Part 4 out of 5
My father told him about the nuggets, the sale of his kit, the
receipt he had given for the money, and how he had got the nuggets
back from a tree, the position of which he described.
"I know the tree; have you got the nuggets here?"
"Here they are, with the receipt, and the pocket handkerchief
marked with Hanky's name. The pocket handkerchief was found
wrapped round some dried leaves that we call tea, but I have not
got these with me." As he spoke he gave everything to George, who
showed the utmost delight in getting possession of them.
"I suppose the blanket and the rest of the kit are still in the
"Unless Hanky and Panky have got them away, or some one has found
"This is not likely. I will now go to my office, but I will come
back very shortly. My grandfather shall bring you something to eat
at once. I will tell him to send enough for two"--which he
On reaching the office, he told his next brother (whom he had made
an under-ranger) to go to the tree he described, and bring back the
bundle he should find concealed therein. "You can go there and
back," he said, "in an hour and a half, and I shall want the bundle
by that time."
The brother, whose name I never rightly caught, set out at once.
As soon as he was gone, George took from a drawer the feathers and
bones of quails, that he had shown my father on the morning when he
met him. He divided them in half, and made them into two bundles,
one of which he docketed, "Bones of quails eaten, XIX. xii. 29, by
Professor Hanky, P.O.W.W., &c." And he labelled Panky's quail
bones in like fashion.
Having done this, he returned to the gaol, but on his way he looked
in at the Mayor's, and left a note saying that he should be at the
gaol, where any message would reach him, but that he did not wish
to meet Professors Hanky and Panky for another couple of hours. It
was now about half-past twelve, and he caught sight of a crowd
coming quietly out of the temple, whereby he knew that Hanky would
soon be at the Mayor's house.
Dinner was brought in almost at the moment when George returned to
the gaol. As soon as it was over George said:-
"Are you quite sure you have made no mistake about the way in which
you got the permit out of the Professors?"
"Quite sure. I told them they would not want it, and said I could
save them trouble if they gave it me. They never suspected why I
wanted it. Where do you think I may be mistaken?"
"You sold your nuggets for rather less than a twentieth part of
their value, and you threw in some curiosities, that would have
fetched about half as much as you got for the nuggets. You say you
did this because you wanted money to keep you going till you could
sell some of your nuggets. This sounds well at first, but the
sacrifice is too great to be plausible when considered. It looks
more like a case of good honest manly straightforward corruption."
"But surely you believe me?"
"Of course I do. I believe every syllable that comes from your
mouth, but I shall not be able to make out that the story was as it
was not, unless I am quite certain what it really was."
"It was exactly as I have told you."
"That is enough. And now, may I tell my mother that you will put
yourself in her, and the Mayor's, and my, hands, and will do
whatever we tell you?"
"I will be obedience itself--but you will not ask me to do anything
that will make your mother or you think less well of me?"
"If we tell you what you are to do, we shall not think any the
worse of you for doing it. Then I may say to my mother that you
will be good and give no trouble--not even though we bid you shake
hands with Hanky and Panky?"
"I will embrace them and kiss them on both cheeks, if you and she
tell me to do so. But what about the Mayor?"
"He has known everything, and condoned everything, these last
twenty years. He will leave everything to my mother and me."
"Shall I have to see him?"
"Certainly. You must be brought up before him to-morrow morning."
"How can I look him in the face?"
"As you would me, or any one else. It is understood among us that
nothing happened. Things may have looked as though they had
happened, but they did not happen."
"And you are not yet quite twenty?"
"No, but I am son to my mother--and," he added, "to one who can
stretch a point or two in the way of honesty as well as other
Having said this with a laugh, he again took my father's hand
between both his, and went back to his office--where he set himself
to think out the course he intended to take when dealing with the
CHAPTER XVIII: YRAM INVITES DR. DOWNIE AND MRS. HUMDRUM TO
LUNCHEON--A PASSAGE AT ARMS BETWEEN HER AND HANKY IS AMICABLY
The disturbance caused by my father's outbreak was quickly
suppressed, for George got him out of the temple almost
immediately; it was bruited about, however, that the Sunchild had
come down from the palace of the sun, but had disappeared as soon
as any one had tried to touch him. In vain did Hanky try to put
fresh life into his sermon; its back had been broken, and large
numbers left the church to see what they could hear outside, or
failing information, to discourse more freely with one another.
Hanky did his best to quiet his hearers when he found that he could
not infuriate them,--
"This poor man," he said, "is already known to me, as one of those
who have deluded themselves into believing that they are the
Sunchild. I have known of his so declaring himself, more than
once, in the neighbourhood of Bridgeford, and others have not
infrequently done the same; I did not at first recognize him, and
regret that the shock of horror his words occasioned me should have
prompted me to suggest violence against him. Let this unfortunate
affair pass from your minds, and let me again urge upon you the
claims of the Sunchild Evidence Society."
The audience on hearing that they were to be told more about the
Sunchild Evidence Society melted away even more rapidly than
before, and the sermon fizzled out to an ignominious end quite
unworthy of its occasion.
About half-past twelve, the service ended, and Hanky went to the
robing-room to take off his vestments. Yram, the Mayor, and Panky,
waited for him at the door opposite to that through which my father
had been taken; while waiting, Yram scribbled off two notes in
pencil, one to Dr. Downie, and another to Mrs. Humdrum, begging
them to come to lunch at once--for it would be one o'clock before
they could reach the Mayor's. She gave these notes to the Mayor,
and bade him bring both the invited guests along with him.
The Mayor left just as Hanky was coming towards her. "This,
Mayoress," he said with some asperity, "is a very serious business.
It has ruined my collection. Half the people left the temple
without giving anything at all. You seem," he added in a tone the
significance of which could not be mistaken, "to be very fond,
Mayoress, of this Mr. Higgs."
"Yes," said Yram, "I am; I always liked him, and I am sorry for
him; but he is not the person I am most sorry for at this moment--
he, poor man, is not going to be horsewhipped within the next
twenty minutes." And she spoke the "he" in italics.
"I do not understand you, Mayoress."
"My husband will explain, as soon as I have seen him."
"Hanky," said Panky, "you must withdraw, and apologise at once."
Hanky was not slow to do this, and when he had disavowed
everything, withdrawn everything, apologised for everything, and
eaten humble pie to Yram's satisfaction, she smiled graciously, and
held out her hand, which Hanky was obliged to take.
"And now, Professor," she said, "let me return to your remark that
this is a very serious business, and let me also claim a woman's
privilege of being listened to whenever she chooses to speak. I
propose, then, that we say nothing further about this matter till
after luncheon. I have asked Dr. Downie and Mrs. Humdrum to join
"Why Mrs. Humdrum?" interrupted Hanky none too pleasantly, for he
was still furious about the duel that had just taken place between
himself and his hostess.
"My dear Professor," said Yram good-humouredly, "pray say all you
have to say and I will continue."
Hanky was silent.
"I have asked," resumed Yram, "Dr. Downie and Mrs. Humdrum to join,
us, and after luncheon we can discuss the situation or no as you
may think proper. Till then let us say no more. Luncheon will be
over by two o'clock or soon after, and the banquet will not begin
till seven, so we shall have plenty of time."
Hanky looked black and said nothing. As for Panky he was morally
in a state of collapse, and did not count.
Hardly had they reached the Mayor's house when the Mayor also
arrived with Dr. Downie and Mrs. Humdrum, both of whom had seen and
recognised my father in spite of his having dyed his hair. Dr.
Downie had met him at supper in Mr. Thims's rooms when he had
visited Bridgeford, and naturally enough had observed him closely.
Mrs. Humdrum, as I have already said, had seen him more than once
when he was in prison. She and Dr. Downie were talking earnestly
over the strange reappearance of one whom they had believed long
since dead, but Yram imposed on them the same silence that she had
already imposed on the Professors.
"Professor Hanky," said she to Mrs. Humdrum, in Hanky's hearing,
"is a little alarmed at my having asked you to join our secret
conclave. He is not married, and does not know how well a woman
can hold her tongue when she chooses. I should have told you all
that passed, for I mean to follow your advice, so I thought you had
better hear everything yourself."
Hanky still looked black, but he said nothing. Luncheon was
promptly served, and done justice to in spite of much
preoccupation; for if there is one thing that gives a better
appetite than another, it is a Sunday morning's service with a
charity sermon to follow. As the guests might not talk on the
subject they wanted to talk about, and were in no humour to speak
of anything else, they gave their whole attention to the good
things that were before them, without so much as a thought about
reserving themselves for the evening's banquet. Nevertheless, when
luncheon was over, the Professors were in no more genial,
manageable, state of mind than they had been when it began.
When the servants had left the room, Yram said to Hanky, "You saw
the prisoner, and he was the man you met on Thursday night?"
"Certainly, he was wearing the forbidden dress and he had many
quails in his possession. There is no doubt also that he was a
At this point, it being now nearly half-past two, George came in,
and took a seat next to Mrs. Humdrum--between her and his mother--
who of course sat at the head of the table with the Mayor opposite
to her. On one side of the table sat the Professors, and on the
other Dr. Downie, Mrs. Humdrum, and George, who had heard the last
few words that Hanky had spoken.
CHAPTER XIX: A COUNCIL IS HELD AT THE MAYOR'S, IN THE COURSE OF
WHICH GEORGE TURNS THE TABLES ON THE PROFESSORS
"Now who," said Yram, "is this unfortunate creature to be, when he
is brought up to-morrow morning, on the charge of poaching?"
"It is not necessary," said Hanky severely, "that he should be
brought up for poaching. He is a foreign devil, and as such your
son is bound to fling him without trial into the Blue Pool. Why
bring a smaller charge when you must inflict the death penalty on a
more serious one? I have already told you that I shall feel it my
duty to report the matter at headquarters, unless I am satisfied
that the death penalty has been inflicted."
