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Erewhon Revisited by Samuel Butler

Part 5 out of 5

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George kept an eye on the quails and declared them fairly plentiful
and strong on the wing, but nothing now could keep him from pouring
out his whole heart about Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter, until
towards noon they caught sight of the statues, and a halt was made
which gave my father the first pang he had felt that morning, for
he knew that the statues would be the beginning of the end.

There was no need to light a fire, for Yram had packed for them two
bottles of a delicious white wine, something like White Capri,
which went admirably with the many more solid good things that she
had provided for them. As soon as they had finished a hearty meal
my father said to George, "You must have my watch for a keepsake; I
see you are not wearing my boots. I fear you did not find them
comfortable, but I am glad you have not got them on, for I have set
my heart on keeping yours."

"Let us settle about the boots first. I rather fancied that that
was why you put me off when I wanted to get my own back again; and
then I thought I should like yours for a keepsake, so I put on
another pair last night, and they are nothing like so comfortable
as yours were."

"Now I wonder," said my father to me, "whether this was true, or
whether it was only that dear fellow's pretty invention; but true
or false I was as delighted as he meant me to be."

I asked George about this when I saw him, and he confessed with an
ingenuous blush that my father's boots had hurt him, and that he
had never thought of making a keepsake of them, till my father's
words stimulated his invention.

As for the watch, which was only a silver one, but of the best
make, George protested for a time, but when he had yielded, my
father could see that he was overjoyed at getting it; for watches,
though now permitted, were expensive and not in common use.

Having thus bribed him, my father broached the possibility of his
meeting him at the statues on that day twelvemonth, but of course
saying nothing about why he was so anxious that he should come.

"I will come," said my father, "not a yard farther than the
statues, and if I cannot come I will send your brother. And I will
come at noon; but it is possible that the river down below may be
in fresh, and I may not be able to hit off the day, though I will
move heaven and earth to do so. Therefore if I do not meet you on
the day appointed, do your best to come also at noon on the
following day. I know how inconvenient this will be for you, and
will come true to the day if it is possible."

To my father's surprise, George did not raise so many difficulties
as he had expected. He said it might be done, if neither he nor my
father were to go beyond the statues. "And difficult as it will be
for you," said George, "you had better come a second day if
necessary, as I will, for who can tell what might happen to make
the first day impossible?"

"Then," said my father, "we shall be spared that horrible feeling
that we are parting without hope of seeing each other again. I
find it hard enough to say good-bye even now, but I do not know how
I could have faced it if you had not agreed to our meeting again."

"The day fixed upon will be our XXI. i. 3, and the hour noon as
near as may be?"

"So. Let me write it down: 'XXI. i. 3, i.e. our December 9, 1891,
I am to meet George at the statues, at twelve o'clock, and if he
does not come, I am to be there again on the following day.'

In like manner, George wrote down what he was to do: "XXI. i. 3,
or failing this XXI. i. 4. Statues. Noon."

"This," he said, "is a solemn covenant, is it not?"

"Yes," said my father, "and may all good omens attend it!"

The words were not out of his mouth before a mountain bird,
something like our jackdaw, but smaller and of a bluer black, flew
out of the hollow mouth of one of the statues, and with a hearty
chuckle perched on the ground at his feet, attracted doubtless by
the scraps of food that were lying about. With the fearlessness of
birds in that country, it looked up at him and George, gave another
hearty chuckle, and flew back to its statue with the largest
fragment it could find.

They settled that this was an omen so propitious that they could
part in good hope. "Let us finish the wine," said my father, "and
then, do what must be done!"

They finished the wine to each other's good health; George drank
also to mine, and said he hoped my father would bring me with him,
while my father drank to Yram, the Mayor, their children, Mrs.
Humdrum, and above all to Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter. They then
re-packed all that could be taken away; my father rolled his rug to
his liking, slung it over his shoulder, gripped George's hand, and
said, "My dearest boy, when we have each turned our backs upon one
another, let us walk our several ways as fast as we can, and try
not to look behind us."

So saying he loosed his grip of George's hand, bared his head,
lowered it, and turned away.

George burst into tears, and followed him after he had gone two
paces; he threw his arms round him, hugged him, kissed him on his
lips, cheeks, and forehead, and then turning round, strode full
speed towards Sunch'ston. My father never took his eyes off him
till he was out of sight, but the boy did not look round. When he
could see him no more, my father with faltering gait, and feeling
as though a prop had suddenly been taken from under him, began to
follow the stream down towards his old camp.


My father could walk but slowly, for George's boots had blistered
his feet, and it seemed to him that the river-bed, of which he
caught glimpses now and again, never got any nearer; but all things
come to an end, and by seven o'clock on the night of Tuesday, he
was on the spot which he had left on the preceding Friday morning.
Three entire days had intervened, but he felt that something, he
knew not what, had seized him, and that whereas before these three
days life had been one thing, what little might follow them, would
be another--and a very different one.

He soon caught sight of his horse which had strayed a mile lower
down the river-bed, and in spite of his hobbles had crossed one
ugly stream that my father dared not ford on foot. Tired though he
was, he went after him, bridle in hand, and when the friendly
creature saw him, it recrossed the stream, and came to him of its
own accord--either tired of his own company, or tempted by some
bread my father held out towards him. My father took off the
hobbles, and rode him bare-backed to the camping ground, where he
rewarded him with more bread and biscuit, and then hobbled him
again for the night.

"It was here," he said to me on one of the first days after his
return, "that I first knew myself to be a broken man. As for
meeting George again, I felt sure that it would be all I could do
to meet his brother; and though George was always in my thoughts,
it was for you and not him that I was now yearning. When I gave
George my watch, how glad I was that I had left my gold one at
home, for that is yours, and I could not have brought myself to
give it him."

"Never mind that, my dear father," said I, "but tell me how you got
down the river, and thence home again."

