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Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague Rhodes James

Part 3 out of 3

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anything to it. Unless,' added Cooper, after a pause, 'it might be just
this: that, so far as I could form a judgement, he had a dislike (as
people often will for one reason or another) to the memory of his
grandfather, who, as I mentioned to you, had that maze laid out. A man of
peculiar teenets, Mr Humphreys, and a great traveller. You'll have the
opportunity, on the coming Sabbath, of seeing the tablet to him in our
little parish church; put up it was some long time after his death.'

'Oh! I should have expected a man who had such a taste for building to
have designed a mausoleum for himself.'

'Well, I've never noticed anything of the kind you mention; and, in fact,
come to think of it, I'm not at all sure that his resting-place is within
our boundaries at all: that he lays in the vault I'm pretty confident is
not the case. Curious now that I shouldn't be in a position to inform you
on that heading! Still, after all, we can't say, can we, Mr Humphreys,
that it's a point of crucial importance where the pore mortal coils are

At this point they entered the house, and Cooper's speculations were

Tea was laid in the library, where Mr Cooper fell upon subjects
appropriate to the scene. 'A fine collection of books! One of the finest,
I've understood from connoisseurs, in this part of the country; splendid
plates, too, in some of these works. I recollect your uncle showing me
one with views of foreign towns--most absorbing it was: got up in
first-rate style. And another all done by hand, with the ink as fresh as
if it had been laid on yesterday, and yet, he told me, it was the work of
some old monk hundreds of years back. I've always taken a keen interest
in literature myself. Hardly anything to my mind can compare with a good
hour's reading after a hard day's work; far better than wasting the whole
evening at a friend's house--and that reminds me, to be sure. I shall be
getting into trouble with the wife if I don't make the best of my way
home and get ready to squander away one of these same evenings! I must be
off, Mr Humphreys.'

'And that reminds _me_,' said Humphreys, 'if I'm to show Miss Cooper the
maze tomorrow we must have it cleared out a bit. Could you say a word
about that to the proper person?'

'Why, to be sure. A couple of men with scythes could cut out a track
tomorrow morning. I'll leave word as I pass the lodge, and I'll tell
them, what'll save you the trouble, perhaps, Mr Humphreys, of having to
go up and extract them yourself: that they'd better have some sticks or a
tape to mark out their way with as they go on.'

'A very good idea! Yes, do that; and I'll expect Mrs and Miss Cooper in
the afternoon, and yourself about half-past ten in the morning.'

'It'll be a pleasure, I'm sure, both to them and to myself, Mr Humphreys.
Good night!'

* * * * *

Humphreys dined at eight. But for the fact that it was his first evening,
and that Calton was evidently inclined for occasional conversation, he
would have finished the novel he had bought for his journey. As it was,
he had to listen and reply to some of Calton's impressions of the
neighbourhood and the season: the latter, it appeared, was seasonable,
and the former had changed considerably--and not altogether for the
worse--since Calton's boyhood (which had been spent there). The village
shop in particular had greatly improved since the year 1870. It was now
possible to procure there pretty much anything you liked in reason: which
was a conveniency, because suppose anythink was required of a suddent
(and he had known such things before now), he (Calton) could step down
there (supposing the shop to be still open), and order it in, without he
borrered it of the Rectory, whereas in earlier days it would have been
useless to pursue such a course in respect of anything but candles, or
soap, or treacle, or perhaps a penny child's picture-book, and nine times
out of ten it'd be something more in the nature of a bottle of whisky
_you'd_ be requiring; leastways-- On the whole Humphreys thought he would
be prepared with a book in future.

The library was the obvious place for the after-dinner hours. Candle in
hand and pipe in mouth, he moved round the room for some time, taking
stock of the titles of the books. He had all the predisposition to take
interest in an old library, and there was every opportunity for him here
to make systematic acquaintance with one, for he had learned from Cooper
that there was no catalogue save the very superficial one made for
purposes of probate. The drawing up of a _catalogue raisonné_ would be a
delicious occupation for winter. There were probably treasures to be
found, too: even manuscripts, if Cooper might be trusted.