"Of course," said George, "we must all of us do our duty, and I
shall not shrink from mine--but I have arrested this man on a
charge of poaching, and must give my reasons; the case cannot be
dropped, and it must be heard in public. Am I, or am I not, to
have the sworn depositions of both you gentlemen to the fact that
the prisoner is the man you saw with quails in his possession? If
you can depose to this he will be convicted, for there can be no
doubt he killed the birds himself. The least penalty my father can
inflict is twelve months' imprisonment with hard labour; and he
must undergo this sentence before I can Blue-Pool him.
"Then comes the question whether or no he is a foreign devil. I
may decide this in private, but I must have depositions on oath
before I do so, and at present I have nothing but hearsay. Perhaps
you gentlemen can give me the evidence I shall require, but the
case is one of such importance that were the prisoner proved never
so clearly to be a foreign devil, I should not Blue-Pool him till I
had taken the King's pleasure concerning him. I shall rejoice,
therefore, if you gentlemen can help me to sustain the charge of
poaching, and thus give me legal standing-ground for deferring
action which the King might regret, and which once taken cannot be
Here Yram interposed. "These points," she said, "are details.
Should we not first settle, not what, but who, we shall allow the
prisoner to be, when he is brought up to-morrow morning? Settle
this, and the rest will settle itself. He has declared himself to
be the Sunchild, and will probably do so again. I am prepared to
identify him, so is Dr. Downie, so is Mrs. Humdrum, the
interpreter, and doubtless my father. Others of known
respectability will also do so, and his marks and measurements are
sure to correspond quite sufficiently. The question is, whether
all this is to be allowed to appear on evidence, or whether it is
to be established, as it easily may, if we give our minds to it,
that he is not the Sunchild."
"Whatever else he is," said Hanky, "he must not be the Sunchild.
He must, if the charge of poaching cannot be dropped, be a poacher
and a foreign devil. I was doubtless too hasty when I said that I
believed I recognized the man as one who had more than once
declared himself to be the Sunchild--"
"But, Hanky," interrupted Panky, "are you sure that you can swear
to this man's being the man we met on Thursday night? We only saw
him by firelight, and I doubt whether I should feel justified in
swearing to him."
"Well, well: on second thoughts I am not sure, Panky, but what you
may be right after all; it is possible that he may be what I said
he was in my sermon."
"I rejoice to hear you say so," said George, "for in this case the
charge of poaching will fall through. There will be no evidence
against the prisoner. And I rejoice also to think that I shall
have nothing to warrant me in believing him to be a foreign devil.
For if he is not to be the Sunchild, and not to be your poacher, he
becomes a mere monomaniac. If he apologises for having made a
disturbance in the temple, and promises not to offend again, a
fine, and a few days' imprisonment, will meet the case, and he may
"I see, I see," said Hanky very angrily. "You are determined to
get this man off if you can."
"I shall act," said George, "in accordance with sworn evidence, and
not otherwise. Choose whether you will have the prisoner to be
your poacher or no: give me your sworn depositions one way or the
other, and I shall know how to act. If you depose on oath to the
identity of the prisoner and your poacher, he will be convicted and
imprisoned. As to his being a foreign devil, if he is the
Sunchild, of course he is one; but otherwise I cannot Blue-Pool him
even when his sentence is expired, without testimony deposed to me
on oath in private, though no open trial is required. A case for
suspicion was made out in my hearing last night, but I must have
depositions on oath to all the leading facts before I can decide
what my duty is. What will you swear to?"
"All this," said Hanky, in a voice husky with passion, "shall be
reported to the King."
"I intend to report every word of it; but that is not the point:
the question is what you gentlemen will swear to?"
"Very well. I will settle it thus. We will swear that the
prisoner is the poacher we met on Thursday night, and that he is
also a foreign devil: his wearing the forbidden dress; his foreign
accent; the foot-tracks we found in the snow, as of one coming over
from the other side; his obvious ignorance of the Afforesting Act,
as shown by his having lit a fire and making no effort to conceal
his quails till our permit shewed him his blunder; the cock-and-
bull story he told us about your orders, and that other story about
his having killed a foreign devil--if these facts do not satisfy
you, they will satisfy the King that the prisoner is a foreign
devil as well as a poacher."
"Some of these facts," answered George, "are new to me. How do you
know that the foot-tracks were made by the prisoner?"
Panky brought out his note-book and read the details he had noted.
"Did you examine the man's boots?"
"One of them, the right foot; this, with the measurements, was
"Hardly. Please to look at both soles of my own boots; you will
find that those tracks were mine. I will have the prisoner's boots
examined; in the meantime let me tell you that I was up at the
statues on Thursday morning, walked three or four hundred yards
beyond them, over ground where there was less snow, returned over
the snow, and went two or three times round them, as it is the
Ranger's duty to do once a year in order to see that none of them
are beginning to lean."
He showed the soles of his boots, and the Professors were obliged
to admit that the tracks were his. He cautioned them as to the
rest of the points on which they relied. Might they not be as
mistaken, as they had just proved to be about the tracks? He could
not, however, stir them from sticking to it that there was enough
evidence to prove my father to be a foreign devil, and declaring
their readiness to depose to the facts on oath. In the end Hanky
again fiercely accused him of trying to shield the prisoner.
"You are quite right," said George, "and you will see my reasons
"I have no doubt," said Hanky significantly, "that they are such as
would weigh with any man of ordinary feeling."
"I understand, then," said George, appearing to take no notice of
Hanky's innuendo, "that you will swear to the facts as you have
above stated them?"
"Then kindly wait while I write them on the form that I have
brought with me; the Mayor can administer the oath and sign your
depositions. I shall then be able to leave you, and proceed with
getting up the case against the prisoner."
So saying, he went to a writing-table in another part of the room,
and made out the depositions.
Meanwhile the Mayor, Mrs. Humdrum, and Dr. Downie (who had each of
them more than once vainly tried to take part in the above
discussion) conversed eagerly in an undertone among themselves.
Hanky was blind with rage, for he had a sense that he was going to
be outwitted; the Mayor, Yram, and Mrs. Humdrum had already seen
that George thought he had all the trumps in his own hand, but they
did not know more. Dr. Downie was frightened, and Panky so muddled
as to be hors de combat.
George now rejoined the Professors, and read the depositions: the
Mayor administered the oath according to Erewhonian custom; the
Professors signed without a word, and George then handed the
document to his father to countersign.
The Mayor examined it, and almost immediately said, "My dear
George, you have made a mistake; these depositions are on a form
reserved for deponents who are on the point of death."
"Alas!" answered George, "there is no help for it. I did my utmost
to prevent their signing. I knew that those depositions were their
own death warrant,-- and that is why, though I was satisfied that
the prisoner is a foreign devil, I had hoped to be able to shut my
eyes. I can now no longer do so, and as the inevitable
consequence, I must Blue-Pool both the Professors before midnight.
What man of ordinary feeling would not under these circumstances
have tried to dissuade them from deposing as they have done?"
By this time the Professors had started to their feet, and there
was a look of horrified astonishment on the faces of all present,
save that of George, who seemed quite happy.
"What monstrous absurdity is this?" shouted Hanky; "do you mean to
"Certainly not. But you have insisted that I should do my duty,
and I mean to do it. You gentlemen have now been proved to my
satisfaction to have had traffic with a foreign devil; and under
section 37 of the Afforesting Act, I must at once Blue-Pool any
such persons without public trial."
"Nonsense, nonsense, there was nothing of the kind on our permit,
and as for trafficking with this foreign devil, we spoke to him,
but we neither bought nor sold. Where is the Act?"
"Here. On your permit you were referred to certain other clauses
not set out therein, which might be seen at the Mayor's office.
Clause 37 is as follows:-
"It is furthermore enacted that should any of his Majesty's
subjects be found, after examination by the Head Ranger, to have
had traffic of any kind by way of sale or barter with any foreign
devil, the said Ranger, on being satisfied that such traffic has
taken place, shall forthwith, with or without the assistance of his
under-rangers, convey such subjects of his Majesty to the Blue
Pool, bind them, weight them, and fling them into it, without the
formality of a trial, and shall report the circumstances of the
case to his Majesty."
"But we never bought anything from the prisoner. What evidence can
you have of this but the word of a foreign devil in such straits
that he would swear to anything?"
"The prisoner has nothing to do with it. I am convinced by this
receipt in Professor Panky's handwriting which states that he and
you jointly purchased his kit from the prisoner, and also this bag
of gold nuggets worth about 100 pounds in silver, for the absurdly
small sum of 4 pounds, 10s. in silver. I am further convinced by
this handkerchief marked with Professor Hanky's name, in which was
found a broken packet of dried leaves that are now at my office
with the rest of the prisoner's kit."
"Then we were watched and dogged," said Hanky, "on Thursday
"That, sir," replied George, "is my business, not yours."
Here Panky laid his arms on the table, buried his head in them, and
burst into tears. Every one seemed aghast, but the Mayor, Yram,
and Mrs. Humdrum saw that George was enjoying it all far too keenly
to be serious. Dr. Downie was still frightened (for George's
surface manner was Rhadamanthine) and did his utmost to console
Panky. George pounded away ruthlessly at his case.
"I say nothing about your having bought quails from the prisoner
and eaten them. As you justly remarked just now, there is no
object in preferring a smaller charge when one must inflict the
death penalty on a more serious one. Still, Professor Hanky, these
are bones of the quails you ate as you sate opposite the prisoner
on the side of the fire nearest Sunch'ston; these are Professor
Panky's bones, with which I need not disturb him. This is your
permit, which was found upon the prisoner, and which there can be
no doubt you sold him, having been bribed by the offer of the
"Monstrous, monstrous! Infamous falsehood! Who will believe such
a childish trumped up story!"
"Who, sir, will believe anything else? You will hardly contend
that you did not know the nuggets were gold, and no one will
believe you mean enough to have tried to get this poor man's
property out of him for a song--you knowing its value, and he not
knowing the same. No one will believe that you did not know the
man to be a foreign devil, or that he could hoodwink two such
learned Professors so cleverly as to get their permit out of them.
