

WEYMAN, STANLEY J.
UNDER THE RED ROBE Illus.

WHITBY, BEATRICE
THE RESULT OF AN ACCIDENT
ROSAMUND

WHITE, EDMUND
THE PATH

WHITE, PERCY
LOVE AND THE WISE MEN
THE LOST HALO

WILLIAMSON, C. N. and A. M.
THE LIGHTNING CONDUCTOR Illus.
THE PRINCESS PASSES Illus.
MY FRIEND THE CHAUFFEUR Illus.
LADY BETTY ACROSS THE WATER Illus.
THE CAR OF DESTINY Illus.
THE BOTOR CHAPERON Illus.
SCARLET RUNNER Illus.
SET IN SILVER Illus.
LORD LOVELAND DISCOVERS AMERICA
THE GOLDEN SILENCE
THE GUESTS OF HERCULES
THE HEATHER MOON
THE LOVE PIRATE
IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT
A SOLDIER OF THE LEGION
THE PRINCESS VIRGINIA
THE WEDDING DAY

WITHAM, JOHN
STARVEACRE

WODEHOUSE, P. G.
THE LITTLE NUGGET
THE MAN UPSTAIRS

WRENCH, Mrs. STANLEY
POTTER AND CLAY
LILY LOUISA

WYLLARDE, DOLF
THE PATHWAY OF THE PIONEER
THE UNOFFICIAL HONEYMOON

GENERAL LITERATURE

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EDWARD CARPENTER
G. K. CHESTERTON
EDWARD HUTTON
SIR HARRY JOHNSTON
RUDYARD KIPLING
EDWARD KNOBLAUCH
SIR E. RAY LANKESTER
SIR OLIVER LODGE
E. V. LUCAS
MAURICE MAETERLINCK
SIR HIRAM MAXIM
LADY DOROTHY NEVILL
R. L. STEVENSON
OSCAR WILDE
H. NOEL WILLIAMS

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AGNES & EGERTON CASTLE
G. K. CHESTERTON
JOSEPH CONRAD
DOROTHEA CONYERS
MARIE CORELLI
S. R. CROCKETT
B. M. CROKER
FRANK DANBY
A. CONAN DOYLE
BEATRICE HARRADEN
ROBERT HICHENS
ANTHONY HOPE
W. W. JACOBS
BASIL KING
RUDYARD KIPLING
WM. LE QUEUX
JACK LONDON
MRS. BELLOC LOWNDES
E. V. LUCAS
MAURICE MAETERLINCK
ARCHIBALD MARSHALL
S. MacNAUGHTAN
LUCAS MALET
M. E. MANN
A. E. W. MASON
W. B. MAXWELL
A. A. MILNE
ELINOR MORDAUNT
BARONESS ORCZY
JOHN OXENHAM
SIR GILBERT PARKER
MAX PEMBERTON
ALICE PERRIN
W. PETT RIDGE
EDEN PHILLPOTTS
MRS. ALFRED SIDGWICK
J. C. SNAITH
FREDERICK WATSON
PEGGY WEBLING
H. G. WELLS
STANLEY WEYMAN
OSCAR WILDE
C. N. & A. M. WILLIAMSON

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THE ANONYMOUS LETTER

Mr. Thomas Wooley had never been credited with strong moral convictions
by anyone who knew him. Among his mild boasts, uttered in the company of
congenial companions, certain alleged breaches by him of the seventh
commandment had frequently flourished: to gain a reputation for
gallantry he had not scrupled to libel himself. But on that night when
he saw Susan and Jones together in the streets of Colon the sacredness
of the marriage tie appealed to him strongly; he felt that a great wrong
was being done to marriage as a civil and religious institution, and he
remembered that he himself had been badly treated by Susan and by Jones.
That, he decided in his mind, had been freely forgiven. He was
magnanimous. But Susan was now a wife, and it was clearly wrong that she
should have anything whatever to do with Jones, who was, in Tom’s
opinion, a desperate and malignant character who pretended to be
friendly with you at first for the purpose of ill-treating you
afterwards.

Tom argued that, shocked though he was, he had no right to interfere
personally with Jones. He would not remonstrate with him on the evil
tenor of his way. But he reflected with intense satisfaction that
Mackenzie was, if anything, Jones’s physical superior, as well as the
rightful lord and master of Susan. Mackenzie, then, could read to Jones
a much-needed moral lesson, could deal with Susan as an outraged husband
should, and, generally, could do all those things which Tom wanted to
see done, but could not do himself.

The problem was, how to acquaint Mackenzie with the atrocious actions of
Susan and her lover? Tom felt that he had been a martyr. He had suffered
much because of Susan. But martyrdom, he was convinced, should not be
allowed to go beyond reasonable limits, and should, as a general rule,
be carefully avoided whenever possible. He had lost his situation in
Kingston, he had been roughly handled and fined in Colon. These things
he had endured without murmuring. He was now prepared to become an
active agent in the work of Susan’s moral redemption, and, incidentally,
in the deserved punishment of Jones; he had no doubt whatever that in
endeavouring to call Mackenzie’s attention to the wrongs of which that
injured man was still ignorant, he would be performing a highly
meritorious act. But caution must be displayed. Jones was very likely to
take a singularly narrow-minded view of his action, if he should ever
think that he, Tom, had meddled with his affairs. There was only one way
in which to approach Mackenzie, and that was through the medium of an
anonymous letter—a letter so worded that suspicion could not possibly
fall on Tom Wooley. Tom had been removed to Christobal. Early the next
morning, with a fine feeling of noble endeavour, somewhat mingled with
apprehension lest, in spite of all his efforts, his identity should be
disclosed, he sat down and wrote to Mackenzie.

The morning after this, on calling at the Post Office on his way to
work, Mackenzie was handed a letter which he opened and read as he
slowly walked away.

“DEAR SIR,” it ran, “this is to inform you that things are not quite
straight. Everybody has a respect for you, and it would be a shame if a
friend of yours do not let you know that your wife is not behaving
towards you as she should.” Here Mackenzie stopped reading and glanced
at the end of the letter to see from whom it came. It was signed, “A
True Friend,” a signature that left him none the wiser. He continued
reading.

“Your wife is always in Colon with Jones, the young man she was with
when you married her. I see them together over and over, and this is not
right, for she is your wife and should think of your feelings. I
therefore take this opportunity of making you acquainted with the
facts.”

Mackenzie read the letter twice, then studied the handwriting: it told
him nothing. He folded the letter, carefully placed it in its envelope,
put it away in his pocket, and went thoughtfully to his work.

Susan had returned the day before. She had told him all about the fire,
of which he had already read a sensational account in that morning’s
papers. She had told him that she and her relatives had run out to see
the fire (which is what he knew they would have done), that they had met
Jones in the crowd, and that she had spoken to Jones. There was nothing
improbable whatever in her story. He remembered that he himself had
advised her to speak to Jones if she should ever meet him. This
anonymous letter said that she was often in Colon with Jones. But he,
Mackenzie, knew that Susan had only been twice to Colon since she had
been his wife. So that assertion was a lie. The person who had written
the letter, whoever it was, must have seen Susan speaking to Jones on
the night of the fire, but Susan had not kept that a secret. This man
too, who signed himself “A True Friend,” must surely bear Susan a
grudge, and perhaps was also an enemy of himself. For the fellow
evidently wanted to make mischief, and that no true friend would do.
Mackenzie did not like the letter; it worried him a little. He did not
care to have Susan’s name coupled with that of Jones: the association
was not pleasant. But he did not, for he could not, believe the story.
He decided he would show the letter to Susan later on.

He handed it to her when he went home for lunch.

“You have some enemy in Colon, Sue,” he said; “or it is my enemy. I get
this letter to-day, an’ it is no good person write it. I wonder if it is
a woman?”

Susan took the letter and glanced at the handwriting. She knew it at
once. Although Tom had tried to disguise his handwriting, and believed
he had succeeded, his endeavour had been at best a clumsy one; she gave
no sign, however, that she knew the author of the anonymous
communication; she did not wish Mackenzie to seek out Tom and demand an
explanation, which might be very inconvenient to her. She read the
letter slowly. She realized that the attempt to make it appear that she
was continually meeting Samuel had defeated its own end. She felt that
only a fool like Tom could have blundered so badly. He hadn’t even
mentioned the fire, so eager was he to conceal his identity. Her heart
was beating quickly, though she tried to appear unconcerned. She strove
to control her voice when she spoke.

“It’s a wonder the person who writes this letter didn’t say I was two
weeks wid Jones,” she said, as she handed the letter back to her
husband. “That’s the way that worthless people tell lies on other
people! They want to rob me of me character because them is envious of
me!”

“Well, it is what you have to expect,” said Mackenzie philosophically.
“I know you only go twice to Colon to see you’ family, an’ Jones have
his work to do during the day, so he couldn’t be with you.”

He said this more for the purpose of setting her mind at ease than
because he was any longer interested in the subject of the letter; but
Susan was inwardly too anxious to let the matter rest there. None of her
relatives, not even her aunt, would betray her; but suppose some other
person should follow Tom’s example? A bold idea suggested itself to her.
“I wonder if it is Jones himself write it?” she remarked. Mackenzie was
surprised at the suggestion.

“Why y’u think so?” he asked. “Jones wouldn’t tell a lie on himself?”

“I don’t know about that. P’rhaps him think you couldn’t say anything to
him, but might want to quarrel wid me. Men are bad, an’ Jones might want
to get me into trouble because I wouldn’t take much notice of him the
other night when I saw him at the fire, as I told you.”

Mackenzie looked at the letter he still held in his hand. He shook his
head; the handwriting was not like Jones’s.

“He may have begged one of his friend to write it,” urged Susan.

“Maybe,” admitted Mackenzie; “it may be Jones. But I wouldn’t like to
accuse him till I was sure: that would be foolishness.”

“Well, don’t notice it, then,” said Susan, pleased with Mackenzie’s
prudence. “I don’t care what anybody say about me, so long as me
conscience don’t trouble me an’ it don’t put you out. But I wouldn’t
like anybody else do me a thing like this again, for my character is all
dat I have, and what one person do another may do.”

But as Mackenzie preferred always to deal with facts and not with
possibilities, he let the subject drop, and by the time he returned to
his work that afternoon he had ceased to think about the letter.

Not for an instant, however, did Susan cease to think of it. She was
desperately frightened. As she had said to Mackenzie, what one person
had done another might do, and then Mackenzie would begin to grow
suspicious. She feared to meet Samuel again, yet she wanted to see him
at least once more: she wanted to warn him. How could she see him? . . .
If she risked a meeting some enemy of hers might learn about it, and
this time she might not be able to find a ready excuse. It is true that
Mackenzie had told her she should be polite to Jones if she should see
him, but at that time no anonymous letter had coupled her name with that
of her former lover. And to meet Jones the very next time she went to
Colon would of a surety have a suspicious look.

Should she write to him? Letters went astray sometimes, and Samuel was
careless.

Then what was she to do?

She worried herself all that afternoon, trying to think a way out of the
difficulty. Suppose Mackenzie should meet Jones and mention the letter
to him? Jones might say something about his meeting her at her people’s
house . . . and then!

She felt sick of the difficult position in which she found herself,
wearied to death; she had a sensation of being tied hand and foot, of
being a prisoner; she longed for release, and she knew that only one
avenue of escape was open to her. She could leave Culebra, leave Panama,
and go back to Jamaica with Jones. She would be happier there, free,
more like what she used to be before her marriage. What did the
hardships and discontents of that time now seem to her? They were as
nothing; she remembered only that she had been happier, and what was the
good of marriage if it brought but boredom and disgust? But there was
the divorce court to think of also, and her terrible fall from
respectability. Even if Mackenzie did not take the trouble to divorce
her, she would be a byword amongst those persons who should know her as
a woman who had left her husband for another man. She could not face
that shame.

She decided that she must wait. Nothing might happen in the next couple
of weeks. At the end of that time it would not seem at all strange if
she went to Colon to see her people; then, if she met Samuel, she would
tell him of the letter and put him on his guard.

She felt grateful to Mackenzie for his confidence in her. Such
confidence displayed by a man like Tom would merely have awakened her
contempt; but she saw that her husband was perfectly sincere, and
determined to take her part against her traducers. Had he doubted her he
would have shown it at once, he would have made inquiries, and the
sequel would have been terrible. That, she argued, would have been
unjust to her. She had done nothing deserving of blame. She had met
Jones twice; she had not told her husband the truth about those
meetings; but on the other hand she had refused to fly with Samuel, and
on that demonstration of virtuous feeling she greatly preened herself.
She had behaved splendidly; after such conduct it would have been most
unjust if Mackenzie had acted any differently from how he had acted. And
to think that it was Tom who had tried to injure her; to think too that
nothing painful could be done to him! She thirsted for revenge, yet she
knew that Tom must escape scot-free. The slightest attempt at reprisals
might but lead to exposure. The thought that she could not pay back Tom
with heavy interest was like wormwood to her soul.

When Mackenzie came home that evening she again brought up the subject
of the letter. She thought that if she dwelt upon it, showed no anxiety
that it should be forgotten, her husband’s mind would be cleared of any
shadow of suspicion that, unknown to himself, might be lingering in some
dark corner there. Mackenzie laughed as he listened to her extravagantly
expressed wonder that anyone should be base enough to lie against
another person anonymously.

“I remember,” he said, “about eight years ago, when I was workin’ at the
Jamaica railway, somebody write a letter about me to de manager. He
didn’t sign his name, but I knew all the time who it was, an’ the
manager knew it too. The man wanted me job, an’ he accuse me of robbin’
the railway’s goods an’ sellin’ them outside. But I was more than a
match for him. I could account for every screw that pass through me
hand. All that man ever get for his lie was to lose his job, an’ that
teach him not to write letters against other people in future.”

Mackenzie had never forgotten that incident. It had much to do with his
disbelief in anonymous letters.

“So it is not me alone that them try to injure,” said Susan, glad that
her husband had also been attacked by an anonymous scribe. “However, I
not going back to Colon.”

“That’s stupidness,” said Mackenzie. “You goin’ to make a lie trouble
y’u? You must go an’ see you’ people sometimes.”

This remark was just what she wanted to hear; her husband himself had
now advised her to go to Colon when she wanted! But she would not avail
herself of this advice to rush off to Colon. Although her inclination
was to do so, she fought against it, forcing herself to wait. Her
patience and prudence were rewarded when, five days after, her sister
Catherine appeared at Culebra.

Catherine had come by one of the afternoon trains; as she had
calculated, she found Susan alone.

“I bet you you don’t tell me why I come here to-day?” she said to her
sister, dropping her voice as though she had an important secret to
impart.

Susan expressed her inability to guess, but, with the anonymous letter
always in her mind, became feverishly curious to know what had brought
Catherine up to Culebra. Was some scandal about her being circulated in
Colon?

Catherine produced a sealed, unaddressed envelope and placed it in her
sister’s hand; Susan broke the seal; the letter was from Jones.

Catherine observed Susan’s start of surprise and alarm. She hastened to
explain that Jones had not posted the letter because he would not take
the risk of its falling into any other hands except those of Susan. He
had not even addressed the envelope, lest, inadvertently, the
handwriting should be seen and recognized.

“Samuel pay my trainage from Colon to up here, an’ back again,” said
Catherine. “I didn’t want to come, but he beg me hard, an’ I thought it
was better I bring the letter than that him should ask anybody else.”

She looked inquiringly at Susan, anxious to learn what Jones had written
about.

Susan said nothing. She was reading and re-reading the letter. It was
written in Samuel’s most grandiloquent style, and opened with a
declaration of his intention to poison himself, throw himself on a
railway track to be run over by a train, drown himself, or commit
suicide in some other unpleasant manner if he were compelled to endure
much longer his present agony of mind. He wanted to see Susan to tell
her “something very important.” He had to see her, and he begged her to
go to Colon as early as she could. He ended by saying that he was
leaving for Jamaica in a week’s time, wishing as he did to die in his
own country, and that she would never cease to regret it if she let him
leave Panama without seeing her. She must tell Catherine if she would go
to Colon, and when.

There was a postscript: “And when I am departed hence, forlorn and
forsaken, you will eventually come to find that your desertation of me
was a catastrophe worse than ever you have known; but alas! it will be
too late.”

“You know what Sam write to me about?” said Susan, searching Catherine’s
face with her eyes.

Catherine shook her head negatively. “Him want you to leave Mackenzie?”

“Not exactly. Him want to see me, but I can’t go to Colon just now at
all.”

“Why? No harm can be done. Nobody will know why y’u go.”

“Wait till I tell you something,” said Susan, and she told Catherine of
her conversation with Jones on the night of the fire, of their
accidental meeting with Tom, and of how Tom had acted. She had intended
to keep all this secret, but now was glad to have some one to whom she
could confide her cares.

Catherine listened, breathless, but not surprised at what she heard
about Jones. She had never been deceived by the formal conversations he
had carried on with Susan on the two occasions they had met at the house
in Colon. But with Tom’s treachery she was disgusted. She had once
entertained a kindly feeling for him; now she felt contempt. All her
sympathies were with her sister, and she agreed that it might indeed be
a risk for Susan to go just then to Colon; she had better wait for some
time longer.

She proposed to return to Colon the next morning, and she promised to
explain to Samuel why Susan could not see him just then; she also
promised to warn him against Tom, at the same time impressing upon him
that any rash action on his part could do no good but might merely
create an unpleasant scandal. All this agreed upon, Susan professed
herself satisfied, then immediately added, “But suppose Sam go away
without I see him?”

That was possible. She did not take seriously his threats of suicide;
they were merely intended to frighten her. But that he was thinking of
returning to Jamaica she could well believe. His restlessness and
impatience might easily cause him to do that, and quickly, and . . . and
she wanted to see him again.

“Tell him,” she said to Catherine after a pause, “that he must ’ave
patience.”

“But patience for what?” asked Catherine, and Susan could give no
answer.

* * * * *

The following morning Catherine returned to Colon. That evening, when
Jones came round to the house as agreed, she quietly took him out on the
veranda and told him the result of her mission.

When they went back into Mr. Proudleigh’s room, Jones solemnly walked up
to Mr. Proudleigh and shook hands with him.

“Old massa, you have nothing to do with it,” he said—“nothing at all.”

Mr. Proudleigh immediately agreed that he hadn’t, and then anxiously
inquired what it was with which he was so entirely unconnected.

“You know that I loved your daughter, didn’t you?” asked Jones.

“In course!” agreed Mr. Proudleigh briskly. “Dat is what I always say. I
’ave seen many a young man all in love all times, but I never see one
like you. Your love is true love, Mister Jones, like mine when I was
young an’ good-lookin’. I remember I was in love wid three different
young lady at one time, an’ I couldn’t say which one I love de most. One
day——”

“Very well,” said Jones, who was more anxious to air his grievances than
to listen to the youthful idylls of Mr. Proudleigh. “Y’u know that I
take her away from Kingston, Jamaica, an’ bring her here?”

“Sartinly. I was down at de wharf de day you leave. Sun was hot that
day, me friend!”

“Very well. And y’u know that I bring her here an’ look after her
kindly, an’ nearly went to prison for her?”

“Yes, y’u tell me all about it. But she say it was your fault; but, as I
tell her, a young man——”

“Very well. Now tell me fair an’ square: do you think Susan acted right
to leave me in ruinate in the manner visible?”

“Well, to tell y’u de truth, Mister Jones, you is looking very well just
now. Ef I was you, I wouldn’t bodder me head about a young lady that act
so foolish as to leave me an’ go an’ married. De same thing happen to me
once, but it didn’t make a tooth in me head ache. An’ if you want
another han’some intended, there is Miss Catherine——”

“Please to leave me out of you’ conversation, pupa!” came peremptorily
from Catherine, and Mr. Proudleigh halted promptly in the midst of his
matchmaking endeavour.

“It don’t matter how I look,” said Jones angrily: “it’s how I feel. If
it wasn’t for one thing, I would throw meself in the sea this very
night.”

“That would not be Christianlike, Mister Jones,” said Miss Proudleigh,
who had been listening attentively to the conversation. “We must
patiently bear our crosses. Besides, I don’t see what you worrying
you’self about, for there is some things that is a good riddance. Y’u
don’t see it now, but you will see it later on.”

“That may be true, but I am speaking of now an’ not of later on,” said
Jones. “I want you all to understand that I have been driven like a lamb
to the slaughter by Susan Mackenzie. She get married without my
knowledge; she took away all the money I give her, an’ what she used to
take from me when she thought I didn’t know; an’ now she is living like
a king at Culebra. If it wasn’t for me she might have been in Jamaica
to-day keeping a little shop, without an extra five shillin’s. Yet when
I send her sister to ask her——”

“What y’u going to say now?” cried Catherine, seeing he was on the verge
of blurting out what he had agreed should be kept a secret.

“What I am going to say I am going to say,” replied Jones impetuously.
“I am goin’ away to Jamaica, an’ I send an’ ask Susan to come an’ tell
me good-bye and have a talk before I go. What she do? She say she can’t
come! Is that a decent way to treat a man, especially a man like me?
When she left me I bear it in silence, though I might have been very
disagreeable. Yet now she treat me like if I was a dog!”

This angry outburst was received in silence by those who heard it. They
had never seen Jones in a temper before.

“You know what I am going to do now?” he asked after a moment’s pause.
“I am going straight up to Culebra to tell Susan what I think of her!”

“Y’u can’t do that at all, Mr. Jones,” said Catherine firmly. “I told
you already why Sue can’t come now, an’ you must remember she is married
an’ dat her husband wouldn’t like y’u to bring no confusion into his
house.”

“Her husband can go to the devil!” exclaimed Jones. “Who is her
husband?”

“But suppose him meet you an’ have a fight?” said Mr. Proudleigh,
thinking that such a prospect might have a deterrent effect upon Jones.

“If Mackenzie can fight, I can fight too,” replied the young man. “If he
don’t interfere with me, I won’t interfere with him. But I am going to
Culebra.”

“Well, Mister Jones,” said Mr. Proudleigh, “if you determine to go, I
can’t stop y’u. But do, I beg you, don’t say dat we know anyt’ing at all
about it. You see, I don’t ’fraid of any man in de world, but quarrel is
a thing I keep out of. Mackenzie is me son-in-law, so I can’t say
nothing against him, but y’u know what I think; an’ if you take my
foolish advice you wouldn’t go to Culebra.”

“Don’t call my name, whatever you do,” said Catherine. “I sorry I have
anything to do wid your business, for I can see you going to act like a
fool. And after all, what can y’u expect Susan to do? If you go an’ make
any trouble now, her husband will believe what that liar, Tom, write an’
tell him.”

“What is dat?” asked Mr. Proudleigh quickly, but Catherine refused to
reply. Her reticence, coming after her allusion to Tom and Mackenzie,
caused the old man to feel that the situation was more perilous than he
had thought it was.

As for Miss Proudleigh, she loudly lifted up her voice in denunciation
of sin and its consequences, this time with a good deal of sincerity
born of fear.

“Susan have much to answer for,” she cried; “she bring all this trouble
on herself an’ her husband an’ Mr. Jones. Your sin will find you out,
an’ who shall flee from the wrath to come! I have nothing to do with it.
She is me niece, but she never treat me respectfully. She deserve all
she going to suffer, and she going to suffer for true! But I sympathize
wid her, for we are told not to bear any malice.”

As the old lady seemed to be trying to qualify for the position of a
modern Jeremiah, Catherine brusquely demanded if she wanted all the
people in the house to hear what she was saying.

“They will all hear soon enough,” replied Miss Proudleigh grimly. “There
is going to be war an’ rumours of war.”

“An’ I am going to make the war,” said Jones fiercely. “I make up my
mind to die.”

“Don’t do that, me son,” implored Mr. Proudleigh. “Death is not a thing
to meck fun with. Wait an’ have patience.”

“Patience for what?”

