The Yellow Book
An Illustrated Quarterly
Volume XIII April 1897
I. The Blessed . . . By W. B. Yeats . . Page 11
II. Merely Players . .Henry Harland . . 19
III. Sonnets from the PortugueseRichard Garnett, C.B., LL.D. . . . . 51
IV. The Christ of Toro . Mrs. Cunningham Grahame 56
V. The Question . . Stephen Phillips . . 74
VI. Concerning Preciosity . John M. Robertson . . 79
VII. Sir Dagonet’s QuestF. B. Money Coutts . . 107
VIII. The Runaway . . Marion Hepworth Dixon . 110
IX. Pierrot . . . . Olive Custance . . 121
X. On the Toss of a PennyCecil de Thierry . . 129
XI. April of England . . A. Myron . . . 143
XII. At Old Italian Case-mentsDora Greenwell McChesney 144
XIII. The Rose . . . Henry W. Nevinson . . 153
XIV. An Immortal . . Sidney Benson Thorp . 156
XV. The Noon of Love . J. A. Blaikie . . . . 167
XVI. The Other Anna . . Evelyn Sharp . . . 170
XVII. Two Poems . . . Douglas Ainslie . . 194
XVIII. A Melodrama . . T. Baron Russell . . 205
XIX. Oasis . . . . Rosamund Marriott Watson 212
XX. A Pair of Parricides . Francis Watt . . . 213
XXI. Kit: an American Boy . Jennie A. Eustace . . 237
XXII. Forgetfulness . . . R. V. Risley . . . 257
XXIII. Lucy Wren . . . Ada Radford . . . 272
XXIV. Sir Julian Garve . . Ella D’Arcy . . . 291
XXV. Two Prose Fancies . Richard Le Gallienne . 308
The Yellow Book— Vol. XIII. — April, 1897
I. Vanity . . . By D.Y. Cameron . Page 7
II. Winter Evening on the Clyde Muirhead Bone . . 14
III. Old Houses off the Dry Gate, Glasgow
IV. The Black Cockade . Katharine Cameron . . 76
V. An Introduction . . Ethel Reed . . . 123
VI. A Vision . . .
VII. Fine Feathers make Fine Birds . . . A. Bauerle . . . 149
VIII. An Eastern TownPatten Wilson . . . 197
IX. Book-plate of Egerton Clairmonte, Esq.
X. Book-plate of H. B. Marriott Watson, Esq.
XI. Book-plate of S. Carey Curtis, Esq..
XII. Helen . . . E. J. Sullivan . . 227
XIII. The Sorceress . .
XIV. The Couch . .
XV. The Mirror . .
XVI. The Fairy Prince . Charles Conder . . 285
XVII. A Masque . . .
XVIII. A Shepherd Boy . . E. Philip Pimlott . . 317
The cover-design is by Mabel Syrett, the
design on the title-page by Patten Wilson.
The half-tone blocks in this Volume, and
in Volumes XI. and XII., are by W. H. Ward & Co.
The line-blocks are by Carl Hentschel
By W. B. Yeats
CUMHAL the king, being angry and sad,
Came by the woody way
To the cave, where Dathi the Blessed had gone,
To hide from the troubled day.
Cumhal called out, bowing his head,
Till Dathi came and stood,
With blinking eyes, at the cave s edge,
Between the wind and the wood.
And Cumhal said, bending his knees,
” I come by the windy way
To gather the half of your blessedness
And learn the prayers that you say.
” I can bring you salmon out of the streams
And heron out of the skies.”
But Dathi folded his hands and smiled
With the secrets of God in his eyes.
And Cumhal saw like a drifting smoke
All manner of blessedest souls,
Children and women and tonsured young men,
And old men with croziers and stoles.
” Praise God and God s Mother,” Dathi said,
” For God and God s Mother have sent
The blessedest souls that walk in the world
To fill your heart with content.”
” And who is the blessedest,” Cumhal said,
” Where all are comely and good ?
Is it those that with golden thuribles
Are singing about the wood ? “
” My eyes are blinking,” Dathi said,
“With the secrets of God half blind.
But I have found where the wind goes
And follow the way of the wind ;
” And blessedness goes where the wind goes
And when it is gone we die ;
And have seen the blessedest soul in the world,
By a spilled wine-cup lie.
” O blessedness comes in the night and the day,
And whither the wise heart knows ;
And one has seen, in the redness of wine,
The Incorruptible Rose :
“The Rose that must drop, out of sweet leaves,
The heaviness of desire,
Until Time and the World have ebbed away
In twilights of dew and fire ! ”
By Muirhead Bone
I. Winter Evening on the Clyde
II. Old Houses off the Dry Gate, Glasgow
“MY dear,” said the elder man, “as I’ve told you a thousand
times, what you need is a love-affair with a red-haired
“Bother women,” said the younger man, “and hang love-affairs.
Women are a pack of samenesses, and love-affairs are damnable
They were seated at a round table, gay with glass and silver,
fruit and wine, in a pretty, rather high-ceiled little grey-and-gold
breakfast-room. The French window stood wide open to the soft
June day. From the window you could step out upon a small
balcony ; the balcony overhung a terrace ; and a broad flight of
steps from the terrace led down into a garden. You could not
perceive the boundaries of the garden ; in all directions it offered
an indefinite perspective, a landscape of green lawns and shadowy
alleys, bright parterres of flowers, fountains, and tall, bending
I have spoken of the elder man and the younger, though really
there could have been but a trifling disparity in their ages : the
elder was perhaps thirty, the younger seven or eight and twenty.
In other respects, however, they were as unlike as unlike may be.
Thirty was plump and rosy and full-blown, with a laughing good-
humoured face, and merry big blue eyes ; eight and twenty, thin,
tall, and listless-looking, his face pale and aquiline, his eyes dark,
morose. They had finished their coffee, and now the plump man
was nibbling sweetmeats, which he selected with much careful
discrimination from an assortment in a porcelain dish. The thin
man was drinking something green, possibly chartreuse.
“Women are a pack of samenesses,” he grumbled, “and love-
affairs are damnable iterations.”
“Oh,” cried out his comrade, in a tone of plaintive protest, “I
said red-haired. You can’t pretend that red-haired women are the
“The same, with the addition of a little henna,” the pale young
man argued wearily.
“It may surprise you to learn that I was thinking of red-haired
women who are born red-haired,” his friend remarked, from an
“In that case,” said he, “I admit there is a difference—they
have white eyelashes.” And he emptied his glass of green stuff.
“Is all this àpropos of boots ?” he questioned.
The other regarded him solemnly. “It’s àpropos of your
immortal soul,” he answered, nodding his head. “It’s medicine
for a mind diseased. The only thing that will wake you up, and
put a little life and human nature in you, is a love-affair with a red-
haired woman. Red in the hair means fire in the heart. It
means all sorts of things. If you really wish to please me, Uncle,
you’ll go and fall in love with a red-haired woman.”
The younger man, whom the elder addressed as Uncle, shrugged
his shoulders, and gave a little sniff. Then he lighted a cigarette.
The elder man left the table, and went to the open window.
“Heavens, what weather !” he exclaimed fervently. “The day
is made of perfumed velvet. The air is a love-philtre. The
whole world sings romance. And yet you—insensible monster !
—you can sit there torpidly—” But abruptly he fell silent.
His attention had been caught by something below, in the
garden. He watched it for an instant from his place by the
window; then he stepped forth upon the balcony, still watching.
Suddenly, facing half-way round, “By my bauble, Nunky,” he
called to his companion, and his voice was tense with surprised
exultancy, she’s got red hair !”
The younger man looked up with vague eyes. “Who ?
What ?” he asked languidly.
“Come here, come here,” his friend urged, beckoning him.
“There,” he indicated, when the pale man had joined him,
“below there—to the right—picking roses. She’s got red hair.
She’s sent by Providence.”
A woman in a white frock was picking roses, in one of the
alleys of the garden ; rather a tall woman. Her back was turned
towards her observers ; but she wore only a light scarf of lace over
her head, and her hair—soft-brown, fawn-colour, in its shadows—
where the sun touched it, showed a soul of red.
The younger man frowned, and asked sharply, “Who the devil
is she ?”
“I don’t know, I’m sure,” replied the other. “One of the
Queen’s women, probably. But whoever she is, she’s got red
The younger man frowned more fiercely still. “What is she
doing in the King’s private garden ? This is a pretty state of
things.” He stamped his foot angrily. “Go down and turn her
out. And I wish measures to be taken, that such trespassing may
not occur again.”
But the elder man laughed. “Hoity-toity ! Calm yourself,
Uncle. What would you have ? The King is at a safe distance,
hiding in one of his northern hunting-boxes, sulking, and nursing
his spleen, as is his wont. When the King’s away, the palace mice
will play—at lèse majesté, the thrilling game. If you wish to
stop them, persuade the King to come home and show his face.
Otherwise, we’ll gather our rosebuds while we may ; and I’m not
the man to cross a red-haired woman.”
“You’re the Constable of Bellefontaine,” retorted his friend,
“and it’s your business to see that the King’s orders are
“The King’s orders are so seldom respectable ; and then, I’ve
a grand talent for neglecting my business. I’m trying to elevate
the Constableship of Bellefontaine into a sinecure,” the plump
man explained genially. “But I’m pained to see that your sense
of humour is not escaping the general decay of your faculties.
What you need is a love-affair with a red-haired woman ; and
yonder’s a red-haired woman, dropped from the skies for your
salvation. Go—engage her in talk—and fall in love with her.
There’s a dear,” he pleaded.
“Dropped from the skies,” the pale man repeated, with mild
scorn. “As if I didn’t know my Hilary ! Of course, you’ve
had her up your sleeve the whole time.”
“Upon my soul and honour, you are utterly mistaken. Upon
my soul and honour, I’ve never set eyes on her before,” Hilary
“Ah, well, if that’s the case,” suggested the pale man, turning
back into the room, “let us make an earnest endeavour to talk of
The next afternoon they were walking in the park, at some
distance from the palace, when they came to a bridge over a bit of
artificial water ; and there was the woman of yesterday, leaning
on the parapet, throwing bread-crumbs to the carp. She looked
up, as they passed, and bowed, with a little smile, in acknowledg-
ment of their raised hats.
When they were out of ear-shot, “H’m,” muttered Hilary,
“viewed at close quarters, she’s a trifle disenchanting.”
“Oh ?” questioned his friend. “I thought her very good-
“She has too short a nose,” Hilary complained.
“What’s the good of criticising particular features ? The
general effect of her face was highly pleasing. She looked intel-
ligent, interesting ; she looked as if she would have something to
say,” the younger man insisted.
“It’s very possible she has a tongue in her head,” admitted
Hilary ; “but we were judging her by the rules of beauty. For
my fancy, she’s too tall.”
“She’s tall, but she’s well-proportioned. Indeed, her figure
struck me as exceptionally fine. There was something sumptuous
and noble about it,” declared the other.
“There are scores of women with fine figures in this world,”
said Hilary. “But I’m sorely disappointed in her hair. Her hair
is nothing like so red as I’d imagined.”
“You’re daft on the subject of red hair. Her hair’s not carrot-
colour, if you come to that. But there’s plenty of red in it. It’s
brown, with red burning through. The red is managed with
discretion—suggestively. And did you notice her eyes? She
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. B
has remarkably nice eyes—eyes with an expression. I thought
her eyes and mouth were charming when she smiled,” the pale
“When she smiled ? I didn’t see her smile,” reflected Hilary.
“Of course she smiled—when we bowed,” his friend reminded
“Oh, Ferdinand Augustus,” Hilary remonstrated, “will you
never learn to treat words with some consideration ? You call
that smiling ! Two men take off their hats, and a woman gives
them just a look of bare acknowledgment ; and Ferdinand
Augustus calls it smiling !”
“Would you have wished for a broad grin ?” asked Ferdinand
Augustus. “Her face lighted up most graciously. I thought
her eyes were charming. Oh, she’s certainly a good-looking
woman, a distinctly handsome woman.”
“Handsome is that handsome does,” said Hilary.
“I miss the relevancy of that,” said Ferdinand Augustus.
“She’s a trespasser. ‘Twas you yourself flew in a passion
about it yesterday. Yesterday she was plucking the King’s
roses : to-day she’s feeding the King’s carp.”
“‘When the King’s away, the palace mice will play.’ I venture
to recall your own words to you,” Ferdinand remarked.
“That’s all very well. Besides, I spoke in jest. But there are
limits. And it’s I who am responsible. I’m the Constable of
Bellefontaine. Her trespassing appears to be habitual. We’ve
caught her at it ourselves, two days in succession. I shall give
instructions to the keepers, to warn her not to touch a flower, nor
feed a bird, beast, or fish, in the whole of this demesne. Really,
I admire the cool way in which she went on tossing bread-crumbs
to the King’s carp under my very beard !” exclaimed Hilary,
working himself into a fine state of indignation.
“Very likely she didn’t know who you were,” his friend
reasoned. “And anyhow, your zeal is mighty sudden. You
appear to have been letting things go at loose ends for I don’t
know how long ; and all at once you take fire like tinder because
a poor woman amuses herself by throwing bread to the carp. It’s
simply spite : you’re disappointed in the colour of her hair. I
shall esteem it a favour ir you’ll leave the keepers’ instructions as
they are. She’s a damned good-looking woman ; and I’ll beg you
not to interfere with her diversions.”
“I can deny you nothing, Uncle,” said Hilary, by this time re-
stored to his accustomed easy temper; “and therefore she may make
hay of the whole blessed establishment, if she pleases. But as for
her good looks—that, you’ll admit, is entirely a question of taste.”
“Ah, well, then the conclusion is that your taste needs
cultivation,” laughed Ferdinand. “By-the-bye, I shall be glad if
you will find out who she is.”
“Thank you very much, “cried Hilary. “I have a reputation
to safeguard. Do you think I’m going to compromise myself,
and set all my underlings a-sniggling, by making inquiries about
the identity of a woman ?”
“But,” persisted Ferdinand, “if I ask you to do so, as
“What ?” was Hilary’s brusque interruption.
“As your guest,” said Ferdinand.
“Mille regrets, impossible, as the French have it,” Hilary
returned. “But as your host, I give you carte-blanche to make
your own inquiries for yourself—if you think she’s worth the
trouble. Being a stranger here, you have, as it were, no
character to lose.”
“After all, it doesn’t matter,” said Ferdinand Augustus, with
But the next afternoon, at about the same hour, Ferdinand
Augustus found himself alone, strolling in the direction of the
little stone bridge over the artificial lakelet ; and there again was
the woman, leaning upon the parapet, dropping bread-crumbs to
the carp. Ferdinand Augustus raised his hat ; the woman bowed
“It’s a fine day,” said Ferdinand Augustus.
“It’s a fine day—but a weary one,” the woman responded, with
an odd little movement of the head.
Ferdinand Augustus was perhaps too shy to pursue the con-
versation ; perhaps he wanted but little here below, nor wanted
that little long. At any rate, he passed on. There could be no
question about her smile this time, he reflected ; it had been
bright, spontaneous, friendly. But what did she mean, he
wondered, by adding to his general panegyric of the day as fine,
that special qualification of it as a weary one ? It was astonishing
that any man should dispute her claim to beauty. She had really
a splendid figure ; and her face was more than pretty, it was
distinguished. Her eyes and her mouth, her clear-grey sparkling
eyes, her softly curved red mouth, suggested many agreeable
possibilities—possibilities of wit, and of something else. It was
not till four hours later that he noticed the sound of her voice.
At dinner, in the midst of a discussion with Hilary about a
subject in no obvious way connected with her (about the Orient
Express, indeed—its safety, speed, and comfort), it suddenly came
back to him, and he checked a remark upon the advantages of
the corridor-carriage, to exclaim in his soul, “She’s got a delicious
voice. If she sang, it would be a mezzo.”
The consequence was that the following day he again bent his
footsteps in the direction of the bridge.
“It’s a lovely afternoon,” he said, lifting his hat.
“But a weary one,” said she, smiling, with a little pensive
movement of the head.
“Not a weary one for the carp,” he hinted, glancing down at
the water, which boiled and bubbled with a greedy multitude.
“Oh, they have no human feelings,” said she.
“Don’t you call hunger a human feeling ?” he inquired.
“They have no human feelings ; but I never said we hadn’t
plenty of carp feelings,” she answered him.
He laughed. “At all events, I’m pleased to find that we’re on
the same way of thinking.”
“Are we ?” asked she, raising surprised eyebrows.
“You take a healthy pessimistic view of things,” he submitted.
“I ? Oh, dear, no. I have never taken a pessimistic view of
anything in my life.”
“Except of this poor summer’s afternoon, which has the fatal
gift of beauty. You said it was a weary one.”
“People have sympathies,” she explained ; “and besides, that is
a watchword.” And she scattered a handful of crumbs, thereby
exciting a new commotion among the carp.
Her explanation no doubt struck Ferdinand Augustus as obscure;
but perhaps he felt that he scarcely knew her well enough to press
for enlightenment. “Let us hope that the fine weather will last,”
he said, with a polite salutation, and resumed his walk.
But, on the morrow, “You make a daily practice or casting
your bread upon the waters,” was his greeting to her. “Do you
expect to find it at the season’s end ?”
“I find it at once,” was her response, “in entertainment.”
“It entertains you to see those shameless little gluttons making
an exhibition of themselves !” he cried out.
“You must not speak disrespectfully of them,” she reproved
him. “Some of them are very old. Carp often live to be two
hundred, and they grow grey, for all the world like men.”
“They’re like men in twenty particulars,” asserted he,” though
you, yesterday, denied it. See how the big ones elbow the little
ones aside ; see how fierce they all are in the scramble for your
bounty. You wake their most evil passions. But the spectacle
is instructive. It’s a miniature presentment of civilisation. Oh,
carp are simply brimful of human nature. You mentioned
yesterday that they have no human feelings. You put your finger
on the chief point of resemblance. It’s the absence of human
feeling that makes them so hideously human.”
She looked at him with eyes that were interested, amused, yet
not altogether without a shade of raillery in their depths. “That
is what you call a healthy pessimistic view of things ?” she
“It is an inevitable view if one honestly uses one’s sight, or
reads one’s newspaper.”
“Oh, then I would rather not honestly use my sight,” said she ;
“and as for the newspaper, I only read the fashions. Your healthy
pessimistic view of things can hardly add much to the joy of life.”
“The joy of life !” he expostulated. “There’s no joy in life.
Life is one fabric of hardship, peril, and insipidity.”
“Oh, how can you say that,” cried she, “in the face of such
beauty as we have about us here ? With the pure sky and the
sunshine, and the wonderful peace of the day ; and then these
lawns and glades, and the great green trees ; and the sweet air,
and the singing birds ! No joy in life !”
“This isn’t life,” he answered. “People who shut themselves
up in an artificial park are fugitives from life. Life begins at the
park gates with the natural countryside, and the squalid peasantry,
and the sordid farmers, and the Jew money-lenders, and the
“Oh, it’s all life,” insisted she, “the park and the countryside,
and the virgin forest and the deep sea, with all things in them.
It’s all life. I’m alive, and I daresay you are. You would
exclude from life all that is nice in life, and then say of the
remainder, that only is life. You’re not logical.”
“Heaven forbid,” he murmured devoutly. “I’m sure you’re
not either. Only stupid people are logical.”
She laughed lightly. “My poor carp little dream to what far
paradoxes they have led,” she mused, looking into the water, which
was now quite tranquil. “They have sailed away to their myste-
rious affairs among the lily-roots. I should like to be a carp for a
few minutes, to see what it is like in those cool, dark places under
the water. I am sure there are all sorts of strange things and
treasures. Do you believe there are really water-maidens, like
“Not nowadays,” he informed her, with the confident fluency
of one who knew. ” There used to be ; but, like so many other
charming things, they disappeared with the invention of printing,
the discovery of America, and the rise of the Lutheran heresy.
Their prophetic souls——”
“Oh, but they had no souls, you remember,” she corrected
“I beg your pardon ; that was the belief that prevailed among
their mortal contemporaries, but it has since been ascertained that
they had souls, and very good ones. Their prophetic souls warned
them what a dreary, dried-up planet the earth was destined to
become, with the steam-engine, the electric telegraph, compulsory
education (falsely so-called), constitutional government, and the
supremacy of commerce. So the elder ones died, dissolved in
tears ; and the younger ones migrated by evaporation to
“Dear me, dear me,” she marvelled. “How extraordinary
that we should just have happened to light upon a topic about
which you appear to have such a quantity of special knowledge !
And now,” she added, bending her head by way of valediction, “I
must be returning to my duties.”
And she moved off, towards the palace.
And then, for three or four days, he did not see her, though he
paid frequent enough visits to the feeding-place of the carp.
“I wish it would rain,” he confessed to Hilary. “I hate the
derisive cheerfulness of this weather. The birds sing, and the
flowers smile, and every prospect breathes sodden satisfaction ;
and only man is bored.”
“Yes, I own I find you dull company,” Hilary responded, “and
if I thought it would brisk you up, I’d pray with all my heart for
rain. But what you need, as I’ve told you a thousand times, is a
love-affair with a red-haired woman.”
“Love-affairs are tedious repetitions,” said Ferdinand. “You
play with your newpartner precisely the same game you played with
the old : the same preliminary skirmishes, the same assault, the
sune feints of resistance, the same surrender, the same subsequent
disenchantment. They’re all the same, down to the very same
scenes, words, gestures, suspicions, vows, exactions, recriminations,
and final break-ups. It’s a delusion of inexperience to suppose that
in changing your mistress you change the sport. It’s the same
trite old book, that you’ve read and read in different editions,
until you’re sick of the very mention of it. To the deuce with
love-affairs. But there’s such a thing as rational conversation,
with no sentimental nonsense. Now, I’ll not deny that I should
rather like to have an occasional bit of rational conversation with
that red-haired woman we met the other day in the park. Only,
the devil of it is, she never appears.”
“And then, besides, her hair isn’t red,” added Hilary.
“I wonder how you can talk such folly,” said Ferdinand.
“C’est mon métier, Uncle. You should answer me according to
it. Her hair’s not red. What little red there’s in it, it requires
strong sunlight to bring out. In shadow her hair’s a sort of dull
brownish-yellow,” Hilary persisted.
“You’re colour-blind,” retorted Ferdinand. “But I won’t
quarrel with you. The point is, she never appears. So how can
I have my bits of rational conversation with her ?”
“How indeed ?” echoed Hilary, with pathos. “And there-
fore you’re invoking storm and whirlwind. But hang a horseshoe
over your bed to-night, turn round three times as you extinguish
your candle, and let your last thought before you fall asleep be the
thought of a newt’s liver and a blind man’s dog ; and it’s highly
possible she will appear to-morrow.”
I don’t know whether Ferdinand Augustus accomplished the
rites that Hilary prescribed, but it is certain that she did appear on
the morrow : not by the pool or the carp, but in quite another
region of Bellefontaine, where Ferdinand Augustus was wandering
at hazard, somewhat disconsolately. There was a wide green
meadow, sprinkled with buttercups and daisies ; and under a great
tree, at this end of it, he suddenly espied her. She was seated on
the moss, stroking with one finger-tip a cockchafer that was
perched upon another, and regarding the little monster with in-
tent, meditative eyes. She wore a frock the bodice part of which
was all drooping creamy lace ; she had thrown her hat and gloves
aside ; her hair was in some slight, soft disarray ; her loose sleeve
had fallen back, disclosing a very perfect wrist, and the beginning
of a smooth white arm. Altogether she made an extremely
pleasing picture, sweetly, warmly feminine. Ferdinand Augustus
stood still, and watched her for an instant, before he spoke.
“I have come to intercede with you on behalf of your carp,”
he announced. “They are rending heaven with complaints of
She looked up, with a whimsical, languid little smile. “Are
they ?” she asked lightly. “I’m rather tired of carp.”
He shook his head sorrowfully. “You will permit me to
admire your fine, frank disregard of their feelings.”
“Oh, they have the past to remember,” she said. “And per-
haps some day I shall go back to them. For the moment
I amuse myself very well with cockchafers. They’re less
tumultuous. And then carp won’t come and perch on your
finger. And then, one likes a change.—Now fly away, fly away,
fly away home ; your house is on fire, and your children will
burn,” she crooned to the cockchafer, giving it never so gentle a
push. But instead of flying away, it dropped upon the moss, and
thence began to stumble, clumsily, blunderingly, towards the open
“You shouldn’t have caused the poor beast such a panic,” he
reproached her. “You should have broken the dreadful news
gradually. As you see, your sudden blurting of it out has
deprived him of the use of his faculties. Don’t believe her,” he
called after the cockchafer. “She’s practising upon your credulity.
Your house isn’t on fire, and your children are all safe at school.”
“Your consideration is entirely misplaced,” she assured him,
with the same slight whimsical smile. “The cockchafer knows
perfectly well that his house isn’t on fire, because he hasn’t got any
house. Cockchafers never have houses. His apparent concern is
sheer affectation. He’s an exceedingly hypocritical little cock-
“I should call him an exceedingly polite little cockchafer.
Hypocrisy is the compliment courtesy owes to falsehood. He
pretended to believe you. He would not have the air of doubting
a lady’s word.”
“You came as the emissary of the carp,” she said ; “and now
you stay to defend the character of their rival.”
“To be candid, I don’t care a hang for the carp,” he confessed
brazenly. “The unadorned fact is that I am immensely glad to
She gave a little laugh, and bowed with exaggerated ceremony
“Grand merci. Monsieur ; vous me faites trop d’honneur,” she
“Oh, no, not more than you deserve. I’m a just man, and I
give you your due. I was boring myself into melancholy madness.
The afternoon lay before me like a bumper of dust and ashes, that
I must somehow empty. And then I saw you, and you dashed
the goblet from my lips. Thank goodness (I said to myself), at
last there’s a human soul to talk with ; the very thing I was
pining for, a clever and sympathetic woman.”
“You take a great deal for granted,” laughed she.
“Oh, I know you’re clever, and it pleases me to fancy that
you’re sympathetic. If you’re not,” he pleaded, “don’t tell me so.
Let me cherish my illusion.”
She shook her head doubtfully. “I’m a poor hand at
“It’s an art you should study,” said he. “If we begin by
feigning an emotion, we’re as like as not to end by genuinely
“I’ve observed for myself,” she informed him, “that if we
begin by genuinely feeling an emotion, but rigorously conceal it,
we’re as like as not to end by feeling it no longer. It dies of
suffocation. I’ve had that experience quite lately. There was a
certain person whom I heartily despised and hated ; and then, as
chance would have it, I was thrown two or three times into his
company ; and for motives of expediency I disguised my
antagonism. In the end, do you know, I found myself rather
liking him ?”
“Oh, women are fearfully and wonderfully made,” he
“And so are some men,” said she. “Could you oblige me
with the name and address of a competent witch or warlock ?”
she added irrelevantly.
“What under the sun can you want with such an unholy
thing ?” he exclaimed.
“I want a hate-charm—something that I can take at night to
revive my hatred of the man I was speaking of.”
“Look here,” he warned her, “I’ve not come all this distance
under a scorching sun, to stand here now and talk of another
man. Cultivate a contemptuous indifference towards him. Banish
him from your mind and conversation.”
“I’ll try,” she consented ; “though if you were familiar with
the circumstances, you’d recognise a certain difficulty in doing
that.” She reached for her gloves, and began to put one on. “Will
you be so good as to tell me the time of day ?”
He looked at his watch. “It’s nowhere near time for you to
be moving yet.”
“You must not trifle about affairs of state,” she said. “At a
definite hour I have business at the palace.”
“Oh, for that matter, so have I. But it’s half-past four. To
call half-past four a definite hour would be to do a violence to the
“It is earlier than I thought,” she admitted, discontinuing her
operation with the glove.
He smiled approval. “Your heart is in the right place, after
all. It would have been inhuman to abandon me. Oh, yes,
pleasantry apart, I am in a condition of mind in which solitude
spells misery. And yet I am on speaking terms with but three
living people whose society I prefer to it.”
“You are indeed in sad case, then,” she compassionated him.
“But why should solitude spell misery ? A man of wit like you
should have plenty of resources within himself.”
“Am I a man of wit ?” he asked innocently.
Her eyes gleamed mischievously. “What is your opinion ?”
“I don’t know,” he reflected. “Perhaps I might have been, if
I had met a woman like you earlier in life.”
“At all events,” she laughed, “if you are not a man of wit, it
is not for lack of courage. But why does solitude spell misery ?
Have you great crimes upon your conscience ?”
“No, nothing so amusing. But when one is alone, one thinks ;
and when one thinks—that way madness lies.”
“Then do you never think when you are engaged in conversa-
tion ? : She raised her eyebrows questioningly.
“You should be able to judge of that by the quality of my
remarks. At any rate, I feel.”
“What do you feel ?”
“When I am engaged in conversation with you, I feel a
general sense of agreeable stimulation ; and, in addition to that, at
this particular moment—— But are you sure you really wish to
know ?” he broke off.
“Yes, tell me,” she said, with curiosity.
“Well, then, a furious desire to smoke a cigarette.”
She laughed merrily. “I am so sorry I have no cigarettes to
“My pockets happen to be stuffed with them.”
“Then, do, please, light one.”
He produced his cigarette-case, but he seemed to hesitate about
lighting a cigarette.
“Have you no matches ?” she inquired.
“Yes, thank you, I have matches. I was only thinking.”
“It has become a solitude, then ?” she cried.
“It is a case of conscience, it is an ethical dilemma. How do
I know—the modern woman is capable of anything—how do I
know that you may not yourself be a smoker ? But if you are, it
will give you pain to see me enjoying my cigarette, while you are
“It would be civil to begin by offering me one,” she suggested.
“That is exactly the liberty I dared not take—oh, there are
limits to my boldness. But you have saved the situation.” And
he offered her his cigarette-case.
She shook her head. “Thank you, I don’t smoke.” And her
eyes were full of teasing laughter, so that he laughed too, as he
finally applied a match-flame to his cigarette. “But you may
allow me to examine your cigarette-case,” she went on. “It
looks like a pretty bit of silver.” And when he had handed it to
her, she exclaimed, “It is engraved with the royal arms.”
“Yes. Why not ?” said he.
“Does it belong to the King ?”
“It was a present from the King.”
“To you ? You are a friend of the King ?” she asked, with
“I will not deceive you,” he replied. “No, not to me. The
King gave it to Hilary Clairevoix, the Constable of Bellefontaine;
and Hilary, who’s a careless fellow, left it lying about in his
music-room ; and I came along and pocketed it. It is a pretty
bit of silver, and I shall never restore it to its rightful owner, if I
can help it.”
“But you are a friend or the King’s,” she repeated, with
“I have not that honour. Indeed, I have never seen him. I
am a friend of Hilary’s ; I am his guest. He has stayed with me
in England—I am an Englishman—and now I am returning his
“That is well,” said she. “If you were a friend of the King,
you would be an enemy of mine.”
“Oh ?” he wondered. “Why is that ?”
“I hate the King,” she answered simply.
“Dear me, what a capacity you have for hating ! This is the
second hatred you have avowed within the hour. What has the
King done to displease you ?”
“You are an Englishman. Has our King’s reputation not
reached England yet ? He is the scandal of Europe. What has
he done ? But no—do not encourage me to speak of him. I
should grow too heated,” she said strenuously.
“On the contrary, I pray of you, go on,” urged Ferdinand
Augustus. “Your King is a character that interests me more
than you can think. His reputation has indeed reached England,
and I have conceived a great curiosity about him. One only
hears vague rumours, to be sure, nothing specific ; but one has
learned to think of him as original and romantic. You know him.
Tell me a lot about him.”
“Oh, I do not know him personally. That is an affliction I
have as yet been spared.” Then, suddenly, “Mercy upon me,
what have I said !” she cried. “I must ‘knock wood,’ or the
evil spirits will bring me that mischance to-morrow.” And
she fervently tapped the bark of the tree beside her with her
Ferdinand Augustus laughed. “But if you do not know him
personally, why do you hate him ?”
“I know him very well by reputation. I know how he lives,
I know what he does and leaves undone. If you are curious
about him, ask your friend Hilary. He is the King’s foster-
brother. He could tell you stories,” she said meaningly.
“I have asked him. But Hilary’s lips are sealed. He depends
upon the King’s protection for his fortune, and the palace-walls
(I suppose he fears) have ears. But you can speak without danger.
He is the scandal of Europe ? There’s nothing I love like scandal.
Tell me all about him.”
“You have not come all this distance under a scorching sun,
to stand here now and talk of another man,” she reminded
“Oh, but kings are different,” he argued. “Tell me about
“I can tell you at once,” said she, “that our King is the
frankest egotist in two hemispheres. You have learned to
think of him as original and romantic ? No ; he is simply
intensely selfish and intensely silly. He is a King Do-Nothing,
a Roi Fainéant, who shirks and evades all the duties and respon-
sibilities of his position ; who builds extravagant châteaux in
remote parts of the country, and hides in them, alone with a few
obscure companions ; who will never visit his capital, never show
his face to his subjects ; who takes no sort of interest in public
business or the welfare of his kingdom, and leaves the entire
government to his ministers ; who will not even hold a court, or
give balls or banquets ; who, in short, does nothing that a king
ought to do, and might, for all the good we get of him, be a mere
stranger in the land, a mere visitor, like yourself. So closely does
he seclude himself, that I doubt if there be a hundred people in the
whole country who have ever seen him, to know him. If he
travels from one place to another, it is always in the strictest
incognito, and those who then chance to meet him never have any
reason to suspect that he is not a private person. His very effigy
on the coin of the realm is reputed to be false, resembling him in
no wise. But I could go on for ever,” she said, bringing her
indictment to a termination.
“Really,” said Ferdinand Augustus, “I cannot see that you
have alleged anything very damaging. A Roi Fainéant ? But
every king of a modern constitutional state is, willy-nilly, that.
He can do nothing but sign bills which he generally disapproves
of, lay foundation-stones, set the fashion in hats, and bow and
look pleasant as he drives through the streets. He has no power
for good, and mighty little for evil. He is just a State Prisoner.
It seems to me that your particular King has shown some sense
in trying to escape so much as he may of the prison’s irksomeness.
I should call it rare bad luck to be born a king. Either you’ve
got to shirk your kingship, and then fair ladies dub you the scandal
of Europe ; or else you’ve got to accept it, and then you re as
happy as a man in a strait-waistcoat. And then, and then ! Oh,
I can think of a thousand unpleasantnesses attendant upon the
condition of a king. Your King, as I understand it, has said to
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. C
himself, ‘Hang it all, I didn’t ask to be born a king, but since
that is my misfortune, I will seek to mitigate it as much as I am
able. I am, on the whole, a human being, with a human life to
live, and only, probably, three-score-and-ten years in which to live
it. Very good ; I will live my life. I will lay no foundation-
stones, nor drive about the streets bowing and looking pleasant.
I will live my life, alone with the few people I find to my liking.
I will take the cash and let the credit go.’ I am bound to say,”
concluded Ferdinand Augustus, “that your King has done exactly
what I should have done in his place.”
“You will never, at least,” said she, “defend the shameful
manner in which he has behaved towards the Queen. It is for
that, I hate him. It is for that, that we, the Queen’s gentlewomen,
have adopted ‘Tis a weary day as a watchword. It will be a weary
day until we see the King on his knees at the Queen’s feet,
craving her forgiveness.”
“Oh ? What has he done to the Queen ?” asked Ferdinand.
“What has he done! Humiliated her as never woman was
humiliated before. He married her by proxy at her father’s court ;
and she was conducted with great pomp and circumstance into his
kingdom—to find what ? That he had fled to one of his absurd
castles in the north, and refused to see her ! He has remained
there ever since, hiding like—but there is nothing in created space
to compare him to. Is it the behaviour of a gentleman, of a
gallant man, not to say a king ?” she cried warmly, looking up
at him with shining eyes, her cheeks faintly flushed.
Ferdinand Augustus bowed. “The Queen is fortunate in her
advocate. I have not heard the King’s side of the story. I can,
however, imagine excuses for him. Suppose that his ministers,
for reasons of policy, importuned and importuned him to marry a
certain princess, until he yielded in mere fatigue. In that case,
why should he be bothered further ? Why should he add one to
the tedious complications of existence by meeting the bride he
never desired ? Is it not sufficient that, by his complaisance, she
should have gained the rank and title of a queen ? Besides, he
may be in love with another woman. Or perhaps—but who can
tell ? He may have twenty reasons. And anyhow, you cannot
deny to the situation the merit of being highly ridiculous. A
husband and wife who are not personally acquainted ! It is a
delicious commentary upon the whole system of marriages by
proxy. You confirm my notion that your King is original.”
“He may have twenty reasons,” answered she, “but he had
better have twenty terrors. It is perfectly certain that the Queen
will be revenged.”
“How so ?” asked Ferdinand Augustus.
“The Queen is young, high-spirited, moderately good-looking,
and unspeakably incensed. Trust a young, high-spirited, and
handsome woman, outraged by her husband, to know how to
avenge herself. Oh, some day he will see.”
“Ah, well, he must take his chances,” Ferdinand sighed.
“Perhaps he is liberal minded enough not to care.”
“I am far from meaning the vulgar revenge you fancy,” she
put in quickly. “The Queen’s revenge will be subtle and unex-
pected. She is no fool, and she will not rest until she has
achieved it. Oh, he will see !”
“I had imagined it was the curse of royalty to be without true
friends,” said Ferdinand Augustus. “The Queen has a very
ardent one in you.”
“I am afraid I cannot altogether acquit myself of interested
motives,” she disclaimed modestly. “I am of her Majesty’s
household, and my fortunes must rise and fall with hers. But I
am honestly indignantly with the King.”
“The poor King ! Upon my soul, he has my sympathy,” said
“You are terribly ironical,” said she.
“Irony was ten thousand leagues from my intention,” he pro-
tested, “in all sincerity the object of your indignation has my
sympathy. I trust you will not consider it an impertinence if I
say that I already count you among the few people I have met
whose good opinion is a matter to be coveted.”
She had risen while he was speaking, and now she bobbed him
a little courtesy. “I will show my appreciation of yours by
taking flight before anything can happen to alter it,” she laughed,
“You are singularly animated to-night,” said Hilary, contem-
plating him across the dinner-table ; “yet, at the same time,
singularly abstracted. You have the air of a man who is rolling
something pleasant under his tongue, something sweet and secret ;
it might be a hope, it might be a recollection. Where have you
passed the afternoon ? You’ve been about some mischief, I’ll
warrant. By Jove, you set me thinking. I’ll wager a penny
you’ve been having a bit of rational conversation with that brown-
“Her hair is red,” Ferdinand Augustus rejoined, with firmness.
“And her conversation,” he added sadly, “is anything you please
but rational. She spent her whole time picking flaws in the charac-
ter of the King. She talked downright treason. She said he was
the scandal of Europe and the frankest egotist in two hemispheres.”
“Ah ? She appears to have some instinct for the correct use
of language,” commented Hilary.
“All the same, I rather like her,” Ferdinand went on, “and
I’m half inclined to undertake her conversion. She has a gorgeous
figure—there’s something rich and voluptuous about it. And
there are depths of promise in her eyes ; there are worlds of
humour and of passion. And she has a mouth—oh, of a fulness,
of a softness, of a warmth ! And a chin, and a throat, and
hands ! And then, her voice. There’s a mellowness yet a
crispness, there’s a vibration, there’s a something in her voice that
assures you of a golden temperament beneath it. In short, I’m
half inclined to follow your advice, and go in for a love-adventure
“Oh, but love-adventures—I have it on high authority—are
damnable iterations,” objected Hilary.