Obviously he seduced you into selling him your permit, and--I
presume because he wanted a little of our money--he made you pay
him for his kit. I am satisfied that you have not only had traffic
with a foreign devil, but traffic of a singularly atrocious kind,
and this being so, I shall Blue-Pool both of you as soon as I can
get you up to the Pool itself. The sooner we start the better. I
shall gag you, and drive you up in a close carriage as far as the
road goes; from that point you can walk up, or be dragged up as you
may prefer, but you will probably find walking more comfortable."
"But," said Hanky, "come what may, I must be at the banquet. I am
set down to speak."
"The Mayor will explain that you have been taken somewhat suddenly
Here Yram, who had been talking quietly with her husband, Dr.
Downie, and Mrs. Humdrum, motioned her son to silence.
"I feared," she said, "that difficulties might arise, though I did
not foresee how seriously they would affect my guests. Let Mrs.
Humdrum on our side, and Dr. Downie on that of the Professors, go
into the next room and talk the matter quietly over; let us then
see whether we cannot agree to be bound by their decision. I do
not doubt but they will find some means of averting any catastrophe
more serious--No, Professor Hanky, the doors are locked--than a
little perjury in which we shall all share and share alike."
"Do what you like," said Hanky, looking for all the world like a
rat caught in a trap. As he spoke he seized a knife from the
table, whereon George pulled a pair of handcuffs from his pocket
and slipped them on to his wrists before he well knew what was
being done to him.
"George," said the Mayor, "this is going too far. Do you mean to
Blue-Pool the Professors or no?"
"Not if they will compromise. If they will be reasonable, they
will not be Blue-Pooled; if they think they can have everything
their own way, the eels will be at them before morning."
A voice was heard from the head of Panky which he had buried in his
arms upon the table. "Co-co-co-compromise," it said; and the
effect was so comic that every one except Hanky smiled. Meanwhile
Yram had conducted Dr. Downie and Mrs. Humdrum into an adjoining
CHAPTER XX: MRS. HUMDRUM AND DR. DOWNIE PROPOSE A COMPROMISE,
WHICH, AFTER AN AMENDMENT BY GEORGE, IS CARRIED NEM. CON.
They returned in about ten minutes, and Dr. Downie asked Mrs.
Humdrum to say what they had agreed to recommend.
"We think," said she very demurely, "that the strict course would
be to drop the charge of poaching, and Blue-Pool both the
Professors and the prisoner without delay.
"We also think that the proper thing would be to place on record
that the prisoner is the Sunchild--about which neither Dr. Downie
nor I have a shadow of doubt.
"These measures we hold to be the only legal ones, but at the same
time we do not recommend them. We think it would offend the public
conscience if it came to be known, as it certainly would, that the
Sunchild was violently killed, on the very day that had seen us
dedicate a temple in his honour, and perhaps at the very hour when
laudatory speeches were being made about him at the Mayor's
banquet; we think also that we should strain a good many points
rather than Blue-Pool the Professors.
"Nothing is perfect, and Truth makes her mistakes like other
people; when she goes wrong and reduces herself to such an
absurdity as she has here done, those who love her must save her
from herself, correct her, and rehabilitate her.
"Our conclusion, therefore, is this:-
"The prisoner must recant on oath his statement that he is the
Sunchild. The interpreter must be squared, or convinced of his
mistake. The Mayoress, Dr. Downie, I, and the gaoler (with the
interpreter if we can manage him), must depose on oath that the
prisoner is not Higgs. This must be our contribution to the
rehabilitation of Truth.
"The Professors must contribute as follows: They must swear that
the prisoner is not the man they met with quails in his possession
on Thursday night. They must further swear that they have one or
both of them known him, off and on, for many years past, as a
monomaniac with Sunchildism on the brain but otherwise harmless.
If they will do this, no proceedings are to be taken against them.
"The Mayor's contribution shall be to reprimand the prisoner, and
order him to repeat his recantation in the new temple before the
Manager and Head Cashier, and to confirm his statement on oath by
kissing the reliquary containing the newly found relic.
"The Ranger and the Master of the Gaol must contribute that the
prisoner's measurements, and the marks found on his body, negative
all possibility of his identity with the Sunchild, and that all the
hair on the covered as well as the uncovered parts of his body was
found to be jet black.
"We advise further that the prisoner should have his nuggets and
his kit returned to him, and that the receipt given by the
Professors together with Professor Hanky's handkerchief be given
back to the Professors.
"Furthermore, seeing that we should all of us like to have a quiet
evening with the prisoner, we should petition the Mayor and
Mayoress to ask him to meet all here present at dinner to-morrow
evening, after his discharge, on the plea that Professors Hanky and
Panky and Dr. Downie may give him counsel, convince him of his
folly, and if possible free him henceforth from the monomania under
which he now suffers.
"The prisoner shall give his word of honour, never to return to
Erewhon, nor to encourage any of his countrymen to do so. After
the dinner to which we hope the Mayoress Will invite us, the
Ranger, if the night is fair, shall escort the prisoner as far as
the statues, whence he will find his own way home.
"Those who are in favour of this compromise hold up their hands."
The Mayor and Yram held up theirs. "Will you hold up yours,
Professor Hanky," said George, "if I release you?"
"Yes," said Hanky with a gruff laugh, whereon George released him
and he held up both his hands.
Panky did not hold up his, whereon Hanky said, "Hold up your hands,
Panky, can't you? We are really very well out of it."
Panky, hardly lifting his head, sobbed out, "I think we ought to
have our f-f-fo-fo-four pounds ten returned to us."
"I am afraid, sir," said George, "that the prisoner must have spent
the greater part of this money."
Every one smiled, indeed it was all George could do to prevent
himself from laughing outright. The Mayor brought out his purse,
counted the money, and handed it good-humouredly to Panky, who
gratefully received it, and said he would divide it with Hanky. He
then held up his hands, "But," he added, turning to his brother
Professor, "so long as I live, Hanky, I will never go out anywhere
again with you."
George then turned to Hanky and said, "I am afraid I must now
trouble you and Professor Panky to depose on oath to the facts
which Mrs. Humdrum and Dr. Downie propose you should swear to in
open court to-morrow. I knew you would do so, and have brought an
ordinary form, duly filled up, which declares that the prisoner is
not the poacher you met on Thursday; and also, that he has been
long known to both of you as a harmless monomaniac."
As he spoke he brought out depositions to the above effect which he
had just written in his office; he shewed the Professors that the
form was this time an innocent one, whereon they made no demur to
signing and swearing in the presence of the Mayor, who attested.
"The former depositions," said Hanky, "had better be destroyed at
"That," said George, "may hardly be, but so long as you stick to
what you have just sworn to, they will not be used against you."
Hanky scowled, but knew that he was powerless and said no more.
* * *
The knowledge of what ensued did not reach me from my father.
George and his mother, seeing how ill he looked, and what a shock
the events of the last few days had given him, resolved that he
should not know of the risk that George was about to run; they
therefore said nothing to him about it. What I shall now tell, I
learned on the occasion already referred to when I had the
happiness to meet George. I am in some doubt whether it is more
fitly told here, or when I come to the interview between him and
me; on the whole, however, I suppose chronological order is least
outraged by dealing with it here.
As soon as the Professors had signed the second depositions, George
said, "I have not yet held up my hands, but I will hold them up if
Mrs. Humdrum and Dr. Downie will approve of what I propose. Their
compromise does not go far enough, for swear as we may, it is sure
to get noised abroad, with the usual exaggerations, that the
Sunchild has been here, and that he has been spirited away either
by us, or by the sun his father. For one person whom we know of as
having identified him, there will be five, of whom we know nothing,
and whom we cannot square. Reports will reach the King sooner or
later, and I shall be sent for. Meanwhile the Professors will be
living in fear of intrigue on my part, and I, however unreasonably,
shall fear the like on theirs. This should not be. I mean,
therefore, on the day following my return from escorting the
prisoner, to set out for the capital, see the King, and make a
clean breast of the whole matter. To this end I must have the
nuggets, the prisoner's kit, his receipt, Professor Hanky's
handkerchief, and, of course, the two depositions just sworn to by
the Professors. I hope and think that the King will pardon us all
round; but whatever he may do I shall tell him everything."
Hanky was up in arms at once. "Sheer madness," he exclaimed. Yram
and the Mayor looked anxious; Dr. Downie eyed George as though he
were some curious creature, which he heard of but had never seen,
and was rather disposed to like. Mrs. Humdrum nodded her head
"Quite right, George," said she, "tell his Majesty everything."
Dr. Downie then said, "Your son, Mayoress, is a very sensible
fellow. I will go with him, and with the Professors--for they had
better come too: each will hear what the other says, and we will
tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I am,
as you know, a persona grata at Court; I will say that I advised
your son's action. The King has liked him ever since he was a boy,
and I am not much afraid about what he will do. In public, no
doubt we had better hush things up, but in private the King must be
Hanky fought hard for some time, but George told him that it did
not matter whether he agreed or no. "You can come," he said, "or
stop away, just as you please. If you come, you can hear and
speak; if you do not, you will not hear, but these two depositions
will speak for you. Please yourself."
"Very well," he said at last, "I suppose we had better go."
Every one having now understood what his or her part was to be,
Yram said they had better shake hands all round and take a couple
of hours' rest before getting ready for the banquet. George said
that the Professors did not shake hands with him very cordially,
but the farce was gone through. When the hand-shaking was over,
Dr. Downie and Mrs. Humdrum left the house, and the Professors
retired grumpily to their own room.
I will say here that no harm happened either to George or the
Professors in consequence of his having told the King, but will
reserve particulars for my concluding chapter.
CHAPTER XXI: YRAM, ON GETTING RID OF HER GUESTS, GOES TO THE
PRISON TO SEE MY FATHER
Yram did not take the advice she had given her guests, but set
about preparing a basket of the best cold dainties she could find,
including a bottle of choice wine that she knew my father would
like; thus loaded she went to the gaol, which she entered by her
father's private entrance.