"My very dear boy," he said, "I can hardly remember, and I had no
energy to make any more notes. I remember putting a scrap of paper
into the box of sovereigns, merely sending George my love along
with the money; I remember also dropping the box into a hole in a
tree, which I blazed, and towards which I drew a line of wood-
ashes. I seem to see a poor unhinged creature gazing moodily for
hours into a fire which he heaps up now and again with wood. There
is not a breath of air; Nature sleeps so calmly that she dares not
even breathe for fear of waking; the very river has hushed his
flow. Without, the starlit calm of a summer's night in a great
wilderness; within, a hurricane of wild and incoherent thoughts
battling with one another in their fury to fall upon him and rend
him--and on the other side the great wall of mountain, thousands of
children praying at their mother's knee to this poor dazed thing.
I suppose this half delirious wretch must have been myself. But I
must have been more ill when I left England than I thought I was,
or Erewhon would not have broken me down as it did."

No doubt he was right. Indeed it was because Mr. Cathie and his
doctor saw that he was out of health and in urgent need of change,
that they left off opposing his wish to travel. There is no use,
however, in talking about this now.

I never got from him how he managed to reach the shepherd's hut,
but I learned some little from the shepherd, when I stayed with him
both on going towards Erewhon, and on returning.

"He did not seem to have drink in him," said the shepherd, "when he
first came here; but he must have been pretty full of it, or he
must have had some bottles in his saddle-bags; for he was awful
when he came back. He had got them worse than any man I ever saw,
only that he was not awkward. He said there was a bird flying out
of a giant's mouth and laughing at him, and he kept muttering about
a blue pool, and hanky-panky of all sorts, and he said he knew it
was all hanky-panky, at least I thought he said so, but it was no
use trying to follow him, for it was all nothing but horrors. He
said I was to stop the people from trying to worship him. Then he
said the sky opened and he could see the angels going about and
singing 'Hallelujah.'"

"How long did he stay with you?" I asked.

"About ten days, but the last three he was himself again, only too
weak to move. He thought he was cured except for weakness."

"Do you know how he had been spending the last two days or so
before he got down to your hut?"

I said two days, because this was the time I supposed he would take
to descend the river.

"I should say drinking all the time. He said he had fallen off his
horse two or three times, till he took to leading him. If he had
had any other horse than old Doctor he would have been a dead man.
Bless you, I have known that horse ever since he was foaled, and I
never saw one like him for sense. He would pick fords better than
that gentleman could, I know, and if the gentleman fell off him he
would just stay stock still. He was badly bruised, poor man, when
he got here. I saw him through the gorge when he left me, and he
gave me a sovereign; he said he had only one other left to take him
down to the port, or he would have made it more."

"He was my father," said I, "and he is dead, but before he died he
told me to give you five pounds which I have brought you. I think
you are wrong in saying that he had been drinking."

"That is what they all say; but I take it very kind of him to have
thought of me."

My father's illness for the first three weeks after his return
played with him as a cat plays with a mouse; now and again it would
let him have a day or two's run, during which he was so cheerful
and unclouded that his doctor was quite hopeful about him. At
various times on these occasions I got from him that when he left
the shepherd's hut, he thought his illness had run itself out, and
that he should now reach the port from which he was to sail for S.
Francisco without misadventure. This he did, and he was able to do
all he had to do at the port, though frequently attacked with
passing fits of giddiness. I need not dwell upon his voyage to S.
Francisco, and thence home; it is enough to say that he was able to
travel by himself in spite of gradually, but continually,
increasing failure.

"When," he said, "I reached the port, I telegraphed as you know,
for more money. How puzzled you must have been. I sold my horse
to the man from whom I bought it, at a loss of only about 10
pounds, and I left with him my saddle, saddlebags, small hatchet,
my hobbles, and in fact everything that I had taken with me, except
what they had impounded in Erewhon. Yram's rug I dropped into the
river when I knew that I should no longer need it--as also her
substitutes for my billy and pannikin; and I burned her basket.
The shepherd would have asked me questions. You will find an order
to deliver everything up to bearer. You need therefore take
nothing from England."

At another time he said, "When you go, for it is plain I cannot,
and go one or other of us must, try and get the horse I had: he
will be nine years old, and he knows all about the rivers: if you
leave everything to him, you may shut your eyes, but do not
interfere with him. Give the shepherd what I said and he will
attend to you, but go a day or two too soon, for the margin of one
day was not enough to allow in case of a fresh in the river; if the
water is discoloured you must not cross it--not even with Doctor.
I could not ask George to come up three days running from
Sunch'ston to the statues and back."

Here he became exhausted. Almost the last coherent string of
sentences I got from him was as follows:-

"About George's money if I send him 2000 pounds you will still have
nearly 150,000 pounds left, and Mr. Cathie will not let you try to
make it more. I know you would give him four or five thousand, but
the Mayor and I talked it over, and settled that 2000 pounds in
gold would make him a rich man. Consult our good friend Alfred"
(meaning, of course, Mr. Cathie) "about the best way of taking the
money. I am afraid there is nothing for it but gold, and this will
be a great weight for you to carry--about, I believe 36 lbs. Can
you do this? I really think that if you lead your horse you . . .
no--there will be the getting him down again--"

"Don't worry about it, my dear father," said I, "I can do it easily
if I stow the load rightly, and I will see to this. I shall have
nothing else to carry, for I shall camp down below both morning and
evening. But would you not like to send some present to the Mayor,
Yram, their other children, and Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter?"

"Do what you can," said my father. And these were the last
instructions he gave me about those adventures with which alone
this work is concerned.

The day before he died, he had a little flicker of intelligence,
but all of a sudden his face became clouded as with great anxiety;
he seemed to see some horrible chasm in front of him which he had
to cross, or which he feared that I must cross, for he gasped out
words, which, as near as I could catch them, were, "Look out!
John! Leap! Leap! Le . . . " but he could not say all that he
was trying to say and closed his eyes, having, as I then deemed,
seen that he was on the brink of that gulf which lies between life
and death; I took it that in reality he died at that moment; for
there was neither struggle, nor hardly movement of any kind
afterwards--nothing but a pulse which for the next several hours
grew fainter and fainter so gradually, that it was not till some
time after it had ceased to beat that we were certain of its having
done so.


This book has already become longer than I intended, but I will ask
the reader to have patience while I tell him briefly of my own
visit to the threshold of that strange country of which I fear that
he may be already beginning to tire.

The winding-up of my father's estate was a very simple matter, and
by the beginning of September 1891 I should have been free to
start; but about that time I became engaged, and naturally enough I
did not want to be longer away than was necessary. I should not
have gone at all if I could have helped it. I left, however, a
fortnight later than my father had done.