“That is very true ; they are,” Ferdinand agreed. “But the
life of man is woven of damnable iterations. Tell me of any
single thing that isn’t a damnable iteration, and I’ll give you a
quarter of my fortune. The day and the night, the seasons and
the years, the fair weather and the foul, breakfast and luncheon
and dinner—all are damnable iterations. If there’s any reality
behind the doctrine of metempsychosis, death, too, is a damnable
iteration. There’s no escaping damnable iterations : there’s
nothing new under the sun. But as long as one is alive, one
must do something. It’s sure to be something in its essence
identical with something one has done before ; but one must do
something. Why not, then, a love-adventure with a woman that
attracts you ?”
“Women are a pack of samenesses,” said Hilary despondently.
“Quite so,” assented Ferdinand. “Women, and men too,
are a pack of samenesses. We’re all struck with the same die, of
the same metal, at the same mint. Our resemblance is intrinsic,
fundamental ; our differences are accidental and skin-deep. We
have the same features, organs, dimensions, with but a hair’s-
breadth variation ; the same needs, instincts, propensities ; the
same hopes, fears, ideas. One man’s meat is another man’s meat ;
one man’s poison is another man’s poison. We are as like to one
another as the leaves on the same tree. Skin us, and (save for
your fat) the most skilled anatomist could never distingush you
from me. Women are a pack of samenesses ; but, hang it all,
one has got to make the best of a monotonous universe. And
this particular woman, with her red hair and her eyes, strikes me
as attractive. She has some fire in her composition, some fire
and flavour. Anyhow, she attracts me ; and—I think I shall try
“Oh, Nunky, Nunky,” murmured Hilary, shaking his head,
“I am shocked by your lack of principle. Have you forgotten
that you are a married man ?”
“That will be my safeguard. I can make love to her with a
clear conscience. If I were single, she might, justifiably enough,
form matrimonial expectations for herself.”
“Not if she knew you,” said Hilary.
“Ah, but she doesn’t know me—and shan’t,” said Ferdinand
Augustus. “I will take care of that.”
And then, for what seemed to him an eternity, he never once
encountered her. Morning and afternoon, day after day, he
roamed the park of Bellefontaine from end to end, in all direc-
tions, but never once caught sight of so much as the flutter of her
garments. And the result was that he began to grow seriously
sentimental. “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai !” It was June,
to be sure ; but the meteorological influences were, for that, only
the more potent. He remembered her shining eyes now as not
merely whimsical and ardent, but as pensive, appealing, tender ;
he remembered her face as a face seen in starlight, ethereal and
mystic ; and her voice as low music, far away. He recalled their
last meeting as a treasure he had possessed and lost ; he blamed
himself for the frivolity of his talk and manner, and for the ineffec-
tual impression of him this must have left upon her. Perpetually
thinking of her, he. was perpetually sighing, perpetually suffering
strange, sudden, half painful, half delicious commotions in the
tissues of his heart. Every morning he rose with a replenished
fund of hope : this day at last would produce her. Every night
he went to bed pitying himself as bankrupt of hope. And all the
while, though he pined to talk of her, a curious bashfulness
withheld him ; so that, between him and Hilary, for quite a
fortnight she was not mentioned. It was Hilary who broke the
“Why so pale and wan?” Hilary asked him. “Will, when
looking well won’t move her, looking ill prevail ?”
“Oh, I am seriously love-sick,” cried Ferdinand Augustus,
welcoming the subject. “I went in for a sensation, and I’ve got
a real emotion.”
“Poor youth ! And she won’t look at you, I suppose ?” was
Hilary’s method of commiseration.
“I have not seen her for a mortal fortnight. She has com-
pletely vanished. And for the first time in my life I’m seriously
“You’re incapable of being seriously in love,” said Hilary.
“I had always thought so myself,” admitted Ferdinand
Augustus. “The most I had ever felt for any woman was a sort
of mere lukewarm desire, a sort of mere meaningless titillation.
But this woman is different. She’s as different to other women
as wine is different to toast-and-water. She has the feu-sacré.
She’s done something to the very inmost soul of me ; she’s laid it
bare, and set it quivering and yearning. She’s made herself indis-
pensable to me ; I can’t live without her. Ah, you don’t know
what she’s like. She’s like some strange, beautiful, burning spirit.
Oh, for an hour with her, I’d give my kingdom. To touch her
hand—to look into those eyes of hers—to hear her speak to me !
I tell you squarely, if she’d have me, I’d throw up the whole
scheme of my existence, I’d fly with her to the uttermost ends of
the earth. But she has totally disappeared, and I can do nothing
to recover her without betraying my identity ; and that would
spoil everything. I want her to love me for myself, believing me
to be a plain man, like you or anybody. If she knew who I am,
how could I ever be sure ?”
“You are in a bad way,” said Hilary, looking at him with
amusement. “And yet, I’m gratified to see it. Her hair is not
so red as I could wish, but, after all, it’s reddish ; and you appear
to be genuinely aflame. It will do you no end of good ; it will
make a man of you—a plain man, like me or anybody. But your
impatience is not reasoned. A fortnight ? You have not met her
for a fortnight ? My dear, to a plain man a fortnight’s nothing.
It’s just an appetiser. Watch and wait, and you’ll meet her
before you know it. And now, if you will excuse me, I have
business in another quarter of the palace.”
Ferdinand Augustus, left to himself, went down into the
garden. It was a wonderful summer’s evening, made indeed (if
I may steal a phrase from Hilary) of perfumed velvet. The sun
had set an hour since, but the western sky was still splendid, like
a dark tapestry, with sombre reds and purples ; and in the east
hung the full moon, so brilliant, so apposite, as to seem somehow
almost like a piece of premeditated decoration. The waters of the
fountains flashed silverly in its light ; glossy leaves gave back dim
reflections ; here and there, embowered among the trees, white
statues gleamed ghost-like. Away in the park somewhere, in-
numerable frogs were croaking, croaking ; subdued by distance,
the sound gained a quality that was plaintive and unearthly. The
long façade of the palace lay obscure in shadow ; only at the far
end, in the Queen’s apartments, were the windows alight. But,
quite close at hand, the moon caught a corner of the terrace ; and
here, presently, Ferdinand Augustus became aware of a human
figure. A woman was standing alone by the balustrade, gazing
out into the wondrous night. Ferdinand Augustus’s heart began
to pound ; and it was a full minute before he could command him-
self sufficiently to move or speak.
At last, however, he approached her. “Good evening,” he
said, looking up from the pathway.
She glanced down at him, leaning upon the balustrade.
“Oh, how do you do ? She smiled her surprise. She was in
evening dress, a white robe embroidered with pearls, and she
wore a tiara of pearls in her hair. She had a light cloak thrown
over her shoulders, a little cape trimmed with swan’s-down.
“Heavens !” thought Ferdinand Augustus. “How magnificent
she is !”
“It’s a hundred years since I have seen you,” he said.
“Oh, is it so long as that ? I should have imagined it was
something like a fortnight. Time passes quickly.”
“That is a question of psychology. But now at last I find you
when I least expect you.”
“I have slipped out for a moment,” she explained, “to enjoy
this beautiful prospect. One has no such view from the Queen’s
end of the terrace. One cannot see the moon.”
“I cannot see the moon from where I am standing,” said he.
“No because you have turned your back upon it,” said she.
“I have chosen between two visions. If you were to authorise
me to join you, aloft there, I could see both.”
“I have no power to authorise you,” she laughed, “the terrace
is not my property. But if you choose to take the risks——”
“Oh,” he cried, “you are good, you are kind.” And in an in-
stant he had joined her on the terrace, and his heart was fluttering
wildly with its sense of her nearness to him. He could not speak.
“Well, now you can see the moon. Is it all your fancy
painted? “she asked, with her whimsical smile. Her face was
exquisitely pale in the moonlight, her eyes glowed. Her voice
was very soft.
His heart was fluttering wildly, poignantly. “Oh,” he began
—but broke off. His breath trembled. “I cannot speak,”
She arched her eyebrows. “Then we have made some mistake.
This will never be you, in that case.”
“Oh, yes, it is I. It is the other fellow, the gabbler, who is
not myself,” he contrived to tell her.
“You lead a double life, like the villain in the play?” she
“You must have your laugh at my expense ; have it, and wel-
come. But I know what I know,” he said.
“What do you know ?” she asked quickly.
“I know that I am in love with you,” he answered.
“Oh, only that,” she said, with an air of relief.
“Only that. But that is a great deal. I know that I love
you—oh, yes, unutterably. If you could see yourself ! You are
absolutely unique among women. I would never have believed it
possible for any woman to make me feel what you have made me
feel. I have never spoken like this to any woman in all my life.
Oh, you may laugh. It is the truth, upon my word of honour.
If you could look into your eyes,—yes, even when you are laugh-
ing at me ! I can see your wonderful burning spirit shining
deep, deep in your eyes. You do not dream how different you
are to other women. You are a wonderful burning poem. They
are platitudes. Oh, I love you unutterably. There has not been
an hour since I last saw you that I have not thought of you, loved
you, longed for you. And now here you stand, you yourself,
beside me ! If you could see into my heart, if you could see what
I feel !”
She looked at the moon, with a strange little smile, and was
“Will you not speak to me ?” he cried.
“What would you have me say?” she asked still looking
“Oh, you know, you know what I would have you say.”
“I am afraid you will not like the only thing I can say.” She
turned, and met his eyes. “I am a married woman, and—I am
in love with my husband.”
Ferdinand Augustus stood aghast. “Oh, my God !” he
“Yes, though he has given me little enough reason to do so, I
have fallen in love with him,” she went on pitilessly. “So you
must get over your fancy for me. After all, I am a total stranger
to you. You do not even know my name.”
“Will you tell me your name ?” asked Ferdinand humbly.
“It will be something to remember.”
“My name is Marguerite.”
“Marguerite ! Marguerite !” He repeated it caressingly. “It
is a beautiful name. But it is also the name of the Queen.”
“I am the only person named Marguerite in the Queen’s court,”
“What !” cried Ferdinand Augustus.
“Oh, it is a wise husband who knows his own wife,” laughed
And then— But I think I have told enough.
By Richard Garnett, C.B., LL.D.
WITH thistle’s azure flower my home I hung,
And did with redolence of musk perfume,
And, robed in purple raiment’s glowing gloom,
Low prelude to my coming carol sung.
Spikenard, from Orient groves transported, clung
To brow and hand ; if so my humble room
Might undishonoured harbour her, for whom
Soon should its welcoming door be widely flung.
What princess, fairy, angel from above,
Some radiant sphere relinquishing for me,
Bowed to my habitation poor and cold ?
Princess nor sprite nor fay, but memory
Of thee it was that came to knock where Love
Expecting sat behind a gate of gold.
Royal I dream myself, and realm is mine
Isled far apart in Oriental seas,
Where night is lustrous glow and balmy peace,
And the fully moon doth on the waters shine.
Spices their aromatic breath consign
To lucid space untroubled by a breeze,
And ‘neath the shadow of the fringing trees
Gleams the light foamwork of the lipping brine.
There I in ivory pavillion keep,
And question with myself, and find no end ;
But thou, my Love, dost wander through the glade
Of sward secluse, where moon and night contend ;
Or couched beneath a palm dost taste of sleep,
Low at thy feet thy guardian lion laid.
When, hand in hand enlinked, we hie to fill
Our baskets with the valley’s modest flowers ;
Or at a bound the grassy crest is ours
Of the high mount, where dews are sparking still ;
Or, gazing from the solitary hill,
View the pale sea remote, as evening lours
And clouds, like ruins of fantastic towers,
Are piled and crumbled at the breeze’s will :
How oft doth silence seize on thee at once !
With light, whence caught who know ? thine eye is rife,
Thy clasped hand throbs in mine, thy bloom departs.
The water and the wind chant orisons ;
And the eternal poetry of life
Little by little steals into our hearts.
May rose and lily on thy bosom shower !
And hymns triumphal peal around thy way !
Glory and peace to thee, whose spell doth sway
This captive soul submissive to thy power.
Sky dedicate her star, and earth her flower !
Shade, scent and song thy summons all obey !
Sea rol thee dreams from her resounding bay
When slow tides ripple in the moonlit hour !
Preserve no memory of me who weep ;
Be all my worship banished from thy thought ;
But should’st thou pass regardless by, the while
I sit lamenting, from my tears be wrought
A fragrant carpeting, a flowery heap
For thee to crush, or scatter with a smile.
O let her go, the bird of brood and nest
By wicked hands despoiled ! forth let her fare
On wings to the illimitable air
Dispread to waft her from the spot unblest.
The drifting bark that tempest from the west
Smote at aunsetting, let the billow bear
O’er the void deep, of mast and rudder bare,
Till the abyss engulf, let drive, ’tis best.
The spirit waning to its hour extreme,
That faith and joy and peace may never know,
Away with it to death without a dream !
The last faint notes that falter in the flow
Of dying strains, and dying hope’s last gleam,
Last breath, last love O—let them, let them go !
Where at the precipice’s foot the wave
Ceaseless with sullen monotone doth roar,
And the wild wind flies plaining to the shore,
Be my dead heart committed to the grave.
There let the suns with fiery torrents lave
The parching dust, till summer shines no more,
And eddies of dry sand incessant soar
Around, when whirlblasts of the winter rave.
And with its own undoing be undone,
And with its viewless motes enforced to flit,
Rapt far away upon the hurricane,
All sighs and strifes that idly cumbered it,
And idlest Love, sunk to oblivion
In bosom of the barren bitter main.
This sable steed, whose hoofs with clangour smite
My sense, while dreamful shade on earth is cast,
Onward in furious gallop thundering past
In the fantastic alleys of the night,
Whence cometh he ? What realms of gloom or light
Behind him lie ? Through what weird terrors last
Thus clothed in stormy grandeur sped so fast,
Dishevelling his mane with wild affright ?
A youth with mien of martial prowess, blent
With majesty no shock disquieteth,
Vested in steely armour sheening clear,
Fearless bestrides the terrible portent.
“I,” the tremendous steed declares, “am Death !”
“And I am Love !” responds the cavalier.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. D
The Christ of Toro
By Mrs. Cunninghame Graham
VERY many centuries ago, when monastic life was as much a
life of the people as any other life, a man resolved to enter a
certain monastery in a small town of Castille. He had in his
time been many things. The son of a wealthy merchant, he had
spent much of his youth in Flanders, where he went at his
father’s bidding to purchase merchandise and to sell it. Instead
of devoting himself to the mysteries of trade, he learnt those or
painting from the most famous masters of the Low Countries.
His father dead, his father’s fame as one of the greatest merchants
of the day kept his credit going for some time, but at last he fell
into difficulties. Menaced with ruin, he became a soldier, and
fought under Ferdinand and Isabella before the walls of Granada.
His bravery procured him no reward, and he retired from the
wars and married. For a few years he was happy—at least he
knew he had been so when he knelt for the last time beside his
wife’s bier. And then he bethought himself of this monastery
that he had once seen casually on a summer’s day. There he
might find rest ; there end the turmoil of an unlucky and dis-
appointed life. He saw the quiet cloisters flooded with sunlight
looking out into the greenery of the monastery garden. He
heard the splashing of the drops from the fountain fall peacefully
on the hot silence. Nay, he even smelt the powerful scent of the
great myrtle bushes whose shadows fell blue and cool athwart the
His servants’ tears fell fast as he distributed amongst them the
last fragments of his once immense fortune ; they fell faster when
they saw the solitary figure disappearing over the ridge of the
sandy path, for, although they knew not of his resolution, they
felt that they should see his face no more.
But we cannot escape from ourselves, even in the cloister.
There he felt the fires of an ambition that untoward circumstances
had chilled in his youth. The longing to leave some tangible
record of a life that he knew had been useless, fell upon him and
consumed him. He opened his mind to the prior. The prior
was a man of the world (there have always been such in the
cloister), and knew the workings of the human heart.
The monks began to whisper to each other that Brother
Sebastian was changed. Sometimes, at vespers, one or other
would look at him and note that his eyes had lost their
melancholy, and were as bright as stars. Then it got rumoured
about amongst them that he was painting a picture.
The monastery is, and especially a mediaeval one, full or
schisms and cabals. In it the rigour of the ultra-pietists who
stormed heaven by fire and sword, and whose hearts were shut to
all kindliness and charity, was to be found side by side with mild
and gentle spirits, who, through the gift of tears and ecstatic
revery, caught sight of the mystic and universal Bond of Love,
which, linked together in one common union, Nature, animal,
and sinner. To them all things palpitated in a Divine Mist of
Benignity and Tenderness—the terrorist and the rigorist on the
one hand ; on the other, serenity, charity, and compassion.
Now there was a certain Brother Matthias in this convent—
the hardest, bitterest zealot in the community, whom even his
own partisans looked at with dread. Of his birth little was
known, for all are equal in Religion, but the knotted joints of
his hairy hands, the hair which bristled black against his low
furrowed brow, were those of a peasant. No arm so strong or
merciless as his to wield the discipline on recalcitrant shoulders
(neither, it is fair to state, did he spare his own). The more
Blood the more Religion ; the more Blood the more Heaven.
He practised austerely all the theological virtues as far as his
lights and his mental capacity permitted, and it was as hard and
as stubborn as the clods which he had ploughed in his youth. He
did not despise, but bitterly loathed, all books or learning as the
works and lures of Satan. If he had had his will he would have
burnt the convent library long ago in the big cloister, all except
the Breviary and the offices therein contained. The liberal
Arts, and those who practised or had any skill in them, he would
fain have banished from the convent. The flowers even that
grew in the friars’ garden he neither smelt nor looked at. They
were beautiful, and Sin lurked in the heart of the rose, and all the
pleasures of the senses, and all the harmonies of sound. It was a
small, black, narrow world that mind of his, heaped up with the
impenetrable shadows of Ignorance, Intolerance, Contempt, and
“Better he went and dug in the vineyard,” he would mutter
sourly, when he saw some studious Brother absorbed in a black-
letter Tome of Latinity in the monastery library. Once when
Fray Blas the sculptor had finished one of his elaborate crucifixes
or ivory, he had watched his opportunity and, seizing it un-
perceived in his brawny hand, waited until nightfall and threw it
into the convent well with the words, “Vade Retro ! Satanas !”
One day, as he passed through the corridor into which opened
Sebastian’s cell, his steps were arrested by the murmur or voices
which floated through the half-open door. He leaned against the
Gothic bay of the marble pillars that looked into the cloister
below, uncertain whether to go or stay. The hot sunlight filled
the dusky corridor with a drowsy sense of sleep and stillness.
The swallows flitted about the eaves, chirping as they wheeled
hither and thither with a throbbing murmur of content. The
roses climbed into the bay, lighting up the dusky corridors with
sprays of crimson ; they brushed against his habit. He beat
them off contemptuously. The eavesdropper could see nothing,
hear nothing, but what was framed in, or came through, that
Suddenly the two friars, the Prior and Fray Sebastian, were
startled by a tall figure framed suddenly in the doorway.
Blocking the light, it loomed on them like the gigantic and
menacing image of Elijah on the painted retablo of the High
Altar. Its face was livid. From underneath the black bushy
brows the eyes burned like coals of fire. The figure shook and
the hands twitched for a moment of speechless, unutterable
indignation. In that moment Sebastian turned, and placed
the canvas, which stood in the middle of the cell, with its
face against the wall, and the two men quietly faced their
Fray Matthias strode forward, as if to strike them.
“By Him that cursed the money-changers in the temple,” he
thundered, “what abomination is this ye have brewing in the
House of the Lord ? What new-fangled devilries are here ? This
is fasting, this is discipline, this is the prayer without ceasing ye
came here to perform. One holy monk daubing colours on a bit
of rag, and this reverend father, who should be the pattern and
exemplar of his community, aiding and abetting him !”
“Silence !” the Prior said. The one word was not ungently
spoken, but it was that of a man accustomed to command and to
be obeyed, and imposed on the coarse-grained peasant before him ;
nay, even left his burst of prophetic ire trembling on his tongue
unspoken. The Prior had drawn his slender figure up to its full
height ; a spot of red tinged his cheeks, as with quiet composure
he faced his aggressor. Never before had Matthias seen him as
lie was now, for he had always despised him for a timid, delicate,
effeminate soul, scarce fit to rule the turbulent world of the
convent. For a brief moment the Prior of Toro became again
that Count of Trevino who had led the troops of his noble house
to victory on more than one occasion, and whose gallant doings
even then were not quite forgotten in the court and world of
Spain. The habitual respect of the lowly-born for a man of
higher station and finer fibre asserted itself. He stood before his
Prior pale and downcast, like a frightened hound.
“Listen,” the prior continued. “Oh you, my brother, of little
charity. What you call zeal, I call malice. To you has been given
your talent. It led you to these convent walls. Develop it. To
this, my brother, and your brother, although you seem to know it
not, has been entrusted another talent. Who are you, to declaim
against the gifts of God ? There are talents, ay ! and even virtues,
that neither fructify to the owner nor to the world. Will you
have saved other men from sin or helped the sinner by your
flagellations and your fastings ? He who has so little kindness in
his heart, I fear me, would do neither. Yea, he would scarce save
them if he could. Nay, brother,” he added softly, “I doubt me
if ye would have done what He did.” Moving swiftly to the wall,
he turned the picture full on the gaze of the astounded brother.
“Behold Love !”
It was a marvellous picture, fresh and living from the brain of
its creator. Every speck of colour had been placed on with a hand
sure of its power. Christ nailed to the cross ; His hands and feet
seemed to palpitate as if still imbued with some mysterious vestiges
of life. The drops of blood which fell slowly down might have
been blood indeed. But it was in the face—not in the vivid
realism of the final scene of the tremendous drama—that the
beauty lay. One doubted if it did not retain some strange element
of life, some hidden vitality, rather felt than actually perceived,
under the pallid flesh. As the light flickered over them, one would
have said that the eyelids had not yet lost their power of con-
tractability, as if at any moment one would find them wide open
under the shadow of the brow ; the mouth seemed still fresh with
“Go, brother,” said the Prior, “and meditate, and when you
have learnt to do even such as this for your brethren, then turn
the money-changers from the hallowed temple. I tell you”—
and his face grew like one inspired—”I tell you this picture shall
yet save a soul, unbind the ropes of sin, and lead a tortured one to
heaven. Perhaps when we who stand here are gone,” he added
musingly. “Go, brother, and meditate.”
When the picture was finished and its frame ready, the sculp-
tured wood dazzling in its fresh gold and silver, on the day of St.
Christopher, borne high amidst a procession of the monks, it was
taken and hung up before the high altar.
Whether Brother Sebastian painted any more pictures ; whether
Brother Matthais learnt love and charity when they and the Prior
passed from the generations of men, the old chronicles which tell
the story omit to state, or whether they left any further record of
their lives in the convent beyond this scene which has been kept
alive by a monkish chronicler’s hand.
It is even a matter of doubt what cloister slab covers the dust
of the Count of Treviño, Prior of the Augustinian monastery of
Toro, or of Sebastian Gomez, the painter, or of Fray Matthias,
the peasant’s son.
But now comes the strange part of the relation, for the picture,
the miracle-working picture, is still to be seen in the monastery of
Toro. The Prior, the painter, the peasant died, but the picture
lived. For a century at least after their death it listened from its
station above the high altar to all the sounds of the monastery
church. Vespers trembled in the air before it and the roll of
midnight complines. It felt the priest’s voice strike against its
surface when he sanctified the sacrifice ; the shuffle of the monks’
feet as they took their places in the choir above, the echo of their
coughs, the slamming of the doors were the familiar records of its
life. In the redness of the morning, when the friars slept after
their orisons, and the birds began to sing in the first light of dawn,
it looked on the pavement of the church suffused with the wavering
reflections of the painted windows, and watched the thin stains
advance, as the day lengthened, and then recede in the weird pallor
of the dying day. In the gloaming it watched the mysterious grey-
ness sweep towards it and envelop it as in a shroud. All night
long, as from a mirror, it gave back the red flame of the lamps
that swung before it, and yet the words of the Prior seemed no
nearer their fulfilment. And the picture mourned.
Then it fell from its high estate to make place for some gilt
stucco monstrosity placed there by a blundering prior, and was
hung amidst the cobwebs of the duskiest corner of the monastery
Now there lived in Toro, in the reign of Philip II., a certain
hidalgo—Don Juan Perez. Besides his possessions in the neigh-
bouring country, he had amassed a large fortune as oidor of his
native town. He and his wife had one son. They would that
they had none—or more ! On this son they lavished all their
love, and all their riches. None so handsome, none with so fine
an air as he in Toro. When he came back to them, a young
man of twenty fresh from the schools of Salamanca, the old people
trembled with joy at the sight of him. It was true that they had
paid his debts at cards, that they had condoned a thousand scandals,
but they had put it down to the hot blood of youth—youth was
ever thus—blood which would calm down and yet do honour to
its honourable ancestry. The lad’s conduct soon dispelled any
such hopes. In a short time, it seemed to them as if he was
possessed by a very devil. All Toro rang with his misdeeds—his
midnight brawls, his drunken frolics. Don Juan and his wife
looked at each other in anguish as one story after another reached
their ears of dishonour and disgrace, of maidens seduced, and duels
after some low tavern squabble over wine and cards. Each won-
dered which would succumb the first to the sorrow that was
bringing them to the grave, and yet neither of them confessed
to the other the cause. Their happiness fled. A shadow fell
over the house, which seemed to have been stricken by some
appalling calamity. One day the son suddenly disappeared—none
knew whither, except that he had fled—oh ! sacrilege of sacri-
lege !—with a professed nun, from the convent of the Clarisas.
His gambling debts had well-nigh exhausted his father’s coffers,
but this time he had broken open his father’s money chest, and
made away with all of value he could find. This time, too, he
had broken his mother’s heart, and yet she died, tortured with
an unextinguishable desire to see her scapegrace son once more.
If a mother cannot condone her children’s crimes, whatever they
may be, who else shall do so ? When the old hidalgo looked on
the dead face of the wife of his youth, stamped with so lasting an
expression of pain that death itself was powerless to efface it—his
soul burnt with a resentment almost as deep as the grief which
bowed him to the earth.
When at the end of a few months, a ragged, travel-stained
wayfarer reappeared at his father’s house, the latter said nothing.
Without a word, without a gesture, he accepted his son’s presence
at the board, as if he had never been away. A deep gulf yawned
between the two which nothing could bridge. The son was too
cynical to promise an amendment which he did not intend.
When he had appeased his hunger, and exchanged his dirty
raiments for those of a gentleman of his rank, he began his old
course of dissipation and wickedness. The old hidalgo looked on
and said nothing. He knew remonstrance was useless, but on his
death-bed he called to him his son. They were the first words
that had passed between them since the mother’s death, and they
were the last.
“I have,” he said, “the misfortune to call you my son. Had
your mother not been so holy as she was, I should have thought
you had been devil’s spawn. To all that you have left me, you
are heir. In that chest in the corner are my ready money, my
bonds, mortgages and jewels. By my calculations they will last
you just six months. It matters little to me whether you spend
it all in one day or not, that is your business, not mine. I make
myself no illusions. You broke your mother’s heart, you have
killed your father. I attempt no remonstrance, for, I know, it
would take another Christ to come down from the Cross to save such
as you. Still I gave you, when you were born, an old and honour-
able name and a proud lineage. To save these at all hazards from
being tarnished further than they have already been, I give and
bequeath to you this oak box. Swear to me that you will not
open it until you are in the extremest necessity, until there is no
help left to you from any living man. Nay, hardened as you are,
false to the marrow of your bones as you are, you dare not break
an oath sworn by the Body and Blood of Christ. Swear !” said
the old man, “as you hope to be saved !”
“I neither wish nor hope to be saved,” said the son, “but I
will swear, and moreover, I will keep my oath. I will not open
the box until there is no hope to me in Life but Death !”
The storm swept over mediaeval Toro. The narrow street
imprisoned amidst the stern grey houses, whose shadows had shut
it in for centuries with their menacing presence and the myste-
rious records of their lives and crimes, was now a yellow turbulent
torrent, washing against the palatial gateways. The wind howled
and moaned with the sound of creaking woodwork, and eddied in
gusts through the hollow gully, rather than a street, which sepa-
rated the great, gaunt buildings. Through the thin rift, left by
the almost meeting eaves, scarce a hand-breadth across, a flash
of lightning, every now and then, broke through the lurid sky,
and zigzagged for a moment across streaming facade and running
water ; followed by a gigantic and terrific peal or thunder
which shook and rolled against the heavy masonry and then died
away in faint repercussions in the distance. Then all was still
except for the battering and tearing of the rain against the walls,
as if it sought to gain an entry by force and permeate the very
stones. In heavy sullen drops it dripped from knightly helmet
and escutcheon with the monotony of a pendulum, or soaked into
the soft films of moss and tufts of grass which filled the time-worn
hollows of the sculptured granite.
The city was as one of the dead. It was no day for a Christian
to be abroad. The beggars even had sought the shelter of a roof,
and the very dogs—the half-starved curs that haunted the gutters
for garbage all day long—lay cowering and silent in the shadow of
some deep-mouthed gateway.
And on this unholy day, from one of the frowning palaces, a
man emerged, his soul riven by a tempest as deep as that which
raged around him. The great gates shut to with a clang that
shook the street, and dominated for a moment the strife of the
rain and the groaning wind. He might have been himself the
spirit of the storm, this black figure, cloaked to the eyes, which
brushed furtively against the houses, as if afraid to face the light
of day. He turned back once to take a last look at the house he
had left. That house which only a few hours before had been
his until on the stroke of midnight he had played his last stake
and lost. Even now he heard the slow clanging of the bells as
they woke the silence of the street, the knell to him of ruin. He
lived through every detail of the last hateful hours. One hope
had remained to him. His father’s box ; that box he had sworn
never to open until no remedy was left in life but death. The
time had come. It could not be otherwise, but that the old man,
foreseeing this final crisis, had saved for him the means to repair
his fortunes, and stored up in that little chest shut in by its triple
locks of iron which bore the gilt escutcheon of his family, jewels,
bonds, censos of great value, which might save him even now.
As his footsteps resounded through the empty streets, and his
sword, clinking against the pavement, roused hollow echoes, he
had made plans for the future. He would amend his ways. He
would marry. He would eschew gambling, drink, and women.
He would have the masses said for his father’s soul in the Monas-
tery of Sto Tomé, even as the old man had charged him to have
done in his will. He would dower a poor maiden in the Convent
of the Clarisas. Let him have one more chance !
He knew that in that small chest lay the sentence of his Life or
Death. Yet he opened it boldly, nor did his fingers tremble as
they struggled with the intricacies of the triple lock, nor yet did
any added pallor blanch his face when he threw back the lid and
saw a rope, a new rope coiled neatly within the small compass of
the box and tied into a noose, adjusted to the exact size of a man’s
The moonbeams trembled in at the narrow window. The lamp
burnt red in the shadow of the vast space of the empty chamber.
He wondered vaguely why the moon should be as bright and the
lamp as red as yesterday. The old housekeeper was startled by his
peals of laughter. He called for wine and she brought it. He
held it up to the light, watched the moonbeams die in the bubbles
and he thought it glistened like blood. He wondered if she saw
the resemblance, and holding up the cup high above his head, he
waved it in the air :
“To the memory of my father and of his most excellent jest,”
and then forced her to drink the toast. That was only a few
Now he was hurrying headlong through the beating of the
tempest, and he pressed his arm against the rope lying nestled at
his side as if to assure himself that it was still there. It was the
last friend he had left ; his only friend ! With it he would
“Hell !” a voice seemed to ring through his brain. Juan
Perez, brave as he was, felt a sudden chill.
The rain had penetrated the thick folds of his cloak and soaked
into his doublet, and still he urged on, pursued by Fate. Whither ?
That he knew not. Let Chance, the gambler’s God, decide that.
What he had got to do was to obey his father. The time had
come, and no man can struggle against Fate, especially the Fate
he himself has made. After all it was only an unlucky throw of
the dice. He was even happy as he strode on, the gale singing in
his ears ; happier he thought than he had been for years. He
knew not—cared not where the deed was done. All he knew was
that before night closed over Toro, there would be a dead body
hanging somewhere that had once been a man. It was the
simplest and best solution—the only one possible.
As he turned a corner, a gateway standing open arrested his
attention. He entered and shook the raindrops from his hat. He
had an excellent idea, almost as good, he thought, as his father’s.
He recognised the place as the locutory of the Augustinian
Friars where he had often come with his mother as a boy—never
“Strange that the old fools should leave the gates open on such
a day as this !” he muttered.
He looked around. All was still. He smiled quietly. “Why
not here ? What a pleasure for the saintly hypocrites to-morrow
morning to find a dead man’s body hanging from their holy walls.
Oh, my father ! you have been an excellent jester, but your son is
almost as good.”
He looked for, and found, a nail in the whitewashed wall. He
tried it. It was firm and strong, quite able to bear the weight of
a man’s body. He carefully attached the rope, and then examined
the space below with a faint smile of irony, as if he sought to fix
in his memory for ever the slightest detail of the breadth of line
which would soon be covered by himself. Now that this matter
was settled, there was no hurry, and he sat him down on the
rough bench that lined the locutory—the bench made for beggars
and suppliants and ruined men such as he. One thought gave
him intense delight. “If my father was a good jester, I am as
He sat himself down on the bench with his head between his
hands pondering over many things. It would seem that all he had
ever done, all the places he had ever seen, the faces he had kissed,
those whom he had ruined or fought with and wounded, one or
two he had killed, had joined together as if he must behold them—
see them—be tortured by them in this moment. The oath of the
man he had run his sword through rang through his brain.
Tremulous hands seemed to clutch at him from space. The wind
as it entered seemed to bring sighings, wailings, reproaches. He
saw his mother’s race, and he wondered how it was he had for-
gotten to visit her grave. Then he laughed inwardly at the
scandal of the town to-morrow—he should not hear it—it would
be no morrow to him, and at the clatter of tongues his death
would arouse amongst the gossips of Toro. Death ! Well, there
hung Death ! that rope dangling across the wall. A rope and a
gurgle in the throat, that was Death. Nothing so terrible, after
all, except to fools—not to men like him of blood and valour, who
had faced and defied it every day for the last fifteen years of his
Then he rose, and with bended brows leant against the gate-
post. In vain the torrential storm swept over the cornfields and
vineyards of Toro, obscuring them in mist. He had no need of
eyes, for he knew every league of the country ; every undulation
of the plain framed in the narrow space of the gate-posts was
burnt on his brain. He could see them without eyes, and re-
member every familiar feature. He had ridden them in the hot
sun, he had paced every weary step of them. He could have
sworn that he still smelt the dust of it in his nostrils, and saw the
magpie which had flown across the track when he returned to
Toro after his mother’s death. The innate egotism that lies in us
all, making each one think himself the pivot of the world, arose
within him in an intense revolt. That the sun should rise on
the morrow and sparkle on the yellow cornfields, or that the
morrow should again waken over them soaked in rain, as if
he had never been, seemed to him unnatural, monstrous, in-
The pattering of the rain on the flagstones of the locutory, the
moaning of the wind, formed a sort of symphony to his shapeless
meditations. He turned from the door, and in the vacancy of his
mood scanned the whitewashed walls. A few old pictures of
saints—he recognised them as old acquaintances from the time he
had come there with his mother ; they burnt themselves into his
brain now. If there was some remembering faculty in man that
lived after the extinction of the body, he felt that he should know
them again through all Eternity. There was one picture, half
hidden in a dusky corner almost under the beams, that roused
his curiosity. It must have been placed there since—life still
presented problems to solve. He rose and stood before it, shading
his eyes. “A fine picture,” he muttered ; “how in God’s name
has it got stranded here,” and he looked again—looked intensely.
There was something in it that touched him as he had never been
touched since he was a boy. Why ? Because he, too, was to
suffer presently, by his own Free Will, something of the same
torture which still writhed in the pale limbs, still seemed to
quiver in the eyelids of the man before him. Something in the
image fascinated and subdued him, seized, held him, bound him
so that his feet were as if they had been riveted to the floor with
lead. A great pity, a supreme tenderness for the other man who
had also suffered, not as he was about to do, for his own sins, but
for the sins of the world, thrilled through his soul with a spasm of
pain. His mother’s eyes seemed to shine down on him from the
canvas, swept away the next moment as if by a swift river. She
too had suffered for his sins. She had thought of him, the son
who had killed her, even in her death throes. Perhaps if she
had been alive, his death, if not his life, might have been
And then happened what no words, colours, or sounds can
translate, for it seemed to him (it is the Chronicler who speaks)
that the dusky corner grew full of a soft radiance which suffused
itself out of and about the picture. It seemed to him too that he
heard strains of melody, now faint, now louder, which must have
come from the harps and psalteries of the angels, so far away, so
strangely sweet it floated in the atmosphere about him. It
seemed too as if the locutory was full of motion, as if invisible
figures were passing to and fro in a glad joyousness. It was as if
a gentle flapping, a noiseless beating of wings that fanned his brow
and stirred his hair, accompanied that marvellous music. And as
he still looked confounded, and as it translated, the figure in the
picture became distinct and more distinct, grew larger and still
larger until he could see neither frame nor picture, but only the
gigantic figure of the crucified looming from a celestial light—
and in the excessive radiance that enveloped him, he saw the
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. E
eyelids stir, the mouth open, and He, the Son of God, with
outstretched arms was gazing on him with an ineffable smile.
For what Juan Perez had taken in his frenzy to be a lifeless
picture was a living thing—with breath and motion ! A living
thing—a living man, but a man clothed with glory ! A living
man who, how he knew not, had left the Cross and was even then
moving towards him with arms extended as if he would clasp him
to his heart. Was he dreaming ? Nay, he was not dreaming.
For a touch as soft and noiseless as a flake of snow had fallen upon
his shoulder—lingered there wistfully. Eyes looked into his that
confounded his senses and bewildered his brain with their
And he, Juan Perez, the lawless gambler returned their
compassionate gaze, and as he did so, his soul melted.
He often wondered afterwards whether he had heard it in a
dream, or if it was only the soughing of the wind, or a voice
borne from Eternity, so faint, so diaphanous that uttered no sound,
woke no responsive echo in his brain. It might have been the
breath of the wind. It might have been the very breath of the
Holy Ghost. “Juan,” it seemed to say—and it might have been
the breath of the wind—”Juan Perez, thou hast sinned
greatly, but much shall be forgiven thee. Great is my love,
deeper than a mother’s. Be your sins scarlet, yet they shall be
whiter than snow ! Sin no more but live, even for My sake ! I
have waited for you—waited for years—for a century. You have
come. Go ! and sin no more !”
Fray Juan de la Misericordia de Dios is still remembered in the
annals of the Monastery of Toro. Thrice was he prior, and
when the Bishop of Salamanca preached his funeral sermon, he
described him as a man sent from God, so great the consolation
he had administered to souls, so boundless his compassion for the
poor. It was in his time that the miracle-working picture was
restored once more to its old place over the High Altar, and in
any great and poignant distress, the inhabitants of Toro to this
day betake themselves to the Good Christ of Fray Juan de la
Misericordia de Dios.
By Stephen Phillips
FATHER, beneath the moonless night,
This heavy stillness without light,
There comes a thought which I must speak ;
Why is my body then so weak ?
Why do I falter in the race,
And flag behind this mighty pace ?
Why is my strength so quickly flown ?
And hark ! My mother sobs alone !
My son, when I was young and free,
When I was filled with sap and plee,
I squandered here and there my strength,
And to thy mother’s arms at length
Weary I came, and over-tired ;
With fever all my bones were fired.
Therefore so soon thy strength is flown,
Therefore thy mother sobs alone.
Father, since in your weaker thought,
And in your languor I was wrought,
Put me away, as creatures are ;
I am infirm and full of care.
Feebly you brought me to the light ;
Then softly hide me out of sight.
Now sooner will my strength be flown,
Nor will my mother sob alone.
My son, stir up the fire, and pass,
Quickly the comfortable glass !
The infirm and evil fly in vain
Is toiling up the window pane.
