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Erewhon Revisited by Samuel Butler

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This etext was prepared by David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk
from the 1916 A. C. Fifield edition.

Erewhon Revisited

by Samuel Butler

Erewhon Revisited Twenty Years Later Both by the Original
Discoverer of the Country and by his Son.

I forget when, but not very long after I had published "Erewhon" in
1872, it occurred to me to ask myself what course events in Erewhon
would probably take after Mr. Higgs, as I suppose I may now call
him, had made his escape in the balloon with Arowhena. Given a
people in the conditions supposed to exist in Erewhon, and given
the apparently miraculous ascent of a remarkable stranger into the
heavens with an earthly bride--what would be the effect on the
people generally?

There was no use in trying to solve this problem before, say,
twenty years should have given time for Erewhonian developments to
assume something like permanent shape, and in 1892 I was too busy
with books now published to be able to attend to Erewhon. It was
not till the early winter of 1900, i.e. as nearly as may be thirty
years after the date of Higgs's escape, that I found time to deal
with the question above stated, and to answer it, according to my
lights, in the book which I now lay before the public.

I have concluded, I believe rightly, that the events described in
Chapter XXIV. of "Erewhon" would give rise to such a cataclysmic
change in the old Erewhonian opinions as would result in the
development of a new religion. Now the development of all new
religions follows much the same general course. In all cases the
times are more or less out of joint--older faiths are losing their
hold upon the masses. At such times, let a personality appear,
strong in itself, and made to seem still stronger by association
with some supposed transcendent miracle, and it will be easy to
raise a Lo here! that will attract many followers. If there be a
single great, and apparently well-authenticated, miracle, others
will accrete round it; then, in all religions that have so
originated, there will follow temples, priests, rites, sincere
believers, and unscrupulous exploiters of public credulity. To
chronicle the events that followed Higgs's balloon ascent without
shewing that they were much as they have been under like conditions
in other places, would be to hold the mirror up to something very
wide of nature.

Analogy, however, between courses of events is one thing--historic
parallelisms abound; analogy between the main actors in events is a
very different one, and one, moreover, of which few examples can be
found. The development of the new ideas in Erewhon is a familiar
one, but there is no more likeness between Higgs and the founder of
any other religion, than there is between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.
He is a typical middle-class Englishman, deeply tainted with
priggishness in his earlier years, but in great part freed from it
by the sweet uses of adversity.

If I may be allowed for a moment to speak about myself, I would say
that I have never ceased to profess myself a member of the more
advanced wing of the English Broad Church. What those who belong
to this wing believe, I believe. What they reject, I reject. No
two people think absolutely alike on any subject, but when I
converse with advanced Broad Churchmen I find myself in substantial
harmony with them. I believe--and should be very sorry if I did
not believe--that, mutatis mutandis, such men will find the advice
given on pp. 277-281 and 287-291 of this book much what, under the
supposed circumstances, they would themselves give.

Lastly, I should express my great obligations to Mr. R. A.
Streatfeild of the British Museum, who, in the absence from England
of my friend Mr. H. Festing Jones, has kindly supervised the
corrections of my book as it passed through the press.


May 1, 1901.


Before telling the story of my father's second visit to the
remarkable country which he discovered now some thirty years since,
I should perhaps say a few words about his career between the
publication of his book in 1872, and his death in the early summer
of 1891. I shall thus touch briefly on the causes that occasioned
his failure to maintain that hold on the public which he had
apparently secured at first.

His book, as the reader may perhaps know, was published
anonymously, and my poor father used to ascribe the acclamation
with which it was received, to the fact that no one knew who it
might not have been written by. Omne ignotum pro magnifico, and
during its month of anonymity the book was a frequent topic of
appreciative comment in good literary circles. Almost coincidently
with the discovery that he was a mere nobody, people began to feel
that their admiration had been too hastily bestowed, and before
long opinion turned all the more seriously against him for this
very reason. The subscription, to which the Lord Mayor had at
first given his cordial support, was curtly announced as closed
before it had been opened a week; it had met with so little success
that I will not specify the amount eventually handed over, not
without protest, to my father; small, however, as it was, he
narrowly escaped being prosecuted for trying to obtain money under
false pretences.

The Geographical Society, which had for a few days received him
with open arms, was among the first to turn upon him--not, so far
as I can ascertain, on account of the mystery in which he had
enshrouded the exact whereabouts of Erewhon, nor yet by reason of
its being persistently alleged that he was subject to frequent
attacks of alcoholic poisoning--but through his own want of tact,
and a highly-strung nervous state, which led him to attach too much
importance to his own discoveries, and not enough to those of other
people. This, at least, was my father's version of the matter, as
I heard it from his own lips in the later years of his life.

"I was still very young," he said to me, "and my mind was more or
less unhinged by the strangeness and peril of my adventures." Be
this as it may, I fear there is no doubt that he was injudicious;
and an ounce of judgement is worth a pound of discovery.

Hence, in a surprisingly short time, he found himself dropped even
by those who had taken him up most warmly, and had done most to
find him that employment as a writer of religious tracts on which
his livelihood was then dependent. The discredit, however, into
which my father fell, had the effect of deterring any considerable
number of people from trying to rediscover Erewhon, and thus caused
it to remain as unknown to geographers in general as though it had
never been found. A few shepherds and cadets at up-country
stations had, indeed, tried to follow in my father's footsteps,
during the time when his book was still being taken seriously; but
they had most of them returned, unable to face the difficulties
that had opposed them. Some few, however, had not returned, and
though search was made for them, their bodies had not been found.
When he reached Erewhon on his second visit, my father learned that
others had attempted to visit the country more recently--probably
quite independently of his own book; and before he had himself been
in it many hours he gathered what the fate of these poor fellows
doubtless was.

Another reason that made it more easy for Erewhon to remain
unknown, was the fact that the more mountainous districts, though
repeatedly prospected for gold, had been pronounced non-auriferous,
and as there was no sheep or cattle country, save a few river-bed
flats above the upper gorges of any of the rivers, and no game to
tempt the sportsman, there was nothing to induce people to
penetrate into the fastnesses of the great snowy range. No more,
therefore, being heard of Erewhon, my father's book came to be
regarded as a mere work of fiction, and I have heard quite recently
of its having been seen on a second-hand bookstall, marked "6d.
very readable."

Though there was no truth in the stories about my father's being
subject to attacks of alcoholic poisoning, yet, during the first
few years after his return to England, his occasional fits of
ungovernable excitement gave some colour to the opinion that much
of what he said he had seen and done might be only subjectively
true. I refer more particularly to his interview with Chowbok in
the wool-shed, and his highly coloured description of the statues
on the top of the pass leading into Erewhon. These were soon set
down as forgeries of delirium, and it was maliciously urged, that
though in his book he had only admitted having taken "two or three
bottles of brandy" with him, he had probably taken at least a
dozen; and that if on the night before he reached the statues he
had "only four ounces of brandy" left, he must have been drinking
heavily for the preceding fortnight or three weeks. Those who read
the following pages will, I think, reject all idea that my father
was in a state of delirium, not without surprise that any one
should have ever entertained it.

It was Chowbok who, if he did not originate these calumnies, did
much to disseminate and gain credence for them. He remained in
England for some years, and never tired of doing what he could to
disparage my father. The cunning creature had ingratiated himself
with our leading religious societies, especially with the more
evangelical among them. Whatever doubt there might be about his
sincerity, there was none about his colour, and a coloured convert
in those days was more than Exeter Hall could resist. Chowbok saw
that there was no room for him and for my father, and declared my
poor father's story to be almost wholly false. It was true, he
said, that he and my father had explored the head-waters of the
river described in his book, but he denied that my father had gone
on without him, and he named the river as one distant by many
thousands of miles from the one it really was. He said that after
about a fortnight he had returned in company with my father, who by
that time had become incapacitated for further travel. At this
point he would shrug his shoulders, look mysterious, and thus say
"alcoholic poisoning" even more effectively than if he had uttered
the words themselves. For a man's tongue lies often in his

Readers of my father's book will remember that Chowbok had given a
very different version when he had returned to his employer's
station; but Time and Distance afford cover under which falsehood
can often do truth to death securely.

I never understood why my father did not bring my mother forward to
confirm his story. He may have done so while I was too young to
know anything about it. But when people have made up their minds,
they are impatient of further evidence; my mother, moreover, was of
a very retiring disposition. The Italians say:-

"Chi lontano va ammogliare
Sara ingannato, o vorra ingannare."

"If a man goes far afield for a wife, he will be deceived--or means
deceiving." The proverb is as true for women as for men, and my
mother was never quite happy in her new surroundings. Wilfully
deceived she assuredly was not, but she could not accustom herself
to English modes of thought; indeed she never even nearly mastered
our language; my father always talked with her in Erewhonian, and
so did I, for as a child she had taught me to do so, and I was as
fluent with her language as with my father's. In this respect she
often told me I could pass myself off anywhere in Erewhon as a
native; I shared also her personal appearance, for though not
wholly unlike my father, I had taken more closely after my mother.
In mind, if I may venture to say so, I believe I was more like my

I may as well here inform the reader that I was born at the end of
September 1871, and was christened John, after my grandfather.
From what I have said above he will readily believe that my
earliest experiences were somewhat squalid. Memories of childhood
rush vividly upon me when I pass through a low London alley, and
catch the faint sickly smell that pervades it--half paraffin, half
black-currants, but wholly something very different. I have a
fancy that we lived in Blackmoor Street, off Drury Lane. My
father, when first I knew of his doing anything at all, supported
my mother and myself by drawing pictures with coloured chalks upon
the pavement; I used sometimes to watch him, and marvel at the
skill with which he represented fogs, floods, and fires. These
three "f's," he would say, were his three best friends, for they
were easy to do and brought in halfpence freely. The return of the
dove to the ark was his favourite subject. Such a little ark, on
such a hazy morning, and such a little pigeon--the rest of the
picture being cheap sky, and still cheaper sea; nothing, I have
often heard him say, was more popular than this with his clients.
He held it to be his masterpiece, but would add with some naivete
that he considered himself a public benefactor for carrying it out
in such perishable fashion. "At any rate," he would say, "no one
can bequeath one of my many replicas to the nation."