Before starting I bought a handsome gold repeater for the Mayor,
and a brooch for Yram, of pearls and diamonds set in gold, for
which I paid 200 pounds. For Yram's three daughters and for Mrs.
Humdrum's grand-daughter I took four brooches each of which cost
about 15 pounds, 15s., and for the boys I got three ten-guinea
silver watches. For George I only took a strong English knife of
the best make, and the two thousand pounds worth of uncoined gold,
which for convenience' sake I had had made into small bars. I also
had a knapsack made that would hold these and nothing else--each
bar being strongly sewn into its place, so that none of them could
shift. Whenever I went on board ship, or went on shore, I put this
on my back, so that no one handled it except myself--and I can
assure the reader that I did not find it a light weight to handle.
I ought to have taken something for old Mrs. Humdrum, but I am
ashamed to say that I forgot her.

I went as directly as I could to the port of which my father had
told me, and reached it on November 27, one day later than he had
done in the preceding year.

On the following day, which was a Saturday, I went to the livery
stables from which my father had bought his horse, and found to my
great delight that Doctor could be at my disposal, for, as it
seemed to me, the very reasonable price of fifteen shillings a day.
I shewed the owner of the stables my father's order, and all the
articles he had left were immediately delivered to me. I was still
wearing crape round one arm, and the horse-dealer, whose name was
Baker, said he was afraid the other gentleman might be dead.

"Indeed, he is so," said I, "and a great grief it is to me; he was
my father."

"Dear, dear," answered Mr. Baker, "that is a very serious thing for
the poor gentleman. He seemed quite unfit to travel alone, and I
feared he was not long for this world, but he was bent on going."

I had nothing now to do but to buy a blanket, pannikin, and billy,
with some tea, tobacco, two bottles of brandy, some ship's
biscuits, and whatever other few items were down on the list of
requisites which my father had dictated to me. Mr. Baker, seeing
that I was what he called a new chum, shewed me how to pack my
horse, but I kept my knapsack full of gold on my back, and though I
could see that it puzzled him, he asked no questions. There was no
reason why I should not set out at once for the principal town of
the colony, which was some ten miles inland; I, therefore, arranged
at my hotel that the greater part of my luggage should await my
return, and set out to climb the high hills that back the port.
From the top of these I had a magnificent view of the plains that I
should have to cross, and of the long range of distant mountains
which bounded them north and south as far as the eye could reach.
On some of the mountains I could still see streaks of snow, but my
father had explained to me that the ranges I should here see, were
not those dividing the English colony from Erewhon. I also saw,
some nine miles or so out upon the plains, the more prominent
buildings of a large town which seemed to be embosomed in trees,
and this I reached in about an hour and a half; for I had to
descend at a foot's pace, and Doctor's many virtues did not
comprise a willingness to go beyond an amble.

At the town above referred to I spent the night, and began to
strike across the plains on the following morning. I might have
crossed these in three days at twenty-five miles a day, but I had
too much time on my hands, and my load of gold was so uncomfortable
that I was glad to stay at one accommodation house after another,
averaging about eighteen miles a day. I have no doubt that if I
had taken advice, I could have stowed my load more conveniently,
but I could not unpack it, and made the best of it as it was.

On the evening of Wednesday, December 2, I reached the river which
I should have to follow up; it was here nearing the gorge through
which it had to pass before the country opened out again at the
back of the front range. I came upon it quite suddenly on reaching
the brink of a great terrace, the bank of which sloped almost
precipitously down towards it, but was covered with grass. The
terrace was some three hundred feet above the river, and faced
another similar one, which was from a mile and a half to two miles
distant. At the bottom of this huge yawning chasm, rolled the
mighty river, and I shuddered at the thought of having to cross and
recross it. For it was angry, muddy, evidently in heavy fresh, and
filled bank and bank for nearly a mile with a flood of seething

I followed along the northern edge of the terrace, till I reached
the last accommodation house that could be said to be on the
plains--which, by the way, were here some eight or nine hundred
feet above sea level. When I reached this house, I was glad to
learn that the river was not likely to remain high for more than a
day or two, and that if what was called a Southerly Burster came
up, as it might be expected to do at any moment, it would be quite
low again before three days were over.

At this house I stayed the night, and in the course of the evening
a stray dog--a retriever, hardly full grown, and evidently very
much down on his luck--took up with me; when I inquired about him,
and asked if I might take him with me, the landlord said he wished
I would, for he knew nothing about him and was trying to drive him
from the house. Knowing what a boon the companionship of this poor
beast would be to me when I was camping out alone, I encouraged
him, and next morning he followed me as a matter of course.

In the night the Southerly Burster which my host anticipated had
come up, cold and blustering, but invigorating after the hot, dry,
wind that had been blowing hard during the daytime as I had crossed
the plains. A mile or two higher up I passed a large sheep-
station, but did not stay there. One or two men looked at me with
surprise, and asked me where I was going, whereon I said I was in
search of rare plants and birds for the Museum of the town at which
I had slept the night after my arrival. This satisfied their
curiosity, and I ambled on accompanied by the dog. In passing I
may say that I found Doctor not to excel at any pace except an
amble, but for a long journey, especially for one who is carrying a
heavy, awkward load, there is no pace so comfortable; and he ambled
fairly fast.

I followed the horse track which had been cut through the gorge,
and in many places I disliked it extremely, for the river, still in
fresh, was raging furiously; twice, for some few yards, where the
gorge was wider and the stream less rapid, it covered the track,
and I had no confidence that it might not have washed it away; on
these occasions Doctor pricked his ears towards the water, and was
evidently thinking exactly what his rider was. He decided,
however, that all would be sound, and took to the water without any
urging on my part. Seeing his opinion, I remembered my father's
advice, and let him do what he liked, but in one place for three or
four yards the water came nearly up to his belly, and I was in
great fear for the watches that were in my saddlebags. As for the
dog, I feared I had lost him, but after a time he rejoined me,
though how he contrived to do so I cannot say.

Nothing could be grander than the sight of this great river pent
into a narrow compass, and occasionally becoming more like an
immense waterfall than a river, but I was in continual fear of
coming to more places where the water would be over the track, and
perhaps of finding myself unable to get any farther. I therefore
failed to enjoy what was really far the most impressive sight in
its way that I had ever seen. "Give me," I said to myself, "the
Thames at Richmond," and right thankful was I, when at about two
o'clock I found that I was through the gorge and in a wide valley,
the greater part of which, however, was still covered by the river.
It was here that I heard for the first time the curious sound of
boulders knocking against each other underneath the great body of
water that kept rolling them round and round.