It was now about half-past four, so that much more must have been
said and done after luncheon at the Mayor's than ever reached my
father. The wonder is that he was able to collect so much. He,
poor man, as soon as George left him, flung himself on to the bed
that was in his cell and lay there wakeful, but not unquiet, till
near the time when Yram reached the gaol.
The old gaoler came to tell him that she had come and would be glad
to see him; much as he dreaded the meeting there was no avoiding
it, and in a few minutes Yram stood before him.
Both were agitated, but Yram betrayed less of what she felt than my
father. He could only bow his head and cover his face with his
hands. Yram said, "We are old friends; take your hands from your
face and let me see you. There! That is well."
She took his right hand between both hers, looked at him with eyes
full of kindness, and said softly -
"You are not much changed, but you look haggard, worn, and ill; I
am uneasy about you. Remember, you are among friends, who will see
that no harm befalls you. There is a look in your eyes that
As she spoke she took the wine out of her basket, and poured him
out a glass, but rather to give him some little thing to distract
his attention, than because she expected him to drink it--which he
could not do.
She never asked him whether he found her altered, or turned the
conversation ever such a little on to herself; all was for him; to
soothe and comfort him, not in words alone, but in look, manner,
and voice. My father knew that he could thank her best by
controlling himself, and letting himself be soothed and comforted--
at any rate so far as he could seem to be.
Up to this time they had been standing, but now Yram, seeing my
father calmer, said, "Enough, let us sit down."
So saying she seated herself at one end of the small table that was
in the cell, and motioned my father to sit opposite to her. "The
light hurts you?" she said, for the sun was coming into the room.
"Change places with me, I am a sun worshipper. No, we can move the
table, and we can then see each other better."
This done, she said, still very softly, "And now tell me what it is
all about. Why have you come here?"
"Tell me first," said my father, "what befell you after I had been
taken away. Why did you not send me word when you found what had
happened? or come after me? You know I should have married you at
once, unless they bound me in fetters."
"I know you would; but you remember Mrs. Humdrum? Yes, I see you
do. I told her everything; it was she who saved me. We thought of
you, but she saw that it would not do. As I was to marry Mr.
Strong, the more you were lost sight of the better, but with George
ever with me I have not been able to forget you. I might have been
very happy with you, but I could not have been happier than I have
been ever since that short dreadful time was over. George must
tell you the rest. I cannot do so. All is well. I love my
husband with my whole heart and soul, and he loves me with his. As
between him and me, he knows everything; George is his son, not
yours; we have settled it so, though we both know otherwise; as
between you and me, for this one hour, here, there is no use in
pretending that you are not George's father. I have said all I
need say. Now, tell me what I asked you--Why are you here?"
"I fear," said my father, set at rest by the sweetness of Yram's
voice and manner--he told me he had never seen any one to compare
with her except my mother--"I fear, to do as much harm now as I did
before, and with as little wish to do any harm at all."
He then told her all that the reader knows, and explained how he
had thought he could have gone about the country as a peasant, and
seen how she herself had fared, without her, or any one, even
suspecting that he was in the country.
"You say your wife is dead, and that she left you with a son--is he
"In mind and disposition, wonderfully; in appearance, no; he is
dark and takes after his mother, and though he is handsome, he is
not so good-looking as George."
"No one," said George's mother, "ever was, or ever will be, and he
is as good as he looks."
"I should not have believed you if you had said he was not."
"That is right. I am glad you are proud of him. He irradiates the
lives of every one of us."
"And the mere knowledge that he exists will irradiate the rest of
"Long may it do so. Let us now talk about this morning--did you
mean to declare yourself?"
"I do not know what I meant; what I most cared about was the doing
what I thought George would wish to see his father do."
"You did that; but he says he told you not to say who you were."
"So he did, but I knew what he would think right. He was uppermost
in my thoughts all the time."
Yram smiled, and said, "George is a dangerous person; you were both
of you very foolish; one as bad as the other."
"I do not know. I do not know anything. It is beyond me; but I am
at peace about it, and hope I shall do the like again to-morrow
before the Mayor."
"I heartily hope you will do nothing of the kind. George tells me
you have promised him to be good and to do as we bid you."
"So I will; but he will not tell me to say that I am not what I
"Yes, he will, and I will tell you why. If we permit you to be
Higgs the Sunchild, he must either throw his own father into the
Blue Pool--which he will not do--or run great risk of being thrown
into it himself, for not having Blue-Pooled a foreigner. I am
afraid we shall have to make you do a good deal that neither you
nor we shall like."
She then told him briefly of what had passed after luncheon at her
house, and what it had been settled to do, leaving George to tell
the details while escorting him towards the statues on the
following evening. She said that every one would be so completely
in every one else's power that there was no fear of any one's
turning traitor. But she said nothing about George's intention of
setting out for the capital on Wednesday morning to tell the whole
story to the King.
"Now," she said, when she had told him as much as was necessary,
"be good, and do as you said you would."
"I will. I will deny myself, not once, nor twice, but as often as
is necessary. I will kiss the reliquary, and when I meet Hanky and
Panky at your table, I will be sworn brother to them--so long, that
is, as George is out of hearing; for I cannot lie well to them when
he is listening."
"Oh yes, you can. He will understand all about it; he enjoys
falsehood as well as we all do, and has the nicest sense of when to
lie and when not to do so."
"What gift can be more invaluable?"
My father, knowing that he might not have another chance of seeing
Yram alone, now changed the conversation.
"I have something," he said, "for George, but he must know nothing
about it till after I am gone."
As he spoke, he took from his pockets the nine small bags of
nuggets that remained to him.
"But this," said Yram, "being gold, is a large sum: can you indeed
spare it, and do you really wish George to have it all?"
"I shall be very unhappy if he does not, but he must know nothing
about it till I am out of Erewhon."
My father then explained to her that he was now very rich, and
would have brought ten times as much, if he had known of George's
existence. "Then," said Yram, musing, "if you are rich, I accept
and thank you heartily on his behalf. I can see a reason for his
not knowing what you are giving him at present, but it is too long
The reason was, that if George knew of this gold before he saw the
King, he would be sure to tell him of it, and the King might claim
it, for George would never explain that it was a gift from father
to son; whereas if the King had once pardoned him, he would not be
so squeamish as to open up the whole thing again with a postscript
to his confession. But of this she said not a word.
My father then told her of the box of sovereigns that he had left
in his saddle-bags. "They are coined," he said, "and George will
have to melt them down, but he will find some way of doing this.
They will be worth rather more than these nine bags of nuggets."
"The difficulty will be to get him to go down and fetch them, for
it is against his oath to go far beyond the statues. If you could
be taken faint and say you wanted help, he would see you to your
camping ground without a word, but he would be angry if he found he
had been tricked into breaking his oath in order that money might
be given him. It would never do. Besides, there would not be
time, for he must be back here on Tuesday night. No; if he breaks
his oath he must do it with his eyes open--and he will do it later
on--or I will go and fetch the money for him myself. He is in love
with a grand-daughter of Mrs. Humdrum's, and this sum, together
with what you are now leaving with me, will make him a well-to-do
man. I have always been unhappy about his having any of the
Mayor's money, and his salary was not quite enough for him to marry
on. What can I say to thank you?"
"Tell me, please, about Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter. You like
her as a wife for George?"
"Absolutely. She is just such another as her grandmother must have
been. She and George have been sworn lovers ever since he was ten,
and she eight. The only drawback is that her mother, Mrs.
Humdrum's second daughter, married for love, and there are many
children, so that there will be no money with her; but what you are
leaving will make everything quite easy, for he will sell the gold
at once. I am so glad about it."
"Can you ask Mrs. Humdrum to bring her grand-daughter with her to-
"I am afraid not, for we shall want to talk freely at dinner, and
she must not know that you are the Sunchild; she shall come to my
house in the afternoon and you can see her then. You will be quite
happy about her, but of course she must not know that you are her
father-in-law that is to be."
"One thing more. As George must know nothing about the sovereigns,
I must tell you how I will hide them. They are in a silver box,
which I will bind to the bough of some tree close to my camp; or if
I can find a tree with a hole in it I will drop the box into the
hole. He cannot miss my camp; he has only to follow the stream
that runs down from the pass till it gets near a large river, and
on a small triangular patch of flat ground, he will see the ashes
of my camp fire, a few yards away from the stream on his right hand
as he descends. In whatever tree I may hide the box, I will strew
wood ashes for some yards in a straight line towards it. I will
then light another fire underneath, and blaze the tree with a knife
that I have left at my camping ground. He is sure to find it."
Yram again thanked him, and then my father, to change the
conversation, asked whether she thought that George really would
have Blue-Pooled the Professors.
"There is no knowing," said Yram. "He is the gentlest creature
living till some great provocation rouses him, and I never saw him
hate and despise any one as he does the Professors. Much of what
he said was merely put on, for he knew the Professors must yield.
I do not like his ever having to throw any one into that horrid
place, no more does he, but the Rangership is exactly the sort of
thing to suit him, and the opening was too good to lose. I must
now leave you, and get ready for the Mayor's banquet. We shall
meet again to-morrow evening. Try and eat what I have brought you
in this basket. I hope you will like the wine." She put out her
hand, which my father took, and in another moment she was gone, for
she saw a look in his face as though he would fain have asked her
to let him once more press his lips to hers. Had he done this,
without thinking about it, it is likely enough she would not have
been ill pleased. But who can say?
For the rest of the evening my father was left very much to his own
not too comfortable reflections. He spent part of it in posting up
the notes from which, as well as from his own mouth, my story is in
great part taken. The good things that Yram had left with him, and
his pipe, which she had told him he might smoke quite freely,
occupied another part, and by ten o'clock he went to bed.
CHAPTER XXII: MAINLY OCCUPIED WITH A VERACIOUS EXTRACT FROM A
While my father was thus wiling away the hours in his cell, the
whole town was being illuminated in his honour, and not more than a
couple of hundred yards off, at the Mayor's banquet, he was being
extolled as a superhuman being.
The banquet, which was at the town hall, was indeed a very
brilliant affair, but the little space that is left me forbids my
saying more than that Hanky made what was considered the speech of
the evening, and betrayed no sign of ill effects from the bad
quarter of an hour which he had spent so recently. Not a trace was
to be seen of any desire on his part to change his tone as regards
Sunchildism--as, for example, to minimize the importance of the
relic, or to remind his hearers that though the chariot and horses
had undoubtedly come down from the sky and carried away my father
and mother, yet that the earlier stage of the ascent had been made
in a balloon. It almost seemed, so George told my father, as
though he had resolved that he would speak lies, all lies, and
nothing but lies.
Panky, who was also to have spoken, was excused by the Mayor on the
ground that the great heat and the excitement of the day's
proceedings had quite robbed him of his voice.
Dr. Downie had a jumping cat before his mental vision. He spoke
quietly and sensibly, dwelling chiefly on the benefits that had
already accrued to the kingdom through the abolition of the edicts
against machinery, and the great developments which he foresaw as
probable in the near future. He held up the Sunchild's example,
and his ethical teaching, to the imitation and admiration of his
hearers, but he said nothing about the miraculous element in my
father's career, on which he declared that his friend Professor
Hanky had already so eloquently enlarged as to make further
allusion to it superfluous.
The reader knows what was to happen on the following morning. The
programme concerted at the Mayor's was strictly adhered to. The
following account, however, which appeared in the Sunch'ston bi-
weekly newspaper two days after my father had left, was given me by
George a year later, on the occasion of that interview to which I
have already more than once referred. There were other accounts in
other papers, but the one I am giving departs the least widely from
the facts. It ran:-
"THE CLOSE OF A DISAGREEABLE INCIDENT.--Our readers will remember
that on Sunday last during the solemn inauguration of the temple
now dedicated to the Sunchild, an individual on the front bench of
those set apart for the public suddenly interrupted Professor
Hanky's eloquent sermon by declaring himself to be the Sunchild,
and saying that he had come down from the sun to sanctify by his
presence the glorious fane which the piety of our fellow-citizens
and others has erected in his honour.
"Wild rumours obtained credence throughout the congregation to the
effect that this person was none other than the Sunchild himself,
and in spite of the fact that his complexion and the colour of his
hair showed this to be impossible, more than one person was carried
away by the excitement of the moment, and by some few points of
resemblance between the stranger and the Sunchild. Under the
influence of this belief, they were preparing to give him the
honour which they supposed justly due to him, when to the surprise
of every one he was taken into custody by the deservedly popular
Ranger of the King's preserves, and in the course of the afternoon
it became generally known that he had been arrested on the charge
of being one of a gang of poachers who have been known for some
time past to be making much havoc among the quails on the
"This offence, at all times deplored by those who desire that his
Majesty should enjoy good sport when he honours us with a visit, is
doubly deplorable during the season when, on the higher parts of
the preserves, the young birds are not yet able to shift for
themselves; the Ranger, therefore, is indefatigable in his efforts
to break up the gang, and with this end in view, for the last
fortnight has been out night and day on the remoter sections of the
forest--little suspecting that the marauders would venture so near
Sunch'ston as it now seems they have done. It is to his extreme
anxiety to detect and punish these miscreants that we must ascribe
the arrest of a man, who, however foolish, and indeed guilty, he is
in other respects, is innocent of the particular crime imputed to
him. The circumstances that led to his arrest have reached us from
an exceptionally well-informed source, and are as follows:-
"Our distinguished guests, Professors Hanky and Panky, both of them
justly celebrated archaeologists, had availed themselves of the
opportunity afforded them by their visit to Sunch'ston, to inspect
the mysterious statues at the head of the stream that comes down
near this city, and which have hitherto baffled all those who have
tried to ascertain their date and purpose.
"On their descent after a fatiguing day the Professors were
benighted, and lost their way. Seeing the light of a small fire
among some trees near them, they made towards it, hoping to be
directed rightly, and found a man, respectably dressed, sitting by
the fire with several brace of quails beside him, some of them
plucked. Believing that in spite of his appearance, which would
not have led them to suppose that he was a poacher, he must
unquestionably be one, they hurriedly enquired their way, intending
to leave him as soon as they had got their answer; he, however,
attacked them, or made as though he would do so, and said he would
show them a way which they should be in no fear of losing, whereon
Professor Hanky, with a well-directed blow, felled him to the
ground. The two Professors, fearing that other poachers might come
to his assistance, made off as nearly as they could guess in the
direction of Sunch'ston. When they had gone a mile or two onward
at haphazard, they sat down under a large tree, and waited till day
began to break; they then resumed their journey, and before long
struck a path which led them to a spot from which they could see
the towers of the new temple.
"Fatigued though they were, they waited before taking the rest of
which they stood much in need, till they had reported their
adventure at the Ranger's office. The Ranger was still out on the
preserves, but immediately on his return on Saturday morning he
read the description of the poacher's appearance and dress, about
which last, however, the only remarkable feature was that it was
better than a poacher might be expected to possess, and gave an air
of respectability to the wearer that might easily disarm suspicion.
"The Ranger made enquiries at all the inns in Sunch'ston, and at
length succeeded in hearing of a stranger who appeared to
correspond with the poacher whom the Professors had seen; but the
man had already left, and though the Ranger did his best to trace
him he did not succeed. On Sunday morning, however, he observed
the prisoner, and found that he answered the description given by
the Professors; he therefore arrested him quietly in the temple,
but told him that he should not take him to prison till the service
was over. The man said he would come quietly inasmuch as he should
easily be able to prove his innocence. In the meantime, however,
he professed the utmost anxiety to hear Professor Hanky's sermon,
which he said he believed would concern him nearly. The Ranger
paid no attention to this, and was as much astounded as the rest of
the congregation were, when immediately after one of Professor
Hanky's most eloquent passages, the man started up and declared
himself to be the Sunchild. On this the Ranger took him away at
once, and for the man's own protection hurried him off to prison.
"Professor Hanky was so much shocked at such outrageous conduct,
that for the moment he failed to recognise the offender; after a
few seconds, however, he grasped the situation, and knew him to be
one who on previous occasions, near Bridgeford, had done what he
was now doing. It seems that he is notorious in the neighbourhood
of Bridgeford, as a monomaniac who is so deeply impressed with the
beauty of the Sunchild's character--and we presume also of his own-
-as to believe that he is himself the Sunchild.
"Recovering almost instantly from the shock the interruption had
given him, the learned Professor calmed his hearers by acquainting
them with the facts of the case, and continued his sermon to the
delight of all who heard it. We should say, however, that the
gentleman who twenty years ago instructed the Sunchild in the
Erewhonian language, was so struck with some few points of
resemblance between the stranger, and his former pupil, that he
acclaimed him, and was removed forcibly by the vergers.
"On Monday morning the prisoner was brought up before the Mayor.
We cannot say whether it was the sobering effect of prison walls,
or whether he had been drinking before he entered the temple, and
had now had time enough to recover himself--at any rate for some
reason or other he was abjectly penitent when his case came on for
hearing. The charge of poaching was first gone into, but was
immediately disposed of by the evidence of the two Professors, who
stated that the prisoner bore no resemblance to the poacher they
had seen, save that he was about the same height and age, and was
"The charge of disturbing the congregation by declaring himself the
Sunchild was then proceeded with, and unnecessary as it may appear
to be, it was thought advisable to prevent all possibility of the
man's assertion being accepted by the ignorant as true, at some
later date, when those who could prove its falsehood were no longer
living. The prisoner, therefore, was removed to his cell, and
there measured by the Master of the Gaol, and the Ranger in the
presence of the Mayor, who attested the accuracy of the
measurements. Not one single one of them corresponded with those
recorded of the Sunchild himself, and a few marks such as moles,
and permanent scars on the Sunchild's body were not found on the
prisoner's. Furthermore the prisoner was shaggy-breasted, with
much coarse jet black hair on the fore-arms and from the knees
downwards, whereas the Sunchild had little hair save on his head,
and what little there was, was fine, and very light in colour.
"Confronted with these discrepancies, the gentleman who had taught
the Sunchild our language was convinced of his mistake, though he
still maintained that there was some superficial likeness between
his former pupil and the prisoner. Here he was confirmed by the
Master of the Gaol, the Mayoress, Mrs. Humdrum, and Professors
Hanky and Panky, who all of them could see what the interpreter
meant, but denied that the prisoner could be mistaken for the
Sunchild for more than a few seconds. No doubt the prisoner's
unhappy delusion has been fostered, if not entirely caused, by his
having been repeatedly told that he was like the Sunchild. The
celebrated Dr. Downie, who well remembers the Sunchild, was also
examined, and gave his evidence with so much convincing detail as
to make it unnecessary to call further witnesses.
"It having been thus once for all officially and authoritatively
placed on record that the prisoner was not the Sunchild, Professors
Hanky and Panky then identified him as a well known monomaniac on
the subject of Sunchildism, who in other respects was harmless. We
withhold his name and place of abode, out of consideration for the
well known and highly respectable family to which he belongs. The
prisoner admitted with much contrition that he had made a
disturbance in the temple, but pleaded that he had been carried
away by the eloquence of Professor Hanky; he promised to avoid all
like offence in future, and threw himself on the mercy of the
"The Mayor, unwilling that Sunday's memorable ceremony should be
the occasion of a serious punishment to any of those who took part
in it, reprimanded the prisoner in a few severe but not unkindly
words, inflicted a fine of forty shillings, and ordered that the
prisoner should be taken directly to the temple, where he should
confess his folly to the Manager and Head Cashier, and confirm his
words by kissing the reliquary in which the newly found relic has
been placed. The prisoner being unable to pay the fine, some of
the ladies and gentlemen in court kindly raised the amount amongst
them, in pity for the poor creature's obvious contrition, rather
than see him sent to prison for a month in default of payment.
"The prisoner was then conducted to the temple, followed by a
considerable number of people. Strange to say, in spite of the
overwhelming evidence that they had just heard, some few among the
followers, whose love of the marvellous overpowered their reason,
still maintained that the prisoner was the Sunchild. Nothing could
be more decorous than the prisoner's behaviour when, after hearing
the recantation that was read out to him by the Manager, he signed
the document with his name and address, which we again withhold,
and kissed the reliquary in confirmation of his words.
"The Mayor then declared the prisoner to be at liberty. When he
had done so he said, 'I strongly urge you to place yourself under
my protection for the present, that you may be freed from the
impertinent folly and curiosity of some whose infatuation might
lead you from that better mind to which I believe you are now
happily restored. I wish you to remain for some few hours secluded
in the privacy of my own study, where Dr. Downie and the two
excellent Professors will administer that ghostly counsel to you,
which will be likely to protect you from any return of your unhappy
"The man humbly bowed assent, and was taken by the Mayor's younger
sons to the Mayor's own house, where he was duly cared for. About
midnight, when all was quiet, he was conducted to the outskirts of
the town towards Clearwater, and furnished with enough money to
provide for his more pressing necessities till he could reach some
relatives who reside three or four days' walk down on the road
towards the capital. He desired the man who accompanied him to
repeat to the Mayor his heartfelt thanks for the forbearance and
generosity with which he had been treated. The remembrance of
this, he said, should be ever present with him, and he was
confident would protect him if his unhappy monomania shewed any
signs of returning.
"Let us now, however, remind our readers that the poacher who
threatened Professors Hanky and Panky's life on Thursday evening
last is still at large. He is evidently a man of desperate
character, and it is to be hoped that our fellow-citizens will give
immediate information at the Ranger's office if they see any
stranger in the neighbourhood of the preserves whom they may have
reasonable grounds for suspecting.
"P.S.--As we are on the point of going to press we learn that a
dangerous lunatic, who has been for some years confined in the
Clearwater asylum, succeeded in escaping on the night of Wednesday
last, and it is surmised with much probability, that this was the
man who threatened the two Professors on Thursday evening. His
being alone, his having dared to light a fire, probably to cook
quails which he had been driven to kill from stress of hunger, the
respectability of his dress, and the fury with which he would have
attacked the two Professors single-handed, but for Professor
Hanky's presence of mind in giving him a knock-down blow, all point
in the direction of thinking that he was no true poacher, but, what
is even more dangerous--a madman at large. We have not received
any particulars as to the man's appearance, nor the clothes he was
wearing, but we have little doubt that these will confirm the
surmise to which we now give publicity. If it is correct it
becomes doubly incumbent on all our fellow-citizens to be both on
the watch, and on their guard.
"We may add that the man was fully believed to have taken the
direction towards the capital; hence no attempts were made to look
for him in the neighbourhood of Sunch'ston, until news of the
threatened attack on the Professors led the keeper of the asylum to
feel confident that he had hitherto been on a wrong scent."
CHAPTER XXIII: MY FATHER IS ESCORTED TO THE MAYOR'S HOUSE, AND IS
INTRODUCED TO A FUTURE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
My father said he was followed to the Mayor's house by a good many
people, whom the Mayor's sons in vain tried to get rid of. One or
two of these still persisted in saying he was the Sunchild--whereon
another said, "But his hair is black."
"Yes," was the answer, "but a man can dye his hair, can he not?
look at his blue eyes and his eye-lashes?"
My father was doubting whether he ought not to again deny his
identity out of loyalty to the Mayor and Yram, when George's next
brother said, "Pay no attention to them, but step out as fast as
you can." This settled the matter, and in a few minutes they were
at the Mayor's, where the young men took him into the study; the
elder said with a smile, "We should like to stay and talk to you,
but my mother said we were not to do so." Whereon they left him
much to his regret, but he gathered rightly that they had not been
officially told who he was, and were to be left to think what they
liked, at any rate for the present.
In a few minutes the Mayor entered, and going straight up to my
father shook him cordially by the hand.
"I have brought you this morning's paper," said he. "You will find
a full report of Professor Hanky's sermon, and of the speeches at
last night's banquet. You see they pass over your little
interruption with hardly a word, but I dare say they will have made
up their minds about it all by Thursday's issue."
He laughed as he produced the paper--which my father brought home
with him, and without which I should not have been able to report
Hanky's sermon as fully as I have done. But my father could not
let things pass over thus lightly.
"I thank you," he said, "but I have much more to thank you for, and
know not how to do it."
"Can you not trust me to take everything as said?"
"Yes, but I cannot trust myself not to be haunted if I do not say--
or at any rate try to say--some part of what I ought to say."
"Very well; then I will say something myself. I have a small joke,
the only one I ever made, which I inflict periodically upon my
wife. You, and I suppose George, are the only two other people in
the world to whom it can ever be told; let me see, then, if I
cannot break the ice with it. It is this. Some men have twin
sons; George in this topsy turvey world of ours has twin fathers--
you by luck, and me by cunning. I see you smile; give me your
My father took the Mayor's hand between both his own. "Had I been
in your place," he said, "I should be glad to hope that I might
have done as you did."
"And I," said the Mayor, more readily than might have been expected
of him, "fear that if I had been in yours--I should have made it
the proper thing for you to do. There! The ice is well broken,
and now for business. You will lunch with us, and dine in the
evening. I have given it out that you are of good family, so there
is nothing odd in this. At lunch you will not be the Sunchild, for
my younger children will be there; at dinner all present will know
who you are, so we shall be free as soon as the servants are out of
"I am sorry, but I must send you away with George as soon as the
streets are empty--say at midnight--for the excitement is too great
to allow of your staying longer. We must keep your rug and the
things you cook with, but my wife will find you what will serve
your turn. There is no moon, so you and George will camp out as
soon as you get well on to the preserves; the weather is hot, and
you will neither of you take any harm. To-morrow by mid-day you
will be at the statues, where George must bid you good-bye, for he
must be at Sunch'ston to-morrow night. You will doubtless get
safely home; I wish with all my heart that I could hear of your
having done so, but this, I fear, may not be."
"So be it," replied my father, "but there is something I should yet
say. The Mayoress has no doubt told you of some gold, coined and
uncoined, that I am leaving for George. She will also have told
you that I am rich; this being so, I should have brought him much
more, if I had known that there was any such person. You have
other children; if you leave him anything, you will be taking it
away from your own flesh and blood; if you leave him nothing, it
will be a slur upon him. I must therefore send you enough gold, to
provide for George as your other children will be provided for; you
can settle it upon him at once, and make it clear that the
settlement is instead of provision for him by will. The difficulty
is in the getting the gold into Erewhon, and until it is actually
here, he must know nothing about it."
I have no space for the discussion that followed. In the end it
was settled that George was to have 2000 pounds in gold, which the
Mayor declared to be too much, and my father too little. Both,
however, were agreed that Erewhon would before long be compelled to
enter into relations with foreign countries, in which case the
value of gold would decline so much as to make 2000 pounds worth
little more than it would be in England. The Mayor proposed to buy
land with it, which he would hand over to George as a gift from
himself, and this my father at once acceded to. All sorts of
questions such as will occur to the reader were raised and settled,
but I must beg him to be content with knowing that everything was
arranged with the good sense that two such men were sure to bring
to bear upon it.
The getting the gold into Erewhon was to be managed thus. George
was to know nothing, but a promise was to be got from him that at
noon on the following New Year's day, or whatever day might be
agreed upon, he would be at the statues, where either my father or
myself would meet him, spend a couple of hours with him, and then
return. Whoever met George was to bring the gold as though it were
for the Mayor, and George could be trusted to be human enough to
bring it down, when he saw that it would be left where it was if he
did not do so.
"He will kick a good deal," said the Mayor, "at first, but he will
come round in the end."
Luncheon was now announced. My father was feeling faint and ill;
more than once during the forenoon he had had a return of the
strange giddiness and momentary loss of memory which had already
twice attacked him, but he had recovered in each case so quickly
that no one had seen he was unwell. He, poor man, did not yet know
what serious brain exhaustion these attacks betokened, and finding
himself in his usual health as soon as they passed away, set them
down as simply effects of fatigue and undue excitement.
George did not lunch with the others. Yram explained that he had
to draw up a report which would occupy him till dinner time. Her
three other sons, and her three lovely daughters, were there. My
father was delighted with all of them, for they made friends with
him at once. He had feared that he would have been disgraced in
their eyes, by his having just come from prison, but whatever they
may have thought, no trace of anything but a little engaging
timidity on the girls' part was to be seen. The two elder boys--or
rather young men, for they seemed fully grown, though, like George,
not yet bearded--treated him as already an old acquaintance, while
the youngest, a lad of fourteen, walked straight up to him, put out
his hand, and said, "How do you do, sir?" with a pretty blush that
went straight to my father's heart.
"These boys," he said to Yram aside, "who have nothing to blush
for--see how the blood mantles into their young cheeks, while I,
who should blush at being spoken to by them, cannot do so."
"Do not talk nonsense," said Yram, with mock severity.
But it was no nonsense to my poor father. He was awed at the
goodness and beauty with which he found himself surrounded. His
thoughts were too full of what had been, what was, and what was yet
to be, to let him devote himself to these young people as he would
dearly have liked to do. He could only look at them, wonder at
them, fall in love with them, and thank heaven that George had been
brought up in such a household.
When luncheon was over, Yram said, "I will now send you to a room
where you can lie down and go to sleep for a few hours. You will
be out late to-night, and had better rest while you can. Do you
remember the drink you taught us to make of corn parched and
ground? You used to say you liked it. A cup shall be brought to
your room at about five, for you must try and sleep till then. If
you notice a little box on the dressing-table of your room, you
will open it or no as you like. About half-past five there will be
a visitor, whose name you can guess, but I shall not let her stay
long with you. Here comes the servant to take you to your room."
On this she smiled, and turned somewhat hurriedly away.