I never learned how much my father earned by his profession, but it
must have been something considerable, for we always had enough to
eat and drink; I imagine that he did better than many a struggling
artist with more ambitious aims. He was strictly temperate during
all the time that I knew anything about him, but he was not a
teetotaler; I never saw any of the fits of nervous excitement which
in his earlier years had done so much to wreck him. In the
evenings, and on days when the state of the pavement did not permit
him to work, he took great pains with my education, which he could
very well do, for as a boy he had been in the sixth form of one of
our foremost public schools. I found him a patient, kindly
instructor, while to my mother he was a model husband. Whatever
others may have said about him, I can never think of him without
very affectionate respect.

Things went on quietly enough, as above indicated, till I was about
fourteen, when by a freak of fortune my father became suddenly
affluent. A brother of his father's had emigrated to Australia in
1851, and had amassed great wealth. We knew of his existence, but
there had been no intercourse between him and my father, and we did
not even know that he was rich and unmarried. He died intestate
towards the end of 1885, and my father was the only relative he
had, except, of course, myself, for both my father's sisters had
died young, and without leaving children.

The solicitor through whom the news reached us was, happily, a man
of the highest integrity, and also very sensible and kind. He was
a Mr. Alfred Emery Cathie, of 15 Clifford's Inn, E.C., and my
father placed himself unreservedly in his hands. I was at once
sent to a first-rate school, and such pains had my father taken
with me that I was placed in a higher form than might have been
expected considering my age. The way in which he had taught me had
prevented my feeling any dislike for study; I therefore stuck
fairly well to my books, while not neglecting the games which are
so important a part of healthy education. Everything went well
with me, both as regards masters and school-fellows; nevertheless,
I was declared to be of a highly nervous and imaginative
temperament, and the school doctor more than once urged our
headmaster not to push me forward too rapidly--for which I have
ever since held myself his debtor.

Early in 1890, I being then home from Oxford (where I had been
entered in the preceding year), my mother died; not so much from
active illness, as from what was in reality a kind of maladie du
pays. All along she had felt herself an exile, and though she had
borne up wonderfully during my father's long struggle with
adversity, she began to break as soon as prosperity had removed the
necessity for exertion on her own part.

My father could never divest himself of the feeling that he had
wrecked her life by inducing her to share her lot with his own; to
say that he was stricken with remorse on losing her is not enough;
he had been so stricken almost from the first year of his marriage;
on her death he was haunted by the wrong he accused himself--as it
seems to me very unjustly--of having done her, for it was neither
his fault nor hers--it was Ate.

His unrest soon assumed the form of a burning desire to revisit the
country in which he and my mother had been happier together than
perhaps they ever again were. I had often heard him betray a
hankering after a return to Erewhon, disguised so that no one
should recognise him; but as long as my mother lived he would not
leave her. When death had taken her from him, he so evidently
stood in need of a complete change of scene, that even those
friends who had most strongly dissuaded him from what they deemed a
madcap enterprise, thought it better to leave him to himself. It
would have mattered little how much they tried to dissuade him, for
before long his passionate longing for the journey became so
overmastering that nothing short of restraint in prison or a
madhouse could have stayed his going; but we were not easy about
him. "He had better go," said Mr. Cathie to me, when I was at home
for the Easter vacation, "and get it over. He is not well, but he
is still in the prime of life; doubtless he will come back with
renewed health and will settle down to a quiet home life again."

This, however, was not said till it had become plain that in a few
days my father would be on his way. He had made a new will, and
left an ample power of attorney with Mr. Cathie--or, as we always
called him, Alfred--who was to supply me with whatever money I
wanted; he had put all other matters in order in case anything
should happen to prevent his ever returning, and he set out on
October 1, 1890, more composed and cheerful than I had seen him for
some time past.

I had not realised how serious the danger to my father would be if
he were recognised while he was in Erewhon, for I am ashamed to say
that I had not yet read his book. I had heard over and over again
of his flight with my mother in the balloon, and had long since
read his few opening chapters, but I had found, as a boy naturally
would, that the succeeding pages were a little dull, and soon put
the book aside. My father, indeed, repeatedly urged me not to read
it, for he said there was much in it--more especially in the
earlier chapters, which I had alone found interesting--that he
would gladly cancel if he could. "But there!" he had said with a
laugh, "what does it matter?"

He had hardly left, before I read his book from end to end, and, on
having done so, not only appreciated the risks that he would have
to run, but was struck with the wide difference between his
character as he had himself portrayed it, and the estimate I had
formed of it from personal knowledge. When, on his return, he
detailed to me his adventures, the account he gave of what he had
said and done corresponded with my own ideas concerning him; but I
doubt not the reader will see that the twenty years between his
first and second visit had modified him even more than so long an
interval might be expected to do.

I heard from him repeatedly during the first two months of his
absence, and was surprised to find that he had stayed for a week or
ten days at more than one place of call on his outward journey. On
November 26 he wrote from the port whence he was to start for
Erewhon, seemingly in good health and spirits; and on December 27,
1891, he telegraphed for a hundred pounds to be wired out to him at
this same port. This puzzled both Mr. Cathie and myself, for the
interval between November 26 and December 27 seemed too short to
admit of his having paid his visit to Erewhon and returned; as,
moreover, he had added the words, "Coming home," we rather hoped
that he had abandoned his intention of going there.

We were also surprised at his wanting so much money, for he had
taken a hundred pounds in gold, which from some fancy, he had
stowed in a small silver jewel-box that he had given my mother not
long before she died. He had also taken a hundred pounds worth of
gold nuggets, which he had intended to sell in Erewhon so as to
provide himself with money when he got there.

I should explain that these nuggets would be worth in Erewhon fully
ten times as much as they would in Europe, owing to the great
scarcity of gold in that country. The Erewhonian coinage is
entirely silver--which is abundant, and worth much what it is in
England--or copper, which is also plentiful; but what we should
call five pounds' worth of silver money would not buy more than one
of our half-sovereigns in gold.

He had put his nuggets into ten brown holland bags, and he had had
secret pockets made for the old Erewhonian dress which he had worn
when he escaped, so that he need never have more than one bag of
nuggets accessible at a time. He was not likely, therefore, to
have been robbed. His passage to the port above referred to had
been paid before he started, and it seemed impossible that a man of
his very inexpensive habits should have spent two hundred pounds in
a single month--for the nuggets would be immediately convertible in
an English colony. There was nothing, however, to be done but to
cable out the money and wait my father's arrival.

Returning for a moment to my father's old Erewhonian dress, I
should say that he had preserved it simply as a memento and without
any idea that he should again want it. It was not the court dress
that had been provided for him on the occasion of his visit to the
king and queen, but the everyday clothing that he had been ordered
to wear when he was put in prison, though his English coat,
waistcoat, and trousers had been allowed to remain in his own
possession. These, I had seen from his book, had been presented by
him to the queen (with the exception of two buttons, which he had
given to Yram as a keepsake), and had been preserved by her
displayed upon a wooden dummy. The dress in which he escaped had
been soiled during the hours that he and my mother had been in the
sea, and had also suffered from neglect during the years of his
poverty; but he wished to pass himself off as a common peasant or
working-man, so he preferred to have it set in order as might best
be done, rather than copied.

So cautious was he in the matter of dress that he took with him the
boots he had worn on leaving Erewhon, lest the foreign make of his
English boots should arouse suspicion. They were nearly new, and
when he had had them softened and well greased, he found he could
still wear them quite comfortably.

But to return. He reached home late at night one day at the
beginning of February, and a glance was enough to show that he was
an altered man. "What is the matter?" said I, shocked at his
appearance. "Did you go to Erewhon, and were you ill-treated

"I went to Erewhon," he said, "and I was not ill-treated there, but
I have been so shaken that I fear I shall quite lose my reason. Do
not ask me more now. I will tell you about it all to-morrow. Let
me have something to eat, and go to bed."

When we met at breakfast next morning, he greeted me with all his
usual warmth of affection, but he was still taciturn. "I will
begin to tell you about it," he said, "after breakfast. Where is
your dear mother? How was it that I have . . . "

Then of a sudden his memory returned, and he burst into tears.

I now saw, to my horror, that his mind was gone. When he
recovered, he said: "It has all come back again, but at times now
I am a blank, and every week am more and more so. I daresay I
shall be sensible now for several hours. We will go into the study
after breakfast, and I will talk to you as long as I can do so."

Let the reader spare me, and let me spare the reader any
description of what we both of us felt.

When we were in the study, my father said, "My dearest boy, get pen
and paper and take notes of what I tell you. It will be all
disjointed; one day I shall remember this, and another that, but
there will not be many more days on which I shall remember anything
at all. I cannot write a coherent page. You, when I am gone, can
piece what I tell you together, and tell it as I should have told
it if I had been still sound. But do not publish it yet; it might
do harm to those dear good people. Take the notes now, and arrange
them the sooner the better, for you may want to ask me questions,
and I shall not be here much longer. Let publishing wait till you
are confident that publication can do no harm; and above all, say
nothing to betray the whereabouts of Erewhon, beyond admitting
(which I fear I have already done) that it is in the Southern

These instructions I have religiously obeyed. For the first days
after his return, my father had few attacks of loss of memory, and
I was in hopes that his former health of mind would return when he
found himself in his old surroundings. During these days he poured
forth the story of his adventures so fast, that if I had not had a
fancy for acquiring shorthand, I should not have been able to keep
pace with him. I repeatedly urged him not to overtax his strength,
but he was oppressed by the fear that if he did not speak at once,
he might never be able to tell me all he had to say; I had,
therefore, to submit, though seeing plainly enough that he was only
hastening the complete paralysis which he so greatly feared.