Fill up ! For life is so, nor sigh ;
We cannot run from destiny.
Then fire thy strength that’s quickly flown,
Hark ! how thy mother sobs alone !
The Black Cockade
By Katharine Cameron
By John M. Robertson
IT is permitted in these days to have doubts on all matters ; and
as French critics (following the German) have set us the
example of doubting the artistic infallibility of Molière, a Briton
may make bold to confess to one more misgiving in regard to
that great artist. It was in witnessing recently a performance of
Les Précieuses Ridicules at the Théâtre Français that there forced
itselr upon me, across the slight boredom of a third seeing, a new
question as to the subject-matter of that classic farce. First it
took shape as a certain wonderment at the brutality of the argu-
ment, still complacently followed twenty times a year by audiences
for whom, in real life or modern drama, the classic exploit of the
young seigneurs and their valets would have been an enormity,
supposing anything on the same scale of feeling and taste to have
been done or imagined in this generation. It distantly recalled
the mediaeval argument in Much Ado About Nothing, in which
the more serious scheme or masculine vengeance might be sup-
posed to suggest to Shakspere himself the reflection of Touchstone
on some of the things devised as sport for ladies. It also recalled
the recent episode of the killing of a French usher by a gang of
young collegians who seized him in bed, bound him, and forced
him to swallow a litre of rum, whereof he died. One cannot
imagine that proceeding handled as a farce for the amusement of
gentlemen in these days, even without the tragic finish. But
there is a distinct savour of its spirit in the farce of Molière.
What M. Stapfer gently avows of the satire in Les Femmes
Savantes must be avowed here : “Let us confess it : this is not
fine. Infatuation pushed to this degree and parading itself with
this effrontery is too invraisemblable.” And we accept M. Stapfer’s
untranslatable phrase : “Molière à le comique insolent” Evidently
there is a gulf fixed—except in the theatre—between the taste of
the seventeenth and that of the nineteenth century.
Of course we must allow for the fact that Moliere was farcing,
as he generally did, as the usages and atmosphere and “optic” of
the theatre forced him to do. We need hardly look there, in any
age, for life-size portraits and scrupulous colour. It is with the
characters as with the actors’ faces : they must needs be “made-
up.” But if we ought to make this allowance in our criticising
of Molière, we ought also to make it in our estimating of the types
he criticised. And this his complacent audiences have never
done. In the matter of les précieuses they have always been
unquestioningly on the side of the laughers, of the farce-maker,
of the young seigneurs, of the valets ; and even though the whole
episode be consciously set by the onlooker in the Watteau-land
of last-century comedy, there always subsists a distinct impression
that the préciosité which Molière satirised was just some such
imbecility as it appears in the talk of those poor preposterous
provincial young ladies of the farce. That is evidently the
impression left on the complacent reader as well as on the com-
placent theatre-goer. It is avowed in the literary histories. Some
have noticed that by adding the term “ridicules” Molière implied
that all précieuses were not ridiculous ; but the prevailing assump-
tion is that what he showed up was the current preciosity. Yet
the fact clearly could not have been so. Supposing any one to
have ever talked the jargon we hear in the farce, it could not have
been such types as these. It was not perked-up middle-class
Audreys, gullible by valets, blunderingly bewraying themselves,
who arrived at the fine frenzy of “Voiturez-nous les commodités de
la conversation.” No ; preciosity was not quite what the judicious
Molière supposed it to be; and the précieuses—and this he must
have known—were not at all what he represented them.* He
had merely used the immemorial stratagem of satirising the
practice by fictitiously degrading the practitioners. He convicted
it of gross and vulgar absurdity by first masking them in gross
and vulgar absurdity. As a matter of fact, preciosity is the last
fault to which gross and vulgar absurdity can attain.
What then is it, in essence and origin ? We can take it from
two points of view. Scientifically speaking, it is an attempt to
deviate widely and wilfully, waywardly, from the normal forms of
* It may easily have happened that Molière had some drawing-
room impertinences to avenge. “Born of the people,” as M. Lanson
remarks in his excellent history, “absent from Paris for twelve years,
he had been aloof from the work carried on by the upper class society
in regard to the language ; and when he returned, in 1658, he
retained his free and firm style, nourished on archaisms, on Italian and
Spanish locutions, popular or provincial metaphors and forms of
phrase. . . .” At such a style fine folks would sneer ; and Molière
might not unfairly seek some dramatic revenge.
phrase in a given language. Now, as normal diction is as it were
common property, and as every flagrant innovation in words or
phrases is thus apt to be a trespass on the comfort of neighbours,
or to seem a parade of superior intellectual wealth, it is likely to
provoke more or less objection, which often rises to resentment.
Ethically, then, preciosity is an assertion of individual or special
personality as against the common usage of talk ; in other words,
it is an expression either of egoism or of cliqueism in conversation
or literature. But to call it egoism and cliqueism does not settle
the matter, though both words are apt to signify decisive
censure. Even when used censoriously, they point, sociologically
speaking, only to some excess of tendencies which up to a certain
point are quite salutary. Every step in progress, in civilisation,
is won by some departure from use and wont ; and to make that
departure there always needs a certain egoism, often a great deal
of cliqueism. And as the expansion of language is a most
important part in intellectual progress, it follows that to set up
and secure that there must come into play much self-assertion,
and not a little cliqueism. The new word is frowned upon by
the average man as “new-fangled” whether it be good or bad :
the more complex and discriminated phrase is apt to be voted
pretentious, whether it be imaginative or merely priggish. And
between the extreme of wooden conservatism, which is the arrest
of all development, and the extreme of fantastic licence, which is
unstable and unhealthy development, the only standard of whole-
some innovation is that set up by the strife of the opposing forces,
which amounts to a rough measure of the common literary good
of the society concerned. The most extravagant forms of pre-
ciosity are sure to die, whether of ridicule or of exhaustion. The
less extravagant forms are likely to have a wider vogue ; and
even in disappearing may leave normal style a little brighter and
freer, or a little subtler, for their spell of life ; though on the
other hand all preciosity tends to set up a reaction towards
commonplace. But in any case, all forms alike represent a
certain ungoverned energy, an extravagance and exorbitance of
mental activity, an exorbitance which is of course faulty as such,
but which has nothing in common with mere vulgar absurdity.
Molière’s provincial pecques, once more, are impossible. The
victims of Mascarille and his master might have committed mala-
propisms, affectations, and absurdities innumerable ; but they are
glaringly incapable of preciosity.
If we trace the thing historically, this will become more and
more clear. For it is much older, even in France, than the Hotel
de Rambouillet or even the Pléiade. It would be safe to say that
it rises periodically in all literatures. There is something of it in
Euripides ; and it is this element in the later Roman poets, as in
the prose of Apuleius, that has brought on the whole post- Augustan
literature the reproach of decadence. And this sets us questioning
what it is that underlies alike the prevailing “false” style of an
age later seen to have been decadent, and some of the “false”
styles of an age later seen to have been vigorously progressive.
We have the pedantic preciosity that is caricatured in Rabelais ;
the fanciful preciosity of the English and other Euphuists of the
latter half of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth
century ; the aristocratic French preciosity of the seventeenth
century—all affectations of vigorous periods ; all more or less
akin to the style of Claudian and Statius and Apuleius. Lastly,
we have the self-willed preciosity of Mr. Meredith, who may or
may not belong to an age of decadence, but who certainly writes
viciously alongside of many good writers. What is the common
element or symptom in all these cases ?
Clearly, as we said before, the explanation is never that of
vulgar absurdity ; in all, we are dealing, it may be, with egoism,
with unbalanced judgment, with juvenility of intelligence, with
lopsidedness, with certain faults of character ; but in none with
raw fatuity. Rather we are struck everywhere with a special sort
of sensibility, a curious cleverness, an incapacity for commonplace
—to say nothing of higher qualities in any one instance. Preciosity,
in fact, is a misdirection of capacity, not at all a proof of incapacity
for better things. And we have to look, finally, for the special
conditions under which the misdirection tends most to take place.
In terms of our previous conclusion, they will amount in general
to some defect of regulative influence, some overbalance of the
forces of individual self-will and literary sectarianism. Such defect
and overbalance, it is easy to see, may arise either in a time of
novelty and enterprise or in a time of dissolution, since in both
there are likely to be movements of thought and fancy ill-related
to the general development of judgment and knowledge. Of all
the social forces which regulate the play of speech and literature,
the healthiest are those of a vigorous all-round culture ; and an
all-round culture is just what is lacking, in the terms of the case,
alike in an epoch of decadence and in an epoch of novelty.
Decadence means a lack of healthy relation among the social
forces, an elevation or excessive enrichment of some elements and
a degradation of others. In imperial Rome certain prior forms of
intellectual and civic energy were absolutely interdicted : hence
an overplus or overbalance in other forms, of which factitious
literature was one. Energies repressed and regulated in one sphere
could play lawlessly in another, where formerly the force of
regulation had been a general discipline of common sense, now
lacking. The former rule of old and middle-age over youth was
dissolved under a régime which put age and youth equally in
tutelage ; and the faults of youth, of which injudicious and
overstrained style is one, would have a new freedom of scope. A
factitious literature, an art for art’s sake, would tend to flourish
just as superstition flourished ; only, inasmuch as bad intellectual
conditions tend ultimately to kill literature altogether, that soon
passed from morbid luxuriance to inanition, while superstition
in the same soil grew from strength to strength.
The preciosity of the Renascence, again, is also in large part
a matter of the unrestrained exuberance of youth—in this case
exercising itself one-sidedly in a new world of literature, living the
life of words much more than the life of things and the knowledge
of things. Not only the weak heads but the headstrong would
tend to be turned by that intoxication. What ultimately came
about, however, was the ripening of the general taste by the
persistence of conditions of free strife, which nourish common
sense and make the common interest in speech prevail over the
perversities of pedants. The latinising Limousin student of
Rabelais’s caricature * suggests in the Rabelaisian manner what
the actual latinists did. He speaks of Paris as the “inclyte et
celebre academie que l’on vocite Lutece,” and tells how “‘nous
transfretons la Sequane [= Seine] au dilucule et crepuscule ; nous
déambulons par les compiteset quadrivies de l’urbe.’ . . . A quoy,
Pantagruel dist, ‘Quel diable de langaige est cecy ? Par Dieu,
tu es quelque heretique'”—the spontaneous comment of the
robust Philistine of all ages. “Segnor no, dist 1’escolier, car
libentissement des ce qu il illucesce quelque minutule lesche du
jour, . . . me irrorant de belle eau lustrale, grignotte d un transon
* Liv. ii. ch. 6.
de quelque missique precation de nos sacrificules. . . . Je revere
des olympicoles. Je venere patrialement le supernel astripotens.
Je dilige et redame mes proximes.” After which Pantagruel
comments again, “‘Je croy qu’il nous forge ici quelque langaige
diabolique et qu’il nous charme comme enchanteur.’ A quoy dist
un de ses gens : ‘Seigneur, sans nulle doubte ce gallant veult
contrefaire la langue des Parisiens, mais il ne fait que escorcher le
latin, et cuide ainsi Pindariser ; et il lui semble bien qu’il est
quelque grand orateur en francois, parce qu’il dedaigne 1’usance
commun de parler.'” And when Pantagruel, anticipating Molière,
has proceeded to “escorcher” the offender, Rabelais tells how the
latter after a few years died in a certain manner, “ce que faisant
la vengeance divine, et nous demonstrant ceque dist le philosophe,
et Aulu Gelle, qu’il nous convient parler selon le langaige usité,
et, comme disoit Octavian Auguste, qu’il fault éviter les motz
espaves, en pareille diligence que les patrons de navires evitent les
rochiers de la mer.” It was Caius and not Octavian ; but no
matter. Rabelais’s own book, with its rich store of “motz usités”
and “espaves,” gave the French people a sufficiency of “langaige”
to live by ; and the vainer pedantries passed, as they needs must,
leaving their memory not only in Rabelais’s caricature but, after
all, in his own exuberant vocabulary,* as in that of Montaigne,
whose French speech was inevitably enriched by that other which
his father had made for him equally a mother tongue.
A far subtler preciosity is that which we find flourishing as
Euphuism in England under Elizabeth, and as a more grotesque
*This is duly noted by M. Lanson.
perversion of fancy in the later “metaphysical” poets down till
the Restoration, and even after that. The development through-
out is perfectly intelligible. In its beginnings, Euphuism is
evidently for England the tumultuous awakening of a modern
nation to the sense of the possession of a living and growing
modern speech, such as had taken place in Italy some genera
tions before, and in France but recently. In all three nations
successively we see the same comparison of the new language
with the dead tongues, the same claim to compete with the
Greeks and Romans, even while imitating them. And Lyly
represents once more the exuberance of youth and strength
playing one-sidedly on a newly-gained world of words and books,
unsobered by experience and hard thinking. It is a world with
more words than knowledge, with a vocabulary constantly widen-
ing itself from the stores of other tongues, and an imagination
constantly kept on the stretch by the impact of other litera-
tures. Artistic judgment could not quite keep pace with the
accumulation of literature, even in the greatest brain of the time.
For Shakspere is not only euphuistic in his youth, even when
bantering Euphuism ; he retains to the last some of the daring
exorbitance of speech which is the essential quality of Euphuism ;
only with the difference that the later style is strengthened by a
background of past passion and vital experience, as well as chast-
ened by intellectual discipline. Here beyond question preciosity
can be seen to be a creative and liberating force, and far from a
mere riot of incompetence. Even where the Elizabethan drama
escapes the direct charge of preciosity, it is visibly warmed and
tinted by that tropic neighbourhood ; its very freedom of poetic
phrase is made wider by the modish licence of the surrounding
aristocratic world, in which Euphuism is as it were a many-
coloured fashion of speech on a par with the parade of splendid
costume. M. Taine has well seen, in the case of the Elizabethan
Euphuism, what Moliere has prevented us from seeing in the case
of the later French preciosity, that it is the foppery of power and
pride, not of folly.
“A new, strange, and overcharged style has been formed, and is to
prevail until the Revolution, not only in poetry but also in prose, even
in sermons and ceremonial addresses ; a style so conformable to the
spirit of the time that we meet it at the same period throughout
Europe, in Ronsard and D’Aubigné, in Calderon, Gongora, and
Marini. In 1580 appeared Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit, by Lyly,
which was the manual, the masterpiece, and the caricature of the new
style, and which was received with a universal admiration. . . . The
ladies knew by heart all the phrases of Euphues, singular phrases, far-
fetched and sophisticated, which are as enigmas for which the author
seems determinedly to seek the least natural and the most remote
expressions, full of exaggerations and antitheses, where mythological
allusions, reminiscences of alchemy, metaphors from botany and
astronomy, all the medley, all the pell-mell of erudition, travel, man-
nerism, rolls in a deluge of comparisons and conceits. Do not judge
it from the grostesque painting made of it by Sir Walter Scott. His
Sir Piercy Shafton is but a pedant, a cold and dry imitator; and it is
warmth and originality that give to this language an accent and a
living movement : it must be conceived not dead and inert, as we
have it to-day in the old books, but springing from the lips of ladies
and young lords in doublets broidered with pearls, vivified by their
vibrating voices, their laughter, the light of their eyes, and the gesture
of the hands that play with the hilt of the sword or twist the mantle
of satin. . . . They amuse themselves as do to-day nervous and ardent
artists in a studio. They do not speak to convince or comprehend,
but to content their high-strung imagination. . . . They play with
words, they twist and deform them, they cast up sudden perspectives,
sharp contrasts, which leap out, stroke upon stroke, one after the
other, to infinity. They throw flower on flower, tinsel on tinsel ;
everything that glitters gives them pleasure ; they gild and embroider
and plume their language as they do their clothes. Of clearness, of
order, of good sense, they have no thought ; it is a festival and it is a
riot : absurdity pleases them.” *
Allowing for differences of time and culture and class, this holds
more or less true of preciosity always. It is a wilful play of bias.
In an age in which culture is mainly scholarly and imaginative,
and science and criticism are only nascent, the tendency will go
far to colour all literature ; and, as innovation goes on in form with
little or no deepening of thought, the licence of expression goes
from bad to worse, poetry giving place to pedantry and techni-
cality and verbal metaphysic, till the test of skill has come to be
strangeness of expression, and polite literature in general is become
a masquerade, remote from all actuality of feeling and conduct.
This occurred in England during the seventeenth century, in
which we pass from Shakspere and Spenser to Donne and Cowley ;
and in which the admirable new art of the young Milton, a brain
of supreme artistic faculty nourished on a long study of antiquity
and vitalised by new and intense living interests, is still neighboured
by the perfectly vicious art of the young Dryden, whose culture is
so much slighter and whose interests are so much shallower, and
whose first verses are masterpieces of bad taste. Milton shows
us the long sway of the fantastic verbalist ideal in scattered
phrases which partly mar his strong art—though not more
than do some of his plunges into a crude simplicity, such as
the famous “No fear lest dinner cool.” The weaker Dryden
shows it at his outset, in his complete acceptance of the fan-
* Histoire de la Littérature Anglaise, i. 276-279.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. F
What had happened in the interval between Shakspere and
Milton was the diversion of the mass of mental energy from
imaginative to ratiocinative literature, from questions of aesthetics
and poetry to questions of life and conduct ; so that the drama
passed to ineptitude in the hands of weak imitators, and poetry
became essentially a pastime, though one pursued by some intelli-
gences of remarkable eccentric power. The great work of Milton
marks the reaction that might have been made under a continued
Puritan régime could that have escaped the freezing influence or
judaising fanaticism in this any more than in the other arts ; the
concrete literature of the Restoration and the next century was
the reaction possible in the political circumstances. Dryden’s
early verses on the death of a young lord from the small-pox mark
the limit of endurance. As M. Taine puts it, “the excess of folly
in poetry, like the excess of injustice in politics, prepares and
predicts revolutions.”* And from the preciosity of literary
specialists we pass rapidly to the language and the sentiment of
the new man of the world, coloured only by the reminiscence of
the preciosities of the past. Literature becomes the interest, if not
of all, at least of all men and women of any education ; and lan-
guage conforms of necessity to common sense and common
thought. The reign of preciosity, which is wayward one-sided-
ness and strenuous limitation, is over. It may be that the new
literary commonweal is relatively commonplace, charmless, and
unsubtle in its speech and thinking ; but none the less it has the
strength which comes of standing on Mother Earth. Its tongue
is the tongue of a new philosophy, a new science, a new criticism,
and a new prose fiction ; and in these exercises lies the gymnastic
which will later redeem the new-fashioned poetry itself from the
* iii. 164.
new preciosity that is to overtake it when it in turn becomes but
a pastime and a technique.
The common-sense literature of the “age of prose and reason”
in England, however, represents not merely the reaction against
the previous preciosity of extravagance; it connects with the
movement of regulation in France, with the campaign of Molière
and Boileau against the preciosity of their time—that which
Molière burlesqued and degraded in his farce. Here we come to
a preciosity that seems in a manner the contrary of that of the
Euphuists, seeing that it is consciously rather a fastidious process
of purification and limitation than one of audacious adventure in
language. But the essential characteristic remains the same ; it
is still an innovation, a manifestation of egoism and clique-ism in
taste ; only the egoism is that of a very select and exclusive type,
a taste which has passed through times of commotion, and calls
with its unemployed nervous energy for elegance and finesse ; the
cliqueism is that of certain fastidious members and hangers-on of
a formal and aristocratic court or upper four hundred. The new
preciosity has the period of vigorous euphuism behind it, in the
earlier energetic andexpansive literature of Ronsard and Montaigne.
In the euphuism of the sixteenth century the intellectual limita-
tion or one-sidedness was that involved in a lop-sided culture, in a
cultivation of language and fancy without a proportional knowledge
of things or analysis of thinking. Limited on those sides, the
mind played the more energetically and extravagantly in the
phrasing of what ideas it had. In the Hotel Rambouillet the
limiting principle is seen to be an ideal of bon ton. The new
preciosity is thus indirect and fantastic with a difference. Seeking
to refine even on the habit of elaborate and artificial expression
which had never ceased to prevail since the outburst of modern
poetic literature in the previous century, it is not creative but
restrictive, save in so far as the rejection of common speech
involves a resort to the fantastic. It expresses, in fine, mainly the
effort of a new upper class—formed since the close of the wars of
religion—to make for itself a fitting literary atmosphere, free of
the associations of the despised common life outside. It further
partly represents, just as the expansive preciosity of the previous
century had done, the influence of Italian models ; the superior
refinement of Italy being now as much felt by a class craving for
elegance as the greater literateness of the south had been formerly
felt by a generation thirsting for letters. And as seventeenth-
century Italy represented above all things fanciful dilettantism,
the native energy of Italian literature being destroyed, the
French dilettantists could draw thence only a limitary inspiration.
Thus, in so far as they swayed the new academy and the new
literature, they undoubtedly impoverished the French language in
point of colour and force, while giving it elegance and precision.
But then, as we saw, the same thing was done in England later
by the Restoration writers and the Popean school, who represented
at once the reaction against Elizabethan and later preciosity and
the final French reaction against the preciosity of the salon. The
English reactionists were limitary in a less degree, because it
chanced that England did not become aristocratised and royalised
nearly so fully as France ; and a constant upcrop of middle-class
intelligence kept the language more robust and informal. Yet in
England also, under the rule of a sophisticated common sense, as
in Boileau’s France under the same rule, there was limitation of
the intellectual life, with the old result. Poetry and drama fell
into, and for two generations adhered to, new stereotyped and
factitious forms, which again fostered preciosity of a kind, the
preciosity of artificial and falsetto style. So much is there in
common between an apparent contraction and an apparent expan-
sion in human progress.
For, to come back to our starting-point, even the restrictive
preciosity in both countries represented after all a play of intelli-
gence, a new exercise of thought. In rejecting parts of the
irregular vocabulary of the preceding age, it rejected also the vague-
ness of its thought and the frequent puerility of its fancy. Its
own formative preciosity, arising by way of the exclusion of the
common, was of course a new puerility : and when “voiturez-
nous les commodités de la conversation” or anything near it, became
a way of asking a servant to bring chairs, the preciosity of the
salon had reached the point where common sense must needs
protect and avenge itself, in the manner of Pamagruel if need be.
After all, there may have been an obscure justice in Molière’s mode
of vengeance, suggesting as it did that this self-conscious torturing
of a language was a fitter occupation for conceited and ignorant pro-
vincials than for noble ladies in a great capital. But the fact
remains that Molière and Boileau, in their vindication of good
sense against finikin absurdity, were really standing at the point
of departure from which that absurdity had been reached. They
stood in the main with Malherbe ; and Malherbe’s purism had
been a judicious restrictive preciosity to begin with. The line
of heredity is clear. All of the first generation of the French
classicists, as M. Bourgoin rightly insists, were touched with
preciosity ; and Corneille stands out not as rejecting it but as
bringing it to bear on new notions, new themes, a new dramatic
inspiration. And the best prose writers of the time before Pascal,
as M. Brunetière again reminds us, were chronically precious in
their elaborate indirectness and sophistication of phrasing.
Molière and Boileau, bourgeois both, though with a great difference
in their culture, represented the wholesome intrusion, even in that
undemocratic age, of the larger world, of the more general interest,
on the mincing cliques of the court, who had now ceased to repre-
sent any fresh intellectual force ; and they were keeping the
language sound, in its modern form, for the coming generations
who were to use it to such manifold new purpose. But when we
reflect that the language of Montesquieu and Voltaire and
Rousseau remains substantially the sonorous and sinewy language
of Bossuet and Pascal, and that that is the language as formed in
an age of restrictive preciosity ; when further we recollect that
the language restricted by the English writers of the Restoration
and of the reign of Anne is substantially the language of Hume
and Goldsmith and Sterne ; we are forced to recognise once more
how far is Molière’s vivacious farce from letting us see what pre-
ciosity originally and essentially is ; how tar the thing is from
being a mere vulgar silliness. It indeed needs the faculty of the
Bossuets and Pascals, the Humes and Voltaires, the Sternes and
Rousseaus, to save the corrected tongue from sinking to triviality ;
and, once more, it is only by turning finally to the common good
of national speech the results of their creative revolt that individual
energy and the specialism of clique justify their audacious dealings
But we see that such gain has accrued to the common stock or
language from preciosity again and again ; and the knowledge
should make us considerate, not only in our estimate of the pre-
ciosities of the past but in our reception of what looks like
preciosity in the present. First, it may only be necessary neology.
But even downright constructive preciosity, albeit it stands for
self-will, or an excess of innovating zeal and of appetite for change,
is not blank absurdity. It comes from the young, the headstrong,
the self-absorbed, the revolutionary, the whimsical, the one-sided,
the imperfectly developed ; but it never comes from mere fools—
unless we are to fall back on the definition (which sometimes
seems a truth) according to which fools in all ages have done a
great deal for civilisation by their habit of preparing the way for
It is not difficult to look with patience into the preciosities of
the past, of which we have had the good and are now spared the
vexation. But it is not so easy to be dispassionate before an
energetic preciosity of our own day, when it is carried on by a
writer whom we feel in a manner constrained to read, while
recognising his preciosity for what it is. Hence many explosions
of irritation over the preciosity of Carlyle, over that of Mr. Brown-
ing, over that of Mr. Swinburne, and above all over that of Mr.
Meredith. There may, however, be some little compensation to
be had even now from the process of classifying these forms in
relation to preciosity in general, especially as they all seem to be
brief if not abortive variations, not destined to dominate periods.
In each of the four cases mentioned, preciosity is simply an ex-
pression of the defiant idiosyncrasy of one man, which only to a
slight extent creates a school or clique. Each one had been
snapped at by the critics and disregarded by the public for his
idiosyncrasy at the start ; and each one—here we come to the
moral lesson—has persisted and worsened in his idiosyncrasy
instead of correcting it. Carlyle reached his on two lines—
partly by way of reproducing the manner of talk of his strong-
headed and dogmatic old father, partly by way of imitating the
declamatory French writers of his youth and of the previous age,
as well as the German humoristic style which alone is usually
specified as having influenced him. The French influence on
his style has apparently passed unnoticed ; but it will probably not
be denied by those who will turn over the literature out of which
he composed his History of the French Revolution. The
essential thing is, however, that he constructed for himself a pre-
ciosity of a kind, a preciosity of dramatic manner, of dramatic
pitch, of archaic style, of factitious concision, of Puritan colour,
of “thees and thous,” of prophetic airs and cynic humours. A
few serious writers partly caught his manner—Mr. Forster and Mr.
Masson, for instance ; and to some extent Kingsley and Dickens—
but it says something for the independence of our age that despite
the great reputation which Carlyle gradually attained, the
manner never became a fashion. Even by those who admired
the doctrine, it was generally recognised that such a manner could
be sincere only at first hand. As for its indirect effects, we can
say to-day, when it is recognisable as a preciosity of a sort, a dis-
play of wayward egoism in matters of language, that in its earlier
phases it has no little artistic force, and that the sense of this has
given later serious writers the courage to be more vari-coloured,
more emotional, more individual in their writing than they other-
wise would have been. Even such an unCarlylean book as Mill’s
Liberty probably owes something to Carlyle’s example ; and perhaps
Green’s Short History owes no less, though neither exhibits any
direct imitation whatever. On the other hand, the growing exag-
geration of Carlyle’s special preciosity with his years, showing as it
did how far mere temperamental self-assertion was its motive, un-
doubtedly repelled part of the rising generation, and undermined his
influence in advance. The “extraordinary arrogance” which
Mr. Froude * confesses him to have shown in private had thus its
* Life of Carlyle; first forty Years, ii. 394.
With Mr. Browning the case is somewhat similar. His is the
preciosity of a genius formed in semi-isolation, an original mind
communing much with itself, and too little with vigorous and ex-
pert contemporary minds at the time when the friction of freee
comradeship has most disciplinary value. Such an elliptic style as
his could not well have been formed at Oxford or Cambridge :
even Carlyle did not write Carlylese till he went to dwell in the
wilderness at Craigenputtock. Browning’s style was substantially
formed or hardened abroad, where the society of Mrs. Browning,
herself magnetised by it and so on the way to a preciosity of her
own, had no corrective influence. The poet in his prime was
aloof from present-day Engli>h problems as well as from present-
day English life ; his poems, whether written at home or abroad,
deal for the most part with either foreign or unlocalised and ideal
life ; and he finally impresses a reader as writing rather for himself
than for any public. Public indifference and critical disrespect
had for a time the effect of making him consciously antagonistic
to his public—witness the apostrophes in The Ring and the Book—
and in Pacchiarotto he has put on record how he felt towards some of
his critics. His preciosity is thus that of an energetic, self-poised,
self-absorbed, self-exiled artist, defiant of the general verdict even
while obscurely craving it, and able to be so defiant by reason or
financial independence ; and it followed the usual course of
becoming exaggerated with age. It thus falls readily in its place
as a form among others. And here as usual we can trace good
indirect results, while, as in the case of Carlyle, the activity of
modern criticism and the modern prevalence of the common
interest in speech over egoisms and cliqueisms have prevented any
direct contagion of the faults. While preparing for himself the
penalty of future neglect, as regards not a little of his over-abund-
ant output, Browning has pushed contemporary English poetry
towards vivacity, towards variety, towards intellectuality, without
setting up a Browning school even in the Browning Society. It
is somewhat grievous to think of the coming neglect, after the
preliminary contemporary penalty of indifference. But by such
quasi-martyrdoms is progress made in the age of tolerance ; and
after all Browning found life abundantly sweet, and is sure of
immortality for a score of things.
Of Mr. Swinburne, little need be said. His preciosity too is that
of a marked idiosyncrasy of utterance—this time a superfcetation
of phrase, a plethora of vocabulary. His vice of style, too, was hotly
persisted in when the matter of his first volume was denounced;
and a life of semi-seclusion, in uncritically sympathetic company,
has excluded whatever chance there may be supposed to have been
of a corrective action of normal literary intercourse or outside
criticism. Thus, though we notice in his case the usual tendency
of the press to pay tribute to the aging writer when his faults are
no longer novel, Mr. Swinburne has partly outlived his early in-
fluence as well as the early antagonism to his work ; and of him
too it may be said that what was new and strong in his perform-
ance, his enlargement and special tillage of the field of rhythm, has
counted for good in English poetry ; while his preciosity, consist-
ing in his tautology and his archaism, has been but slightly con-
tagious. It was not really a new way of speaking, not really a
widening of expression, so much as a congestion of it, a heaping
up of words for lack of valid ideas ; differing here from the other
modern preciosities just mentioned, which visibly come of a sense
of something special to say. Hence Mr. Swinburne has not been
the main influence even in the return to archaism. The other
archaistic poets of the day are so independently of his influence.
Contrasted with the exaggerated egoisms of such writers as
Carlyle, Browning, and Mr. Swinburne, some recent styles that
have been called precious are hardly perceptible as such. That of
the late Mr. Pater, for instance, has been so blamed ; and pro-
bably some who so criticise it will contend that in his case the
word is rightly applied, and that in the three other cases above dis-
cussed it is not. Carlyle and Browning and Mr. Swinburne, it
may be said, are mannerists, not précieux. Mr. Pater’s style, it
may be said, is really precious. But this, I would answer, is a
misconception arising from a one-sided idea of the nature of pre-
ciosity. There is no constant radical difference betweeen manner-
ism and preciosity ; but a writer may be mannered without being
precious. Normal speech is tolerant of mere manner ; it is either
the apparent consciousness of a need to speak abnormally, or a self-
absorption too complete to realise how far its utterance varies
from the normal—it is one or other of these aberrations that
constitutes preciosity. And it is finally true that on the one hand
all special self-absorption, and on the other hand all anxiety to
write in a noticeable and unusual way, tend in the direction
of preciosity. Dickens’s manner often approaches it ; and
perhaps there is a faint suspicion of it even in the delicate con-
cern of Thackeray to be exquisitely simple, to avoid Dickens’s
over-ambitious way. A certain unconsciousness is the last grace
of a good style. And this being so, there may be just an
occasional savour of preciosity in the extreme preoccupation of
Mr. Pater with his. This had the surprising result of making
him commit oversights which a less anxious craftsman could
hardly have fallen into—for instance, his way of running a favourite
epithet to death, as when he introduces the adjective “comely,”
in one or other secondary or metaphorical sense, some five or six
times in a few dozen pages ; and the syntax of some of the more
elaborate sentences in one of his last volumes gave openings to
fault-finding. But Mr. Pater’s style is in the main so fastidiously
unexaggerated, so guarded against all violence and all pedantry,
that he must be finally cleared of the charge of either constructive
or restrictive preciosity in his writing as a whole. He sought
excellence in style, not singularity or self-indulgence. He was
really an admirable workman in whom the need for utterance, the
burden and impulse of ideas, though not small, were apt to fall
short of his exceptional craving for beauty of statement.
Whatever dispute there may be over the foregoing criticisms,
there can be none, I think, over the judgment that Mr. Meredith’s
style is the most pronounced outbreak of preciosity in modern
English literature. I here, if ever, we may allow ourselves a
quasi-Pantagruelian protest. It is indeed impossible for a reader
who respects Mr. Meredith’s genius to read him—or at least his
later works—without irritation at his extraordinary ill-usage or
language. Old admirers, going back to his earlier works, never
free from the sin of preciosity, recognise that there has been an
almost continuous deterioration—the fatal law or all purposive
preciosity. In the earlier novels there were at times signal beauties
of phrase, sentences in which the strain towards utterance was
transmuted into fire and radiance, sentences of the fine poet who
underlay and even now underlies that ever-thickening crust or
preciosity and verbal affectation. Even in One of Our Conquerors
there seemed, to the tolerant sense, to be still some gleams of the
old flame, flashing at long intervals through the scoriae or
unsmelted speech. But in Lord Ormont and his Aminta neither
patience nor despair can discover in whole chapters aught but the
lava and cinders of language. In mere tortuosity the writing is
not worse ; it could not well be ; but now, after the first few
chapters, one has given up hope, and instead of desperately con-
struing endless paragraphs of gritty perversity one lightly skips
every mound in the path, content to follow the movement of a
striking story behind a style that in itself has become a mere
affliction. With the exception of Zola’s La Terre—hard reading
for a different reason—One of Our Conquerors was the hardest
novel to read that I ever met with ; but I have found Lord Ormont
and his Aminta easy enough. After a few chapters I no longer
sought to read Mr. Meredith. I made a hand-to-mouth précis of
nearly every page, and soon got over the ground, only pausing at
times to reassure myself that all was ill.
Hardly once, so far as I have read, do we find an important
sentence really well written ; never a paragraph ; for the perpetual
grimace of expression, twisting the face of speech into every
shape but those of beauty and repose, is in no sense admirable.
Simple statements, normal reflections, are packed into the
semblance of inspired fancies and brilliant aphorisms. As thus :
“That great couchant dragon of the devouring jaws and the
withering breath, known as our London world, was in expectation of
an excitement above yawns on the subject of a beautiful Lady Doubt-
ful proposing herself, through a group of infatuated influential friends,
to a decorous Court, as one among the ladies acceptable. The
popular version of it sharpened the sauce by mingling romance and
cynicism very happily ; for the numerous cooks, when out of the
kitchen, will furnish a piquant dish.”
The violent metaphor, thrust into the fore-front of the sentence
to impress us in advance, remains a grinning mask which moves
no more ; the dragon becomes “the numerous cooks.” And the
satire baulks no less than the poetry ; for when society’s problems
are thus admittedly contemptible, what becomes of the satirist’s
story based upon one of them ? A few paragraphs further on we
set out similarly with “the livid cloud-bank over a flowery field,”
which at once lapses to “the terrible aggregate social woman . . .
a mark of civilisation on to which our society must hold.” It is after
a grievous tirade of this sort that we have the avowal : “The
vexatious thing in speaking of her is, that she compels to the use
of the rhetorician’s brass instrument.” Well, we have really heard
no note concerning her that does not belong to Mr. Meredith’s
own orchestra ; and yet when we attempt, as we are so often
moved to do, a translation of the passage into sane English, it is
hardly possible to save it from the air of platitude. So little security
does strangeness of style give for freshness of thought.
The case is past arguing. Short of the systematic counterfeit-
ing of the Limousin student, nearly every element that men have
agreed to vituperate in preciosity is found in this insupportable
idiom. And all the while we recognise it as the writing of an
artist of unusual insight and originality ; a novelist, if not of the
very first rank, yet so powerful and so independent that to apply
to him the term second-rate is not allowable. He must be classed
by himself, as a master with not worse limitary prejudices than
those of Balzac ; with more poetic elevation than any novelist of
his day ; a true modern in many things, despite a fundamental
unrealism in his characters and an almost puerile proclivity to
old-world devices of circumstantial plot. How, then, is the
egregious vice of style to be accounted for ?
Why, by one or other of the antecedents which we have seen
to be involved in all preciosity ; and as there is and can be no
Meredithian school or clique, we go at once to the solution of
individual self-will, defiance of censure, persistence in eccentricity,
and self-absorption in isolation. It is all sequent. His first
novels, with their already eccentric style, were given to a genera-
tion unable in the main to appreciate the originality and import
ance of their problems and the subtlety of their treatment ; and
the denunciations of dull critic snettled him. In a letter to the
late James Thomson, published some years ago, he spoke with
due causticity of the usual spectacle of the author hailed up, with
his hands tied behind his back, before the self-elected and en-
throned critic, who tries and scourges him for the offence of
writing his own book in his own way. Contemning those who
contemned him, Mr. Meredith peisi.stcd in being cryptic,
eccentric, fantastic, elliptic. As if it were not enough to be
artistically too subtle for his generation, he must needs persist in
being gratuitously difficult and repellent as a writer, perverting a
fine faculty to the bad ambition of being extraordinary, nay, to
that of seeming superior. The prompt appreciation of the few
good readers did not teach him to look on the reading-publi
what it is, a loose mass of ever-varying units, in which even the
dullards have no solidarity : he entrenched himself in the Carlylean
and Browningesque manner, personifying the multitude as one
lumpish hostile entity, or organised body of similar entities.
Thus when, after an interval of silence, he produced the Egoist,
and the accumulating units of the new generation, the newer
minds, appreciated the novelty of the problem and the solution so
generally as to make the book the success of its year, he was
understood to be cynical over the praise given to a work which
was in his opinion inferior to its predecessors. The new genera-
tion has since proceeded to read those earlier works ; but Mr.
Meredith had fixed his psychological habits, and no sense of com-
munity with his generation could now avail to make him treat
language as a common possession, which any one may rightly
improve, but which no one may fitly seek to turn into impene-
trable jungle for his own pleasure. Ill health may have had some-
thing to do with Mr. Meredith’s aesthetic deviation from “the
general deed of man” ; and his contemporaries have their share of
responsibility ; but we must recognise in him what we have
recognised behind all forms of preciosity—a specific limitation or
one-sidedness, a failure to develop equably and in healthy relation
to all the forces of the intellectual life. It cannot indeed be said
of him that he has not grown. In his last book, despite the
visible survival, in part, of the commonplace Jingoism of which
he gave such surprising evidence in some violent verses eight or
ten years ago, he has touched a position that is much better ;
and he has ventured on one solution of a sex problem which in
former years he shunned. But the very lateness of these advances
is a proof that he lost much by his isolation. Lesser people had
got as far long ago. It has been recently told of him that he now
reads in few books save the Bible and a few Greek classics—a
regimen which would ill nourish even smaller m nds. What he
long ago confessed of himself in Beauchamp’s Career—that he had
acquired the habit of listening too much to his own voice—is
now too obvious to need confessing. It all goes to produce, not
only that defect of relation to current life which we see in his
unhappy style, but that further defect which consists in his lapses
into unreality as a novelist. For many of us there is such un-
reality in those devices of plot complication to which he so
inveterately clings, and which so vexatiously trip up at once our
illusion and our sense of his insight into the dynamic forces of
character. A recent illustration is the episode of the concealment
of Weyburri and Aminta in the wayside inn while their pursuers
ride past—an episode which belongs to the art of Fielding and
Smollett. While, however, some readers may still see no harm in
these venerable expedients, every reader who knows enough to be
entitled to form a judgment must be startled by the amazing
episode of the swimming-encounter of Weyburn and Aminta
when the former is on his way to the Continent. That is the
imagination of a man who either never knew what swimming is
or has forgotten what he knew. The occurrence, as related in
the novel, is an impossible dream. Mr. Meredith may be in
touch with the developments of fencing—an old hobby of his—
but his conception of what people do or can do in the water is
pure fantasy. In this, indeed, there is pathos ; and perhaps the
ideal reader would see only pathos—or literary picturesque—in
the kindred aberration of the novelist’s prose. But when writers
are still so imperfect, there can be few perfect readers.