My father on reaching his room went to the dressing-table, where he
saw a small unpretending box, which he immediately opened. On the
top was a paper with the words, "Look--say nothing--forget."
Beneath this was some cotton wool, and then--the two buttons and
the lock of his own hair, that he had given Yram when he said good-
bye to her.
The ghost of the lock that Yram had then given him, rose from the
dead, and smote him as with a whip across the face. On what dust-
heap had it not been thrown how many long years ago? Then she had
never forgotten him? to have been remembered all these years by
such a woman as that, and never to have heeded it--never to have
found out what she was though he had seen her day after day for
months. Ah! but she was then still budding. That was no excuse.
If a loveable woman--aye, or any woman--has loved a man, even
though he cannot marry her, or even wish to do so, at any rate let
him not forget her--and he had forgotten Yram as completely until
the last few days, as though he had never seen her. He took her
little missive, and under "Look," he wrote, "I have;" under "Say
nothing," "I will;" under "forget," "never." "And I never shall,"
he said to himself, as he replaced the box upon the table. He then
lay down to rest upon the bed, but he could get no sleep.
When the servant brought him his imitation coffee--an imitation so
successful that Yram made him a packet of it to replace the tea
that he must leave behind him--he rose and presently came
downstairs into the drawing-room, where he found Yram and Mrs.
Humdrum's grand-daughter, of whom I will say nothing, for I have
never seen her, and know nothing about her, except that my father
found her a sweet-looking girl, of graceful figure and very
attractive expression. He was quite happy about her, but she was
too young and shy to make it possible for him to do more than
admire her appearance, and take Yram's word for it that she was as
good as she looked.
CHAPTER XXIV: AFTER DINNER, DR. DOWNIE AND THE PROFESSORS WOULD BE
GLAD TO KNOW WHAT IS TO BE DONE ABOUT SUNCHILDISM
It was about six when George's fiancee left the house, and as soon
as she had done so, Yram began to see about the rug and the best
substitutes she could find for the billy and pannikin. She had a
basket packed with all that my father and George would want to eat
and drink while on the preserves, and enough of everything, except
meat, to keep my father going till he could reach the shepherd's
hut of which I have already spoken. Meat would not keep, and my
father could get plenty of flappers--i.e. ducks that cannot yet
fly--when he was on the river-bed down below.
The above preparations had not been made very long, before Mrs.
Humdrum arrived, followed presently by Dr. Downie and in due course
by the Professors, who were still staying in the house. My father
remembered Mrs. Humdrum's good honest face, but could not bring Dr.
Downie to his recollection till the Doctor told him when and where
they had met, and then he could only very uncertainly recall him,
though he vowed that he could now do so perfectly well.
"At any rate," said Hanky, advancing towards him with his best
Bridgeford manner, "you will not have forgotten meeting my brother
Professor and myself."
"It has been rather a forgetting sort of a morning," said my father
demurely, "but I can remember that much, and am delighted to renew
my acquaintance with both of you."
As he spoke he shook hands with both Professors.
George was a little late, but when he came, dinner was announced.
My father sat on Yram's right-hand, Dr. Downie on her left. George
was next my father, with Mrs. Humdrum opposite to him. The
Professors sat one on either side of the Mayor. During dinner the
conversation turned almost entirely on my father's flight, his
narrow escape from drowning, and his adventures on his return to
England; about these last my father was very reticent, for he said
nothing about his book, and antedated his accession of wealth by
some fifteen years, but as he walked up towards the statues with
George he told him everything.
My father repeatedly tried to turn the conversation from himself,
but Mrs. Humdrum and Yram wanted to know about Nna Haras, as they
persisted in calling my mother--how she endured her terrible
experiences in the balloon, when she and my father were married,
all about my unworthy self, and England generally. No matter how
often he began to ask questions about the Nosnibors and other old
acquaintances, both the ladies soon went back to his own
adventures. He succeeded, however, in learning that Mr. Nosnibor
was dead, and Zulora, an old maid of the most unattractive kind,
who had persistently refused to accept Sunchildism, while Mrs.
Nosnibor was the recipient of honours hardly inferior to those
conferred by the people at large on my father and mother, with
whom, indeed, she believed herself to have frequent interviews by
way of visionary revelations. So intolerable were these
revelations to Zulora, that a separate establishment had been
provided for her. George said to my father quietly--"Do you know I
begin to think that Zulora must be rather a nice person."
"Perhaps," said my father grimly, "but my wife and I did not find
When the ladies left the room, Dr. Downie took Yram's seat, and
Hanky Dr. Downie's; the Mayor took Mrs. Humdrum's, leaving my
father, George, and Panky, in their old places. Almost
immediately, Dr. Downie said, "And now, Mr, Higgs, tell us, as a
man of the world, what we are to do about Sunchildism?"
My father smiled at this. "You know, my dear sir, as well as I do,
that the proper thing would be to put me back in prison, and keep
me there till you can send me down to the capital. You should eat
your oaths of this morning, as I would eat mine; tell every one
here who I am; let them see that my hair has been dyed; get all who
knew me when I was here before to come and see me; appoint an
unimpeachable committee to examine the record of my marks and
measurements, and compare it with those of my own body. You should
let me be seen in every town at which I lodged on my way down, and
tell people that you had made a mistake. When you get to the
capital, hand me over to the King's tender mercies and say that our
oaths were only taken this morning to prevent a ferment in the
town. I will play my part very willingly. The King can only kill
me, and I should die like a gentleman."
"They will not do it," said George quietly to my father, "and I am
glad of it."
He was right. "This," said Dr. Downie, "is a counsel of
perfection. Things have gone too far, and we are flesh and blood.
What would those who in your country come nearest to us Musical
Bank Managers do, if they found they had made such a mistake as we
have, and dared not own it?"
"Do not ask me," said my father; "the story is too long, and too
"At any rate, then, tell us what you would have us do that is
within our reach."
"I have done you harm enough, and if I preach, as likely as not I
shall do more."
Seeing, however, that Dr. Downie was anxious to hear what he
thought, my father said -
"Then I must tell you. Our religion sets before us an ideal which
we all cordially accept, but it also tells us of marvels like your
chariot and horses, which we most of us reject. Our best teachers
insist on the ideal, and keep the marvels in the background. If
they could say outright that our age has outgrown them, they would
say so, but this they may not do; nevertheless they contrive to let
their opinions be sufficiently well known, and their hearers are
content with this.
"We have others who take a very different course, but of these I
will not speak. Roughly, then, if you cannot abolish me
altogether, make me a peg on which to hang all your own best
ethical and spiritual conceptions. If you will do this, and
wriggle out of that wretched relic, with that not less wretched
picture--if you will make me out to be much better and abler than I
was, or ever shall be, Sunchildism may serve your turn for many a
long year to come. Otherwise it will tumble about your heads
before you think it will.
"Am I to go on or stop?"
"Go on," said George softly. That was enough for my father, so on
"You are already doing part of what I wish. I was delighted with
the two passages I heard on Sunday, from what you call the
Sunchild's Sayings. I never said a word of either passage; I wish
I had; I wish I could say anything half so good. And I have read a
pamphlet by President Gurgoyle, which I liked extremely; but I
never said what he says I did. Again, I wish I had. Keep to this
sort of thing, and I will be as good a Sunchildist as any of you.
But you must bribe some thief to steal that relic, and break it up
to mend the roads with; and--for I believe that here as elsewhere
fires sometimes get lighted through the carelessness of a workman--
set the most careless workman you can find to do a plumbing job
near that picture."
Hanky looked black at this, and George trod lightly on my father's
toe, but he told me that my father's face was innocence itself.
"These are hard sayings," said Dr. Downie.
"I know they are," replied my father, "and I do not like saying
them, but there is no royal road to unlearning, and you have much
to unlearn. Still, you Musical Bank people bear witness to the
fact that beyond the kingdoms of this world there is another,
within which the writs of this world's kingdoms do not run. This
is the great service which our church does for us in England, and
hence many of us uphold it, though we have no sympathy with the
party now dominant within it. 'Better,' we think, 'a corrupt
church than none at all.' Moreover, those who in my country would
step into the church's shoes are as corrupt as the church, and more
exacting. They are also more dangerous, for the masses distrust
the church, and are on their guard against aggression, whereas they
do not suspect the doctrinaires and faddists, who, if they could,
would interfere in every concern of our lives.
"Let me return to yourselves. You Musical Bank Managers are very
much such a body of men as your country needs--but when I was here
before you had no figurehead; I have unwittingly supplied you with
one, and it is perhaps because you saw this, that you good people
of Bridgeford took up with me. Sunchildism is still young and
plastic; if you will let the cock-and-bull stories about me tacitly
drop, and invent no new ones, beyond saying what a delightful
person I was, I really cannot see why I should not do for you as
well as any one else.
"There. What I have said is nine-tenths of it rotten and wrong,
but it is the most practicable rotten and wrong that I can suggest,
seeing into what a rotten and wrong state of things you have
drifted. And now, Mr. Mayor, do you not think we may join the
Mayoress and Mrs. Humdrum?"
"As you please, Mr. Higgs," answered the Mayor.
"Then let us go, for I have said too much already, and your son
George tells me that we must be starting shortly."
As they were leaving the room Panky sidled up to my father and
said, "There is a point, Mr. Higgs, which you can settle for me,
though I feel pretty certain how you will settle it. I think that
a corruption has crept into the text of the very beautiful--"
At this moment, as my father, who saw what was coming, was
wondering what in the world he could say, George came up to him and
said, "Mr. Higgs, my mother wishes me to take you down into the
store-room, to make sure that she has put everything for you as you
would like it." On this my father said he would return directly
and answer what he knew would be Panky's question.
When Yram had shewn what she had prepared--all of it, of course,
faultless--she said, "And now, Mr. Higgs, about our leave-taking.
Of course we shall both of us feel much. I shall; I know you will;
George will have a few more hours with you than the rest of us, but
his time to say good-bye will come, and it will be painful to both
of you. I am glad you came--I am glad you have seen George, and
George you, and that you took to one another. I am glad my husband
has seen you; he has spoken to me about you very warmly, for he has
taken to you much as George did. I am very, very glad to have seen
you myself, and to have learned what became of you--and of your
wife. I know you wish well to all of us; be sure that we all of us
wish most heartily well to you and yours. I sent for you and
George, because I could not say all this unless we were alone; it
is all I can do," she said, with a smile, "to say it now."
Indeed it was, for the tears were in her eyes all the time, as they
were also in my father's.
"Let this," continued Yram, "be our leave-taking--for we must have
nothing like a scene upstairs. Just shake hands with us all, say
the usual conventional things, and make it as short as you can; but
I could not bear to send you away without a few warmer words than I
could have said when others were in the room."
"May heaven bless you and yours," said my father, "for ever and
"That will do," said George gently. "Now, both of you shake hands,
and come upstairs with me."
* * *
When all three of them had got calm, for George had been moved
almost as much as his father and mother, they went upstairs, and
Panky came for his answer. "You are very possibly right," said my
father--"the version you hold to be corrupt is the one in common
use amongst ourselves, but it is only a translation, and very
possibly only a translation of a translation, so that it may
perhaps have been corrupted before it reached us."
"That," said Panky, "will explain everything," and he went
My father talked a little aside with Mrs. Humdrum about her grand-
daughter and George, for Yram had told him that she knew all about
the attachment, and then George, who saw that my father found the
greatest difficulty in maintaining an outward calm, said, "Mr.
Higgs, the streets are empty; we had better go."
My father did as Yram had told him; shook hands with every one,
said all that was usual and proper as briefly as he could, and
followed George out of the room. The Mayor saw them to the door,
and saved my father from embarrassment by saying, "Mr. Higgs, you
and I understand one another too well to make it necessary for us
to say so. Good-bye to you, and may no ill befall you ere you get
My father grasped his hand in both his own. "Again," he said, "I
can say no more than that I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
As he spoke he bowed his head, and went out with George into the
CHAPTER XXV: GEORGE ESCORTS MY FATHER TO THE STATUES; THE TWO THEN
The streets were quite deserted as George had said they would be,
and very dark, save for an occasional oil lamp.
"As soon as we can get within the preserves," said George, "we had
better wait till morning. I have a rug for myself as well as for
"I saw you had two," answered my father; "you must let me carry
them both; the provisions are much the heavier load.
George fought as hard as a dog would do, till my father said that
they must not quarrel during the very short time they had to be
together. On this George gave up one rug meekly enough, and my
father yielded about the basket, and the other rug.
It was about half-past eleven when they started, and it was after
one before they reached the preserves. For the first mile from the
town they were not much hindered by the darkness, and my father
told George about his book and many another matter; he also
promised George to say nothing about this second visit. Then the
road became more rough, and when it dwindled away to be a mere
lane--becoming presently only a foot track--they had to mind their
footsteps, and got on but slowly. The night was starlit, and warm,
considering that they were more than three thousand feet above the
sea, but it was very dark, so that my father was well enough
pleased when George showed him the white stones that marked the
boundary, and said they had better soon make themselves as
comfortable as they could till morning.
"We can stay here," he said, "till half-past three, there will be a
little daylight then; we will rest half an hour for breakfast at
about five, and by noon we shall be at the statues, where we will
This being settled, George rolled himself up in his rug, and in a
few minutes went comfortably off to sleep. Not so my poor father.
He wound up his watch, wrapped his rug round him, and lay down; but
he could get no sleep. After such a day, and such an evening, how
could any one have slept?
About three the first signs of dawn began to show, and half an hour
later my father could see the sleeping face of his son--whom it
went to his heart to wake. Nevertheless he woke him, and in a few
minutes the two were on their way--George as fresh as a lark--my
poor father intent on nothing so much as on hiding from George how
ill and unsound in body and mind he was feeling.
They walked on, saying but little, till at five by my father's
watch George proposed a halt for breakfast. The spot he chose was
a grassy oasis among the trees, carpeted with subalpine flowers,
now in their fullest beauty, and close to a small stream that here
came down from a side valley. The freshness of the morning air,
the extreme beauty of the place, the lovely birds that flitted from
tree to tree, the exquisite shapes and colours of the flowers,
still dew-bespangled, and above all, the tenderness with which
George treated him, soothed my father, and when he and George had
lit a fire and made some hot corn-coffee--with a view to which Yram
had put up a bottle of milk--he felt so much restored as to look
forward to the rest of his journey without alarm. Moreover he had
nothing to carry, for George had left his own rug at the place
where they had slept, knowing that he should find it on his return;
he had therefore insisted on carrying my father's. My father
fought as long as he could, but he had to give in.
"Now tell me," said George, glad to change the subject, "what will
those three men do about what you said to them last night? Will
they pay any attention to it?"
My father laughed. "My dear George, what a question--I do not know
them well enough."
"Oh yes, you do. At any rate say what you think most likely."
"Very well. I think Dr. Downie will do much as I said. He will
not throw the whole thing over, through fear of schism, loyalty to
a party from which he cannot well detach himself, and because he
does not think that the public is quite tired enough of its toy.
He will neither preach nor write against it, but he will live
lukewarmly against it, and this is what the Hankys hate. They can
stand either hot or cold, but they are afraid of lukewarm. In
England Dr. Downie would be a Broad Churchman."
"Do you think we shall ever get rid of Sunchildism altogether?"
"If they stick to the cock-and-bull stories they are telling now,
and rub them in, as Hanky did on Sunday, it may go, and go soon.
It has taken root too quickly and easily; and its top is too heavy
for its roots; still there are so many chances in its favour that
it may last a long time."
"And how about Hanky?"
"He will brazen it out, relic, chariot, and all: and he will
welcome more relics and more cock-and-bull stories; his single eye
will be upon his own aggrandisement and that of his order.
Plausible, unscrupulous, heartless scoundrel that he is, he will
play for the queen and the women of the court, as Dr. Downie will
play for the king and the men. He and his party will sleep neither
night nor day, but they will have one redeeming feature--whoever
they may deceive, they will not deceive themselves. They believe
every one else to be as bad as they are, and see no reason why they
should not push their own wares in the way of business. Hanky is
everything that we in England rightly or wrongly believe a typical
Jesuit to be."
"And Panky--what about him?"
"Panky must persuade himself of his own lies, before he is quite
comfortable about telling them to other people. Hanky keeps Hanky
well out of it; Panky must have a base of operations in Panky.
Hanky will lead him by the nose, bit by bit, for his is the master
spirit. In England Panky would be what we call an extreme
"Then the real battle will be between Hanky and Dr. Downie. Which
will carry the day?"
"For the present, probably Hanky. He is the more vigilant, and
energetic; in this case Sunchildism will have to go, and I am
afraid your whole Musical Bank system will be swept away along with
"And why not?"
"Because, my dear boy, though false in the letter, if good counsels
prevail, it may be made true enough in spirit. If it were to go,
its place would be soon filled by men who would be as false in
letter as the others were, and much more false in spirit. You want
a heart to check your head, and a head to check your heart. As in
our English body politic there are two parties opposed to one
another, neither of which can thrive if the other is unduly
weakened, so in our spiritual and intellectual world two parties
more or less antagonistic are equally necessary. Those who are at
the head of science provide us with the one party; those whom we
call our churchmen are the other. Both are corrupt, but we can
spare neither, for each checks as far as it can the corruptions of
"Then you would have us uphold Sunchildism, knowing it to be
"Do what you will, you will not get perfect truth. And if you can
follow the lead which I believe Dr. Downie will give you, that is
to say, get rid of cock-and-bull stories, idealise my unworthy
self, and, as I said last night, make me a peg on which to hang
your own best thoughts--Sunchildism will be as near truth as
anything you are likely to get. But if Hankyism triumphs, come
what may you must get rid of it, for he and his school will tamper
with the one sure and everlasting word of God revealed to us by
human experience. He who plays fast and loose with this is as one
who would forge God's signature to a cheque drawn on God's own
"Are we to foster the belief that it was indeed the Sunchild who
interrupted Hanky's sermon?"
"Yes, where you safely can, but not otherwise; and commit the facts
to writing as soon as you can find time. Do nothing to jeopardise
your own safety; you can do more by perfunctory acquiescence than
by open dissent. And tell those friends whom you can trust, what
these my parting words to you have been. But above all I charge
you solemnly, do nothing to jeopardise your own safety; you cannot
play into Hanky's hands more certainly than by risking this. Think
how he and Panky would rejoice, and how Dr. Downie would grieve.
Be wise and wary; bide your time; do what you prudently can, and
you will find you can do much; try to do more, and you will do
nothing. Be guided by the Mayor, by your mother--and by that dear
old lady whose grandson you will--"
"Then they have told you," interrupted the youth blushing scarlet.
"My dearest boy, of course they have, and I have seen her, and am
head over ears in love with her myself."
He was all smiles and blushes, and vowed for a few minutes that it
was a shame of them to tell me, but presently he said -
"Then you like her."
"Rather!" said my father vehemently, and shaking George by the
hand. But he said nothing about the nuggets and the sovereigns,
knowing that Yram did not wish him to do so. Neither did George
say anything about his determination to start for the capital in
the morning, and make a clean breast of everything to the King. So
soon does it become necessary even for those who are most cordially
attached to hide things from one another. My father, however, was
made comfortable by receiving a promise from the youth that he
would take no step of which the persons he had named would
When once Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter had been introduced there
was no more talking about Hanky and Panky; for George began to
bubble over with the subject that was nearest his heart, and how
much he feared that it would be some time yet before he could be
married. Many a story did he tell of his early attachment and of
its course for the last ten years, but my space will not allow me
to inflict one of them on the reader. My father saw that the more
he listened and sympathised and encouraged, the fonder George
became of him, and this was all he cared about.
Thus did they converse hour after hour. They passed the Blue Pool,
without seeing it or even talking about it for more than a minute.