Sometimes his narrative would be coherent for pages together, and
he could answer any questions without hesitation; at others, he was
now here and now there, and if I tried to keep him to the order of
events he would say that he had forgotten intermediate incidents,
but that they would probably come back to him, and I should perhaps
be able to put them in their proper places.

After about ten days he seemed satisfied that I had got all the
facts, and that with the help of the pamphlets which he had brought
with him I should be able to make out a connected story.
"Remember," he said, "that I thought I was quite well so long as I
was in Erewhon, and do not let me appear as anything else."

When he had fully delivered himself, he seemed easier in his mind,
but before a month had passed he became completely paralysed, and
though he lingered till the beginning of June, he was seldom more
than dimly conscious of what was going on around him.

His death robbed me of one who had been a very kind and upright
elder brother rather than a father; and so strongly have I felt his
influence still present, living and working, as I believe for
better within me, that I did not hesitate to copy the epitaph which
he saw in the Musical Bank at Fairmead, {1} and to have it
inscribed on the very simple monument which he desired should alone
mark his grave.

* * *

The foregoing was written in the summer of 1891; what I now add
should be dated December 3, 1900. If, in the course of my work, I
have misrepresented my father, as I fear I may have sometimes done,
I would ask my readers to remember that no man can tell another's
story without some involuntary misrepresentation both of facts and
characters. They will, of course, see that "Erewhon Revisited" is
written by one who has far less literary skill than the author of
"Erewhon;" but again I would ask indulgence on the score of youth,
and the fact that this is my first book. It was written nearly ten
years ago, i.e. in the months from March to August 1891, but for
reasons already given it could not then be made public. I have now
received permission, and therefore publish the following chapters,
exactly, or very nearly exactly, as they were left when I had
finished editing my father's diaries, and the notes I took down
from his own mouth--with the exception, of course, of these last
few lines, hurriedly written as I am on the point of leaving
England, of the additions I made in 1892, on returning from my own
three hours' stay in Erewhon, and of the Postscript.


When my father reached the colony for which he had left England
some twenty-two years previously, he bought a horse, and started up
country on the evening of the day after his arrival, which was, as
I have said, on one of the last days of November 1890. He had
taken an English saddle with him, and a couple of roomy and
strongly made saddle-bags. In these he packed his money, his
nuggets, some tea, sugar, tobacco, salt, a flask of brandy,
matches, and as many ship's biscuits as he thought he was likely to
want; he took no meat, for he could supply himself from some
accommodation-house or sheep-station, when nearing the point after
which he would have to begin camping out. He rolled his Erewhonian
dress and small toilette necessaries inside a warm red blanket, and
strapped the roll on to the front part of his saddle. On to other
D's, with which his saddle was amply provided, he strapped his
Erewhonian boots, a tin pannikin, and a billy that would hold about
a quart. I should, perhaps, explain to English readers that a
billy is a tin can, the name for which (doubtless of French
Canadian origin) is derived from the words "faire bouillir." He
also took with him a pair of hobbles and a small hatchet.

He spent three whole days in riding across the plains, and was
struck with the very small signs of change that he could detect,
but the fall in wool, and the failure, so far, to establish a
frozen meat trade, had prevented any material development of the
resources of the country. When he had got to the front ranges, he
followed up the river next to the north of the one that he had
explored years ago, and from the head waters of which he had been
led to discover the only practicable pass into Erewhon. He did
this, partly to avoid the terribly dangerous descent on to the bed
of the more northern river, and partly to escape being seen by
shepherds or bullock-drivers who might remember him.

If he had attempted to get through the gorge of this river in 1870,
he would have found it impassable; but a few river-bed flats had
been discovered above the gorge, on which there was now a
shepherd's hut, and on the discovery of these flats a narrow horse
track had been made from one end of the gorge to the other.

He was hospitably entertained at the shepherd's hut just mentioned,
which he reached on Monday, December 1. He told the shepherd in
charge of it that he had come to see if he could find traces of a
large wingless bird, whose existence had been reported as having
been discovered among the extreme head waters of the river.

"Be careful, sir, said the shepherd; "the river is very dangerous;
several people--one only about a year ago--have left this hut, and
though their horses and their camps have been found, their bodies
have not. When a great fresh comes down, it would carry a body out
to sea in twenty-four hours."

He evidently had no idea that there was a pass through the ranges
up the river, which might explain the disappearance of an explorer.

Next day my father began to ascend the river. There was so much
tangled growth still unburnt wherever there was room for it to
grow, and so much swamp, that my father had to keep almost entirely
to the river-bed--and here there was a good deal of quicksand. The
stones also were often large for some distance together, and he had
to cross and recross streams of the river more than once, so that
though he travelled all day with the exception of a couple of hours
for dinner, he had not made more than some five and twenty miles
when he reached a suitable camping ground, where he unsaddled his
horse, hobbled him, and turned him out to feed. The grass was
beginning to seed, so that though it was none too plentiful, what
there was of it made excellent feed.

He lit his fire, made himself some tea, ate his cold mutton and
biscuits, and lit his pipe, exactly as he had done twenty years
before. There was the clear starlit sky, the rushing river, and
the stunted trees on the mountain-side; the woodhens cried, and the
"more-pork" hooted out her two monotonous notes exactly as they had
done years since; one moment, and time had so flown backwards that
youth came bounding back to him with the return of his youth's
surroundings; the next, and the intervening twenty years--most of
them grim ones--rose up mockingly before him, and the buoyancy of
hope yielded to the despondency of admitted failure. By and by
buoyancy reasserted itself, and, soothed by the peace and beauty of
the night, he wrapped himself up in his blanket and dropped off
into a dreamless slumber.

Next morning, i.e. December 3, he rose soon after dawn, bathed in a
backwater of the river, got his breakfast, found his horse on the
river-bed, and started as soon as he had duly packed and loaded.
He had now to cross streams of the river and recross them more
often than on the preceding day, and this, though his horse took
well to the water, required care; for he was anxious not to wet his
saddle-bags, and it was only by crossing at the wide, smooth, water
above a rapid, and by picking places where the river ran in two or
three streams, that he could find fords where his practised eye
told him that the water would not be above his horse's belly--for
the river was of great volume. Fortunately, there had been a late
fall of snow on the higher ranges, and the river was, for the
summer season, low.

Towards evening, having travelled, so far as he could guess, some
twenty or five and twenty miles (for he had made another mid day
halt), he reached the place, which he easily recognised, as that
where he had camped before crossing to the pass that led into
Erewhon. It was the last piece of ground that could be called a
flat (though it was in reality only the sloping delta of a stream
that descended from the pass) before reaching a large glacier that
had encroached on the river-bed, which it traversed at right angles
for a considerable distance.

Here he again camped, hobbled his horse, and turned him adrift,
hoping that he might again find him some two or three months hence,
for there was a good deal of sweet grass here and there, with sow-
thistle and anise; and the coarse tussock grass would be in full
seed shortly, which alone would keep him going for as long a time
as my father expected to be away. Little did he think that he
should want him again so shortly.

Having attended to his horse, he got his supper, and while smoking
his pipe congratulated himself on the way in which something had
smoothed away all the obstacles that had so nearly baffled him on
his earlier journey. Was he being lured on to his destruction by
some malicious fiend, or befriended by one who had compassion on
him and wished him well? His naturally sanguine temperament
inclined him to adopt the friendly spirit theory, in the peace of
which he again laid himself down to rest, and slept soundly from
dark till dawn.

In the morning, though the water was somewhat icy, he again bathed,
and then put on his Erewhonian boots and dress. He stowed his
European clothes, with some difficulty, into his saddle-bags.
Herein also he left his case full of English sovereigns, his spare
pipes, his purse, which contained two pounds in gold and seven or
eight shillings, part of his stock of tobacco, and whatever
provision was left him, except the meat--which he left for sundry
hawks and parrots that were eyeing his proceedings apparently
without fear of man. His nuggets he concealed in the secret
pockets of which I have already spoken, keeping one bag alone

He had had his hair and beard cut short on shipboard the day before
he landed. These he now dyed with a dye that he had brought from
England, and which in a few minutes turned them very nearly black.
He also stained his face and hands deep brown. He hung his saddle
and bridle, his English boots, and his saddle-bags on the highest
bough that he could reach, and made them fairly fast with strips of
flax leaf, for there was some stunted flax growing on the ground
where he had camped. He feared that, do what he might, they would
not escape the inquisitive thievishness of the parrots, whose
strong beaks could easily cut leather; but he could do nothing
more. It occurs to me, though my father never told me so, that it
was perhaps with a view to these birds that he had chosen to put
his English sovereigns into a metal box, with a clasp to it which
would defy them.

He made a roll of his blanket, and slung it over his shoulder; he
also took his pipe, tobacco, a little tea, a few ship's biscuits,
and his billy and pannikin; matches and salt go without saying.
When he had thus ordered everything as nearly to his satisfaction
as he could, he looked at his watch for the last time, as he
believed, till many weeks should have gone by, and found it to be
about seven o'clock. Remembering what trouble it had got him into
years before, he took down his saddle-bags, reopened them, and put
the watch inside. He then set himself to climb the mountain side,
towards the saddle on which he had seen the statues.


My father found the ascent more fatiguing than he remembered it to
have been. The climb, he said, was steady, and took him between
four and five hours, as near as he could guess, now that he had no
watch; but it offered nothing that could be called a difficulty,
and the watercourse that came down from the saddle was a sufficient
guide; once or twice there were waterfalls, but they did not
seriously delay him.

After he had climbed some three thousand feet, he began to be on
the alert for some sound of ghostly chanting from the statues; but
he heard nothing, and toiled on till he came to a sprinkling of
fresh snow--part of the fall which he had observed on the preceding
day as having whitened the higher mountains; he knew, therefore,
that he must now be nearing the saddle. The snow grew rapidly
deeper, and by the time he reached the statues the ground was
covered to a depth of two or three inches.