We end by deploring, as contemporary criticism always must,
a particular case of excessive preciosity, after setting out to find
the soul of goodness in the thing in general. As it was in bygone
instances that we could best see the element of compensation, the
saving grace, it may be that the difficulty in seeing it in contem-
porary cases, and above all in Mr. Meredith’s, is one which will
lessen for posterity ; though it is hard to believe that posterity,
with its ever enlarging library, will have the time to ponder all of
that tormented prose, supposing it to have the patience. A mis-
giving arises as to whether much of Mr. Meredith must not
inevitably go the way of Donne. But whether or not, his case
clinches for us the lesson that is to be learned from more ancient
instances ; and that lesson may be summed up as consisting or
ending in a new view of the meaning of democracy. It is in the
democratic age that we seem to find, after all, at once the freest
scope for individual literary idiosyncrasy and the least amount of
harmful contagion from it—the maximum of the individual
freedom compatible with a minimum of the harm. It would
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. G
thus seem that language, at least, is becoming effectively social-
ised. And here, let us hope, lies the security against that mild
form of the malady of preciosity which is apt to follow the wide
diffusion of an imperfect culture. The preciosity of democratic
half-culture, in an age of knowledge, is at the worst a much less
extravagant thing than the preciosities of the upper-class culture
of ages in which all culture was narrow. So that the so-called
process of “levelling-down,” here as in other matters, turns out to
give the best securities for a general levelling-up.
Sir Dragonet’s Quest
By F. B. Money-Coutts
KING MARK came riding, in great despite,
Seeking Sir Tristram to slay,
And chanced on a merry and courteous knight,
But knew him not for that jesting wight
Sir Dinadan, brave and gay.
As saddle to saddle they paced along,
Hoving afar they saw
Horses and knights in a gallant throng
Under the forest shaw.
Said Dinadan, “Lo ! by yon cloth of gold
Launcelot rides this way !”
And Mark, like a man that shakes with cold,
Said, “Launcelot here ? Then I cannot hold
Longer with you to-day !”
When Dinadan spied he might scarce abide
For terror, he cried, “I see
Sir Launcelot’s shield ! On a silver field
Three lions and lilies three !”
But he said it to shape a jest and jape,
That cowardly King to school ;
For lions and lilies emblazoned thrice
He wist full well were the new device
Of Dagonet, Arthur’s fool.
Now Mark had turned him about, to slip
Back, like a snake, for fear ;
But Dinadan rode to his fellowship,
Who made of him passing cheer.
He told them his craft and all agreed ;
So Dagonet, armed to fight,
Adventured his spear and spurred at speed,
Crying, “Ho ! ye caitiff of Cornish breed !
Keep ye, ye craven knight !”
Now out, now in, through thick and through thin,
Mark fled from that shield aghast ;
Through thick and through thin, with dindle and din,
Sir Dagonet followed fast !
Then the knights chased after, with Ho ! and Yield !
And he ran like a rated hound ;
And the cry rose high and the laughter pealed,
Till wood and water and forest and field
Rang with the noise and sound !
“I AM sorry to say, Mrs. Reinhart, that your son is —a
Mr. Knowler was visibly distressed in giving voice to the words,
and, in order to hide his evident emotion, drew a faded silk
handkerchief from the pocket of his lengthy frock-coat and blew
his nose irritably, as he gazed somewhat foolishly over the top of
the bandanna round the dingy office, and out on to the bare
yellow-brick wall which faced the solitary window.
He was a small, narrow-chested little man with innocent blue
eyes, and a shrill voice, a little man who had cultivated a certain
abruptness of manner in order to give weight and authority to his
otherwise unimposing personality. Not that Mr. Josiah Knowler’s
personality lacked impressiveness in the eyes of the woman now
seated in front of him. A poor physiognomist at any time, Mrs.
Reinhart saw in Mr. Josiah the very form and front of visible and
determinating forces. Was he not the senior partner, forsooth, in
the great firm of Knowler Brothers, piano-makers, and the actual
recipient, some thirteen months back, of her horde of five and
twenty pounds paid in exchange for the indentures promising her
sonBy Marion Hepworth-Dixon
son lessons in piano-tuning ? In the widow’s eyes Mr. Knowler’s
pockets figuratively bulged with the sum of her small savings, a
sum it had taken her well-nigh as many years to amass as it
represented actvial coin of the realm.
“He hasn’t been to his work ?” she queried evasively, as her
eyes dwelt on Mr. Josiah’s profile and on the meagre cheek made
ruddy by the curious little red veins which spread, fibre-like, over
the averted cheek-bone.
“Your son,” said Mr. Josiah, turning to her and replacing his
pocket-handkerchief with a superfluous flourish, “your son, Mrs.
Reinhart, has attended on two occasions—or, to be absolutely
correct, on three occasions—only during the last seven weeks.”
The woman’s voice faltered as she answered :
“Then you’ve not been paying ‘im, sir ?”
“Apprentices are paid at the end of their week’s work—their
full week’s work,” Mr. Knowler reminded her.
“He was to have four-and-six given ‘im the first year, five-and-
six the second—”
“For work done, Mrs. Reinhart, for work done.”
Mr. Knowler had been fussily replacing a stray paper in his
desk at the moment of speaking, and the sharp snap with which
the little gentleman reclosed the lid made the reply seem, in a
sense, final and unanswerable to Mrs. Reinhart.
In the vague labyrinth of her mind she dimly felt the logic or
the master’s attitude, while she at the same time cast about for
some solution of the inexplicable problem presented by a new
presentation of facts. A suspicion which she as yet dared not put
into words forced itself upon her. Surely the thing she feared
most in all the world could not be true ? Yet there was the
sovereign missed from the mantelpiece ; the gold brooch—given
her by her poor dead husband on their wedding-day—which she
had mislaid and could not put her hand upon. Was it conceivable
that her son—
In the pause that followed Mrs. Reinhart heard the faint
monotonous sound of repeated chords, chords indicating the tuning
of a distant piano, from an opposite wing of the building, and then
the gruff laughter of two or three workmen, apparently lifting
some heavy object, in the asphalt court below the window.
Mr. Josiah Knowler fidgeted. He wished it to be understood
that his time was valuable, and half rose from his seat as he made
a mechanical movement in the direction of the office bell.
“He’s not been home for a fortnight ; he hasn’t earnt anything
here— Where did he get it from ?”
The ellipsis in Mrs. Reinhart’s speech made it in no wise
unintelligible to her listener. He was accustomed to deal with
the class from which Mrs. Reinhart sprang, and answered with a
perfect appreciation of her meaning :
“Your son appears to have plenty of money to spend, my good
“I don’t know how he comes by it !” she ejaculated.
“He would appear to have resources,” ventured the senior partner.
“He hasn’t a farthing, sir. Not one. It’s just what I can
earn, and that at the best is half a crown a day, by going out to
sew at ladies houses. And then the work’s precarious ; there’s
weeks and weeks when there’s nothing doing.”
“His companions appear to be—to be the least advisable for a
lad,” suggested Mr. Knowler. “My brother and I have both
“Oh ! He never will have nothing said,” groaned the woman ;
“he’s stubborn, he’s terrible stubborn.”
“He’s incorrigibly idle,” supplemented Mr. Josiah Knowler.
Mrs. Reinhart’s face twitched nervously as she half turned with
a shrinking movement and clasped the back of the chair she had
been sitting on. Was it to be eternally and indefinitely the same
story ? Was hers to be that weary round of endeavour which
meets only with disappointment and failure ? It was impossible
to forget that the boy had already run away from the electric
light works, where he had earnt his eighteen shillings a week, or
that he had been turned away for non-attendance at the musical
instrument makers’, she had got him into with her brother’s
influence, at Hounslow. And now that she had actually staked
her last farthing at Messrs. Knowler Brothers, her efforts seemed
as fruitless as heretofore.
Without, in the cheerless northern suburb in which she found
herself in a few moments’ time, there was little outward presage
of the coming spring. Everywhere were the stain and soil of
winter. April was already at hand, but soot hung on the
skeleton tracery of the rare trees which overtopped the garden
walls ; only a bud, on some early flowering shrub, told of a world
of green to come. Yet a wind blowing from out the west,
and flapping its damp fingers in her tired face, seemed to speak of
other and less sordid surroundings. The wind blew from out the
west bringing its message from the sea, and with it the ever-
recurring memory of the sailor husband who had been so loyal a
companion to her in the brief years of their married life. Though
a Swede, the elder Reinhart had suffered from exposure to the cold,
a severe winter on the Atlantic helping to aggravate the chest
complaint to which he succumbed at Greenwich Hospital. The
end had been sudden, and it was hardly an hour before the final
spasm that Mrs. Reinhart promised the dying man that their son
should be spared like hardships.
Hardships ! . . . . the wet sea wind lifted the pale hair from
the anaemic face and the dull eyes lighted as she thought of the
wide sea’s open highways. The life might be hard for those who
do business in great waters, but it was not mere hardship, as she
knew, which wore away body and soul. It was the smirch or
big cities which dulled the wholesome buoyancy of the blood.
And instinctively Mrs. Reinhart felt for the foreign envelope
she had received from Sweden the same morning, and which she
had thrust into her pocket on starting out on her errand to Mr.
Knowler. It was from her dead husband’s mother, to whom she
wrote regularly, but whose letter she had forgotten in her anxiety
or the morning. She was glad of anything to distract her thoughts
now, and tore it open in the street.
“Come, my daughter,” the cramped foreign writing ran, “I
am fast growing old and need younger eyes than mine about the
farm. If you fear to cross the seas alone, my brother is plying
between London and Gottenburg. You will find him at Mill-
wall till Saturday. Delay no more, my child. Come when he
sails. Ask only for the Eidelweiss, and he will bring you surely to
me . . . .”
The offer was one that had been made many times, but that
the widow had regularly refused on account of her determination
to remain near her son.
“Had her presence availed anything ?” she asked herself, as she
turned down a neglected-looking street running eastward off the
Hampstead Road, and climbed the mildewed steps of a squalid
house, guarded by a somewhat forbidding row of rusty railings,
which stood on the left-hand side of the way.
“Had either entreaty or remonstrance availed ?” The reitera-
tion of the thought was disheartening during the long hours of
the afternoon as her work fell from her lap and her eye wandered
to the rocking tree-tops, which now and again touched the blurred
window pane. The room was directly under the roof, so that the
outside message from the world came in gusts which shook the
crazy bolts and fastenings. Presently she rose and loosed them,
and pushing down the sash, braced herself to the wild air which
somehow seemed to calm the harassing trend of her thoughts.
In herself there was confusion, doubt, and misery, and, added
to misery, a fearful misgiving she could not name. There was
life and stir, in a sense hope, in that swaying world without.
The vanishing mists, the larger horizons, the opening of unknown
aerial spaces, all spoke of the expansion of external things. She
could not put the thought into words, but it was God’s open air,
and spoke in some inexplicable way of life’s larger and more
wholesome purposes. It spoke of the virile satisfaction of accom-
plishment, of an existence in which endeavour is not fruitless, in
which even a weary woman’s output has some sort of reward. So
she let the buoyant gusts sweep through the dingy little room,
which it shook as autumn winds sway a rotting leaf. And here,
too, was the sterility of autumn. Lifeless, empty and unreal, in
the woman’s eyes everything that had been born there was dead—
all her ambition for her son, all her hopes of living with him in
happy comradeship. The very round of effort which had kept
her cribbed within those four walls seemed to show itself a vain
thing. It had availed nothing. The boy for whom she had
sacrificed her last sovereign would not work.
“Had she not been paying good money for an empty room this
fortnight past ?” she asked herself in comical anti-climax to her
forerunning mood. Worse than that—the thought took the very
salt and flavour out of—life he had not been to the manufactory
for seven weeks.
It was with an effort that Mrs. Reinhart at length closed the
window and took up the forgotten sewing which had slipped on
to the floor. How behindhand she was ! A skirt had to be
finished that night. Without a pause the long monotonous hours
of the afternoon passed until it was time to rekindle the bit of fire
and grope about for a candle-end.
The scrap of supper was soon eaten, and then, while the
fragments still strewed the table, she found her gaze wandering
round from one familiar object to another. It was strange how
to-night the room—the scene of her last fourteen or fifteen years’
labour—stood bared to the flickering eye of the solitary candle.
There was the little bed, with its faded grey shawl for a covering,
on which she had tossed those years of lonely nights ; there, the
faded velvet sofa, once the pride of the young married couple’s
parlour, on which she had lain weak, but ridiculously happy, in
those long summer days following the birth of her child. Now,
in the rare moments in which she threw herself upon the couch,
it was when she returned at night, too faint and worn out to eat,
after ten or eleven hours’ sewing. There was little else in the
room : nothing but the gamboge-coloured tin box, artlessly painted
to simulate grained wood, which contained some poor clothing
and the gimcrack rosewood whatnot, relic of the triumphs of
early married gentility, and on which still stood a dusty ornament
ofF a wedding-cake and a cheap desk, the receptacle of all her
treasures. She had not opened it for a week or two, she remem-
bered, and wondered what she had done with the key.
Of course. It was in the crock on the mantelpiece. And in a
moment she was fitting it, with trembling fingers, into the lock.
What … what was this? The key did not turn. Like lightning
the terrible thought seized her. The lock had been tampered with.
Good God ! what she most feared, then, was true ! Sleeping on
the same floor, her son had access to the room at all times. No
one in the house would bar his entrance at any hour of the day
when she was away at her work, and it was while she had been
away at her work in distant parts of London that the mischief
had certainly been wrought. The desk was broken open ; her
watch, the half-sovereign she had hidden in the little wash-leather
case which held it, the locket containing the coloured portrait of
her husband, her mother-in-law’s old-fashioned Swedish ring, the
half-dozen krone and two-krone pieces, all were gone !
No one but her son could have taken the things, for no one
but her son knew where she hid the key of her room when she
locked it up on going out for the day. It was in an inaccessible
chink in the rotten boards of the passage which flanked her door,
and was covered not only by a loose piece of the woodwork but
by the mat she had placed there some years later to keep out the
draughts of an exceptionally bitter winter. The boy, when a
little fellow, had always insisted on hiding the key for her
whenever they had to leave the house, and found it again with
delighted chucklings on their return. Yes, certainly her son
The thought almost choked her. The secret of the missing
brooch, the missing sovereign, his long absence, all was made
clear. She knew now that while he had money he would not
work. Had he not run away from two excellent situations, one
after another, when he was little more than eighteen ? Had he
not been recovered from some disreputable den the year after,
when she was three weeks searching the town ? Yes. . . . On
each occasion, she recollected, in looking back, she had missed
money, though she had in no way suspected the thief at the time.
It was, then, her earnings that he spent on the slouchers at
tavern bars, on the riff-raff of both sexes that haunt street corners ?
There was no thrusting the miserable fact aside.
A convulsive shudder ran through her, the four walls of the
little room which held her seemed to rock with a misery too great
to put into words. All was dumb and confused as she sank on
her knees on the floor, pressing her forehead against the hard rim
of the wooden table. It was the only thing she was conscious of
feeling physically for a time which might have been minutes or
hours. The face of her son—flaccid, loose of lip, and shifty of
eye, as she had caught sight of it in the street some fortnight ago
—held her like some hideous phantasm. The very oath with which
he had repelled her seemed to reiterate in her ears.
Why had she been sent this scourge? She had toiled for
twenty years for this son, but now, for the first time in her life,
an extraordinary gulf appeared to open between them. What
was it, and how had it been compassed ? A numbness was creeping
up from her very feet. A curious lassitude followed the tumult
of half an hour before. It was over. That sensation at least was
definite. It was all over. There was the feeling as if she had
been frozen. Her pulse hardly beat at all.
An hour—two hours passed. Then the sudden flare and
stench of the guttering candle recalled her to her surroundings
and made her crawl to the window, where the yellow light from
a street lamp gave a faint gleam from the pavement below. She
did not trouble to find another candle, but sat crouched on the
ground, listlessly hearing the other lodgers climb the steep stairs
and one after another go to bed. Where was her son ? Or did
she any longer actually care ? Soon after all was silent in the
house, and, as the draught from the window made her shiver, she
dragged the worn shawl which acted as coverlet over her shoulders,
and threw herself, all dressed as she was, on the bed.
She did not know how long she had slept, when a familiar
sound startled her. It was the well-known noise of shuffling feet
on the landing outside, accompanied by a thick voice muttering
somewhat superfluous imprecations to the four walls.
Mrs. Reinhart held her breath to listen. It was her son ! He
had returned then ; his money must be spent. What if just
to-night he should force his way in ? Surely that was his hand
on the door handle ? She could feel nothing but the throb of her
heart the following moments in her intense anxiety to catch the
next sound. It came after what seemed a laggard interval. A
shuffle, another exclamation, then the grating of a match, and
while her heart stood still, a chink of light flashed, steadied itself,
and then fell through the long crack in one of the upper panels of
her door. It formed a streak in the darkness which cut a clean
shaft of light across the room, and for nine or ten seconds illumined
with a lurid ray the empty desk still open on the table.
The woman on the bed set her teeth. A grim expression
passed into her eyes. No one had dreamed, and least of all
herself, that there was any latent force in her. Yet the very
shape and form of the open desk seemed visible to Mrs. Reinhart
long after there was silence in her son’s room, and when the
phantom tap of the skeleton tree on the window and the dull
moan of the wind in the chimney were the only sounds which
reached her ears. It haunted her as the grey light of the dawning
smote the rain-stained window, and when the sparrows’ noisy
chirrup advertised that the gruesome night was at an end.
It was the signal for her to slip on to her feet. Where was the
letter from Sweden ? Yes ; a glance at it showed her that it was
the day the boat sailed. She would keep it by her for reference.
“Ask for the Edelweiss,” it said, and she repeated the name in an
unconscious whisper as she stole noiselessly to and fro in the room.
It would be futile, she knew, to leave anything in writing. In
the time to come the broken-open desk, the empty room would
effectually tell their own tale. One or two things from the
gamboge-coloured box, a pair of thick boots which she did not
put on, this was all she needed. Her bonnet and shawl were on
A few minutes later, when the sun rose majestically above the
horizon, the effulgent light of a radiant spring morning touched
the spare figure of a woman who emerged with a bundle from
one of the houses and cautiously put-to the door. The face was
pale, the movements agitated, but once outside, she did not look
back. Her eyes were set, and seemed to look eagerly eastward
as she vanished down the deserted street.
It was close on noon before it was ascertained that Mrs. Reinhart
had thus unostentatiously set out on a journey. By that time, as
a matter of fact, the outward-bound bark Edelweiss had slipped
her moorings and the widow had started for her new home.
PIERROT . . . . Pierrot . . . . at first they said you slept,
And then they told me you would never wake . . . .
I dared not think . . . . I watched the white day break,
The yellow lamps go out . . . . I have not wept.
But now I kiss your dear cold hands and weep ;
Shaken with sobs I cower beside the bed . . . .
At last I realise that you are dead . . . .
Drawn suddenly into the arms of sleep. . . .
Love ! . . . you will never look at me again
With those rain-coloured, heavy-lidded eyes,
Closed now for ever . . . . Pierrot, was it wise
To love so madly since we loved in vain ?
In vain ! in vain ! . . . but Pierrot, it was sweet
To stem the stealthy hours with wine and song ! . . .
Though death stood up between us stern and strong,
And fate twined nets to trip our dancing feet . . . .
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. H
. . . . Too
. . . . Too soon, alas ! too soon our summer swooned
To bitter winter . . . . and against the lace
Of tossed white pillows lay a reckless face,
With feverish parched mouth like a red wound. . . .
Yet still was our brave love not overthrown,
And I would nestle at your side and see
Your large sad eyes grow passionate for me. . . .
Love ! wake and speak . . . . I cannot live alone. . .
Blue as blue flame is the great sky above . . . .
The earth is wonderful and glad and green ;
But shut the sunlight out . . . . for I have seen
Forgetfulness upon the face of love.
By Ethel Reed
I. An Introduction
II. A Vision
On the Toss of a Penny
By Cecil de Theirry
HE leant back among the fern, tired out with his day’s tramp.
Beside him rested his swag, too small and light for prosperity,
and behind him his battered wideawake hat, which had fallen off
when he threw himself down. All about him lay the mellow
radiance of the setting sun.
He should have been pushing on to the township, whose square
outlines peeped out from the trees in the hollow ; but the rest was
a luxury too tempting to be resisted. For the moment the
drowsy silence of late afternoon, so soothing after the heat and
dust of the many miles he had walked since early morning, lulled
to sleep his most crying necessities. The spring of the fern, too,
was as grateful to his tired limbs as the finest upholstered couch ;
and its scent he would not have exchanged for the most costly
perfume in the world.
But presently the gnawing sensation of hunger began to assert
itself again, and he slowly drew himself into a sitting position.
Hard experience told him that, to get a meal, he must reach some
habitation before nightfall. Later on he would be regarded with
suspicion, and warned off as a thier.
But still he lingered. Perhaps it was the characteristic weak-
ness of the man, or it may have been he was loth to cut short hi
dreams in the open to face the realities of the settlement. Rebuffs
were as familiar to him as the sunshine. The prosperous farmer
in the country and the sleek tradesman in the town, alike, showed
him contempt. They had got on in the world, and so, if they
were only honest and industrious, could any one else, he as much
as read in their looks and words. He had not got on in the world,
therefore it was impossible that he should be either.
A few paces from where he sat the road forked. One branch
ended in the settlement, the other continued in a straight line to
the gum field, for which he was bound. Indeed it was his
uncertainty as to whether he should go on, or seek food and shelter
for the night, that had induced him to halt.
With a curious expression of countenance and the movement or
a child about to produce a treasure, secretly regarded with super-
stitious affection or awe, he drew from his breast a penny, very
much dented, and with a hole in it, through which had been run a
blue ribbon, now faded and creased almost beyond recognition. It
was the only coin he possessed, and had it not been refused by
every storekeeper in the district, would have been parted with long
” Which o’ them shall it be ? ” he said aloud ; and then a trifle
bitterly, “so far as comfort goes, either. But let the copper say :
the open, heads ; yonder, tails.”
Then, with the ease of practice, he spun it round and tossed,
catching it deftly in his palm.
” Heads,” he murmured, sighing ; “I might ‘a known it.”
Twice he repeated the process, and each time the result was the
But he made no attempt to go. For another hour he sat in the
sunshine, toying idly with the penny and whistling snatches of a
bush ballad. Then he lumbered to his feet as if crippled by age
or rheumatism, put on his battered hat and, shouldering his swag,
set briskly forward.
But, as he had done all his life, he took the easiest road. The
omens had been in favour of the other, but indecision will learn
neither from misfortune nor experience. However clearly destiny
or duty indicated the path for him to follow, his weakness led him
in a direction entirely opposite.
He had hardly proceeded a dozen yards when he was startled by
hearing the loud report of a pistol and a smothered cry, sounds on
the quiet afternoon air distinct to painfulness. Afraid without
knowing why, he stood still and listened. But, before he could
ascertain from whence they proceeded, a man sprang into the road
in front of him and disappeared in the scrub.
Hastening his steps the swagger reached a ti-tree gate, from
which a narrow path, bordered by rose-bushes and tall white
lilies, led to a cottage embosomed in greenery. There he paused,
overcome by a curious sense of loneliness he had never felt, even in
the heart of the wilderness. But, in spite of a strong desire to
flee from the spot, a stronger drew him towards the wide-open
door, on the threshold of which he could see the outline of a man’s
It was evidently the owner of the house. He lay on his back,
clutching in one hand a white rose, which he must have caught
when he fell. From a deep wound in his temple blood was still
slowly trickling, and from his fixed and staring eyes horror and
dread looked forth. At his feet lay a pistol, as if the murderer had
flung it down in a hurry at the sound of an approaching footstep,
and on the ground a well-filled purse, fastened by an elastic band.
Beyond these details the swagger’s gaze, now feverishly bright,
In a dim sort of way he understood that he and the dead were
alone. But it stirred him less than the sight of the purse ; on
that his ideas were clear, though confined to the necessities of the
moment. The young farmer, whose thrift had filled it, the shot
of a murderer had sent beyond the need of it. But to him, hungry
and penniless, the possession of it meant life itself. Not to take
advantage of such a godsend was to deserve starvation or the worst
treatment he might expect in the township. Robbery ? Surely
there could be no robbery in taking what was less than nothing to
the dead ! Like a true son of the wilderness he argued from the
standpoint of his extremity, not from the higher ground or
With a furtive glance on either side of him, he stooped down
and stretched out his hand. But, before he could grasp the prize,
the door of the house creaked on its hinges and closed with a bang.
As if the trumpet of judgment had sounded in his ears, the man
sprang to his feet, and, in a fit of guilty dread, rushed to the gate.
But, in his eagerness, he fumbled at the latch without unfastening
it. The check, slight as it was, sufficed to disarm his fears. But
it was not until he stood in the open roadway, that he paused to
reconnoitre. The wind, indeed, swept through the trees, but there
was nothing else to alarm him. The silence of the hour, intensified
by the silence of death, held the little garden.
Muttering a curse at his folly the swagger slowly retraced his
steps to the body, whose eyes now looked up at him stonily. As
if afraid delay might weaken his purpose, he stooped down for the
second time, and, with averted head, hastily picked up the purse.
But, in doing it, he exposed to view the underside, until then
hidden. On it were three dark stains, which could only have
been made by bloody fingers. From the light brown surface or
the leather they stood out with that cruel insistence the imagina-
tion has grown to associate with human blood. As his eyes fell
on them, the swagger made a movement expressive of the most
intense loathing, and the purse dropped to the ground with a
thud and a clink. The body of the murdered man had only
suggested to him a way of satisfying his hunger ; the discovery of
a ghastly bit or evidence in connection with it filled him with
horror. Situated as he was, perhaps, this was natural. The one
he could leave behind and forget ; the other was a permanent
record of the dead.
The sudden descent of the purse loosened its elastic band,
which had only been tied in a knot, and part of its contents
streamed out on the path. The sight of it quickened the
swagger s faculties, if it did not entirely overcome his disgust.
With a curious guttural exclamation of joy he gathered up all the
silver, which had fallen out, and put it in his pocket. Then he
stood still for a moment or two considering as to the wisdom of
taking the purse also. But constitutional timidity rather than
experience warned him of the danger he would run, and he,
reluctantly, decided to leave it behind.
Foresight was a stranger to this man, whose vagrant blood had
driven him as far as might be from the haunts of his kind, but, as
he turned away, he was suddenly struck with an idea which
closely resembled it. Reason and fastidiousness, too thoroughly
ingrained to be lost by a rude contact with life, alike forbade him
to take the purse just then. But what was to prevent him from
putting it in a safe place so that it would be ready to serve his
necessities on some future occasion ? The prospect stimulated
him to energy ; but, though he traversed the garden from end to
end, he could find no hiding-place both weather-proof and certain
to elude the trained observation of the police. And then, as he
was about to give up the search in despair, his eye fell on the
wall, which ran parallel with the road. It was built of irregularly
shaped stones, dug out of the volcanic soil of the farm, and piled
one on top of the other without any cement. Near the gate they
were small, except the two lower rows, which were unusually
large. After carefully removing one of them, without disturbing
those immediately above it, the swagger dug a hole with his
fingers in the ground where it had lain. This done he went for
the purse, shuddering at the blood stains as he picked it up, and
dropped it in the hollow he had prepared for it ; afterwards putting
the stone back in its place, and marking the spot with a
Then, panic-stricken, he darted out of the gate, never once
slackening his pace until he had put a good quarter of a mile
between himself and the dead.
As he neared the town, houses became more and more frequent.
He heard the laughter and shouts of merry children, and fragments
of the conversation carried on at open windows, or on the creeper-
entwined verandahs of the houses. But, like one half-asleep, he
heard them as it were afar off. Tired and hungry he had but one
thought—to satisfy his craving for food ; with a full pocket, a
matter so simple that his face flushed and his blood flowed faster
in his veins at the very thought.
When he had eaten he was another being. He was no longer
a miserable creature, shrinking from observation like a whipped
cur, but a man even as others are. He sat back in his chair at
the public-house as if he had a spine—and what was more a spine
in good order. He even tried to look the world about him in the
face, but that was beyond his powers, so he gave it up. To exert
himself, physically or mentally, just then was impossible. He was,
so to speak, pervaded by a glow, though his sensations were those
of an old gentleman after his second glass of port rather than
those of a swagger, who has just eaten his first square meal for a
week. His brain moved sluggishly, his life in the open took shape
as a vague memory.
Thus when he was arrested on the charge of murder, he
showed so little surprise as to give an unfavourable impression
to the police from the start. It was true he looked slightly
bewildered, but no more than if he had been mistaken for an
acquaintance by a stranger in the street. The peculiar sleepy
sense of satisfaction, known only in its fulness to those whose
meals are not so regular as they might be, dulled the force of the
blow even more effectually than entire ignorance would have
done. It was the animal, not the man, which was uppermost.
The police were perplexed. As a rule, criminals might be
classed under either of two headings—the coarse and callous, or
the refined and crushed. But this man belonged to neither. He
would have embodied the popular idea of a mild country curate,
but of a murderer, never. The worst that could be said of him
related to his ragged, unkempt appearance. Of evil his counten
ance showed not a trace. Weak it was without a doubt, but weak
with the weakness of childhood or age, rather than of youth or
manhood. Therefore it was without a suspicion of craft, a
confused pain looked out from the sunken blue eyes, and that
During the succeeding weeks he awakened to a fuller sense of
the gravity of his situation, but either he was indifferent to his
own fate, or incapable of understanding that innocence might
suffer for guilt ; for of all those concerned in the case he was the
least anxious as to its progress. Lawyers argued and pleaded,
remand after remand was asked for and obtained ; witnesses were
examined and re-examined, but his demeanour never altered. He
was more like a man in a trance than a man on trial for his life,
and this the crowd, whose feelings had at first been excited
against him, at last came to see. The resentment, which had
been expressed by fierce mutterings and black looks, died away
ashamed before the forlornness of its object in the dock. More-
over the evidence was as far from solving the problem of his guilt
at the end as it was in the beginning. He was a swagger, and
had in his possession ten shillings in silver for which he could not,
or would not account ; beyond these two facts nothing could be
proved against him. On the disappearance of the purse he could
not be induced to say a word. The story he had told the evening
of his arrest was never shaken in any one particular. Only that
it had been found impossible to fasten the murder on any one
else, the authorities would have been only too glad to let him
But at length a clue to the ownership of the pistol, thrown
into the bushes under the window of the house, was discovered
and, as it could by no chance have come into the swagger’s hands,
there was no longer any reasonable excuse for detaining him a
prisoner. He was, therefore, acquitted with the usual forms,
a piece of good fortune it took him some time to realise
When he did at last grasp the fact, he was alone on the
verandah of the court-house. But this was to him no source ot
anger and bitterness. He accepted it as he accepted every other
ill of his lot—as a matter of course. Nothing else was to be
expected when a swagger was under consideration. Besides, for
the sake of appearances, none of the townspeople would care to be
seen talking to one who had not been entirely cleared of the
charge of murder. That it was less than their Christian profession
demanded, they chose to forget : that it was more than convention
could bear they had no difficulty in remembering.
Stay, there was an exception. As the swagger slouched up the
deserted street from the court-house he met a man—tall, loosely
knit, and dressed in moleskin trousers and a striped shirt who
was lounging in the doorway of a public-house at the corner.
” Looky here,” he said, in a hoarse whisper, ” you’d better git
out o’ this.”
” Yes,” said the swagger, halting ; ” I was thinking about it.”
The other made an impatient movement at this tame reply.
” Because that kind o’ thing sticks to a bloomin’ cuss as long
as he lives—ye-es,” he continued, and his heavy brows met in a
fierce scowl. ” I’ve bin there, an’ I know. Now you git into
shelter before night. See.”
With that he flung a five-shilling piece into the road, and
awkwardly retreated into the house.
The swagger picked it up with more alacrity than he commonly
showed. But the acutest observation would have failed to discover
in him the smallest sign of gratitude. Either he had lost the
power to distinguish properly between kindness or unkindness, or
he had got into the habit of meeting both with the same apathy of
mien. Possibly, also, he was conscious that, under like circum-
stances, he would have done the same.
From habit he walked on without looking back, or he would
have seen that he was followed by a man—a swagger like himself,
but of evil countenance and rough appearance. As long as they
were in the township, it was not noticeable, but, the further they
left it behind, the more striking it became. The Shadow, how
ever, instead of keeping to the road, hugged the hedges of the
farms and the ti-tree of the open.
Instinctively the other proceeded in a direction opposite to that
by which he had entered the town a month before. Lonely
under the summer sun, it was desolate beyond description at this
hour of the evening, and almost impassable, owing to the heavy
rain of the previous few days ; yet to him, after his narrow quarters
in the prison, it was pleasant. Because of the personal discomfort
he noticed the pools of water, into which he plunged, now and
again, with a loud splash, and the heavy clay soil, in which he sank
with a sucking sound at every step. But of the finer features of
the landscape he saw nothing in detail. The sweet perfume of
the ti-tree ; the ominous sighing of the wind ; the gray expanse
of sky, over which dark masses of ragged-edged clouds were flying
—these were not distinct parts of a magnificent picture, but a
perfect whole, whose beauty he felt without attempting to analyse
—perhaps the truest homage it is possible to pay.
When he reached a point in the road where it branched, still
unconscious of the Shadow, he sat down. In front of him the ti-
tree had been cleared, but already a new growth, two feet high,
had sprung up in prodigal profusion, hiding the yellow earth
beneath with a mantle of green. Across it a band of deep orange,
left by the sun in the west, cast a weird shaft of light.
Suddenly, with the curious sound in his throat a horse makes
when it is pleased, the swagger sank face downwards to the
ground. Overcome by the necessity for expression, he hugged
tufts of greenery passionately to his heart, and as heedless of the
damp and spiky shoots as he was ignorant of the two evil blue
eyes, curiously regarding him from an opening in the scrub, buried
his head among it like a child on its mother s breast. When he
lifted it again his eyes were full of tears.
Then, as if tired, he sat up again, and drew from his pocket
the penny, tied with faded blue ribbon, with which he had tempted
fate weeks before. Twirling it slowly between his thumbs, he
fell to reasoning aloud.
” It’s not much good,” he said, ” but better than nothing.
Heads this way ; tails that way.”
So saying he tossed. But the result was unsatisfactory.
Twice tails were uppermost : once heads. To any one else the
former would have decided the point, but to him, being the man
he was, it was the latter.
Rising to his feet in the laboured fashion peculiar to his kind,
he shouldered his swag, and at once struck into the road directly
facing him—as before, followed by the Shadow. It was time, as
he could see by the wrathful sky above him, and heard by the
soughing of the ti-tree on either side. To increase the gloom
rain began to fall, and, before he had gone a quarter of a mile,
the short twilight of semi-tropical regions faded, and night
Difficult as it was to proceed, he walked a mile before he
paused to rest. Then, soaked to the skin and exhausted, he
sought the shelter of a group of trees, standing near the edge of a
field, and glanced about him to discover where he was, the Shadow
halting not six paces distant. So far as he could judge he was no
nearer a settlement than when he started, and could only suppose
that, in the darkness, he had turned off the main road without
being aware of it. What to do under the circumstances he had
no idea. His long inactivity in the prison had enervated him to
such an extent, that he was as unfitted for continuous walking as
he was to stand the hardships of a night in the open. To go on
was, therefore, out of the question ; to stay where he was not less
so. Hence he was forced to think of finding shelter, however
To seek it at any of the farmhouses, whose lights twinkled
here and there through the murky atmosphere, was out of the
question. His appearance was now so well known in the district
that the mere sight of him would not only chill sympathy in the
kindest, but be the signal for an instant order to be off, or for
shutting the door in his face. Necessity is, however, seldom at a
loss. He decided to continue on his way until he came to a
homestead, built near the road, when he would try and creep
into one of the outbuildings, and there lie down.
Fortified by this resolution he splashed forward with a trifle
more energy, and had hardly proceeded a hundred yards when he
was rewarded by hearing the swinging of agate on its hinges. In
another second a great shadow loomed up among the trees, in
whose outlines he recognised the home of a settler. But there
was no light in the windows, and, by the fitful gleams of a moon
struggling with the inky blackness of the clouds hurrying across
it, he saw that it was unoccupied. This was not a new experi-
ence, as, in the more lonely parts of the country, deserted home
steads are not unknown, so that he had no misgivings in taking
possession of it for the night.
The house consisted of two rooms and a lean-to ; but, as he
soon discovered by feeling along the walls with his hands, it was
empty of furniture. He could, therefore, do nothing better than
lie down in a corner furthest removed from the draught of the
front door, which would not close, and get as much rest as he
could before morning. At any rate the floor was dry, and there
was a roof between him and the pitiless storm outside.
But sleep refused to come. In a vain endeavour to find ease
for his tired body, he tossed from side to side, or shifted his
position entirely, until even hunger and cold were forgotten in a
sense of utter prostration. And then, in the subtle way peculiar
to such things, he began to fancy he was not alone to be aware
of another presence beside his own in the house. Instantly he
was sitting bolt upright, every nerve on the stretch, and the very
flesh creeping on his bones. What was it ? He could see
nothing ; could hear no sound other than the howling of the
wind, the sobbing of the rain, and the swish, swish of a branch as
it was swept backward and forward against the roof.
At that instant the door swung forward with a bang, and the
swagger, his hair almost on end, and perspiration dropping from
every pore, sprang up with a loud shriek.
He knew where he was !
In that strange illumination of the mind, which neither
depends on reason nor imagination, he remembered when he had
last heard those same sounds, and the whole scene rushed before
him with a vividness intensified by the hour and the place. Yet
fascinated by the invisible, he stayed where he was, cowering in
his corner like a wild beast in its lair. If he had only known it,
within three paces of him stood the man who had followed him
from the township !
For some minutes—which seemed to him hours, so full were
they of a nameless dread—he gazed straight in front of him, when
all at once a stream of moonlight struck obliquely across the room,
taking shape to his excited fancy as a white-robed figure of giant
proportions and unearthly form. But it disappeared almost
directly, and all was in gloom again.
Half paralysed with fear, the swagger dragged himself along the
floor to the door, which a gust of wind opened wide. He was
thus able to crawl out into the air, and collect his scattered facul-
ties. But the garden was as full of dread for him as the house.
The rain had ceased, but the sobbing of the earth and the rush of
the wind were, in his state of mind, fearsome things endowed with
life. The moon, too, added to his terrors by casting strange and
shifting shadows on the path, and investing the bushes and trees
with terrible shapes. An equinoctial gale was blowing, and the
place was alive with supernatural beings, yet the swagger was
oppressed by its loneliness and silence.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. I
In a panic he resolved to recover the purse he had hidden, and
put as great a distance between himself and this accursed spot as
it was possible to do before morning. He found the stick he had
thrust into the ground to mark where it lay, and, as carefully as
his terror would let him, drew out the stone. Had he turned
round just then he would have seen the Shadow standing immedi-
ately behind him. But he was too absorbed in his task, and too
much afraid to think of such a precaution. Hence the glittering
eyes watched his every movement undisturbed. The moment he
stood up, however, the Shadow shrank back into the yielding
greenery of a passion-flower, which had taken possession of a
young pine-tree. For a moment there was an awful pause. Then
the swagger, forgetting his fears in a triumphant sense of his own
foresight, held up the purse to the moonlight to be certain that he
had it. Instantly the Shadow stretched forth a bony hand, and
seized it, the three fingers of the right hand exactly fitting the
three bloodstains on the leather. With a shriek, which echoed
sadly through the garden, the swagger started back, and rushed
blindly up the path to the house, falling across the threshold with
a heavy thud.
And that was how the man, who had been accused of murder
ing the young farmer, came to be found in the self-same position
on the doorstep as his supposed victim. A judgment said the
settlers, but the doctor said it was heart-disease.
April of England
By A. Myron
(Written in South Africa)
APRIL of England,
Oh, for the breath of you,
Oh, for the light of you,
Oh, for the heart of you.
I am so far from you,
I am so far from you,
April of England.
Hearts for the light of you,
Hearts for the breath of you,
Die for the lack of you,
Die for the lack of the love and the kiss of you,
Die for the lack of the kiss and the love of you,
Kisses and love of you,
April of England.
At Old Italian Casements
By Dora Greenwell McChesney
From a Tuscan Window
A HIGH dark Florentine palace with frowning cornice and
barred windows, rich torch-holders of wrought iron set
beside the deep-arched doorway. In one of the casements stands
a young girl ; it is early morning and the fresh light shines over
her. She has been, perhaps, at a banquet, for she is in gala dress—
soft green worked with threads of silver ; about her slim long
throat is a chain with an ornament of enamel bright with shift-
ing colours. She grasps the heavy iron with a small white hand
and leans forward ; the shadow of one bar lies like a dark band
across the bright hair drawn smoothly back from her forehead.
She is watching for her lover to pass in the dusky street ; her lips
are grave, but there is a smile in the brown eyes under the fine
curved brows. She looks out through the sunrise and waits.
Underneath the window, so close to the wall that he cannot be
seen from above, lies a youth wrapped in a dark mantle—dead—
he has been stabbed there in the night and fallen quite silently.
His loose dark hair brushes the ground where he lies ; his blood
has made a stain on the grey stones. His white face is turned
up ; his eyes are open, looking towards the casement—the case-
ment where the maiden leans, watching for her lover to pass in
In the Palace of the Duke
THE window is wreathed about with strange carvings, where
mocking faces look from among the vines. Against the
broad sill a youth is leaning, looking into the court below where
his horse is being led out and his falconer is waiting. The lad is
dressed with great richness, his close crimson doublet and hosen
curiously slashed and his short cloak thick with golden embroidery.
His dark hair makes a cloud about a delicate wilful face. In one
hand he holds a casket of amber wrought with the loves of the
gods, and before him on the ledge lie papers newly signed. Close
by him are two figures ; a man still young and a stately woman
whose hair is grey beneath her jewelled head-dress and veil. They
are mother and son, for their features are alike, and wasted alike
before the time by some long hunger of desire. She has her left
hand on her bosom, pressed hard, almost as though on something
hidden there ; with her right she holds a goblet of silver to the
youth, who reaches backwards for it, not turning, with an indolent
gesture. He glances carelessly to the court below, but the eyes
of mother and son have met, unflinchingly, in a slow smile of
A Venetian Balcony
NIGHT on the waters, yet no darkness. On the still lagoons
broad sheen of moonlight ; in the canals and squares of
Venice shifting and clashing lights of many lamps and torches,
for it is a night of festival. From a balcony set with discs of
alabaster, purple and white, a woman is bending to look across the
water. She is full in the mingling of lights, white of the moon-
beams, gold of the wide-flaring torches ; they shine on the warm
whiteness of brow and throat and bosom and the gold of her
hair which she wears coiled high, like a crown, about a jewelled
dagger. She holds her mask in her left hand on which is no
ring. There is a smile on her proud lips, but the great fire of
her eyes is dying ; into the triumph is stealing a touch of fear
and the sense of a woman’s first surrender. The night is all
but gone, the revelry at its close. She looks across the water
where the moon has made a silver track, but her eyes seek only
the track of a gondola which has passed—slipped from her sight.
Back in the dusk rich room a single silver lamp is burning ; it
throws a gleam on her own picture. A master hand has set her
there as the holy Saint Catherine, robed like a queen, as indeed
she is this night, but kneeling humbly before the Blessed Babe
and holding a spousal ring.
A Brother of St. Francis
LOW and narrow, the window of a convent cell, but it commands
the width of Umbrian plain, above which the sun is scarcely
risen. A great band of saffron light outlines the far horizon, but
the full day has not come. Close to the walls of the cloister rise
slender trees, shooting up as if athirst for the sun, their tall stems
bare and straight, only breaking at the top into leafage. These
lift a delicate tracery of green against the rose-grey of the sky,
but, beyond, the lower slopes are dim with the ashen mist of the
olives. And still beyond the plain sweeps out, showing no wood
or stream, making ready wide barren spaces to be touched into
beauty by the changing sky. The sun has hardly given full life
to the colours beneath ; the green and yellow and grey merge
tremulously. The virginal air of early dawn is not yet brushed
away. The plain lies dream-like—rapt in a great expectancy.
From the casement a young monk looks out. He wears the
brown habit of a Franciscan. His eyes are wide and fixed and he
looks into the sunrise and beyond it. His face is worn and very
pale, so that the early light seems to shine through it, meeting a
light from within ; his lips are parted, not in prayer but in some
breathless rapture of contemplation. The morning brightness
searches his barren cell, touches his coarse garments and his
clasped hands. The marks of fast and vigil are upon him. In
his face is the fulness of utter renunciation—and the peace of a
great promise. Outside, above the narrow window of his cell, the
mated birds are building.
The Cardinal’s Outlook
WIDE splendour of the sunset beating down upon Rome ;
the statutes on column and church front stand aloof, and
uplifted in the red glow the dark shafts of the cypresses are
kindled by it into dusky gold. It shines in at the window where
the Cardinal is sitting and dwells on his rich robes—then is sub-
dued and lost in the room behind. Yet even there fugitive
gleams respond to it, from rare enamel and wrought metal ; most
of all from the statuette of a Bacchante, the golden bronze of
which seems to hold the sun-rays. The ivory crucifix looks wan
beside it. The Cardinal does not see the sunset, though a bar of
brightness lies across the book open before him on which his left
hand is pressed. The window is not all in light ; outside, against
the pageant of the sky rises a mighty bulk of darkness. It is the
dome of St. Peter’s. Its shadow lies across the Cardinal’s dwell-
ing and across the world of his thought. And there—close to
the base of that dome, there in the heart of the Vatican, the Pope
is dying. The Cardinal, new come from his bedside, sits wait-
ing : soon the last mystic sacraments must be bestowed, soon the
last throb of life must pass. He waits. He does not see the
sunset ; he sees instead the kneeling forms round the death-bed ;
he sees the shrouded halls and solemn gatherings of the Conclave
He sees—beyond—a mystery of ever widening domination, at the
centre of which is enthroned—not the old man who is dying
yonder. Whose will it be—the solitary sovereign figure, soon to
stand there where the dome rises and the great shadow lies ?
The Cardinal’s face has grown sharp and sunken in these hours ;
it is of a pallor like the ivory crucifix behind him. Round his
lips lingers the unchanging inward smile of priesthood. His eyes
beneath their drooping lids are intent—patient—menacing. His
right hand is a little lifted with an unconscious movement of
benediction : with such a gesture it is that the Pope—from above
the portico of the Lateran—blesses the kneeling multitudes.
Fine Feathers make Fine Birds
By A. Bauerle
By Henry W. Nevinson
(A mediaeval citizen speaks)
STEPHEN, clerk of Oxford town,
Oh, the weary while he lies,
Wrapt in his old college gown,
Burning, burning till he dies !
And ’tis very surely said,
He shall burn when he is dead,
All aflame from foot to head.
Stephen said he knew a rose—
One and two, yea, roses three—
Lovelier far than any those
Which at service-time we see,
Emblems of atonement done,
And of Christ’s belovèd One,
And of Mary’s mystic Son.
Stephen said his roses grew
All upon a milk-white stem,
Side by side together two,
One a little up from them,
Sweeter than the rose’s breath,
Rosy as the sun riseth,
Warm beside ; that was his death.
Stephen swore, as God knows well,
Just to touch that topmost bud,
He would give his soul to hell—
Soul and body, bones and blood.
Hell has come before he dies ;
Burning, burning there he lies,
But he neither speaks nor cries.
Ah, what might those roses be ?
Once, before the dawn was red,
Did he wander out to see
If the rose were still a-bed ?
Did he find a rose-tree tall
Standing by the garden wall ?
Did he touch the rose of all ?
Stephen, was it worth the pain,
Just to touch a breathing rose ?
Ah, to think of it again,
Look, he smiles despite his throes.
Did he dream that hell would be
Years hereafter ? Now, you see,
Hell is here, and where is she ?
At my word, through all his face
Flames the infernal fire within,
Mary, Mary, grant me grace,
Still to keep my soul from sin !
Thanks to God, my rose was grown
Not so sweet, but all my own,
Not so fair, but mine alone.
By Sidney Benson Thorp
THE dusky little row comprising No. 79 quivered like a jelly
as railway or post-office vans, making a short cut between
two principal thoroughfares, roared over the boulders of Wickham
To the left front shone a public-house, another to the right.
Before each an Italian musician had set up his rest (for it was ten
o’clock and a fine, warm night), and thence, reckless of unhappy
beings at the confluence, in friendly rivalry they teemed forth
contradictory tunes. From a neighbouring street floated tepid
air charged with the vibrations of inflated brass; the voices of the
inhabitants, seeking on their doorsteps comparative cool at the
close of a tropical day, fantastically varied the echoes. Linked
bands of frolicsome youth patrolled beneath the window of No. 79,
shouting a parody of Wagner wedded to words by an imitator of
Mr. George R. Sims—the latest success of the halls. Splutters
of gurgling laughter betrayed the whereabouts of amorous pairs.
And the man staring from the open window of the first-floor
front neither saw nor heard.
Within the room a pale circle of light fell, from beneath the
opaque shade of a single candle, directly upon a litter of manuscript
and a few odd volumes of standard literature. The feebler rays
reflected thence disclosed the furniture indispensable for man’s
dual existence : a narrow bed, from beneath which the rim of a
bath protruded ; the table, and a couple of chairs. The walls
were unadorned, the boards were bare.
The appearance of Henry Longton’s volume had been the
literary event of a season. The new man had been recognised as
standing in a solitude unapproachable by the twittering mob of a
prolific generation. A great poet, who chanced to be also himself
a great critic, had dared to stake his reputation upon the future of
the new Immortal. And so for a while he had lived in a hashish
dream of exultation. He knew his achievements to be high ; and
as he wandered by day or night through howling thoroughfares,
lonely amid the turgid waves of half-evolved humanity, he forgot
the cruel side of life, and hugged himself in the warm cloak of
flattering memories : the tumult of the traffic sounded drums and
trumpets to his song.
Importunate came the hour when he must set forth once more
to produce. A royalty on a limited edition may mount to a
handsome dole of pocket-money, but it is not a chartered company.
Longton’s small capital had long since melted away ; and he sat
down, therefore, to write immortal verse for the liquidation of his
The time had been when a mere act of attention sufficed to
the erection of jewelled palaces from the piled-up treasures of his
brain. Now, to his dismay, the most assiduous research could
discover among the remnants nothing but the oft-rejected, the
discoloured, and the flawed. The heavy wrath of the gods had
fallen upon him, and he was dumb : he must betake himself to the
merest hack-work of anonymous journalism j and the bitterest
drop in the cup of this set-back was the reflection that the tide
was ebbing for one whom nature had framed unfit to profit by its
flood. A poet and no man is a crushed worm endowed with
A tinkling hansom drew up at the door, and a moment after a
well-dressed man came lightly up the stairs. He welcomed him
self with a breezy confidence that suited well with his pleasant
voice and handsome face, lighted all the candles he could find in
his friend s store-cupboard and, finally, reclined upon the bed ;
while his host, without any remonstrance against these revolu-
tionary proceedings, hastened to produce a bottle, a couple or
tumblers, and a half-empty box of his visitor’s own cigars.
The brave shine of seventeen candles (ingeniously fastened to
the mantelboard with a drop of their own wax) revealed a notable
contrast between the friends, suggesting the not uncommon cir-
cumstance of an intimacy cemented by contrasting traits. The
new comer was a man of extremely advantageous exterior ; his
masculine beauty of a type that is familiar among Englishmen, but
seldom so perfectly exampled. Longton, on the other side, was
contemptibly plain ; nor was his barbarous shapelessness of parts
redeemed even by such ensign of superior intelligence as he might
justly have claimed to distinguish him from the general man. His
mean face was dingy with a three days growth ; the opening of his
coarse lips disclosed sparse fragments of discoloured teeth ; his eyes
shone with a distressful expression of diffidential self-esteem ; the
greasy skin was unpleasantly diversified with patches of unwhole
some red. His accustomed bearing was characterised by a deference
that was servile without being humble ; but among the few with
whom he was intimate he betrayed a self-assertive petulance which
might not be confounded with courage. That Freddy Beaumont,
in spite of these defects, had never ceased to revere and to befriend
the solitary creature was the most amiable feature in his otherwise
tolerably selfish and purposeless life.
” And what,* he presently demanded, ” might be the sense of
this document ?”—producing, as he spoke, a crumpled scrap.
” I wanted particularly to see you,” replied the poet, who lisped
” So much I gathered : the appeal is in the name of the Deity.”
” It was urgent.”
” Very. I expected to find serpents coiling round the chairs
and a fat toad squatting on the mantel-piece. It is nothing of
that kind ? ”
” Nothing, nothing,” replied the other in a tone of distressful
Well ? ”
The poet strained his eyes helplessly up and around, with diffi-
culty disjoined his sticky lips, wrung his clammy hands together, and
at last, in an insecure voice and with a singular hesitancy, asked :
” Are you fond of pictures ? ”
” No,” rejoined Freddy, placidly ; ” but the first cousin of the
wife of our gardener has a tame elephant.”
” That is fortunate,” answered Longton, suppressing with an
effort the irritation which his friend’s witticisms rarely failed to
stir up. ” Putting the elephant aside, however, for the moment—
the fact is, I am in a difficulty.”
” My dear fellow, why couldn’t you say so at once ? What’s
the demned total ?
A van, the property of the Midland Railway Company, had
made rapid approach, and the dialogue had risen in proportion on
a swift crescendo. At this moment Freddy made as if he were
clinging for his life to a bucker. When the turmoil had partially
” A cheque won’t serve,” replied the poet, shaking his head
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. K
” Anything in reason, you know, I am always ready to do for
you,” the other reassured him.
“This is easy,” cried the poet, “and it is not unreasonable.”
“Just tell me what it is you want,” said Beaumont, “and you
may depend on its being done.”
“I am going to place my happiness in your hands.”
” Snakes ! What, a woman ? ”
Exerting himself once more to master his nerves, the other
” Do you know the Madonna degli Ansidei ? :
” Never heard of the lady. Where s she on? But really this
is very new—very new and unexpected ! ” And his face shaped
itself to an appropriate but displeasing expression of masculine
“The Madonna degli Ansidei, ” the other explained with
laborious precision, though within the decayed slippers his toes
were curled into a knot, ” is a picture, painted some years ago by
one Raphael Sanzio, an Italian gentleman, and at present housed
in a public building which stands (for the greater convenience of
exploring Londoners) within a stone’s throw of the Alhambra
and Empire Theatres. Do you think——
“Right you are,” responded Freddy, cheerily. “I don’t know
it—the picture—of course ; but I suppose one of the official
persons would condescend to point it out. What then ?
“You will find it in the third gallery ; it faces the entrance;
and the name is written beneath. You can read, I think you
say ? ”
” Oh, shut up ! Well, what am I to do ? Annex the thing ? ”
“Precisely; if you can bring it away conveniently, without
” My dear chap——”
” Otherwise I shall be satisfied if you will devote yourself, I
won’t say to admiring it, but to observing it closely for a quarter
of an hour.”
” And therewith, as by a miracle, the Philistine shall put off his
skin and the barbarian wash away his spots ; is that the hope ?
Now, I take this real kind of you, little boy ; and it pains
me to have to assure you that I am incorrigible : you’ll have to
put up with me as I am.” And twisting up his lips, he joined
his pipe to a passing choir :
“. . . mahnd ‘aow ye ga-ow !
Nahnteen jolly good boys, all in a ra-ow.”
There was a pause.
” From four o clock to-morrow afternoon till a quarter past,”
resumed the petitioner, gazing fixedly past his guest.
Freddy’s blue eyes opened childishly. ” What the devil are
you up to ? ” he demanded curiously.
” I have an engagement,” stammered the poet. A flow of
blood flushed his face and ebbed.
” You had better keep it, I suggest.”
” I can’t : don’t you see ? ” he wailed, and threw out his hands
with a gesture of despair.
” Why ? Who’s the party ? I haven’t a dream what you are
driving at, I tell you.”
” To meet—to meet—the Madonna,” he replied desperately.
” And you must represent me.”
The excitement of the moment lent an unwonted rigidity to
the crazy form, which to the young man’s eyes, as he looked at
him pitifully, seemed to render it yet more lamentable.
” My dear fellow,” he remonstrated, ” don’t you think—
seriously, you know—you had better knock it off for a bit—the
absinthe or chloral or whatever it is ? Now, give it up, there’s a
dear old chap. Look here,” he added, laying a kind hand upon
the other’s shoulder, ” get shaved and into some decent clothes, and
come along to my chambers. I’ll put you up for to-night, and
to-morrow we’ll run down to a little place I know on the coast :
a week of it will make a new man of you.”
The poet started up, a prodigy of wrath.
” Ass ! ” he exclaimed. ” It is life and death, I tell you. You
call yourself a friend ; will you do this nothing for me ? I ask
you for the last time.”
” No.” The answer was given in a tone of quiet obstinacy
which, seldom heard by Freddy’s intimates, never failed to carry
conviction. ” I will go no such fool’s errand,” he added, ” for
any man. And now I must be off. Good-bye. I’ll look round
again in a day or two, and I hope I shall find a rational creature.”
For a moment, while he held the handle, he faltered ; the
spectacle might have moved commiseration ; but hardening his
“It’s too damned silly,” he muttered, as he descended the steep
The poet heard him give a direction to the driver and presently
the clatter of hoofs, as the hansom turned and tinkled away south
* * * * *
Quarter after quarter chimed from the church of St. Pancras,
and the solitary still sat crouching over the table. Involuntarily
from the bitterness of present despair his mind strayed back into
the past, and by an almost orderly survey reviewed the tissue of
its web ; picking out from it the gilded strands that here and
there diversified the dun—the day when the long-sought publisher
was found, the first handling of the precious volume, the article
in the National of which it furnished the subject. For a space
he doted upon the brilliant imagination that had conceived these
choice things and brought them forth. Then he was overwhelmed
by the sense of present barrenness and of the defects that must in
any case for ever link his days with solitude.
He rose and extinguished the candle-flare upon the mantelpiece,
then from a worn despatch-box withdrew a faggot of letters.
They dated over two years : the last from that very interning. He
read each one through ; raised it devoutly for a moment to his
quivering mouth ; and held it in the flame till it was consumed.
The last ran :
” A strange idea of yours, my Poet—but what you tell me I shall
do. To-morrow, then, I am to see the face I have searched a
hundred crowds to find : for I should have known it, never doubt, if
once chance had brought us near. Faces mirror minds : that never
fails : and your mind, how well I know it ! I am not to speak, you
say, and that is hard. Yet I am humble and submit. In this, as in
all else, I am your glad handmaid.”
With glistening eyes he re-read the words ; then, with a groan,
held this letter also in the flame. The fire spread along the edge
and marched in a tremulous blue curve across the sheet, leaving
charred ruin behind. He gently placed the unbroken tinder upon
the table and allowed the flame to consume the corner by which
he had held it. While he hesitated to mix these ashes with the
rest, his eye lit upon the tumbler. He crushed the brittle remnant
into the glass, pounding it with his ringers till it was mere dust.
Upon this he poured the contents of a phial ; and having filled up
the goblet from a carafe, stirred the contents with the end of a
quill. He held the glass up towards the candle and watched the
ashes circling and sinking in the yellow liquid.
” I have
” I have eaten ashes as It were bread,” he murmured (as if to
fulfil the magic), “and have mingled my drink with weeping.”
He placed the draught upon the table, and kneeling at the low
window-sill, looked out upon the road.
The clamour thence had grown louder as the hour drew near
to midnight ; the choruses more boisterous and less abject to the
conventions of time and tune. Above the din of perpetual harsh
chatter, on this side and that, rose shrill voices into the extreme
register of denunciation and vituperative challenge, buoyed higher
to each response by antiphonal remonstrance in a lower octave.
A mingled line of young men and women, in various stages of
incipient intoxication, wavered past, and beneath the window of
No. 79, attained the honeyed climax of their song :
” She was one of the Early Birds,
And I was one o the Worms.”
The solitary lodger closed and bolted the window, and pulled
the blind well down.
Upon Freddy’s mind the last view of the unhappy young man
had left an impression which he would gladly have shaken off. It
would be too much, indeed, to assert that the memory chased
sleep from his pillow, but it was a fact—and he noted it with
surprise—that even eight hours of dreamless slumber proved
impotent to efface it. By noon, though still resolved that friend
ship should exact no irrational concession from common sense, he
began to be aware that his purpose was less strenuously set than
at breakfast-time he had supposed it to be. The attempt to
stiffen it ruined his lunch ; the last effort to hold out diminished
the value of his smoke ; and by three o clock he owned him
self vanquished. He presently despatched a telegram to his
arbitrary friend and strolled down Piccadilly towards Trafalgar
A little while he wandered, with a sense of reposeful well-being,
through the wide rooms ; sharing their spaciousness with some
half-score of travellers from the Continent or the States ; for it
was the height of the season, and to lovers of art there was the
Academy. Then, having found the Raphael of which he had
come in search, with a little grimace he settled himself, as the
clock of St. Martin s struck four, full facing it upon a chair.
Determined, now that he had gone so far, to fulfil to the utter
most his friend s eccentric request, he focussed his eyes resolutely
upon the masterpiece. “I will absorb culture,” he thought ; “it
is good form.” And he proceeded to concentrate his mind.
But, good as was his will, he found it impossible to stir up in
himself any poignant interest ; nor could he help repining against
the wayward taste of his friend, which had selected as the object
of his study the inspired incongruities of this mediaeval work,
rather than a cheerful canvas representing an Epsom crowd, which
had laid hold upon his imagination in one of the chambers devoted
to the British and Modern Schools. Indeed, such was the tedium
of this futile search after occult beauties that five minutes of the
fifteen had barely sped before he was pressingly aware of a head in
unstable equilibrium. The nod aroused him, and the next
moment he was wide-awake.
From the gallery on his right hand as he sat, from behind a
screen which masked the opening, fluttered the panting figure of
a girl. Her slender shape sloped forward as if the little feet were
clogs upon a buoyant soul ; her hands were pressed crosswise
beneath her throat ; cloud fleeces of evening gold pursued one
another across her forehead, her cheek, her neck, as she stood
gazing with shining eyes upon his face, her dewy lips apart.
An older women, her companion, emerged and drew her away.
” How sweet ! ” murmured the student. ” Wonder who she
can be ? ” And he arose.
It was almost midnight when Freddy drove into Wickham
Road, swelling with great words, primed with confidences.
About the door of 79 it surprised him to find a loose semi-
circular crowd, radiating from the sheen of police-buttons. With
some difficulty he made his way to the officer, and inquired of him
the reason of the assemblage.
The constable eyed him deliberately, and answered with com-
” Oh, ther’s been a bit of a tragedy : lodger’s done for ‘i’sulf.
They’ll stop here all night, some of ’em.”
And he spat wearily upon the pavement.
The Noon of Love
By J. A. Blaikie
EASTWARD each morning,
Ever old, ever new,
The radiant adorning
Of day made for you
Meets me, and lifts me, upspringing
Over crag, over hollow,
Over woodland and meadow,
A glory all heaven, the earth its sun-shadow—
I go with heart singing,
And singing winds follow,
I take my way winging,
Where the gossamers fly, to the sun’s gold clinging,
My sweeting, my darling, my One !
Into the gold and the sun.
Unbreathing Noon, the hour of love’s dominion,
Falls now, as yesterday, as ’twill to-morrow ;
Soft as the amorous dove’s uplifted pinion,
Sweet as the fair first sleep of new-born sorrow.
There’s not the least small stir on yonder wall
Of grass or fern ; hushed is the torrent’s throat
Within the dark ravine, and in yon oak
The woodpecker his many-sounding stroke
Has stayed ; the windless air bears not one note
To vex the dreaming air this noontide fall.
But we, my love, sleep not, but wake to prove
The inconstant constancy o’ the noon of love ;
My kingdom lost ! which once more I regain,
And then do lose with every evening’s pain—
A conqueror who takes his spoil, yet yields
More than he wins of Love’s ne’er-conquered fields—
Some unimagined treasure there must be
That I from you may draw, or you from me,
Some joy which we from envious time may wrest
That shall make droop the proud o’er-topping crest
Of yesterday ; and so the exhaustless store
Offers fresh marvels of love-lure and lore.
Thus ours full harvest is ; our noon of love
Nor afternoon nor aftermath may know,
With changeless change it does our spirits move
And of love’s hours eternises the flow :
Better than best of what is past, O Day !
Until thou diest with thy last rose-ray,
Better than best until to-morrow shines
A-quivering through yon purple band of pines,
Ever the best, beneath noon’s ripened skies,
O Spirit and Heart that me imparadise !
Westward each nightfall
When white lies the dew,
Where the stream makes a bright fall
Of moon-rays for you ;
While the night wind goes sighing
Over crag, over hollow,
Like a ghostly replying
To the snowy owl’s crying,
I the white waters follow ;
With lips still sweet from sweet lips kist,
Like a spirit I pass
O’er the gleaming grass
Into the moon and the mist.
The Other Anna
THERE were flights and flights of wide, cold, dreary stone
stairs, and at the top of them three studios in a row.
Pinned on the door of the furthest one was a notice to the effect
that the owner had gone out to lunch and would not be back
until two, and it was this that caused the discontent on the face
of the girl who sat on the edge of the stairs, drumming her toes
impatiently on the step below.
” And I promised to be here at half-past one,” she grumbled,
shivering a little as she spoke ; and she got up and paced the
landing quickly, and stamped her feet to keep warm. A man
opened the door of the middle studio with a jerk, and looked out.
” Are you waiting for anybody ? Hadn’t you better go away
and come again presently ? Mr. Hallaford won’t be back for
another half-hour,” he said, in short rapid sentences. There was
a frown on his face, but whether it came from nervousness or
annoyance she could not tell. It was evident, though, that she
worried him by being there, for it was the second time he had
spoken to her ; and she gave her chin the slightest tilt into the air
as she answered him.
” Go away ? Down all those stairs ? I couldn’t really ! ” she
said with an irritating smile.
” Oh well,” began the man, frowning again, ” if you like
” I don’t like it a bit,” she assured him, earnestly. ” It is the
stupidest occupation imaginable. You should just try it and
see ! ”
But this he showed no anxiety to do, for the mere suggestion
precipitated him into his studio again, and she concluded that the
frown must have been nervousness after all. She returned to her
seat on the stairs, but had hardly settled herself in her corner when
the door opened behind her once more, and the owner of the
middle studio was again jerking out his abrupt remarks at her
” It’s no use staying out there in the cold,” he said, as though
she were somehow morally responsible for the inclemency of the
weather. ” There s a fire in here, and my model hasn’t come
back yet. You can come in and wait, if you like.”
” All right ; I don’t mind if I do,” she said carelessly, and
followed him in. Common gratitude or even civility, she felt,
would have been wasted on a man who threw his hospitality at her
head ; and it was only the unfriendliness of the stone stairs
outside, and perhaps her desire for adventure as well, that made
her accept his offer at all. But when he did not even trouble to
give her a chair, and resumed his occupation of stretching a paper
on a board without noticing her in the least, Anna began to feel
puzzled as well as slighted. He was certainly odd, and she always
liked odd people ; he might be nervous into the bargain, and
nervousness was a failing so far removed from her own personality
that she was always inclined to tolerate it in another ; but neither
nerves nor eccentricity could quite explain his want of manners,
and she had never had to endure discourtesy from a man before.
She prepared resentfully to assert herself, but before she had time
to choose her words a sudden suspicion darted into her mind.
This was a studio, and the owner of it was an artist, and he had
found her hanging about another man’s studio. How could he be
supposed to know that she was only having her portrait painted,
and was not a professional model at all ? The idea, when she
had once grasped it, amused her immensely ; and she resolved
impulsively to play the part he expected from her. The
adventure was promising well, she thought.
” What fun ! ” she said aloud, and her host glanced up at her
and frowned. Of course, she wanted him to frivol with her, and
he did not mean to be frivoled with. So he said nothing to
encourage her, and she sat down and scanned the room critically.
It was very bare, and rather dusty.
” I suppose it’s because you’re a man,” she observed, suddenly.
She was only finishing her thoughts out loud, but to him it
sounded like another attempt to draw him into conversation, and
he felt irritated by her persistence. He never wanted to talk
much at any time, and his attitude towards the confidences of his
models was one of absolute indifference. He did not care to
know why they had become models, nor how their people had lost
their money, nor what sort of homes they had ; they were there
to be drawn, that was all. But he realised vaguely that Anna
was there by his invitation, and he made an effort to be civil.
” It accounts for most of my actions, yes,” he said, and set
down the board and began filling his pipe.
” I mean,” she explained, ” that if you were a woman you
might make this place look awfully nice. You could have
flowers, for instance, and—— ”
“Oh yes,” he interrupted ; “and photographs, and muslin, and
” Well, you might, she said, calmly. ” But I shouldn’t.
Flowers would be enough for me, and perhaps a broom and a
duster. But then, I’m not a man.”
” No,” he said, just as calmly. ” If you were, you would know
that one does not take one’s suggestions about these things from a woman.”
Even in her assumed character she was not quite prepared for
the scant courtesy of his reply, and he inferred from her silence
that he had succeeded in quenching her at last. But when he
glanced at her over his shoulder, he was rather disconcerted at
finding her eyes fixed on his face with an astonished look in them.
He was always absent-minded, and when he was not at work he
was unobservant as well ; and he asked himself doubtfully whether
her cheeks had been quite so pink before he made his last remark.
Any other man would have noticed long ago that she had not the
manner or the air of the ordinary model ; but Askett did not
trouble to argue the point even for his own satisfaction. She
was a little more ladylike than most of them, perhaps, but she
resembled the rest of her class in wanting to chatter, and that in
itself justified his abruptness. So there was a pause that was a
little awkward, and then his model came in— an old man in a
slouched hat and a worn brown coat.
” What a musty old subject to choose ! ” she commented, and
got up instantly and walked away to the door.
” Wouldn’t you care to wait until Hallaford comes back ? ”
asked her host, a little less morosely. ” I can go on working all
the same, as long as you don’t talk.”
” I shouldn’t think of it,” she said, emphatically. ” I am quite
sure you wouldn’t be able to endure another suggestion from me,
and I really couldn’t promise not to make one.”
He could have sworn that her last words were accompanied by
a lightning glance round the room, but her expression, when she
turned at the door and looked at him, was almost vacant in its
innocence. He followed her hastily, and opened the door for
“You’d better wait,” he said, involuntarily. “You’ll catch
cold or something out there.”
She flashed a mocking look up in his face.
” Don’t you think,” she observed, demurely, ” that that is one
of the things about which one does not want suggestions from a
Ten minutes later, she was accepting a torrent of apologies
from Tom Hallaford with a queenly forgiveness that she knew
by experience to be the most effective weapon at her command.
“If you weren’t such an awful brick you’d never sit to me
again,” he avowed, humbly. “To drag you all this way, and
then——! Wasn’t it beastly cold too ? ”
” It was cold,” Anna admitted, gently. ” But I didn’t mind
And when he began afresh to abase himself, and made the
confusing statement that he ought to be shot and was hanged, she
felt he had suffered sufficiently, and she interrupted him by a true
account of how she had spent the last half-hour.
“Well, I’m bothered ! ” he said. “Of course, Askett thought
you were a model, a paid model, don’t you see ; and he thought
it was just cheek of you to say his studio was dirty and all that.
So it would have been rather, don’t you know, if you’d been an
ordinary model; they want jumping on sometimes. I say, Miss
Angell,” he added, chuckling, ” what larks if Askett comes in
when you’ve gone, and asks me for your address ! Ten to one
he does. What shall I say ? ”
” I don’t fancy,” said Anna, quietly, ” that he will want to
Nevertheless, as she was hurrying past the door of the middle
studio, two hours later, Askett came out hastily and called her
” Is all your time filled up for the present ? ” he asked, ” or
could you sit to me next week, in the afternoons ? ”
A gleam of mischief lurked in her eyes, but he was still un-
suspecting, and he mistook her hesitation for reflection.
“I could come next week,” she said. ” What time ? ”
” Two o clock on Monday. And you can give me your name
and address so that I shall know where to write to you. You’ll
very likely forget all about it.”
” Do you really think that’s possible ? ” smiled Anna. Askett
said nothing, but looked over her head at the wall as though she
were not there at all, and waited for her to reply. Anna was
racking her brains for a name that would be likely to belong to a
” Well ? ” he said, impatiently.
” Oh, you want my name ? ” said Anna, desperately. ” Well,
my address is care of Miss Anna Angell, 25 Beaconsfield Man-
sions, Belgravia. And my name is is Poppy—Poppy Wilson.
Oh dear ! that’s wrong—I mean—— ”
He was staring at her, for the first time, with something
approaching ordinary human interest.
” There seems to be a difficulty about the name,” he remarked.
He was not surprised at all ; she had probably quarrelled with her
family—models always had—and so was afraid to give her real
name. He put down her confusion to the fact that she had not
been sitting long, and was new at the deception. ” What’s the
matter with Wilson ? ” he asked, not unkindly. ” It’s a very nice
name, isn’t it ? ”
” Oh, Wilson’s all right,” she hastened to assure him. ” It’s
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. L
the Poppy that’s wrong ; I mean, it’s my pet name, don’t you see,
and it wouldn’t do.”
” No,” he said, dryly. ” Perhaps it wouldn’t.”
” My real name is Anna,” she continued, Anna Wilson.
You understand, don’t you ? ” Even for the sake of the disguise,
she could not endure that he should think of her as Poppy.
“Real name Anna, pet name Poppy, address care of Miss
Anna—hullo ? ” he stopped writing on his cuff and looked down
at her sternly. ” You seem to have the same name as the elderly
lady who looks after you. How’s this ? I don’t believe your
name is Anna at all.”
This was a little hard, as it was the only true statement she had
” My name is Anna,” she said, indignantly. ” And so is hers.
It’s only a coincidence that we both have the same name ; in fact,
it was because of that that we first made friends, years ago at
school. You see, we began by being at school together, and
we’ve been together ever since, more or less. And and when I
left home, she let me come and live in her flat, that’s all. It
doesn’t seem odd to me, but perhaps you don’t know much about
girls’ Christian names ? And she isn’t elderly at all ! She’s young,
and rather pretty, and——
” Oh, all right ; I don’t care what sh’ s like. Don’t forget
about Monday ; and look here, you can come in that hat ; it’s
rather nice. Good-bye.”
” I shall wear my very oldest hat and all the clothes that don’t
suit me,” she resolved, rebelliously, as she went downstairs.
She surprised her maid very much at dinner-time, that evening,
by laughing softly to herself at intervals ; and she might have
been discovered, more than once, with her elbows on the mantel
shelf, gazing at the reflection of herself in the mirror. But as the
evening wore on she became, first fretful, then sober, then deter
mined ; and she went to bed with a carefully composed letter in
her head, which was to be sent without fail on the following
morning. She came down to breakfast and wrote it ; kept it till
lunch-time, and stamped it ; re-read it at tea-time, and burnt it.
She was very cross all the evening, and decided that she was run
down, and wanted a change. The next morning she was con-
vinced she had influenza, and took a large dose of ammoniated
quinine, and sent a special messenger to her greatest friend. Her
greatest friend was out of town, which reminded her that she
wanted a change, and she telegraphed to Brighton for rooms.
The reply came that they would be vacant on Monday, and she
wired back that she did not want them at all. The next day was
Sunday and her At Home day ; and she came to the conclusion
that her circle of friends was a very dull one, and that no one who
was a bit nice ever called on her At Home day, and that the only
interesting people were the people who never called on one at all,
the people, in fact, whom one met in odd ways without any intro
duction ; and at this point of her reflections she laughed
unaccountably, and resolved to give up her At Home day. She
had made two engagements with two separate friends for Monday
afternoon ; but when it came, she threw them both over and started
for a walk across the park at half-past one. At a quarter to two
she hailed a hansom in the Bayswater road, and told the cabman
to drive quickly, and at his own not unreasonable request
supplied him further with an address in the West of London.
And at two precisely, she was toiling up the long flights of
stone stairs that led to Askett’s studio, wondering crossly what
had induced her to embark in such an absurd enterprise, and
still more what was making her persist in it now.
“It’s quite reasonable to undertake to do a mad thing one day,
but to go and da it the next is unpardonable,” she grumbled to
herself, as she knocked at the door of the middle studio. She
remembered with relief that Tom Hallaford had gone abroad for
a rew weeks, which considerably lessened the chances of detec-
tion ; and for the rest it was an adventure, and that was always
something. So it was her usual smiling, rather impudent face
that finally greeted Askett when he opened the door to her.
“So you didn’t forget, after all ? Made sure you would,” he
observed. ” People who forget their own names can forget any
“I didn’t forget my own name,” said Anna, truthfully, a
remark of which he naturally missed the point.
They did not talk at all for the first hour or so, and Anna
began to feel distinctly bored. Being a model was not half so
much fun as she had expected to find it, and it made her
extremely sleepy. She had hoped for a new sensation, and the
only one she felt was an overwhelming dulness. Nothing but
her sense of the ridiculous prevented her from throwing up the
whole game on the spot, but a single glance at his stern, uncom-
promising features kept her silent. “Just imagine how he would
sneer ! ” she thought ; and the mere idea made her toss her head
and laugh scornfully.
“Keep still, please,” he said, inexorably. “What’s the
joke ? ”
“That is precisely what I can’t tell you,” said Anna, laughing
again. ” If I did it wouldn t be a joke at all, you see.”
” I’m afraid I don’t, but that may be because I haven’t known
you long enough to have grasped your system of conversation.
It’s rather difficult to talk to a person who only tells you the ends
of her thoughts, as it were. If I were a conjurer, or a medium,
or somebody like that, it might be all right.”
” It isn’t half so difficult as talking to a person who doesn’t
talk at all,” retorted his model.
“Perhaps not,” said Askett, indifferently. “Will you kindly
lower your chin a little, it has a tendency to—thanks. You were
” I was saying that conversation with a person who is only
interested in your stupid chin isn’t any fun at all,” said Anna,
who was beginning to feel both tired and cross. Askett glanced
at her with a look of mild surprise.
” Then why be a model ? ” was all he said.
” That’s exactly what I want to know myself. I mean,” she
added, hastily, ” it isn’t my fault. I—I wouldn’t be a model if I
could help it, but I can’t.”
” Models never can help it,” said Askett, sceptically. ” Troubles
at home, I suppose ? Your friends don’t know you sit ? I
thought so. Never knew you’d have to come to this, and so on.
Of course, yes.”
” You’re very unfeeling,” remarked Anna, who had assented by
nods to the touching story of her life as related by Askett. ” You
should try being a model for an afternoon, and then you’d know.”
” My dear young lady, one occupation at a time is always
enough for a man,” said Askett, quietly. ” Probably that is why
I am interested merely in your features. Does the elderly lady,
I mean the other Anna, know that you are a model ? ”
“Yes, she does,” said Anna, fervently. “She doesn’t like my
doing it at all ; but how can I help it ? She thinks it is too hard
work, and I quite agree with her.”
” If you don’t mind,” said Askett, who had not been listening;
” I wish you would keep to subjects that don’t excite you quite so
much. Whenever you are being smart, or funny, or injured, you
poke your chin in the air ; and it’s disconcerting. Supposing you
were to think of some quiet elderly topic, such as cats, or politics,
or the lesser clergy ? ”
” Perhaps, if I were to think of nothing to say at all, you would
like it better,” cried Anna.
” Perhaps,” said Askett, with a stony indifference.
“I may as well tell you,” continued Anna, controlling her
indignation with difficulty, “that whenever I am silent I have a
most horrible expression.”
” Never mind about the expression,” said Askett. “That’s my
business, not yours. Sulk away as much as you please, as long as
it keeps you quiet.”
In spite of his want of interest in her and his utter lack of
observation, he was considerably astonished when she sprang
suddenly down from her platform, overturning the chair with a
clatter, and faced him angrily. It was unlike any previous experi-
ence he had had with models, and he began to realise that there was
something unusual about this one, though what it was he did not
precisely know, and that the moment had come for him to deal
with it. So he put down his charcoal, and pulled forward a chair
and a box ; led her gently to the chair and sat down on the box
himself, and felt for his tobacco-pouch.
” Now, look here,” he said, holding up his hand to stop her as
she began to speak ; ” I know all about it. So, if you don’t mind,
I think we’ll cut the first part. You’ve not been used to such
treatment, and you didn’t come here to be insulted. Very well ;
you didn’t. But you came here to be my model, and I naturally
expect you to behave like a model, and not like any other young
woman who wishes to make conversation. Surely, that’s reasonable,
isn’t it ? ”
“It might be if—it I liked being a model, perhaps. But I
don’t,” said Anna, rather lamely. She had found her new sensa-
tion, but it did not amuse her : she had never been lectured before,
and she was not sure whether she felt angry or merely puzzled.
Askett smiled slightly.
“That is hardly my fault,” he replied. ” I didn’t suggest your
vocation to you, did I ? ”
She was burning to tell him that he had, that he, and her
own freakishness, and Fate, were entirely responsible for her
vocation ; but again the dread of his ridicule kept her silent, and
she only baffled him once more by breaking into a peal of mirthful
” Oh, heavens ! ” he groaned. ” How is one to deal with a
thing like that ? What in the name of wonder is the joke now ?
“It—it’s the same joke as before,” gasped Anna. ” You really
don’t know what an awfully good joke it is.”
” You must forgive me if I don’t even want to find out,” said
Askett, shortly ; and he got up and went to the window and looked
out. The situation was not dignified, and he apostrophised the
whole race of models, and wondered why they could not see that
a chap wanted to work, instead of playing up to him with their
hopelessly feminine ways. And then he realised that this particular
one had stopped laughing, and was waiting for him to say some
“Well? “he said gruffly.
“I’m awfully sorry,” said Anna, who was secretly a little
ashamed of herself. The fact is, I’m rather a new hand at being
a model, and it still makes me feel drowsy, and if I hadn’t talked
nonsense just now I should have gone to sleep. It is’t so very
long since I had to earn my own living, and one doesn’t get used
to it all at once, don’t you know. Shall I go on sitting, now ? ”
He did not answer for a second or two. For the first time he
had noticed her way of speaking, and it struck him that perhaps
she was less of a fraud than most models who profess to have
come down in the world, and that her family might have been
decent people after all. He began to feel a little remorse for
having been hard on her.
“Look here,” he said, still gruffly. ” I’m not going to do any
more to-day. And I think you won’t quite do for what I wanted,
so you needn’t come back to-morrow. I’ll pay you all the same
till the end of the week, so you’ll be able to take a holiday with a
clear conscience. Perhaps, you won’t find it so tiring when
you’ve had a rest. And the next chap you sit for may not mind
She stood quite still while he went across the room to fetch her
cloak. Somehow, she was not so pleased at her unexpected
deliverance as she would have been ten minutes ago. She had an
uncomfortable sensation of having behaved like a child, and added
to this was a vague feeling of shame at allowing him to think she
was poor and friendless, and in need of his help. So she stepped
up to him and took the cloak out of his hand.
“I don’t want a holiday, thank you,” she said. ” You are a
brick, but I would sooner keep my part of the bargain if you’ll let
me. I wasn’t really tired, I was lazy.”
He shrugged his shoulders, and realised that his pity had been
“As you like,” he said, shortly, and Anna climbed up to her
It was indisputable that she was an irreproachable model for
the rest of the afternoon, that she abstained from all temptation to
elevate her chin, and met his few attempts at conversation with
subdued monosyllables ; but for all that, the wish to work had
completely deserted him, and he yawned at last and looked at his
watch, and said it was time for tea.
” You may talk now,” he said, as he put on the kettle.
“Thanks. But there isn’t anything to say,” said Anna.
” Does that make any difference ? ” he asked, with an un-
expected smile that propitiated her ; and she came down and
offered to cut the bread and butter. He shook his head, and
possessed himself of the loaf.
” Stay where you are, I’ll look after this. Women always
make it taste of the knife ! Hullo ! offended again ? I’m sorry,
but you know they do.”
“They don’t in—in the other Anna’s flat. But you’ve never
been there, of course ; and I suppose you’ll never go, will
you ? ”
“Depends on the other Anna, doesn’t it? Do you think
she’d have me ? ”
” I’m quite certain she would,” said his model, with such
assurance that a less absorbed person would have suspected some
thing of the truth. As it was, he only looked slightly amused
and asked for a reason.
” Oh, because Anna always likes odd people who don’t talk
much ; and she doesn’t think them musty or anything like that,
just because they’re not usual. She’d call you interesting, and
quarrel with every one who didn’t agree with her, and be fright
fully glad all the while because they didn’t.”
“Sugar ? ” asked Askett, who had again not been listening.
“Two lumps, please. So do you, don’t you? I knew you
would ! So does Anna. I think you’d like Anna too, rather.”
“Ah ! What makes you think that ? ”
” Well, you ve got some sense of humour, enough to know she
wasn’t really laughing at you. Most people are afraid of her, you
know ; and they think she doesn’t feel things because she laughs ;
and of course she does feel them all the same. She hates people
to be afraid of her ; but you are never afraid of any one, are you ?
And you’d understand why she laughs. Oh yes, you’d like
” You are a very devoted friend,” said Askett.
“I believe I do like her better than any one else I know,”
“Better than yourself? ”
“Much better,” she said, and began laughing again with no
” Oh dear,” said Askett, ” is it that joke again ? ”
But she was afraid of rousing his suspicions, and evaded his
question. She was very anxious, just then, that his suspicions
should not be roused.
When she left, he asked her again if she would not like to have
a holiday till the end of the week.
“Am I such a very bad model then ? ” she asked.
” You are the most irritating model I have ever endured, but
you can come back at two to-morrow,” was his reply.
Several times that evening, she took up her pen to write and tell
him that she would not come any more, and each time she laid it
down again, and jerked her small chin into the air, and vowed she
would go through with it.
“It is an adventure,” she said, “and it is too rare to be
” So for the sake of an adventure, she knocked once more at the
door of Askett’s studio. He opened it immediately, and held out
his hand in greeting ; but he was very businesslike in his
manner, and set to work directly she was ready.
” I shall try your profile to-day,” he said, screwing up his
” You’ll regret it,” observed Anna.
“Possibly. Kindly turn your head a little further away;
that’ll do. What’s wrong about your profile, please ? ”
“There’s nothing wrong about it,” she said, indignantly.
” But I always show people my full face if I can ; it’s got more
” Women are so commercial,” remarked Askett. ” They
make the most of every little advantage they think they
” I must say,” retorted Anna, ” that for one who professes so
much scorn for the whole sex, your perpetual desire to drag it
into the conversation is most surprising.”
” How is the other Anna ? ” asked Askett, rather suddenly.
” Oh, she’s all right. She isn’t so sure she would like you as I
expected her to be.”
” Indeed ? Can’t she contemplate my appalling silence with
out shuddering ? Or is it because my face hasn’t got any
character in it ? ”
” Oh, no, your face is all right. And she wouldn’t mind your
being silent in the least, because she does all the talking herself.
She’d only expect you to listen.”
” What a clatter there must be when you get together,”
” It generally has the effect ot silencing us both,” said Anna,
gravely. ” Am I sitting better to-day ? ”
” A little, yes. But I think I’ll try the full face again ;
perhaps, you won’t bob your head round quite so often if you are
obliged to look at me.”
” One would think I wanted to look at you,” pouted Anna.
” That is certainly what you have led me to believe,” said
Askett, looking for another sheet of paper. ” Now, don’t flare up
for nothing at all ; I didn’t mean to be rude, and I wasn’t rude ;
and if you persist in jumping whenever I say anything you don’t
like, I shall relapse into silence again.”
” And on the whole,” said Anna, thoughtfully, ” your remarks
are a little improvement on that deadly silence.”
” Now,” said Askett, pressing down the drawing pins ; ” tell
me some more about the other Anna. I like your expression
when you talk about the other Anna, it’s so appreciative. I
believe you are a solitary instance of a woman who can endure
the charms of another woman without feeling jealous.”
” Perhaps it is only the charms of the other Anna,” she said,
carelessly. ” What do you want to know about her ? ”
” Oh, anything, everything. What does she do, for instance ?
said Askett, vaguely. His temporary interest in a woman,
who was not there with the express purpose of distracting him,
was already vanishing as he began to grow interested in his
” Do ? Has she got to do anything ? You surely don’t sup-
pose she is a model, or anything like that, do you ? She’s much
too lazy to do things ; she just has a good time, that’s all. All
her people are away or dead or at war with her ; and she has
some money of her own, not nearly enough of course, but still
it’s something. And she dresses rather well, and has a charming
flat I don’t believe you are listening to a word I say, and it’s
too bad ! ”
” Indeed I am. It is my way of appearing interested. She
dresses rather well, and has a charming flat. What more,
please ? ”
” How much more do you want ? That’s enough for most
people. And why do you want to know all about Anna, when
you’ve never seen her ? ”
“Oh, surely, because you wanted something to talk about.
Besides, you said she would like me. Isn’t that enough reason
for a man ? Chin a little lower, please.”
” I said you would like her,” said Anna, slowly. ” Do you— do
you think you would ? ”
” What do you think ? ” he asked, smiling at her sudden
earnestness. She laughed.
“I think she would irritate you beyond measure ! And you
would hate her for being frivolous, and she would hate you for
” Decidedly, we had better not be introduced,” said Askett.
The next day, the door was ajar when she arrived, and she
pushed it open and walked in without knocking.
” Oh ! ” she exclaimed, and then paused and reddened with
* Hullo ! it’s you, is it?” said Askett, coming forward.
” What’s up now ? ”
” Flowers ! How beautiful ! Where did they come from ?
I thought you never had any. Oh, doesn’t it make the whole
place look different ? ”
” They’re all right, I suppose,” he replied, indifferently.
” Flowers always are. I’m glad you like them, they’ll help you
not to feel bored, perhaps. You curious child, to make all that
fuss over a lot of daffodils ! Does the other Anna like flowers as
much as you do ? ”
She turned away with a little movement of dissatisfaction. Of
course it was absurd, but for all that she found it impossible to
control her growing jealousy for the other Anna.
After that, there were always flowers when she came for a
sitting, and she came very often indeed. For Askett was at work
on the illustrations for an eighteenth-century novel, and she posed
several times for him as his heroine, a bewitching little figure in
a quaint old cloak and large be-feathered hat. They were very
good friends by the time the spring came, able to dispute without
misconception, and to remain silent without embarrassment ; and
Askett, to judge by results, had long ago managed to grasp the
system by which her conversation was made. The principal
theme of it was still the other Anna ; for, as the beginning of the
year grew older, the difficulty of telling him the truth became
increasingly greater. It would have meant, at least, some sort of
an explanation, and she could not endure explaining why she did
things ; indeed, she rarely knew why. Besides, it would have put
an end to the sittings, and the sittings amused her enormously,
and she always went on doing what amused her. So she
continued to impersonate the heroine of the eighteenth-century
novel, and her conversation was still about the other Anna.
One day he was more silent than usual. He tried her in
various positions and gave them all up in turn, made sketches on
odd bits of paper and flung them aside, and ended in throwing
down his pencil and saying he was no good.
” Have you got a headache ?” she asked him.
” Headache ? No, I’m all right,” he said, in the resentful
manner with which he repelled all her attempts to find out some
thing about him. ” Women always think you re ill if you feel a
bit off colour,” he added, as though to explain his abruptness.
“The other Anna,” she observed, “always has a headache
when she is off colour, as you call it. She had one this morning.”
“Ah,” said Askett, brightening a little, “tell me about the
other Anna. Why is she off colour to-day ? ”
” Because she is in love,” said Anna, lightly ; and she crossed
her feet and leaned back in her chair and looked at him.
” In love ? The other Anna in love ? Why, you told me
she had too much sense of humour ever to fall in love. Who’s
the chap ?” It was very ridiculous, but he could not help the
sudden pang of disappointment he felt on hearing that the other
Anna was in love. It disturbed his impression of her, and he
had not known until that moment how strong that impression had
” Oh, he doesn’t know she’s in love with him, and she
couldn’t possibly let him know, because he might have a sense of
humour too ; and then he d just scoff, and she’d want to kill
herself. It—it s a tragedy to fall in love if you ve got a sense of
humour, isn’t it ? Oh, of course you don’t know.” And she
began humming a tune.
” Why don’t I know ? Because I am never in love, or
because I have no sense of humour ? ”
” Oh, you ve got a sense of humour right enough,” she said,
and went on singing softly to herself. Askett put down his pipe
” What is the other Anna like when she is in love ? ” he asked,
and smiled at his wish to know.
” I only know she s very difficult to live with,” replied his
model, ruefully. ” She’s very happy or very sad all the time, and
she gets impatient with me, as though I could help it. So absurd,
isn’t it ? Poor Anna ! You see, she has never been in love
before, and she can’t make it out. I wish, I do wish she were
not in love now ; it spoils everything so.”
” It generally does,” said Askett ; and his eyes travelled slowly
from the pair of pointed shoes up the pink silk cloak to the large
black hat, and turned away swiftly when they rested on her face-
” Have you ever been in love ? ” he asked, suddenly.
” Yes,” she said, promptly, and fixed her eyes on him so
persistently that she brought his reluctant gaze back to her, and
then laughed softly in his race. ” Have you ? ” she asked.
He smiled indulgently, and returned to the other Anna.
” What a fool the fellow must be,” he said, jestingly, ” to give up
a woman like that when she’s good enough to fall in love with
” Oh, I don’t think so,” said Anna. ” He doesn’t know ; men
never do. And she can’t tell him ; women never can. It’s such
hard lines ; her life is being quite spoilt because she mustn’t say
anything. She wouldn’t mind so much if she were quite sure
the man didn’t like her ; she’d pull herself together again, and go
on. But how is she to find out ?”
” Why doesn’t she send you to ask him ? ” suggested Askett.
” Do you know,” she said with a queer little smile, ” you’ve
made that same old joke again ? ”
But he noticed that, this time, it did not move her to one or
her irresistible peals of laughter.
” After all,” she added, casually, ” I am not sure that it is a joke
Askett got up and went to look after the kettle ; tea would
make a diversion, he thought, and they seemed to be in need of a
diversion that afternoon. ” It strikes me,” he said, with his back
to her, ” that you let yourself worry too much about the love
affairs of the other Anna.”
“Perhaps I do,” replied Anna with the same enigmatical
smile. “But it’s chiefly your fault; you always want to hear
about her, and you never let me talk about anything else. It
isn’t very flattering to me, I must say ! ” She ended with a pout.
Askett stood up and smiled thoughtfully.
” How absurd ! ” he said with a half-laugh. ” Go and tell
your Anna that some-one is in love with her, because he has
heard that she is a woman with a sense of humour and a heart ;
and see if it doesn’t cure her depression ! ”
” I shouldn’t be surprised if it did,” replied Anna.
When she made ready to go, that day, he forgot to put on her
cloak for her, and stood irresolutely looking at her with the old
nervous frown come back to his face ; and she guessed instinc-
tively that there was something he had to say to her.
” What is it ? ” she said, involuntarily.
“It’s just this,” he said, speaking very quickly; “I don’t
think I shall want you any more after next week, and——
He stopped, although she had not said anything. She looked
steadily at the pink silk cloak that hung across the chair, at the jug
of wallflowers on the mantel-shelf, at the two empty cups on the
upturned wooden box ; and she drew in her lips with a sharp breath.
” Yes,” she said, and held out her hand. ” Good-bye.”
” And when may I come and meet the other Anna ? ” he
There was already a yard and a half of stone passage between
them ; and the space was widening every minute, as she backed
towards the staircase, and he into the middle studio.
” I am afraid she would have too much sense of humour to
receive you,” she said, and laughed mockingly, and went away
down the long flights of stone stairs.
” It’s all right,” said Askett, congratulating himself. ” She
doesn’t care. I might have known she wouldn’t. These models—
ah well ! ” He flung the pink silk cloak on the floor, and sat
down on the chair, and relighted his pipe. ” I believe, if she had
told me much more about the other girl, I might have fancied
myself in love with her. It would be a queer thing, after holding
off for all these years, to fall in love with a woman I have never
seen ! I wonder what it was that fetched me in that child’s
The Yellow Book Vol. XIII. M
descriptions of her ? Strange how fascinating a picture those
stray bits of information have made in my mind ! Probably, if I
were to meet her in the ordinary way, I shouldn’t discover any
charm in her at all ; women are so secretive. I begin to under
stand the reason for arranging marriages. All the same, I should
like to meet her.” His eye fell on the pink cloak, as it lay in an
effete and shapeless heap on the floor. ” There’s something very
expressive in a woman’s clothes, when you’ve known the woman,”
he observed, to change the current of his thoughts. But they
soon wheeled round again. “I wonder how the other Anna
would look in that thing ? It’s very odd to have kept my interest
in the same woman for six, seven, eight weeks, and a woman I
haven’t even seen. I suppose it’s true that all the constancy in a
man’s heart is for the women he has never seen, but still——
However, it’s a safe passion, and I won’t risk it by making her
acquaintance. No,” he added, moving his chair round so that he
could not see the pink silk cloak, ” I will not ask for an intro
duction to the other Anna.”
On his way home he ran against Tom Hallaford, and they
walked down Piccadilly together. Tom Hallaford was only just
back from Rome, and it was consequently some time before the
conversation became sufficiently local and personal to interest his
companion, who had not been to Rome at all. But Askett got
his chance after a while.
” Yes, I’ve been pretty busy,” he said, in reply to an inquiry
about his work. ” By the way, you remember that model or
yours I took pity on, one day in the winter, when you kept her
waiting ? Oh yes, you do ; pretty little girl rather, big hat,
name Wilson, lives with a Miss Angell. My dear fellow, one
would think you had never even heard her name ! Well, never
mind about the model ; I don’t want to talk about her. But I
do want to know something about the girl she lives with, the
other Anna, you know Miss Angell, in fact.”
” I suppose you know what you’re playing at,” said Tom,
good-naturedly ; ” but I’m bothered if I do. Miss Angell doesn’t
live with any one as far as I know. She never introduced me to
a model in her life ; in fact, I only know her very slightly. Some
aunt of hers commissioned me to paint her portrait ; that was how
she came to sit for me. Who is the model you were talking
about ? You must have got mixed somehow, old chap.”
“Mixed?” said Askett, mechanically, standing in a vague
manner on the edge of the kerbstone. “Mixed, yes, that’s it, of
course ; certainly mixed. I suppose—in fact, I believe—well, it’s
that joke, you know.” And to the mystification of his companion,
who stood staring after him, he beckoned with an exaggerated
composure to a hansom, gave the driver an address in Belgravia,
and drove away without a word of farewell.
The other Anna answered her own bell, that evening, because
her maid was out for a holiday. And she found Askett standing
on the door mat outside.
” Oh ! ” was all she could find to say, though it was extremely
expressive in the particular way she said it.
“It’s all right,” said Askett, in the most courteous and self-
possessed manner possible. ” I’ve only come to ask the other
Anna to marry me, instead of the chap who doesn’t know how to
appreciate her. Do you think she will ? ”
There was the dawn of a laugh in her eyes as she threw the
” I believe,” she replied, ” that she still has a lurking fondness
for the other chap. But if you’ll come in I’ll tell you that little
joke of mine, and then——
” No need,” observed Askett, ” I think I know it.”
By Douglas Ainslie
I—The Death of Verlaine
“Rien de plus cher que la chanson grise.”
So the poet of grey slips away,
The poor singer from over the strait,
Who sat by the Paris highway,
Whose life was the laughter of fate ;
The laughter of fate, but the woe
Of the gods and the mortals who heard
The mystical modes as they flow—
Broken phrase, riven lute, broken word,
Broken up as the attar is crushed
By the steel of the mercantile weights
From the soul of the roses that blushed
Through the scroll of Elysian gates.
As a sphynx-moth with shivering wings
Hangs over the thyme in the garden
But an instant, then fairyward brings
The honey he gathers for guerdon ;
So you the oases of life
Just touched with your frayed, rapid wings,
Poor poet, and drew from the strife
The peculiar honey that clings
To your magical measures and ways,
As they sway with the moods of the soul,
Semi-conscious, through haze, in amaze,
Making on toward a dim distant goal.
“Be always a poet or saint”—
Poor Lélian was saint and was poet,
But not always—for sometimes we faint—
Then he must forget that we know it ;
In iris and opal forget—
His iris, his bow in the sky,
Fickle bow for the storm, and that yet
Was his only storm-bow to steer by.
Good-bye, then, poor poet, good-bye !
You will not be long there alone :
Very soon for your help we shall cry,
Lost souls in a country unknown.
Then Lélian, king of the land,
Rich Lélian will teach us the speech
That here we but half understand—
Kind Lélian will reach us his hand.
ROSE, grey, and white—
Roses, sad seas, and light
Straight from the sun—
These are your colours.
Red necklet spun
When the Eastern day was done
By fairy fingers
Of lotus flowers.
In those white ivories
Your arms, a charm there lies,
Charm to conquer
The bravest singers :
And for your grey
Sweet, deep eye-oceans—they
Do yet declare
Queen Venus lingers.
I. An Eastern Town
II. Bookplate for Egerton Clairmonte, Esq.
III. Bookplate for H. B. Marriott Watson, Esq.
IV. Bookplate for S. Carey Curtis, Esq.
A Melodrama—the Union
By T. Baron Russell
Is it not almost unprintable ? To give to it anything of actuality
one would have—no, not to invent, but to suppress. As a
bit of life it was too impossably dramatic, too fictional, too much—
what can one say ?—too much like a story in a Christmas number,
and a story constructed in the worst style, at that.
Yet, it happened ! and the Organist is my witness. She had
taken me to see the Workhouse Chapel : incidentally, to hear h
er play (for which purpose one would go much further than to this
chapel), little purposing, as you may believe, to give me sheer
Surrey melodrama thrown in. The beadle admitted us by a little
door, cut in the black painted wooden gates. He admitted us with
a smile. A Union Beadle can smile on occasion, and I was to
find soon that the coming of the Organist was the signal for many
smiles in this “Union.” One or two inmates were waiting in the
paved courtyard. They all smiled, too, at sight of the Organist,
and hovered forward to greet her. One man had a crutch, and
walked with difficulty, but he shuffled quickly over the flag-
stones, and followed us with the others into the chapel, where a
good number were already waiting—just so many vacant-looking,
tired old faces, that brightened up and became animated, covetous
of an individual recognition, when the Organist passed through to
The most devout of the intending worshippers was a woman of,
perhaps, no more than fifty, who alone took no heed, kneeling
already with a rapt, ecstatic gaze that made her face almost
“eerie.” She was, I learned, hopelessly imbecile, and had to be
led into and out of church, the only incident of her life. An
appalling amount of tribulation seemed to be collected here and
personified in these old women. One felt a more instinctive
sympathy somehow for them than for the men, poor fellows.
Even a couple of younger women, who carried a baby apiece, did
not convey the same aching sense of desolation as these shrivelled,
wrinkling old crones, in their hideous round bonnets and grey
The chapel was a gaunt structure, devoid of adornment ; but
some one had put a few yellow daisies in a tumbler on the close
stove—cold now, and shining with blacklead. On the mean font,
placed in emblematic neighbourhood to the doorway, stood a small
crockery jug. “A christening afterwards,” the Organist whispered
to me, in explanation.
She took her seat. The organ, unscreened, stood in a corner,
facing the congregation. An old, grey man, in spectacles, sat at
the side, leaning on the bellows handle, ready to perform his duty
when the Organist should give the sign.
She pulled out a few stops and uncovered the single manual.
The paupers moved in their seats, leaning forward, anticipant. It
was easy to gather that the air was a familiar one. At the first
notes, nods and smiles of delighted recognition were exchanged.
The unmusical mind only takes kindly to tunes that it knows.
Not a pauper moved until the last note had sounded and died away.
Then they leaned back, settling in their places with a wriggle of
gratification, to wait, fidgeting, for Evensong to begin.
The stroke of half-past six brought the surpliced chaplain, brisk
and businesslike. The Organist played him in with slow, droning
chords, dying away in muffled pedal notes as he kneeled awhile in
his place. It was his only deliberate act, almost, through the service.
The congregation shuffled hurriedly to its feet when he rose to
gabble the exhortation. One of the babies—the subjects of the
anticipated sacrament—woke up and had to be hushed after the
fashion of babes at an age when, even for the infant pauper, food
is easy to come by.
Evensong was briskly performed. Then the clergyman made
his way to the font, emptied into it what may have been half a
pint of water from the little crockery jug, and began to read the
Order for the Publick Baptism of Infants. ” Have these children
been already baptized, or no ?”
The mothers stood up, nervous and inaudible, the only sponsors.
In the more essential parts they had to be prompted individually
by the chaplain in a stage-whisper : “Say ‘I renounce them all'”
—”Say ‘All this I steadfastly believe.'” One of them was a
sullen woman, well over thirty, with a brutish face and disappearing
chin ; the other, a light-haired, rosy-cheeked girl, who hung her
head and cried quietly all through the ceremony. Neither wore
a wedding-ring. In the brisk time set by the clergyman, the
ordeal was soon over, and the congregation—the women, old and
young, intensely interested in the babies—rose to sing the
baptismal hymn :
“In token that thou shall not fear
Christ crucified to own,
We print the Cross upon thee here,
And stamp thee His alone.”
There was an incongruity, an insincerity, in the ceremonial
thus hurriedly bustled through, as though even the Sacrament
must be brief for a workhouse brat. I do not say that it was done
brutally or with indifference; but there was something perfunctory
and unreal about it. I think we were all glad when it was over,
and the awakened babies were being hustled off to sleep again in
the usual manner. There had been an impersonal unreality in
the whole service. These tired old women, chanting the canticles
—it was wonderful, at their average age, how well the Organist
had got them to sing—seemed to find nothing of promise, no hint
of comfort even in the Psalms or the sublime Magnificat. But at
least they were not indifferent to the music. That was personal;
that “belonged” to them. There was no “playing-out” in the
closing voluntary : the whole congregation sat it through, mothers
and all, and beamed gratefully on the kind face of the Organist,
their friend, when at last she closed the instrument and passed
through the waiting people to the door.
As we crossed the courtyard, the Organist delaying to speak to
one here and one there—she appeared to know every one by name
and history—we became aware of a disturbance in the gateway.
A young fellow, dressed like a sailor, had his foot inside the little
door in the gate and was endeavouring to push past the beadle.
“I tell you it ain’t visiting time,” said that functionary, sourly.
“You can see ‘er at the proper time : you can’t see ‘er when it
isn’t the proper time. I told you that before, and it’s no good
your making a disturbance, because you can’t go in.”
“What is it?” I was asking the Organist—she seemed to under-
stand so instinctively everything here, in this somewhat unknown
territory, that I did not doubt her perfect familiarity with this
kind of dispute—when there was a cry behind me, and the fair-
haired mother, her child still in her arms, rushed past us like a
whirlwind, pushed aside the outraged beadle, and fell, in a heap,
baby and all, into the arms of the sailor.
What followed, happened in an instant. There was no pause,
no further altercation with the door-keeper, who would probably
have demurred to the whole highly irregular proceeding. The
sailor gathered up the woman in his arms, lifted her impetuously
over the step into the street and banged the little door behind
them. A little assemblage of paupers had crowded into the covered
passage to witness this drama ; and then, in a flash, it was over,
the door closed, and the beadle—he was a small lean man, in a
jacket, nothing like the conventional Bumble—was left gasping
* * * * *
We overtook the couple—the trio, to be more exact—at the
corner of the street. The sailor was carrying the baby now, and
the woman was fastening her bodice. The red sunset rays
glinted on her hair and made it brightly golden ; a shower was
drying up, and the air was clear and fresh-smelling. The lime-
blossom on a tree that overhung a garden fence—for we are rural,
here in the Southern Suburb—was giving off the beginning of its
evening fragrance. The street was deserted and quite silent. A
scrap of talk floated to us down the hill from the man and woman
“Only landed this morning,” the man was saying. “Couldn’t
get no news of you off the old people ; they wouldn’t tell me
nothing, and I bin lookin’ everywheres for you, all day. Then I
met yer sister, and she—told me ; and I come round in a rush
to fetch yer out. They didn’t want to let me in—ah! I’d ‘ave
showed what for, in about another minute—and then I see yer
comin’ !” The baby began to cry feebly. The man hushed it
awkwardly, stopping in his walk to do so. He would not give it
up to the girl though ; and she hung on his arm looking up into
his face, transfigured, unrecognisable ; then they passed out of our
The Organist laid her hand upon my arm, her eyes glistening.
“We may as well go home, I think, mayn’t we ?” she said.
It was nearly a month later, when I found a letter from the
Organist on my breakfast table.
“If you could take me to the parish church on Saturday
morning—yes, I mean Saturday, not Sunday—” she wrote, “I
could show you the finish of an affair that I think you are inter-
I wondered, vaguely, what the “affair” was, and, having been a
little late in presenting myself, did not succeed, in a hurried walk to
the church, in eliciting an explanation of the summons. “Make
haste, and you will see,” said the Organist ; and she would tell
me no more.
We found the church almost empty, save for a little group,
facing an ascetic-looking young priest in the chancel.
“Well, what is it, then ?” I whispered. The Organist
answered me by a motion of the head altarwards, and I recognised
my friend the sailor, looking very uncomfortable in a stiff suit
of tweeds. Then the words which the priest was reciting gave
me a last clue to the situation.
“Into which holy estate these two persons present come now
to be joined. Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why
they may not lawfully be joined together, let him NOW speak,
or else hereafter for ever hold his peace !” We were witnessing
that service of the Church which, as a cynic remarked, “begins
with ‘Dearly Beloved,’ and ends with ‘amazement.'”
A pew, half way down the aisle, gave us decent shelter, within
earshot, and we paid attention to this reticent, informal, solem-
nisation of matrimony. There were no bridesmaids, as you may
suppose—no groomsman—only a perfunctory pew-opener as
witness, and an awkward youth in a large jacket, who officiated,
blushing profusely, as “father,” giving ” this woman to this man.”
He may have been hair a year her senior. The girl’s parents,
apparently, had not yet forgiven her. At length, duly united,
the couple followed the clergyman bashfully into the vestry, with
their witnesses. The baby, apparently, had been placed in some
safe keeping, as an unsuitable attendant at this ceremonial. We
viewed the departure of the group, the ring proudly displayed on
the girl s ungloved hand ; and my companion (whom I began to
suspect of having abetted in this dénouement] had a word to say to
the clergyman. Then, as we passed out of the gates, I asked her,
“Well ! How in the world did you follow them up ?”
“Oh, nothing easier,” she replied. “I had a notion of what
would happen, and of course I knew the girl’s name through
the Union people, so that there was no difficulty in finding out
from Mr. Noster (that is the curate, who has just married them)
when the banns were put up.
“I thought,” she added, with her delightful smile, “that you
would be glad to see the end of it !”
And I was glad : but really it is hardly printable ; it is too
improbable, too melodramatic.
FAR spreads the desert before and the waste behind us,
Grey and a-dust—but here the forest is green,
Here nor the irons of Eld nor of winter bind us,
Neither the grief of the known nor the unforeseen.
Faintly the south wind stirs, with the woods awaking,
Softly the kind sun shines, like a golden flower.
Wake, O my heart, and remember …. the buds are breaking.
Rest, O my heart, and forget …. ’tis the magic hour !
Joy comes once more ; once more through the wet leaves
Vistas of silver and blue in the birch-woods gleam ;
In the dusk of the cold spring dawn with a blackbird singing—
Singing the Song of Songs by the Gates of Dream.
A Pair of Parricides
By Francis Watt
THERE is a new series of State Trials continuing the old and
edited with a skill and completeness altogether lacking in its
predecessor ; yet its formal correctness gives an impression of
dulness. You think with regret of HowelPs thirty-three huge
volumes, that vast magazine of curiosities and horrors, of all that
is best and worst in English history. How exciting life was long
ago, to be sure, and how persistently it grows duller ! What a
price we pay for the smug comfort of our time ! People shud
dered of yore ; did they yawn quite so often ? Howell and the
folk he edits knew how to tell a story. Judges, too, were not
wont to exclude interesting detail for that it wasn t evidence, and
the compilers did not end with a man s condemnation. They had
too keen a sense of what was relished of the general ; the last
confession and dying speech, the exit on the scaffold or from the
cart, are told with infinite gusto. What a terrible test Earth’s
great unfortunates underwent ! Sir Thomas More’s delicate
fencing with his judges, the exquisite courtesy wherewith he bade
them farewell, make but half the record ; you must hear the
strange gaiety which flashed in the condemned cell and by the
block ere you learn the man’s true nature. And to know
Raleigh you must see him at Winchester under the brutal insults
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. N
of Coke. ” Thou art a monster, thou hast an English face but a
Spanish heart ; ” again, ” I thou thee, thou traitor;” and at Palace
Yard, Westminster, on that dreary October morning urging the
sheriff to hurry, since he would not be thought fear-shaken when
it was but the ague ; for these are all-important episodes in the
life of that richly dressed, stately and gallant figure your fancy
is wont to picture sweeping the Spanish Main in his Elizabethan
warship. Time would fail to tell of Strafford and Charles and Laud
and a hundred others, for the collection begins with Thomas a
Becket in 1163 and comes down to Thistlewood in 1820. Once
familiar with those close-packed, badly printed pages, you find
therein a deeper, a more subtle charm than cunningest romance
can furnish forth. The account of Mary Stuart s ending has a
finer hold than Froude’s magnificent and highly decorated picture.
Study at first hand ” Bloody Jeffreys’s ” slogging of Titus Gates
with that unabashed rascal s replies during his trial for perjury, or
again my Lord s brilliant though brutal cross-examination of
Dunn in the ” Lady ” Alice Lisle case, during the famous or
infamous Western Circuit, and you will find Macaulay’s wealth
of vituperative rhetoric, tiresome and pointless verbiage. Also
you will prefer to construct your own Braxfield from trials like
those of Thomas Muir in 1793, and of Alexander Scott and
Maurice Margarot in 1794, rather than accept the counterfeit
presentment which Stevenson s master-hand has limned in Weir
But the interests are varied. How full of grotesque and
curious horrors are the prosecutions for witchcraft ! There is
that one, for instance, in March 1665 at Bury St. Edmunds before
Sir Matthew Hale, with stories of bewitched children, and plague-
stricken women, and satanic necromancy. Again, there is the
diverting exposure of Richard Hathaway in 1702, and how the
rogue pretended to vomit pins and abstain from meat or drink for
quite miraculous periods. The trial of the obscurer criminal has
its own charm. Where else do you find such Dutch pictures
of long-vanished interiors or exteriors ? You touch the vie intime
of a past age; you see how kitchen and hall lived and talked;
what master and man, mistress and maid thought and felt ; how
they were dressed, what they ate, of what they gossiped. Again,
how oft your page recalls the strange, mad, picturesque ways of
old English law. Benefit of clergy meets you at every turn, the
Pelne Fort et Dure is explained with horrible minuteness, the lore
of Ship Money as well as of Impressement of Seamen is all there.
Also is an occasional touch of farce, but what phase of man’s life
goes unrecorded in those musty old tomes ?
Howell’s collection comes down only to 1820. Reform has
since then purged our law, and the whole set is packed off
to the Lumber Room. In a year s current reports you may
find the volumes quoted once or twice, but that is ” but a
bravery,” as Lord Bacon would say, for their law is ” a creed
outworn.” Yet the human interest of a story remains, however
antiquated the setting, incapable of hurt from Act of Parliament.
So, partly for themselves, partly as samples of the bulk, I here
present in altered form two of these tragedies, a pair of parricides ;
one Scots of the seventeenth, the other English of the eighteenth
The first is the trial of Philip Standsfield at Edinburgh, in 1688,
for the murder of his father, Sir James Standsfield, of New Mills,
in East Lothian. To-day New Mills is called Amisfield ; it lies
on the south bank of the Tyne, a mile east of Haddington.
There is a fine mansion-house, about a century old, in the midst
of a well-wooded park, and all round are the superbly tilled Lothian
fields, as dulcia arva as ever the Mantuan sang. Amisfield got its
present name thus : Colonel Charteris, infamed (in the phrase ot
Arbuthnot s famous epitaph) for the “undeviating pravity of his
manners” (hence lashed by Pope in many a stinging line),
purchased it early in the last century and renamed it from the seat
of his family in Nithsdale. Through him it passed by descent to
the house of Wemyss, still its present owners. Amongst its trees and
its waters the place lies away from the beaten track, and is now as
charmingly peaceful a spot as you shall anywhere discover. Name
gone and aspect changed, local tradition has but a vague memory
of the two-centuries-old tragedy whereof it was the centre.
Sir James Standsfield, an Englishman by birth, had married a
Scots lady and spent most of his life in Scotland. After the
Restoration he had established a successful cloth factory at the
place called New Mills, and there lived, a prosperous gentleman.
But he had much domestic trouble, chiefly from the conduct ot
his eldest son Philip, who, though well brought up, led a wild life.
Serving abroad in the Scots regiment, he had been condemned to
death at Treves, but had escaped by flight. Certain notorious
villainies had also made him familiar with the interior of the
Marshalsea, and the prisons of Brussels, Antwerp and Orleans.
Sir James at last was moved to disinherit him in favour of his
second son John. Partly cause and partly effect of this, Philip
was given to cursing his father in most extravagant terms (of
itself a capital offence according to old Scots law) ; he affirmed
his parent ” girned upon him like a sheep s head in a tongs ; ” on
several occasions he had even attempted that parent s life : all
which is set forth at great length in the ” ditty ” or indictment
upon which he was tried. No doubt Sir James went in consider
able fear of his unnatural son. A certain Mr. Roderick Mackenzie,
advocate, testifies that eight days before the end he met the old
gentlemen in the Parliament Close, Edinburgh, whereupon “the
defunct invited him to take his morning draught.” As they
partook Sir James bemoaned his domestic troubles. Yes, said
Mackenzie, but why had he ” disherished his son ? ” And the
defunct answered : ” Ye do not know my son, for he is the
greatest debauch in the earth. And that which troubles me most
is that he twice attempted my own person.”
Upon the last Saturday of November 1687 the elder Stands-
field travelled from Edinburgh to New Mills in company with
Mr. John Bell, minister of the gospel, who was to officiate the
next day in Morham Church (Morham is a secluded parish on
the lower slope of the Lammermoors, some three miles south-west
of New Mills : the church plays an important part in what follows).
Arrived at New Mills the pair supped together, thereafter the
host accompanied his guest to his chamber, where he sat talking
” pertinently and to good purpose ” till about ten o clock. Left
alone our divine gat him to bed, but had scarce fallen asleep when
he awoke in terror, for a terrible cry rang through the silence of
the winter night. A confused murmur of voices and a noise of
folk moving about succeeded. Mr. Bell incontinently set all down
to ” evil wicked spirits,” so having seen to the bolts of his cham
ber door, and having fortified his timid soul with prayers, he
huddled in bed again ; but the voices and noises continuing
outside the house, he crept to the window, where, peering out, he
perceived naught in the darkness. The noises died away across
the garden towards the river, and Bell lay quaking till the morn
ing. An hour after day Philip came to his chamber to ask if his
father had been there, for he had been seeking him upon the banks
of the water. ” Why on the banks of that water ? ” queried Bell
in natural amazement. Without answer Philip hurriedly left the
room. Later that same Sunday morning a certain John Topping
coming from Monkrig to New Mills, along the bank of the
Tyne, saw a man’s body floating on the water. Philip, drawn to
the spot by some terrible fascination, was looking on (you picture
his face). ” Whose body was it ? ” asked the horror-struck
Topping, but Philip replied not. Well he knew it was his father’s
corpse. It was noted that, though a hard frosty morning, the
bank was ” all beaten to mash with feet and the ground very open
and mellow.” The dead man being presently dragged forth and
carried home was refused entry by Philip into the house so late his
own, ” for he had not died like a man but like a beast ” the
suggestion being that his father had drowned himself, and so the
poor remains must rest in the woollen mill, and then in a cellar
” where there was very little light.” The gossips retailed un
seemly fragments of scandal, as “within an hour after his father’s
body was brought from the water, he got the buckles from his
father s shoes and put them in his ; ” and again, there is note of
a hideous and sordid quarrel between Lady Standsfield and Janet
Johnstoun, “who was his own concubine,” so the prosecution
averred, “about some remains of the Holland of the woonding-
sheet,” with some incriminating words of Philip that accompanied.
I now take up the story as given by Umphrey Spurway, described
as an Englishman and clothier at New Mills. His suspicions
caused him to write to Edinburgh that the Lord Advocate might
be warned. Philip lost no time in trying to prevent an inquiry. At
three or four of the clock on Monday morning Spurway, coming
out of his house, saw “great lights at St. James Gate ; ” grouped
round were men and horses. He was told they were taking away
the body to be buried at Morham, whereat honest Umphrey, much,
disturbed at this suspicious haste, sighed for the ” crowner’s quest
law ” of his fatherland. But on the next Tuesday night, after he
had gone to bed, a party of five men, two of them surgeons, came
post haste to his house from Edinburgh, and showing him an
order ” from my Lord Advocate, for the taking up again the body
of Sir James Standsfield,” bid him rise and come. Philip also
must go with the party to Morham. Here the grave was opened,
the body taken out and carried into the church, where the
surgeons made their examination, which clearly pointed to death
by strangulation, not by drowning (possibly it struck Spurway as
an odd use for a church ; it had not seemed so to a Presbyterian
Scot of the period). The dead being redressed in his grave clothes
must now be set back in his coffin. A terrible thing happened.
According to Scots custom, the nearest relative must lift the body,
and so Philip took the head, when lo ! the corpse gushed forth
blood on his hands! He dropped the head—the “considerable
noise” it made in falling is noted by one of the surgeons fran
tically essayed to wipe off the blood on his clothes, and with
frenzied cries of ” Lord have mercy upon me, Lord have mercy
upon us,” fell half swooning across a seat. Strong cordials were
administered, and in time he regained his sullen composure.
A strange scene to ponder over, but how terrible to witness I
Think of it ! The lonely church on the Lammermoors, the dead
vast and middle of the dreary night (Nov. 30, 1687), the murdered
man, and the parricide s confession (it is so set forth in the ditty)
wrung from him (as all believed) by the direct interposition of
Providence. What fiction ever equalled this gruesome horror ?
Even his mother, who had sided with him against the father, scarce
professed to believe his innocence. ” What if they should put
her bairn in prison ? ” she wailed. ” Her bairn ” was soon hard
and fast in the gloomy old Tolbooth of Edinburgh, to which, as
the Heart of Midlothian, Scott s novel was in future days to
give a world-wide fame. The trial came on next February 6.
In Scotland there is no inquest or public magisterial exam
ination to discount the interest of the story, and the crowd
that listened in the Parliament House to the evidence already
detailed had their bellyful of surprises and horrors. The Crown
had still in reserve this testimony, sensational and deadly. The
prosecution proposed to call James Thomson, a boy of thirteen,
and Anna Mark, a girl of ten. Their tender years were objected.
My lords, declining to receive them as witnesses, oddly enough
consented, at the request of the jury, to take their declaration.
The boy told how Philip came to his father s house on the night
of the murder. The lad was hurried off to bed, but listened
whilst the panel, Janet Johnstoun, already mentioned, and
his father and mother softly whispered together for a long time,
until Philip s rage got the better of his discretion, and he loudly
cursed his father and threatened his life. Next, Philip and Janet left
the house, and in the dead of night his father and mother followed.
After two hours they crept back again ; and the boy, supposed
to be sleeping, heard them whisper to each other the story of the
murder, how Philip guarded the chamber door “with a drawn sword
and a bendit pistol,” how it was strange a man should die so soon,
how they carried the body to the water and threw it in, and how
his mother ever since was afraid to stay alone in the house after
nightfall. The evidence of Anna Mark was as to certain
criminating words used by her mother, Janet Johnstoun.
Up to this time the panel had been defended by four eminent
advocates mercifully appointed thereto by the Privy Council ; there
had been the usual Allegations, Replyes, and Duplies, with frequent
citations from Mattheus, Carpzovius, Muscard, and the other
fossils, as to the matters contained in the ” ditty,” and they had
strenuously fought for him till now, but after the statement of
the children they retired. Then Sir George Mackenzie rose to
reply for the Crown. Famous in his own day, his name is not
yet forgotten. He was ” the bluidy advocate Mackenzie ” ot
Covenanting legend and tradition, one of the figures in Wander
ing Willie s tale in Red Gauntlet (” who for his worldly wit and
wisdom had been to the rest as a god “). He had been Lord
Advocate already, and was presently to be Lord Advocate again.
Nominally but second counsel he seems to have conducted the
whole prosecution. He had a strong case, and he made the most
of it. Passionate invective and prejudicial matter were mixed
with legal argument. Cultured politician and jurist as he was,
he dwelt with terrible emphasis on the scene in Morham Church.
“God Almighty himself was pleased to bear a share in the
testimonies which we produce,” nor was the children s testimony
forgotten. ” I need not fortifie so pregnant a probation.” No !
yet he omitted not to protest for ” an Assize of Error against the
inquest in the case they should assoilzie the pannal “—a plain
intimation to the jury that if they found Philip Standsfield ” not
guilty” they were liable to be prosecuted for an unjust verdict.
But how to doubt after such evidence ? The jury found the
panel guilty, and my lords pronounced a sentence of picturesque
barbarity. Standsfield was to be hanged at the Mercat Cross of
Edinburgh, his tongue cut out and burned upon the scaffold, his
right hand fixed above the east port of Haddington, and his dead
body hung in chains upon the Gallow Lee betwixt Leith and
Edinburgh, his name disgraced for ever, and all his property
forfeited to the Crown. According to the old Scots custom the
sentence was given ” by the mouth of John Leslie, dempster of
court”—an office held along with that of hangman. “Which is
pronounced for doom ” was the formula wherewith he concluded.
On February 15 Standsfield went to his death “in manner alone
The second case, not so romantic albeit a love-story is woven
through its tangled threads, is that of Mary Blandy, spinster,
tried at Oxford in 1752, before two of the Barons of the
Exchequer, for the murder of her father, Francis Blandy,
attorney, and town-clerk of Henley-on-Thames. Prosecuting
counsel described her as ” genteel, agreeable, sprightly, sensible.”
She was an only child. Her sire being well off, she seemed an
eligible match. Some years before the murder, the villain of the
piece, William Henry Cranstoun, a younger son of the Scots Lord
Cranstoun and an officer recruiting at Henley for the army, comes
on the scene. Contemporary gossip paints him the blackest colour.
” His shape no ways genteel, his legs clumsy, he has nothing in
the least elegant in his manner.” He was remarkable for his
dulness ; he was dissipated and poverty-stricken. More fatal
than all, he had a wife and child in Scotland though he brazenly
professed the marriage invalid spite the judgment of the Scots
courts in its favour. Our respectable attorney, upon discovering
these facts, gave the Captain, as he was called, the cold shoulder.
The prospect of a match with a lord s son was too much for
Miss Blandy, now over thirty, and she was ready to believe any
ridiculous yarn he spun about his northern entanglements. Fired
by an exaggerated idea of old Blandy s riches, he planned his
death and found in the daughter an agent, and, as the prosecution
averred, an accomplice.
The way was prepared by a cunning use of popular superstitions.
Mysterious sounds of music were heard about ; at least, Cranstoun
said so ; indeed, it was afterwards alleged he ” hired a band to play
under the windows.” If any one asked, “What then ? ” he whispered
” that a wise woman, one Mrs. Morgan, in Scotland,” had assured
him that such was a sign of death to the head of the house within
twelve months. The Captain further alleged that he held the
gift of second sight and had seen the worthy attorney s ghost ; all
which, being carefully reported to the servants by Miss Blandy,
raised a pleasing horror in the kitchen. Cranstoun, from necessity
or prudence, left Henley before the diabolical work began in
earnest, but he supplied Mary with arsenic in powder, which she
administered to her father for many months. The doses were so
immoderate that the unfortunate man’s teeth dropped whole from
their sockets, whereat the undutiful daughter ” damn d him for a
toothless old rogue and wished him at hell.” Cranstoun, under
the guise of a present of Scotch pebbles, sent her some more
arsenic, nominally to rub them with. In the accompanying letter,
July 18, 1751, he glowingly touched on the beauties of Scotland
as an inducement to her, it was supposed, to make haste.
Rather zealous than discreet, she near poisoned Anne Emmett,
the charwoman, by misadventure, but brought her round again
with great quantities of sack whey and thin mutton broth,
sovereign remedies against arsenic. Her father gradually be
came desperately ill. Susannah Gunnell, maidservant, perceiving
a white powder at the bottom of a dish she was cleaning, had it
preserved. It proved to be arsenic, and was produced at the
trial. Susannah actually told Mr. Blandy he was being poisoned ;
but he only remarked, ” Poor lovesick girl ! what will not a
woman do for the man she loves ? ” Both master and maid
fixed the chief, perhaps the whole, guilt on Cranstoun, the father
confining himself to dropping some strong hints to his daughter,
which made her throw Cranstoun’s letters and the remainder of
the poison on the fire, wherefrom the poison was in secret rescued
and preserved by the servants.
Mr. Blandy was now hopelessly ill, and though experienced
doctors were at length called in, he expired on Wednesday,
August 14, 1751. The sordid tragedy gets its most pathetic and
highest touch from the attempts made by the dying man to shield
his daughter, and to hinder her from incriminating admissions
which under excitement and (one hopes) remorse she began to
make. And in his last hours he spoke to her words of pardon and
solace. That night and again on Thursday morning the daughter
made some distracted efforts to escape. ” I ran out of the house
and over the bridge and had nothing on but a half-sack and
petticoat without a hoop my petticoats hanging about me.”
But now all Henley was crowded round the dwelling to watch
the development of events. The mob pressed after the distracted
girl, who took refuge at the sign of the Angel, a small inn just
across the bridge. ” They were going to open her father,” she
said, and ” she could not bear the house.” She was taken home
and presently committed to Oxford gaol to await her trial. Here
she was visited by the High Sheriff, who “told me by order of the
higher powers he must put an iron on me. I submitted as I
always do to the higher powers ” (she had little choice). Spite her
terrible position and those indignities, she behaved with calmness
and courage. The trial, which lasted twelve hours, took place on
February 29, 1752, in the Divinity School of the University.
The prisoner was ” sedate and composed without levity or
dejection.” Accused of felony she had properly counsel only
for points of law, but at her request they were allowed to examine
and cross-examine the witnesses. Herself spoke the defence,
possibly prepared by her advisers, for though the style be artless,
the reasoning is exceeding ingenious. She admitted she was
passionate, and thus accounted for some hasty expressions ; the
malevolence of servants had exaggerated these. Betty Binfield,
one of the maids, was credibly reported to have said of her, “she
should be glad to see the black bitch go up the ladder to be
hanged.” But the powder ? Impossible to deny she had ad
ministered that. ” I gave it to procure his love.” Cranstoun,
she affirmed, had sent it from Scotland, assuring her that it would
so work, and Scotland, one notes, seemed to everybody ” the
shores of old romance,” the home of magic incantations and
mysterious charms. It was powerfully objected that Francis
Blandy had never failed in love to his daughter, but she replied
that the drug was given to reconcile her father to Cranstoun.
She granted he meant to kill the old man in hopes to get his
money, and she was the agent, but (she asserted) the innocent
agent of his wicked purpose. This theory, though the best avail
able, was beset with difficulties. She had made many incriminating
statements, there was the long time over which the doses had been
spread, there was her knowledge of its effects on Anne Emmett
the charwoman, there was the destruction of Cranstoun’s letters,
the production of which would have conclusively shown the exact
measure in which guilty knowledge was shared. Finally, there
was the attempt to destroy the powder. Bathurst, leading counsel
for the Crown, delivered two highly rhetorical speeches, ” drawing
floods of tears from the most learned audience that perhaps ever
attended an English Provincial Tribunal.” The jury, after some
five minutes consultation in the box, returned a verdict of” guilty,”
which the prisoner received with perfect composure. All she
asked was a little time ” till I can settle my affairs and make my
peace with God,” and this was readily granted. She was left in
prison five weeks. The case continued to excite enormous
interest, increased by an account which she issued from prison of
her father s death and her relations with Cranstoun. She was con
stant in her professions of innocence, “nor did anything during
the whole course of her confinement so extremely shock her as the
charge of infidelity which some uncharitable persons a little before
her death brought against her.”
Some were convinced and denied her guilt, ” as if,” said Horace
Walpole, “a woman who would not stick at parricide would
scruple a lie.” Others said she had hopes of pardon “from the
Honour she had formerly had of dancing for several nights with
the late P—e of W—s, and being personally known to the
most sweet-tempered P ess in the world.” The press swarmed
with pamphlets. The Cranstoun correspondence, alleged not
destroyed, was published—a very palpable Grub Street forgery !
—and a tragedy, The Fair Parricide, dismal in every sense, was
inflicted on the world. The last scene of all was on April 6,
1752. “Miss Blandy suffered in a black bombazine short sack
and petticoat with a clean white handkerchief drawn over her
face. Her hands were tied together with a strong black ribband,
and her feet at her own request almost touched the ground.”
(” Gentlemen, don t hang me high, for the sake of decency,” an
illustration of British prudery which has escaped the notice of
French critics.) She mounted the ladder with some hesitation.
“I am afraid I shall fall.” For the last time she declared her
innocence, and soon all was over. ” The number of people
attending her execution was computed at about 5000, many of
whom, and particularly several gentlemen of the university, were
observed to shed tears ” (tender-hearted ” gentlemen of the
university ! “). “In about half an hour the body was cut down
and carried through the crowd upon the shoulders of a man with
her legs exposed very indecently.” Late the same night she was
laid beside her father and mother in Henley Church.
Cranstoun fled from justice and was outlawed. In December
that same year he died in Flanders.
II. The Sorceress
III. The Couch
IV. The Mirror
Kit : an American Boy
By Jennie A. Eustace
His sponsors had called him Christopher Bainbridge Bryce.
The boy would have preferred something shorter and
simpler, perhaps even “a rusty name unwashed by baptism” so
that it had been just a good, comfortable mouthful for the other
boys to designate him by.
It is not surprising therefore, that at an early age various cur-
tailments were adopted ; Kit, and Chris, and Crit ; and some
boys had fallen into the way, at one time, of calling him Stub.
But his mother, resenting this on the ground that perhaps it had
been suggested by the fact of his being such a little lad, and having
such short, sturdy, round little legs, remonstrated with him on
the subject to such effect that Stub enjoyed but a short-lived
“I don’t want any one to call me Stub again. My name is
Kit.” Being the respected leader of the majority of his fellows
in spite of short legs, small bones, and few years—he was only
twelve—that settled it. Kit he was to every one from that day.
With one exception.
Brawn and muscle yield unwillingly to diminutive superiority.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. o
Goliath’s cry, “Give me a Man, that we may fight together,”
was uttered in contempt of David’s size. But in the days of the
Philistines, no less than now, a very small hand, directed by an
accurate eye and a powerful conviction, was found quite large
enough to inject a fatal significance into so simple a weapon as a
Neil Morgan was only one year older than Kit, but he was
several years larger and heavier, and he scoffed at Kit’s peaceful
rule of his followers. He himself went in for tearing off his coat
at the slightest provocation, and, in the parlance of the boys,
“squaring up,” calling out as he did so :
“Come on ! If any one wants to fight, let him come
His combative fists had long burned to belabour Kit’s calm,
well-tempered anatomy, and Kit’s attitude towards the use of his
sobriquet furnished the opportunity. He publicly announced that
Stub was in every way a suitable name for such a stub of a boy,
and declared his intention of distinguishing him by it whenever he
This coming to Kit’s knowledge, he resolved upon Morgan’s
“Of course she will feel sore about it,” he reflected, “but that
fellow must be settled.”
Kit, like other leaders the world over, through all the ages,
exercised his generalship, as he did all else, with the consideration
of one fair goddess ever in his mind. He called his goddess Judy.
Church records witnessed that she had been baptized Helen Judith,
hut Judy fell in with his theory regarding easy, comfortable
Judy was the passion of Kit’s life, the lode-star of his existence.
He knew no childish ambition whose realisation was not to benefit
her ; he indulged no roseate dreams in whose radiance she did not
shine pre-eminent. Every boyish triumph was incomplete until
her approval crowned it, and her rebuke could rob the proudest
victory of its glory.
No boy ever lived who despised effeminate qualities in his
sex more than Kit did, but whenever the service of Judy required
it he could perform the offices of a maid with incredible
He knew a dozen little secrets of her toilet, and took pleasure in
seeing that she always performed them to the enhancement of her
beauty and her comfort.
He had acquired the knack of arranging her veil to please her.
He studied the weather to know what wraps she required. He
buttoned her boots. If her head ached and she was tired, he
brushed her hair with a soothing hand. And he took the fondest
pride in carefully opening the fingers of her new gloves by gently
blowing his warm breath into them before she put them on. This
last was a special invention of his own which had found much
favour in her eyes. He made her the trusted confidante of every
secret of his heart, and her judgment on all subjects was as an
oracle to him.
And Judy, on her part, paid back this wealth of homage and
devotion in equal measure and greater ; for Judy was Kit’s fair
young mother, and Kit was Judy’s all.
Any serious difference of opinion between them was extremely
rare, and when—as in the case of Morgan—the possibility of one
arose, Kit knew no peace until, to quote himself, he had “had it
out” with her.
“It will have to come to it,” he announced to her one day.
“What is it this time, Comfort ?” Whenever Kit appeared
particularly troubled Judy called him Comfort. She knew that it
flattered the proudest boast of his little life, and was a bit of
strategy which never failed to reassure him.
“Morgan ; he insists on ‘Stub,’ and wants a fight.”
He sat down on the side of her chair, coiled his arm about her
neck, and with his round, red check resting comfortably against
her shoulder, described the situation. Judy acknowledged a thrill
of sympathy at the condition of affairs, and agreed to enter no
protest against their better adjustment.
His mind at ease respecting her attitude in the matter, his next
move was to cultivate the society of a half-dozen doubtful spirits,
respected only for their skill in sundry tricks of boyish warfare.
With these he held frequent council in the roomy loft of the
barn, greatly to the alarm and annoyance of Annie, the beautiful
chestnut mare, in the stable below, who was Kit’s particular
pride and special property. He had no foolish confidence in his
own prowess as opposed to that of the young giant he proposed to
lay low, and the purpose of this first step in his plan of action
was to make himself master of the honourable science of wrestling
—that potent art in serving the ends of agility against amplitude.
Becoming familiar, however, with the startling efficacy of certain
not altogether legitimate manoeuvres of which his youthful
instructors were the proud exponents, he found himself possessed
at moments of a moral fear lest he should be tempted to resort to
similar irregularities with Morgan in case honest means should get
the worst of it.
And when, during one unusually exciting session, little Ted
Wilson, overhearing an uncomplimentary allusion to himself,
suddenly brought his detractors sprawling to earth by a sly play of
the tip of his boot, Kit could not control his enthusiasm, but threw
up his hat and gave utterance to the most emphatic expression of
approval in his vocabulary :
“By Jove ! But that is ripping !”
Annie was not the only member of the family who was puzzled
and distressed by Kit’s mysterious devotion to the barn loft.
Judy had found it impossible to look with full favour upon his, to
her, unaccountable devotion to his present associates. It had
never been her plan to insist upon any confidence from him until
he chose to give it. But for the first time this negative mode of
procedure seemed about to fail.
And so, on the morning of a certain May day, observing his
impatience to bolt his breakfast and be off to the barn for an
interval before school, she determined to follow and to learn as
much as she might without positive eavesdropping. When she
entered the barn she heard no sound but Annie’s familiar whinney.
Above in the loft everything seemed quiet. She began to wonder
if Kit could be alone, when a heavy sound like the quick falling
of an inert body reached her. Kit, mastering a difficult turn,
had thrown little Wilson forcibly to the floor. This was followed
by shrill yells of approval, and Judy found herself hearing frag-
ments of speech never intended for delicate ears, and of such a
nature that for an instant she stood transfixed with angry indigna-
tion. Then, without pausing to consider any result but the
desirable one of being rid of the young barbarians overhead, she
went swiftly to the foot of the stairs, where, in sterner tones than
he had ever heard from her, she called him :
There was no mistaking the meaning in that call. To every
boy who had been guilty of an oath or any other contraband
expression it meant that she had heard him, and that in her judg-
ment Kit was responsible.
And Kit himself was so bewildered with the surprise of her
being there, that for one swift moment he felt almost like a culprit.
This state was followed quickly, however, by a series of reflections
which left him ill-natured and sullen, and for the first time in his
life, disappointed in her.
“She didn’t trust me. She sneaked !”
That was his mental summary, and to do him justice it had
some show of truth. He stood stubbornly at the head of the
stairs waiting for her to call again.
“I want you.”
He walked slowly down, followed by his abashed coadjutors,
who lost no time in making their escape. Judy in the meantime
had walked over to the stall, where she stood quietly stroking
Annie’s soft nose. Kit remained by the door watching her, his
hands thrust doggedly into his pockets, his hat on the back of his
head, and a look of unmistakable mutiny in his eyes. Judy felt
that her task was both delicate and difficult.
“I am disappointed, Kit ! That language, those boys ! What
can you see in them ?”
He had never known her to manifest so much displeasure at
“I cannot understand it, Comfort.”
A lump came into his throat at the name, but the sense of his
disappointment in her still mastered him and kept him silent. At
this point the school bell rang. The situation was becoming
His mother realised it, and waited—devoting herself to Annie,
talking softly to her and calling her by the pet names which Kit
had invented for her from time to time. But all to no purpose,
for when she looked toward the door again he was gone. She
could see him disappearing in the direction of the school, his
hands still in his pockets, but his hat now was drawn low over his
“Poor little man!” she sighed. She knew there were tears
under the brim.
The mid-day recess did not improve matters. Kit continued to
maintain his sullen silence, and this time Judy did not attempt to
break it. He found her busy finishing a flannel blouse which she
had made for him to wear in some athletic sports that were to
take place on the next day. They had modelled this garment
between them, and the sight of her thus employed brought up the
troublesome lump to his throat again. He made no overture to a
peace, however, but finished his meal and hurried back to his
lessons. Judy followed him to the door, and watched the little
figure out of sight. When he reached the corner whose turning
shut him from her view, he looked back and saw her standing
“Oh, Judy, Judy !” It was a genuine sob that burst from him
as he hastened on.
“Dear, dear little Judy! But she finished the blouse just the
Altogether it was proving the most miserable day of Kit’s
young existence, and he could never look back upon it without a
certain degree of suffering.
When school was dismissed, he set out for the athletic grounds
with several companions for an hour’s final practice against
to-morrow’s contests. Within hearing distance behind him were
Morgan and his cohorts, bound for the same destination and with
the same object in view. Kit was bent on excelling to-morrow
—partly, to be sure, to outdo the other boys, but more than all
just now to make Judy proud of him again. She would be there
to see him, seated in the comfortable little phaeton behind Annie.
Indeed, what event had ever taken place in his little life at which
she had not been present—and, for the matter of that, Annie, too,
provided it had been any function at which a self-respecting
horse could appear ? After practice he would go home to her
and straighten out the wretched affair of the morning, and to-
morrow with everything between them smooth and right once
more, why— A glad little sigh at the happy prospect was escaping
him, when his ears caught an expression from the crowd in the
rear that sent the angry blood into his cheeks. He felt his
fingers suddenly tingle with a desire to clutch something, and
even his sturdy little legs began to tremble with excitement.
Could it be that on this of all days he was to settle scores with
the enemy ? It flashed upon him that no day could be fitter.
His quarrel with Judy, her distress, his own miserable heart-ache
—nothing could suit him better than to avenge these, and to
accomplish Morgan’s downfall in the same hour.
It is in the young male blood to scent battle and to gloat over
it ; and a significant silence had fallen upon both groups of boys.
Kit himself strode on, waiting for the repetition of the attack
which he felt would soon come.
“His—mother’s—little—Stub !” He heard it drawled forth a
second time. The words were Morgan’s, and there was a
challenge in them. Quicker than it takes to tell it, Kit turned
and faced the foe.
“Come on !” It was Morgan who spoke again, but the
words were no more than uttered, when, with the rapidity of
lightning, out shot a determined little fist in a left lead-off for
Morgan’s head, instantly followed up by a cut from an equally
determined little right. And then, faster and faster, and more
and more determined with each succeeding play, now here, now
there, first for Judy and then for himself, his blows fell like hail
on face, on head, on ribs ; and Kit seemed transformed into a
living incarnation of physical dynamics. In vain did Morgan try
to recover himself. Kit realised that it was the opportunity of
his righting career, and at the first return blow he proceeded to
put into practice those arts which he had learned from his now
deposed trainers. The hold, the heave, the click—it is not to be
supposed that he knew them by these technical terms, but he
executed them all with an effectiveness that was maddening and
bewildering. Morgan would have been glad to cry quits, but
nothing would satisfy Kit now but to see him literally in the
dust; and watching his chance he suddenly sprang upon the
other’s bulky frame, locking himself firmly about his waist by the
knees, and with a quick downward and backward movement of
his hands and arms, he pulled Morgan’s legs from under him and
sent him to the ground an inert mass, himself falling with him
and literally pinning the young blusterer to earth.
For a few quiet seconds the two combatants eyed each other
curiously ; Morgan, still dazed from the concussion of the fall,
stared at Kit in a half appealing way, while Kit, burning with
excitement and conscious of victory, returned the look with one
of calm disdain.
“What is my name now ?”
Then he calmly rose—and went home and made his peace
Need it be told that Kit was a victor in the next day’s sports ?
When a boy has thrashed his enemy and become good friends
with his mother, who and what can beat him ?
But his victory was not an altogether easy one, nor was it an
assured one until the very finish. Four lads besides himself—
each a winner in at least one previous contest of the afternoon—
were pitted against each other for the final affair of the day, a
The four were all taller than Kit, with longer legs and capable
of greater stride. But he was known among the boys as a stayer.
Moreover he possessed the faculty of keeping his wits about him
notwithstanding much weariness of the flesh. Frequent practice
had made him familiar with every foot of the track. He knew at
what turns it declined and where it ascended, and just where
over-tired feet would be apt to trip and fall.
The five boys had circled the half-mile course once, and as
they passed the judge’s stand each one was holding his own. Kit,
Neil Morgan, and little Wilson were ahead and abreast, the other
two slightly behind. In this order they continued for the next
three hundred yards. Then Morgan pushed ahead, lengthening
his stride and quickening his pace until he opened an awkward
gap between himself and the others. Kit felt keenly the dis-
advantage of his short legs, but no effort he might make could
disarrange geometrical certainties. The base of a triangle could
not be made to measure more than the united length of its two
other sides. He kept pluckily on, however, side by side with
Wilson, neither gaining nor losing until they both reached a point
on the track directly across from the grand stand, where for a
distance of fifty feet a thicket of willows shut off their small
figures from the judge’s eyes. When they emerged from behind
this screen, Wilson was seen not only in advance of Kit, but
leading Morgan also by several feet.
Knowing his opportunity, he had taken advantage of it, and as
soon as they were well within the shade of the trees he had broken
into a quick run for a space of twenty feet and more. Kit, not
altogether surprised by this manoeuvre—memories of the barn-loft
were still with him—was unmoved by it save for an ominous
tightening of the lips and a deepening of the red in his cheeks.
But poor Morgan, certain of victory, and over-elated by the safe
lead he had honestly won, was so confounded by the vision of
Wilson passing him that tears of disappointment blinded him, and
he ambled from side to side of the track, thus permitting Kit,
doggedly plodding on in a straight line, soon to overtake and pass
The fourth and fifth boys having fallen behind, the race now
lay between Wilson and Kit. The former, jubilant over the
advantage he had unlawfully gained, was swinging along with an
air of great confidence, his head well up in the air and his eyes
straight ahead. The crowd in the grand stand had already
awarded the race to him, Kit’s followers no less than the others.
Judy, sitting behind Annie over among the carriages at the right
of the stand, felt her heart beat a little faster than usual at the
prospect of Kit’s defeat, but not all her fond ambition could
shorten that dangerous lead.
Kit alone had not given up. He kept resolutely on, his eyes
fixed on Wilson, and every muscle strained to its utmost. He
knew that thirty feet this side of the wire there was a treacherous
dip in the track. Twice in practice he had encountered it, and in
emerging from it the unexpected rise under his feet had thrown
him to the ground. Did Wilson know of it too ?
Kit based his one final hope on the answer to this query.
And now the forward boy was directly in the line of the pitfall ;
nearer and nearer, and still he had given no sign of attempting to
avoid it. Kit’s anxiety was becoming painful. And now Wilson
was within half a dozen paces of the spot. Would he go straight
into it ? Would he swerve to the right—to the left ! But even
as Kit calculated the chances, the other had reached it. He
tripped, he stumbled, he recovered himself. He tripped again,
again he stumbled, and with an angry oath which reached Kit’s
ears and recalled with comical force Judy’s shock of yesterday, he
fell his full length on the track. By the time he had well regained
his footing, Kit had passed him and was under the wire.
Half an hour later Annie was speeding Judy and Kit up the
avenue toward home at a rollicking pace. No one knew better
than Annie that Kit had won. Indeed, had he not told her so
himself as he rubbed his cheek against her nose before climbing
in beside Judy ?
“Did you see me get there, old girl ?” And she had replied
with a happy and intelligent neigh that she had seen him get there,
and was proud of him.
The world was not quite right with Annie. Down in the
large pleasant pasture field she spent much of her time in sad
rumination. She had little else to do these days and might be
seen standing for hours at a time with her chin resting lazily on
the gate, which shut her in from the highway stretching along by
the river. Sometimes Judy stood there too, looking out on the
road, with her arm about Annie’s neck.
But even Judy’s arm could not console her. Perhaps it only
served to remind her more forcibly of how sadly she missed from
her neck another arm, a smaller one, and two dear little stirruped
feet from her sides, and a dear little figure from her back. What
a time it seemed since she had felt them. How she longed for a
race down the road with that light buoyant weight on her back.
She was becoming a veritable sluggard. Were her days of useful-
ness and activity over ? Should he never need her again ?
At this point in her daily musing there usually came in sight at
the bend of the road the cause of all her dolour. At first it looked
each time to Annie like an immense ball rolling very fast. But
as it approached it invariably resolved itself into that well-loved
and sadly missed little figure mounted on what she felt convinced
were two of the phaeton wheels, and working the dear little legs
up and down with the vigour and precision of a trip-hammer.
When it came quite in front of them Judy would laugh and
clap her hands and cry, “Bravo, bravo,” as it sped by. And then
Annie, recognising an obligation, would try to toss up her head
with her old spirit and to follow with a glad neigh. But the
stupidest horse in the world could have seen that she made a
miserable failure of it, for there was no gladness in it—more of a
sob, if a horse knows anything about a sob.
To come to the point, Kit had surrendered to a bicycle.
Morning, noon, and night, for the past two months, it had
absorbed every spare hour. There had been a rather difficult
argument with Judy at the first, but having once yielded, she
became as enthusiastic a partisan as Kit himself. It was a
distinguishing trait in her that she entered into every experience
of his with as much active interest as though the experience were
her own. She speedily made herself an authority, therefore, on
gearing, and adjustment, and saddles, and pedals, and all the rest,
that he might enjoy an advantage at every point. She took the
keenest pride in his riding. It was not enough that he could
make the best time and the longest distance ; he must be the best
to look upon as well. And so she devised the trimmest of
costumes and the neatest of caps. And he must sit correctly and
he must pedal properly, until, taking it all in all, Kit’s bicycle
period developed into the most engrossing one yet known to
either himself or to Judy.
And in the meantime Annie continued sad and neglected.
Joe, the stable-boy, noticing her moping condition, said one day
to Kit :
“‘Pears like she don’t feel first rate.”
Then Kit went into the stall where Joe was grooming her and
rubbed her nose and talked to her.
“You are getting proud, old girl, and lazy. That is all that
ails you. That ‘bike’ is the greatest friend you ever had. You
can take it easy now for the rest of your natural life—a nice
comfortable pasture, plenty to eat, and nothing to do. Oh, you
lucky old lady ! Give her a bran-mash, Joe ; that will put her
all right.” And he was gone.
Annie’s soft brown eyes followed Kit’s figure up the lane with
an appealing look. A bran-mash ? What was a bran-mash to a
faithful old friend, whose only illness was a longing for the baby
boy who eight years before had first been put astride her back and
who every day since, until these last miserable weeks, had fondled
her and ridden her and driven her ?
How should she ever make him understand ?
Was a mere machine to supplant a lifetime’s devotion ?
Her friend, indeed ! She would not have answered for that
friend’s safety had it been just then within reach of two well-shod
hoofs. Nothing to do for the rest of her natural life ! There
was the rub. She had always been such a necessary member of
the family—so willing, so proud of her usefulness ! And now, in
the very hey-day of her powers, to be cast aside ! Had she failed
to carry him fast enough ? She would challenge any wheel made
to beat her. Had she ever rebelled at distance or time ? Never !
And yet—and yet—— No more mad rides down the river bank !
No more racing ! No more wild charges home from the park,
passing everything on the road, with Judy and Kit sitting proudly
behind her ! No more all-day rambles through woods and along
the lake ! No more of anything that was !
Annie’s heart was as heavy as a horse’s heart could well be ;
heavy, and a little indignant as well. Accordingly, when Joe,
following instructions, placed the bran-mash in the measure before
her, she tipped it over with a viciousness never before seen in her
and resolutely refused to take it.
But that was her one and only offence. From that day she
bore ills with the dignity of a dethroned monarch ; and if Kit’s
neglect wounded her, she only betrayed it by an added gentleness
to him on those now rare occasions when he remembered her.
And so the bright summer slipped away, and October with its
mellow fulness was at hand.
Judy, always more or less influenced by that subtle melancholy
of the autumn, was this year particularly affected by it. It was a
singular trait of Kit’s almost passionate affection for her, that when-
ever she was ill he bore himself toward her with something almost
approaching harshness. It seemed to be his only method of pulling
himself together against a nameless horror which any lack of her
accustomed force always suggested to him. He could not look
back to the time when that horror had not played a part in his
thought of her. On that never-to-be-forgotten first day of his
school-life, when his little feet had raced home to her and she had
caught him to her heart after their first few hours’ separation, his
first cry had been :
“Oh, Judy, Judy ! I was afraid I might not find you
And that had been the unspoken fear of all his home-comings
ever since. Afraid he might not find her ! And this fear had
grown and grown, and made riot in his imagination until every
tiny ill to which she became subject developed into a possible
monster of evil. One day a spark from the grate had caught in
her dress and burned it. When he came from his lessons she
laughingly told him of it, and for days after he had been almost
afraid to go into that same room to look for her, lest he should
find that a second spark had accomplished more ghastly results.
Again, an irritation in her throat had produced a violent fit of
coughing, and he had seen a speck of blood upon her handkerchief.
Thereupon the horror took a new form, and for weeks he endured
the agony of a new suspense. His bedroom was just across the
passage from hers, and she, dreaming one night, had called out in
her sleep. Wakened by her voice, he had rushed to her, only to
find her lying white and peaceful. But the sight had so suggested
that other “dreamless sleep,” that, awe-stricken, he had fled back to
his own room, where he had locked himself in and sobbed the night
away. And after this for many weeks, in spite of her entreaties,
he closed his door at night and refused her the solace of calling
across to him, as was her wont, until she fell asleep—for Judy dis-
liked solitude and the dark. But his moist pillow had the same
story to tell every morning.
And Judy never knew.
It was his one secret from her. He found it easier to be misunder-
stood, than to put the horror in words, and chose rather to
appear hard and sullen to her than to yield to it in her presence.
So it happened that on a particular day of this particular
October, coming into her room and finding her lying on her bed,
pale and weak, his heart suddenly leaped to his thoat in an agony
of suffering, but he only said :
“I cannot think why you lie about such a fine day, Judy. You
would be much better out of doors.”
And Judy answering that she felt a bit tired and ill, he abruptly
left her—but only to linger outside her door heart-broken, hollow-
eyed, and afraid. Later, when the doctor came, he comforted
Kit and smiled at his anxious questions. His mother was sure to
be all right in the morning. But Kit, with the keen prescience
of intense affection, realised that she was as she had never been
before. When night came, he stole quietly in to her and put
his cheek against hers, but he could not trust himself to
speak. Then he crept back to his own room, where he threw
himself upon the bed, fully dressed, to wait for the morning.
Before many hours had passed, however, a cry of pain aroused
“Kit ! Kit !” He was at her side in a bound. “The
doctor, Kit ! I cannot breathe.”
In looking back at it afterwards he never could remember how
he found his cap or how he got out of doors. His first distinct
consciousness was when he found himself on the road in front of
the house mounted on his bicycle and starting on what seemed
to him a race against time for Judy’s life. What words can
describe the tension of his feelings ? All the accumulated suffer-
ing of that awful fear was at work within him. How he flew !
What time he made from the start ! Old Doctor Morton lived
four miles down the river—but before he could strike the river
road he must go a mile in the opposite direction, and then half as
far again to the right. That mile and a half seemed a mile and a
half of treason to Judy. But on, on, —even while he was
deploring it, he had accomplished it. And now he had turned
into the smooth highway, running along by the river bank, and
following Annie’s pasture for a quarter of a mile. Little thought
of Annie, however, was in his mind to-night—little thought
of anything but Judy and speed. The road, the trees, the moon,
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. P
the fences, even the blades of grass, seemed all to whisper her
He remembered with a peculiar sense of thankfulness that he
had spent an hour that very day in putting his wheel in condition.
He had cleaned it, and oiled it, and pumped it, and every screw
had been made tight and fast. And now, with head well forward
and feet firmly working, he braced himself for his quick and
noiseless flight. Almost unconsciously to himself he began to
calculate the time he was making—how long it would take to
reach the doctor, the delay there, the return. An hour should
accomplish it all and find him back with her again. What
gratitude he felt for this sure, silent steed he was riding ! No
loss of time in saddling and bridling ! A horse was all very good
when one had time, but not even Annie with all her speed could
equal this quiet, swift carrier that had supplanted her. A sense
of exultation mingled with his anxiety for Judy, as he realised how
quickly he could bring aid to her. His hand resting easily on the
bars, his body inclining farther and farther forward, his speed
increased at every revolution. It seemed to him that wings could
not have borne him faster. A mile ! Another quarter ! He
knew every inch of the way. Another half ! Here was Annie’s
pasture ! How he was going it ! How Annie would prick up
her ears if she could see his pace ! And then—snap ! A sound
like the report of a pistol and Kit’s steed had failed him. Too
tightly pumped for his mad haste, a tire had exploded. He was
on his feet in a flash and studying the situation. He looked at
the flattened, useless wheel—he thought of Judy’s plight, and for
one weak moment all his strength forsook him. Down on his
face he threw himself in an abandonment of suffering, and in one
long, loud sob cried out his anguish :
“Oh, Judy ! Poor, poor little Judy !”
But hark ! His sob was not fully spent, when he lifted his
head with a throb of returning hope. Could he believe his ears ?
Whose friendly voice had he heard ring out on the night in
answer to his cry ? With a shout he sprang to his feet, and
called aloud. Again that welcome response, followed now by the
sound of hurrying steps he knew so well.
“It is! It is! Annie, Annie, Annie !” He had not been
deceived. He was over the fence like a ball, and down at the gate
as fast as his feet could carry him, calling in half-sobs as he ran :
“Annie, Annie, old girl! Hurry! Hurry! It’s for Judy,
Annie—it’s for Judy !” And in shorter time than pen can write
it, he was on her bare back and away.
What need to explain ?
Annie, nibbling the night away under the moon, in the pas-
ture, had been startled from her pensive meditation by that heart-
breaking cry of her young master. Catching its note of despair,
like the loyal servant that she was, she had lifted her voice in
loud, quick, sympathetic response.
A neighbour was heard to say, the following day : “That
mare of Bryce’s whinnied like she wanted to wake up the whole
town last night.”
As to Annie herself, she could not guess what catastrophe had
brought Kit to her in such distress at this hour of the night, but
she felt intuitively that the vindication of the entire equine race
might depend upon her speed. With his hands gripped firmly on
her neck, and his knees pressed well into her sides, Kit held his
breath at the pace she set. On, on like the wind ! And the
clatter of her hoofs played good part too, for, long before the
house was reached, their sound had struck Doctor Morton’s keen
ears like a call to duty, and brought him to the door before Kit
had turned into the yard.
“She is worse, doctor. You are to come—come at once !”
Then they raced back, and the old doctor mounted on his tall,
raw-boned gray, came in no mean second.
When the morning broke it found Judy better. Relief had
come to her at a critical moment, and an awkward crisis was
A week later, almost herself again, she and Kit stood by the
drive, while Joe led out Annie, harnessed to the little phaeton.
“She is a proud steppin’ beast, Master Kit—and no mistake—
and have more spirit than a two-year-old.”
“Yes, Joe ; you are right.”
When Judy was comfortably seated, and her cushions properly
placed, Kit sprang in by her side and took the reins.
“What have you done about that tire, Joe ?”
“Mended it, sir.”
“Well—I am rather off wheeling for the present. The thing
is yours, if you like. I shan’t want it again. Here ! mind your-
self, old girl. What are you up to ?”
But Annie could not help it. With a snort of triumph she
dashed down the drive and out into the road, and refused to be
reined up until she had gone a mad mile or two.
Later, Kit explained :
“A wheel is right enough for sport, Judy, but you can’t count
on anything in trouble that doesn’t know how to feel. Annie is
good enough for me.”
By R. V. Risley
By Ada Radford
I. A Fairy Prince
II. A Masque
Sir Julian Garve
A YOUNG man, an American, the latest addition to the hotel
colony on the cliff, spent his first evening as all new-
comers invariably do ; having dined, he strolled down the broad,
villa-bordered road, to the Casino on the shore, and went into the
gambling rooms to look at the play. He stopped by the baccarat
The sitters were ringed round by a double row of men, who
stood and staked over their shoulders. But the stranger, on
account of his height, could follow the game easily, and had a
good view of the individual who held the bank. This was a man
of forty-eight or fifty years of age, handsome, and even
distinguished looking. Noting his well-cut clothes, and his
imperturbable, his almost stolid demeanour, the stranger guessed
at once that he was British. And in spite of the heavy jaw, of
the general stolidity, he was struck by something fascinating in
the man, by something which suggested to him manifold
He made these reflections as he idly watched the game. The
dealer manipulated the cards with the rapidity and precision of
the habitual player. Turning up his own hand he displayed the
nine of spades and the ace of diamonds. He helped himself to a
third card, and in conformity with an assenting grunt from either
side, flung cards to right and left. A murmur arose, half disgust
and wholly admiration, for the continued run of luck, which gave
the bank, for its third card, the eight of diamonds. The croupier
raked together the coloured ivory counters and pushed them over
to the Englishman, who swept them into a careless heap and
prepared to deal again.
The American, watching, found that his thoughts had travelled
to a certain “Professor” Deedes, a professor of conjuring, whose
acquaintance he had made at Saratoga during the preceding
summer ; an ingenuous, an amusing, a voluble little fellow, who
had shown him some surprising tricks with plates and tumblers,
with coins and cards. With cards, in particular, the little man
had been colossal. In his hands, these remained no mere oblong
pieces of pasteboard, but became a troupe of tiny familiars, each
endowed with a magical knowledge of the Professor’s wishes, with
an unfailing alacrity in obeying them. One of his tricks had
been to take an ordinary pack of fifty-two cards, previously
examined and shuffled by the looker-on, and to deal from it
nothing but kings and aces ; apparently fifty-two kings and aces.
Then fanning out this same pack face downwards, he would
invite you to draw a card, and no matter which card you drew,
and though you drew many times in succession, invariably this
card proved to be—say, the seven of diamonds. He would turn
his back while you ran the pack over, making a visual selection ;
and the card selected not only divined your choice, but once in
the hands of the Professor, found a means of communicating that
choice to its master. The young man had been amazed. “But
suppose you were to play a game of chance, eh ?” The
Professor had replied that he never permitted himself to play
games of chance. “Without meaning it, from mere force of
habit, I should arrange the cards, I should give myself the game.”
To demonstrate how safely he could do so, he had dealt as for
baccarat, giving himself a total of nine pips every time, and
although the young man had been prepared for an exhibition of
sleight of hand, although he had been on the look out for it, not
to save his life could he have said how it was done.
Now, as he stood watching the play in the Casino, his interest
in the game faded before his interest in the problem, as to why at
this particular moment, the Saratogan Professor should rise so
vividly before his eyes ? It had been a mere twenty-four hour
acquaintanceship, the distraction of a couple of unoccupied
afternoons, a thousand succeeding impressions and incidents had
superimposed themselves over it since, he had played baccarat a
hundred times since, without giving a thought to Deedes. Why
then did a picture of the man, of his good humour, his volubility,
his unparalleled dexterity, usurp such prominence among his
memories at this particular time ?
Preparatory to dealing again, the banker glanced round the
table, first at the sitters, then at the circle of men who surrounded
them. Here his eye caught the eye of the stranger, and during
the brief instant that their glances remained interlocked, the
Englishman came to the conclusion that the new-comer had
already been observing him for some little time. Then he
proceeded with the deal.
When he looked up next he found the stranger occupying the
fourth chair to the right, in the place of Morris, the Jew diamond-
broker, who had gone. Instead of that gentleman’s pronounced
Hebrew physiognomy, he saw a young face, betraying a dozen
races and a million contradictions, with dark hair parted down the
middle, hair which had gone prematurely white on top. So that,
to the Englishman, with a bit of Herrick running in his mind,
the stranger had the appearance of having thrust his head into
Mab’s palace, and brought away on it all the cobweb tapestries
which adorn her walls.
The young man had a broad and full forehead ; wore a pince-
nez which did not conceal the vivacious quality of his eyes, and a
black beard, short cut and pointed, which did its best to
supplement his lack of chin. “Intellectual, witty and humane?
compliant as a woman,” commented the Englishman, summing
up the stranger’s characteristics, and he was struck with the
young man’s hands as he moved them to and fro over the cloth—
long-fingered and finely modelled hands. He was struck with their
flexibility, with their grace. He found himself looking at them
“Faites vos jeux, Messieurs,” cried the voice of the croupier, and
the players pushed their counters over the dividing line. “Messieurs,
vos jeux sont faits ? Rien ne va plus.”
The bank lost, won, lost again ; seemed in for a run of ill-luck.
Re-heartened, the players increased their stakes, and Fortune imme-
diately shifted her wheel, and the croupier’s impassive rake pushed
everything on the table over to the banker. The young man with
the pince-nez lost five hundred marks, a thousand, two thousand, in
succession. With a steady hand and insouciant air, he doubled his
stake every time, but the bank continued to win, and the players
and bystanders began to look at him with curiosity. He put down
five thousand marks and lost it ; he put down ten thousand and
saw them raked away.
“Well, that’s about cleaned me out,” he observed in a casual
tone, and got up, to perceive that had he held on for but one more
deal he would have recouped all his previous losses. For no sooner
had he risen than the bank lost to the side he had just left. His
demeanour on receiving this insult at the hands of the jade who
had just injured him, if not imperturbable like the Englishman’s—
and on the contrary, it was all animation—was quite as unde-
cipherable. Not the shrewdest scrutiny could detect whether or
no the heart was heavy within, whether the brain which worked
behind those astute blue eyes was a prey to anxiety, or in reality
as untroubled as those eyes chose to proclaim.
Yet the loss of a thousand pounds would break half the world,
and seriously cripple nine-tenths of the remaining half.
The Englishman followed him with thoughtful eyes, as he
lighted a cigarette, and with his hands thrust into his trouser
pockets, sauntered away into the vestibule.
The young man wandered up and down the marble floor of the
vestibule, coaxing his feet to keep straight along a certain line of
green marble lozenges which were set at the corners of larger
slabs. He amused himself by imagining there was a tremendous
precipice on either side of the line, down which the smallest false
step would precipitate him. Meanwhile, the man he liked best in
the world walked by his side, and endeavoured to draw his atten-
tion to more weighty matters.
“There was something crooked about his play, I’ll bet you,”
insinuated this Other. “Why else did you think of the little
“Hang it all !” said the young man, carefully keeping his
equilibrium, “why shouldn’t I think of him ? And you see if I
could have held on for another turn, I should have won everything
“Don’t tell me footle like that,” came the answer. “Don’t
tell me that if your money had been lying on the table the cards
would have fallen as they did. But the bank could well afford to
lose just then, since the players, intimidated by your losses, had
staked so modestly.”
The young man arrived safely at the last lozenge, turned, and
began the perilous journey back. The Other Fellow turned with
him, insisting at his ear : “The man’s a card-sharper, a swindler,
some poor devil of a half-pay captain, some chevalier d’industrie
who can’t pay his hotel bill.”
“You’re quite out of it !” returned the young man warmly.
“His whole personality refutes you.”
“Let’s make it a question of character,” said the Other Fellow,
“and I bet you—well, I bet you twopence that his character
won’t stand the laxest investigation.”
A moment later they both came across Morris. The diamond
broker had rendered Underhill a small service earlier in the day.
His condescension in accepting that service gave him the right
now of putting a question.
“Who was the chap holding the bank at the baccarat table ?”
“That was Sir Julian Garve, Bart.,” said Morris, rolling the words
about, as though they were a sweet morsel under the tongue.
“Genuine baronet ?”
“As good as they make ’em. Looked him up in Burke. Seats
at Knowle and Buckhurst. Arms quarterly or and gules, a bend
over all, vert. Though what the devil that means, I’m sure I
don’t know. Supporters, two leopards, spotted.”
“Progenitors of the common garden carriage dog, probably,”
murmured the young man to his beard. Then, “Hard up ?” he
“Looks like it !” answered Morris ironically. “Best rooms
at the best hotel in the town, his own cart and blood mares over
from England ; everything in tip-top style.”
“It’s very interesting,” remarked the young man smiling, and
when he smiled his eyelids came together leaving a mere hori-
zontal gleam of blue.
“Oh, he’s very interesting,” repeated Morris ; “has done a lot,
and seen no end.”
“I think I should like to know him,” observed the young man
nonchalantly, and resumed his peregrinations.
The baccarat party broke up, and Garve, entering the vestibule,
arrested Morris in his turn.
“Do you know who it was took your seat at the table this
evening ?” he inquired.
“Oh, yes ; know him well. His name’s Underhill. He’s an
American. Only landed at Hamburg this morning. I happened
to be up at the Kronprinz when he arrived, and knowing the
ropes there, was able to get him a better room than even the
almighty dollar would have procured him.”
Garve pondered. “It’s to be hoped he’s got the almighty
dollar in good earnest,” said he. “Do you know he’s dropped a
thousand pounds ?”
“By-the-bye, has he any one with him ?” asked the baronet.
“No, he’s quite alone. Come to Europe to study art or
literature or some tommy-rot of that sort.”
“Then the money was probably his year’s screw. I feel very
sorry about it.”
Morris thought there was no need to fret ; evidently he was a
millionaire. How else could he afford to waste his time studying art ?
But Garve stuck to his own opinion.
“Unless my intuitions are very much at fault,” said he, in an
impressive undertone, “to-night has struck him a heavy blow.
I’ve known men put an end to themselves for less. You remember
poor O’Hagan two seasons back ?”
“Oh, yes ; but O’Hagan was an emotional Irishman. This
chap’s not a Yankee for nothing. He’s got his head screwed on
the right way if ever a man had. Don’t think I ever saw a cuter
Garve looked at the diamond merchant with a tolerant smile.
“Of course, being an American, he’s necessarily cute, while
Irishmen are necessarily emotional, and Englishmen like myself
necessarily slow-witted but honest. You allow for no shades in
your character-painting. However, I’ll try to believe, in this
matter, you’re right. Look here, he’s coming this way now,” he
added in a moment ; “can’t you introduce him to me ?”
Morris was proud to be in a position to gratify a baronet’s
“Allow me to make you and my friend Sir Julian Garve
acquainted,” said he, as the young man with the pince-nez was
about to pass them by. “Mr. Francis Underhill, of New
York. You’ll be surprised at my having got your name and
description so pat, but I took the liberty of reading it in the hotel
book when I was up there to-day.”
The young man removed his glasses, polished them lightly on
his silk handkerchief, and readjusted them with care for the
purpose of looking the speaker up and down. (“Damn his cheek !”
the Other Fellow had suggested at his ear.)
“No liberty taken by a member of your talented race would
ever surprise me, Mr. Moses,” he replied.
“My name’s Morris,” corrected the diamond broker, stiffly.
“Ah, yes, I remember you told me so before ; but you see I
omitted to impress it on my mind by a reference to the Visitors’
Garve, listening with an air of weary amusement, again caught
Underhill’s eye, and their glances again interlocked as before at
the table. But Garve only said : “I was sorry you had such bad
luck to-night.” And Underhill thought that the quality of his
voice was delightful ; it was rich, soft, harmonious. But then, all
English voices delighted his ear.
“Yes,” he admitted, “luck was decidedly against me.”
Morris alone was unconscious of the dot-long pause which dis-
tinguished the word luck.
“To-morrow night you will come and take your revenge,”
Garve predicted ; but there was a note of inquiry in his voice.
“I shall certainly come and play to-morrow,” affirmed the young
“That’s right !” said Garve, cordially. “We shall be glad to
see you. We admired your coolness. You’re an old hand at the
The attendants were making their presence felt ; they were
waiting to close the Casino. The three men went out upon the
terrace in front, and Garve prepared to take leave.
“You are staying at the Kronprinz, I think ?” he said to
Underbill. “Then our ways don’t lie together, for I always put
up in the town. I went there first, long before the cliff hotels
were thought of. You came down the upper road, of course ?
Then, take my advice, and go back by the sands. They’re as
smooth and firm as a billiard-table, and with this moonlight, you’ll
have a magnificent walk. Presently you’ll come to a zig-zag
staircase cut in the cliff, which will bring you up right opposite
Underhill and Morris remained some little time longer leaning
against the stone balustrade. Above them was a moon-suffused
sky, before them a moon-silvered sea. The shrubberies of the
Casino gardens sloped down on every side. Over the tops of the
foliage on the left glittered the glass dome of the Badeaustaldt,
with vacant surrounding sands, which gleamed wetly where the
Diirren, dividing into a hundred slender rivulets, flows across them
in shallow channels to the sea. Beyond, again, the wooded,
widely curved horn of the bay closed in the western prospect.
Only the extreme tip of the right horn was visible, for
immediately to the right of the Casino the land rises abruptly
and out-thrusts seawards a bold series of cliffs, crowned from
time immemorial by the famous pine forests of Schoenewalder,
and, within recent years, by a dozen monster sanatoria and
Underhill leaned upon the balustrade and looked seawards. He
had forgotten his insolence to Morris (he had forgotten Morris’s
existence), and the Jew had entirely forgiven it. He forgave a
good deal in the course of the day to the possessors of rank or
wealth. But he was not destitute of good feeling. He was
genuinely sorry for the young man, whose silence he attributed
to a natural depression on account of his loss. He had a great
deal to say next day on the subject of Underhill’s low spirits.
When he turned to go, Morris escorted him through the
garden. He wished he could have gone all the way with him,
and said so. Terror of Mrs. Morris, whom he knew to be sit-
ting up for him at the Villa Rose, alone prevented him. But
this he did not say.
Underhill responded with polite abstraction, and they parted on
the crest of the Jew’s perfervid hope, that they should meet again
The young man sprang lightly down the path which wound to
the shore. His first graceless sensation was one of relief that that
little bounder had left him. Then, catching sight of the black
shadow walking with him over the sands, he made it a courtly
“For I must confess I’m never in such pleasant company as
when I’m alone with you, my dear,” he addressed it. The shadow
flourished its hat in acknowledgment, and the companions walked
“Yet I fancy that fellow Garve could be pleasant company
too !” he threw out tentatively.
“Only it’s a pity he cheats at cards, eh ?”
“Bah, bah ! Who says that he cheated ? Isn’t it less im-
probable to believe it was luck than to believe that a man of his
position, his wealth, and his appearance—for you’ll admit, I sup-
pose, that his appearance is in his favour—is a mere card-sharper,
a swindler ?”
“Why, then, did you think of the little professor ?”
“Toujours cette rengaine !” cried Underhill, with indignation.
“What makes me think of the man in the moon at the present
“Why, the moonlight, of course, you blooming duffer !”
chuckled his opponent. “Which establishes my case. Thoughts
don’t spring up spontaneous in the mind, any more than babies
spring up spontaneous under bushes. The kid and the thought
are both connected with something which has gone before,
although I’ll admit that the parentage of both may sometimes be
a little difficult to trace. But that gives zest to the pursuit.
Now, up on the terrace with Moses, you were thinking that
when your year in Europe’s over, you’ll go home, and ask your
delicious little cousin, Annie Laurie, to be your wife.”
Underhill broke off to murmur,
“It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived, whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee.”
“Oh, stick to business!” urged the other. “What made
you think of Annie ?”
“Well, if you really must know,” confessed the young man,
“I was thinking of my indulgent father and my adoring mother.
As Annie Laurie lives with them the connection is obvious.”
“And what made you think of your parents ?”
“I was back in God’s country.”
“How did you get there ?”
“Let me see. . . . Ah, yes ! I stood on the terrace, looking
out over the sea, and observed in the distance the smoke of a
steamer. But I don’t surely need to follow the thread further,
for a person of your intelligence.”
“No, but you perceive that you can’t possess a thought that
hasn’t its ancestry lying behind it, any more than you can get
from the moonlight here to the shadow there by the cliffs
without leaving footprints to show the way you went. Now,
when you stood at the baccarat table this evening, what made
you think of the little Professor ?”
“My dear chap,” said Underhill, “you make me tired. There
is such a thing as pressing a point too far. And, since you were
good enough to call my attention to the fact that the cliff throws
a shadow, I m going to extinguish your Socratic questionings by
walking in it. Buona sera !”
He rounded a spur of cliff, keeping close to its base.
“This maiden she had no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me ;
I was a child and she was a child
In this kingdom by the sea.
But we loved with a love that was more than love,
I and my Annabel Lee.”
“Now what’s the parentage of that quotation ? The similarity
of the initials of course. Oh, my dear, far be it from me to
deny your cleverness !” he concluded gaily, and entered the
Across it moved a figure, a real figure, not a shadow, going
from him. The hands, holding a light bamboo, were clasped
behind the back.
“By Jove, it’s Garve !” thought Underhill and hurried after him.
Garve turned round in surprise.
“I didn’t think there was much likelihood of my overtaking
you,” said he, “but it never occurred to me you could overtake me.
You remained up at the Casino ?”
“And you didn’t go home after all, but put your advice to me
into practice instead ? Well, it was good advice too. The walk
is superb. It’s the sort of night when the thought of bed is a
“Even when at home I never go to bed until daybreak,”
remarked Garve. “In civilised countries, I go on playing until
then. But here, a grandmotherly government shuts the Casino
“A grandmotherly government knows that otherwise you
wouldn’t leave a red cent in the place,” said the young man with
a quizzical flash of blue through his glasses.
Garve stopped to scrutinise him.
“My luck isn’t altogether luck perhaps,” said he, walking on
“No ?” (With exaggerated surprise.)
“No,” pursued Garve, “it’s keeping a cool head, and carefully
regulating my life with a view to my play in the evening. I live
on cards. I dine at four in the afternoon off roast mutton and
“Good Lord, how tragic !”
“I go to bed at six and sleep till ten. Then I get up, take a
cup of coffee and a biscuit, and come into the rooms with all my
wits about me. Naturally, I stand a better chance than the men
who’ve finished off a day of peg-drinking by a heavy indigestible
dinner and half a dozen different wines.”
The young man was amazed, interested, delighted with the
absurdity of such an existence.
“As an amusement cards are good enough,” said he ; “or even
at a pinch they might provide the means of livelihood. But why
in the world a man of your position should make such sacrifices at
“My position,” Garve broke in bitterly, ” simply necessitates
my spending more money than other men, without furnishing me
the wherewithal to do it. I suppose it seems incredible to you
Americans, that a man of old family, a man with a handle to his
name, shouldn’t possess a brass farthing to bless himself with ?”
“Yet I understood from our friend Moses that you had town
houses and country houses, manservants and maidservants, oxen
and asses, not to mention spotted leopards and bloodstock over
The impertinence of this speech was deprived of its sting by
the friendly whimsicality of Underhill’s manner. Garve accepted
it in perfect good part.
“It’s just as well Morris and the rest of that crew should think
so, but the truth is, I succeeded to an encumbered estate, the
rent-roll of which barely suffices to pay the mortgage interest.
Knowles is let furnished, Buckhurst is so dilapidated no one will
hire it. I can’t sell, because of the entail. I can’t work, for I
was never given a profession. I can only play cards ; and by
playing systematically and regulating, as I tell you, my whole life
to that end, I manage to pay my way.”
“Twenty thousand dollars in a night,” murmured the Other
Fellow at Underhill’s ear, “would not only pay your way but pave
it too. Not ?”
“Oh, dry up !” advised the young man. “You’re such a
damned literal chap ! Can’t you see he’s speaking metaphorically ?”
“So now, you understand the tragedy of the cold mutton,”
Garve concluded smiling. They walked on a bit in silence, until
Garve resumed in exactly the same even, melodious voice in
which he had last spoken, “You thought I cheated to-night,
didn’t you ?”
Underhill was inexpressibly shocked and pained by this sudden,
naked confrontation with his thought. Besides, he thought it
no longer. Garve’s explanations had convinced him of Garve’s
probity ; he was subjugated by Garve’s charm.
“No, no, no ! Don’t say such things !” he protested. “A
thousand times no !”
“All the same, you thought I cheated,” repeated Garve,
standing still and looking at him oddly. “And—I did cheat!
. . . . I lost only when it suited my purpose to lose. Every
time I had forced the cards.”
He remained imperturbable, cold, as he said this. It was,
perhaps, only the moonlight that made his handsome face look
haggard and pale.
The Yellow Book—Vol. XIII. s
On the other hand, it was the young American who coloured
up to the roots of his hair, who was overcome with horror, who
was conscious of all the shame, of all the confusion which the
confessed swindler might be supposed to feel. And when Garve
sat down on a boulder, and covered his face with his hand, Under-
hill longed to sink through the earth, that he might not witness
He tried to say something comforting. The words would not
form themselves, or stumbled out disjointedly, irrelevantly.
Garve did not listen.
“I’ve lost the last thing I had in the world to lose,” said he ;
“my honour. I carry a besmirched name. I am a ruined, a
broken man. You found me out to-night. Even if you spare
me, another will find me out another night. And how to live
with the knowledge that you know my shame ! How to live !
How to live !”
He got up. His stick lay on the sand. He took a few un-
certain steps with bowed head, and his hand thrust into his breast.
He came back to where the young man stood.
“There’s but one thing left for me to do,” said he, looking at
him with sombre eyes, ” and that’s to shoot myself. Don’t you
see yourself it’s all that remains for me to do ?”
Underhill’s quick brain envisaged the man’s whole life, the
infamy of it, the pathos of it. He recognised the impossibility of
living down such a past, he foresaw the degrading years to come.
He knew that Garve had found the only solution possible. He
knew it was what he himself would do in the same hideous cir-
cumstances. Yet how could he counsel this other to do it ? This
other for whom his heart was wrung, for whom he felt warm
sympathy, compassion, brotherliness. Oh, there must be some
other way !
While he hesitated, while he searched for it, Garve repeated his
proposition. “There’s only one thing for me to do, shoot myself,
eh ? Or,” he paused . . . . “shoot the man who’s found me
out ? I might, for instance, shoot you.”
Underhill was conscious of a smart blow on the ear. He started
back looking at Garve with surprise. For the fraction of a second
he thought Garve had really shot him . . . . but that was absurd
. . . . a little blow like that ! Yet what then did he mean by it ?
Garve stood staring across at him, staring, staring, and between
the ringers of his right hand, which was falling back to his side,
was a glint of steel. Motionless in air between them hung a tiny
swirl of smoke.
“Is it possible ? is it possible ?” Underhill asked himself. And all
at once Garve seemed to be removed an immense way off ; he saw
him blurred, wavering, indistinct. Then it was no longer Garve,
it was his father, over whose shoulder appeared his mother’s face,
and Annie Laurie’s. . . . He tried to spring to them, but his legs
refused to obey him. He dropped to his knees instead, and all
thought and all sensation suddenly ceased . . . . the body sank
over into the sand.
Two Prose Fancies
“EVERY woman is a sleeping beauty,” I said, sententiously.
“Only some need more waking than others ?” replied my
“Yes, some will only awaken at the kiss of great love or great
genius, which are not far from the same thing,” I replied.
“I see,” said the gay editor with whom I was talking.
Our conversation was of certain authors of our acquaintance, and
how they managed their inspiration, of what manner were their
muses, and what the methods of their stimulus. Some, we had
noted, throve on constancy, to others inconstancy was the
lawless law of their being; and so accepted had become these
indispensable conditions of their literary activity that the wives
had long since ceased to be jealous of the other wives. To a
household dependent on poetry, constancy in many cases would
mean poverty, and certain good literary wives had been known to
rate their husbands with a lazy and unproductive faithfulness. The
editor sketched a tragic mènage known to him, where the husband,
a lyric poet of fame, had become so chronically devoted to his
despairing wife that destitution stared them in the face. It was
in vain that she implored him, with tears in her eyes, to fall in love
with some other woman. She, she alone, he said, must be his
inspiration ; but as the domesticated muse is too often a muse of
exquisite silence, too happy to sing its happiness, this lawful
passion, which might otherwise have been turned to account, was
“And such a pretty woman,” said the editor sympathetically.
Of another happier case of domestic hallucination, he made the
remark : “Says he owes it all to his wife ! and you never saw
such a plain woman in your life.”
“How do you know she is plain ?” I asked; “mayn’t it be that
the husband’s sense of beauty is finer than yours ? Do you think
all beauty is for all men ? or that the beauty all can see is best
worth seeing ?”
And then we spoke the words of wisdom and wit which I have
written in ebony on the lintel of this little house of words. He
who would write to live must talk to write, and I confess that I
took up this point with my friend, and continued to stick to it,
no doubt to his surprise, because I had at the moment some star-
dust on the subject nebulously streaming and circling through my
mind, which I was anxious to shape into something of an ordered
world. So I talked not to hear myself speak, but to hear myself
think, always, I will anticipate the malicious reader in saying, an
operation of my mind of delightful unexpectedness.
“Why ! you’re actually thinking,” chuckles one’s brain to itself,
“go on. Dance while the music’s playing,” and so the tongue
goes dancing with pretty partners of words, till suddenly one’s
brain gives a sigh, the wheels begin to slow down, and music and
dancing stop together, till some chance influence, a sound, a face,
a flower, how or whence we know not, comes to wind it up
The more one ponders the mystery of beauty, the more one
realises that the profbundest word in the philosophy of aesthetics is
that of the simple-subtle old proverb : Beauty is in the eyes of the
beholder. Beauty, in fact, is a collaboration between the beholder
and the beheld. It has no abstract existence, and is visible or
invisible as one has eyes to see or not to see it, that is, as one
is endowed or not endowed with the sense of beauty, an
hieratic sense which, strangely enough, is assumed as common to
humanity. Particularly is this assumption made in regard to the
beauty of women. Every man, however beauty-blind he may
really be, considers himself a judge of women—though he might
hesitate to call himself a judge of horses. Far indeed from its
being true that the sense of beauty is universal, there can be little
doubt that the democracy is for the most part beauty-blind, and
that while it has a certain indifferent pleasure in the comeliness
that comes of health, and the prettiness that goes with ribbons, it
dislikes and fears that finer beauty which is seldom comely, never
pretty, and always strange.
National galleries of art are nothing against this truth. Once
in a while the nation may rejoice over the purchase of a bad
picture it can understand, but for the most part—what to it are all
these strange pictures, with their disquieting colours and haunted
faces ? What recks the nation at large of its Bellinis or its
Botticellis ? what even of its Tithns or its Tintorettos ? Was it
not the few who bought them, with the money of the many, for
the delight of the few ?
Well, as no one would dream of art-criticism by plébiscite, why
should universal conventions of the beauty of women find so large
an acceptance merely because they are universal ? There are
vast multitudes, no doubt, who deem the scented-soap beauties of
Bouguereau more beautiful than the strange ladies of Botticelli,
and, were you to inquire, you would discover that your housemaid
wonders to herself, as she dusts your pictures to the sound of music-
hall song, what you can see in the plain lean women of Burne-
Jones, or the repulsive ugliness of “The Blessed Damosel.” She
thanks heaven that she was not born with such a face, as she
takes a reassuring glance in the mirror at her own regular prettiness,
and more marketable bloom. For, you see, this beauty is still
asleep for her—as but a few years ago it was asleep for all but the
artists who first kissed it awake.
All beauty was once asleep like that, even the very beauty your
housemaid understands and perhaps exemplifies. It lay asleep
awaiting the eye of the beholder, it lay asleep awaiting the kiss of
genius ; and, just as one day nothing at all seemed beautiful, so
some day all things will come to seem so, if the revelation be not
For indeed much beauty that was asleep fifty years ago has
been passionately awakened and given a sceptre and a kingdom
since then : the beauty of lonely neglected faces that no man
loved, or loved only by stealth, for fear of the mockery of the
blind, the beauty of unconventional contours and unpopular
colouring, the beauty of pallor, of the red-haired, and the fausse
maigre. The fair and the fat are no longer paramount, and the
beauty of forty has her day.
Nor have the discoveries of beauty been confined to the faces
and forms of women. In Nature too the waste places where no
man sketched or golfed have been reclaimed for the kingdom of
beauty. The little hills had not really rejoiced us till Wordsworth
came, but we had learnt his lesson so well that the beauty of the
plain slept for us all the longer, till with Tennyson and Millet, it
awakened at last—the beauty of desolate levels, solitary moorlands,
and the rich melancholy of the fens.
Wherever we turn our eyes, we find the beauty of character
supplanting the beauty of form, or if not supplanting, asserting
its claim to a place beside the haughty sister who would fain
keep Cinderella, red-headed and retroussée, in the background—
yes ! and for many even supplanting ! It is only when regularity
of form and personal idiosyncrasy and intensity of character are
united in a face, that the so-called classical beauty is secure of
holding its own with those whose fealty most matters—and that
union to any triumphant degree is exceedingly rare. Even when
that union has come about there are those, in this war of the
classicism and romanticism of faces, who would still choose the
face dependent on pure effect for its charm ; no mask of
unchanging beauty, but a beauty whose very life is change, and
whose magic, so to say, is a miraculous accident, elusive and
Miraculous and unaccountable ! In a sense all beauty is that,
but in the case of the regular, so to say, authorised beauty,
it seems considerably less so. For in such faces, the old
beauty-masters will tell you, the brow is of such a breadth and
shape, the nose so long, the mouth shaped in this way, and the
eyes set and coloured in that ; and thus, of this happy marriage of
proportions, beauty has been born. This they will say in spite of
the everyday fact of thousands of faces being thus proportioned
and coloured without the miracle taking place, ivory lamps in
which no light of beauty burns. And it is this fact that proves
the truth of the newer beauty we are considering. Form is thus
seen to be dependent on expression, though expression, the new
beauty-masters would contend, is independent of form. For the
new beauty there are no such rules ; it is, so to say, a prose beauty,
for which there is no formulated prosody, entirely free and
individual in its rhythms, and personal in its effects. Sculpture is
no longer its chosen voice among the arts, but rather music with
its myriad meanings, and its infinitely responsive inflections.
You will hear it said of such beauty—that it is striking,
individual, charming, fascinating and so on, but not exactly
beautiful. This, if you are an initiate of the new beauty, you will
resist, and permit no other description but beauty—the only word
which accurately expresses the effect made upon you. That such
effect is not produced upon others need not depress you ; for
similarly you might say of the beauty that others applaud that for
you it seems attractive, handsome, pretty, dainty and so on, but
not exactly beautiful ; or admitting its beauty, that it is but one of
many types of beauty, the majority of which are neither straight-
lined nor regular.
For when it is said that certain faces are not exactly beautiful,
what is meant is that they fail to conform to one or other of the
straight-lined types ; but by what authority has it been settled
once and for all that beauty cannot exist outside the straight line
and the chubby curve ? It matters not what authority one were
to bring, for vision is the only authority in this matter, and the
more ancient the authority the less is it final, for it has thus been
unable to take account of all the types that have come into
existence since its day, types spiritual, intellectual and artistic,
born of the complex experience of the modern world.
And yet it has not been the modern world alone that has
awakened that beauty independent of, and perhaps greater
than, the beauty of form and colour ; rather it may be said
to have reawakened it by study of certain subtle old masters of
the Renaissance; and the great beauties who have made the
tragedies and love-stories of the world, so far as their faces have
been preserved to us, were seldom “beautiful,” as the populace
would understand beauty. For perhaps the highest beauty is
visible only to genius, or that great love which, we have said, is
a form of genius. It was only, it will be remembered, at the kiss
of a prince that Sleeping Beauty might open her wonderful eyes.
II—A Literary Omnibus
THERE were ten of us travelling life’s journey together from
Oxford Circus to the Bank, one to fall away early at
Tottenham Court Road, leaving his place unfilled till we steamed
into Holborn at Mudie’s, where, looking up to make room for a
new arrival, I perceived, with an unaccustomed sense of being at
home in the world, that no less than four of us were reading. It
became immediately evident that in the new arrival our reading
party had made an acquisition, for he carried three books in a
strap, and to the fourth, a dainty blue cloth volume with rough
edges, he presently applied a paper-knife with that eager tender-
ness which there is no mistaking. The man was no mere lending
library reader. He was an aristocrat, a poet among readers, a
bookman pur sang. We were all more or less of the upper crust
ourselves, with the exception of a dry and dingy old gentleman in
the remote corner who, so far as I could determine, was deep in a
digest of statutes. His interest in the new-comer was merely an
automatic raising of the head as the bus stopped, and an automatic
sinking of it back again as we once more rumbled on. The rest
of us, however, were not so poorly satisfied. This fifth reader to
our coach had suddenly made us conscious of our freemasonry, and
henceforward there was no peace for us till we had, by the politest
stratagems of observation, made out the titles of the books from
which as from beakers our eyes were silently and strenuously
drinking such different thoughts and dreams.
The lady third from the door on the side facing me was reading
a book which gave me no little trouble to identify, for she kept it
pressed on her lap with tantalising persistence, and the headlines,
which I was able to spell out with eyes grown telescopic from
curiosity, proved those tiresome headlines which refer to the contents
of chapter or page instead of considerately repeating the title of the
book. It was not a novel. I could tell that, for there wasn’t a
scrap of conversation, and it wasn’t novelist’s type. I watched like
a lynx to catch a look at the binding. Suddenly she liftedit up,
I cannot help thinking out of sheer kindness, and it proved to be
a stately unfamiliar edition of a book I should have known well
enough, simply The French Revolution. Why will people tease
one by reading Carlyle in any other edition but the thin little
octavos, with the sticky brown and black bindings of old ?
The pretty dark-haired girl next but one on my own side,
what was she reading ? No ! . . . But she was, really !
Need I say that my eyes beat a hasty retreat to my little
neighbour, the new-comer, who sat facing me next to the door,
one of whose books in the strap I had instantly recognised as
Weir of Hermiston. Of the other two, one was provokingly
turned with the edges only showing, and of the edges I couldn’t
be quite sure, though I was almost certain they belonged to an
interesting new volume of poems I knew of. The third had the
look of a German dictionary. But, of course, it was the book he
was reading that was the chief attraction, and I rather like to
think that probably I was the only one of his fellow travellers
who succeeded in detecting the honey-pot from which he was
delicately feeding. It took me some little time, though the
book, with its ribbed blue cover gravely lined with gold and its
crisp rose-yellow paper, struck me with instant familiarity.
“Preface to Second Edition,” deciphered backwards, was all I
was able to make out at first, for the paper-knife loitered dreamily
among the opening pages, till at last with the turning of a page,
the prose suddenly gave place to a page prettily broken up with
lines and half-lines of italics, followed by a verse or two—and
“Of course,” I exclaimed to myself, with a curious involuntary
gratitude, “it is Dr. Wharton’s Sappho.”
And so it was. That penny bus was thus carelessly carrying
along the most priceless of written words. We were journeying
in the same conveyance with
“Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost bough,
A-top on the topmost twig—which the pluckers forgot somehow—
Forgot it net, nay, but got it not, for none could get it till now.”
“I loved thee, Atthis, long ago.”
“The moon has set, and the Pleiades ; it is midnight, the time is going
by, and I sleep alone.”
Yes, it was no less a presence than Sappho’s that had stepped in
amongst us at the corner of New Oxford Street. Visibly it had
been a little black-bearded bookman, rather French in appearance,
possibly a hard-worked teacher of languages—but actually it had
been Sappho. So strange are the contrasts of the modern world,
so strange the fate of beautiful words. Two thousand five
hundred years ! So far away from us was the voice that had
suddenly called to us, a lovely apparition of sound, as we trundled
dustily from Oxford Circus to the Bank.
“The moon has set, and the Pleiades ; it is midnight, the time
is going by, and I sleep alone,” I murmured, as the conductor
dropped me at Chancery Lane.
A Shepherd Boy
By E. Philip Pimlott