As Mr. Proudleigh could not say, he merely suggested that Jones had
better not act rashly, but Samuel would not allow his mind to be
affected by such advice.

He took his hat.

“When you goin’ to Culebra?” asked Catherine, wondering if she would
have time to warn Susan.

“Why you want to know?”

“Never mind, if y’u don’t want to tell me!” she snapped, “but take care
what you doin’.”

“I know what I am doing,” answered Jones, and left the room.

* * * * *

“You think him will really go?” Mr. Proudleigh inquired anxiously of
Catherine, after the door had closed behind Jones.

Catherine pondered a moment.

“If him could go to-night, him would go,” she said; “but he can’t go
to-night. To-morrow him may change his mind. Jones is a man that will do
a thing in a temper, but not otherwise.”

Catherine’s estimate of Samuel’s character was shrewd. But it is not
always possible to foresee the actions of any human being.

It was raining at Culebra—had been raining for days. For miles and
miles the sky was overcast, hour after hour the rain came down, now
swiftly and in showers, now in a light drizzle which gave to the
surrounding country an aspect of greyness, a cheerless, depressing hue.

It was between eight and nine o’clock in the forenoon; her husband had
gone to his work and Susan was busying herself with her household
duties. She was pensive, moving about as one who had no energy; her mind
was not set about what she was doing, her thoughts were far away.

She knew that Catherine must have told Jones on the previous night her
answer to his letter: she was wondering what he had said, whether he had
determined to go back to Jamaica without seeing her, whether all was
over between them now. . . .

There was a knock at the front door: she went to answer it. She opened
the door: on the veranda stood Samuel, the last person in the world she
expected to see at Mackenzie’s house that day.

“You!” she exclaimed. “What y’u doing up here?”

She stood guarding the doorway, as if to prevent him from entering; she
was trembling all over with fear, not of Jones, but lest her husband
should unexpectedly return and find Samuel there.

“You not going to let me in?” asked Jones, with a note of pleading in
his voice; “I have only come to have a talk with you.”

“You shouldn’t come,” she answered. “What a trial is this! I told Kate
to tell you I couldn’t come to Colon now, an’ here you come to Culebra
to make trouble. What’s the good of all this, Sam?”

She did not wait for him to answer.

“You must go right back,” she insisted, “for the neighbours goin’ to
tell Mackenzie dat a strange man come here to-day, an’ if you stay an’
him find out it is you, he will believe what Tom write an’ tell him. You
can’t remain here, Sam.”

Her words, her earnest manner, her evident determination not to let him
enter, left Jones at a loss what to do. He had taken the early morning
train to Culebra; he had left Colon for the purpose of speaking his mind
to her: he wanted to relieve his feelings. While in the train he had
kept his courage up to the sticking point; again and again he had
rehearsed to himself his grievances; even when he left the train and was
climbing the hill he felt that he would be able to go through with the
scene which he had pictured. But when he neared the house which was
pointed out to him as Susan’s, he had been conscious of some hesitation
in his mind, of an inclination to pause and consider whether he was
acting wisely. He had fought down that inclination; he was now standing
face to face with Susan. But she, though frightened, was resolute, and
he stood before her perplexed, uncertain what to do.

“You going to stay at the door all day?” he asked her.

“No, for I don’t expect you goin’ to remain here.”

“You not even going to ask me to take a seat?”

“What for?”

“I am tired. I didn’t sleep all last night; I walk from the train
station to this house, and all you do is to insult me like a dog. I only
came here to tell you good-bye. I am taking the steamer to Jamaica
to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?”

“Yes. I don’t want to stop here any longer.”

Her eyelids fluttered; she gazed at him in blank silence; she felt that
he had spoken the truth, had made up his mind to leave Panama. In a
little while he would return to the station, in a few hours he would be
on his way . . . home.

The patter of the rain on the roofs and ground played a heavy
accompaniment to the beating of her heart. Through the thick atmosphere
came steadily the booming sound of dynamite explosions in the Cut. Boom,
boom, boom: the heavy noise assaulted the ear, but she herself was
conscious only of a deadly stillness within her. Suddenly Jones put out
his hand. “Good-bye,” he said.

For answer, she stepped backwards. “Come in and sit down a little, if
you tired,” she said.

He entered, glanced carelessly around him, and sat down. She left the
door open, threw open all the windows also, as if there were a dead body
in the house. Anyone passing could see them, no one could imagine or say
that she was entertaining Jones clandestinely. “Mackenzie shouldn’t come
back before half-past twelve,” she remarked; “but if he come you must
tell him that you come up here to tell him an’ me good-bye.”

She sat at some distance from him, and by one of the open windows.

“What you going to do in Jamaica?” she asked.

“I don’t know, an’ I don’t care. I should never have come to this place.
In fact,” he added, breaking out a little, “I am goin’ to kill meself!”

“Stop talking stupidness, Sam,” she said quietly: “you know y’u not
goin’ to do nothing of the sort. I suppose at first you thought you
would make a quarrel wid me up here?”

He feebly protested that such a thought had never entered his mind, but
knew that he did not convince her. He was aware now that a quarrel at
Culebra would have been a hopelessly foolish thing.

Both of them fell into silence after this. There seemed nothing more to
say. Both of them appeared to be listening to the rain, to that
persistent booming of the explosions; both of them were wondering if
this were really their last leave-taking.

One question formed itself again and again in Susan’s mind: “Would it
not be better to sacrifice respectability, religion, and go with him?”
Sitting face to face with him, knowing that to-morrow he would be on his
way to Jamaica, the answer “Yes” was whispered to her from her heart. As
if he knew what was passing in her mind, he asked her suddenly:

“And you won’t make up you’ mind to come with me, Sue?”

If “Yes” rose to her lips, she resolutely shut them. A few seconds
passed before she replied.

“Something tell me, ‘Better not,’ Sam. But I am sorry.”

She covered her face with her hands.

“Kiss me an’ tell me good-bye, Sue.”

He had risen and was standing over her. She got up, glanced quickly
outside: no one was passing. She kissed him.

He left the house, walking hurriedly away. She fell back into her chair,
crying as she had never cried before.

* * * * *

Jones walked rapidly in the direction of the Culebra station. He knew
that Susan cared for him still; he believed that if he waited and
persisted he would be able to break down her resolution. But he might
have long to wait, and he did not feel equal to that. His work at
Christobal had become a dreary drudgery. It would be better to go back
to Jamaica, and that he would do the next day.

He did not blame Susan now; he felt for her nothing but kindness and
affection. It was Mackenzie he blamed; Mackenzie it was who had
inveigled her away from him: Mackenzie was the cause of her unhappiness
and his. But even while he thought this, he felt in his heart of hearts
that he himself had been the first cause of Susan’s desertion of him. He
had promised to marry her and had broken his word. He had made a fool of
himself in Colon. He sought for excuses for his conduct; he found many;
yet his self-accusation persisted: conscience was by no means dead in
Samuel Josiah.

He reached the station; there he learnt that there would be no train
leaving for the next couple of hours. This delay he had not foreseen: he
wondered what he should do with himself in the meantime. He could not
return to Susan’s house.

He lounged about the station for a few minutes, but his thoughts
troubled him and inaction was irksome. He must do something, he would
walk about a little: he turned his back to the station and took the road
leading down into the Culebra Cut. He had never been inside the Cut
before. Troubled in mind as he was, the scene there made demands on his
attention. Soon he was looking about him with wondering eyes.

On either hand of him rose lofty walls of rock and earth, carved into
wide terraces which formed the buttresses of the mighty Cut. He was
walking along one of these terraces; on it and on all the others train
lines were laid. The trains were passing up and down, powerful engines
dragging twenty, thirty, forty dump-cars laden with the stones and dirt
that had been dug out of this part of the Canal; and at the bottom of
the ditch and along the sides of it steam shovels were at work.

He watched these shovels curiously. He saw long cranes attached to
engines, and at the end of each crane an iron box with a movable lid and
bottom. The crane swung round, was lowered, the iron box or mouth bit
into a pile of earth and rock shattered by dynamite, gorged itself,
swung round again until it hovered over a dump-car. Then the bottom of
the box opened slowly and a mass of earth and stones was poured into the
car. Again the shovel swung back, and again and again was this process
repeated. He remembered that Mackenzie was engaged on one of those steam
shovels, and thought that perhaps he was, without knowing it, watching
Mackenzie’s shovel at work. Then he resumed his walk, thankful that he
had worn his waterproof that day, for now black and heavy rain-clouds
were brooding over the Cut.

He walked along rapidly, knowing that he had not much more time to
spare. The farther on he went, the more intense became the activity of
the works, the more impressive the scene around him. Thousands of men
were earnestly at work; groups of West Indians were manipulating the
air-drills which bored the holes for the dynamite charges, scores of
steam shovels were toiling to remove the heaped-up debris, dozens of
steam-engines were hurrying to and fro and sending forth shrill screams.
From the escapes of the steam shovels came puffs of greyish smoke, from
the funnels of the engines a thick black smoke was belched, from the
air-drills little spurts of steam darted, and from all around came the
heavy detonation of dynamite discharges, shaking the earth.

Penned in by the high walls on either side, the smoke drifted hither and
thither, forming a gloomy pall. The cliffs of Culebra flung back the
deep boom of the explosions, the hurrying trains seemed to threaten at
every moment to come into violent collision. Jones saw West Indian
labourers carelessly carrying boxes of dynamite on their heads and
shoulders, and remembered that many a man had, through his carelessness,
been shattered to pieces in an instant. He saw more than one of them
trip and the boxes they carried almost hurled to the ground. The men
laughed. Familiarity with danger had rendered them contemptuous of it;
but Jones shuddered; he could not appreciate the indifference and
recklessness of these workers.

Boom, boom, boom: that sound dominated every other. It was answered soon
by a thunder-crash from above, and then the driving rainstorm burst over
Culebra. The rain came roaring down, an opaque volume of rushing water;
objects a yard or two away were completely blotted out of sight; the
blackness of night was above. But still he heard the whistling scream of
the trains, still the heavy detonations warned him that the dynamite was
blasting the solid rock. Nothing could be allowed to stay this work; the
men, clad in their waterproofs, toiled on; the deafening noise ceased
never for a moment.

He was drenched in spite of his cloak. Yet, because of the awful heat,
he was in a profuse perspiration. He began to think he had lost his
train after all; he would have to wait until another one came in from
the city of Panama. Happily the downpour was ceasing; it was too violent
to last. He waited until it became a drizzle, cast a regretful glance
before him, for he wished he had been able to go farther on, and was
about to retrace his steps when a shout from some men in front of him
caused him to look hurriedly opposite, towards where these men were
pointing with wild gestures.

Then he saw a sight that almost paralysed his heart. The mountain-side
immediately opposite to him was slipping, coming down with a rush, as
though it had been struck by an invisible hand and was being hurled to
the bottom of the chasm. Hundreds of tons of loosened rock and earth
were crashing down-wards, and the horror-stricken men who saw what was
happening were shouting, screaming, gesticulating, for well they knew
the fate of any who should be struck unawares by the swift-descending
mass. Jones started to run, then stopped, apprehensive of what might
happen next; he could not be certain that the wall which towered above
him, or even the terrace on which he stood, might not also suddenly slip
away. His mind was dazed; he felt that he had been very near to death,
and, for all he knew, might be near to it still.

He looked about him; hundreds of men were running towards the huge pile
of debris below. He noticed that the train lines down there had been
torn away and twisted as if they were merely wire; some machinery had
been dashed to pieces. Was anyone killed? he wondered.

People were clambering down the sides of the terraces; he ran towards
them, joined them, and found that he could descend without great
difficulty. All the men seemed to know in what direction they should go;
he heard them saying to one another that the rock-fall had not been
unexpected, that the engineers had noticed cracks some days before,
which had led them to believe that once again Culebra would put their
patience to the test. He gathered that on this particular section much
work was not being done; perhaps, then, no one had lost his life. But
the men were not certain; the slide was a bigger one than ordinary. Thus
talking in snatches and exclamations, slipping, climbing, running, they
reached the bottom of the Cut.

Here a crowd was already collected, a crowd working with might and main,
digging away at something as if their lives depended upon it. Jones
pushed his way to the front; he saw that the diggers were at work upon
the earth and shattered rock that covered a steam shovel partly. This
shovel had been in operation when the slide occurred; had it been a few
yards farther back it must have entirely escaped. As it was, the men who
manned it had had no warning, had not been able to leap clear of the
machine and get away in time. It was doubtful if they were yet alive;
but nothing was being left undone to save them, if they could be saved.

“Who are they?” Jones heard one American in the crowd ask another. “Any
white men?”

“Two, and a coloured man,” was the answer: “poor fellows.”

The news spread; dark faces turned ashen with horror. A thousand people
waited to hear if there was any hope—or none.

“What’s their name?” Jones kept on asking of persons who paid no
attention to him. At last one of them who worked in this part of the
Cut, hearing the question, replied, “The white men name Jackson an’
Campbell; the black man is Mackenzie.”

Jones went suddenly cold. “Mackenzie?” he repeated. “Mackenzie being
suffocated to death?” He fought his way to where the men were digging.
The thought uppermost in his mind was that his old friend was dying,
dying horribly. “Good God!” he exclaimed, and the next instant, seizing
a shovel from the heaps which had been hurriedly brought up, he was
digging amongst the labourers like a man gone wild.

Not as his rival, not as the husband of Susan, did he think of Mackenzie
now. For those few moments of his life Jones was utterly unselfish.

Somebody caught him by the shoulder and pushed him back; his assistance
was not needed.

“Careful now,” said a commanding voice; “bring ’em out carefully.”

“Here’s one,” cried a man, an American like the first.

“Back there, back!” came a peremptory order. Four doctors were already
on the spot; the crowd was being forced back; the same remarkable
organization that made the building of the great Canal a matter of
routine and order was in evidence at this tragedy too. It took less than
a minute for the doctors to pronounce their verdict. The men had been
killed instantly, could not have realized what was happening.

The bodies were placed upon stretchers, and the stretchers were hoisted
into a railway car. The people began to return to their temporarily
interrupted work. Tragedies were not rare at Culebra. One cannot build a
great canal without loss of life.

Wet, muddied, horror-stricken still, Jones slowly followed the returning
labourers, intending to get out of the Cut as quickly as possible. He
realized that the man who had stood between him and Susan had been
removed; but the manner of Mackenzie’s removal terrified him. Had
Mackenzie sickened and died, it is possible that Jones would have seen
the hand of Providence in the circumstance. But this sudden death—a
death, too, which might so easily have overtaken himself had he been on
the opposite side of the chasm—seemed to him to be somewhat devilish;
he was afraid. He vehemently told himself that he had never wished
Mackenzie dead, though he knew he had often done so; then he said to
himself that he had never meant his wish. Whether he had meant it or
not, it was realized. He was startled by the fact. This was no good
thing: why should Mackenzie have died like that, just then? He forgot
the two white men entirely.

He got out of the Cut at last, wondering if he should go and tell Susan
the terrible news. He decided that he would not: she would probably have
heard it already, and he was not exactly the one to inform her how
Mackenzie had come to his end. But there was something he could do. He
hurried to the telegraph station and dispatched a message to Susan’s
people in Colon, telling them what had happened and advising them to
come over to Culebra without delay. After that he went to the coloured
section of the town; he saw many people in and about Mackenzie’s house.
So Susan knew. He went back to the railway station to await the arrival
of Susan’s relatives.

He sat down on the edge of the platform, thinking of all that had
happened that day. If Susan had left the house with him and they had
afterwards heard of this death! What a narrow escape it had been! And
then with his mind’s eye he saw Mackenzie as Mackenzie had greeted him
on the day of his arrival in Colon, a cordial, helpful friend. He saw
him as a visitor, always contented and happy in the house. He saw him as
a corpse on the stretcher, suddenly struck dead. “Poor Mac,” he muttered
again and again, “poor Mac; poor fellow.” And he cried like a child in
contrition and sorrow.

Continue Reading

THE NIGHT OF THE FIRE

Susan was no longer annoyed with her people for their unexpected
appearance. Now that it had been decided that they were to live by
themselves and do something to earn their living, she felt glad that
they had come to Panama. They would not be very far from her; she could
go to see them fairly often; the old associations, severed when she left
Jamaica, were renewed once more. With her elbows on the table and her
entwined fingers supporting her chin, she watched them eat with a
pleasant glow of hospitality. “Tell me all about home,” she said. “You
ever see Maria?”

“No,” said Catherine; “but I meet Hezekiah one day, an’ him tell me that
Maria hear that you married: somebody write from Colon to tell her. She
will never get a man to put a ring on _her_ finger. You ever see Tom an’
Jones since you married, Sue?”

“No; I don’t think them ever come up this way; an’ since I married,
going eight weeks now, I never leave Culebra once.”

“Jones never write you?” asked her aunt.

“No! Him couldn’t do that. I have nothing more to do wid him.”

“I never did like dat young man,” said Mr. Proudleigh with grave
deliberation. “He talk too much, an’ him always using big words dat I
couldn’t understand. I never thoughted that you would be happy with him,
Sue.”

“Did Jones ever do you anything, pupa?” asked Susan sharply.

“Me? No. Him couldn’t do me anyt’ing. I wouldn’t make him take a liberty
wid me!”

“An’ when you used to borrow a shillin’ from him every now an’ then,
behind my back, though you know you couldn’t pay him back, he ever
refused you?”

This little matter of the loans Mr. Proudleigh had hitherto regarded as
an entirely private business arrangement between Samuel Josiah and
himself; indeed, he had always prefaced his request for a loan with a
speech on the wisdom of not letting one’s left hand know what one’s
right hand did. He had never failed to intimate clearly that Susan was
one of those symbolical left hands that had always better be kept in
ignorance of all important financial transactions between man and man.
But now that, to his intense surprise, Susan mentioned his past
obligations to Jones, he asserted with assurance, “I goin’ to pay him
back every farden. I will write an’ send de money.” An excellent
resolution, though he did not trouble to mention when he would write or
where the money was to come from.

“Well, seeing that Jones was kind to you in Jamaica, I don’t see why y’u
should say you don’t like him,” Susan continued. “We didn’t get on too
well sometimes in Colon, for him was a little wild an’ he got into bad
company. That is why I leave him an’ married Mackenzie. But I don’t ’ave
anything to say against him, for him didn’t stint me in anything, an’
him never ill-treat me.”

“I always liked Mr. Jones, though I never borrow any money from him,”
said Miss Proudleigh untruthfully, pleased at being able to get even
with her brother for his recent attempt to establish her age at fifty.
“He was always polite an’ gentlemanly.”

Mr. Proudleigh had in the meantime filled his mouth to its utmost
capacity, with a view of showing that he could not without grave
inconvenience take any further part in a conversation which was becoming
unpleasantly personal. Catherine had finished eating. Seeing this, Susan
invited her into the kitchen, on the excuse that she wished to prepare
something for Mackenzie.

“You have it dull, Sue?” asked Catherine, as soon as the two found
themselves alone.

“Lord, yes! Every day it is one thing over an’ over. I know some of de
people here, but you can’t make a dance when you like, or ’ave much
merriment.”

“But you have you’ husband.”

Susan twisted her mouth slightly, a facial contortion which Catherine
interpreted as meaning that Mackenzie’s existence did not contribute
materially to making life bright at Culebra.

“Mac is all right enough,” Susan explained, “but him is very quiet an’
serious.”

After a moment’s hesitation, she added:

“Jones was livelier.”

“Then why you leave Jones?”

Susan let the question pass.

“Marriage is dull,” she said: “you are not you’ own mistress. It is true
you ’ave a honourable position, but what is the good of that if it don’t
make you any happier?”

With unconscious inconsistency she continued. “Sam promised to marry me
when we was at sea, but he wouldn’t do it afterwards. It would have been
better for him if he did keep his word.”

Catherine was looking at her narrowly as she spoke. She saw quite
clearly that Susan was not satisfied with her present situation. And yet
she was in a position that hundreds would have envied.

“Perhaps if you did wait, Jones would have married you,” Catherine
suggested.

“I don’t think so. Him was wild an’ foolish, an’ thought that I care for
him so much that I wouldn’t leave him. If he was different I would be
with him now, even if him didn’t married me.”

Catherine looked wise. “I always say it is better not to married too
quick,” she observed; “for you may find you make a mistake, an’ then you
can’t do nothing.”

But here Susan thought that perhaps she had said too much, even to her
sister. So she remarked, with emphasis, that, after all, she was very
comfortable, and that Mackenzie was kind to her and never quarrelled
with her. “I don’t ’ave a word to say against him,” she asserted
truthfully.

Then she and Catherine rejoined the others, for she was now expecting
her husband at any moment.

He came in presently, glanced inquiringly at Susan, who was about to say
who the strangers were, when Mr. Proudleigh, who for a week had been
rehearsing a little speech he had prepared to greet Mackenzie with,
stood up in haste and unceremoniously interrupted his daughter. The old
man had been an Odd Fellow in his younger days, and had frequently
figured as “chaplain” in the lodge. He now chose to regard Mackenzie as
an embodied Odd Fellows Society, and forthwith addressed him as such:

“My noble king! When first I hear that you married Miss Susan, who is
the best daurter I have, an’ when I hear about you from all de people
who come back to Jamaica from here—for I can tell you you are well
beknown—I say to meself: I will arise an’ never be happy till I see me
son-in-law. An’ here I come, though sea-sickness nearly kill me, to
welcome you into de fambily; an’ I can tell you at once that I are going
to do everything to make you comfortable. We don’t acquainted well yet,
but when we are acquaint——”

What would happen when the further acquaintanceship hinted at by Mr.
Proudleigh should have developed, will never be known. For just then
Mackenzie quietly put a stop to his oratory by remarking:

“So you are Sue’s father? I am glad to see you, sir,” and then shook
hands with him.

He greeted Miss Proudleigh and Catherine with similar cordiality,
assuring them that he was happy to see them. Then they all sat down.

“Come on a trip, or to do business?” he inquired of Miss Proudleigh, who
somehow he took to be the leader of the party.

“Things being bad in Jamaica,” that lady replied, “I took a thought an’
came with me brother an’ niece to see if I could get a little work in
Colon. I am a hard-working woman, an’ so long as I can make an honest
living, I are satisfied.”

“Quite right,” said Mackenzie; “nothing like independence, ma’am. You
goin’ to stop too, sir?” he asked Mr. Proudleigh.

“Well, yes,” said his father-in-law; “I thinks I will. I like up here
well; it’s a nice climate.”

“Well, you can stop here a few days; glad if y’u would,” said Mackenzie
hospitably, but this limited invitation finally put an end to Mr.
Proudleigh’s lingering hope of being invited to stay for good. “I hope
Sue been treating you good?” Mackenzie went on, “and that we have
something nice fo’ supper. Sue, we must get some beer an’ spend a nice
evening. It’s not all times we have friends from home.”

He asked to be excused while he went out to get the beer. Both Catherine
and Miss Proudleigh concluded that he was a kind man, easily satisfied,
and generous in a thoughtful, cautious sort of way. But Mr. Proudleigh
felt that Mackenzie’s invitation to him implied a narrow and
unappreciative spirit. Mr. Proudleigh already voted Mackenzie a failure
as a son-in-law.

That night they sat up until late discussing the condition of Jamaica.
From Mr. Proudleigh’s remarks, a stranger would have gathered that a
perfectly peaceful island was just then on the eve of revolution. He did
most of the talking, Mackenzie agreeing with what he said with all the
politeness of a host.

For four days did the visitors remain at Culebra. Susan tried to prevail
upon Catherine to stay with her for good, but that her sister would not
do; she was bored at Culebra. She noticed that Susan and Mackenzie
seemed to get on very well with one another, and that Mackenzie was
apparently quite satisfied with his marriage. But she was convinced that
Susan was not. “She don’t love him,” thought Catherine; “she don’t
happy. Better she didn’t married.”

But though she felt sorry for Susan, she would not share her loneliness.
She went with her father and her aunt to Colon.