He found the statues smaller than he had expected. He had said in
his book--written many months after he had seen them--that they
were about six times the size of life, but he now thought that four
or five times would have been enough to say. Their mouths were
much clogged with snow, so that even though there had been a strong
wind (which there was not) they would not have chanted. In other
respects he found them not less mysteriously impressive than at
first. He walked two or three times all round them, and then went

The snow did not continue far down, but before long my father
entered a thick bank of cloud, and had to feel his way cautiously
along the stream that descended from the pass. It was some two
hours before he emerged into clear air, and found himself on the
level bed of an old lake now grassed over. He had quite forgotten
this feature of the descent--perhaps the clouds had hung over it;
he was overjoyed, however, to find that the flat ground abounded
with a kind of quail, larger than ours, and hardly, if at all,
smaller than a partridge. The abundance of these quails surprised
him, for he did not remember them as plentiful anywhere on the
Erewhonian side of the mountains.

The Erewhonian quail, like its now nearly, if not quite, extinct
New Zealand congener, can take three successive flights of a few
yards each, but then becomes exhausted; hence quails are only found
on ground that is never burned, and where there are no wild animals
to molest them; the cats and dogs that accompany European
civilisation soon exterminate them; my father, therefore, felt safe
in concluding that he was still far from any village. Moreover he
could see no sheep or goat's dung; and this surprised him, for he
thought he had found signs of pasturage much higher than this.
Doubtless, he said to himself, when he wrote his book he had
forgotten how long the descent had been. But it was odd, for the
grass was good feed enough, and ought, he considered, to have been
well stocked.

Tired with his climb, during which he had not rested to take food,
but had eaten biscuits, as he walked, he gave himself a good long
rest, and when refreshed, he ran down a couple of dozen quails,
some of which he meant to eat when he camped for the night, while
the others would help him out of a difficulty which had been
troubling him for some time.

What was he to say when people asked him, as they were sure to do,
how he was living? And how was he to get enough Erewhonian money
to keep him going till he could find some safe means of selling a
few of his nuggets? He had had a little Erewhonian money when he
went up in the balloon, but had thrown it over, with everything
else except the clothes he wore and his MSS., when the balloon was
nearing the water. He had nothing with him that he dared offer for
sale, and though he had plenty of gold, was in reality penniless.

When, therefore, he saw the quails, he again felt as though some
friendly spirit was smoothing his way before him. What more easy
than to sell them at Coldharbour (for so the name of the town in
which he had been imprisoned should be translated), where he knew
they were a delicacy, and would fetch him the value of an English
shilling a piece?

It took him between two and three hours to catch two dozen. When
he had thus got what he considered a sufficient stock, he tied
their legs together with rushes, and ran a stout stick through the
whole lot. Soon afterwards he came upon a wood of stunted pines,
which, though there was not much undergrowth, nevertheless afforded
considerable shelter and enabled him to gather wood enough to make
himself a good fire. This was acceptable, for though the days were
long, it was now evening, and as soon as the sun had gone the air
became crisp and frosty.

Here he resolved to pass the night. He chose a part where the
trees were thickest, lit his fire, plucked and cleaned four quails,
filled his billy with water from the stream hard by, made tea in
his pannikin, grilled two of his birds on the embers, ate them, and
when he had done all this, he lit his pipe and began to think
things over. "So far so good," said he to himself; but hardly had
the words passed through his mind before he was startled by the
sound of voices, still at some distance, but evidently drawing
towards him.

He instantly gathered up his billy, pannikin, tea, biscuits, and
blanket, all of which he had determined to discard and hide on the
following morning; everything that could betray him he carried full
haste into the wood some few yards off, in the direction opposite
to that from which the voices were coming, but he let his quails
lie where they were, and put his pipe and tobacco in his pocket.

The voices drew nearer and nearer, and it was all my father could
do to get back and sit down innocently by his fire, before he could
hear what was being said.

"Thank goodness," said one of the speakers (of course in the
Erewhonian language), "we seem to be finding somebody at last. I
hope it is not some poacher; we had better be careful."

"Nonsense!" said the other. "It must be one of the rangers. No
one would dare to light a fire while poaching on the King's
preserves. What o'clock do you make it?"

"Half after nine." And the watch was still in the speaker's hand
as he emerged from darkness into the glowing light of the fire. My
father glanced at it, and saw that it was exactly like the one he
had worn on entering Erewhon nearly twenty years previously.

The watch, however, was a very small matter; the dress of these two
men (for there were only two) was far more disconcerting. They
were not in the Erewhonian costume. The one was dressed like an
Englishman or would-be Englishman, while the other was wearing the
same kind of clothes but turned the wrong way round, so that when
his face was towards my father his body seemed to have its back
towards him, and vice verso. The man's head, in fact, appeared to
have been screwed right round; and yet it was plain that if he were
stripped he would be found built like other people.

What could it all mean? The men were about fifty years old. They
were well-to-do people, well clad, well fed, and were felt
instinctively by my father to belong to the academic classes. That
one of them should be dressed like a sensible Englishman dismayed
my father as much as that the other should have a watch, and look
as if he had just broken out of Bedlam, or as King Dagobert must
have looked if he had worn all his clothes as he is said to have
worn his breeches. Both wore their clothes so easily--for he who
wore them reversed had evidently been measured with a view to this
absurd fashion--that it was plain their dress was habitual.

My father was alarmed as well as astounded, for he saw that what
little plan of a campaign he had formed must be reconstructed, and
he had no idea in what direction his next move should be taken; but
he was a ready man, and knew that when people have taken any idea
into their heads, a little confirmation will fix it. A first idea
is like a strong seedling; it will grow if it can.

In less time than it will have taken the reader to get through the
last foregoing paragraphs, my father took up the cue furnished him
by the second speaker.

"Yes," said he, going boldly up to this gentleman, "I am one of the
rangers, and it is my duty to ask you what you are doing here upon
the King's preserves."

"Quite so, my man," was the rejoinder. "We have been to see the
statues at the head of the pass, and have a permit from the Mayor
of Sunch'ston to enter upon the preserves. We lost ourselves in
the thick fog, both going and coming back."

My father inwardly blessed the fog. He did not catch the name of
the town, but presently found that it was commonly pronounced as I
have written it.

"Be pleased to show it me," said my father in his politest manner.
On this a document was handed to him.

I will here explain that I shall translate the names of men and
places, as well as the substance of the document; and I shall
translate all names in future. Indeed I have just done so in the
case of Sunch'ston. As an example, let me explain that the true
Erewhonian names for Hanky and Panky, to whom the reader will be
immediately introduced, are Sukoh and Sukop--names too cacophonous
to be read with pleasure by the English public. I must ask the
reader to believe that in all cases I am doing my best to give the
spirit of the original name.

I would also express my regret that my father did not either
uniformly keep to the true Erewhonian names, as in the cases of
Senoj Nosnibor, Ydgrun, Thims, &c.--names which occur constantly in
Erewhon--or else invariably invent a name, as he did whenever he
considered the true name impossible. My poor mother's name, for
example, was really Nna Haras, and Mahaina's Enaj Ysteb, which he
dared not face. He, therefore, gave these characters the first
names that euphony suggested, without any attempt at translation.
Rightly or wrongly, I have determined to keep consistently to
translation for all names not used in my father's book; and
throughout, whether as regards names or conversations, I shall
translate with the freedom without which no translation rises above
construe level.

Let me now return to the permit. The earlier part of the document
was printed, and ran as follows:-

Extracts from the Act for the afforesting of certain lands lying
between the town of Sunchildston, formerly called Coldharbour, and
the mountains which bound the kingdom of Erewhon, passed in the
year Three, being the eighth year of the reign of his Most Gracious
Majesty King Well-beloved the Twenty-Second.

"Whereas it is expedient to prevent any of his Majesty's subjects
from trying to cross over into unknown lands beyond the mountains,
and in like manner to protect his Majesty's kingdom from intrusion
on the part of foreign devils, it is hereby enacted that certain
lands, more particularly described hereafter, shall be afforested
and set apart as a hunting-ground for his Majesty's private use.

"It is also enacted that the Rangers and Under-rangers shall be
required to immediately kill without parley any foreign devil whom
they may encounter coming from the other side of the mountains.
They are to weight the body, and throw it into the Blue Pool under
the waterfall shown on the plan hereto annexed; but on pain of
imprisonment for life they shall not reserve to their own use any
article belonging to the deceased. Neither shall they divulge what
they have done to any one save the Head Ranger, who shall report
the circumstances of the case fully and minutely to his Majesty.

"As regards any of his Majesty's subjects who may be taken while
trespassing on his Majesty's preserves without a special permit
signed by the Mayor of Sunchildston, or any who may be convicted of
poaching on the said preserves, the Rangers shall forthwith arrest
them and bring them before the Mayor of Sunchildston, who shall
enquire into their antecedents, and punish them with such term of
imprisonment, with hard labour, as he may think fit, provided that
no such term be of less duration than twelve calendar months.

"For the further provisions of the said Act, those whom it may
concern are referred to the Act in full, a copy of which may be
seen at the official residence of the Mayor of Sunchildston."

Then followed in MS. "XIX. xii. 29. Permit Professor Hanky,
Royal Professor of Worldly Wisdom at Bridgeford, seat of learning,
city of the people who are above suspicion, and Professor Panky,
Royal Professor of Unworldly Wisdom in the said city, or either of
them" [here the MS. ended, the rest of the permit being in print]
"to pass freely during the space of forty-eight hours from the date
hereof, over the King's preserves, provided, under pain of
imprisonment with hard labour for twelve months, that they do not
kill, nor cause to be killed, nor eat, if another have killed, any
one or more of his Majesty's quails."

The signature was such a scrawl that my father could not read it,
but underneath was printed, "Mayor of Sunchildston, formerly called

What a mass of information did not my father gather as he read, but
what a far greater mass did he not see that he must get hold of ere
he could reconstruct his plans intelligently.

"The year three," indeed; and XIX. xii. 29, in Roman and Arabic
characters! There were no such characters when he was in Erewhon
before. It flashed upon him that he had repeatedly shewn them to
the Nosnibors, and had once even written them down. It could not
be that . . . No, it was impossible; and yet there was the European
dress, aimed at by the one Professor, and attained by the other.
Again "XIX." what was that? "xii." might do for December, but it
was now the 4th of December not the 29th. "Afforested" too? Then
that was why he had seen no sheep tracks. And how about the quails
he had so innocently killed? What would have happened if he had
tried to sell them in Coldharbour? What other like fatal error
might he not ignorantly commit? And why had Coldharbour become

These thoughts raced through my poor father's brain as he slowly
perused the paper handed to him by the Professors. To give himself
time he feigned to be a poor scholar, but when he had delayed as
long as he dared, he returned it to the one who had given it him.
Without changing a muscle he said -

"Your permit, sir, is quite regular. You can either stay here the
night or go on to Sunchildston as you think fit. May I ask which
of you two gentlemen is Professor Hanky, and which Professor

"My name is Panky," said the one who had the watch, who wore his
clothes reversed, and who had thought my father might be a poacher.

"And mine Hanky," said the other.

"What do you think, Panky," he added, turning to his brother
Professor, "had we not better stay here till sunrise? We are both
of us tired, and this fellow can make us a good fire. It is very
dark, and there will be no moon this two hours. We are hungry, but
we can hold out till we get to Sunchildston; it cannot be more than
eight or nine miles further down."

Panky assented, but then, turning sharply to my father, he said,
"My man, what are you doing in the forbidden dress? Why are you
not in ranger's uniform, and what is the meaning of all those
quails?" For his seedling idea that my father was in reality a
poacher was doing its best to grow.

Quick as thought my father answered, "The Head Ranger sent me a
message this morning to deliver him three dozen quails at
Sunchildston by to-morrow afternoon. As for the dress, we can run
the quails down quicker in it, and he says nothing to us so long as
we only wear out old clothes and put on our uniforms before we near
the town. My uniform is in the ranger's shelter an hour and a half
higher up the valley."

"See what comes," said Panky, "of having a whippersnapper not yet
twenty years old in the responsible post of Head Ranger. As for
this fellow, he may be speaking the truth, but I distrust him."

"The man is all right, Panky," said Hanky, "and seems to be a
decent fellow enough." Then to my father, "How many brace have you
got?" And he looked at them a little wistfully.

"I have been at it all day, sir, and I have only got eight brace.
I must run down ten more brace to-morrow."

"I see, I see." Then, turning to Panky, he said, "Of course, they
are wanted for the Mayor's banquet on Sunday. By the way, we have
not yet received our invitation; I suppose we shall find it when we
get back to Sunchildston."

"Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" groaned my father inwardly; but he
changed not a muscle of his face, and said stolidly to Professor
Hanky, "I think you must be right, sir; but there was nothing said
about it to me, I was only told to bring the birds."

Thus tenderly did he water the Professor's second seedling. But
Panky had his seedling too, and, Cain-like, was jealous that
Hanky's should flourish while his own was withering.

"And what, pray, my man," he said somewhat peremptorily to my
father, "are those two plucked quails doing? Were you to deliver
them plucked? And what bird did those bones belong to which I see
lying by the fire with the flesh all eaten off them? Are the
under-rangers allowed not only to wear the forbidden dress but to
eat the King's quails as well?"

The form in which the question was asked gave my father his cue.
He laughed heartily, and said, "Why, sir, those plucked birds are
landrails, not quails, and those bones are landrail bones. Look at
this thigh-bone; was there ever a quail with such a bone as that?"

I cannot say whether or no Professor Panky was really deceived by
the sweet effrontery with which my father proffered him the bone.
If he was taken in, his answer was dictated simply by a donnish
unwillingness to allow any one to be better informed on any subject
than he was himself.

My father, when I suggested this to him, would not hear of it. "Oh
no," he said; "the man knew well enough that I was lying." However
this may be, the Professor's manner changed.

"You are right," he said, "I thought they were landrail bones, but
was not sure till I had one in my hand. I see, too, that the
plucked birds are landrails, but there is little light, and I have
not often seen them without their feathers."

"I think," said my father to me, "that Hanky knew what his friend
meant, for he said, 'Panky, I am very hungry.'"

"Oh, Hanky, Hanky," said the other, modulating his harsh voice till
it was quite pleasant. "Don't corrupt the poor man."

"Panky, drop that; we are not at Bridgeford now; I am very hungry,
and I believe half those birds are not quails but landrails."

My father saw he was safe. He said, "Perhaps some of them might
prove to be so, sir, under certain circumstances. I am a poor man,

"Come, come," said Hanky; and he slipped a sum equal to about half-
a-crown into my father's hand.

"I do not know what you mean, sir," said my father, "and if I did,
half-a-crown would not be nearly enough."

"Hanky," said Panky, "you must get this fellow to give you


My father, schooled under adversity, knew that it was never well to
press advantage too far. He took the equivalent of five shillings
for three brace, which was somewhat less than the birds would have
been worth when things were as he had known them. Moreover, he
consented to take a shilling's worth of Musical Bank money, which
(as he has explained in his book) has no appreciable value outside
these banks. He did this because he knew that it would be
respectable to be seen carrying a little Musical Bank money, and
also because he wished to give some of it to the British Museum,
where he knew that this curious coinage was unrepresented. But the
coins struck him as being much thinner and smaller than he had
remembered them.

It was Panky, not Hanky, who had given him the Musical Bank money.
Panky was the greater humbug of the two, for he would humbug even
himself--a thing, by the way, not very hard to do; and yet he was
the less successful humbug, for he could humbug no one who was
worth humbugging--not for long. Hanky's occasional frankness put
people off their guard. He was the mere common, superficial,
perfunctory Professor, who, being a Professor, would of course
profess, but would not lie more than was in the bond; he was log-
rolled and log-rolling, but still, in a robust wolfish fashion,

Panky, on the other hand, was hardly human; he had thrown himself
so earnestly into his work, that he had become a living lie. If he
had had to play the part of Othello he would have blacked himself
all over, and very likely smothered his Desdemona in good earnest.
Hanky would hardly have blacked himself behind the ears, and his
Desdemona would have been quite safe.

Philosophers are like quails in the respect that they can take two
or three flights of imagination, but rarely more without an
interval of repose. The Professors had imagined my father to be a
poacher and a ranger; they had imagined the quails to be wanted for
Sunday's banquet; they had imagined that they imagined (at least
Panky had) that they were about to eat landrails; they were now
exhausted, and cowered down into the grass of their ordinary
conversation, paying no more attention to my father than if he had
been a log. He, poor man, drank in every word they said, while
seemingly intent on nothing but his quails, each one of which he
cut up with a knife borrowed from Hanky. Two had been plucked
already, so he laid these at once upon the clear embers.

"I do not know what we are to do with ourselves," said Hanky, "till
Sunday. To-day is Thursday--it is the twenty-ninth, is it not?
Yes, of course it is--Sunday is the first. Besides, it is on our
permit. To-morrow we can rest; what, I wonder, can we do on
Saturday? But the others will be here then, and we can tell them
about the statues."

"Yes, but mind you do not blurt out anything about the landrails."

"I think we may tell Dr. Downie."

"Tell nobody," said Panky.

They then talked about the statues, concerning which it was plain
that nothing was known. But my father soon broke in upon their
conversation with the first instalment of quails, which a few
minutes had sufficed to cook.

"What a delicious bird a quail is," said Hanky.

"Landrail, Hanky, landrail," said the other reproachfully.

Having finished the first birds in a very few minutes they returned
to the statues.

"Old Mrs. Nosnibor," said Panky, "says the Sunchild told her they
were symbolic of ten tribes who had incurred the displeasure of the
sun, his father."

I make no comment on my father's feelings.

"Of the sun! his fiddlesticks' ends," retorted Hanky. "He never
called the sun his father. Besides, from all I have heard about
him, I take it he was a precious idiot."

"O Hanky, Hanky! you will wreck the whole thing if you ever allow
yourself to talk in that way."

"You are more likely to wreck it yourself, Panky, by never doing
so. People like being deceived, but they like also to have an
inkling of their own deception, and you never inkle them."

"The Queen," said Panky, returning to the statues, "sticks to it
that . . . "

"Here comes another bird," interrupted Hanky; "never mind about the

The bird was soon eaten, whereon Panky again took up his parable
about the Queen.

"The Queen says they are connected with the cult of the ancient
Goddess Kiss-me-quick."

"What if they are? But the Queen sees Kiss-me-quick in everything.
Another quail, if you please, Mr. Ranger."

My father brought up another bird almost directly. Silence while
it was being eaten.

"Talking of the Sunchild," said Panky; "did you ever see him?"

"Never set eyes on him, and hope I never shall."

And so on till the last bird was eaten.

"Fellow," said Panky, "fetch some more wood; the fire is nearly

"I can find no more, sir," said my father, who was afraid lest some
genuine ranger might be attracted by the light, and was determined
to let it go out as soon as he had done cooking.

"Never mind," said Hanky, "the moon will be up soon."

"And now, Hanky," said Panky, "tell me what you propose to say on
Sunday. I suppose you have pretty well made up your mind about it
by this time."

"Pretty nearly. I shall keep it much on the usual lines. I shall
dwell upon the benighted state from which the Sunchild rescued us,
and shall show how the Musical Banks, by at once taking up the
movement, have been the blessed means of its now almost universal
success. I shall talk about the immortal glory shed upon
Sunch'ston by the Sun-child's residence in the prison, and wind up
with the Sunchild Evidence Society, and an earnest appeal for funds
to endow the canonries required for the due service of the temple."

"Temple! what temple?" groaned my father inwardly.

"And what are you going to do about the four black and white

"Stick to them, of course--unless I make them six."

"I really do not see why they might not have been horses."

"I dare say you do not," returned the other drily, "but they were
black and white storks, and you know that as well as I do. Still,
they have caught on, and they are in the altar-piece, prancing and
curvetting magnificently, so I shall trot them out."

"Altar-piece! Altar-piece!" again groaned my father inwardly.

He need not have groaned, for when he came to see the so-called
altar-piece he found that the table above which it was placed had
nothing in common with the altar in a Christian church. It was a
mere table, on which were placed two bowls full of Musical Bank
coins; two cashiers, who sat on either side of it, dispensed a few
of these to all comers, while there was a box in front of it
wherein people deposited coin of the realm according to their will
or ability. The idea of sacrifice was not contemplated, and the
position of the table, as well as the name given to it, was an
instance of the way in which the Erewhonians had caught names and
practices from my father, without understanding what they either
were or meant. So, again, when Professor Hanky had spoken of
canonries, he had none but the vaguest idea of what a canonry is.

I may add further that as a boy my father had had his Bible well
drilled into him, and never forgot it. Hence biblical passages and
expressions had been often in his mouth, as the effect of mere
unconscious cerebration. The Erewhonians had caught many of these,
sometimes corrupting them so that they were hardly recognizable.
Things that he remembered having said were continually meeting him
during the few days of his second visit, and it shocked him deeply
to meet some gross travesty of his own words, or of words more
sacred than his own, and yet to be unable to correct it. "I
wonder," he said to me, "that no one has ever hit on this as a
punishment for the damned in Hades."

Let me now return to Professor Hanky, whom I fear that I have left
too long.

"And of course," he continued, "I shall say all sorts of pretty
things about the Mayoress--for I suppose we must not even think of
her as Yram now."

"The Mayoress," replied Panky, "is a very dangerous woman; see how
she stood out about the way in which the Sunchild had worn his
clothes before they gave him the then Erewhonian dress. Besides,
she is a sceptic at heart, and so is that precious son of hers."

"She was quite right," said Hanky, with something of a snort. "She
brought him his dinner while he was still wearing the clothes he
came in, and if men do not notice how a man wears his clothes,
women do. Besides, there are many living who saw him wear them."

"Perhaps," said Panky, "but we should never have talked the King
over if we had not humoured him on this point. Yram nearly wrecked
us by her obstinacy. If we had not frightened her, and if your
study, Hanky, had not happened to have been burned . . . "

"Come, come, Panky, no more of that."

"Of course I do not doubt that it was an accident; nevertheless if
your study had not been accidentally burned, on the very night the
clothes were entrusted to you for earnest, patient, careful,
scientific investigation--and Yram very nearly burned too--we
should never have carried it through. See what work we had to get
the King to allow the way in which the clothes were worn to be a
matter of opinion, not dogma. What a pity it is that the clothes
were not burned before the King's tailor had copied them."

Hanky laughed heartily enough. "Yes," he said, "it was touch and
go. Why, I wonder, could not the Queen have put the clothes on a
dummy that would show back from front? As soon as it was brought
into the council chamber the King jumped to a conclusion, and we
had to bundle both dummy and Yram out of the royal presence, for
neither she nor the King would budge an inch.

Even Panky smiled. "What could we do? The common people almost
worship Yram; and so does her husband, though her fair-haired
eldest son was born barely seven months after marriage. The people
in these parts like to think that the Sunchild's blood is in the
country, and yet they swear through thick and thin that he is the
Mayor's duly begotten offspring--Faugh! Do you think they would
have stood his being jobbed into the ranger-ship by any one else
but Yram?"

My father's feelings may be imagined, but I will not here interrupt
the Professors.

"Well, well," said Hanky; "for men must rob and women must job so
long as the world goes on. I did the best I could. The King would
never have embraced Sunchildism if I had not told him he was right;
then, when satisfied that we agreed with him, he yielded to popular
prejudice and allowed the question to remain open. One of his
Royal Professors was to wear the clothes one way, and the other the

"My way of wearing them," said Panky, "is much the most

"Not a bit of it, said Hanky warmly. On this the two Professors
fell out, and the discussion grew so hot that my father interfered
by advising them not to talk so loud lest another ranger should
hear them. "You know," he said, "there are a good many landrail
bones lying about, and it might be awkward."

The Professors hushed at once. "By the way," said Panky, after a
pause, "it is very strange about those footprints in the snow. The
man had evidently walked round the statues two or three times, as
though they were strange to him, and he had certainly come from the
other side."

"It was one of the rangers," said Hanky impatiently, "who had gone
a little beyond the statues, and come back again."

"Then we should have seen his footprints as he went. I am glad I
measured them."

"There is nothing in it; but what were your measurements?"

"Eleven inches by four and a half; nails on the soles; one nail
missing on the right foot and two on the left." Then, turning to
my father quickly, he said, "My man, allow me to have a look at
your boots."

"Nonsense, Panky, nonsense!"

Now my father by this time was wondering whether he should not set
upon these two men, kill them if he could, and make the best of his
way back, but he had still a card to play.

"Certainly, sir," said he, "but I should tell you that they are not
my boots."

He took off his right boot and handed it to Panky.

"Exactly so! Eleven inches by four and a half, and one nail
missing. And now, Mr. Ranger, will you be good enough to explain
how you became possessed of that boot. You need not show me the
other." And he spoke like an examiner who was confident that he
could floor his examinee in viva voce.

"You know our orders," answered my father, "you have seen them on
your permit. I met one of those foreign devils from the other
side, of whom we have had more than one lately; he came from out of
the clouds that hang higher up, and as he had no permit and could
not speak a word of our language, I gripped him, flung him, and
strangled him. Thus far I was only obeying orders, but seeing how
much better his boots were than mine, and finding that they would
fit me, I resolved to keep them. You may be sure I should not have
done so if I had known there was snow on the top of the pass."

"He could not invent that," said Hanky; "it is plain he has not
been up to the statues."

Panky was staggered. "And of course," said he ironically, "you
took nothing from this poor wretch except his boots."

"Sir," said my father, "I will make a clean breast of everything.
I flung his body, his clothes, and my own old boots into the pool;
but I kept his blanket, some things he used for cooking, and some
strange stuff that looks like dried leaves, as well as a small bag
of something which I believe is gold. I thought I could sell the
lot to some dealer in curiosities who would ask no questions."

"And what, pray, have you done with all these things?"

"They are here, sir." And as he spoke he dived into the wood,
returning with the blanket, billy, pannikin, tea, and the little
bag of nuggets, which he had kept accessible.

"This is very strange," said Hanky, who was beginning to be afraid
of my father when he learned that he sometimes killed people.

Here the Professors talked hurriedly to one another in a tongue
which my father could not understand, but which he felt sure was
the hypothetical language of which he has spoken in his book.

Presently Hanky said to my father quite civilly, "And what, my good
man, do you propose to do with all these things? I should tell you
at once that what you take to be gold is nothing of the kind; it is
a base metal, hardly, if at all, worth more than copper."

"I have had enough of them; to-morrow morning I shall take them
with me to the Blue Pool, and drop them into it."

"It is a pity you should do that," said Hanky musingly: "the
things are interesting as curiosities, and--and--and--what will you
take for them?"

"I could not do it, sir," answered my father. "I would not do it,
no, not for--" and he named a sum equivalent to about five pounds
of our money. For he wanted Erewhonian money, and thought it worth
his while to sacrifice his ten pounds' worth of nuggets in order to
get a supply of current coin.

Hanky tried to beat him down, assuring him that no curiosity dealer
would give half as much, and my father so far yielded as to take 4
pounds, 10s. in silver, which, as I have already explained, would
not be worth more than half a sovereign in gold. At this figure a
bargain was struck, and the Professors paid up without offering him
a single Musical Bank coin. They wanted to include the boots in
the purchase, but here my father stood out.

But he could not stand out as regards another matter, which caused
him some anxiety. Panky insisted that my father should give them a
receipt for the money, and there was an altercation between the
Professors on this point, much longer than I can here find space to
give. Hanky argued that a receipt was useless, inasmuch as it
would be ruin to my father ever to refer to the subject again.
Panky, however, was anxious, not lest my father should again claim
the money, but (though he did not say so outright) lest Hanky
should claim the whole purchase as his own. In so the end Panky,
for a wonder, carried the day, and a receipt was drawn up to the
effect that the undersigned acknowledged to have received from
Professors Hanky and Panky the sum of 4 pounds, 10s. (I translate
the amount), as joint purchasers of certain pieces of yellow ore, a
blanket, and sundry articles found without an owner in the King's
preserves. This paper was dated, as the permit had been, XIX.
xii. 29.

My father, generally so ready, was at his wits' end for a name, and
could think of none but Mr. Nosnibor's. Happily, remembering that
this gentleman had also been called Senoj--a name common enough in
Erewhon--he signed himself Senoj, Under-ranger."

Panky was now satisfied. "We will put it in the bag," he said,
"with the pieces of yellow ore."

"Put it where you like," said Hanky contemptuously; and into the
bag it was put.

When all was now concluded, my father laughingly said, "If you have
dealt unfairly by me, I forgive you. My motto is, 'Forgive us our
trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.'"

"Repeat those last words," said Panky eagerly. My father was
alarmed at his manner, but thought it safer to repeat them.

"You hear that, Hanky? I am convinced; I have not another word to
say. The man is a true Erewhonian; he has our corrupt reading of
the Sunchild's prayer."

"Please explain."

"Why, can you not see?" said Panky, who was by way of being great
at conjectural emendations. "Can you not see how impossible it is
for the Sunchild, or any of the people to whom he declared (as we
now know provisionally) that he belonged, could have made the
forgiveness of his own sins depend on the readiness with which he
forgave other people? No man in his senses would dream of such a
thing. It would be asking a supposed all-powerful being not to
forgive his sins at all, or at best to forgive them imperfectly.
No; Yram got it wrong. She mistook 'but do not' for 'as we.' The
sound of the words is very much alike; the correct reading should
obviously be, 'Forgive us our trespasses, but do not forgive them
that trespass against us.' This makes sense, and turns an
impossible prayer into one that goes straight to the heart of every
one of us." Then, turning to my father, he said, "You can see
this, my man, can you not, as soon as it is pointed out to you?"

My father said that he saw it now, but had always heard the words
as he had himself spoken them.

"Of course you have, my good fellow, and it is because of this that
I know they never can have reached you except from an Erewhonian

Hanky smiled,--snorted, and muttered in an undertone, "I shall
begin to think that this fellow is a foreign devil after all."

"And now, gentlemen," said my father, "the moon is risen. I must
be after the quails at day-break; I will therefore go to the
ranger's shelter" (a shelter, by the way, which existed only in my
father's invention), "and get a couple of hours' sleep, so as to be
both close to the quail-ground; and fresh for running. You are so
near the boundary of the preserves that you will not want your
permit further; no one will meet you, and should any one do so, you
need only give your names and say that you have made a mistake.
You will have to give it up to-morrow at the Ranger's office; it
will save you trouble if I collect it now, and give it up when I
deliver my quails.

"As regards the curiosities, hide them as you best can outside the
limits. I recommend you to carry them at once out of the forest,
and rest beyond the limits rather than here. You can then recover
them whenever, and in whatever way, you may find convenient. But I
hope you will say nothing about any foreign devil's having come
over on to this side. Any whisper to this effect unsettles
people's minds, and they are too much unsettled already; hence our
orders to kill any one from over there at once, and to tell no one
but the Head Ranger. I was forced by you, gentlemen, to disobey
these orders in self-defence; I must trust your generosity to keep
what I have told you secret. I shall, of course, report it to the
Head Ranger. And now, if you think proper, you can give me up your

All this was so plausible that the Professors gave up their permit
without a word but thanks. They bundled their curiosities
hurriedly into "the poor foreign devil's" blanket, reserving a more
careful packing till they were out of the preserves. They wished
my father a very good night, and all success with his quails in the
morning; they thanked him again for the care he had taken of them
in the matter of the landrails, and Panky even went so far as to
give him a few Musical Bank coins, which he gratefully accepted.
They then started off in the direction of Sunch'ston.

My father gathered up the remaining quails, some of which he meant
to eat in the morning, while the others he would throw away as soon
as he could find a safe place. He turned towards the mountains,
but before he had gone a dozen yards he heard a voice, which he
recognised as Panky's, shouting after him, and saying -

"Mind you do not forget the true reading of the Sunchild's prayer."

"You are an old fool," shouted my father in English, knowing that
he could hardly be heard, still less understood, and thankful to
relieve his feelings.


The incidents recorded in the two last chapters had occupied about
two hours, so that it was nearly midnight before my father could
begin to retrace his steps and make towards the camp that he had
left that morning. This was necessary, for he could not go any
further in a costume that he now knew to be forbidden. At this
hour no ranger was likely to meet him before he reached the
statues, and by making a push for it he could return in time to
cross the limits of the preserves before the Professors' permit had
expired. If challenged, he must brazen it out that he was one or
other of the persons therein named.

Fatigued though he was, he reached the statues as near as he could
guess, at about three in the morning. What little wind there had
been was warm, so that the tracks, which the Professors must have
seen shortly after he had made them, had disappeared. The statues
looked very weird in the moonlight but they were not chanting.

While ascending, he pieced together the information he had picked
up from the Professors. Plainly, the Sunchild, or child of the
sun, was none other than himself, and the new name of Coldharbour
was doubtless intended to commemorate the fact that this was the
first town he had reached in Erewhon. Plainly, also, he was
supposed to be of superhuman origin--his flight in the balloon
having been not unnaturally believed to be miraculous. The
Erewhonians had for centuries been effacing all knowledge of their
former culture; archaeologists, indeed, could still glean a little
from museums, and from volumes hard to come by, and still harder to
understand; but archaeologists were few, and even though they had
made researches (which they may or may not have done), their
labours had never reached the masses. What wonder, then, that the
mushroom spawn of myth, ever present in an atmosphere highly
charged with ignorance, had germinated in a soil so favourably
prepared for its reception?

He saw it all now. It was twenty years next Sunday since he and my
mother had eloped. That was the meaning of XIX. xii. 29. They had
made a new era, dating from the day of his return to the palace of
the sun with a bride who was doubtless to unite the Erewhonian
nature with that of the sun. The New Year, then, would date from
Sunday, December 7, which would therefore become XX. i. 1. The
Thursday, now nearly if not quite over, being only two days distant
from the end of a month of thirty-one days, which was also the last
of the year, would be XIX. xii. 29, as on the Professors' permit.

I should like to explain here what will appear more clearly on a
later page--I mean, that the Erewhonians, according to their new
system, do not believe the sun to be a god except as regards this
world and his other planets. My father had told them a little
about astronomy, and had assured them that all the fixed stars were
suns like our own, with planets revolving round them, which were
probably tenanted by intelligent living beings, however unlike they
might be to ourselves. From this they evolved the theory that the
sun was the ruler of this planetary system, and that he must be
personified, as they had personified the air-god, the gods of time
and space, hope, justice, and the other deities mentioned in my
father's book. They retain their old belief in the actual
existence of these gods, but they now make them all subordinate to
the sun. The nearest approach they make to our own conception of
God is to say that He is the ruler over all the suns throughout the
universe--the suns being to Him much as our planets and their
denizens are to our own sun. They deny that He takes more interest
in one sun and its system than in another. All the suns with their
attendant planets are supposed to be equally His children, and He
deputes to each sun the supervision and protection of its own
system. Hence they say that though we may pray to the air-god,
&c., and even to the sun, we must not pray to God. We may be
thankful to Him for watching over the suns, but we must not go

Going back to my father's reflections, he perceived that the
Erewhonians had not only adopted our calendar, as he had repeatedly
explained it to the Nosnibors, but had taken our week as well, and
were making Sunday a high day, just as we do. Next Sunday, in
commemoration of the twentieth year after his ascent, they were
about to dedicate a temple to him; in this there was to be a
picture showing himself and his earthly bride on their heavenward
journey, in a chariot drawn by four black and white horses--which,
however, Professor Hanky had positively affirmed to have been only

Here I interrupted my father. "But were there," I said, "any

"Yes," he answered. "As soon as I heard Hanky's words I remembered
that a flight of some four or five of the large storks so common in
Erewhon during the summer months had been wheeling high aloft in
one of those aerial dances that so much delight them. I had quite
forgotten it, but it came back to me at once that these creatures,
attracted doubtless by what they took to be an unknown kind of
bird, swooped down towards the balloon and circled round it like so
many satellites to a heavenly body. I was fearful lest they should
strike at it with their long and formidable beaks, in which case
all would have been soon over; either they were afraid, or they had
satisfied their curiosity--at any rate, they let us alone; but they
kept with us till we were well away from the capital. Strange, how
completely this incident had escaped me."

I return to my father's thoughts as he made his way back to his old

As for the reversed position of Professor Panky's clothes, he
remembered having given his own old ones to the Queen, and having
thought that she might have got a better dummy on which to display
them than the headless scarecrow, which, however, he supposed was
all her ladies-in-waiting could lay their hands on at the moment.
If that dummy had never been replaced, it was perhaps not very
strange that the King could not at the first glance tell back from
front, and if he did not guess right at first, there was little
chance of his changing, for his first ideas were apt to be his
last. But he must find out more about this.

Then how about the watch? Had their views about machinery also
changed? Or was there an exception made about any machine that he
had himself carried?

Yram too. She must have been married not long after she and he had
parted. So she was now wife to the Mayor, and was evidently able
to have things pretty much her own way in Sunch'ston, as he
supposed he must now call it. Thank heaven she was prosperous! It
was interesting to know that she was at heart a sceptic, as was
also her light-haired son, now Head Ranger. And that son? Just
twenty years of age! Born seven months after marriage! Then the
Mayor doubtless had light hair too; but why did not those wretches
say in which month Yram was married? If she had married soon after
he had left, this was why he had not been sent for or written to.
Pray heaven it was so. As for current gossip, people would talk,
and if the lad was well begotten, what could it matter to them
whose son he was? "But," thought my father, "I am glad I did not
meet him on my way down. I had rather have been killed by some one

Hanky and Panky again. He remembered Bridgeford as the town where
the Colleges of Unreason had been most rife; he had visited it, but
he had forgotten that it was called "The city of the people who are
above suspicion." Its Professors were evidently going to muster in
great force on Sunday; if two of them had robbed him, he could
forgive them, for the information he had gleaned from them had
furnished him with a pied a terre. Moreover, he had got as much
Erewhonian money as he should want, for he had resolved to retrace
his steps immediately after seeing the temple dedicated to himself.
He knew the danger he should run in returning over the preserves
without a permit, but his curiosity was so great that he resolved
to risk it.

Soon after he had passed the statues he began to descend, and it
being now broad day, he did so by leaps and bounds, for the ground
was not precipitous. He reached his old camp soon after five--
this, at any rate, was the hour at which he set his watch on
finding that it had run down during his absence. There was now no
reason why he should not take it with him, so he put it in his
pocket. The parrots had attacked his saddle-bags, saddle, and
bridle, as they were sure to do, but they had not got inside the
bags. He took out his English clothes and put them on--stowing his
bags of gold in various pockets, but keeping his Erewhonian money
in the one that was most accessible. He put his Erewhonian dress
back into the saddle-bags, intending to keep it as a curiosity; he
also refreshed the dye upon his hands, face, and hair; he lit
himself a fire, made tea, cooked and ate two brace of quails, which
he had plucked while walking so as to save time, and then flung
himself on to the ground to snatch an hour's very necessary rest.
When he woke he found he had slept two hours, not one, which was
perhaps as well, and by eight he began to reascend the pass.

He reached the statues about noon, for he allowed himself not a
moment's rest. This time there was a stiffish wind, and they were
chanting lustily. He passed them with all speed, and had nearly
reached the place where he had caught the quails, when he saw a man
in a dress which he guessed at once to be a ranger's, but which,
strangely enough, seeing that he was in the King's employ, was not
reversed. My father's heart beat fast; he got out his permit and
held it open in his hand, then with a smiling face he went towards
the Ranger, who was standing his ground.