I now halted, and lit a fire, for there was much dead scrub
standing that had remained after the ground had been burned for the
first time some years previously. I made myself some tea, and
turned Doctor out for a couple of hours to feed. I did not hobble
him, for my father had told me that he would always come for bread.
When I had dined, and smoked, and slept for a couple of hours or
so, I reloaded Doctor and resumed my journey towards the shepherd's
hut, which I caught sight of about a mile before I reached it.
When nearly half a mile off it, I dismounted, and made a written
note of the exact spot at which I did so. I then turned for a
couple of hundred yards to my right, at right angles to the track,
where some huge rocks were lying--fallen ages since from the
mountain that flanked this side of the valley. Here I deposited my
knapsack in a hollow underneath some of the rocks, and put a good
sized stone in front of it, for I meant spending a couple of days
with the shepherd to let the river go down. Moreover, as it was
now only December 3, I had too much time on my hands, but I had not
dared to cut things finer.

I reached the hut at about six o'clock, and introduced myself to
the shepherd, who was a nice, kind old man, commonly called Harris,
but his real name he told me was Horace--Horace Taylor. I had the
conversation with him of which I have already told the reader,
adding that my father had been unable to give a coherent account of
what he had seen, and that I had been sent to get the information
he had failed to furnish.

The old man said that I must certainly wait a couple of days before
I went higher up the river. He had made himself a nice garden, in
which he took the greatest pride, and which supplied him with
plenty of vegetables. He was very glad to have company, and to
receive the newspapers which I had taken care to bring him. He had
a real genius for simple cookery, and fed me excellently. My
father's 5 pounds, and the ration of brandy which I nightly gave
him, made me a welcome guest, and though I was longing to be at any
rate as far as the foot of the pass into Erewhon, I amused myself
very well in an abundance of ways with which I need not trouble the

One of the first things that Harris said to me was, "I wish I knew
what your father did with the nice red blanket he had with him when
he went up the river. He had none when he came down again; I have
no horse here, but I borrowed one from a man who came up one day
from down below, and rode to a place where I found what I am sure
were the ashes of the last fire he made, but I could find neither
the blanket nor the billy and pannikin he took away with him. He
said he supposed he must have left the things there, but he could
remember nothing about it."

"I am afraid," said I, "that I cannot help you."

"At any rate," continued the shepherd, "I did not have my ride for
nothing, for as I was coming back I found this rug half covered
with sand on the river-bed."

As he spoke he pointed to an excellent warm rug, on the spare bunk
in his hut. "It is none of our make," said he; "I suppose some
foreign digger has come over from the next river down south and got
drowned, for it had not been very long where I found it, at least I
think not, for it was not much fly-blown, and no one had passed
here to go up the river since your father."

I knew what it was, but I held my tongue beyond saying that the rug
was a very good one.

The next day, December 4, was lovely, after a night that had been
clear and cold, with frost towards early morning. When the
shepherd had gone for some three hours in the forenoon to see his
sheep (that were now lambing), I walked down to the place where I
had left my knapsack, and carried it a good mile above the hut,
where I again hid it. I could see the great range from one place,
and the thick new fallen snow assured me that the river would be
quite normal shortly. Indeed, by evening it was hardly at all
discoloured, but I waited another day, and set out on the morning
of Sunday, December 6. The river was now almost as low as in
winter, and Harris assured me that if I used my eyes I could not
miss finding a ford over one stream or another every half mile or
so. I had the greatest difficulty in preventing him from
accompanying me on foot for some little distance, but I got rid of
him in the end; he came with me beyond the place where I had hidden
my knapsack, but when he had left me long enough, I rode back and
got it.

I see I am dwelling too long upon my own small adventures. Suffice
it that, accompanied by my dog, I followed the north bank of the
river till I found I must cross one stream before I could get any
farther. This place would not do, and I had to ride half a mile
back before I found one that seemed as if it might be safe. I
fancy my father must have done just the same thing, for Doctor
seemed to know the ground, and took to the water the moment I
brought him to it. It never reached his belly, but I confess I did
not like it. By and by I had to recross, and so on, off and on,
till at noon I camped for dinner. Here the dog found me a nest of
young ducks, nearly fledged, from which the parent birds tried with
great success to decoy me. I fully thought I was going to catch
them, but the dog knew better and made straight for the nest, from
which he returned immediately with a fine young duck in his mouth,
which he laid at my feet, wagging his tail and barking. I took
another from the nest and left two for the old birds.

The afternoon was much as the morning and towards seven I reached a
place which suggested itself as a good camping ground. I had
hardly fixed on it and halted, before I saw a few pieces of charred
wood, and felt sure that my father must have camped at this very
place before me. I hobbled Doctor, unloaded, plucked and singed a
duck, and gave the dog some of the meat with which Harris had
furnished me; I made tea, laid my duck on the embers till it was
cooked, smoked, gave myself a nightcap of brandy and water, and by
and by rolled myself round in my blanket, with the dog curled up
beside me. I will not dwell upon the strangeness of my feelings--
nor the extreme beauty of the night. But for the dog, and Doctor,
I should have been frightened, but I knew that there were no savage
creatures or venomous snakes in the country, and both the dog and
Doctor were such good companionable creatures, that I did not feel
so much oppressed by the solitude as I had feared I should be. But
the night was cold, and my blanket was not enough to keep me
comfortably warm.

The following day was delightfully warm as soon as the sun got to
the bottom of the valley, and the fresh fallen snow disappeared so
fast from the snowy range that I was afraid it would raise the
river--which, indeed, rose in the afternoon and became slightly
discoloured, but it cannot have been more than three or four inches
deeper, for it never reached the bottom of my saddle-bags. I
believe Doctor knew exactly where I was going, for he wanted no
guidance. I halted again at midday, got two more ducks, crossed
and recrossed the river, or some of its streams, several times, and
at about six, caught sight, after a bend in the valley, of the
glacier descending on to the river-bed. This I knew to be close to
the point at which I was to camp for the night, and from which I
was to ascend the mountain. After another hour's slow progress
over the increasing roughness of the river-bed, I saw the
triangular delta of which my father had told me, and the stream
that had formed it, bounding down the mountain side. Doctor went
right up to the place where my father's fire had been, and I again
found many pieces of charred wood and ashes.