As he pursued his round the sense came upon him (as it does upon most of
us in similar places) of the extreme unreadableness of a great portion of
the collection. 'Editions of Classics and Fathers, and Picart's
_Religious Ceremonies_, and the _Harleian Miscellany_, I suppose are all
very well, but who is ever going to read Tostatus Abulensis, or Pineda on
Job, or a book like this?' He picked out a small quarto, loose in the
binding, and from which the lettered label had fallen off; and observing
that coffee was waiting for him, retired to a chair. Eventually he opened
the book. It will be observed that his condemnation of it rested wholly
on external grounds. For all he knew it might have been a collection of
unique plays, but undeniably the outside was blank and forbidding. As a
matter of fact, it was a collection of sermons or meditations, and
mutilated at that, for the first sheet was gone. It seemed to belong to
the latter end of the seventeenth century. He turned over the pages till
his eye was caught by a marginal note: '_A Parable of this Unhappy
Condition_,' and he thought he would see what aptitudes the author might
have for imaginative composition. 'I have heard or read,' so ran the
passage, 'whether in the way of _Parable_ or true _Relation_ I leave my
Reader to judge, of a Man who, like _Theseus_, in the _Attick Tale_,
should adventure himself, into a _Labyrinth_ or _Maze_: and such an one
indeed as was not laid out in the Fashion of our _Topiary_ artists of
this Age, but of a wide compass, in which, moreover, such unknown
Pitfalls and Snares, nay, such ill-omened Inhabitants were commonly
thought to lurk as could only be encountered at the Hazard of one's very
life. Now you may be sure that in such a Case the Disswasions of Friends
were not wanting. "Consider of such-an-one" says a Brother "how he went
the way you wot of, and was never seen more." "Or of such another" says
the Mother "that adventured himself but a little way in, and from that
day forth is so troubled in his Wits that he cannot tell what he saw, nor
hath passed one good Night." "And have you never heard" cries a Neighbour
"of what Faces have been seen to look out over the _Palisadoes_ and
betwixt the Bars of the Gate?" But all would not do: the Man was set upon
his Purpose: for it seems it was the common fireside Talk of that Country
that at the Heart and Centre of this _Labyrinth_ there was a Jewel of
such Price and Rarity that would enrich the Finder thereof for his life:
and this should be his by right that could persever to come at it. What
then? _Quid multa?_ The Adventurer pass'd the Gates, and for a whole
day's space his Friends without had no news of him, except it might be by
some indistinct Cries heard afar off in the Night, such as made them turn
in their restless Beds and sweat for very Fear, not doubting but that
their Son and Brother had put one more to the _Catalogue_ of those
unfortunates that had suffer'd shipwreck on that Voyage. So the next day
they went with weeping Tears to the Clark of the Parish to order the Bell
to be toll'd. And their Way took them hard by the gate of the
_Labyrinth_: which they would have hastened by, from the Horrour they had
of it, but that they caught sight of a sudden of a Man's Body lying in
the Roadway, and going up to it (with what Anticipations may be easily
figured) found it to be him whom they reckoned as lost: and not dead,
though he were in a Swound most like Death. They then, who had gone forth
as Mourners came back rejoycing, and set to by all means to revive their
Prodigal. Who, being come to himself, and hearing of their Anxieties and
their Errand of that Morning, "Ay" says he "you may as well finish what
you were about: for, for all I have brought back the Jewel (which he
shew'd them, and 'twas indeed a rare Piece) I have brought back that with
it that will leave me neither Rest at Night nor Pleasure by Day."
Whereupon they were instant with him to learn his Meaning, and where his
Company should be that went so sore against his Stomach. "O" says he
"'tis here in my Breast: I cannot flee from it, do what I may." So it
needed no Wizard to help them to a guess that it was the Recollection of
what he had seen that troubled him so wonderfully. But they could get no
more of him for a long Time but by Fits and Starts. However at long and
at last they made shift to collect somewhat of this kind: that at first,
while the Sun was bright, he went merrily on, and without any Difficulty
reached the Heart of the _Labyrinth_ and got the Jewel, and so set out on
his way back rejoycing: but as the Night fell, _wherein all the Beasts of
the Forest do move_, he begun to be sensible of some Creature keeping
Pace with him and, as he thought, _peering and looking upon him_ from the
next Alley to that he was in; and that when he should stop, this
Companion should stop also, which put him in some Disorder of his
Spirits. And, indeed, as the Darkness increas'd, it seemed to him that
there was more than one, and, it might be, even a whole Band of such
Followers: at least so he judg'd by the Rustling and Cracking that they
kept among the Thickets; besides that there would be at a Time a Sound of
Whispering, which seem'd to import a Conference among them. But in regard
of who they were or what Form they were of, he would not be persuaded to
say what he thought. Upon his Hearers asking him what the Cries were
which they heard in the Night (as was observ'd above) he gave them this
Account: That about Midnight (so far as he could judge) he heard his Name
call'd from a long way off, and he would have been sworn it was his
Brother that so call'd him. So he stood still and hilloo'd at the Pitch
of his Voice, and he suppos'd that the _Echo_, or the Noyse of his
Shouting, disguis'd for the Moment any lesser sound; because, when there
fell a Stillness again, he distinguish'd a Trampling (not loud) of
running Feet coming very close behind him, wherewith he was so daunted
that himself set off to run, and that he continued till the Dawn broke.
Sometimes when his Breath fail'd him, he would cast himself flat on his
Face, and hope that his Pursuers might over-run him in the Darkness, but
at such a Time they would regularly make a Pause, and he could hear them
pant and snuff as it had been a Hound at Fault: which wrought in him so
extream an Horrour of mind, that he would be forc'd to betake himself
again to turning and doubling, if by any Means he might throw them off
the Scent. And, as if this Exertion was in itself not terrible enough, he
had before him the constant Fear of falling into some Pit or Trap, of
which he had heard, and indeed seen with his own Eyes that there were
several, some at the sides and other in the Midst of the Alleys. So that
in fine (he said) a more dreadful Night was never spent by Mortal
Creature than that he had endur'd in that _Labyrinth_; and not that Jewel
which he had in his Wallet, nor the richest that was ever brought out of
the _Indies_, could be a sufficient Recompence to him for the Pains he
had suffered.

'I will spare to set down the further Recital of this Man's Troubles,
inasmuch as I am confident my Reader's Intelligence will hit the
_Parallel_ I desire to draw. For is not this Jewel a just Emblem of the
Satisfaction which a Man may bring back with him from a Course of this
World's Pleasures? and will not the _Labyrinth_ serve for an Image of the
World itself wherein such a Treasure (if we may believe the common Voice)
is stored up?'

At about this point Humphreys thought that a little Patience would be an
agreeable change, and that the writer's 'improvement' of his Parable
might be left to itself. So he put the book back in its former place,
wondering as he did so whether his uncle had ever stumbled across that
passage; and if so, whether it had worked on his fancy so much as to make
him dislike the idea of a maze, and determine to shut up the one in the
garden. Not long afterwards he went to bed.

The next day brought a morning's hard work with Mr Cooper, who, if
exuberant in language, had the business of the estate at his fingers'
ends. He was very breezy this morning, Mr Cooper was: had not forgotten
the order to clear out the maze--the work was going on at that moment:
his girl was on the tentacles of expectation about it. He also hoped that
Humphreys had slept the sleep of the just, and that we should be favoured
with a continuance of this congenial weather At luncheon he enlarged on
the pictures in the dining-room, and pointed out the portrait of the
constructor of the temple and the maze. Humphreys examined this with
considerable interest. It was the work of an Italian, and had been
painted when old Mr Wilson was visiting Rome as a young man. (There was,
indeed, a view of the Colosseum in the background.) A pale thin face and
large eyes were the characteristic features. In the hand was a partially
unfolded roll of paper, on which could be distinguished the plan of a
circular building, very probably the temple, and also part of that of a
labyrinth. Humphreys got up on a chair to examine it, but it was not
painted with sufficient clearness to be worth copying. It suggested to
him, however, that he might as well make a plan of his own maze and hang
it in the hall for the use of visitors.

This determination of his was confirmed that same afternoon; for when Mrs
and Miss Cooper arrived, eager to be inducted into the maze, he found
that he was wholly unable to lead them to the centre. The gardeners had
removed the guide-marks they had been using, and even Clutterham, when
summoned to assist, was as helpless as the rest. 'The point is, you see,
Mr Wilson--I should say 'Umphreys--these mazes is purposely constructed
so much alike, with a view to mislead. Still, if you'll foller me, I
think I can put you right. I'll just put my 'at down 'ere as a
starting-point.' He stumped off, and after five minutes brought the party
safe to the hat again. 'Now that's a very peculiar thing,' he said, with
a sheepish laugh. 'I made sure I'd left that 'at just over against a
bramble-bush, and you can see for yourself there ain't no bramble-bush
not in this walk at all. If you'll allow me, Mr Humphreys--that's the
name, ain't it, sir?--I'll just call one of the men in to mark the place

William Crack arrived, in answer to repeated shouts. He had some
difficulty in making his way to the party. First he was seen or heard in
an inside alley, then, almost at the same moment, in an outer one.
However, he joined them at last, and was first consulted without effect
and then stationed by the hat, which Clutterham still considered it
necessary to leave on the ground. In spite of this strategy, they spent
the best part of three-quarters of an hour in quite fruitless wanderings,
and Humphreys was obliged at last, seeing how tired Mrs Cooper was
becoming, to suggest a retreat to tea, with profuse apologies to Miss
Cooper. 'At any rate you've won your bet with Miss Foster,' he said; 'you
have been inside the maze; and I promise you the first thing I do shall
be to make a proper plan of it with the lines marked out for you to go
by.' 'That's what's wanted, sir,' said Clutterham, 'someone to draw out a
plan and keep it by them. It might be very awkward, you see, anyone
getting into that place and a shower of rain come on, and them not able
to find their way out again; it might be hours before they could be got
out, without you'd permit of me makin' a short cut to the middle: what my
meanin' is, takin' down a couple of trees in each 'edge in a straight
line so as you could git a clear view right through. Of course that'd do
away with it as a maze, but I don't know as you'd approve of that.'

'No, I won't have that done yet: I'll make a plan first, and let you have
a copy. Later on, if we find occasion, I'll think of what you say.'

Humphreys was vexed and ashamed at the fiasco of the afternoon, and could
not be satisfied without making another effort that evening to reach the
centre of the maze. His irritation was increased by finding it without a
single false step. He had thoughts of beginning his plan at once; but the
light was fading, and he felt that by the time he had got the necessary
materials together, work would be impossible.

Next morning accordingly, carrying a drawing-board, pencils, compasses,
cartridge paper, and so forth (some of which had been borrowed from the
Coopers and some found in the library cupboards), he went to the middle
of the maze (again without any hesitation), and set out his materials. He
was, however, delayed in making a start. The brambles and weeds that had
obscured the column and globe were now all cleared away, and it was for
the first time possible to see clearly what these were like. The column
was featureless, resembling those on which sundials are usually placed.
Not so the globe. I have said that it was finely engraved with figures
and inscriptions, and that on a first glance Humphreys had taken it for a
celestial globe: but he soon found that it did not answer to his
recollection of such things. One feature seemed familiar; a winged
serpent--_Draco_--encircled it about the place which, on a terrestrial
globe, is occupied by the equator: but on the other hand, a good part of
the upper hemisphere was covered by the outspread wings of a large figure
whose head was concealed by a ring at the pole or summit of the whole.
Around the place of the head the words _princeps tenebrarum_ could be
deciphered. In the lower hemisphere there was a space hatched all over
with cross-lines and marked as _umbra mortis_. Near it was a range of
mountains, and among them a valley with flames rising from it. This was
lettered (will you be surprised to learn it?) _vallis filiorum Hinnom_.
Above and below _Draco_ were outlined various figures not unlike the
pictures of the ordinary constellations, but not the same. Thus, a nude
man with a raised club was described, not as _Hercules_ but as _Cain_.
Another, plunged up to his middle in earth and stretching out despairing
arms, was _Chore_, not _Ophiuchus_, and a third, hung by his hair to a
snaky tree, was _Absolon_. Near the last, a man in long robes and high
cap, standing in a circle and addressing two shaggy demons who hovered
outside, was described as _Hostanes magus_ (a character unfamiliar to
Humphreys). The scheme of the whole, indeed, seemed to be an assemblage
of the patriarchs of evil, perhaps not uninfluenced by a study of Dante.
Humphreys thought it an unusual exhibition of his great-grandfather's
taste, but reflected that he had probably picked it up in Italy and had
never taken the trouble to examine it closely: certainly, had he set much
store by it, he would not have exposed it to wind and weather. He tapped
the metal--it seemed hollow and not very thick--and, turning from it,
addressed himself to his plan. After half an hour's work he found it was
impossible to get on without using a clue: so he procured a roll of twine
from Clutterham, and laid it out along the alleys from the entrance to
the centre, tying the end to the ring at the top of the globe. This
expedient helped him to set out a rough plan before luncheon, and in the
afternoon he was able to draw it in more neatly. Towards tea-time Mr
Cooper joined him, and was much interested in his progress. 'Now this--'
said Mr Cooper, laying his hand on the globe, and then drawing it away
hastily. 'Whew! Holds the heat, doesn't it, to a surprising degree, Mr
Humphreys. I suppose this metal--copper, isn't it?--would be an insulator
or conductor, or whatever they call it.'

'The sun has been pretty strong this afternoon,' said Humphreys, evading
the scientific point, 'but I didn't notice the globe had got hot. No--it
doesn't seem very hot to me,' he added.

'Odd!' said Mr Cooper. 'Now I can't hardly bear my hand on it. Something
in the difference of temperament between us, I suppose. I dare say you're
a chilly subject, Mr Humphreys: I'm not: and there's where the
distinction lies. All this summer I've slept, if you'll believe me,
practically _in statu quo_, and had my morning tub as cold as I could get
it. Day out and day in--let me assist you with that string.'

'It's all right, thanks; but if you'll collect some of these pencils and
things that are lying about I shall be much obliged. Now I think we've
got everything, and we might get back to the house.'

They left the maze, Humphreys rolling up the clue as they went.

The night was rainy.

Most unfortunately it turned out that, whether by Cooper's fault or not,
the plan had been the one thing forgotten the evening before. As was to
be expected, it was ruined by the wet. There was nothing for it but to
begin again (the job would not be a long one this time). The clue
therefore was put in place once more and a fresh start made. But
Humphreys had not done much before an interruption came in the shape of
Calton with a telegram. His late chief in London wanted to consult him.
Only a brief interview was wanted, but the summons was urgent. This was
annoying, yet it was not really upsetting; there was a train available in
half an hour, and, unless things went very cross, he could be back,
possibly by five o'clock, certainly by eight. He gave the plan to Calton
to take to the house, but it was not worth while to remove the clue.

All went as he had hoped. He spent a rather exciting evening in the
library, for he lighted tonight upon a cupboard where some of the rarer
books were kept. When he went up to bed he was glad to find that the
servant had remembered to leave his curtains undrawn and his windows
open. He put down his light, and went to the window which commanded a
view of the garden and the park. It was a brilliant moonlight night. In a
few weeks' time the sonorous winds of autumn would break up all this
calm. But now the distant woods were in a deep stillness; the slopes of
the lawns were shining with dew; the colours of some of the flowers could
almost be guessed. The light of the moon just caught the cornice of the
temple and the curve of its leaden dome, and Humphreys had to own that,
so seen, these conceits of a past age have a real beauty. In short, the
light, the perfume of the woods, and the absolute quiet called up such
kind old associations in his mind that he went on ruminating them for a
long, long time. As he turned from the window he felt he had never seen
anything more complete of its sort. The one feature that struck him with
a sense of incongruity was a small Irish yew, thin and black, which stood
out like an outpost of the shrubbery, through which the maze was
approached. That, he thought, might as well be away: the wonder was that
anyone should have thought it would look well in that position.

* * * * *

However, next morning, in the press of answering letters and going over
books with Mr Cooper, the Irish yew was forgotten. One letter, by the
way, arrived this day which has to be mentioned. It was from that Lady
Wardrop whom Miss Cooper had mentioned, and it renewed the application
which she had addressed to Mr Wilson. She pleaded, in the first place,
that she was about to publish a Book of Mazes, and earnestly desired to
include the plan of the Wilsthorpe Maze, and also that it would be a
great kindness if Mr Humphreys could let her see it (if at all) at an
early date, since she would soon have to go abroad for the winter months.
Her house at Bentley was not far distant, so Humphreys was able to send a
note by hand to her suggesting the very next day or the day after for her
visit; it may be said at once that the messenger brought back a most
grateful answer, to the effect that the morrow would suit her admirably.

The only other event of the day was that the plan of the maze was
successfully finished.

This night again was fair and brilliant and calm, and Humphreys lingered
almost as long at his window. The Irish yew came to his mind again as he
was on the point of drawing his curtains: but either he had been misled
by a shadow the night before, or else the shrub was not really so
obtrusive as he had fancied. Anyhow, he saw no reason for interfering
with it. What he _would_ do away with, however, was a clump of dark
growth which had usurped a place against the house wall, and was
threatening to obscure one of the lower range of windows. It did not look
as if it could possibly be worth keeping; he fancied it dank and
unhealthy, little as he could see of it.

Next day (it was a Friday--he had arrived at Wilsthorpe on a Monday) Lady
Wardrop came over in her car soon after luncheon. She was a stout elderly
person, very full of talk of all sorts and particularly inclined to make
herself agreeable to Humphreys, who had gratified her very much by his
ready granting of her request. They made a thorough exploration of the
place together; and Lady Wardrop's opinion of her host obviously rose
sky-high when she found that he really knew something of gardening. She
entered enthusiastically into all his plans for improvement, but agreed
that it would be a vandalism to interfere with the characteristic
laying-out of the ground near the house. With the temple she was
particularly delighted, and, said she, 'Do you know, Mr Humphreys, I
think your bailiff must be right about those lettered blocks of stone.
One of my mazes--I'm sorry to say the stupid people have destroyed it
now--it was at a place in Hampshire--had the track marked out in that
way. They were tiles there, but lettered just like yours, and the
letters, taken in the right order, formed an inscription--what it was I
forget--something about Theseus and Ariadne. I have a copy of it, as well
as the plan of the maze where it was. How people can do such things! I
shall never forgive you if you injure _your_ maze. Do you know, they're
becoming very uncommon? Almost every year I hear of one being grubbed up.
Now, do let's get straight to it: or, if you're too busy, I know my way
there perfectly, and I'm not afraid of getting lost in it; I know too
much about mazes for that. Though I remember missing my lunch--not so
very long ago either--through getting entangled in the one at Busbury.
Well, of course, if you _can_ manage to come with me, that will be all
the nicer.'

After this confident prelude justice would seem to require that Lady
Wardrop should have been hopelessly muddled by the Wilsthorpe maze.
Nothing of that kind happened: yet it is to be doubted whether she got
all the enjoyment from her new specimen that she expected. She was
interested--keenly interested--to be sure, and pointed out to Humphreys a
series of little depressions in the ground which, she thought, marked the
places of the lettered blocks. She told him, too, what other mazes
resembled his most closely in arrangement, and explained how it was
usually possible to date a maze to within twenty years by means of its
plan. This one, she already knew, must be about as old as 1780, and its
features were just what might be expected. The globe, furthermore,
completely absorbed her. It was unique in her experience, and she pored
over it for long. 'I should like a rubbing of that,' she said, 'if it
could possibly be made. Yes, I am sure you would be most kind about it,
Mr Humphreys, but I trust you won't attempt it on my account, I do
indeed; I shouldn't like to take any liberties here. I have the feeling
that it might be resented. Now, confess,' she went on, turning and facing
Humphreys, 'don't you feel--haven't you felt ever since you came in
here--that a watch is being kept on us, and that if we overstepped the
mark in any way there would be a--well, a pounce? No? _I_ do; and I don't
care how soon we are outside the gate.'

'After all,' she said, when they were once more on their way to the
house, 'it may have been only the airlessness and the dull heat of that
place that pressed on my brain. Still, I'll take back one thing I said.
I'm not sure that I shan't forgive you after all, if I find next spring
that that maze has been grubbed up.'

'Whether or no that's done, you shall have the plan, Lady Wardrop. I have
made one, and no later than tonight I can trace you a copy.'

'Admirable: a pencil tracing will be all I want, with an indication of
the scale. I can easily have it brought into line with the rest of my
plates. Many, many thanks.'

'Very well, you shall have that tomorrow. I wish you could help me to a
solution of my block-puzzle.'

'What, those stones in the summer-house? That _is_ a puzzle; they are in
no sort of order? Of course not. But the men who put them down must have
had some directions--perhaps you'll find a paper about it among your
uncle's things. If not, you'll have to call in somebody who's an expert
in ciphers.'

'Advise me about something else, please,' said Humphreys. 'That
bush-thing under the library window: you would have that away, wouldn't

'Which? That? Oh, I think not,' said Lady Wardrop. 'I can't see it very
well from this distance, but it's not unsightly.'

'Perhaps you're right; only, looking out of my window, just above it,
last night, I thought it took up too much room. It doesn't seem to, as
one sees it from here, certainly. Very well, I'll leave it alone for a

Tea was the next business, soon after which Lady Wardrop drove off; but,
half-way down the drive, she stopped the car and beckoned to Humphreys,
who was still on the front-door steps. He ran to glean her parting words,
which were: 'It just occurs to me, it might be worth your while to look
at the underside of those stones. They _must_ have been numbered, mustn't
they? _Good_-bye again. Home, please.'

* * * * *

The main occupation of this evening at any rate was settled. The tracing
of the plan for Lady Wardrop and the careful collation of it with the
original meant a couple of hours' work at least. Accordingly, soon after
nine Humphreys had his materials put out in the library and began. It was
a still, stuffy evening; windows had to stand open, and he had more than
one grisly encounter with a bat. These unnerving episodes made him keep
the tail of his eye on the window. Once or twice it was a question
whether there was--not a bat, but something more considerable--that had a
mind to join him. How unpleasant it would be if someone had slipped
noiselessly over the sill and was crouching on the floor!

The tracing of the plan was done: it remained to compare it with the
original, and to see whether any paths had been wrongly closed or left
open. With one finger on each paper, he traced out the course that must
be followed from the entrance. There were one or two slight mistakes, but
here, near the centre, was a bad confusion, probably due to the entry of
the Second or Third Bat. Before correcting the copy he followed out
carefully the last turnings of the path on the original. These, at least,
were right; they led without a hitch to the middle space. Here was a
feature which need not be repeated on the copy--an ugly black spot about
the size of a shilling. Ink? No. It resembled a hole, but how should a
hole be there? He stared at it with tired eyes: the work of tracing had
been very laborious, and he was drowsy and oppressed... But surely this
was a very odd hole. It seemed to go not only through the paper, but
through the table on which it lay. Yes, and through the floor below that,
down, and still down, even into infinite depths. He craned over it,
utterly bewildered. Just as, when you were a child, you may have pored
over a square inch of counterpane until it became a landscape with wooded
hills, and perhaps even churches and houses, and you lost all thought of
the true size of yourself and it, so this hole seemed to Humphreys for
the moment the only thing in the world. For some reason it was hateful to
him from the first, but he had gazed at it for some moments before any
feeling of anxiety came upon him; and then it did come, stronger and
stronger--a horror lest something might emerge from it, and a really
agonizing conviction that a terror was on its way, from the sight of
which he would not be able to escape. Oh yes, far, far down there was a
movement, and the movement was upwards--towards the surface. Nearer and
nearer it came, and it was of a blackish-grey colour with more than one
dark hole. It took shape as a face--a human face--a _burnt_ human face:
and with the odious writhings of a wasp creeping out of a rotten apple
there clambered forth an appearance of a form, waving black arms prepared
to clasp the head that was bending over them. With a convulsion of
despair Humphreys threw himself back, struck his head against a hanging
lamp, and fell.

There was concussion of the brain, shock to the system, and a long
confinement to bed. The doctor was badly puzzled, not by the symptoms,
but by a request which Humphreys made to him as soon as he was able to
say anything. 'I wish you would open the ball in the maze.' 'Hardly room
enough there, I should have thought,' was the best answer he could summon
up; 'but it's more in your way than mine; my dancing days are over.' At
which Humphreys muttered and turned over to sleep, and the doctor
intimated to the nurses that the patient was not out of the wood yet.
When he was better able to express his views, Humphreys made his meaning
clear, and received a promise that the thing should be done at once. He
was so anxious to learn the result that the doctor, who seemed a little
pensive next morning, saw that more harm than good would be done by
saving up his report. 'Well,' he said, 'I am afraid the ball is done for;
the metal must have worn thin, I suppose. Anyhow, it went all to bits
with the first blow of the chisel.' 'Well? go on, do!' said Humphreys
impatiently. 'Oh! you want to know what we found in it, of course. Well,
it was half full of stuff like ashes.' 'Ashes? What did you make of them'
'I haven't thoroughly examined them yet; there's hardly been time: but
Cooper's made up his mind--I dare say from something I said--that it's a
case of cremation... Now don't excite yourself, my good sir: yes, I must
allow I think he's probably right.'

The maze is gone, and Lady Wardrop has forgiven Humphreys; in fact, I
believe he married her niece. She was right, too, in her conjecture that
the stones in the temple were numbered. There had been a numeral painted
on the bottom of each. Some few of these had rubbed off, but enough
remained to enable Humphreys to reconstruct the inscription. It ran thus:


Grateful as Humphreys was to the memory of his uncle, he could not quite
forgive him for having burnt the journals and letters of the James Wilson
who had gifted Wilsthorpe with the maze and the temple. As to the
circumstances of that ancestor's death and burial no tradition survived;
but his will, which was almost the only record of him accessible,
assigned an unusually generous legacy to a servant who bore an Italian

Mr Cooper's view is that, humanly speaking, all these many solemn events
have a meaning for us, if our limited intelligence permitted of our
disintegrating it, while Mr Calton has been reminded of an aunt now gone
from us, who, about the year 1866, had been lost for upwards of an hour
and a half in the maze at Covent Gardens, or it might be Hampton Court.

One of the oddest things in the whole series of transactions is that the
book which contained the Parable has entirely disappeared. Humphreys has
never been able to find it since he copied out the passage to send to
Lady Wardrop.

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