It had been arranged that Susan should go to see her people as soon as
they had settled down in Colon: two weeks later she set out on the
journey to the little town she knew so well and missed so much. She
started in the forenoon, her plan being to spend the night in Colon and
return to Culebra the next day. In less than two hours she arrived, and,
taking a cab, drove to the house where her relatives now lived, they
having written to give her the address.

She was effusively welcomed by them. They had two small apartments in
one of the numerous tenement buildings of Colon. Miss Proudleigh,
although preferring dressmaking as a more genteel occupation, had become
a private laundress, as more money could be made that way. She had hired
a girl to help her; particularly, to go for and to take home the
clothes, for that neither she nor Catherine would consent to do.
Catherine assisted with the ironing. They were pleased to find that they
earned four or five times as much at this work as they would have done
in Jamaica. This almost compensated for the menial character of the
work. Mr. Proudleigh discovered elements of dignity in it. His only
contribution was gratuitous advice.

Catherine had news for Susan.

“Guess who I meet in Colon, Sue?” was her first remark, after Susan had
taken off her hat.

“Jones!” said Susan instantly.

“He an’ Tom. Them tell me all about the row, an’ Jones come here
sometimes during the day an’ in the evening. Him may come here to-day,”
she concluded, with a glance at her sister to see how she took the news.

Susan felt her heart leap as Catherine mentioned the possibility of
Jones’s calling at the house while she was there. But she affected
indifference.

“I don’t want to see him,” she said; “but it won’t matter.”

“Of course not,” observed her aunt, “for you are a lawfully married
woman now.”

“An’ nobody can take dat from you,” Mr. Proudleigh insisted, as though
some attempt to rob Susan of her married state was not at all unlikely.

“Nobody need try,” laughed Susan, pluming herself upon being Mrs.
Mackenzie; “I have me marriage certificate.”

“That is a very good thing to have,” Mr. Proudleigh agreed. “But y’u
needn’t fret that Jones won’t treat you respectful in dis house: he have
to! But I must tell you, Sue, that him is a very decent young man. He
confine to me all his troubles; an’ I must really tell you that I thinks
y’u treat him hard, for he is a noble young man.”

From these remarks Susan gathered that Jones was once more advancing to
her father small loans, to be repaid at a hypothetical future date. The
old financial relations had been re-established between the two men. But
she was not displeased to hear her father speak highly of Samuel. She
did not even resent the old man’s mild reproach.

When twelve o’clock came, she found herself anxiously wondering whether
Jones would call that day. From twelve to two o’clock he would not be
working; he would have ample time for a visit. Her aunt and Catherine
were ironing on that part of the veranda upon which their rooms opened.
She sat on the veranda talking to them, and every now and then she would
glance down into the street to see if anyone she knew was passing. She
saw some acquaintances, but always with a feeling of disappointment; as
two o’clock drew near she grew silent, a change which Catherine was not
slow to notice. When the hour struck and she had to recognize that there
was no possibility of Samuel’s coming that afternoon, she made no effort
to conceal from herself that she was bitterly disappointed: in her
inmost heart, also, she confessed to herself that during all the journey
from Culebra to Colon her great hope had been that she should see him,
meet him. For what? She had her reason ready. She told herself that she
wanted to know how he had taken her sudden departure, how he had fared
in the intervening ten weeks, how he would greet her, and whether he had
been captured by some other woman. When she reflected on the possibility
of his having been captured—just as though his personal responsibility
in that matter must be almost nil—she became fiercely antagonistic
towards the unknown woman. She resented her existence, hated her
bitterly.

During the rest of the afternoon she was rather moody; but when six
o’clock came she grew cheerful and talkative once more. An hour passed,
and then Catherine suggested that they should go for a walk about the
town. She agreed.

As they went along, Susan peeped into all the cafés that they passed.
She well knew the old favourite haunt of Samuel, and she led her sister
past it; but, though the doors were wide open as usual, she saw no sign
of Samuel. They called on one or two of Susan’s friends, and to these
the story of her marriage was related; her hearers had no doubt whatever
that she had acted wisely in leaving Jones; there was but one opinion on
her excellent good fortune. The congratulations she received heartened
her greatly; it was much to be a married woman; now she knew she had
done a sensible and proper thing. It was half-past nine when she and
Catherine went back to the house.

“A stranger is upstairs,” said Catherine, as they ascended the steps;
“that is not papee’s voice.”

Susan paused for a moment, her heart beating violently. “It is Jones,”
she whispered.

Catherine listened. “Yes,” she said; “him must have been here a long
time, for it is late already. Y’u not coming up?” she asked, for Susan
was standing still.

Slowly Susan followed her sister. The latter entered the room first.
Susan stepped in after her with a well-assumed air of indifference.

Some one rose. She heard his voice addressing her.

“Good evening, Mrs. Mackenzie. I hope I see you well? Your husband’s
health is propitious, I presume?”

She was equal to the occasion. “Good evening, Mr. Jones. Yes, thank y’u,
Mr. Mackenzie is quite well. He would ’ave sent you his compliments if
he did know I would meet you.”

She sat down. Their eyes met.

“That don’t matter,” said Jones, most loftily. “Compliments are only
words, an’ nobody don’t mean them. I am not sending anybody any
compliments. I have no friends, Mrs. Mackenzie, an’ I compliment nobody.
A man don’t know who to trust in this world.”

“Quite true, Mr. Jones, quite true,” observed Miss Proudleigh, who had
never forgotten Susan’s reception of her at Culebra. “There is but one
Friend who we can trust, an’ to Him we can take all our troubles. When
man desert us an’ play us false, we can take them to the Lord in
pr’yer.” In this way the good lady endeavoured to convey to Jones her
opinion of Susan’s general behaviour.

Jones enjoyed Miss Proudleigh’s sympathy. He felt that he was amongst
friends. He had helped them with his advice since they had been in
Colon, and Mr. Proudleigh had confessed to him that in Mr. Proudleigh’s
opinion Mackenzie was not fit to unloose the latchet of Samuel Josiah’s
shoe. At that moment Susan was at a disadvantage.

He was looking at her narrowly. Her sojourn at Culebra had improved her:
he did not think he had ever seen her look so well before. She was
singularly attractive. Dressed in cool white, she faced him
self-possessed, while on the third finger of her left hand gleamed a
broad band of gold, the symbol of her new condition. Ever and again his
eyes lingered on that ring. He hated it. But he determined to show he
was indifferent, as indifferent as she appeared to be; in his most
bombastic manner he resumed the conversation.

“I am thinkin’ of returning to me native land. The temperature of Panama
is deleterious to my constitution, an’ they have no decent
administration in the country. Some people, of course, are contented
with it. If you kick some people it will please them. But Samuel Josiah
Jones is of a different characteristic; besides, I am one of those men
who can make a living in me own country, an’ I didn’t come here to pass
all me life digging dirt for American people.”

“I don’t suppose anybody else come here fo’ good, either, Mr. Jones,”
replied Susan sharply, feeling it incumbent upon her to defend her
absent husband against all covert attacks. “I expect meself to go home
before long.”

“Is Mac gwine to Jamaica, Sue?” asked her father quickly. “For, ef so, I
wouldn’t mind takin’ a trip meself, an’ I could come back wid you.”

“I don’t know what Mackenzie is goin’ to do, papee,” answered Susan
severely. “But perhaps, as you an’ Mr. Jones is so friendly, you can go
wid him.”

“Oh, that’s all right!” exclaimed Jones. “I can take the old man. I have
the cash, an’ no one ever say yet that Samuel Josiah was mean. When I am
goin’, old massa, you can come along.”

“Thank y’u, me son!” Mr. Proudleigh burst out.

“You is the sort of young man I did want for me son-in-law.”

He had no sooner spoken the words than he regretted them. They expressed
his true sentiments, but how would Susan take them? Catherine laughed.

“Wishes don’t alter facts,” said Miss Proudleigh sourly, “though some
people, in spite of all they may pretends, would be glad if facts could
be altered.”

Susan understood this remark and hated her aunt very thoroughly at that
moment. “I suppose you been wishin’ for a lot of things you never
get—eh, Aunt Deborah?” she said. “You must ’ave wished to get married
for a long time before you got old, but I hear you never even had an
intended.”

“What!” cried Mr. Proudleigh, before his sister could hurl the full
force of her scorn at the offending Susan, “my dear daurter, you don’t
know you’ aunt. You grow up an’ find ’er in religion, but she was a
little devil when she was young. I remember one night me father
half-murder her because she used to stay out late, an’ a young man beat
her one day because she was carryin’ on wid another young man, while she
was engage to de first one. But when she come near forty, of cou’se, an’
she see she was getting old, she teck to religion an’ becomes an example
to you young people.”

“You are an infernal liar!” cried Miss Proudleigh fiercely, roused now
to bitterest anger by this gratuitous detailing of her early history,
and entirely forgetful of the virtue of Christian forbearance and godly
conversation in her desire to maintain her claim to having always led a
pure and spotless life. “Since you come to Colon I don’t know what come
over you! All you seem to want to do is to make fun of me, an’ abuse me
character; but as you remember so many things that never happen, you
might as well remember dat it is me who is helping you to live in Colon,
an’ not Susan.”

“This don’t need any quarrel,” observed Jones hastily. “If I did want to
quarrel I could find plenty of reason, but I bear all the ill-treatment
I receive in silence, being disposed thereto by an equanimitous attitude
of mind.”

“That is the same like my attitude of mind,” peacefully remarked Mr.
Proudleigh, “for if there is a man that don’t like confusion it is me. I
didn’t mean to vex Deborah at all, an’ I beg to ask her pardon as she
get offended by what I say. In fact, I don’t see how she should think I
could want to insult me own sister before a perfec’ stranger like Mister
Jones, an’ she is very wrong to think so. But it is because I am old an’
poor. Ef I was a young man, an’ earning me two pounds a week, all de
sort of words dat everybody give me now I wouldn’t hear at all. But when
a man is poor, dog can bark at him an’ him can’t say a word; so
everybody take an advantage of me an’ tell me what them do for me,
though them never remember what I do for them. However, I apologize to
Deborah, an’ I excuse her, for she was always very ignorant.”

“When you thinkin’ of goin’ home, Mr. Jones?” asked Susan with a view to
putting an end to the dispute between her aunt and father. She knew how
spiteful Miss Proudleigh could be, and was well aware that if her
usually mild parent was once thoroughly annoyed, the recital of his
grievances and wrongs would form the main topic of all conversations for
the next three or four days.

“I haven’t determined on a date hitherto, Mrs. Mackenzie,” Jones
replied, “but I contemplate a speedy departure from these regions. If I
wasn’t a man of strong mentality, all the sufferings I have had to put
up with in Colon would drive me mad. But I have a solid brain, an’ what
would kill some people passes by me like ‘the idle wind which I regard
not.’ That is Shakespeare,” he explained.

“Well, it’s a good thing to be able to go home when y’u like, Mr. Jones,
an’ you are an independent man with no responsibility. My ’usband have
to work hard to keep his wife in comforts, so he can’t travel about like
you, an’ go out to see his friends an’ enjoy himself every night. Some
people like to ’ave everything, you know, without any responsibility,
but Mackenzie is different.”

“I don’t know anything about your husband, Mrs. Mackenzie,” Jones
answered superciliously. “He and I was never friends in Jamaica: we
didn’t walk in the same street at all. Of course, when a man come to a
place like Colon, he get to know a lot of people he would never know at
home. I moved in good society in Jamaica. The very night before I leave
for Colon I was entertained by a few high-toned educated friends of
mine, an’ if I had paid attention to what one of them say to me, I
wouldn’t have been made a fool of here. But I was always of a confiding
an’ trustful disposition, an’ put a lot of faith in females.”

A sarcastic laugh from Miss Proudleigh, directed at Susan, welcomed this
remark. But Susan took no notice of it.

It was now past ten o’clock, and Catherine was repeatedly yawning. Jones
rose to leave.

“This has been an unexpected pleasure, Mrs. Mackenzie,” he said, as he
bade Susan good night. “If we do not meet again, you may say to Mr.
Mackenzie that y’u saw me here in excellent spirits.” He flourished his
hat and bowed as he spoke, then marched with stately step out of the
room.

“Dat is a perfec’ gen’leman,” said Mr. Proudleigh.

Susan thought so too.

* * * * *

After that visit to Colon, Culebra became more distasteful than ever to
Susan. In spite of her possession of “comforts,” her life seemed to her
to be singularly uninteresting; she felt that she had nothing new to
expect, she experienced no pleasant thrill of anticipated adventures;
she loved excitement, and at Culebra, except for the accidents, there
was nothing like excitement to look forward to. She might have children.
But though she possessed the instinct of motherhood as fully as any
other normally developed woman, the coming of children seemed to her to
be a mere matter of course, something too that would bind her down more
tightly to her humdrum existence as Mackenzie’s wife. She began to
regret even the days in Jamaica when she had the shop—days that now
seemed so very far away, though only a few months had passed since she
had come to Panama.

She had no doubt now, she no longer strove to conceal from herself, that
she had made a mistake in marrying Mackenzie. He was a good husband, a
steady man; but he was over forty and very uninteresting. She could not
even quarrel with him: he did nothing to provoke a quarrel. If she was
petulant, he was patient; if she became a little unreasonable, he
yielded with a good humour which she instinctively felt was not the
result of weakness. She stood in some awe of him; as a friend he had
been altogether desirable, but now as her husband she discovered that
his disposition was alien to hers; she respected but could not care for
him.

She could not even complain that he restricted her liberty, for he did
not. She was free in reason to go where she liked; if she had not left
Culebra but once since her marriage, that was not because she could not
have done so had she wished. The situation, clearly, was hopelessly
annoying. As some one had to be blamed for it, she blamed Jones.

It was all his fault. He should have acted differently. It was not
because he had refused to marry her that she had left him. It was
because he had taken to drinking, gambling, and bad habits generally;
because he had made himself objectionable and might at any moment have
found himself within the four walls of a prison. She had chosen the best
way of escape open to her, and everybody agreed that she had acted
wisely. She was in no way at fault.

But this self-vindication did not tend to console her, for, by an
apparently perverse arrangement of things, she was the sufferer while
Jones was as free as air. Susan was too intelligent not to feel that,
however tragically Jones might conduct himself just now, he was likely
to find consolation as time went on. She believed profoundly in her
lasting influence over every man who had fallen in love with her; there
was Tom’s case as an illustration. But she doubted whether that
influence would keep anyone like Jones, from falling into the clutches
of other women, especially as she was married and separated from him for
ever. “The same way he could do without me before I know him, he will do
without me now,” she thought ruefully; and this was the more certain if
he should return to Jamaica. And if he did return, what chance would
there be of his coming back, in a hurry at any rate?

Besides, even if he did come back, how would that help her? They now met
as acquaintances merely. She addressed him as Mr. Jones. He spoke to her
as Mrs. Mackenzie. Everything was as it should be from the point of view
of propriety: he treated her as a married woman ought to be treated. Yet
she would have much preferred a bitter quarrel with him, an open
flinging of reproaches from one to the other, passionate upbraiding.
Why, she did not exactly know, save that the sarcastic politeness of
both, and the thinly veiled innuendoes they had indulged in at her
relatives’ house on the night of their meeting, seemed to her a mere
sham: they had not spoken to one another as they would have liked to
speak. They had merely acted a part.

She wondered if all married women felt, as she did, that marriage was an
awful bore. And she wondered if her endurance could stand the strain of
that boredom for years.

“Mackenzie,” said Susan one evening, some four days after she had been
to Colon, “you ever see Jones?”

“No,” he replied, “I don’t think him ever come this way. An’ I never
hear anything of him; perhaps he gone back home.”

“I don’t think so,” Susan said, “for Kate tell me when I was in Colon
this week that Jones go to see them sometimes. I was thinking that maybe
him will get married himself.”

“Cho!” laughed Mackenzie, “Jones is never goin’ to do anything. Some
girl may marry him if she really want to get married, and can take him
to a church, but it will be she who will do it. You take my word for it,
some day Jones is going to go back to Jamaica widout a cent in his
pocket. He will have nothing to show for all the time him spend here.”

“I think so meself,” agreed Susan; “he don’t steady at all like you,
Mac.”

This direct compliment, at the expense of Jones too, pleased Mackenzie
not the less because he felt it was deserved. He smiled complacently.

“I always thought from the first time I see you in Colon, Sue,” he said,
“that you was too good for a fellow like Jones. He has his good points,
for he can work hard an’ he know his work. But him like to show off too
much, an’ he never know his own mind.”

“You think I should speak to him if I ever meet him? You see, he may go
to see me family when I am there, an’ I wouldn’t like to speak to him if
you didn’t like it.”

“Why, of course you can speak to him; I don’t see why you shouldn’t. He
don’t do you nothing, an’ I don’t see why he should vex because you
leave him to get married. If I see him meself I will speak to him: an’
if him don’t choose to answer it will be all the same to me.”

“You right, Mac. If you hold out the hand of friendship an’ Jones don’t
choose to take it, that’s ‘up to him’ as the American people here say.
An’ I will follow your advice and speak to him if I ever see him, for I
don’t bear anybody malice.”

“Malice is foolishness,” said Mackenzie emphatically. “If I was to meet
Jones up here I would invite him to come an’ spend a evening in me
house. I don’t know if him would come, but that would show him that I
have no bad feelings towards him.”

She said nothing to her husband of her having already met Samuel Josiah.
But now she felt that she could with a clear conscience be polite to
Jones when next she should see him; and perhaps, after that meeting, she
might tell Mackenzie of it . . . that would be wise. She was going to
see her people again, but she must not seem in any hurry to do so; she
must force herself to wait. She allowed two weeks to elapse before she
went, taking care to let Catherine know by letter beforehand the day on
which to expect her.

She arrived in Colon in the afternoon, and that evening Jones came round
to the house. He expected to meet her.

For a little while they discussed indifferent topics; then suddenly
Susan gave a sharp turn to the conversation and surprised everybody by
saying:

“I hear that I have to congratulate you, Mr. Jones.”

“Me? What for?” he asked.

“I hear you goin’ to get married.”

“You don’t say!” exclaimed Mr. Proudleigh, immediately becoming
interested. Jones had been coming so often to see them, and had been so
obliging in the matter of the loans, that the old gentleman had begun to
think that a match might be arranged between the young man and
Catherine.

“I never hear of it before,” said Jones, “but people always know a man’s
business better than he know it himself.” (Mr. Proudleigh’s face lighted
up with pleasure.) “I have nothing more to do with any woman, Mrs.
Mackenzie, an’ don’t intend to.” (Here Mr. Proudleigh’s hopes fell to
zero—a common enough occurrence.) “Women do me enough already in this
world. I have been fooled once, but that was not my fault. If I allow
anybody to fool me again, however, I would be more than stupid.”

Susan’s question had been deliberately put for the purpose of finding
out if Samuel’s affections were still unengaged. She was therefore
delighted with his reply. But she answered to the point. “I didn’t know
you ever was married before, Mr. Jones, so you couldn’t have been
fooled.”

“P’rhaps it is a very good thing him was never married,” observed Miss
Proudleigh caustically, leaving her meaning to be understood by Susan.

“Perhaps so,” replied Susan promptly, “for if Mr. Jones was married him
might have all his wife’s old relations wanting to live on him.”

“It’s not a matter of relations,” said Jones, “for when I put me hand
into me pocket, I can always find money there to help anybody. But
females are not to be trusted; and as I don’t take away anybody’s wife,
I wouldn’t like anybody to take away mine.”

“I agree wid you, Mister Jones,” said Mr. Proudleigh; “but you don’t
have no occasion to worry you’self, for as you not married, nobody can
teck away you’ wife.” He laughed as he ceased, being proud of his logic.

“Well, marriage is not everything,” said Susan; “but as I hear that Mr.
Jones was goin’ to get married—I forget who tell me—I thought I would
mention it so as to congratulate him. But since it isn’t true, I
congratulate him all de same.”

“I thank you kindly,” said Jones with a sweeping bow, “and without
indulging in any process of vituperation, I venture to submit that some
people would have a better life with Samuel Josiah Jones than with other
men I could mention. Some married people have it dull, you know. Now I
am a sport, an’ anybody who is along with me must enjoy themself.”

Susan immediately credited her aunt with having been talking about her
to Jones. Her suspicions were just. Yet Jones had said enough to
indicate that he was still regretting her desertion of him, and this
established a sympathetic understanding between them: they were both
partners in misfortune.

“What that word, ‘vituperation,’ mean, Mister Jones?” inquired Mr.
Proudleigh, who was interested in polysyllables but sometimes found that
Jones’s terms left him bewildered in a maze of hopeless conjecture.

“It means,” said Jones, beginning an explanation which might have left
the old man no wiser than before, when a shout in the street attracted
their attention, and they heard a babble of voices and the sound of
hurrying feet.

“Fire!” cried Mr. Proudleigh, moving quickly towards the veranda. “What
a place Colon is for fire! Almost every week dere is one.”

“They say the American doctors burn down the houses when they can’t cure
the fever any other way,” said Jones, hurriedly following Mr. Proudleigh
to the veranda.

“The people burn it down themself when them want to rob,” was Miss
Proudleigh’s hypothesis, which probably did account for many of the
fires which afflicted Colon.

From the veranda they could see a red glare against the north-western
sky, and a great volume of smoke surging upwards. The glare grew
brighter every moment; denser became the smoke.

“It’s a big fire!” cried Susan excitedly, “an’ nearly all the house in
Colon is of wood. It may burn down de whole town!”

“I gwine to see it!” Mr. Proudleigh exclaimed. “I never miss a fire
yet.” He hurried into the room for his hat, spurred to unusual activity
by the prospect of enjoying one of his favourite amusements.

“But suppose it come this way, pupa?” cried Catherine in a frightened
tone of voice. “What about we clothes and other things?”

But Mr. Proudleigh was already half-way down the stairs, and calling out
loudly to ask if they were not going with him. Miss Proudleigh refused
to move, not being willing to leave her room to the mercy of wandering
thieves. Catherine, after a moment’s hesitation, ran after her father.
Jones and Susan went out together.

The street below was crowded. Half the people in Colon were running
towards the scene of the conflagration, shouting “Fire!” with all the
power of their lungs. Cabs tore through the narrow thoroughfare, mounted
men appeared from nowhere and began to urge their horses through the
hurrying throng with a fine disregard of other people’s safety. The
excitement was contagious; it infected Susan and Jones, who, hand in
hand, began to run also, immediately losing sight of Catherine and Mr.
Proudleigh and thinking only of themselves. Soon they came to the spot
where a huge crowd was collected near a block of wooden buildings, some
of which were now blazing furiously. Fortunately there was no wind, so
the sparks were not carried to any considerable distance. But they rose
to a tremendous height in the heated air, and at that moment thousands
of anxious people were wondering whether a single house would be left
standing in Colon when morning dawned.

The fire brigades were on the spot, the town brigade as well as that
from Christobal. The men worked like demons. Long silver streams poured
upon the blazing buildings; uniformed men in shining helmets swarmed up
the sides of the doomed structures, splintering and smashing the
woodwork with their axes, giving fierce battle to the yellow monster
which leaped from roof to roof, roaring dully as if glorying in
destruction. The Panamanian police were everywhere, the little fellows
running about and clubbing out of the way whoever ventured too near the
burning houses. Soon it was seen that the flames were threatening to
leap across a narrow street, the houses in which were already warping
and blistering under the terrible heat. If those houses should once
ignite, it would be with the greatest difficulty that they could be
saved.

A sudden scattering of the crowd indicated that the police were
impressing men to help them fight the fire. They seized every
able-bodied man they could lay their hands upon, tolerating no show of
resistance; people on the outskirts of the crowd, knowing that an
unpleasant time would be in store for them if once they were impressed,
were hastily making off, and Jones, who was among them, thought it
eminently wise to follow their example as quickly as possible. Pulling
Susan by the hand, he hurried away. When he thought that he had put
sufficient ground between himself and the police he halted. From where
they now stood they could still see the flames fighting their way
upwards, and the huge masses of heavy black smoke spreading like a pall
over the town.

“I hope them won’t hold pupa,” panted Susan, staring with wide-open eyes
at the curling smoke and lurid sky.

“They wouldn’t bother with him,” Jones assured her; “he is too feeble;
in fact, he shouldn’t be in that crowd at all. It is the strong men they
looking for to-night. They will try to hold people like me an’
Mackenzie.”

Mackenzie’s name slipped out almost without Jones knowing that he had
pronounced it. It showed that Mackenzie occupied a large portion of his
thoughts in these days. The mention of the name also led to a question
which seemed strangely out of place at a time when Colon appeared to be
threatened with wholesale destruction.

“You an’ you’ husband ever talk about me?” he asked Susan.

She was surprised at this question, so out of keeping it was with her
thoughts just then. Still staring towards the fire, she said, “Why you
ask that now?”

“Because I would like to know what you say about me, an’ this is the
only time I can ask you. I suppose Mackenzie laugh at me an’ think I am
a fool to let him take you away from me so easy?”

“Why you always like to talk disagreeable things, Sam?” she answered,
unconsciously dropping back into her old familiar way of addressing him.
There was no pretence now; there was a touch of regret in her voice as
she went on:

“Mackenzie is quite up at Culebra, an’ you is down here. I going back
to-morrow. What’s de good of talkin’ about him?”

“But can you tell me now that you don’t sorry you leave me, Sue; that
you are as happy as you used to be? I don’t make any pretence like you.
I miss you, an’ I tell you so plain.”

“It was your fault, Sam. Before I went away I ask you if you was going
to keep you’ promise to marry me, an’ you say I was talking foolishness.
I knew Mackenzie was going to act differently, and, after all, him do
for me what you would never do.”

“That is the way you put it. But you didn’t tell me Mackenzie offered to
marry you. You stole away from me like a thief in the night. If you had
told me you were going, and why you were going, I wouldn’t have made you
go, an’ we would have been married to-day. But you didn’t give me a
chance to know. Why? I could have done you nothing if you had told me.”

There was so much in what he said, that for the space of a few seconds
Susan remained silent. Then she answered.

“You talk like that now, Sam, but you would have talked different if I
had told you. I was afraid.”

“Afraid,” he repeated bitterly, “though I never lift me hand to you in
me life! An’ suppose it had come to a big quarrel or a fight. You was
living in the same house with a lot of people: what could I do you? An’
if I did make a fight, the wrong would have been on my side, an’ you
could have left me with a clear conscience. How is it now? You mean to
tell me that every day of you’ natural life you going to be content with
the same sort of life you living now? I know all about it. You can’t
prevent you’ people from talking. Besides, I know something about
Culebra; and I know Mackenzie. An’ if it is bad now, what is it goin’ to
be later on? You are going to be miserable, you going to fret, you going
to wish you were dead; an’ so, for all your name is Mrs. Mackenzie, an’
you have a ring on you’ finger, and all the comforts you want, I don’t
see that you are as well off as before you got married. So what is the
good of it?”

Out there, in the streets of Colon, in the town where, as she now so
keenly remembered, she had had so many hours of happiness, Susan felt
the full force of Samuel’s words. Both of them had forgotten the fire.
Their own affairs were of supremest importance in all the world.

“It is no use talkin’ now,” she said dismally. “What is done can’t be
undone.”

“That is true. You make your own bed an’ must lie on it.”

“We live an’ learn,” said Susan. “You can’t know if you don’t try.”

“What’s the sense of tryin’ once if you can never try again?”

She said nothing, and he continued, as if talking to himself:

“You can’t marry again, once you’re married; that’s the hard part of it.
You leave me, but you can’t leave Mackenzie. . . . You can’t. . . . But,
Sue, you can! Let us go away from here to Jamaica!”

No such proposition had definitely formed itself in his mind when he
first began to speak. The suddenness of it was a revelation to himself.
Yet the idea must have been lurking somewhere at the back of his mind,
for he had never entirely given up Susan. Now too he went on as though
the whole course of their future conduct had been carefully thought out
by him.

“We can go to Jamaica, Sue, an’ we’ll be all right there. I will arrange
all about the passage; you can come down here from Culebra the night
before the ship sail, and we can leave in the morning. You needn’t say a
word to anybody, not even your own people; you can write them when you
are in Jamaica. When we get there, Mackenzie can only divorce you, for
he can’t do you anything in Jamaica. But even if he divorce you, it
won’t matter, for I will marry you then. Mackenzie take you away from
me, so it is only fair if I take you away from him. What you say?”

“No, Sam! This is different. When I leave you I wasn’t married; I was me
own woman; now I am not. It would be a disgrace for me to go away wid
you an’ leave me lawful husband. Besides, it would be a sin. Don’t you
know that if a married woman ’ave anything to do with another man it is
seven years’ trouble for both of them?”

It came into Jones’s mind at that moment that, if such were the case,
there must be large numbers of persons in Central America and the West
Indies enduring long seven-year periods of tribulation just then; but he
only said, “That’s all foolishness, Sue.”

“It is not. Marriage is a different thing from every other thing; that
is what I learn, and that is what nobody can take out of me head. An’
suppose Mackenzie was to divorce me. You think I would like to have me
name disgrace like that?”

“Then what we going to do?”

For answer, Susan began to walk slowly in the direction of her people’s
house. There were many persons in the streets now. The fire was burning
still, but had been mastered; the fear that it might consume the whole
town had passed away. People were beginning to return to their homes,
all talking about the danger which they had escaped. The street in which
they were was filled with the murmur of excited voices.

They walked on, Jones at her side. “Pupa must be gone home,” she
remarked. “We better go back too.”

As she spoke she saw a man who was passing in the opposite direction
turn and look at her and her companion. She glanced over her shoulder to
look at him, Jones also turning to stare. The man had stopped and was
staring.

They both recognized who it was, and Susan nodded her head. The man
returned the bow, but Jones looked at him as if he were a post. “That is
the jackass,” he said, “who cause all this trouble;” and he spoke loudly
enough for Tom Wooley to hear.

They continued on their way, arriving at the house in a few minutes.
There they found Mr. Proudleigh relating his wonderful experiences at
the scene of the fire. He and Catherine had been separated in the crowd,
and he related how the police had tried to induce him to assist in
extinguishing the fire, and with what arguments he had effectually
prevented them from laying sacrilegious hands upon his venerable person.
A story which showed that the old man had in him the makings of an
ingenious newspaper reporter, and which was listened to by his sister
with every manifestation of profound disbelief.

Continue Reading

LAST EFFORT

Jones entered the room with a stride that was intended to be impressive.
Unhappily, the one or two persons who observed it merely laughed, and
this did not tend to sweeten his temper. He glared round the room, and
presently saw Susan dancing with some one he did not know; his eyes
searched the company again. He was looking for Tom; the desire uppermost
in his mind just then was once and for all to prevent that young man
from ever thinking of Susan in the light of a lover, or even as a
friend. “This thing got to stop at once,” he muttered. “I must
demonstrate.”

What he intended to do, precisely what steps he proposed to take to
banish all amorous thoughts or conjugal ambitions from the mind of the
offending Tom Wooley, he did not know himself. He was perfectly
satisfied that just then he was bent upon the accomplishment of an
utterly heroic task; something had to be done and he was the man to do
it. He smiled proudly as he thought of his entire devotion to duty. His
eyes soon found the man he was looking for.

Tom was still leaning against the wall, and still engaged in following
Susan’s movements with reproachful glances. The influence of those two
drinks was upon him still, and he too imagined that he presented a
romantic figure, that his appearance at that moment constituted an
eloquent appeal even to hard-hearted Sue. She had seen him all the time
without appearing to do so. Now and then her upper lip curled with
conscious contempt. Susan had no respect for the lover sighing like a
furnace; such a man was “too soft,” in her opinion.

It happened that Jones caught sight of Tom at a moment when the latter’s
gaze was more than usually ardent. Susan was whirling by her ex-intended
at the moment, and her eyes caught his; the next moment she was a couple
of yards away. But Jones saw what he instantly believed to be an
exchange of meaning glances. Straightway he became convinced that a most
dishonest plot was being hatched against his domestic happiness.

Nothing could, in his opinion, surpass the dignity with which, to the
intense amazement and confusion of the dancers, he strode across the
room towards where Tom was standing. He shouldered the men aside,
brushed the women away as if they did not count, disturbed and brought
to an abrupt termination the dancing, and so, of course, aroused the ire
of a score of persons at once. Notwithstanding his tremendous dignity,
he found the maintenance of his equilibrium a task of exceeding
difficulty; he could not for the life of him understand why the floor
was so uneven and why the electric lights would persist in moving out of
place. Nevertheless he succeeded in planting himself before Tom, and
then, with portentous solemnity, and unheeding the indignant wonder of
the guests, he addressed his rival.

“Mr. Wooley,” said he, “I don’t want no quarrel to mar the felicity of
this festivity; but I shall have to interrogate you on one point: where
did y’u know Susan from?”

Tom was startled, both by the question put to him and by the attitude of
the questioner. At the moment his mind was unpleasantly dominated by a
sense of Jones’s height and strength. He discreetly answered, “From
home.”

“I know you must know her from home,” replied Jones severely, “for I am
not a fool, though you seem to take me for one. But . . . but that is
not the question. The position is this: what did you have to do wid her
at home?”

Tom realized that it might not be safe to tell the truth. He hurriedly
explained that he had known Susan casually, through her being a friend
of his sister—a being of hitherto unknown existence.

“But how,” persisted Jones, with a cunning leer, “how if she was only an
acquaintance through you’ sister, you could take such a interest in her
parents? She didn’t tell me anything about you’ sister a little while
ago. An’ a man like you isn’t going to be friendly with old people for
nothing.”

Tom saw that his questioner was trying to trap him, that Jones
entertained suspicions which evasive answers might only inflame. Tom
noticed too that an astonished group had gathered round them, and that
the men especially did not seem to be kindly disposed towards Jones. He
became defiant.

“What right have you to ask me any question about meself?” he demanded,
endeavouring at the same time to edge away from Jones.

“What right I have?” asked Jones, as if the question were an act of high
treason. “What right I have? Well! What right have you to be here? That
is what I got to know to-night. Y’u think I didn’t see you when you was
whispering to Susan before she introduce your miserable carcase to me?
What right I have to ask you any question? I will soon tell you! Come
outside an’ let me beat the skin off you’ body! Come outside and let me
gyrate upon your personality! I will show you the difference between me
and a—a——” But here Samuel Josiah lost the thread of his speech, and
could not remember the comparison he wished to institute. Nothing,
however, would satisfy him but that Tom should immediately proceed
outside to undergo corporal punishment, and as Mr. Wooley firmly
declined that invitation, Jones abruptly grabbed him by his shirt
collar, proposing to remove him by sheer force.

This of course was the signal for an uproar. A dozen men sprang forward
to drag Jones away; the women shrieked in fright; Susan, terror-struck
at the attitude of Jones, uttered the word which rose so easily to the
lips of all frightened Jamaican women—“Murder!” A peremptory rap at the
outer door, followed by the tramp of feet, was the immediate answer to
the clamour and exclamation.

Jones, confused, and, if the truth must be told, not a little frightened
himself, stared around him in bewilderment. Tom, seeing so many friends
at his side, became heroically valiant and manfully glared at his foe
from behind an impregnable barricade of two strong men. But his look of
defiance gave place to one of fear when three diminutive-looking persons
entered the room. They were dressed in the uniform of the Panamanian
policia.

The insignificant size of these policemen gave no indication of their
ferocity when roused to anger. They had been feeling of late that it was
incumbent upon them to do something which should show how thoroughly
they realized their obligation to maintain law and order. They had heard
the cry of “murder,” they knew it came from Mrs. Driscole’s house. At
once they determined to make an example of her and of some of her
guests, being moved to that moral determination by the certainty of the
prisoners being able to pay to the Republic a fine, and of Mrs. Driscole
herself effecting a compromise with them in so far as her share in the
disorder was concerned.

The moment the guests caught sight of the policemen, they rapidly made a
lane through which the little men could advance towards the offenders.
It is regrettable to relate that so anxious were one or two of the
company to escape even the appearance of evil that they did not hesitate
to point out Jones and Tom as the culprits to the preservers of the
peace.

The two young men were sensible enough not to make any effort to move or
to resist, being aware of the Panamanian policemen’s habit of arguing
with their clubs instead of with words. As for Mrs. Driscole, she
appeared on the scene, fat, trembling, obsequious, and protesting
volubly in broken Spanish that she was innocent of any intention of
breaking the laws of the Republic. As she implored the policemen to come
back the next day, so as to give her the opportunity of proving her
innocence, they left her alone. They knew she would be able to offer
substantial proof (_in specie_) of her ignorance of any crime with which
she might be charged. But they had already found Jones and Tom guilty,
and so they motioned these towards the door with some not very gentle
prods from their clubs.

This indignity brought tears to the eyes of Jones. Only in the last
resort would a Jamaica policeman have ventured to enter a private house
when a dance was going on. And the most he would have done, in the
absence of visible wounds, would have been to take the names of the
proprietor and the parties accused of disturbing the peace. Yet here was
he, Samuel Josiah Jones, being dragged off to gaol by men he would have
laughed at in Jamaica!

In his excitement he completely forgot Susan, who was at that moment
almost frantic with terror. She knew nothing about Panamanian law, and,
of course, feared the worst. Sam might be sent to prison without the
option of a fine; she herself might be arrested as the first cause of
the quarrel. It was Mackenzie who came to her rescue. He had not
interfered with the young men; he had been keeping his eye on Susan all
the time. When Tom and Jones had been taken away he went up to her. “You
better come home,” he said.

When they got outside, she broke down completely.

“You think him will go to prison, Mr. Mac?” she asked, between her sobs.

“Prison? what for?” said Mackenzie. “Them can only fine him to-morrow;
that’s all.”

“But what about his job?” said Susan, who never quite lost sight of the
financial aspect of any question.

“His job is all right,” Mackenzie replied. “What happen in Colon don’t
concern the people in de Zone.”

“Then I don’t too sorry him gone to the calaboose,” said Susan
spitefully. “Him is always boasting an’ thinking him can do what him
like! To-night will teach him a good lesson.”

“Jones have no lesson to learn, Miss Sue,” said Mackenzie sententiously.
“He is a young man that will always get himself in trouble. Him talk too
much. What did he want to fight the other young man for to-night?”

“Because I did know Tom from home,” replied Susan.

“You was friendly wid him?” asked Mackenzie bluntly.

“Yes.”

“Did Jones know?”

“No; I will tell you why I didn’t tell him.”

She told Mackenzie quite truthfully all about Tom. “There was no
occasion for Sam to go on like that to-night,” she added in conclusion;
“I wasn’t goin’ to ’ave anything to do with Tom. I am not that sort of
gurl, Mr. Mac; if I have one intended I stick to him. But Sam not
behaving himself now, an’ I going back home to Jamaica.”

They had arrived at her home. Afraid to be left alone, yet also fearing
that if Mackenzie went in with her there might be some talk about it
amongst the neighbours of a suspicious turn of mind, she stopped and
hesitated.

“It is late,” said Mackenzie, “but I want to have a talk with you, so I
will come in for a little.” After this, of course, she could say
nothing.

“You mean to tell me,” he said, as he sat down, “that Jones not goin’ on
no better than before?”

“No, Mr. Mac; him gamble too much, an’ stay out late every night. He
won’t hear what I say to him at all.”

“What you goin’ to do?”

“I make up me mind. I am goin’ back to Jamaica.”

He was silent for the space of a minute. Then:

“Instead of goin’ back, why don’t you get married?” he asked.

The proposal was made so simply—for Susan understood it as such quite
well—that it took her breath away. She knew that Mackenzie liked her,
but it had never occurred to her that he would ever want to marry her.
He had been a good friend, but had never shown any sentiment; he had
even tried to induce Jones to keep in her good graces. Now that she had
said that she was returning to Jamaica (though, in spite of her emphatic
words, she was not at all sure that she meant it)—only now did
Mackenzie reveal his innermost feelings.

She was surprised. Confused too, for she did not quite know what answer
to give. She began picking at an end of her handkerchief with her teeth,
while she revolved in her mind this strange, unexpected turn of events.
Marriage meant a great deal to her. It would give her position, security
. . . and she had more than sufficient excuse for leaving Jones.

Nevertheless she hesitated to agree. Mackenzie was fully twice her age.
She liked him as a friend, not as she had liked Samuel; and
marriage—that was very different from an engagement.

“If you go back to Jamaica, what y’u going to do?” Mackenzie asked,
seeing that she could not make up her mind.

“I don’t know,” she answered frankly.

Mackenzie was well aware of the importance of the proposal he had made.
It was much to offer marriage to Susan, for though she was good-looking
and a capable housewife, and would easily find some one to take care of
her if she deserted Jones and remained in Panama, there were not many
men in his position who might be willing to marry her. And if she
returned to Jamaica her chances of a comfortable living would not be
many. But he also knew that Jones was a much younger man than he, a more
dashing kind of man; and perhaps Susan would prefer another of the same
type, even though he might not offer her marriage. He, Mackenzie,
however, would not break his heart if Susan refused him. There was not
much passion in his composition.

Susan remembered how Jones had promised to marry her, and then had
broken his promise. She had never quite forgiven him that. Then the
habit of drinking might grow upon him. She was well aware that he drank,
not so much through inclination, as from a desire to vie with others who
did so. His ambition was to be considered “a sport,” but he might become
a drunkard. And she had no claim upon him.

Mackenzie was a steady man. If she married him, she could become a
member of a church. That would mean a definite rise in the social scale;
her respectability would then be beyond challenge, beyond question. The
ring on her finger would be the outward and visible sign of her right to
respectful treatment on earth below, and also the promise of an
uninterrupted passage to heaven in the unfortunate event of death. When
she had thought of all these things she came to a provisional decision.

“I can’t answer you right away, Mr. Mac,” she said, “for it is like dis.
When a gurl goin’ to take a step like marriage it is right she should
think well what she doin’. Don’t I right?”

Mackenzie nodded his agreement.

“Well, then, I will write y’u on Friday an’ tell you me answer. I know
you will treat me kind, Mr. Mac.”

“Tell you what we better do, then,” said Mackenzie, who believed in
businesslike arrangements. “If you write me on Friday morning, I will
get the letter during the day. If it is all right, I will get a licence
from de judge at Culebra, an’ he will perform the ceremony when you
come. When you think you will come?”

“Saturday. But I would prefer a parson to marry me.”

“That not easy, for we don’t have time. The judge married almost
everybody in de Zone. You going to tell Jones?”

“No! Why you ask dat?”

“I don’t see why you shouldn’t tell him. Him would only talk an’
bluster, but him is not the sort of man to do anything. Howsoever,
follow you’ own mind.”

He said good night without any attempt at endearment. Susan saw him
downstairs; it was very late. Being much too tired to do any thinking,
she went to bed and fell asleep, spitefully hoping that Jones would
reflect upon his conduct all night in the calaboose of Colon.

On the following morning Jones was fined ten dollars for a breach of the
peace—a light sentence, since the police had at first been inclined to
charge him with attempted murder. Tom escaped with a fine of five
dollars, presumably because he had not been murdered; and both men were
severely warned that the next time they appeared before the court it
would go hard with them, and that in the meantime the police would be
instructed to keep an eye upon them.

In addition to this Samuel lost half a day’s pay, to say nothing of some
hours in a cell shared by insects which vigorously disputed its
possession with him.

It was an embittered Jones that went home that afternoon. His friends,
instead of going to bail him, had avoided the vicinity of the calaboose;
Susan herself had not come near him. He had been deserted by those who
should have rallied to his cause, though he himself would have stood by
them to the end. He solemnly swore that he never again would put his
faith in Jamaicans.

Susan waited until he had voiced his complaints, and had eaten his
dinner. Then she opened her attack.

“Sam, you not ashamed of you’self?”

He was, but was not prepared to admit it. That would be a lowering of
his dignity. “What for?” he asked her sullenly.

“That you goin’ on in this way to make me fret. You quarrel, an’ fight,
an’ drink, an’ gamble, an’ won’t hear what I say. You think you goin’ on
right?”

“But what is all this for now?” he demanded angrily. “Instead of feeling
vex that them wanted to hang me without a trial in Colon, you begin to
ask me all sort of foolish question. You want to provoke me?”

“I don’t want to provoke y’u, but I am going to ask you one plain
question. Don’t you think you should try to behave you’self now, an’
marry me, after you bring me to Colon an’ make me mind disturbed night
an’ day? Suppose the policeman did kill you last night: what position I
would be into to-day?”

“You mean to say you going back to all that foolishness again, Susan?”
he cried, scandalized by her persistence in stupidity. “I am not going
to talk about marriage, an’ as I can’t have peace in this place, I am
going out.” Then, before Susan could make any further remark, he seized
his hat and left the room in a temper.

Then Susan locked the door, took pen, ink, and paper out of one of her
cupboards, and sat down to write. She had given Samuel a last chance. He
had answered her as he had done before. In a sentence or two she
informed Mackenzie that she would leave Colon for Culebra by the second
train on Saturday morning.

Then she indicted a letter to her father. This was an important epistle,
for she calculated upon its being shown to a large number of persons in
Kingston. She informed her father that “When these few lines come to
hand, hoping it will reach you in the same good health it leave me, your
affectionate daughter will be Mrs. John Mackenzie, for I am going to
married to a nice gentleman working with the American people up at
Culebra. Jones is too bad. He meet Tom the other night at a dance, and
make a row and I have to fret too much. But I wouldn’t leave him all the
same if I wasn’t a girl that like religion as you brought me up, and
beside it is an honourable life to get married. Tell Kate and Eliza them
must follow my example, for God bless me and smile on me, and I have
everything I want and Mackenzie care for me, otherwise him wouldn’t want
to put a ring on me finger. If it wasn’t that I always fear the Lord
this good luck wouldn’t happen to me, and I going to pray for all of
you. Tell Kate and Eliza them mustn’t keep any bad company in Kingston,
and make Maria and her old obeah mother know that I married, for it will
hurt them. Tell mammee and Aunt Deborah that I will rite them.—Yours
truly loving daughter,

“SUSAN.”

Then an idea occurred to her, and she added a postscript.

“I send some money for all of you out of what I save. It is a wedding
present.”

This wedding present consisted of five pounds. Only once before had she
written to her people, and then she had enclosed three pounds. She
thought, and rightly, that she was acting generously by them.

She regarded this composition with no little pride, then, though
fatigued by such unwonted mental exertion, she proceeded to compose
another letter. It was brief and to the point.

“DEAR SAM,—When I ask you Thursday evening after you leave the
jail if you was going to keep your promise on board ship and
marry me you say no. Alright then. I am obliged to leave you for
I am going to marry another gentleman who you know. Mr. Mac has
been good to me, and when you get this letter I will be Mrs.
Mackenzie, but if you did behave yourself I wouldn’t go away
from you but it is all your own fault.—Yours affectionate,

“SUSAN PROUDLEIGH.”

She folded these letters, enclosed them in envelopes, and carefully
addressed them. She would post Mackenzie’s that evening. To-morrow she
would buy postal orders for five pounds and then register the letter to
Jamaica; in the meantime the letters that were to be posted the next day
were carefully locked away by her in a little box which she kept at the
bottom of her trunk. Susan had carefully observed how absconding wives
acted in moving-picture dramas. These wrote their last farewells in the
space of five seconds, read them over with frowning brows, sealed them,
and placed them in a most conspicuous position in order that they should
not by any possibility be overlooked. A wife of this type would scarcely
have left the house before the husband would return, and there, on the
table, would be the letter waiting for him, as large as life. But he
never saw it at once. Some occult influence, apparently, kept his eyes
away from it. He would look round the room, search the ceiling for the
missing one, scrutinize the floor, survey the atmosphere, and would be
on the point of leaving the room when his eye would fall upon the table
and the letter would be seen. This procedure would probably give him
just sufficient time to rush into the street, summon the motor-car that
always attends upon the movements of repentant husbands, and dash off to
the railway station or the ship’s dock, or the house to which his wife
had fled. A second more and he would have been too late. In the
moving-picture world, however, time itself is subordinate to the
imperious demands of domestic felicity, and the reconciliation takes
place dramatically with a public embrace.