As soon as I had unloaded Doctor and hobbled him, I went to a tree
hard by, on which I could see the mark of a blaze, and towards
which I thought I could see a line of wood ashes running. There I
found a hole in which some bird had evidently been wont to build,
and surmised correctly that it must be the one in which my father
had hidden his box of sovereigns. There was no box in the hole
now, and I began to feel that I was at last within measureable
distance of Erewhon and the Erewhonians.

I camped for the night here, and again found my single blanket
insufficient. The next day, i.e. Tuesday, December 8, I had to
pass as I best could, and it occurred to me that as I should find
the gold a great weight, I had better take it some three hours up
the mountain side and leave it there, so as to make the following
day less fatiguing, and this I did, returning to my camp for
dinner; but I was panic-stricken all the rest of the day lest I
should not have hidden it safely, or lest I should be unable to
find it next day--conjuring up a hundred absurd fancies as to what
might befall it. And after all, heavy though it was, I could have
carried it all the way. In the afternoon I saddled Doctor and rode
him up to the glaciers, which were indeed magnificent, and then I
made the few notes of my journey from which this chapter has been
taken. I made excuses for turning in early, and at daybreak
rekindled my fire and got my breakfast. All the time the
companionship of the dog was an unspeakable comfort to me.

It was now the day my father had fixed for my meeting with George,
and my excitement (with which I have not yet troubled the reader,
though it had been consuming me ever since I had left Harris's hut)
was beyond all bounds, so much so that I almost feared I was in a
fever which would prevent my completing the little that remained of
my task; in fact, I was in as great a panic as I had been about the
gold that I had left. My hands trembled as I took the watches, and
the brooches for Yram and her daughters from my saddle-bags, which
I then hung, probably on the very bough on which my father had hung
them. Needless to say, I also hung my saddle and bridle along with
the saddle-bags.

It was nearly seven before I started, and about ten before I
reached the hiding-place of my knapsack. I found it, of course,
quite easily, shouldered it, and toiled on towards the statues. At
a quarter before twelve I reached them, and almost beside myself as
I was, could not refrain from some disappointment at finding them a
good deal smaller than I expected. My father, correcting the
measurement he had given in his book, said he thought that they
were about four or five times the size of life; but really I do not
think they were more than twenty feet high, any one of them. In
other respects my father's description of them is quite accurate.
There was no wind, and as a matter of course, therefore, they were
not chanting. I wiled away the quarter of an hour before the time
when George became due, with wondering at them, and in a way
admiring them, hideous though they were; but all the time I kept
looking towards the part from which George should come.

At last my watch pointed to noon, but there was no George. A
quarter past twelve, but no George. Half-past, still no George.
One o'clock, and all the quarters till three o'clock, but still no
George. I tried to eat some of the ship's biscuits I had brought
with me, but I could not. My disappointment was now as great as my
excitement had been all the forenoon; at three o'clock I fairly
cried, and for half an hour could only fling myself on the ground
and give way to all the unreasonable spleen that extreme vexation
could suggest. True, I kept telling myself that for aught I knew
George might be dead, or down with a fever; but this would not do;
for in this last case he should have sent one of his brothers to
meet me, and it was not likely that he was dead. I am afraid I
thought it most probable that he had been casual--of which unworthy
suspicion I have long since been heartily ashamed.

I put the brooches inside my knapsack, and hid it in a place where
I was sure no one would find it; then, with a heavy heart, I
trudged down again to my camp--broken in spirit, and hopeless for
the morrow.

I camped again, but it was some hours before I got a wink of sleep;
and when sleep came it was accompanied by a strange dream. I
dreamed that I was by my father's bedside, watching his last
flicker of intelligence, and vainly trying to catch the words that
he was not less vainly trying to utter. All of a sudden the bed
seemed to be at my camping ground, and the largest of the statues
appeared, quite small, high up the mountain side, but striding down
like a giant in seven league boots till it stood over me and my
father, and shouted out "Leap, John, leap." In the horror of this
vision I woke with a loud cry that woke my dog also, and made him
shew such evident signs of fear, that it seemed to me as though he
too must have shared my dream.

Shivering with cold I started up in a frenzy, but there was
nothing, save a night of such singular beauty that I did not even
try to go to sleep again. Naturally enough, on trying to keep
awake I dropped asleep before many minutes were over.

In the morning I again climbed up to the statues, without, to my
surprise, being depressed with the idea that George would again
fail to meet me. On the contrary, without rhyme or reason, I had a
strong presentiment that he would come. And sure enough, as soon
as I caught sight of the statues, which I did about a quarter to
twelve, I saw a youth coming towards me, with a quick step, and a
beaming face that had only to be seen to be fallen in love with.

"You are my brother," said he to me. "Is my father with you?"

I pointed to the crape on my arm, and to the ground, but said

He understood me, and bared his head. Then he flung his arms about
me and kissed my forehead according to Erewhonian custom. I was a
little surprised at his saying nothing to me about the way in which
he had disappointed me on the preceding day; I resolved, however,
to wait for the explanation that I felt sure he would give me


I have said on an earlier page that George gained an immediate
ascendancy over me, but ascendancy is not the word--he took me by
storm; how, or why, I neither know nor want to know, but before I
had been with him more than a few minutes I felt as though I had
known and loved him all my life. And the dog fawned upon him as
though he felt just as I did.

"Come to the statues," said he, as soon as he had somewhat
recovered from the shock of the news I had given him. "We can sit
down there on the very stone on which our father and I sat a year
ago. I have brought a basket, which my mother packed for--for--him
and me. Did he talk to you about me?"

"He talked of nothing so much, and he thought of nothing so much.
He had your boots put where he could see them from his bed until he

Then followed the explanation about these boots, of which the
reader has already been told. This made us both laugh, and from
that moment we were cheerful.

I say nothing about our enjoyment of the luncheon with which Yram
had provided us, and if I were to detail all that I told George
about my father, and all the additional information that I got from
him--(many a point did he clear up for me that I had not fully
understood)--I should fill several chapters, whereas I have left
myself only one. Luncheon being over I said -

"And are you married?"