"I believe you are the Head Ranger," said my father, who saw that
he was still smooth-faced and had light hair. "I am Professor
Panky, and here is my permit. My brother Professor has been
prevented from coming with me, and, as you see, I am alone."

My father had professed to pass himself off as Panky, for he had
rather gathered that Hanky was the better known man of the two.

While the youth was scrutinising the permit, evidently with
suspicion, my father took stock of him, and saw his own past self
in him too plainly--knowing all he knew--to doubt whose son he was.
He had the greatest difficulty in hiding his emotion, for the lad
was indeed one of whom any father might be proud. He longed to be
able to embrace him and claim him for what he was, but this, as he
well knew, might not be. The tears again welled into his eyes when
he told me of the struggle with himself that he had then had.

"Don't be jealous, my dearest boy," he said to me. "I love you
quite as dearly as I love him, or better, but he was sprung upon me
so suddenly, and dazzled me with his comely debonair face, so full
of youth, and health, and frankness. Did you see him, he would go
straight to your heart, for he is wonderfully like you in spite of
your taking so much after your poor mother."

I was not jealous; on the contrary, I longed to see this youth, and
find in him such a brother as I had often wished to have. But let
me return to my father's story.

The young man, after examining the permit, declared it to be in
form, and returned it to my father, but he eyed him with polite

"I suppose," he said, "you have come up, as so many are doing, from
Bridgeford and all over the country, to the dedication on Sunday."

"Yes," said my father. "Bless me!" he added, "what a wind you have
up here! How it makes one's eyes water, to be sure;" but he spoke
with a cluck in his throat which no wind that blows can cause.

"Have you met any suspicious characters between here and the
statues?" asked the youth. "I came across the ashes of a fire
lower down; there had been three men sitting for some time round
it, and they had all been eating quails. Here are some of the
bones and feathers, which I shall keep. They had not been gone
more than a couple of hours, for the ashes were still warm; they
are getting bolder and bolder--who would have thought they would
dare to light a fire? I suppose you have not met any one; but if
you have seen a single person, let me know."

My father said quite truly that he had met no one. He then
laughingly asked how the youth had been able to discover as much as
he had.

"There were three well-marked forms, and three separate lots of
quail bones hidden in the ashes. One man had done all the
plucking. This is strange, but I dare say I shall get at it

After a little further conversation the Ranger said he was now
going down to Sunch'ston, and, though somewhat curtly, proposed
that he and my father should walk together.

"By all means," answered my father.

"Before they had gone more than a few hundred yards his companion
said, "If you will come with me a little to the left, I can show
you the Blue Pool."

To avoid the precipitous ground over which the stream here fell,
they had diverged to the right, where they had found a smoother
descent; returning now to the stream, which was about to enter on a
level stretch for some distance, they found themselves on the brink
of a rocky basin, of no great size, but very blue, and evidently

"This," said the Ranger, "is where our orders tell us to fling any
foreign devil who comes over from the other side. I have only been
Head Ranger about nine months, and have not yet had to face this
horrid duty; but," and here he smiled, "when I first caught sight
of you I thought I should have to make a beginning. I was very
glad when I saw you had a permit."

"And how many skeletons do you suppose are lying at the bottom of
this pool?"

"I believe not more than seven or eight in all. There were three
or four about eighteen years ago, and about the same number of late
years; one man was flung here only about three months before I was
appointed. I have the full list, with dates, down in my office,
but the rangers never let people in Sunch'ston know when they have
Blue-Pooled any one; it would unsettle men's minds, and some of
them would be coming up here in the dark to drag the pool, and see
whether they could find anything on the body."

My father was glad to turn away from this most repulsive place.
After a time he said, "And what do you good people hereabouts think
of next Sunday's grand doings?"

Bearing in mind what he had gleaned from the Professors about the
Ranger's opinions, my father gave a slightly ironical turn to his
pronunciation of the words "grand doings." The youth glanced at
him with a quick penetrative look, and laughed as he said, "The
doings will be grand enough."

"What a fine temple they have built," said my father. "I have not
yet seen the picture, but they say the four black and white horses
are magnificently painted. I saw the Sunchild ascend, but I saw no
horses in the sky, nor anything like horses."

The youth was much interested. "Did you really see him ascend?" he
asked; "and what, pray, do you think it all was?"

"Whatever it was, there were no horses."

"But there must have been, for, as you of course know, they have
lately found some droppings from one of them, which have been
miraculously preserved, and they are going to show them next Sunday
in a gold reliquary."

"I know," said my father, who, however, was learning the fact for
the first time. "I have not yet seen this precious relic, but I
think they might have found something less unpleasant."

"Perhaps they would if they could," replied the youth, laughing,
"but there was nothing else that the horses could leave. It is
only a number of curiously rounded stones, and not at all like what
they say it is."

"Well, well," continued my father, "but relic or no relic, there
are many who, while they fully recognise the value of the
Sunchild's teaching, dislike these cock and bull stories as
blasphemy against God's most blessed gift of reason. There are
many in Bridgeford who hate this story of the horses."

The youth was now quite reassured. "So there are here, sir," he
said warmly, "and who hate the Sunchild too. If there is such a
hell as he used to talk about to my mother, we doubt not but that
he will be cast into its deepest fires. See how he has turned us
all upside down. But we dare not say what we think. There is no
courage left in Erewhon."

Then waxing calmer he said, "It is you Bridgeford people and your
Musical Banks that have done it all. The Musical Bank Managers saw
that the people were falling away from them. Finding that the
vulgar believed this foreign devil Higgs--for he gave this name to
my mother when he was in prison--finding that--But you know all
this as well as I do. How can you Bridgeford Professors pretend to
believe about these horses, and about the Sunchild's being son to
the sun, when all the time you know there is no truth in it?"

"My son--for considering the difference in our ages I may be
allowed to call you so--we at Bridgeford are much like you at
Sunch'ston; we dare not always say what we think. Nor would it be
wise to do so, when we should not be listened to. This fire must
burn itself out, for it has got such hold that nothing can either
stay or turn it. Even though Higgs himself were to return and tell
it from the house-tops that he was a mortal--ay, and a very common
one--he would be killed, but not believed."

"Let him come; let him show himself, speak out and die, if the
people choose to kill him. In that case I would forgive him,
accept him for my father, as silly people sometimes say he is, and
honour him to my dying day."

"Would that be a bargain?" said my father, smiling in spite of
emotion so strong that he could hardly bring the words out of his

"Yes, it would," said the youth doggedly.

"Then let me shake hands with you on his behalf, and let us change
the conversation."

He took my father's hand, doubtfully and somewhat disdainfully, but
he did not refuse it.


It is one thing to desire a conversation to be changed, and another
to change it. After some little silence my father said, "And may I
ask what name your mother gave you?"

"My name," he answered, laughing, "is George, and I wish it were
some other, for it is the first name of that arch-impostor Higgs.
I hate it as I hate the man who owned it."

My father said nothing, but he hid his face in his hands.

"Sir," said the other, "I fear you are in some distress."

"You remind me," replied my father, "of a son who was stolen from
me when he was a child. I searched for him, during many years, and
at last fell in with him by accident, to find him all the heart of
father could wish. But alas! he did not take kindly to me as I to
him, and after two days he left me; nor shall I ever again see

"Then, sir, had I not better leave you?"

"No, stay with me till your road takes you elsewhere; for though I
cannot see my son, you are so like him that I could almost fancy he
is with me. And now--for I shall show no more weakness--you say
your mother knew the Sunchild, as I am used to call him. Tell me
what kind of a man she found him."

"She liked him well enough in spite of his being a little silly.
She does not believe he ever called himself child of the sun. He
used to say he had a father in heaven to whom he prayed, and who
could hear him; but he said that all of us, my mother as much as
he, have this unseen father. My mother does not believe he meant
doing us any harm, but only that he wanted to get himself and Mrs.
Nosnibor's younger daughter out of the country. As for there
having been anything supernatural about the balloon, she will have
none of it; she says that it was some machine which he knew how to
make, but which we have lost the art of making, as we have of many

"This is what she says amongst ourselves, but in public she
confirms all that the Musical Bank Managers say about him. She is
afraid of them. You know, perhaps, that Professor Hanky, whose
name I see on your permit, tried to burn her alive?"

"Thank heaven!" thought my father, "that I am Panky;" but aloud he
said, "Oh, horrible! horrible! I cannot believe this even of

"He denies it, and we say we believe him; he was most kind and
attentive to my mother during all the rest of her stay in
Bridgeford. He and she parted excellent friends, but I know what
she thinks. I shall be sure to see him while he is in Sunch'ston,
I shall have to be civil to him but it makes me sick to think of

"When shall you see him?" said my father, who was alarmed at
learning that Hanky and the Ranger were likely to meet. Who could
tell but that he might see Panky too?

"I have been away from home a fortnight, and shall not be back till
late on Saturday night. I do not suppose I shall see him before

"That will do," thought my father, who at that moment deemed that
nothing would matter to him much when Sunday was over. Then,
turning to the Ranger, he said, "I gather, then, that your mother
does not think so badly of the Sunchild after all?"

"She laughs at him sometimes, but if any of us boys and girls say a
word against him we get snapped up directly. My mother turns every
one round her finger. Her word is law in Sunch'ston; every one
obeys her; she has faced more than one mob, and quelled them when
my father could not do so."

"I can believe all you say of her. What other children has she
besides yourself?"

"We are four sons, of whom the youngest is now fourteen, and three

"May all health and happiness attend her and you, and all of you,
henceforth and for ever," and my father involuntarily bared his
head as he spoke.

"Sir," said the youth, impressed by the fervency of my father's
manner, "I thank you, but you do not talk as Bridgeford Professors
generally do, so far as I have seen or heard them. Why do you wish
us all well so very heartily? Is it because you think I am like
your son, or is there some other reason?"

"It is not my son alone that you resemble," said my father

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