That Jones might rush to the railway station, she knew. But instead of a
reconciliation there might be a quarrel. There might be an arrest. She
concluded that she would post Sam’s letter at one of the stations at
which the train would stop while on the way to Culebra; by the time he
received it she would have been already married. She went out and posted
Mackenzie’s letter, called on a friend to discuss the scene of the
preceding night, and returned home to find Samuel waiting for her.

He was much earlier than usual. The truth is, he was still very much
frightened and wished to run no further risks with vigilant policemen.
He had opinions to express, and he sought the security of his own
dwelling to give utterance to them; Susan gathered from his remarks that
he would very much like to hoist the standard of revolution in the
Republic of Panama, summoning thereto all the West Indians who suffered
under the tyranny of the laws. A Jamaican named Preston had many years
before been prominently identified with a revolutionary movement in this
same country. All Jamaica had rung with his name. Jones’s idea was
annexation; Panama should be taken by West Indians for the British
Crown, the Protestant religion should be firmly established, the
natives, and especially that portion of them attached to the Police
Force, should be put in their proper places. Sir Henry Morgan had once
burnt the old city of Panama. And Sir Henry had done it with men from
Jamaica. “If that could be done in the old days,” said Jones, “we could
do more now that we are stronger. A couple of English man-o’-war would
soon show them a thing or two!”

But presently he was assailed by doubts as to the part the British
Government would consent to play in such a laudable enterprise. He was
not sure that England was alive to her opportunities in this part of the
world. He confided his misgivings to Susan, who saw in his ambitions
clear evidence of a desire for further trouble. But she quietly agreed
with everything he said, which pleased him immensely. He noticed too
that she did not even remotely approach again the perilous question of
marriage. She seemed to accept the existing situation as permanent. In
an outburst of confidence he passed from Imperialistic aspirations to
her own affairs, and told her how he had been accosted by an old woman
on the night before leaving Kingston, who had warned him about her and
Tom Wooley.

“That was Mother Smith,” said Susan. “She wanted to injure me.”

“But she has not accomplished her purpose,” he graciously replied; “an’
between you and I an’ the door, I sorry I make a fool of myself last
night over a little fellow like Tom Wooley. The fact is, I was drunk. I
know you wouldn’t leave Samuel Josiah for anybody here: love me too
much! An’ nothing anybody say will make me leave you.”

That closed the conversation. He did not notice that Susan said nothing
in answer to these remarks.

* * * * *

Friday night came, the last she was to pass under that roof. Something
unusual happened. After dinner, Jones announced that he was not going
out, and for an instant she wondered, startled, if he had any inkling of
her plans. But her mind was soon at ease. Samuel had not recovered from
the effects of those few hours in gaol. He had received a lesson; he did
not wish for a repetition. He drank nothing: drinking was largely a
matter of show and bravado with him. He had purchased some Jamaica
newspapers that day, and diligently read the news while she sat idle,
thinking of the plan she would carry out in the morning. Even his views
on the annexation of Panama were not mentioned.

Saturday morning came. Had Jones been an observant man he might have
noticed that Susan was unusually nervous, and that she bade him
“good-bye” when he was going out to work. She watched him go, then
hastily made her final preparations. She packed all the things she
needed into a trunk and a straw “grip,” ran downstairs, summoned a cab,
had her trunk brought down, and gave the key of her apartment to a
neighbour, whom she asked to hand it to Samuel when he should come home
that afternoon. Then she drove to the railway station at Christobal,
half-fearing, half-wishing that Jones might see her. In a few minutes
she had passed through the iron gates of the station and had taken her
seat in a second-class carriage of the train.

She was conscious now of a strange sensation somewhere about her heart.
There was a tightening there; there was a lump in her throat; the
inclination was strong upon her to quit the train, to turn back, to
leave marriage and Mackenzie alone. She was nervous, excited, but she
did not feel happy. In a vague kind of way she realized that she was
cutting herself off from the past, entering a new life. . . .

The train moved out of the station. It gathered speed and flew towards
Culebra. She looked out of the window, seeing the long low range of
buildings in which lived the coloured employees of the railway; she saw
the verandas on which the clothes were hung out to dry, where the food
was cooked, where fruit of all kinds was exposed for sale and
healthy-looking children played to their hearts’ content. Soon the train
was running through the swamp outside of Colon and on the mainland of
Panama. Long grass grew in the black water, a thick jungle where fever
lurked, and deadly tarantulas and all sorts of evil things; but the
swamp was passed and now green pastures appeared, and in the distance
she could catch a glimpse of green low-lying hills.

The train stopped every now and then at the Labour Towns along the
route. Masses of wooden buildings clung to hill-sides, the forest grew
beyond them, defiant, the riotous vegetation of this strip of tropical
America striving ceaselessly with man for the mastery. These towns
seemed alive with workers, there was activity everywhere, an eternal
movement. And every now and then an almost interminable train of cars;
laden with rocks and earth dug out of the great Cut at Culebra, would
rush at full speed by her train with a thunderous deafening roar.

On and on, through the forest. Monteliro was reached, and here she asked
a fellow-passenger who had arrived at his destination to post Sam’s
letter for her. Frijoles, and now she saw the turbulent Chagres, the
problem of the Canal Administration’s engineers, rolling peacefully, a
broad and shining river, between its verdant banks. It stretched away
into the distance, travelling through a luxuriant country to the sea,
its surface lighted up by the sun and breaking into iridescent flashes
of silver light.

She saw it all, but half unconsciously. The nature of the ground began
to change. The soil was red; low, rounded hills went rising one after
another to the far-off horizon; the towns were becoming more numerous
too, each one of them a cluster of slate-roofed buildings with
well-constructed streets and paths winding in and out amongst them.

San Pablo, Gorgona, Matachin; the land was rising now. Black earth and
huge black rocks proclaimed the volcanic nature of the soil. The country
became more open, the forests had disappeared. She was nearing Empire.
The next station after that would be Culebra. There Mackenzie would be
waiting for her; there, in at the latest a couple of hours hence, she
would become Mrs. Mackenzie. That thought had never left her mind; it
now obsessed her to the exclusion of every other thought. So she was
actually going to be married! It was not the sort of wedding she would
have preferred, not the sort of ceremony she would have had in Jamaica.
In that country the bridegroom would have hired three carriages at
least; and six bridesmaids, all dressed in white, would have waited upon
her in the church. And all the guests would have been gaily attired; the
women unaffectedly excited, the men striving to show how imperturbably
serene they could be even in the face of such a crisis. She pictured the
scene; her triumphal parade in a carriage to the church, with the
black-coated man beside her who was to give her away—her father, of
course, though she did not think he became the position well. She was
beautifully dressed; a long veil flowed over her head and shoulders; in
her right hand she carried a huge bunch of lilies and white roses. The
ceremony over, she returned with her husband to the house where the
wedding feast was prepared. As she appeared at the door a choir of
female voices, led by her friend, Cordelia Sampson, burst into
song—“Let us open the Door to the Children, the Door of the Kingdom of
Heaven.” Then would come the congratulations, and inquiries would be
made of the spinsters as to when they would follow her good example and
make a few men supremely happy; something which, as Susan knew, they
were quite ready to do at any moment, the only obstacle being the
reluctance of the men to be made happy.

And then the wedding feast. She saw the long decorated table covered
with cakes and sweets and glasses, and at the head of it all, towering
above everything else, the bridal cake. Behind this cake stood herself
and her husband, but he did not resemble Mackenzie. His face, his form,
his voice, his language, his gestures, were those of Jones; it was Jones
who had met her at the church door, Jones who had said, “I will,” Jones
who was with her now, ready to respond to the toast to the bride and
bridegroom. The speeches were stereotyped: she already knew them by
heart. She and her husband were likened first to a pair of turtle-doves,
then afterwards to a pair of white pigeons, the winged creation figuring
prominently as types of matrimonial constancy and bliss. Then Isaac and
Rebecca would be mentioned, and some ambitious speaker, anxious to excel
in oratory, but rather weak in scriptural knowledge, might compare them
to Ananias and Sapphira. Eventually she and her husband would leave
while the dancing was going on, first taking care to make such desperate
efforts to escape unobserved that the departure would become as public
as a well-advertised show. There would be a shower of rose petals, a
chorus of cries——

“Culebra!”

The train stopped. Looking down upon the station and the railway line
was a large building the veranda of which was adorned with a flowering
vine. And other buildings beside and behind this one, and steps cut,
into the high sloping bank which led up to them. Scores of people were
hastily descending from the train at this station, she amongst them. She
looked round. “The train arrive in time to-day,” said Mackenzie
pleasantly.

That afternoon she became Mrs. Mackenzie.

“This hill really hard to climb, an’ de cramps is troubling me feet so
much that it make me feel funny,” said Mr. Proudleigh dolorously.

“The longest journey must hend at last,” his sister consolingly
observed, as Mr. Proudleigh halted in the middle of the steep path and
gazed upwards at the height which yet remained to be climbed.

“If you did know you couldn’t walk it, pupa, you shouldn’t come,” said
Catherine irreverently. “Old people shouldn’t try and do what them know
them can’t do.”

“Y’u don’t have no feelings for you’ poor ole father, Kate,” replied Mr.
Proudleigh sternly. “If I was a young gal, I would treat the old folkses
respectably. There is a commandment in de Bible which say that forty she
bear destroy the children that mock at Elijah, and——”

“You are misquoting de Scripture, Jim,” cried his sister; “an’ though
Kate should treat you respectfully, which is your own daughter, yet I
really thinks you should make an endeavour to reach Susan house before
night come down.”

Mr. Proudleigh groaned, but struggled manfully forward. After the party
had toiled slowly upwards for another couple of minutes they saw coming
towards them two young Americans busily engaged in conversation. When
these drew near enough Mr. Proudleigh accosted them, giving them his
favourite military salute.

“Gentlemen,” he panted, “can you direct de old man to where Mrs. Susan
Mackenzie live? De Lord will bless y’u ef you can render——” But the
young men had passed on without even looking at him.

“Well, what manners!” exclaimed Mr. Proudleigh. “Nobody ever treat me
like dat before!” With this remark he made a movement as if he would sit
down by the roadside, perhaps for the purpose of reflecting on the
discourteous treatment just received.

But Catherine was obdurate. “You can’t sit down, pupa,” she insisted,
with something of Susan’s severity. “You got to try an’ walk it, even if
you tired. An’ don’t ask any more American the way to Susan’s house, for
them not going to answer you, an’ it is not to be supposed that them can
know where everybody live. If we see a man from Jamaica we can ask him;
but we not goin’ to meet anybody if we loiter here.”

Again Mr. Proudleigh groaned, and again he feebly tottered forward, too
exhausted now to indulge in any further observation.

Presently they came to more level ground; as they reached this they saw
yawning, to their left, a tremendous chasm, into the depths of which
they plunged their eyes affrighted, for they had had no idea of what
they would come upon. The three of them halted simultaneously, Mr.
Proudleigh delighted with any excuse to pause for a moment. They were
accustomed to the steep precipices of Jamaica, declivities of a thousand
feet and more, with almost sheer perpendicular walls, vast openings in
the earth, to peer down into which might make one sick and dizzy. But
this was different.

On either side of the great Cut had been carved gigantic terraces, a
sort of giant’s stairway, and along the whole length of these terraces,
as far as their eyes could reach, were railway lines, and along these
lines long trains were passing continuously, and men were everywhere
below, moving up and down, and looking like pygmies in the distance.

It was but a small section of the Culebra Cut, and not the busiest, that
Mr. Proudleigh and his womenfolk saw that afternoon. Little given as
they were to speculation or to thinking, about things that did not
directly concern them, they perceived that a great mountain had been
cleft in twain by the hand of man, and the wonderful signs of intense
energy that the busy scene below presented could not fail to impress
them. But not for long. Mr. Proudleigh was weary, and so was more intent
just then upon finding out where Susan lived than upon admiring the work
that was being carried on before his eyes. Miss Proudleigh, on the other
hand, perceived a comparison between the dividing of Culebra Hill and
the parting of the waters of the Red Sea for the safe passage of the
escaping Israelites. The latter she naturally approved of. But this work
on the hill afflicted her mind with misgivings.

“If the Lord did intend the hill to cut in two,” she said, as they
resumed their walk, “He would have cut it Himself. But now man think he
can improve God’s handiwork, an’ p’rhaps he is only provoking the Lord
to wrath.”

“That is so,” her brother agreed; “dis Canal may bring a judgment. If
them offer me a job on it, I won’t teck it! What them want to dig out
all dis dirt for? I remember that when the Car Company was layin’ de
electric car line in Kingston, I dream one night——”

“You will have to both sleep an’ dream out here to-night, sah, if you go
on talkin’ foolishness an’ don’t hurry up!” exclaimed Catherine, now
thoroughly impatient. “If them didn’t commence diggin’ the Canal, Susan
wouldn’t married, an’ you would now be in Jamaica instead of here.”

Viewed as a contributory cause of Susan’s good fortune, Mr. Proudleigh
instantly agreed that there was a great deal to be said for the Canal.
He would have explained its good points at length, but Catherine
absolutely refused to listen. In silence, therefore, they continued upon
their way.

They could already see before them a number of wooden buildings, one,
two, and three storeys high; it was obvious to them that they were now
approaching a town of no inconsiderable size.

They saw people too, and they gladly observed that some of these were
coloured men. Catherine undertook to question one of them. Did he know
Mrs. Mackenzie? He did not, but thought that Catherine would easily find
the person she was seeking if she inquired at the quarters where the
coloured people lived. These were a little farther away, and there was
nothing for it but that they should proceed thither, without delay.

Mr. Proudleigh would have protested, but even he realized that protests
would be of no avail. Happily, they had not a long distance to go. And
when the old man caught sight of the neat verandaed wire-screened
cottages provided for the skilled coloured employees of the Canal
Commission, his spirits revived wonderfully. Catherine soon found some
one who knew where Susan lived. This man was kind enough to guide them
to the place.

It was a four-roomed single-storey house, built upon high foundations
and provided with a comfortable little veranda. Though Susan’s relatives
had been expecting to find her comfortably situated, this house was
distinctly superior to anything they had imagined she would have. Mr.
Proudleigh immediately calculated that in Jamaica its rental value would
be at least two pounds a month, and the class of persons who could
afford to live in such residences were, from his point of view, very
well off indeed. As the front door and windows were closed, Catherine
timidly knocked at the door. “Come in,” said a voice, which, they at
once recognized.

They opened the door and entered.

Susan was sitting in a rocking-chair, sewing something that looked like
a waist. As she caught sight of her visitors she started up with an
exclamation.

“Kate! Papee! What’s the matter? Why you come?”

The persons thus addressed faced her a little confusedly. Miss
Proudleigh remained in the rear, thus discreetly leaving it to the
others to bear the brunt of Susan’s questioning.

“Me dearest daughter!” exclaimed Mr. Proudleigh, evading any direct
reply just then by a magnificent display of paternal solicitude, “I
can’t tell you how you’ poor ole father is glad to see you! From you
leave me in Jamaica I been fretting after you, an’ now to think dat I
see you wid me own eye in your own mansion!”

He seated himself as he spoke, somewhat disconcerted to observe that
Susan showed no inclination to kiss him, but still continued looking at
him and at the others with a puzzled stare.

“What’s the matter?” she asked again. “Where is mammee an’ Eliza? Why
y’u come here?”

“Mammee an’ Eliza quite well, Sue,” said Catherine. “Them both remain
behind in Jamaica.” She paused, leaving it to the others to explain why
they had come to Panama. She had followed her father’s example and sat
down. So had Miss Proudleigh.

“The sea voyage was very rough, Susan,” remarked the latter lady, as
though a recital of her sufferings would sufficiently explain her reason
for coming to Panama, as well as relieve the obvious embarrassment of
the situation. “I never was so sea-sick before. I couldn’t move for a
whole day.”

“Nor me,” asseverated Mr. Proudleigh promptly. “I never sick like dat
before. I thought I would vomit me heart out, an’ de more I sick, the
more de vessel roll. But I comfort meself wid the reflections that I
would soon see me own daurter again, who was married to a noble
gentleman; an’ when I dwelted upon that, it sort of seem to me that I
didn’t sick so much.”

He glanced at Susan’s face to see how this authentic account of the
effect of fatherly affection on sea-sickness had appealed to her. Not
very much encouraged by her look, he hurried on.

“I nearly died; nevertheless, thanks be to God, I survive me agonies,
an’ now that I see you once more, I can die in peace. You remember dat
old man in the Scriptures, Sue, who say, ‘Lord, now let Thy servant
depart in peace’?——”

“You mean to tell me, pupa, that you only come here to see me, and then
die afterwards?” demanded Susan.

“Well, not exactly, Sue, for I are not prepared fo’ death.”

“Then what y’u come for?”

Driven to his last ditch, Mr. Proudleigh determined to offer no defence,
but to cast himself upon the enemy’s clemency.

“Sue,” said he pathetically, “you don’t appears to be glad to see me.
But if it was you who did come to Jamaica, I would have killed the
fatted calf for you.” This reference to the fatted calf was not only
intended to convince Susan that she would have been welcomed by him, but
also to indicate that bodily refreshment would be most acceptable at
that moment.

Susan would not immediately take the hint. But she had by now recovered
from her first feeling of astonishment and was beginning to be glad to
see some of her people once more. She knew her father and her aunt,
however; she was well aware that they would have written to tell her of
their coming had they thought she would have approved of the reason for
it. She was still suspicious; they had as yet explained nothing. She
turned to Catherine with a view of getting at the bottom of the mystery
at once, when her father, as if suddenly inspired, started out without
further circumlocution on the perilous path of truth.

“The fact of de matter, Sue,” he said, “is that I did always want to
come to Colon. An’ when I got you’ letter that say you was going to
married, an’ receive the five pounds, for which God is goin’ to bless
you, if Him don’t bless you already, I say to you’ mother: ‘I am goin’
to follow me daurter to Colon an’ keep her company, for she must be
lonely.’ An’ I tell them to sell the things in the little shops, which
was not doin’ too well since you lefted us, an’ I advise them all to
come wid me. But you’ mother misjudge you, an’ say you wouldn’t like it;
but I know you wouldn’t mind, for it is me that bring you up since you
was born, an’ look after you, an’ train you in the way you should go,
an’ I persuaded meself that you was not goin’ to be ungrateful. But you’
mother wouldn’t come, an’ Eliza had to stay wid her; but your aunt and
Kate come with me, an’ they are sensible, for you always hear me say I
would like to come to Colon, an’ if you didn’t want me to come you
wouldn’t send five pounds for me in you’ letter.”

“Then you mean to tell me, pupa,” cried Susan, “that—that y’u come here
to live in this house, an’ didn’t even write to tell me?”

“We wanted to give you a pleasant surprise, Sue,” said Miss Proudleigh,
to whom prevarication did not appear as a heinous offence.

“You mean you know that I wouldn’t want you to come, so you keep it
secret!” exclaimed Susan. “I never hear of such a madness before. What
y’u going to do now? You can’t stay here: Mackenzie wouldn’t like it.”

Catherine had been fearing some such announcement. Now, in self-defence,
she said, “I didn’t want to come, Sue.”

“But you are more all right than pupa an’ Aunt Deborah,” said Susan.
“You are young an’ can work; an’ I don’t think Mackenzie would mind if
you stay with me. But Aunt Deborah an’ papee shouldn’t come here at all,
for them don’t have much use for old people in this country.”

“Hexcuse me, Susan,” said Miss Proudleigh with impressive dignity, “but
I objects to being called old. I am only forty.”

“I thought you was fifty,” said Susan rudely.

“You right, Sue!” exclaimed Mr. Proudleigh. “I am sixty year of age, an’
I remember the very day you’ aunt was born. I don’t see why she want to
hide ’er age; age is no disgrace, an’ if a ooman keeps herself
respectfully she should have no concealment from her fambily. Now, when
you’ aunt was born——”

Shocked by the desertion of Mr. Proudleigh at a moment when it was vital
that the invading forces should present a solid front to the enemy, Miss
Proudleigh deemed it advisable to leave the age question severely alone
and adopt a pacific attitude before her brother should adduce the
damaging testimony of days and dates against her. She cut him short with
a diplomatic remark.

“I am not young an’ strong like you, Sue,” she said, with a propitiatory
smile, “an’ the Lord have not blessed me like you, though I am not
ungrateful for His manifold kindness. But I didn’t come here to live on
you. Things is very hard in Jamaica, an’ as I know that you married an’
have influence over here, I thought as you might help me to get a little
dressmakin’ or washing so as to keep me independent. I don’t want
anything but work.”

“Nor me,” said Catherine sturdily. “Nobody can tell me that I can’t make
a good living in Panama, though I couldn’t be a servant.”

Mr. Proudleigh said nothing. Now that the talk was of work, and he was
actually in Panama, he did not care to remind anyone that while in
Jamaica he had never lost an opportunity of proclaiming his readiness to
earn his own living whenever the chance of so doing should present
itself to him.

But Susan wasn’t thinking of his capabilities just then. In her aunt’s
suggestion she saw a way out of the difficulty. “You can get plenty of
washin’ if you want it,” she said quickly, “either up here or in Colon.
You an’ pupa will ’ave to live together by you’self, but Kate can stop
with me.”

“I prefer to go back to Colon,” said Kate. “I like what I see of it, an’
this place look dull.”

“It dull for true!” agreed Susan, “an’ though I would like you to stay
with me, I know Colon livelier than up here.”

Mr. Proudleigh, who had been secretly hoping to spend at least some
months in the comparative calm of Culebra, did not approve of the
suggestion that he should live with his sister or that he should return
to Colon. Nor did he like Susan’s reference to the dullness of the
labour town in which she lived. It did not argue a contented mind. The
house she was mistress of, the furniture she possessed, the leisure she
evidently enjoyed seemed to him enough to make any woman happy for the
rest of her life, especially if to all these things could be added the
blessing of a father’s presence and words of cheer.

“You should be very comfortable, Sue,” he suggested. “A young married
ooman like you shouldn’t have a thing to fret her.”

“Don’t you are now a member of society, Sue?” asked her aunt.

“Yes; I belong to de Baptist church up here, an’ I going to join the
choir.”

“And don’t you’ husband treat you good?” inquired her father.

“Of course! I didn’t say him didn’t!”

This sharp answer, given in the form of a threatening question, checked
at once the impending flow of Mr. Proudleigh’s interrogatory. But
further to prevent any more personal inquiries, and remembering that her
relatives must be hungry, Susan invited them into the dining-room, where
they found a table covered with a clean cloth, a meat-safe, and a few
chairs. She took some cold food out of the meat-safe and placed it
before them, offering the older folk, in addition, a little Jamaica rum,
which Mackenzie always kept in the house. This they drank at once, Mr.
Proudleigh secretly hoping for a further supply of the same liquor. He
expressed his astonishment at the thirst created by the Panamanian
climate, then prepared himself to dine.

Continue Reading

THE FLY IN THE OINTMEN

The clanging of bells awakened Susan and Jones the next morning. The
sharp peals came insistently from different directions; from Christobal,
where the labourers were being warned that the day’s work would shortly
begin once more; from the shunting trains and engines along the
water-front of Colon; from the ships in the harbour. The noise pervaded
the little town, and soon every one was stirring and preparing for the
labours which, however diverse and apparently unconnected, had all a
very definite connection with the one great undertaking of Panama, the
building of the Canal.

Jones was soon ready to report himself for duty at Christobal. Whatever
his failings, shirking his work was not one of them; he had been trained
in the workshops of the Jamaica Government Railway, where discipline was
well understood and where each man had been well drilled into his work.
Jones had grumbled at his chiefs at the railway, but now he thought of
them with pride and was determined to show the American bosses that a
British subject who had served the Government was in no wise inferior to
any man from the States.

He had an early breakfast at the cook-shop where he had lunched the day
before, then hurried off to Christobal, where Mackenzie had promised to
meet him at eight o’clock. Mackenzie appeared on time, and together they
went into the office of Labour and Quarters. Here the arrangements
between Jones and the Canal Commission were promptly concluded.

Jones was to work in the railway shop in Christobal as an
under-mechanic. He was to receive fifteen, dollars a week, payable every
fortnight, and could have free quarters in the Canal Zone, house
accommodation being regarded as part of his salary. He gladly accepted
this offer of houseroom, but was somewhat disconcerted when Mackenzie
asked him if he proposed to leave Susan to live by herself in Colon.

“Can’t she come with me?” he asked, partly of Mackenzie, partly of the
American clerk.

“Who is ‘she’?” inquired the latter.

“A female of mine,” he replied—“a young lady I am talking to.”

“Well, you don’t want to talk to a woman all the time, do you?” asked
the American. “Is she your wife?”

“Not exactly,” said Jones; “she is a young female under my protection
an’ care; I am responsible to her parents for her. We are practically
husband an’ wife, though I don’t put a ring on her finger as yet.”

“Nothin’ doin’!” returned the clerk emphatically. “We kain’t allow them
sort of things here. You’ve got to marry that female of yours if you
want her to live in the Zone. Judge Riggs in the court building near
here will fix you right now if you go to him, and then I’ll give you
married people’s quarters. Now I guess there’s some other people waitin’
on me, so you’d better make up your mind quick, or get out.”

Jones stared at the clerk, wondering if he should not immediately resent
his peremptory manner of disposing of Samuel Josiah Jones, but Mackenzie
took him aside and explained to him that by an ordinance issued some
time before, in obedience to the outraged moral sentiments of America,
it was made compulsory that only married men and women should live
together in the Zone. “It is a hard rule,” said Mackenzie, “an’ a lot of
people only form that they married. The Americans don’t bother them,
unless they can’t help it. But if them find it out, an’ have to take
notice, there is a big fine. That’s why I warn you in time. P’rhaps you
better married you’ sweetheart, an’ get a comfortable little house in
the Zone, like a lot of other Jamaica people.”

“Me?” said Jones. “I let a man force me to marry if I don’t want to do
it? No, me brother! It’s an infringement of the rights of the subject,
that’s what I call it! I have a good mind to go back to that man an’
tell him I am a British subject an’ born under the English flag!”

“That’s what a lot of people from Jamaica is always sayin’ here,”
replied Mackenzie dryly. “Only, some of them say they’re a British
object.”

“An’ what the Americans do?” inquired Jones anxiously.

“Laugh at them, an’ say them don’t care what sort of object Jamaicans
are. You don’t bluff out an American easy in this place, Jones. Them
don’t talk a lot like we do in Jamaica; wid some of them it is a word
an’ a blow, an’ a blow first if you cheek them too much.”

“You don’t mean to tell me that them ill-treat a man down here?” asked
Jones, beginning to feel alarmed.

“No; not if you don’t interfere wid them. There is plenty of law in the
Zone, like in Jamaica. If you mind you’ own business, do you’ work, an’
keep you’self to you’self, you will be perfectly all right. But of
course if you abuse them, an’ go about an’ talk all the time about you
are a British subject, some of them will hurt you. You meet some of the
toughest men in the world down here. I don’t know where them come from!”

“This is a funny place, me friend!” cried Jones indignantly. “They don’t
seem to care about a man’s feelings at all. If I was a married man now,
what that American say or do would not affect my peace of mind; but I am
not a married man. An’ yet I don’t like the prospective view of livin’
in Colon, an’ I can’t leave Sue to live by herself. You don’t think she
could come with me as me cousin?”

Mackenzie explained that the Canal Zone authorities drew the line
sternly at unmarried cousins.

“Well, in that case Sue an’ me will have to live in Colon, an’ the
Americans can keep their house. What am I to do now?”

Mackenzie advised him to report himself at the railway machine shop
without delay, and propose to turn in to work the next morning. They
would allow him time to get quarters in Colon. He, Mackenzie, was on
vacation this week, and would help Jones to find a suitable apartment in
a decent part of the town.

Together they went to the machine shop, where Jones beheld in one great
building more engines than he had ever seen in his life. They were of
all sizes, from the diminutive engines used on soft ground or for
conveying materials to the workmen, to the giant locomotives that could
pull any number of laden freight cars at high speed. Hundreds of men
were at work in this place repairing the engines, the air resounded with
the clangour of hammers striking on hard metal, the workers swarmed
under and around the iron monsters as though they were ants. Jones was
impressed. Here was something he could understand: this mere collection
of railway machinery told him, as nothing else could have done, that the
building of the Panama Canal was a stupendous undertaking. He allowed
Mackenzie to do most of the talking for him, and it was agreed that he
should not report himself for service until eight o’clock on the
following morning.

This matter settled, they went back to Susan, who had managed to procure
some breakfast in the meantime; then the three of them set out on the
hunt for a large apartment. The rain, having temporarily exhausted its
energies during the night, was not falling now, indeed Mackenzie thought
that there wouldn’t be much rain that day. It was gloomy enough
overhead, but here and there the clouds had broken, allowing tiny
patches of muddy blue to be seen. Colon was wet; but, compared with its
condition on the day before, it might almost be said that Colon was
bright. The people moving about were in cheerful spirits. Susan herself
began to feel lively.

Through the assistance of Mackenzie they secured an apartment in Cash
Street, at reasonable terms. Cash Street, probably originally so called
on account of its poverty, ran in an east and west direction, was the
third long thoroughfare behind Front Street, and therefore was near to
the water-front and in the very heart of the populous town. There were
numerous cross-streets in Colon, running in a north and south direction
and indicated by numbers; the house in which Susan was to live was
situated at the corner of one of these crossings: 6th Street it was
called. It was a new building, three storeys high, all of wood, with
very wide verandas, and painted a bright pink. The ground floor or first
storey was devoted to commerce; there a haberdashery shop, a barber’s
saloon, and a flourishing public-house found accommodation, and all
these businesses did a thriving trade. Susan selected a corner room on
the second storey, a room opening on a veranda six feet wide and
commanding a view of Cash and 6th Streets. Her inspection of the
premises showed her that privacy—even such limited privacy as the
poorest might enjoy in Kingston—was not appreciated here. For the
tenants kept their doors wide open and were singularly indifferent as to
who should see them or what they might be seen doing, while it was as
easy to gaze into the apartments of the houses opposite and watch the
inmates going about their intimate household duties. She noticed too
that the people living in the apartments near hers spoke English. As a
matter of fact many of the tenants in this house were British West
Indians.

The room engaged, they started out on another important errand, and
again Mackenzie was of great assistance. He took them to a furniture
shop, where Susan selected a “set” [suite] of furniture, which was to be
sent to her new address at once. The salesman, being a Chinaman, did not
imagine that “at once” signified some time in the indefinite future,
hence the furniture arrived at its destination soon after its purchasers
did. It did not take long to arrange it as Susan directed; this done,
the men went for the trunks which Susan and Jones had taken with them to
the lodging near the swamps the night before. These trunks contained not
only clothing but some domestic linen, or, to be accurate, some domestic
calico, and while the men were away Susan bought a couple of small iron
stoves, a few plates, and some other things which a good housekeeper
must have. She learnt that the cooking and the washing must be done on
the veranda or in the open courtyard below, which was always wet and
could be stared into by all the people passing by. She decided for the
veranda. In the courtyard, in addition to washtubs and cooking-stoves,
were quite a number of babies ranging from six months to five years of
age, and all stark naked, in accordance with the prevailing fashion of
tropical Spanish America. To naked babies she was not accustomed. So she
resolutely set her face against the courtyard.

She would not have the men go out for lunch that day. She provided it at
home, and as she had a turn for cooking, it was a very good meal that
she placed before them in about an hour’s time. She provided coffee
also, with a view to preventing Samuel from indulging in whisky or beer;
and as the men gulped down the hot, fragrant liquid and puffed at their
cigars, a feeling of contentment stole over them and they gave vocal
expression to their appreciation of Susan as a housewife.

She was satisfied. Her discontent of the night before had vanished.
Possessed of a new “set of furniture,” which was better than the things
she had been obliged to sell in Jamaica, settled in a busy part of the
town and fairly far from the noisome swamps, with Mackenzie also as a
good friend ready to aid them with his advice and to put himself to some
trouble on their account, she felt that her fate was by no means an
unpleasant one. “We not going to batter about from pillar to post any
more,” she observed to Jones when lunch was over. “We are comfortable
here.” And, to crown her happiness, when Jones and Mackenzie were
preparing to go out that evening, they invited her to go with them.

They did not return home until ten o’clock that night; in the interval
Susan had seen as much of Colon as she cared to see, and that was nearly
all of it. They dined out. They walked about the streets, Mackenzie
conducting the party; they hired a cab and drove along Front Street and
through Christobal, and the glitter of glass and lights in the open
bars, the crowds that gambled at cards and dice and dominoes in these
places, the shops, which kept their doors open to a late hour, appealed
to Susan, and even more to Jones, with a peculiar fascination.

Here what was done in public by people unashamed, could only take place
behind closed doors in Jamaica. Here the people had money to spend, and
spent it freely. Here there were contradictions and anomalies which were
nevertheless enjoyable. At the corner of a street, in a chapel built
entirely of any old bits of board, a self-ordained preacher from Jamaica
held forth to a small congregation on the error of their ways, though
his ways did not differ from theirs in any essential particular.
Opposite to this building was a merry-go-round in full swing and
abundantly patronized. On the other side of the street, on the second
storey of a high tenement structure, a dance was in progress, the guests
footing it to the sound given forth by an execrable band; at a little
distance away a moving-picture palace invited with flaring posters the
lovers of silent drama to come within and be stewed in a steam bath
provided by corrugated iron and the climate of Colon.

From this spot a walk of two minutes brought them to Christobal, and
there they could see dimly the huge concrete piers jutting out into the
sea—the piers which grew day by day and which were designed to
accommodate easily the largest vessels in the world. It was quiet here:
listening, they could hear the cocoa-nut palms moving their long fronds
if ever so slight a breath of wind stirred, and the long waves of the
Caribbean dash and break eternally on the coral shores of Colon.

Soon they turned their backs on Christobal, and a leisurely stroll of
ten or twelve minutes brought them nearly to the opposite end of the
little island, now artificially connected with the mainland, on which
Colon and Christobal were built. At this part of Colon there was a park,
quite new—a park with paths and seats, little fountains, evergreen
shrubs, flowering hibiscus, and banana trees. They sat here for a little
while, chatting about Jamaica and the life they had lived there, and
after that Mackenzie bade his new friends good night and they went home.

Susan was happy. This day had been so different from the previous one.

Jones went to work the next day, and as he was a competent man he had no
trouble with the workmen of superior grade or the bosses of the shop,
who were all white men. He was pleasantly surprised to find that these
bosses were quite easy in their manner, speaking in a friendly and
encouraging fashion to the men who were under them. They were far more
familiar during working hours than any Englishman in their position
would have been in Jamaica. Later on he added to his experience. Whereas
the Englishman would have recognized him outside of the shop, and would
even have been affable, his American chief did not seem to be aware of
his existence after work was over. Jones did not think that this was at
all correct.

But the pay here was nearly double what it was in Jamaica, and the work
was not so hard. Jones was too loyal to concede, even to himself, that
any American could be a better worker or organizer than an Englishman.
But he liked the eight-hour day of the Zone workshops and the liberal
wages. He felt too that he deserved these things. He deserved them in
his character of British subject and by virtue of being Samuel Josiah
Jones.

In the meantime Susan was picking up some acquaintances. This was not
difficult; she had money to spend; and as she lived in an apartment of a
distinctly decent type, she was regarded as a desirable person to know
by young women of more or less her own class. Some of these she had
known in Jamaica, but had lost sight of for quite a long time. These
young women were either married or “engaged,” and their menfolk were all
in fairly good positions.

What with visiting one another, going to church on Sundays when so
inclined, taking chances in the National Lottery, and gathering at the
park on those nights when the National Band insisted upon playing, Susan
and her friends passed their days pleasantly. Those who could obtain a
girl from Jamaica had a very easy time of it; but in a country where the
men outnumbered the women no girl remained a servant for long. Even so,
Susan found that she could send some of her washing to the laundry, and
could easily wash and iron the lighter things at home. Cooking she
liked, and she could make her own clothes. Samuel was generous, and now
that she knew Colon she found that the cost of living need not be very
high if one did not wish to be extravagant. She saved money.

But she had one trouble that grew as the weeks went on. After his first
few days in Colon, Samuel had begun to leave her every night, and
sometimes he did not return until eleven or twelve o’clock. She was of a
jealous disposition: one night she followed him. She tracked him to a
café near by, where he played for money with some other men. He had
fallen in with a few of the wilder spirits of the town, but as these men
played fair and he was clever at cards, he won more often than he lost.
This encouraged him to continue, and sometimes he would come home with
as much as ten dollars more than he had taken out with him. He was
always a little tipsy then, and disposed to contend loudly that Panama
was the finest country in the world.

She rated him bitterly at times, and always took good care to subtract a
portion of his winnings, which she put away in some place where he could
not easily get at it. But he minded the loss far less than her nagging;
he would have given her the money for the asking. When she upbraided him
he would bark back at her and swear to leave her if she did not behave
herself. But this threat disturbed her not at all; she knew he did not
mean it. The next night, however, he would go to meet his comrades
again.

Mackenzie was a frequent visitor, and Mackenzie made no secret of his
liking for Susan. He even went so far, once or twice, as to remonstrate
with Jones about his leaving her so much to herself at nights. But Jones
was glad when Mackenzie came to see them, for that gave him the
opportunity of pointing out to Susan that, with friends of both sexes
coming to see her, she should not complain of neglect. Susan welcomed
Mackenzie always: she could talk to him freely about the shortcomings of
Sam, and he habitually sympathized with her. It was he, too, who had
first begun to address her as Mrs. Jones in company, an example which
was speedily followed by some of her less intimate acquaintances. His
tact flattered Susan.

There were nights when Jones did not leave the house before eight
o’clock; on those occasions, if Mackenzie happened to be there, Jones
would pour into his ear a long recital of his grievances; and, as
Mackenzie was not much of a talker, Samuel had an attentive if somewhat
amused audience. Jones now pretended to a fine contempt for all things
American, and as the colour line was somewhat strictly drawn in
Christobal he was moved to frequent protests when supported by his
friends. He objected to white men being better paid than coloured men,
to there being separate white and coloured quarters in the Zone, and to
the Americans not permitting coloured people to attend their sports. One
evening he especially enlarged upon these grievances to Mackenzie.
Mackenzie making no comment, Jones was nettled. He put a question
pointedly. “What do you think of all these differences?” he asked.

“Well,” answered Mackenzie deliberately, “this place don’t belong to we.
It belong to the Americans, an’ I am quite satisfied if I get a chance
to earn a good bread from them.”

Jones snorted contemptuously, despising such prudence.

“I couldn’t earn as much in Jamaica as I earn here,” Mackenzie
continued, “an’ the same is true of everybody who come to Panama. Then
what is the use of complaining? I do me work, an’ go to me own sports,
an’ I don’t care what de Americans do so long as them pay me an’ don’t
interfere with me after workin’ time. That is the only way to get on
when you not in you’ own country.”

Jones felt the rebuke conveyed in Mackenzie’s homely remarks. He was
further disconcerted when Susan expressed her agreement with their
friend.

“You right, Mr. Mac,” she said sharply. “If people did mind them own
business, an’ didn’t go out gamblin’ every night, it would ’elp them
better than interfering wid what don’t concern them. All that Jamaica
people know to do is to say that the Americans don’t treat them good.
Then what them come here for? If you know you goin’ to find fault, you
better stay home. I don’t want to go where the American people don’t
want me. If I was in me own country it would be different; but I am
foreign, an’ I can’t expect everything me own way.”

Mackenzie looked pleased when he heard his opinions thus openly
appreciated. Jones looked still more disdainful.

“There is no accounting for diverse tastes,” he remarked loftily. “I
read one time in a book that if you bray a pig in a motor he will return
to his wallow, and though present company is always exceptional I must
beg to convey my entire dissension from the opinions that present
company have expressed. These Americans are a rude set of men, an’ I
don’t temporize with them. But, of course, if some people like to be
treated like a dog, they can continue to put up with it.”

Mackenzie frowned and would have answered, but Susan was before him.

“You goin’ to be rude to Mr. Mac now, after all his kindness to us?” she
asked tartly, and Jones, who guessed that Mackenzie, for all his placid
exterior, was a man who could not be insulted with impunity, denied that
he had any such intention. He informed Susan that he had known Mackenzie
for years, whereas she had only known him for months, and that he would
not allow any female to suggest that he could think of insulting so firm
and tried a friend as Mac. Susan was satisfied with this speech, and
Mackenzie was glad not to be compelled to take offence. He did not want
his friendship with Susan and her lover to end abruptly. A few minutes
afterwards the two men went out quite amicably together.

On another occasion—Jones had now been four months in Panama—he
complained of the difficulty which every one experienced of saving money
in that country.

“You can save if you really want to,” was Mackenzie’s reply. “I know
plenty of men who send money home to Jamaica regular. Some things is
dear, but if you are economical you don’t need to buy dear things all
the time.”

“You are warm you’self, eh, Mr. Mac?” asked Susan, who had a great
respect for the power of money, and no little curiosity concerning those
who possessed it.

“So-so,” he replied, smiling. “I save a little when I was in Jamaica,
an’ I been working steady in the Zone for about four years. Them pay me
pretty well, an’ I don’t spend all I earn.”

“I don’t believe in living mean,” was Jones’s remark, which he strove to
make appear as a statement applicable only to himself and his
inclinations, but which Mackenzie knew was intended as a reflection on
the disposition and habits of John Mackenzie. On this occasion, too,
Susan took him up sharply.

“It’s not living mean to try an’ save money,” she snapped. “Fools make
feast for wise man to come an’ eat. An’ when you spend out all you’
money an’ don’t ’ave one farthing to rub against another, you will begin
to say, ‘I wish I did know.’ Better you save what you ’ave, than cry
when you don’t ’ave it.”

Jones made no reply to this, but sulked a little. He was beginning to
dislike Mackenzie and his prudence and his sensible way of looking upon
life. Mackenzie was embodied criticism, eloquent even in his silence,
and no man likes a critic on his hearth. And though Jones did not think
that Susan had any particular liking for Mackenzie, yet her agreement
with that person’s remarks, especially when those remarks were intended
as a soft of rebuke to Samuel Josiah Jones, annoyed him more and more
every day. He was no longer pleased when Mackenzie came to see them. He
avoided Mackenzie now.

One afternoon Susan was sitting alone in her apartment when the door was
abruptly pushed open and three young women, friends of hers, rushed in.
They were so excited that they did not even trouble to apologize for
their unceremonious entrance.

“This is a business visit!” exclaimed the first, who appeared to act as
leader of the others. “We come wid a written invite to a subscription
dance that some gentlemen givin’ next week Wednesday at Mrs. Driscole
house.”

“You don’t tell me!” cried Susan, delighted with the prospect of
something new.

“Yes, see the invite; read it for you’self,” said her friend, shoving
into Susan’s hand an open envelope containing a gilt-edged card with
letters of gold, which Susan hastily pulled out and perused.

The invitation was addressed to

MISS SUSAN PROUDLEIGH
and
S. J. JONES, ESQ.

and set forth that “A unique entertainment in the form of a refined
dance will take place (D.V.) at Mrs. Driscole’s establishment. Your
attendance is earnestly requested: subscription, two and a half dollars
for males, ladies free if brought by gentlemen. Refreshments will be
provided; subscriptions payable three days in advance. Only ladies and
gentlemen will be admitted. R.S.V.P.”

The card was signed by four persons describing themselves as “The Dance
Committee,” and Susan read it over three times with pleasure. It was the
most stylish thing in the way of invitations that had yet come her way,
and she argued from the elegant appearance of the invitation card, as
well as from the amount of the subscription asked, that the dance would
be a very high-class affair indeed.

“Lots of people goin’?” she asked, and the leader of the girls promptly
answered:

“Any amount. Invitations post to all parts of the Zone, an’ some young
men as far as Empire coming on Wednesday. I take six to deliver meself,
an’ I bring yours. You will come?”

“I will try an’ get Sam to bring me,” said Susan; “I would really like
to come.”

Then the young women departed to invite other ladies to the dance, and
the next day, after talking over the matter with Jones, Susan sent ten
shillings to the Dance Committee.

She was glad of the coming diversion. Mackenzie had been removed some
three weeks before to Culebra, some forty miles away “up the line,” and
Samuel still persisted in spending his evenings with his gaming
companions. She could go out when she pleased, and this she often did,
but she was now bitterly discontented with Jones. She could not accuse
him of positive unkindness, and he was as generous as ever. But she felt
that he neglected her, and this she resented. He readily consented to go
with her to the dance, however, which pleased her greatly.

Wednesday evening came in due time, and she and Samuel started out early
for the dance. It happened to be a fine evening, for Colon; it was warm,
but had not rained for a couple of days. There was a moon visible, and a
clear blue sky. In spite of these weather conditions Samuel insisted
upon driving to Mrs. Driscole’s in a cab, explaining as his reason that
it was absolutely necessary to “do the thing in style.”

Mrs. Driscole lived in Bolivar Street, where she made a mysterious
living by providing for the amusement of her fellow-creatures. Her floor
was at the disposal of anyone with money enough to pay for its use;
to-night it was to be utilized by the Dance Committee and their guests,
and she had pulled down a partition and thrown two rooms into one, which
formed a dance-hall of fairly large size. In this and in two of the
adjoining rooms the guests were rapidly assembling when Susan and Jones
arrived. Dark ladies clothed in dresses of pink and white and blue,
their well-combed hair plaited tightly and tied with white or pink
ribbon, their necks and arms laden with silver and even golden
ornaments; swarthy gentlemen, some in tweed suits, the more punctilious
(and these were not a few) in regulation dress-suits—these formed quite
a merry, laughing crowd. Many knew one another. Strangers were formally
introduced, then immediately afterwards introduced themselves, and the
ceremony proceeded in this fashion:

“Mr. Smith, Miss Brown; Miss Brown, Mr. Smith.”

“Glad to meet you, Miss Brown. My name is Ezekiel Smith.”

“The same I am glad to meet you, Mr. Smith; my name is Rosabella Brown.”

Then they would shake hands politely, and Mr. Smith, or whoever the
gentleman might be, would invariably declare that this was the hottest
night he had ever known, an opinion with which the lady would invariably
agree.

Susan glanced round the ball-room as she entered, her eyes lighting up
as she saw so many gaily-dressed people. The room was decorated; the
musicians were tuning their instruments. Jones whispered to her that he
would shortly return, and went to join some men whom he knew. Susan just
then caught sight of the girl who had brought her the invitation, and
started to go over to speak to her. Half-way across the room she halted
suddenly as a young man turned and looked, surprised, into her face.

“Susan!”

“Tom!”

Thus they greeted one another. Then Susan put out her hand, which Tom
shook lightly.

“I knew you was in Colon,” he said at once, but speaking quietly. “You’
sister, Catherine, write me last week to answer a letter I write you
about a month ago, an’ which she open an’ read. She said you leave
Kingston with a young man named Jones, an’ that you only write them once
since you leave home. Susan, you think you treat me fair?”

“What you mean by if I treat you fair?” she asked, almost hissing the
words. “From the time you leave home till the time I come to Colon, you
ever send anything for me? You only write me one letter, an’ you surely
couldn’t expect me to live on wind in Jamaica? If I didn’t come here wid
Jones, I might have been dead of starvation by this time.”

Everybody was talking and laughing, and the musicians still were
coercing their instruments into the proper pitch of musical perfection.
But Susan was uneasy lest they should be overheard.

Her answer staggered Tom for a second or two, but he put the question
that had been in his mind ever since he had heard from Catherine: “Well,
what you goin’ to do now?”

“Do? What you expect me to do?” was her answer.

He hesitated as to his reply, and she saved him the trouble of replying.

“See here,” she said; “let us understand one another this same time. I
don’t want you to make any trouble here between me and Jones, for I not
leavin’ him to come to you. Y’u leave me alone in Jamaica, though I beg
you hard to bring me wid you. I come here with another young man, who
pay me passage an’ been supporting me all the time I am here, an’ so
what was between you an’ me is dead an’ gone. I don’t want no sort of
confusion here now. Y’u hear?”

Tom Wooley heard and his heart was as water. He subsided, not finding
words with which to blame the fickle fair. He had been cruelly used; he
felt sure of that. But he knew that he might be still more cruelly used,
and by Jones, who, if he might lack Susan’s sharp tongue, might more
than make up for that disadvantage by his hard fists. Thomas Wooley was
a man of peace when sober, and by no means belligerent when drunk. So he
merely answered, “Yes, Susan,” and asked her to point out Jones to him.

That gentleman had already noticed the whispered conference between the
two, and was actually going up to them when Tom made his humble request.
Susan decided that the best thing to do was to introduce them, and this
she did, remarking at the same time that Tom was a friend of her family,
and had been very kind to her parents.

As Samuel Josiah heard the name, he remembered what Mother Smith had
told him about Tom and Susan on the night before he left Kingston for
Colon. The story had long since passed out of his mind. Now also he
recalled what his friend, Professor, had said about the case in which
Susan had figured, and he observed that Susan was anxious to speak of
Tom as a sort of casual friend. Tom Wooley was short, so Jones looked
down upon him. And from the lofty standpoint of physical as well as
intellectual and financial superiority he condescendingly addressed the
young man who had once been Susan’s lover.

“How is it I never see you in Colon before?” was his question.

“I workin’ up the line,” said Tom—“at Pedro Miguel. But I used to be in
Colon, an’ as I get an invitation to the dance, I come.”

“I see,” said Jones; “well, come an’ have a drink, Mr. Wooley, which is
the best thing we can do when we boys meet together from Jamaica.”

Tom accepted the invitation. Susan heard and was delighted. She was
certain that Tom would say nothing about their old relations in Jamaica,
and she was equally certain that Jones could know nothing of those
relations. Again, she felt, her luck was in the ascendant. Then, some
one touched her on the arm, and, turning, she saw Mackenzie.

The two moved quickly to a corner of the room, for the dancers were now
preparing to begin a waltz. Mackenzie explained that he had received an
invitation to this party, and almost at the last moment had accepted,
thinking that Susan would probably be there. He had come over to Colon
by a late train. “Sam don’t seem to like me much now,” he remarked;
“that’s why I don’t take a run over on a Sunday to see both of you,
though I find it sort of lonely up at Culebra.”

Then he asked her to dance, and she consented, and they joined the
slowly whirling groups.

The room was terribly warm. Although the windows were all wide open, no
breath of wind was stirring that night, and the movements of the dancers
in the crowded “ball-room” caused the perspiration to stream from their
faces and drench their bodies. Only West Indians would have found
pleasure in dancing under such circumstances, and even these felt the
discomfort of the heat after a time.

“Lord! it hot!” panted a fat lady as she bounded across the room—they
were now dancing a set of lancers. “I suffocate,” giggled a thin
creature, as a burly fellow clasped her to his breast. But still the
musicians played with undiminished energy, and still the dancers danced.
And the stamping of feet upon the floor ceased only when one dance was
at an end and a new set was being formed.

Tom had two drinks with Jones, and then returned to the dancing-hall,
where he stationed himself against a wall, watching Susan and reflecting
on his forlorn state. Those two drinks had reduced him to a maudlin
condition, and just then his loss appeared to him as the one calamity of
the world, though he had managed to bear it with equanimity since
leaving Jamaica. Jones had also returned, had danced once with Susan and
once with another lady, and then had adjourned to the refreshment-room,
where, on a long table surrounded by chairs, stood a number of bottles
containing various liquors, and some huge dishes filled with ham, beef,
and chicken sandwiches. A few men were seated round this table, and
these Jones joined. Conversation ensued, and this, probably because of
the drink imbibed, soon turned to topics connected with their old life
in Jamaica. Being Jamaicans, these men had grievances. Being British
subjects, their grievances were against the Jamaica Government.

“De Jamaica Government don’t take enough care of we,” observed a
heavy-looking man, who, when in Jamaica, had displayed extraordinary
ingenuity in evading the payment of his taxes. “We ’ave no protection in
dis place, an’ so these foreigners here can treat a Jamaican like a
dawg.”

“Thet is a fact,” agreed a dapper little fellow who sported eyeglasses,
and who was a clerk in one of the mercantile houses of Colon (he had
been a lawyer’s clerk in Kingston). “There is no protection here
whatever. A man’s rights are not regarded. The labourers are badly
treated and have no redress. Representations should at once be made to
the British Government about the Jamaica Government, who are neglectful.
It is my intention to write to the Jamaica papers in re the matter.”

Jones at once recognized in this speaker a man of distinguished ability.
He asked him to have a drink with him, and then made his contribution to
the conversation.

“You are right,” he said. “There is no justice or jurisprudence in this
place. I am a British subject, but it’s no use a man going to the
British Consul here, for he don’t even want to listen to you.

“It’s more than hard,” he continued reflectively. “A man can’t get a
good job in his own country, an’ when he come to a God-forsaken foreign
land he has no protection at all. In Jamaica you have to die of
starvation, an’ here you lucky if you don’t die of neglect.”

“In Jamaica it is only taxes you hear about all de time,” said the
heavy-looking man. (All his remarks invariably gravitated towards the
subject of taxation.) “The Gov’nment don’t care what become of you so
long as them can get the taxes. It’s a shame!

“Look what them do wid a man down here. I live out at Gatun an’ them
won’t even let me keep a female helpmeet in a respectable way. Them want
me to married! Now don’t you see that if the Jamaica Government did look
after us as it should, all that sort of advantage couldn’t be take of a
man?”

“Yes,” assented Jones. “I have a female meself, an’ I have to live in
Colon because they won’t let her come to Christobal. They put me to any
amount of expense, all for the sake of form.”

“The thruth of the matter,” observed the erstwhile lawyer’s clerk, is
this: “the American methods are conducive to immorality. If a man leaves
his gurl in Colon, how is he to know that some other fellow is not going
after her?” He put the question with an air of conviction. He himself
had a great reputation for gallantry, and might be supposed to be
speaking from experience.

“You know, you are right!” exclaimed Jones, staring at him with
semi-drunken gravity. This aspect of the situation had apparently not
occurred to him before. Now, however, it began to loom large in his
muddled brain. He grew indignant. He voiced an imaginary wrong. “Fancy,”
he cried, “just fancy a man working hard all day an’ supporting a female
in comfort an’ proficiency, and another man goin’ to the house in the
daytime an’ enjoying himself at my expense!” He foresaw himself being
wronged, all through the neglect of the British Government and the
faulty methods of the Canal Administration.

“Ah!” sighed the ex-lawyer’s clerk sympathetically, “a man has a lot to
put up with in this country. He cannot be too careful. What I say,
gentlemen, is: don’t trust any wemen, not even you’ own mother.”

This advice strongly appealed to Jones. It inspired him with a desire to
be vigilant. That young man, Tom Wooley, who was even now in the
dancing-hail where Susan was—what base designs might he not be
harbouring against the domestic peace of Samuel Josiah Jones? He had
been warned against Susan. Her friendliness towards Tom was apparent.
Yes, he was not being treated fairly, he was sure of it; neither the
Government of Jamaica nor Susan was treating him fairly. He became
suddenly angry. “Gents,” he said, rising, “I have enjoyed you’ company,
but a man must protect himself. An advantage is being taken of poor
Samuel. I must go inside an’ look after me rights.”

The heavy man nodded a solemn acquiescence, and Jones, with lurching
steps, proceeded to the dancing-hall, where the dancers were now
clapping their hands and stamping their feet in a perfect ecstasy of
enjoyment.

Continue Reading

THE SWORD OF THE LORD

On the afternoon of the following day a wharf at the eastern section of
the city was thronged with people, chiefly black and brown. Scores of
cabs were drawn up at both sides of the entrance to the wharf, and any
number of porters were conveying trunks on their heads to the ship which
lay anchored alongside of the pier. Steam was up; a donkey engine
rattled and clattered as the sailors lowered some packages into the
vessel’s hold; the captain stood on the bridge shouting out his commands
with a fine sense of ultimate authority; the passengers streamed up the
gangway, while their friends and relatives who had come to see them off
stood on the pier and looked with envy and admiration at those who were
about to brave the perils of the deep.

It was a scene characteristically West Indian. The long wooden pier
crowded with a jabbering, multi-coloured throng, the mountains of coal
from which fine particles of coal-dust came flying as the sea breeze
swept over the wharf; the noise, the confusion, the total lack of all
appearance of order—though order of a kind was certainly
maintained—the dark faces, eager or tearful; the ragged porters who
balanced on their heads packages weighing over a hundred pounds each as
though they were feather pillows; the few white men moving perfectly at
ease amongst the excited people; the brilliant sunlight, the great arch
of dazzling sky, the gently-heaving green-tinted water, the crowds of
boys, who, simply clad in a short pair of breeches, swam and dived like
fishes in the sea, shaking their heads as they rose to the surface, and
showing their strong white teeth as they laughed and shouted to the
people on the ship—all this was typical of a British West Indian island
on a day when a vessel leaves the port.

To Susan and Jones it was not strange, and the noise could not possibly
confuse them. They pushed their way through the crowd, followed by Mr.
Proudleigh, his wife, Miss Proudleigh, and Susan’s sisters; but at the
gangway they were stopped by one of the Steamship Company’s officials,
who firmly told them that only passengers were allowed to go on board.
Here they separated. Susan kissed all her folk, Jones shook hands with
them, and then the two climbed up the gangway, and Susan found herself
at last on the deck of the steamer which was to take her to a strange
and distant land.

For the first time doubts assailed her. For the first time she realized
fully that she was leaving her home, perhaps for good; and as she looked
from the deck down upon her people a lump gathered to her throat and she
began to wonder if she were altogether wise. Yet she would not have
given up her purpose for a moment. She was too deeply bitten by the
prevailing desire to go somewhere.

She leaned against the vessel’s rail, now and then exchanging a word at
the top of her voice with Catherine or her father. Jones was as gay as
ever, and was loudly explaining to some of his friends on the pier that
he would have travelled first-class had he not been taking a female with
him. He was in the condition locally known as “merry” (this term
indicating generally a half-way stage between soberness and
intoxication), and seemed to entertain a cheerful expectation of being
shot immediately after arrival in Colon; but Susan saw nothing
exhilarating in such a prospect, and more than once suggested to him
that he should stop talking nonsense.

She was to travel second-class; but for the present she remained
standing amongst the deck-passengers. There were over a hundred of
these, and the deck on which they were gathered was littered with boxes
and trunks containing their clothes, and with the deck-chairs on which
they would sit during the day and sleep at night. It seemed a strange
scene to Susan’s wondering eyes. The beat of the engines stunned her,
the smells nauseated her, she was conscious of a throbbing in her head.
Suddenly it seemed to her as though the pier and the people on it were
moving backwards. She heard a great shout of “Good-bye!” She saw a great
waving of hands. They were going, going, and now she broke down and
began to cry outright.

“Look after the shop good, Kate!” she called out to her sister; and
“Good-bye, mammee—good-bye, papee! good-bye!”

Her mother waved in reply, two big tears stealing down her withered
cheeks. Her father, though much comforted by the reflection that the
shop had been left to the family as a source of revenue, yet felt sad.
But he waved his hat and shouted, “Take care of you’self, Susan, an’
write to me!” and continued waving his hat long after there was any
possibility of its being seen by her. Then, when the crowd on the pier
had become an indistinct mass, Susan went to the second-class
passengers’ deck and began to wonder once more what sort of life awaited
her in Colon. . . .

Steadily Kingston dwindled into a collection of white houses nestling
amidst a forest of trees and backed by a noble range of smoke-blue
mountains. And as the ship steamed through the narrow channel that forms
the entrance to the city’s harbour, the shrill voice of a woman rose in
a quavering chant, and soon all the deckers were singing the words of
some plaintive hymn.

It was their way of bidding farewell to Jamaica.

Thus singing, they left the land behind.

* * * * *

“Susan! get up! This is not a time to sleep.”

Susan, who had been sleeping but fitfully, awoke at once with a start.
Jones was rapping loudly at her cabin door. Something in his voice
startled her.

“What is it?” she asked, frightened.

“The comet! It’s the first time I see it.”

Susan dressed in a minute; she hurried out of the cabin and went to the
well-deck with Jones.

It was about four o’clock in the morning, but there was as yet no sign
of the coming day. A crescent moon was glowing above, but the light of
it paled into insignificance before the radiant splendour of the morning
star. There in the East hung Venus, like a great lamp illumining all
heaven and earth, a diamond set against a magnificent background of
millions and millions of stars. These indeed were strewn almost as
thickly in the sky as sand in a desert; look where you would, you saw
them, some faint, some bright, and some like silver dust scattered
profusely about the lofty silent dome that overarched and covered the
wide circle of the sea. The gleaming planet and scintillating sky were
alone sufficient to impress those who beheld them that morning with a
sense of wonder and of awe. Their serene and lofty beauty, immeasurable
grandeur, and vast incalculable distance must have appealed even to the
most indifferent care-blunted mind. But it was not upon these that
hundreds of eyes were turned when Susan and her lover reached the
starboard of the vessel, where a crowd of persons were already standing.
All looked at but one object—a great band of light that streamed up
from below the eastern horizon and swept across the sky to the
south-west, where it dipped into the sea. Clear and distinct it shone,
in spite of the radiance around it: a flaming portent, as it seemed,
emerging suddenly out of the mysterious depths of space. Most of the
travellers on the ship saw it for the first time that morning. They
looked at it startled, and with palpitating hearts.

“The comet,” whispered Jones again, and—

“The sword of the Lord,” said calmly but distinctly an old man who stood
amongst the deckers.

Almost every one talked in whispers. Something oppressed them—a vague,
uncanny feeling. The women pressed their hands against their hearts.

They were alone on the sea. On land they would not have feared so much,
for nearly all calamities, or imagined indications of calamity, the West
Indian peasant can face with a calmness which springs from his
deep-rooted fatalism. But here they were amidst surroundings strange to
them; they were alone in a world which they regarded with
apprehension—alone upon the sea with the sword of the Lord flaming in
the heavens above them.

The sea ran swiftly, wave racing after wave, black and foam-crested.
They dashed against the sides of the vessel, flinging high into the air
a glistening shower of spray which fell back upon the bosom of the
waters in sparks of liquid fire. The prow of the ship seemed to plunge
into argent flame; in its wake writhed and twisted a long serpent of
light. The phosphorescent gleams of the tropic sea flashed an answer to
the brilliance of the tropic sky above, and fire seemed glancing and
blazing everywhere.

The wind blew steadily from east to west, and the throbbing of the
engines added to the roar of the leaping, hurrying waves. Now and again
a murmuring sound was heard amongst the people on the deck—a sound as
if they prayed.

Long and earnestly they gazed upon the comet; and then into Jones’s mind
came the words of his friend Septimus, spoken so short a time before.

He bent down and whispered in Susan’s ear:

“You think it mean anything, Sue?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, almost inaudibly; “but it’s awful; an’ if
it was to come close an’ we should all dead, where would we go to, Sam?”

As if in reply to her question, the old man amongst the deck passengers,
who had called the comet “The Sword of the Lord,” again lifted up his
voice, this time repeating some words from the Scriptures:

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither
His ear heavy that He cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated
between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that
He will not hear.”

Susan heard and trembled; a woman in the crowd of watchers groaned out,
“Yes, Lord!”

“Have mercy!” sobbed another.

Some one began repeating the hymn, “Jesus, Lover of my Soul.”

“Christ, have mercy,” prayed the shivering people.

“Sue,” whispered Jones, “I heard on Friday night that the comet won’t
touch the world until Wednesday; so when we get to Colon to-morrow
morning we better married. This sort of life is not one to face death
in. I am not a coward, Sue, but, after all, it will be better to die
right.”

An immense weight seemed lifted off Susan’s heart as she heard these
words. Her present mode of life was called “living in sin” by the
ministers and religious folk of her country; and so persistently had
this view of it been inculcated that, in common with thousands of
others, she had come to regard unsanctified connexions as the one
offence really worth considering. True, she had never gone further than
giving her intellectual assent to this proposition; but then she had
never seen a great comet blazing in the sky before. She now agreed with
it with all her soul.

“You right, Sam,” she whispered; “let us make our peace wid God, in case
anything happen.” And as she spoke the thought flashed through her mind
that, if nothing did happen, she would be Mrs. Jones, a prospect of
social advancement which, even at that tremendous moment, gave her a
thrill of delight.

Some of the deckers were audibly praying now. The old man, who in
Kingston had been a well-known street-preacher, kept on repeating tags
of Scripture and words of warning; but gradually, in spite of his
efforts to terrify the passengers into hysterics and thus establish his
spiritual supremacy, they grew more calm, and soon began to talk at
their ordinary pitch of voice.

For the sky was lightening. Slowly the morning star dimmed her
brightness, the other stars paled and flickered out, the comet shone but
indistinctly, and the moon grew white. Before it was five o’clock “The
Sword of the Lord” had disappeared. And as the sky changed from black to
grey, and from grey to pink and pearl and loveliest azure, as the
phosphorescent brilliance of the water died away and the sun came
surging up out of the sea, a great palpitating globe of golden fire, the
passengers busied themselves with their toilet, and laughed and chatted
as though they had not, but an hour before, been thinking of imminent
death.

The transformation was complete. The sun had restored their courage, and
had banished for the moment all fear from their minds. As for Susan, she
fell sick during the day, her stomach no longer being able to endure the
rocking and vibration of the ship. So she did not talk much about
anything, and did not even trouble to mention the marriage which she and
Jones were to celebrate the next day in Colon, as a sort of spiritual
insurance against the eternal fire with which the greater part of
mankind might be threatened on the 18th and after.

The comet was again visible on the ensuing night, but the horrors of
sea-sickness were too acute, the misery of the passengers far too
intense, for them to care greatly about the future of the world and of
themselves. Word had been passed around the ship that the comet would
not touch the earth for a few days yet, and that was a blessed respite.
In the meantime there was no cessation of the strange agony caused by a
rolling, pitching vessel which was traversing nearly six hundred miles
of the roughest part of the Caribbean Sea. Some of the emigrants were
secretly of the opinion that the comet could not be worse than the ship,
and certainly was not just then interfering with their bodily comfort;
they had also heard the sailors jesting at their fears, and that gave
them a sort of courage, not unmixed with hope. Then the ex-street
preacher, in the midst of one of his urgent appeals for the instant
conversion of all sinners, had been suddenly taken with a desire to rush
to the ship’s side. The people were too ill to laugh, but some of them
smiled faintly at the unfortunate gentleman’s mishap. And smiles,
coupled with sea-sickness, must inevitably reduce religious terrorism to
the ridiculous.

So the second night wore on, and Jones in his cabin, and Susan in hers,
slumbered fitfully, taking comfort as they remembered, when they started
out of a doze, that the morning would bring an end to their present
misery.

As it drew towards morning they found sleep impossible. It was as though
they were in a steam bath, the awful, close, clammy heat was something
they had never experienced before. They struggled out of their bunks, as
did all the other second-class passengers, the perspiration streaming
from their bodies. “This must be the beginning of hell,” Jones muttered
impiously, though not without a certain sense of terror. He was still
sea-sick, and this, and the terrific heat, inclined him to believe that
he had now sounded the ultimate depths of human misery. “I wonder why I
bother come to this infernal place?” he grumbled, as he struggled into
his clothes with the intention of going on deck.

He peeped out of his porthole, trying to peer through the darkness. He
heard outside the labourers jabbering as they moved about the ship; the
swish of water as it poured from the upper deck into the sea warned him
that they were swabbing down the decks, and he guessed that Colon could
not now be far away. He hurried out of his stifling cabin and went to
call up Susan; she was ready dressed, but pale and weak; she gladly came
out, and together they went to the ship’s side, anxious for a first
glimpse of the land.

The prospect was sufficiently depressing. The sky above was dark with
heavy rain-clouds that hung low and the sea ran fiercely—one vast
expanse of slate-coloured water. The rain was falling, not in a
torrential shower, but steadily, pitilessly, unceasingly, and at quick
intervals the pallid lightning flashed upon the scene, and the low
rumble of thunder proclaimed the gathering storm.

“Colon!”

The cry came from one of the watchers on the emigrants’ deck, from one
of the many men who had come to seek their fortune in this land of
adventure of which the world had heard so much for some four hundred
years. “Colon!” The word signified for them the land of promise, the
land of their thoughts and dreams for many a long day. The cry was taken
up and re-echoed from many lips. The sufferers forgot their sickness.
The magic word had charmed it entirely away.

Jones and Susan bent forward quickly, electrified by the shout. In the
distance they saw something like a huge bank of cloud on the horizon,
and at once they thought it was their destination—Colon at last. By
straining one’s eyes one could just perceive it; but it was not Colon,
for that town lay fully fifteen miles away. Still, it was part of the
Isthmus of Panama, and as the sunlight began to fight its way slowly and
painfully through the clouds that hung over land and sea, you could
perceive, stretching away for miles and miles, the low-lying
inhospitable shores of the country which has one of the most romantic
histories in the world.

There the mainland of Panama lay, dreary, ugly, uninviting. One could
see the waves breaking listlessly against the shore, just as though the
very energy of the water were affected by the terrible steaming heat.
There was something unspeakably gloomy about the scene, something that
subdued one to silence; and so it was in silence that almost every one
on board watched the mangrove-covered banks slip by as the ship sped on
her way.

The lightning flickered more frequently, the rumble of the thunder
became louder, more insistent. The deckers, who had never undressed
during the thirty-six hours of the passage, now began to make themselves
presentable for going ashore, and Jones and Susan forced themselves to
re-enter their cabins for the purpose of gathering together their
possessions. It was daylight now, though the sun could not be seen. As
they drew nearer to the town of Colon the rain slackened somewhat. The
steamer slowed down, stopped, and lay idly rolling in the dark, oily
water, waiting until the officials of the port should come on board.

Susan could now see before her the town of which she had heard so much.
To her inquiring eyes it looked a small place: there was a cluster of
ugly wooden piers jutting out into the sea and roofed with corrugated
iron painted black; behind these was a street or road that ran along the
seashore as far as she could follow it, and behind this street rose a
line of frail-looking wooden buildings two or three storeys high. But
farther away to the right, as one gazed landward from the deck of an
incoming ship, could be seen bungalows of a description superior to the
buildings near by; these bungalows stood amidst rows of cocoa-nut palms
and light green shrubs evidently planted and tended by the hand of man.
This touch of tropical scenery redeemed the town from the stigma of
utter ugliness. Even so, and in spite of the well-known enchantment of
distance, Colon stood confessed a mushroom town, a low, damp,
rain-sodden bit of land which accident had made the terminus of a famous
railway, and, after that, the site of the Atlantic entrance of the great
Panama Canal.

Something like disappointment was expressed on Susan’s face and in her
voice as she turned to Jones, saying:

“What you think of it, Sam?”

“Can’t say yet,” he replied dubiously; “howsoever, I am ready to go
ashore.”

He started to stroll away, though he had no idea of where he was going
to, when a swarthy little man unceremoniously sprang in front of him,
caught him by the arm and waved him back. Jones had not observed the
little man before. The latter had come on board at the same time as the
doctor, and perhaps he thought that Jones wanted to disappear from view
when it was necessary that he should be visible. Anyhow, he addressed
Samuel in a perfectly unintelligible tongue, much to our young
Jamaican’s astonishment, and wildly waved his arms. “What you mean?”
indignantly demanded Jones, planting his feet firmly on the deck and
refusing to move.

The little man appeared to be annoyed, and again poured forth a flood of
Spanish. As Jones could not understand what he was saying, and could not
possibly guess what he would be at, he concluded that the man was a
fool, and said so loudly.

“You seem to be preposterously ignorant!” he exclaimed, addressing his
excited aggressor. “You can’t even talk English! What you call
you’self—Chinese or Cuban, or what?”

Now the man could not speak English, but he understood just enough of it
to grasp the fact that Jones was insulting him. So he again addressed
Mr. Jones in a violent manner, and gave him a backward push.

“Look here!” exclaimed Jones. “It’s about time you finish pushing me,
you understand? I am not a Colon man, but an English gentleman, an’ if
you touch me again I will box the head off you’ body!”

The little man was not daunted; indeed, he appeared to increase in
pugnacity. But just then, fortunately, one of the petty officers of the
ship, seeing that a serious quarrel was imminent, interfered.

“You’d better not argue with that man,” he said to Jones; “he’s the
Captain of the Port.”

“But that is no reason why he should push me,” argued Jones, bent upon
establishing at the outset his claim to deferential treatment at the
hands of foreigners. “What he push me for?”

“Thought you were doing something you shouldn’t do, I suppose. They are
rather funny, these people. There are all sorts of rules you have to
obey down here.”

Jones fell back, not at all pleased with his first experience of
Panamanian methods. But he waited quietly till the doctor, who was an
American official, came up the second-class deck and assured himself
that the passengers there had all been vaccinated at home and were
suffering from no serious complaints. It took a longer time to examine
the deckers: the doctor was very strict with these. But it was all over
at last; the officials of the port boarded their respective launches and
sped away (Jones following the launch of the Captain of the Port with
eyes expressive of unmitigated contempt), and then the ship began to
draw towards the dock. The gangways were shoved out, word was passed
that the passengers were free to go ashore. Susan and Samuel prepared to
land, the latter still fuming over his treatment by a little dark fiery
man amongst whose serious offences was his utter inability to speak the
English language.

On the pier they had to hunt for their luggage, which was mixed with
that of other people whose frantic exertions to recover their belongings
impeded themselves. But the baggage was assorted at last, and now came
the inquisition of the Customs officers. These were quite young men,
almost boys, and their slight, emaciated frames, sallow faces, and
leisurely movements did not at all appeal to Jones’s sense of what was
proper in Government officials. He watched them with amazement as they
delved into his boxes and turned up everything, carelessly motioning him
to re-arrange his things when they were through. “Sue,” he observed
impressively, when the ordeal was over, “this is not a civilized
country;” and, having thus announced his discovery, he accepted the
offer of a truck-man, who wheeled their trunks to the gate of the wharf
and then coolly demanded a dollar for the job.

As this bit of work would not have been worth more than a shilling in
Jamaica, if as much, Jones and Susan were scandalized, and protested
loudly against the imposition. But the man called a little policeman to
arbitrate in the matter. This policeman spoke English of a kind, and the
intention of his discourse was to assure Jones that, as he had made no
previous bargain with the man, he must pay what the man asked. He said
this with all gravity, but with a pronunciation so peculiar that Jones
expressed his great anxiety to know at what school he had been educated.
It was rather lucky for him that the “policia” did not grasp his
meaning.

It was drizzling still, but very slightly. The clouds overhead, however,
and the continuous flashes of lightning warned our friends that the
downpour might come on at any moment. They hailed a cab (driven by a
West Indian), and Jones told the man that he wanted to go to the Canal
Commission’s Department of Labour and Quarters. He asked the cabman to
drive slowly, so that they might see something of the town as they went
on. With their luggage piled in front of and around them they began
their ride through the principal street of Colon.

It was a busy thoroughfare. To their left, as they drove towards the
Commission’s Department of Labour and Quarters, were the principal
stores and shops and cafés of the town, wooden buildings all, painted
pink, dull yellow, grey, or light blue, with pointed roofs, broad
verandas running round the first and second floors, and a paved piazza
running along the whole length of the ground floors. The projecting
floors of the verandas above formed a shelter from sun and rain, and the
piazzas were thronged with pedestrians. All sorts and conditions of
human beings were represented in these crowds—West Indian labourers,
East Indian pedlars, Chinese, Greeks; men from every country in Europe;
natives of Panama and Colombia, ranging in colour from pure black to a
sallow white; Americans—the men with their jackets thrown over their
shoulders, energetic, masterful; the women, in cool white dresses and
bareheaded, who walked along as unconcernedly as though they were taking
a stroll in Broadway. Susan noticed that the Panamanian women were
careful to have shawls thrown over their shoulders though their
unstockinged feet were thrust into slippers down at heels. No one seemed
to mind the rain. The shops were stocked with all sorts of showy goods;
the cafés were crowded and business in them appeared to be brisk; the
cabs were well patronized, and their drivers abused one another with a
fluency of bad language that did not argue much for the vigilance or the
good hearing of the Panama police. It was a busy town—that she could
see at once. A peculiar town, too, from her point of view, for bordering
the street were railway lines, and trains were passing or shunting up
and down with a continuous tooting of shrill whistles; while immediately
beyond the train lines was the ragged, sea-beaten shore of Colon,
destitute of a seawall and ugly. She was not sure that she liked Colon
at first sight, yet its bustle, its evident prosperity, appealed to her.
Suddenly, and even while Susan was looking at the shops and houses,
without turning out of the street the cab passed into that part of old
Colon which is known as Christobal and which the Americans had taken
over as part of their territory and converted into an American
settlement.

Here she and Samuel found themselves in the midst of the bungalows and
cocoa-nut trees they had sighted from the sea. There were no shops here,
no noise, no bustle; there was absolute cleanliness and a sense of order
that formed a sharp contrast to the careless life of the Panamanian town
they had just left behind them. Gardens bloomed in front of many of the
houses, the sanitation was perfect; the wire-screened doors and windows
of the buildings gave them the quaint appearance of huge cages, and
behind those wire-screens (a protection against the once-virulent
mosquito of Colon) peered many a white face, the faces of American women
and children who during the long warm days thought wistfully of their
homes in the North. This, to Susan’s mind, looked an eminently
respectable locality. “I would like to live here, Sam,” she remarked,
“more than in the other part of the town.”

The cab stopped in front of a large building near the end of the street,
and Jones jumped out, bidding Susan wait for him. He went into the
office indicated by the cabman, where he found some other men waiting.
He gave his name, and mentioned that he had been engaged in Jamaica by
one of the Canal Commission’s agents, who had promised him quarters in
the Canal Zone. “You must have been expecting me,” he observed, with an
air of consequence.

“I kain’t say we have,” replied the tall American who attended to him,
“but I guess it’s all right. I kain’t give you quarters to-day, anyhow;
I’ve got to see what room we have for mechanics. You kin turn into work
right here in Christobal to-morrow, an’ when you come I’ll see what we
kin do about puttin’ you up.” With that he turned away abruptly to see
what another man wanted, and Jones made his way back outside.

Where were they to go to now? It was the cabman who suggested a way out
of the difficulty. He knew a place, he told them, where they could get a
room for the night if they were willing to pay a dollar for the
accommodation. Jones protested that the price was “ridiculous,” but
agreed nevertheless to be taken to the place, Susan shrewdly suspecting
that they were being victimized by the cabby, who knew that they were
strangers. Back they drove into Colon, stopping for a minute at a shop
to purchase some bread and cheese. Then the cabman took them to a house
at the back of the town, charged them a dollar and a half for the work
he had done, and drove away well satisfied with the innocence or
ignorance of “dose Jamaica fools.” He was a Jamaican himself, but
sophisticated.

The house, in which they secured a room for the night, was a long wooden
barn divided into small apartments. Each room had a wooden shutter for a
window, and the place had originally been built upon a swamp. The piles
driven into the swamp still remained as the building’s foundation; the
land behind the house had only lately been cleared by the American
authorities and was not yet filled up. So the ground was covered with a
sheet of fetid water, and a little behind this the mangrove bushes
flourished, dark green and horrible, a sombre background suggesting
fever and loathsome ailments even to the least observant mind.

A dank heavy smell of rotting vegetation permeated the air. The room was
almost as stifling as the ship’s cabin had been that morning. No sooner
had they taken their things inside when the thunder-storm, which had
been threatening for hours, burst in full force upon Colon; the
lightning writhed like maddened serpents through the blue-black sky, the
crash of the thunder was deafening. Susan shuddered with fear. Even
Jones looked lugubrious. This was a poor sort of welcome to the land of
promise.

They set to and made the best of their circumstances. The room contained
a cot, one wooden-seated chair, a table with a tin basin, a ewer of
water and a glass, and another table, placed in the centre of the
apartment and suggesting by its position that it was intended as a sort
of ornament.

Jones, seated on the chair, placed the edibles he had procured on this
centre table, and pulled a flask of rum out of his pocket. He offered
some of the liquor to Susan, who refused it with a shake of her head. He
helped himself liberally, then ate some of the bread and cheese, while
she watched him sullenly. She felt downhearted, almost inclined to cry.
But the rum had inspirited him, and already he was brighter. “What’s the
matter? You sorry you come?” he asked her.

“Not exactly,” she replied; “but I don’t know a soul here; I feel lonely
an’ miserable, and dis rain——” She could find no words to express her
disappointment. “If I was to stay long in this room, I would dead,” she
plaintively concluded.

“Don’t fret,” he cheerfully advised. “To-morrow we will get good
quarters, an’ even here will soon be better. From all what I hear about
the Americans, they are not the sort of people to procrastinate in
improving conditions. As for you, you are all right now, Sue. I am goin’
to make a woman of you. I am more than a match for anything!” He
suddenly remembered the comet. “That is, if we don’t dead,” he hastily
added, “in which case we had better begin to prepare our soul.”

He relapsed into seriousness again, but not for long: the rum he had
taken fought successfully against an access of melancholy brought on by
the prospect of early death through the agency of ethereal bodies. He
saw with genuine regret that Susan could eat nothing. The bread and
cheese he did not like himself. But the rain soon began to fall less
heavily, and the thunder became more and more distant. Susan not caring
or not able to talk, he waited in silence until only a drizzle remained
of the tremendous downpour. Then he and Susan put on their hats and went
out into the streets of Colon once more.

“The first thing we got to do is to find a place where we can get some
good food,” said Jones, whose mind was just then centred upon practical
matters.

There was an abundance of such places in the narrow streets in which
they soon found themselves, but they were crowded with men and Susan
hesitated about entering them. It seemed to both herself and Samuel that
a very large portion of the house-space of Colon was devoted to bars,
the doors of which stood wide open, thus allowing the passers-by to
stare at will at those who sat inside industriously playing dominoes or
cards, or drinking beer. Now that she was away from the house near the
swamp, and amidst pedestrians whom she could hear talking English, Susan
felt a little easier in mind. But she was painfully aware of her bodily
weakness, caused by sea-sickness and lack of food. She was decidedly
hungry.

In about ten minutes, in a narrow back street of not very prepossessing
appearance, they came upon a building over the doors of whose lower
storey was displayed this legend: “The Jamaican’s Heaven of Rest;
Welcome all to Dine.” Heavens in which hot dinners were provided were
particularly welcome to Susan and Samuel just then, and it was evident
that this place was owned or looked after by some one from “home.” They
gladly entered. The room was dark and not over-clean. Two long tables
covered with greasy cloths, and a number of chairs, constituted all its
furniture. At one end of it, to the right as you entered, was a small
bar well stocked with liquors, of which Colon consumed an extraordinary
quantity; at the other end was a door leading into a kitchen which could
be plainly seen and smelt, and which appeared to be overcrowded with
cooks and waitresses, all slatternly attired, and as greasy as they well
could be. Seated around the tables, some eating, some waiting to be
served, were a number of men. Susan was the only woman guest, so, of
course, all the men in the room paused to have a good look at her as she
and Samuel took their seats.

Lunch was quickly served, and Jones ordered some whisky, which he
promptly drank. After a few minutes of rapid mastication, he looked
about the room with an inquiring air, with the view of engaging in
conversation with some communicative person. One man noticed his look,
and saw that Samuel was a stranger. “Come this morning?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Jones quickly, “by the ship. This is a rainy place, eh? When
you think the rain will stop?”

“About November,” the man answered.

“November! You makin’ fun! Why, man, this is only May!”

“Wait an’ see,” was the significant rejoinder. “When rain commence to
come in dis country, it don’t know when to stop. How is Jamaica when you
leave it?”

“Oh, pretty well,” replied Jones. “Dull as usual, an’ little cash. All
that the people talkin’ about over there is the comet.”

As he mentioned the comet he remembered that he had undertaken to marry
Susan before the dreaded 18th, when the earth would pass through the
comet’s tail. He suddenly grew grave.

“This is a very serious time,” he observed. “In a few hours we may be
all before our Maker.”

This remark, apparently apropos of nothing, astonished those who heard
it. In Panama they were not accustomed to discuss the hereafter at
lunch. Some of the men laughed; the man who had addressed him asked:

“You are a evangelistic preacher?”

“No,” said Jones; “of course not. But don’t y’u know that the comet is
going to destroy the world?”

The other man shook his head doubtingly. “Who say so?” he asked.

“The newspaper,” Samuel answered, mentioning the only source of
information he knew of.

“It can’t be the latest paper, then,” observed the other; “for the
_Star_ and _Herald_ to-day have a telegram that say there is no reason
for anybody to frighten: the comet is not goin’ to come near us.”

“Is that so?” exclaimed Samuel in a voice of profound relief. “Then we
are all right! Sue, you hear?”

“Yes,” replied Susan, “but which newspaper is right?”

“The latest, of course; every day a newspaper learn something new.”

“That may be so,” said the stranger; “but I don’t depend on newspaper to
tell me about the end of de world. I are satisfied to think that this
world was lasting from Adam was a boy; an’ if it don’t get destroy by a
comet all this time, it not likely to destroy now.”

This way of looking at the matter, coupled with the latest statement in
the Isthmian journal, convinced Jones that no danger to his existence
was to be apprehended from the comet. He was so delighted to learn that
the comet was innocuous that he did not pursue the conversation, but
quickly finished his lunch, eager now to explore Colon and to begin that
gay manner of living to which he had looked forward with such
expectation for weeks. He paid the bill and he and Susan left the
eating-house. They had not gone ten yards when Jones heard his name
called by some one behind him.

He turned round, wondering to find himself known already in this strange
town. He saw a black man, short, strongly built, with a genial face on
which there was a smile of recognition. This man was over forty years of
age, and his whole appearance indicated self-confidence and prosperity.
Jones thought he remembered his face, but could not just then remember
his name or where he had met him. Clearly, however, the stranger knew
him, for he clapped him on the shoulder in a friendly way and asked him
what he was doing in Colon.

“I come here to fill an occupation,” Jones replied; “but, to tell the
truth, you have an advantage of me. What’s your name? I am Samuel Josiah
Jones.”

“Oh, I know that well,” laughed the other; “you used to tell us so every
day at de railway. You remember now? Mackenzie? Mac that was at the
railway when you was learning trade?”

“Of course!” cried Samuel, now completely enlightened. “Sue, this is Mr.
Mackenzie, who you always hear me talk about. Shake hands.”

Susan had never heard Mackenzie mentioned before, but did not say so.
She shook hands as directed.

“When you come?” was Mackenzie’s next question.

“This morning, an’ it been raining ever since. Nasty place for rain. I
was just goin’ home, Mac, when you accost me; but now we must go an’
take a drink together for luck. Where can we go?”

“But what about you’ sister?” asked Mackenzie, glancing at Susan and
noticing that she did not seem to relish Jones’s proposal.

“She is my intended,” said Jones (Mackenzie had already guessed as
much), “and she can go home in a ’bus. Sue, my dear,” he went on,
turning to her, “Mr. Mac is a particular friend of mine, an’ I want to
have a little confabulation with him. Take a ’bus an’ go home, like a
good girl. I soon be there.”

If Mackenzie had not been a stranger, Susan would certainly have
protested against being disposed of in so summary a fashion, especially
as this was her first day in Colon. She was wild at being sent back to
the miserable room while Jones was preparing to go about the town and
enjoy himself. But she let him hail a passing cab, into which she got,
and she left the two men standing on the side-walk without saying a
single word to either of them.

It was seven o’clock before Jones went back to her. For hours she had
remained in the wretched den, nursing her misery and her wrath. It had
come on to rain again—a steady rain that held out no promise of
stopping and which had not ceased when Samuel returned. He had been
sufficiently thoughtful to bring with him some bread, a can of preserved
meat, and a pint of whisky, for he judged that she had not been out to
dinner. On these things he proposed that they should dine, and Susan
watched him in silence while he placed them on the table and went
outside to borrow some plates and a knife and fork. She made no effort
to help him. He was not perfectly sober, yet he was sober enough to
perceive that she was angry, and he had somewhere deep down in his heart
an uneasy feeling that there was some justification for her anger. He
became determinedly and manfully cheerful.

“To-morrow,” he remarked, as he began to eat, “we’ll be in better
quarters and will settle down peaceful and regular; in the meantime we
must eat an’ be happy.”

“Why you stay out so long?” Susan asked, speaking for the first time and
showing no inclination either to eat or to be happy.

“Couldn’t help it,”, he replied. “Mac wanted to treat me good, an’ I
wouldn’t have been a gentleman if I refused him.”

A sandwich in one hand, a glass of whisky in the other, he smiled
jovially as if in approval of his own meritorious conduct. But he gave
her no opportunity to comment on his ideas of gentlemanly behaviour.

“You know, Sue,” he observed, “I think you are a lucky girl? I am
acquainted with about twenty other females, an’ them would kill
themselves to be here to-night. But I am a man of emphatic decisiveness,
an’ when I select a gurl I will stick to her—if she behave herself.” He
paused, in order that she might mark the proviso well. Then he added,
“But you will behave you’self.

“Tell you what!” he went on enthusiastically. “I am goin’ to raise cain
as soon as I meet a few more Jamaica boys like Mac. No American man is
goin’ to boss me. A Jamaican is more than a match for anybody; an’ if a
man ever talk to me hard in this country, I kick him!”

“Y’u can’t kick anybody in this country,” said Susan quietly; “it’s not
home.”

“Don’t matter. They got to think a lot of me in this low-down place. I
won’t let a man interfere with you, either. I intend to stick to you.”

Susan, sitting on the cot, shifted her position a little. She had
listened carefully to all that Samuel had said; she had noticed how
persistently he dwelt upon his intention to stick to her—she had
especially noticed that he expected her to behave herself. But to one
matter, which had been in her mind ever since they landed, he had not
once alluded. She intended that it should be discussed that night.

“See here, Sam,” she began, with simple directness, “you say on board
the ship night before last that you was goin’ to marry me as soon as you
get to Colon. But all day to-day y’u don’t say nothing about it. You
goin’ to do it to-morrow?”

Samuel Josiah Jones paused in the act of conveying a glass of whisky to
his lips and stared at Susan with a countenance expressive of
profoundest astonishment. Susan’s question appeared to him a most
unreasonable one. He was silent for some seconds, then in a tone of
voice which was eloquent with reproach, and even with sorrow, he
answered:

“You mean to say that y’u didn’t hear what that man tell us to-day in
the cook-shop?”

“Yes,” said Susan, “I did hear what him say; but that don’t ’ave nothing
to do with what _you_ say on board the ship. Y’u promise to marry me
because we wasn’t living quite correct, an’ if that was true yesterday
morning, it must be true to-night.”

Susan’s rejoinder was so straightforward and clear that Jones could only
reply indirectly.

“Well!” he exclaimed, apostrophizing the ceiling; “I never see people so
unreasonable like Jamaica females. They have no logical perspecuity.
They are so ambitious that I can’t understand them. Susan, you forget
that when I talk to you about marriage an’ all that sort of foolishness
we didn’t expect to live another week? You forget that? I don’t tell you
that if the comet was really goin’ to kill us I wouldn’t get married.
But now, seeing that we are safe, it would be the height of stupidness
in me to pick up meself an’ enter in the bonds of matrimony, which, when
you once get into it, y’u can’t get out of it at all. What you take me
for? Specify!”

“Then you not goin’ to marry me again?” was Susan’s only reply to this
long speech.

“Don’t I have signified to you?” he answered; and as she sat there
looking at him darkly, he hastened to pacify her.

“But you are all right, Sue; you goin’ to live like a queen. After all,
when we leave Jamaica we didn’t think about married. Besides, look what
I do for you already!”

She did not see that he had done much for her at all, for she was not a
woman easily satisfied. But Colon was not Kingston; she had no friends
here; all the advantage would be on Jones’s side if she quarrelled with
him now. She was well aware too that she could scarcely claim that he
had brought her with him under false pretences. Nevertheless she felt
bitterly disappointed, and Jones’s way of looking upon marriage with her
as being only a sensible action when death appeared imminent, wounded
her vanity. If he had not promised to marry her on the ship, she would
not have mentioned the matter; but he had created hope in her, had
awakened a dormant ambition, and she understood how advantageous it
would be for her to have a legal right to his name in this new country.
She now felt, therefore, that she had a grievance, and her resentment
was increased by her sense of entire dependence upon Jones. It was true
that she had boasted in Jamaica about going to Colon as an independent
woman to earn her own living; but her few hours’ experience in that town
had taught her that with girls like herself that was more easily said
than done. Catherine had proved right after all. The young woman who did
not know Panama well must have some one to assist her.

She did not propose to argue any more with Samuel. If her family were
with her, she reflected, the situation might be very different, for
together they would surely be able to earn a decent living, and then she
would not feel so much obliged to tolerate anything like neglect from
Samuel. Or again, if she had some money and knew Panama, she might be
able to make her way about with ease. But she was not prepared to become
a servant. She knew that women of a certain type flourished in Colon,
but to their depths she would not and could never sink. Her mind ran
upon Tom: she knew she had influence with him, and as a last resort she
could always appeal to him for assistance; Truth to tell, however, she
had felt Tom’s departure as a relief after he had left Jamaica: she had
never cared for him. Samuel was wild, unstable, but was not
intentionally unkind. . . . She liked him.

Sitting on the edge of the cot, one leg crooked over the other, her chin
supported by her right hand, she thought the matter over. The sound of
the rain and the thunder’s long roll came to her ears. In the next
apartment a girl was singing—she knew the words, she had heard them in
Jamaica:

“Ef I did hear what me mammee did say
I wouldn’t be in dis wort’less Colon.”

But no one had warned her against Colon; she had wished to come to this
place, she was here, she must make the best of it. She listened to the
singing. It seemed to her that, despite the words, the singer’s voice
was cheerful.

Samuel, on his part, was not worrying. He was not sober. He was quite
satisfied that he was acting with the most becoming propriety and in
strict accordance with the high gentlemanly standards of Samuel Josiah
Jones. His mind was filled with pleasing anticipations of the part he
would play in the society of the town. He had a dazzling vision of
happiness, now that he had recovered from his first feeling of
discontent, and was no longer haunted by fear of approaching
dissolution. He was determined to make Susan comfortable; he would earn
lots of money, dress well, sport, distinguish himself: there were no
spots just then upon the bright sun of his reflections. So he went to
bed in a merry frame of mind; but Susan sat up for some time longer,
thinking. To one thing she had made up her mind when she finally
determined to rest. She would save money, and so secure her personal
independence.

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