"Yes" (with a blush), "and are you?"

I could not blush. Why should I? And yet young people--especially
the most ingenuous among them--are apt to flush up on being asked
if they are, or are going, to be married. If I could have blushed,
I would. As it was I could only say that I was engaged and should
marry as soon as I got back.

"Then you have come all this way for me, when you were wanting to
get married?"

"Of course I have. My father on his death-bed told me to do so,
and to bring you something that I have brought you."

"What trouble I have given! How can I thank you?"

"Shake hands with me."

Whereon he gave my hand a stronger grip than I had quite bargained

"And now," said I, "before I tell you what I have brought, you must
promise me to accept it. Your father said I was not to leave you
till you had done so, and I was to say that he sent it with his
dying blessing."

After due demur George gave his promise, and I took him to the
place where I had hidden my knapsack.

"I brought it up yesterday," said I.

"Yesterday? but why?"

"Because yesterday--was it not?--was the first of the two days
agreed upon between you and our father?"

"No--surely to-day is the first day--I was to come XXI. i. 3, which
would be your December 9."

"But yesterday was December 9 with us--to-day is December 10."

"Strange! What day of the week do you make it?"

"To-day is Thursday, December 10."

"This is still stranger--we make it Wednesday; yesterday was

Then I saw it. The year XX. had been a leap year with the
Erewhonians, and 1891 in England had not. This, then, was what had
crossed my father's brain in his dying hours, and what he had
vainly tried to tell me. It was also what my unconscious self had
been struggling to tell my conscious one, during the past night,
but which my conscious self had been too stupid to understand. And
yet my conscious self had caught it in an imperfect sort of a way
after all, for from the moment that my dream had left me I had been
composed, and easy in my mind that all would be well. I wish some
one would write a book about dreams and parthenogenesis--for that
the two are part and parcel of the same story--a brood of folly
without father bred--I cannot doubt.

I did not trouble George with any of this rubbish, but only shewed
him how the mistake had arisen. When we had laughed sufficiently
over my mistake--for it was I who had come up on the wrong day, not
he--I fished my knapsack out of its hiding-place.

"Do not unpack it," said I, "beyond taking out the brooches, or you
will not be able to pack it so well; but you can see the ends of
the bars of gold, and you can feel the weight; my father sent them
for you. The pearl brooch is for your mother, the smaller brooches
are for your sisters, and your wife."

I then told him how much gold there was, and from my pockets
brought out the watches and the English knife.

"This last," I said, "is the only thing that I am giving you; the
rest is all from our father. I have many many times as much gold
myself, and this is legally your property as much as mine is mine."

George was aghast, but he was powerless alike to express his
feelings, or to refuse the gold.

"Do you mean to say that my father left me this by his will?"

"Certainly he did," said I, inventing a pious fraud.

"It is all against my oath," said he, looking grave.

"Your oath be hanged," said I. "You must give the gold to the
Mayor, who knows that it was coming, and it will appear to the
world, as though he were giving it you now instead of leaving you

"But it is ever so much too much!"

"It is not half enough. You and the Mayor must settle all that
between you. He and our father talked it all over, and this was
what they settled."

"And our father planned all this, without saying a word to me about
it while we were on our way up here?"

"Yes. There might have been some hitch in the gold's coming.
Besides the Mayor told him not to tell you."

"And he never said anything about the other money he left for me--
which enabled me to marry at once? Why was this?"

"Your mother said he was not to do so."

"Bless my heart, how they have duped me all round. But why would
not my mother let your father tell me? Oh yes--she was afraid I
should tell the King about it, as I certainly should, when I told
him all the rest."

"Tell the King?" said I, "what have you been telling the King?"

"Everything; except about the nuggets and the sovereigns, of which
I knew nothing; and I have felt myself a blackguard ever since for
not telling him about these when he came up here last autumn--but I
let the Mayor and my mother talk me over, as I am afraid they will
do again."

"When did you tell the King?"

Then followed all the details that I have told in the latter part
of Chapter XXI. When I asked how the King took the confession,
George said -

"He was so much flattered at being treated like a reasonable being,
and Dr. Downie, who was chief spokesman, played his part so
discreetly, without attempting to obscure even the most
compromising issues, that though his Majesty made some show of
displeasure at first, it was plain that he was heartily enjoying
the whole story.

"Dr. Downie shewed very well. He took on himself the onus of
having advised our action, and he gave me all the credit of having
proposed that we should make a clean breast of everything.

"The King, too, behaved with truly royal politeness; he was on the
point of asking why I had not taken our father to the Blue Pool at
once, and flung him into it on the Sunday afternoon, when something
seemed to strike him: he gave me a searching look, on which he
said in an undertone, 'Oh yes,' and did not go on with his
question. He never blamed me for anything, and when I begged him
to accept my resignation of the Rangership, he said -

"'No. Stay where you are till I lose confidence in you, which will
not, I think, be very soon. I will come and have a few days'
shooting about the middle of March, and if I have good sport I
shall order your salary to be increased. If any more foreign
devils come over, do not Blue-Pool them; send them down to me, and
I will see what I think of them; I am much disposed to encourage a
few of them to settle here."

"I am sure," continued George, "that he said this because he knew I
was half a foreign devil myself. Indeed he won my heart not only
by the delicacy of his consideration, but by the obvious good will
he bore me. I do not know what he did with the nuggets, but he
gave orders that the blanket and the rest of my father's kit should
be put in the great Erewhonian Museum. As regards my father's
receipt, and the Professors' two depositions, he said he would have
them carefully preserved in his secret archives. 'A document,' he
said somewhat enigmatically, 'is a document--but, Professor Hanky,
you can have this'--and as he spoke he handed him back his pocket-

"Hanky during the whole interview was furious, at having to play so
undignified a part, but even more so, because the King while he
paid marked attention to Dr. Downie, and even to myself, treated
him with amused disdain. Nevertheless, angry though he was, he was
impenitent, unabashed, and brazened it out at Bridgeford, that the
King had received him with open arms, and had snubbed Dr. Downie
and myself. But for his (Hanky's) intercession, I should have been
dismissed then and there from the Rangership. And so forth. Panky
never opened his mouth.

"Returning to the King, his Majesty said to Dr. Downie, 'I am
afraid I shall not be able to canonize any of you gentlemen just
yet. We must let this affair blow over. Indeed I am in half a
mind to have this Sunchild bubble pricked; I never liked it, and am
getting tired of it; you Musical Bank gentlemen are overdoing it.
I will talk it over with her Majesty. As for Professor Hanky, I do
not see how I can keep one who has been so successfully hoodwinked,
as my Professor of Worldly Wisdom; but I will consult her Majesty
about this point also. Perhaps I can find another post for him.
If I decide on having Sunchildism pricked, he shall apply the pin.
You may go.'

"And glad enough," said George, "we all of us were to do so."

"But did he," I asked, "try to prick the bubble of Sunchildism?"

"Oh no. As soon as he said he would talk it over with her Majesty,
I knew the whole thing would end in smoke, as indeed to all outward
appearance it shortly did; for Dr. Downie advised him not to be in
too great a hurry, and whatever he did to do it gradually. He
therefore took no further action than to show marked favour to
practical engineers and mechanicians. Moreover he started an
aeronautical society, which made Bridgeford furious; but so far, I
am afraid it has done us no good, for the first ascent was
disastrous, involving the death of the poor fellow who made it, and
since then no one has ventured to ascend. I am afraid we do not
get on very fast."

"Did the King," I asked, "increase your salary?"

"Yes. He doubled it."

"And what do they say in Sunch'ston about our father's second

George laughed, and shewed me the newspaper extract which I have
already given. I asked who wrote it.

"I did," said he, with a demure smile; "I wrote it at night after I
returned home, and before starting for the capital next morning. I
called myself 'the deservedly popular Ranger,' to avert suspicion.
No one found me out; you can keep the extract, I brought it here on

"It does you great credit. Was there ever any lunatic, and was he

"Oh yes. That part was true, except that he had never been up our

"Then the poacher is still at large?"

"It is to be feared so."

"And were Dr. Downie and the Professors canonized after all."

"Not yet; but the Professors will be next month--for Hanky is still
Professor. Dr. Downie backed out of it. He said it was enough to
be a Sunchildist without being a Sunchild Saint. He worships the
jumping cat as much as the others, but he keeps his eye better on
the cat, and sees sooner both when it will jump, and where it will
jump to. Then, without disturbing any one, he insinuates himself
into the place which will be best when the jump is over. Some say
that the cat knows him and follows him; at all events when he makes
a move the cat generally jumps towards him soon afterwards."

"You give him a very high character."

"Yes, but I have my doubts about his doing much in this matter; he
is getting old, and Hanky burrows like a mole night and day. There
is no knowing how it will all end."

"And the people at Sunch'ston? Has it got well about among them,
in spite of your admirable article, that it was the Sunchild
himself who interrupted Hanky?"

"It has, and it has not. Many of us know the truth, but a story
came down from Bridgeford that it was an evil spirit who had
assumed the Sunchild's form, intending to make people sceptical
about Sunchildism; Hanky and Panky cowed this spirit, otherwise it
would never have recanted. Many people swallow this."

"But Hanky and Panky swore that they knew the man."

"That does not matter."

"And now please, how long have you been married?"

"About ten months."

"Any family?"

"One boy about a fortnight old. Do come down to Sunch'ston and see
him--he is your own nephew. You speak Erewhonian so perfectly that
no human being would suspect you were a foreigner, and you look one
of us from head to foot. I can smuggle you through quite easily,
and my mother would so like to see you."

I should dearly have liked to have gone, but it was out of the
question. I had nothing with me but the clothes I stood in;
moreover I was longing to be back in England, and when once I was
in Erewhon there was no knowing when I should be able to get away
again; but George fought hard before he gave in.

It was now nearing the time when this strange meeting between two
brothers--as strange a one as the statues can ever have looked down
upon--must come to an end. I shewed George what the repeater would
do, and what it would expect of its possessor. I gave him six good
photographs, of my father and myself--three of each. He had never
seen a photograph, and could hardly believe his eyes as he looked
at those I shewed him. I also gave him three envelopes addressed
to myself, care of Alfred Emery Cathie, Esq., 15 Clifford's Inn,
London, and implored him to write to me if he could ever find means
of getting a letter over the range as far as the shepherd's hut.
At this he shook his head, but he promised to write if he could. I
also told him that I had written a full account of my father's
second visit to Erewhon, but that it should never be published till
I heard from him--at which he again shook his head, but added, "And
yet who can tell? For the King may have the country opened up to
foreigners some day after all."

Then he thanked me a thousand times over, shouldered the knapsack,
embraced me as he had my father, and caressed the dog, embraced me
again, and made no attempt to hide the tears that ran down his

"There," he said; "I shall wait here till you are out of sight."

I turned away, and did not look back till I reached the place at
which I knew that I should lose the statues. I then turned round,
waved my hand--as also did George, and went down the mountain side,
full of sad thoughts, but thankful that my task had been so happily
accomplished, and aware that my life henceforward had been enriched
by something that I could never lose.

For I had never seen, and felt as though I never could see,
George's equal. His absolute unconsciousness of self, the
unhesitating way in which he took me to his heart, his fearless
frankness, the happy genial expression that played on his face, and
the extreme sweetness of his smile--these were the things that made
me say to myself that the "blazon of beauty's best" could tell me
nothing better than what I had found and lost within the last three
hours. How small, too, I felt by comparison! If for no other
cause, yet for this, that I, who had wept so bitterly over my own
disappointment the day before, could meet this dear fellow's tears
with no tear of my own.

But let this pass. I got back to Harris's hut without adventure.
When there, in the course of the evening, I told Harris that I had
a fancy for the rug he had found on the river-bed, and that if he
would let me have it, I would give him my red one and ten shillings
to boot. The exchange was so obviously to his advantage that he
made no demur, and next morning I strapped Yram's rug on to my
horse, and took it gladly home to England, where I keep it on my
own bed next to the counterpane, so that with care it may last me
out my life. I wanted him to take the dog and make a home for him,
but he had two collies already, and said that a retriever would be
of no use to him. So I took the poor beast on with me to the port,
where I was glad to find that Mr. Baker liked him and accepted him
from me, though he was not mine to give. He had been such an
unspeakable comfort to me when I was alone, that he would have
haunted me unless I had been able to provide for him where I knew
he would be well cared for. As for Doctor, I was sorry to leave
him, but I knew he was in good hands.

"I see you have not brought your knapsack back, sir," said Mr.

"No," said I, "and very thankful was I when I had handed it over to
those for whom it was intended."

"I have no doubt you were, sir, for I could see it was a desperate
heavy load for you."

"Indeed it was." But at this point I brought the discussion to a

Two days later I sailed, and reached home early in February 1892.
I was married three weeks later, and when the honeymoon was over,
set about making the necessary, and some, I fear, unnecessary
additions to this book--by far the greater part of which had been
written, as I have already said, many months earlier. I now leave
it, at any rate for the present, April 22, 1892.

* * *

Postscript.--On the last day of November 1900, I received a letter
addressed in Mr. Alfred Cathie's familiar handwriting, and on
opening it found that it contained another, addressed to me in my
own, and unstamped. For the moment I was puzzled, but immediately
knew that it must be from George. I tore it open, and found eight
closely written pages, which I devoured as I have seldom indeed
devoured so long a letter. It was dated XXIX. vii. 1, and, as
nearly as I can translate it was as follows;-

"Twice, my dearest brother, have I written to you, and twice in
successive days in successive years, have I been up to the statues
on the chance that you could meet me, as I proposed in my letters.
Do not think I went all the way back to Sunch'ston--there is a
ranger's shelter now only an hour and a half below the statues, and
here I passed the night. I knew you had got neither of my letters,
for if you had got them and could not come yourself, you would have
sent some one whom you could trust with a letter. I know you
would, though I do not know how you would have contrived to do it.

"I sent both letters through Bishop Kahabuka (or, as his inferior
clergy call him, 'Chowbok'), head of the Christian Mission to
Erewhemos, which, as your father has doubtless told you, is the
country adjoining Erewhon, but inhabited by a coloured race having
no affinity with our own. Bishop Kahabuka has penetrated at times
into Erewhon, and the King, wishing to be on good terms with his
neighbours, has permitted him to establish two or three mission
stations in the western parts of Erewhon. Among the missionaries
are some few of your own countrymen. None of us like them, but one
of them is teaching me English, which I find quite easy.

"As I wrote in the letters that have never reached you, I am no
longer Ranger. The King, after some few years (in the course of
which I told him of your visit, and what you had brought me),
declared that I was the only one of his servants whom he could
trust, and found high office for me, which kept me in close
confidential communication with himself.

"About three years ago, on the death of his Prime Minister, he
appointed me to fill his place; and it was on this, that so many
possibilities occurred to me concerning which I dearly longed for
your opinion, that I wrote and asked you, if you could, to meet me
personally or by proxy at the statues, which I could reach on the
occasion of my annual visit to my mother--yes--and father--at

"I sent both letters by way of Erewhemos, confiding them to Bishop
Kahabuka, who is just such another as St. Hanky. He tells me that
our father was a very old and dear friend of his--but of course I
did not say anything about his being my own father. I only
inquired about a Mr. Higgs, who was now worshipped in Erewhon as a
supernatural being. The Bishop said it was, "Oh, so very
dreadful," and he felt it all the more keenly, for the reason that
he had himself been the means of my father's going to Erewhon, by
giving him the information that enabled him to find the pass over
the range that bounded the country.

"I did not like the man, but I thought I could trust him with a
letter, which it now seems I could not do. This third letter I
have given him with a promise of a hundred pounds in silver for his
new Cathedral, to be paid as soon as I get an answer from you.

"We are all well at Sunch'ston; so are my wife and eight children--
five sons and three daughters--but the country is at sixes and
sevens. St. Panky is dead, but his son Pocus is worse. Dr. Downie
has become very lethargic. I can do less against St. Hankyism than
when I was a private man. A little indiscretion on my part would
plunge the country in civil war. Our engineers and so-called men
of science are sturdily begging for endowments, and steadily
claiming to have a hand in every pie that is baked from one end of
the country to the other. The missionaries are buying up all our
silver, and a change in the relative values of gold and silver is
in progress of which none of us foresee the end.

"The King and I both think that annexation by England, or a British
Protectorate, would be the saving of us, for we have no army worth
the name, and if you do not take us over some one else soon will.
The King has urged me to send for you. If you come (do! do! do!)
you had better come by way of Erewhemos, which is now in monthly
communication with Southampton. If you will write me that you are
coming I will meet you at the port, and bring you with me to our
own capital, where the King will be overjoyed to see you."

* * *

The rest of the letter was filled with all sorts of news which
interested me, but would require chapters of explanation before
they could become interesting to the reader.

The letter wound up:-

"You may publish now whatever you like, whenever you like.

"Write to me by way of Erewhemos, care of the Right Reverend the
Lord Bishop, and say which way you will come. If you prefer the
old road, we are bound to be in the neighbourhood of the statues by
the beginning of March. My next brother is now Ranger, and could
meet you at the statues with permit and luncheon, and more of that
white wine than ever you will be able to drink. Only let me know
what you will do.

"I should tell you that the old railway which used to run from
Clearwater to the capital, and which, as you know, was allowed to
go to ruin, has been reconstructed at an outlay far less than might
have been expected--for the bridges had been maintained for
ordinary carriage traffic. The journey, therefore, from Sunch'ston
to the capital can now be done in less than forty hours. On the
whole, however, I recommend you to come by way of Erewhemos. If
you start, as I think possible, without writing from England,
Bishop Kahabuka's palace is only eight miles from the port, and he
will give you every information about your further journey--a
distance of less than a couple of hundred miles. But I should
prefer to meet you myself.

"My dearest brother, I charge you by the memory of our common
father, and even more by that of those three hours that linked you
to me for ever, and which I would fain hope linked me also to
yourself--come over, if by any means you can do so--come over and
help us.


"My dear," said I to my wife who was at the other end of the
breakfast table, "I shall have to translate this letter to you, and
then you will have to help me to begin packing; for I have none too
much time. I must see Alfred, and give him a power of attorney.
He will arrange with some publisher about my book, and you can
correct the press. Break the news gently to the children; and get
along without me, my dear, for six months as well as you can."

* * *

I write this at Southampton, from which port I sail to-morrow--i.e.
November 15, 1900--for Erewhemos.


{1} See Chapter X.

Book of the day: