Part 7 out of 10
There was a sound in the next room which might have been--I
cannot be certain--the sound of a kiss. The next moment, we heard
the door of the room unlocked. Then the door of the house was
opened, and the noise of retreating carriage-wheels followed. We
met him in the hall, as he entered the house again.
My daughter walked up to him, pale and determined.
"I insist on knowing who that woman is, and what she wants here."
Those were her first words. He looked at her like a man in utter
confusion. "Wait till this evening; I am in no state to speak to
you now!" With that, he snatched his hat off the hall table and
rushed out of the house.
It is little more than three weeks since they returned to London
from their happy wedding-tour--and it has come to this!
The clock has just struck seven; a letter has been left by a
messenger, addressed to my daughter. I had persuaded her, poor
soul, to lie down in her own room. God grant that the letter may
bring her some tidings of her husband! I please myself in the
hope of hearing good news.
My mind has not been kept long in suspense. Felicia's
waiting-woman has brought me a morsel of writing paper, with
these lines penciled on it in my daughter's handwriting: "Dearest
father, make your mind easy. Everything is explained. I cannot
trust myself to speak to you about it to-night--and _he_ doesn't
wish me to do so. Only wait till tomorrow, and you shall know
all. He will be back about eleven o'clock. Please don't wait up
for him--he will come straight to me."
September 13th.--The scales have fallen from my eyes; the light
is let in on me at last. My bewilderment is not to be uttered in
words--I am like a man in a dream.
Before I was out of my room in the morning, my mind was upset by
the arrival of a telegram addressed to myself. It was the first
thing of the kind I ever received; I trembled under the prev
ision of some new misfortune as I opened the envelope.
Of all the people in the world, the person sending the telegram
was sister Judith! Never before did this distracting relative
confound me as she confounded me now. Here is her message: "You
can't come back. An architect from Edinburgh asserts his
resolution to repair the kirk and the manse. The man only waits
for his lawful authority to begin. The money is ready--but who
has found it? Mr. Architect is forbidden to tell. We live in
awful times. How is Felicia?"
Naturally concluding that Judith's mind must be deranged, I went
downstairs to meet my son-in-law (for the first time since the
events of yesterday) at the late breakfast which is customary in
this house. He was waiting for me--but Felicia was not present.
"She breakfasts in her room this morning," says Marmaduke; "and I
am to give you the explanation which has already satisfied your
daughter. Will you take it at great length, sir? or will you have
it in one word?" There was something in his manner that I did not
at all like--he seemed to be setting me at defiance. I said,
stiffly, "Brevity is best; I will have it in one word."
"Here it is then," he answered. "I am Barrymore. "
POSTSCRIPT ADDED BY FELICIA.
If the last line extracted from my dear father's Diary does not
contain explanation enough in itself, I add some sentences from
Marmaduke's letter to me, sent from the theater last night. (N.
B.--I leave out the expressions of endearment: they are my own
. . . "Just remember how your father talked about theaters and
actors, when I was at Cauldkirk, and how you listened in dutiful
agreement with him. Would he have consented to your marriage if
he had known that I was one of the 'spouting rogues,' associated
with the 'painted Jezebels' of the playhouse? He would never have
consented--and you yourself, my darling, would have trembled at
the bare idea of marrying an actor.
"Have I been guilty of any serious deception? and have my friends
been guilty in helping to keep my secret? My birth, my name, my
surviving relatives, my fortune inherited from my father--all
these important particulars have been truly stated. The name of
Barrymore is nothing but the name that I assumed when I went on
"As to what has happened, since our return from Switzerland, I
own that I ought to have made my confession to you. Forgive me if
I weakly hesitated. I was so fond of you; and I so distrusted the
Puritanical convictions which your education had rooted in your
mind, that I put it off from day to day. Oh, my angel ....!
"Yes, I kept the address of my new house a secret from all my
friends, knowing they would betray me if they paid us visits. As
for my mysteriously-closed study, it was the place in which I
privately rehearsed my new part. When I left you in the mornings,
it was to go to the theater rehearsals. My evening absences began
of course with the first performance.
"Your father's arrival seriously embarrassed me. When you (most
properly) insisted on my giving up some of my evenings to him,
you necessarily made it impossible for me to appear on the stage.
The one excuse I could make to the theater was, that I was too
ill to act. It did certainly occur to me to cut the Gordian knot
by owning the truth. But your father's horror, when you spoke of
the newspaper review of the play, and the shame and fear you
showed at your own boldness, daunted me once more.
"The arrival at the theater of my written excuse brought the
manageress down upon me, in a state of distraction. Nobody could
supply my place; all the seats were taken; and the Prince was
expected. There was what we call a scene between the poor lady
and myself. I felt I was in the wrong; I saw that the position in
which I had impulsively placed myself was unworthy of me--and it
ended in my doing my duty to the theater and the public. But for
the affair of the bracelet, which obliged me as an honorable man
to give my name and address, the manageress would not have
discovered me. She, like every one else, only knew of my address
at my bachelor chambers. How could you be jealous of the old
theatrical comrade of my first days on the stage? Don't you know
yet that you are the one woman in the world . . . . ?
"A last word relating to your father, and I have done.
"Do you remember my leaving you at the telegraph office? It was
to send a message to a friend of mine, an architect in Edinburgh,
instructing him to go immediately to Cauldkirk, and provide for
the repairs at my expense. The theater, my dear, more than
trebles my paternal income, and I can well afford it. Will your
father refuse to accept a tribute of respect to a Scottish
minister, because it is paid out of an actor's pocket? You shall
ask him the question.
"And, I say, Felicia--will you come and see me act? I don't
expect your father to enter a theater; but, by way of further
reconciling him to his son-in-law, suppose you ask him to hear me
read the play?"
MR. PERCY AND THE PROPHET.
PART 1.--THE PREDICTION.
THE disasters that follow the hateful offense against
Christianity, which men call war, were severely felt in England
during the peace that ensued on the overthrow of Napoleon at
Waterloo. With rare exceptions, distress prevailed among all
classes of the community. The starving nation was ripe and ready
for a revolutionary rising against its rulers, who had shed the
people's blood and wasted the people's substance in a war which
had yielded to the popular interests absolutely nothing in
Among the unfortunate persons who were driven, during the
disastrous early years of this century, to strange shifts and
devices to obtain the means of living, was a certain obscure
medical man, of French extraction, named Lagarde. The Doctor
(duly qualified to bear the title) was an inhabitant of London;
living in one of the narrow streets which connect the great
thoroughfare of the Strand with the bank of the Thames.
The method of obtaining employment chosen by poor Lagarde, as the
one alternative left in the face of starvation, was, and is still
considered by the medical profession to be, the method of a
quack. He advertised in the public journals.
Addressing himself especially to two classes of the community,
the Doctor proceeded in these words:
"I have the honor of inviting to my house, in the first place:
Persons afflicted with maladies which ordinary medical practice
has failed to cure--and, in the second place: Persons interested
in investigations, the object of which is to penetrate the
secrets of the future. Of the means by which I endeavor to
alleviate suffering and to enlighten doubt, it is impossible to
speak intelligibly within the limits of an advertisement. I can
only offer to submit my system to public inquiry, without
exacting any preliminary fee from ladies and gentlemen who may
honor me with a visit. Those who see sufficient reason to trust
me, after personal experience, will find a money-box fixed on the
waiting-room table, into which they can drop their offerings
according to their means. Those whom I am not fortunate enough to
satisfy will be pleased to accept the expression of my regret,
and will not be expected to give anything. I shall be found at
home every evening between the hours of six and ten."
Toward the close of the year 1816 this strange advertisement
became a general topic of conversation among educated people in
London. For some weeks the Doctor's invitations were generally
accepted--and, all things considered, were not badly remunerated.
A faithful few believed in him, and told wonderful stories of
what he had pronounced and prophesied in the sanctuary of his
consulting-room. The majority of his visitors simply viewed him
in the light of a public amusement, and wondered why such a
gentlemanlike man should have chosen to gain his living by
exhibiting himself as a quack.
ON a raw and snowy evening toward the latter part of January,
1817, a gentleman, walking along the Strand, turned into the
street in which Doctor Lagarde lived, and knocked at the
He was admitted by an eld erly male servant to a waiting-room on
the first floor. The light of one little lamp, placed on a
bracket fixed to the wall, was so obscured by a dark green shade
as to make it difficult, if not impossible, for visitors meeting
by accident to recognize each other. The metal money-box fixed to
the table was just visible. In the flickering light of a small
fire, the stranger perceived the figures of three men seated,
apart and silent, who were the only occupants of the room beside
So far as objects were to be seen, there was nothing to attract
attention in the waiting-room. The furniture was plain and neat,
and nothing more. The elderly servant handed a card, with a
number inscribed on it, to the new visitor, said in a whisper,
"Your number will be called, sir, in your turn," and disappeared.
For some minutes nothing disturbed the deep silence but the faint
ticking of a clock. After a while a bell rang from an inner room,
a door opened, and a gentleman appeared, whose interview with
Doctor Lagarde had terminated. His opinion of the sitting was
openly expressed in one emphatic word--"Humbug!" No contribution
dropped from his hand as he passed the money-box on his way out.
The next number (being Number Fifteen) was called by the elderly
servant, and the first incident occurred in the strange series of
events destined to happen in the Doctor's house that night.
One after another the three men who had been waiting rose,
examined their cards under the light of the lamp, and sat down
again surprised and disappointed.
The servant advanced to investigate the matter. The numbers
possessed by the three visitors, instead of being Fifteen,
Sixteen and Seventeen, proved to be Sixteen, Seventeen and
Eighteen. Turning to the stranger who had arrived the last, the
"Have I made a mistake, sir? Have I given you Number Fifteen
instead of Number Eighteen?"
The gentleman produced his numbered card.
A mistake had certainly been made, but not the mistake that the
servant supposed. The card held by the latest visitor turned out
to be the card previously held by the dissatisfied stranger who
had just left the room--Number Fourteen! As to the card numbered
Fifteen, it was only discovered the next morning lying in a
corner, dropped on the floor!
Acting on his first impulse, the servant hurried out, calling to
the original holder of Fourteen to come back and bear his
testimony to that fact. The street-door had been opened for him
by the landlady of the, house. She was a pretty woman--and the
gentleman had fortunately lingered to talk to her. He was
induced, at the intercession of the landlady, to ascend the
On returning to the waiting-room, he addressed a characteristic
question to the assembled visitors. "_More_ humbug?" asked the
gentleman who liked to talk to a pretty woman.
The servant--completely puzzled by his own stupidity--attempted
to make his apologies.
"Pray forgive me, gentlemen," he said. "I am afraid I have
confused the cards I distribute with the cards returned to me. I
think I had better consult my master."
Left by themselves, the visitors began to speak jestingly of the
strange situation in which they were placed. The original holder
of Number Fourteen described his experience of the Doctor in his
own pithy way. "I applied to the fellow to tell my fortune. He
first went to sleep over it, and then he said he could tell me
nothing. I asked why. 'I don't know,' says he. '_ I_ do,' says
I--'humbug!' I'll bet you the long odds, gentlemen, that _you_
find it humbug, too."
Before the wager could be accepted or declined, the door of the
inner room was opened again. The tall, spare, black figure of a
new personage appeared on the threshold, relieved darkly against
the light in the room behind him. He addressed the visitors in
"Gentlemen, I must beg your indulgence. The accident--as we now
suppose it to be--which has given to the last comer the number
already held by a gentleman who has unsuccessfully consulted me,
may have a meaning which we can none of us at present see. If the
three visitors who have been so good as to wait will allow the
present holder of Number Fourteen to consult me out of his
turn--and if the earlier visitor who left me dissatisfied with
his consultation will consent to stay here a little
longer--something may happen which will justify a trifling
sacrifice of your own convenience. Is ten minutes' patience too
much to ask of you?"
The three visitors who had waited longest consulted among
themselves, and (having nothing better to do with their time)
decided on accepting the Doctor's proposal. The visitor who
believed it all to be "humbug" coolly took a gold coin out of his
pocket, tossed it into the air, caught it in his closed hand, and
walked up to the shaded lamp on the bracket.
"Heads, stay," he said, "Tails, go." He opened his hand, and
looked at the coin. "Heads! Very good. Go on with your
hocus-pocus, Doctor--I'll wait."
"You believe in chance," said the Doctor, quietly observing him.
"That is not my experience of life."
He paused to let the stranger who now held Number Fourteen pass
him into the inner room--then followed, closing the door behind
THE consulting-room was better lighted than the waiting-room, and
that was the only difference between the two. In the one, as in
the other, no attempt was made to impress the imagination.
Everywhere, the commonplace furniture of a London lodging-house
was left without the slightest effort to alter or improve it by
changes of any kind.
Seen under the clearer light, Doctor Lagarde appeared to be the
last person living who would consent to degrade himself by an
attempt at imposture of any kind. His eyes were the dreamy eyes
of a visionary; his look was the prematurely-aged look of a
student, accustomed to give the hours to his book which ought to
have been given to his bed. To state it briefly, he was a man who
might easily be deceived by others, but who was incapable of
consciously practicing deception himself.
Signing to his visitor to be seated, he took a chair on the
opposite side of the small table that stood between them--waited
a moment with his face hidden in his hands, as if to collect
himself--and then spoke.
"Do you come to consult me on a case of illness?" he inquired,
"or do you ask me to look to the darkness which hides your future
The answer to these questions was frankly and briefly expressed.
"I have no need to consult you about my health. I come to hear
what you can tell me of my future life."
"I can try," pursued the Doctor; "but I cannot promise to
"I accept your conditions," the stranger rejoined. "I never
believe nor disbelieve. If you will excuse my speaking frankly, I
mean to observe you closely, and to decide for myself."
Doctor Lagarde smiled sadly.
"You have heard of me as a charlatan who contrives to amuse a few
idle people," he said. "I don't complain of that; my present
position leads necessarily to misinterpretation of myself and my
motives. Still, I may at least say that I am the victim of a
sincere avowal of my belief in a great science. Yes! I repeat it,
a great science! New, I dare say, to the generation we live in,
though it was known and practiced in the days when pyramids were
built. The age is advancing; and the truths which it is my
misfortune to advocate, before the time is ripe for them, are
steadily forcing their way to recognition. I am resigned to wait.
My sincerity in this matter has cost me the income that I derived
from my medical practice. Patients distrust me; doctors refuse to
consult with me. I could starve if I had no one to think of but
myself. But I have another person to consider, who is very dear
to me; and I am driven, literally driven, either to turn beggar
in the streets, or do what I am doing now."
He paused, and looked round toward the corner of the room behind
him. "Mother," he said gently, "are you ready?"
An elderly lady, dressed in deep mourning, rose from her seat in
the corner. She had been, thus far, hidden from notice by the
high back of the easy-chair in which her son sat. Excepting some
f olds of fine black lace, laid over her white hair so as to form
a head-dress at once simple and picturesque, there was nothing
remarkable in her attire. The visitor rose and bowed. She gravely
returned his salute, and moved so as to place herself opposite to
"May I ask what this lady is going to do?" said the stranger.
"To be of any use to you," answered Doctor Lagarde, "I must be
thrown into the magnetic trance. The person who has the strongest
influence over me is the person who will do it to-night."
He turned to his mother. "When you like," he said.
Bending over him, she took both the Doctor's hands, and looked
steadily into his eyes. No words passed between them; nothing
more took place. In a minute or two, his head was resting against
the back of the chair, and his eyelids had closed.
"Are you sleeping?" asked Madame Lagarde.
"I am sleeping," he answered.
She laid his hands gently on the arms of the chair, and turned to
address the visitor.
"Let the sleep gain on him for a minute or two more," she said.
"Then take one of his hands, and put to him what questions you
"Does he hear us now, madam?"
"You might fire off a pistol, sir, close to his ear, and he would
not hear it. The vibration might disturb him; that is all. Until
you or I touch him, and so establish the nervous sympathy, he is
as lost to all sense of our presence here, as if he were dead."
"Are you speaking of the thing called Animal Magnetism, madam?"
"And you believe in it, of course?"
"My son's belief, sir, is my belief in this thing as in other
things. I have heard what he has been saying to you. It is for me
that he sacrifices himself by holding these exhibitions; it is in
my poor interests that his hardly-earned money is made. I am in
infirm health; and, remonstrate as I may, my son persists in
providing for me, not the bare comforts only, but even the
luxuries of life. Whatever I may suffer, I have my compensation;
I can still thank God for giving me the greatest happiness that a
woman can enjoy, the possession of a good son."
She smiled fondly as she looked at the sleeping man. "Draw your
chair nearer to him," she resumed, "and take his hand. You may
speak freely in making your inquiries. Nothing that happens in
this room goes out of it."
With those words she returned to her place, in the corner behind
her son's chair.
The visitor took Doctor Lagarde's hand. As they touched each
other, he was conscious of a faintly-titillating sensation in his
own hand--a sensation which oddly reminded him of bygone
experiments with an electrical machine, in the days when he was a
boy at school!
"I wish to question you about my future life," he began. "How
ought I to begin?"
The Doctor spoke his first words in the monotonous tones of a man
talking in his sleep.
"Own your true motive before you begin," he said. "Your interest
in your future life is centered in a woman. You wish to know if
her heart will be yours in the time that is to come--and there
your interest in your future life ends."
This startling proof of the sleeper's capacity to look, by
sympathy, into his mind, and to see there his most secret
thoughts, instead of convincing the stranger, excited his
suspicions. "You have means of getting information," he said,
"that I don't understand."
The Doctor smiled, as if the idea amused him.
Madame Lagarde rose from her seat and interposed.
"Hundreds of strangers come here to consult my son," she said
quietly. "If you believe that we know who those strangers are,
and that we have the means of inquiring into their private lives
before they enter this room, you believe in something much more
incredible than the magnetic sleep!"
This was too manifestly true to be disputed. The visitor made his
"I should like to have _some_ explanation," he added. "The thing
is so very extraordinary. How can I prevail upon Doctor Lagarde
to enlighten me?"
"He can only tell you what he sees," Madame Lagarde answered;
"ask him that, and you will get a direct reply. Say to him: 'Do
you see the lady?' "
The stranger repeated the question. The reply followed at once,
in these words:
"I see two figures standing side by side. One of them is your
figure. The other is the figure of a lady. She only appears
dimly. I can discover nothing but that she is taller than women
generally are, and that she is dressed in pale blue."
The man to whom he was speaking started at those last words. "Her
favorite color!" he thought to himself--forgetting that, while he
held the Doctor's hand, the Doctor could think with _his_ mind.
"Yes," added the sleeper quietly, "her favorite color, as you
know. She fades and fades as I look at her," he went on. "She is
gone. I only see _you_, under a new aspect. You have a pistol in
your hand. Opposite to you, there stands the figure of another
man. He, too, has a pistol in his hand. Are you enemies? Are you
meeting to fight a duel? Is the lady the cause? I try, but I fail
to see her."
"Can you describe the man?"
"Not yet. So far, he is only a shadow in the form of a man."
There was another interval. An appearance of disturbance showed
itself on the sleeper's face. Suddenly, he waved his free hand in
the direction of the waiting-room.
"Send for the visitors who are there," he said. "They are all to
come in. Each one of them is to take one of my hands in
turn--while you remain where you are, holding the other hand.
Don't let go of me, even for a moment. My mother will ring."
Madame Lagarde touched a bell on the table. The servant received
his orders from her and retired. After a short absence, he
appeared again in the consulting-room, with one visitor only
waiting on the threshold behind him.
"The other three gentlemen have gone away, madam," the servant
explained, addressing Madame Lagarde. "They were tired of
waiting. I found _this_ gentleman fast asleep; and I am afraid he
is angry with me for taking the liberty of waking him."
"Sleep of the common sort is evidently not allowed in this
house." With that remark the gentleman entered the room, and
stood revealed as the original owner of the card numbered
Viewed by the clear lamplight, he was a tall, finely-made man, in
the prime of life, with a florid complexion, golden-brown hair,
and sparkling blue eyes. Noticing Madame Lagarde, he instantly
checked the flow of his satire, with the instinctive
good-breeding of a gentleman. "I beg your pardon," he said; "I
have a great many faults, and a habit of making bad jokes is one
of them. Is the servant right, madam, in telling me that I have
the honor of presenting myself here at your request?"
Madame Lagarde briefly explained what had passed.
The florid gentleman (still privately believing it to be all
"humbug") was delighted to make himself of any use. "I
congratulate you, sir," he said, with his easy humor, as he
passed the visitor who had become possessed of his card. "Number
Fourteen seems to be a luckier number in your keeping than it was
As he spoke, he took Doctor Lagarde's disengaged hand. The
instant they touched each other the sleeper started. His voice
rose; his face flushed. "You are the man!" he exclaimed. "I see
you plainly now!"
"What am I doing?"
"You are standing opposite to the gentleman here who is holding
my other hand; and (as I have said already) you have met to fight
The unbeliever cast a shrewd look at his companion in the
"Considering that you and I are total strangers, sir," he said,
"don't you think the Doctor had better introduce us, before he
goes any further? We have got to fighting a duel already, and we
may as well know who we are, before the pistols go off." He
turned to Doctor Lagarde. "Dramatic situations don't amuse me out
of the theater," he resumed. "Let me put you to a very
commonplace test. I want to be introduced to this gentleman. Has
he told you his name?"
"Of course, you know it, without being told?"
"Certainly. I have only to look into your own knowledge of
yourselves, while I am in this trance, and while you have got my
hands, to know both your names as well as you do."
"Introduce us, then! " retorted the jesting gentleman. "And take
my name first."
"Mr. Percy Linwood," replied the Doctor; "I have the honor of
presenting you to Captain Bervie, of the Artillery."
With one accord, the gentlemen both dropped Doctor Lagarde's
hands, and looked at each other in blank amazement.
"Of course he has discovered our names somehow!" said Mr. Percy
Linwood, explaining the mystery to his own perfect satisfaction
in that way.
Captain Bervie had not forgotten what Madame Lagarde had said to
him, when he too had suspected a trick. He now repeated it (quite
ineffectually) for Mr. Linwood's benefit. "If you don't feel the
force of that argument as I feel it," he added, "perhaps, as a
favor to me, sir, you will not object to our each taking the
Doctor's hand again, and hearing what more he can tell us while
he remains in the state of trance?"
"With the greatest pleasure!" answered good-humored Mr. Linwood.
"Our friend is beginning to amuse me; I am as anxious as you are
to know what he is going to see next."
Captain Bervie put the next question.
"You have seen us ready to fight a duel--can you tell us the
"I can tell you nothing more than I have told you already. The
figures of the duelists have faded away, like the other figures I
saw before them. What I see now looks like the winding
gravel-path of a garden. A man and a woman are walking toward me.
The man stops, and places a ring on the woman's finger, and
Captain Bervie opened his lips to continue his inquiries--turned
pale--and checked himself. Mr. Linwood put the next question.
"Who is the happy man?" he asked.
"_You_ are the happy man," was the instantaneous reply.
"Who is the woman?" cried Captain Bervie, before Mr. Linwood
could speak again.
"The same woman whom I saw before; dressed in the same color, in
Captain Bervie positively insisted on receiving clearer
information than this. "Surely you can see _something_ of her
personal appearance?" he said.
"I can see that she has long dark-brown hair, falling below her
waist. I can see that she has lovely dark-brown eyes. She has the
look of a sensitive nervous person. She is quite young. I can see
"Look again at the man who is putting the ring on her finger,"
said the Captain. "Are you sure that the face you see is the face
of Mr. Percy Linwood?"
"I am absolutely sure."
Captain Bervie rose from his chair.
"Thank you, madam," he said to the Doctor's mother. "I have heard
He walked to the door. Mr. Percy Linwood dropped Doctor Lagarde's
hand, and appealed to the retiring Captain with a broad stare of
"You don't really believe this?" he said.
"I only say I have heard enough," Captain Bervie answered.
Mr. Linwood could hardly fail to see that any further attempt to
treat the matter lightly might lead to undesirable results.
"It is difficult to speak seriously of this kind of exhibition,"
he resumed quietly. "But I suppose I may mention a mere matter of
fact, without meaning or giving offense. The description of the
lady, I can positively declare, does not apply in any single
particular to any one whom I know."
Captain Bervie turned round at the door. His patience was in some
danger of failing him. Mr. Linwood's unruffled composure,
assisted in its influence by the presence of Madame Lagarde,
reminded him of the claims of politeness. He restrained the rash
words as they rose to his lips. "You may make new acquaintances,
sir," was all that he said. "_You_ have the future before you."
Upon that, he went out. Percy Linwood waited a little, reflecting
on the Captain's conduct.
Had Doctor Lagarde's description of the lady accidentally
answered the description of a living lady whom Captain Bervie
knew? Was he by any chance in love with her? and had the Doctor
innocently reminded him that his love was not returned? Assuming
this to be likely, was it really possible that he believed in
prophetic revelations offered to him under the fantastic
influence of a trance? Could any man in the possession of his
senses go to those lengths? The Captain's conduct was simply
Pondering these questions, Percy decided on returning to his
place by the Doctor's chair. "Of one thing I am certain, at any
rate," he thought to himself. "I'll see the whole imposture out
before I leave the house!"
He took Doctor Lagarde's hand. "Now, then! what is the next
discovery?" he asked.
The sleeper seemed to find some difficulty in answering the
"I indistinctly see the man and the woman again," he said.
"Am I the man still?" Percy inquired.
"No. The man, this time, is the Captain. The woman is agitated by
something that he is saying to her. He seems to be trying to
persuade her to go away with him. She hesitates. He whispers
something in her ear. She yields. He leads her away. The darkness
gathers behind them. I look and look, and I can see no more."
"Shall we wait awhile?" Percy suggested, "and then try again?"
Doctor Lagarde sighed, and reclined in his chair. "My head is
heavy," he said; "my spirits are dull. The darkness baffles me. I
have toiled long enough for you. Drop my hand and leave me to
Hearing those words, Madame Lagarde approached her son's chair.
"It will be useless, sir, to ask him any more questions
to-night," she said. "He has been weak and nervous all day, and
he is worn out by the effort he has made. Pardon me, if I ask you
to step aside for a moment, while I give him the repose that he
She laid her right hand gently on the Doctor's head, and kept it
there for a minute or so. "Are you at rest now?" she asked.
"I am at rest," he answered, in faint, drowsy tones.
Madame Lagarde returned to Percy. "If you are not yet satisfied,"
she said, "my son will be at your service to-morrow evening,
"Thank you, madam, I have only one more question to ask, and you
can no doubt answer it. When your son wakes, will he remember
what he has said to Captain Bervie and to myself?"
"My son will be as absolutely ignorant of everything that he has
seen, and of everything that he has said in the trance, as if he
had been at the other end of the world."
Percy Linwood swallowed this last outrageous assertion with an
effort which he was quite unable to conceal. "Many thanks,
madam," he said; "I wish you good-night."
Returning to the waiting-room, he noticed the money-box fixed to
the table. "These people look poor," he thought to himself, "and
I feel really indebted to them for an amusing evening. Besides, I
can afford to be liberal, for I shall certainly never go back."
He dropped a five-pound note into the money-box, and left the
Walking toward his club, Percy's natural serenity of mind was a
little troubled by the remembrance of Captain Bervie's language
and conduct. The Captain had interested the young man in spite of
himself. His first idea was to write to Bervie, and mention what
had happened at the renewed consultation with Doctor Lagarde. On
second thoughts, he saw reason to doubt how the Captain might
receive such an advance as this, on the part of a stranger.
"After all," Percy decided, "the whole thing is too absurd to be
worth thinking about seriously. Neither he nor I are likely to
meet again, or to see the Doctor again--and there's an end of
He never was more mistaken in his life. The end of it was not to
come for many a long day yet.
PART II.--THE FULFILLMENT.
WHILE the consultation at Doctor Lagarde's was still fresh in the
memory of the persons present at it, Chance or Destiny, occupied
in sowing the seeds for the harvest of the future, discovered as
one of its fit instruments a retired military officer named Major
The Major was a smart little man, who persisted in setting up the
appearance of youth as a means of hiding the reality of fifty.
Being still a bachelor, and being always ready to make himself
agreeable, he was generally popular in the society of women. In
the ballroom he was a really welcome addition to the company. The
German waltz had then been imported into England little more than
three years since. The outcry raised against the dance, by
persons ski lled in the discovery of latent impropriety, had not
yet lost its influence in certain quarters. Men who could waltz
were scarce. The Major had successfully grappled with the
difficulties of learning the dance in mature life; and the young
ladies rewarded him nobly for the. effort. That is to say, they
took the assumption of youth for granted in the palpable presence
Knowing everybody and being welcome everywhere, playing a good
hand at whist, and having an inexhaustible fancy in the invention
of a dinner, Major Mulvany naturally belonged to all the best
clubs of his time. Percy Linwood and he constantly met in the
billiard-room or at the dinner-table. The Major approved of the
easy, handsome, pleasant-tempered young man. "I have lost the
first freshness of youth," he used to say, with pathetic
resignation, "and I see myself revived, as it were, in Percy.
Naturally I like Percy."
About three weeks after the memorable evening at Doctor
Lagarde's, the two friends encountered each other on the steps of
"Have you got anything to do to-night?" asked the Major.
"Nothing that I know of," said Percy, "unless I go to the
"Let the theater wait, my boy. My old regiment gives a ball at
Woolwich to-night. I have got a ticket to spare; and I know
several sweet girls who are going. Some of them waltz, Percy!
Gather your rosebuds while you may. Come with me."
The invitation was accepted as readily as it was given. The Major
found the carriage, and Percy paid for the post-horses. They
entered the ballroom among the earlier guests; and the first
person whom they met, waiting near the door, was--Captain Bervie.
Percy bowed a little uneasily. "I feel some doubt," he said,
laughing, "whether we have been properly introduced to one
another or not."
"Not properly introduced!" cried Major Mulvany. "I'll soon set
that right. My dear friend, Percy Linwood; my dear friend, Arthur
Bervie--be known to each other! esteem each other!"
Captain Bervie acknowledged the introduction by a cold salute.
Percy, yielding to the good-natured impulse of the moment,
alluded to what had happened in Doctor Lagarde's consulting-room.
"You missed something worth hearing when you left the Doctor the
other night," he said. "We continued the sitting; and _you_
turned up again among the persons of the drama, in a new
"Excuse me for interrupting you," said Captain Bervie. "I am a
member of the committee, charged with the arrangements of the
ball, and I must really attend to my duties."
He withdrew without waiting for a reply. Percy looked round
wonderingly at Major Mulvany. "Strange!" he said, "I feel rather
attracted toward Captain Bervie; and he seems to have taken such
a dislike to me that he can hardly behave with common civility.
What does it mean?"
"I'll tell you," answered the Major, confidentially. "Arthur
Bervie is madly in love--madly is really the word--with a Miss
Bowmore. And (this is between ourselves) the young lady doesn't
feel it quite in the same way. A sweet girl; I've often had her
on my knee when she was a child. Her father and mother are old
friends of mine. She is coming to the ball to-night. That's the
true reason why Arthur left you just now. Look at him--waiting to
be the first to speak to her. If he could have his way, he
wouldn't let another man come near the poor girl all through the
evening; he really persecutes her. I'll introduce you to Miss
Bowmore; and you will see how he looks at us for presuming to
approach her. It's a great pity; she will never marry him. Arthur
Bervie is a man in a thousand; but he's fast becoming a perfect
bear under the strain on his temper. What's the matter? You don't
seem to be listening to me."
This last remark was perfectly justified. In telling the
Captain's love-story, Major Mulvany had revived his young
friend's memory of the lady in the blue dress, who had haunted
the visions of Doctor Lagarde.
"Tell me," said Percy, "what is Miss Bowmore like? Is there
anything remarkable in her personal appearance? I have a reason
As he spoke, there arose among the guests in the rapidly-filling
ballroom a low murmur of surprise and admiration. The Major laid
one hand on Percy's shoulder, and, lifting the other, pointed to
"What is Miss Bowmore like?" he repeated. "There she is! Let her
answer for herself."
Percy turned toward the lower end of the room.
A young lady was entering, dressed in plain silk, and the color
of it was a pale blue! Excepting a white rose at her breast, she
wore no ornament of any sort. Doubly distinguished by the perfect
simplicity of her apparel, and by her tall, supple, commanding
figure, she took rank at once as the most remarkable woman in the
room. Moving nearer to her through the crowd, under the guidance
of the complaisant Major, young Linwood gained a clearer view of
her hair, her complexion, and the color of her eyes. In every one
of these particulars she was the living image of the woman
described by Doctor Lagarde!
While Percy was absorbed over this strange discovery, Major
Mulvany had got within speaking distance of the young lady and of
her mother, as they stood together in conversation with Captain
Bervie. "My dear Mrs. Bowmore, how well you are looking! My dear
Miss Charlotte, what a sensation you have made already! The
glorious simplicity (if I may so express myself) of your dress
is--is--what was I going to say?--the ideas come thronging on me;
I merely want words."
Miss Bowmore's magnificent brown eyes, wandering from the Major
to Percy, rested on the young man with a modest and momentary
interest, which Captain Bervie's jealous attention instantly
"They are forming a dance," he said, pressing forward impatiently
to claim his partner. "If we don't take our places we shall be
"Stop! stop!" cried the Major. "There is a time for everything,
and this is the time for presenting my dear friend here, Mr.
Percy Linwood. He is like me, Miss Charlotte--_he_ has been
struck by your glorious simplicity, and _he_ wants words." At
this part of the presentation, he happened to look toward the
irate Captain, and instantly gave him a hint on the subject of
his temper. "I say, Arthur Bervie! we are all good-humored people
here. What have you got on your eyebrows? It looks like a frown;
and it doesn't become you. Send for a skilled waiter, and have it
brushed off and taken away directly!"
"May I ask, Miss Bowmore, if you are disengaged for the next
dance?" said Percy, the moment the Major gave him an opportunity
"Miss Bowmore is engaged to _me_ for the next dance," said the
angry Captain, before the young lady could answer.
"The third dance, then?" Percy persisted, with his brightest
"With pleasure, Mr. Linwood," said Miss Bowmore. She would have
been no true woman if she had not resented the open exhibition of
Arthur's jealousy; it was like asserting a right over her to
which he had not the shadow of a claim. She threw a look at Percy
as her partner led her away, which was the severest punishment
she could inflict on the man who ardently loved her.
The third dance stood in the programme as a waltz.
In jealous distrust of Percy, the Captain took the conductor of
the band aside, and used his authority as committeeman to
substitute another dance. He had no sooner turned his back on the
orchestra than the wife of the Colonel of the regiment, who had
heard him, spoke to the conductor in her turn, and insisted on
the original programme being retained. "Quote the Colonel's
authority," said the lady, "if Captain Bervie ventures to
object." In the meantime, the Captain, on his way to rejoin
Charlotte, was met by one of his brother officers, who summoned
him officially to an impending debate of the committee charged
with the administrative arrangements of the supper-table. Bervie
had no choice but to follow his brother officer to the
Barely a minute later the conductor appeared at his desk, and the
first notes of the music rose low and plaintive, introducing the
"Percy, my boy!" cried the Major, recognizing the melody, "you're
in luck's way--it's going to be a wa ltz!"
Almost as he spoke, the notes of the symphony glided by subtle
modulations into the inspiriting air of the waltz. Percy claimed
his partner's hand. Miss Charlotte hesitated, and looked at her
"Surely you waltz?" said Percy.
"I have learned to waltz," she answered, modestly; "but this is
such a large room, and there are so many people!"
"Once round," Percy pleaded; "only once round!"
Miss Bowmore looked again at her mother. Her foot was keeping
time with the music, under her dress; her heart was beating with
a delicious excitement; kind-hearted Mrs. Bowmore smiled and
said: "Once round, my dear, as Mr. Linwood suggests."
In another moment Percy's arm took possession of her waist, and
they were away on the wings of the waltz!
Could words describe, could thought realize, the exquisite
enjoyment of the dance? Enjoyment? It was more--it was an epoch
in Charlotte's life--it was the first time she had waltzed with a
man. What a difference between the fervent clasp of Percy's arm
and the cold, formal contact of the mistress who had taught her!
How brightly his eyes looked down into hers; admiring her with
such a tender restraint, that there could surely be no harm in
looking up at him now and then in return. Round and round they
glided, absorbed in the music and in themselves. Occasionally her
bosom just touched him, at those critical moments when she was
most in need of support. At other intervals, she almost let her
head sink on his shoulder in trying to hide from him the smile
which acknowledged his admiration too boldly. "Once round," Percy
had suggested; "once round," her mother had said. They had been
ten, twenty, thirty times round; they had never stopped to rest
like other dancers; they had centered the eyes of the whole room
on them--including the eyes of Captain Bervie--without knowing
it; her delicately pale complexion had changed to rosy-red; the
neat arrangement of her hair had become disturbed; her bosom was
rising and falling faster and faster in the effort to
breathe--before fatigue and heat overpowered her at last, and
forced her to say to him faintly, "I'm very sorry--I can't dance
Percy led her into the cooler atmosphere of the refreshment-room,
and revived her with a glass of lemonade. Her arm still rested on
his--she was just about to thank him for the care he had taken of
her--when Captain Bervie entered the room.
"Mrs. Bowmore wishes me to take you back to her," he said to
Charlotte. Then, turning to Percy, he added: "Will you kindly
wait here while I take Miss Bowmore to the ballroom? I have a
word to say to you--I will return directly."
The Captain spoke with perfect politeness--but his face betrayed
him. It was pale with the sinister whiteness of suppressed rage.
Percy sat down to cool and rest himself. With his experience of
the ways of men, he felt no surprise at the marked contrast
between Captain Bervie's face and Captain Bervie's manner. "He
has seen us waltzing, and he is coming back to pick a quarrel
with me." Such was the interpretation which Mr. Linwood's
knowledge of the world placed on Captain Bervie's politeness. In
a minute or two more the Captain returned to the
refreshment-room, and satisfied Percy that his anticipations had
not deceived him.
FOUR days had passed since the night of the ball.
Although it was no later in the year than the month of February,
the sun was shining brightly, and the air was as soft as the air
of a day in spring. Percy and Charlotte were walking together in
the little garden at the back of Mr. Bowmore's cottage, near the
town of Dartford, in Kent.
"Mr. Linwood," said the young lady, "you were to have paid us
your first visit the day after the ball. Why have you kept us
waiting? Have you been too busy to remember your new friends?"
"I have counted the hours since we parted, Miss Charlotte. If I
had not been detained by business--"
"I understand! For three days business has controlled you. On the
fourth day, you have controlled business--and here you are? I
don't believe one word of it, Mr. Linwood!"
There was no answering such a declaration as this. Guiltily
conscious that Charlotte was right in refusing to accept his
well-worn excuse, Percy made an awkward attempt to change the
topic of conversation.
They happened, at the moment, to be standing near a small
conservatory at the end of the garden. The glass door was closed,
and the few plants and shrubs inside had a lonely, neglected
look. "Does nobody ever visit this secluded place?" Percy asked,
jocosely, "or does it hide discoveries in the rearing of plants
which are forbidden mysteries to a stranger?"
"Satisfy your curiosity, Mr. Linwood, by all means," Charlotte
answered in the same tone. "Open the door, and I will follow
Percy obeyed. In passing through the doorway, he encountered the
bare hanging branches of some creeping plant, long since dead,
and detached from its fastenings on the woodwork of the roof. He
pushed aside the branches so that Charlotte could easily follow
him in, without being aware that his own forced passage through
them had a little deranged the folds of spotless white cambric
which a well-dressed gentleman wore round his neck in those days.
Charlotte seated herself, and directed Percy's attention to the
desolate conservatory with a saucy smile.
"The mystery which your lively imagination has associated with
this place," she said, "means, being interpreted, that we are too
poor to keep a gardener. Make the best of your disappointment,
Mr. Linwood, and sit here by me. We are out of hearing and out of
sight of mamma's other visitors. You have no excuse now for not
telling me what has really kept you away from us."
She fixed her eyes on him as she said those words. Before Percy
could think of another excuse, her quick observation detected the
disordered condition of his cravat, and discovered the upper edge
of a black plaster attached to one side of his neck.
"You have been hurt in the neck!" she said. "That is why you have
kept away from us for the last three days!"
"A mere trifle," he answered, in great confusion; "please don't
Her eyes, still resting on his face, assumed an expression of
suspicious inquiry, which Percy was entirely at a loss to
understand. Suddenly, she started to her feet, as if a new idea
had occurred to her. "Wait here," she said, flushing with
excitement, "till I come back: I insist on it!"
Before Percy could ask for an explanation she had left the
In a minute or two, Miss Bowmore returned, with a newspaper in
her hand. "Read that," she said, pointing to a paragraph
distinguished by a line drawn round it in ink.
The passage that she indicated contained an account of a duel
which had recently taken place in the neighborhood of London. The
names of the duelists were not mentioned. One was described as an
officer, and the other as a civilian. They had quarreled at
cards, and had fought with pistols. The civilian had had a narrow
escape of his life. His antagonist's bullet had passed near
enough to the side of his neck to tear the flesh, and had missed
the vital parts, literally, by a hair's-breadth.
Charlotte's eyes, riveted on Percy, detected a sudden change of
color in his face the moment he looked at the newspaper. That was
enough for her. "You _are_ the man!" she cried. "Oh, for shame,
for shame! To risk your life for a paltry dispute about cards!"
"I would risk it again," said Percy, "to hear you speak as if you
set some value on it."
She looked away from him without a word of reply. Her mind seemed
to be busy again with its own thoughts. Did she meditate
returning to the subject of the duel? Was she not satisfied with
the discovery which she had just made?
No such doubts as these troubled the mind of Percy Linwood.
Intoxicated by the charm of her presence, emboldened by her
innocent betrayal of the interest that she felt in him, he opened
his whole heart to her as unreservedly as if they had known each
other from the days of their childhood. There was but one excuse
for him. Charlotte was his first love.
"You don't know how completely you have become a part of my life,
sinc e we met at the ball," he went on. "That one delightful
dance seemed, by some magic which I can't explain, to draw us
together in a few minutes as if we had known each other for
years. Oh, dear! I could make such a confession of what I
felt--only I am afraid of offending you by speaking too soon.
Women are so dreadfully difficult to understand. How is a man to
know at what time it is considerate toward them to conceal his
true feelings; and at what time it is equally considerate to
express his true feelings? One doesn't know whether it is a
matter of days or weeks or months--there ought to be a law to
settle it. Dear Miss Charlotte, when a poor fellow loves you at
first sight, as he has never loved any other woman, and when he
is tormented by the fear that some other man may be preferred to
him, can't you forgive him if he lets out the truth a little too
soon?" He ventured, as he put that very downright question, to
take her hand. "It really isn't my fault," he said, simply. "My
heart is so full of you I can talk of nothing else."
To Percy's delight, the first experimental pressure of his hand,
far from being resented, was softly returned. Charlotte looked at
him again, with a new resolution in her face.
"I'll forgive you for talking nonsense, Mr. Linwood," she said;
"and I will even permit you to come and see me again, on one
condition--that you tell the whole truth about the duel. If you
conceal the smallest circumstance, our acquaintance is at an
"Haven't I owned everything already?" Percy inquired, in great
perplexity. "Did I say No, when you told me I was the man?"
"Could you say No, with that plaster on your neck?" was the ready
rejoinder. "I am determined to know more than the newspaper tells
me. Will you declare, on your word of honor, that Captain Bervie
had nothing to do with the duel? Can you look me in the face, and
say that the real cause of the quarrel was a disagreement at
cards? When you were talking with me just before I left the ball,
how did you answer a gentleman who asked you to make one at the
whist-table? You said, 'I don't play at cards.' Ah! You thought I
had forgotten that? Don't kiss my hand! Trust me with the whole
truth, or say good-by forever."
"Only tell me what you wish to know, Miss Charlotte," said Percy
humbly. "If you will put the questions, I will give the
answers--as well as I can."
On this understanding, Percy's evidence was extracted from him as
"Was it Captain Bervie who quarreled with you?"
"Was it about me?"
"What did he say?"
"He said I had committed an impropriety in waltzing with you."
"Because your parents disapproved of your waltzing in a public
"That's not true! What did he say next?"
"He said I had added tenfold to my offense, by waltzing with you
in such a manner as to make you the subject of remark to the
"Oh! did you let him say that?"
"No; I contradicted him instantly. And I said, besides, 'It's an
insult to Miss Bowmore, to suppose that she would permit any
"Quite right! And what did he say?"
"Well, he lost his temper; I would rather not repeat what he said
when he was mad with jealousy. There was nothing to be done with
him but to give him his way."
"Give him his way? Does that mean fight a duel with him?"
"Don't be angry--it does."
"And you kept my name out of it, by pretending to quarrel at the
"Yes. We managed it when the cardroom was emptying at
supper-time, and nobody was present but Major Mulvany and another
friend as witnesses."
"And when did you fight the duel?"
"The next morning."
"You never thought of _me_, I suppose?"
"Indeed, I did; I was very glad that you had no suspicion of what
we were at."
"Was that all?"
"No; I had your flower with me, the flower you gave me out of
your nosegay, at the ball."
"Oh, never mind, it doesn't matter."
"It does matter. What did you do with my flower?"
"I gave it a sly kiss while they were measuring the ground; and
(don't tell anybody!) I put it next to my heart to bring me
"Was that just before he shot at you?"
"How did he shoot?"
"He walked (as the seconds had arranged it) ten paces forward;
and then he stopped, and lifted his pistol--"
"Don't tell me any more! Oh, to think of my being the miserable
cause of such horrors! I'll never dance again as long as I live.
Did you think he had killed you, when the bullet wounded your
"No; I hardly felt it at first."
"Hardly felt it? How he talks! And when the wretch had done his
best to kill you, and when it came to your turn, what did you
"What! You didn't walk your ten paces forward?"
"And you never shot at him in return?"
"No; I had no quarrel with him, poor fellow; I just stood where I
was, and fired in the air--"
Before he could stop her, Charlotte seized his hand, and kissed
it with an hysterical fervor of admiration, which completely
deprived him of his presence of mind.
"Why shouldn't I kiss the hand of a hero?" she cried, with tears
of enthusiasm sparkling in her eyes. "Nobody but a hero would
have given that man his life; nobody but a hero would have
pardoned him, while the blood was streaming from the wound that
he had inflicted. I respect you, I admire you. Oh, don't think me
bold! I can't control myself when I hear of anything noble and
good. You will understand me better when we get to be old
She spoke in low sweet tones of entreaty. Percy's arm stole
softly round her.
"Are we never to be nearer and dearer to each other than old
friends?" he asked in a whisper. "I am not a hero--your goodness
overrates me, dear Miss Charlotte. My one ambition is to be the
happy man who is worthy enough to win _you_. At your own time! I
wouldn't distress you, I wouldn't confuse you, I wouldn't for the
whole world take advantage of the compliment which your sympathy
has paid to me. If it offends you, I won't even ask if I may
She sighed as he said the last words; trembled a little, and
silently looked at him.
Percy read his answer in her eyes. Without meaning it on either
side their heads drew nearer together; their cheeks, then their
lips, touched. She started back from him, and rose to leave the
conservatory. At the same moment, the sound of slowly-approaching
footsteps became audible on the gravel walk of the garden.
Charlotte hurried to the door.
" My father! " she exclaimed, turning to Percy. "Come, and be
introduced to him."
Percy followed her into the garden.
JUDGING by appearances, Mr. Bowmore looked like a man prematurely
wasted and worn by the cares of a troubled life. His eyes
presented the one feature in which his daughter resembled him. In
shape and color they were exactly reproduced in Charlotte; the
difference was in the expression. The father's look was
habitually restless, eager, and suspicious. Not a trace was to be
seen in it of the truthfulness and gentleness which made the
charm of the daughter's expression. A man whose bitter experience
of the world had soured his temper and shaken his faith in his
fellow-creatures--such was Mr. Bowmore as he presented himself on
the surface. He received Percy politely--but with a preoccupied
air. Every now and then, his restless eyes wandered from the
visitor to an open letter in his hand. Charlotte, observing him,
pointed to the letter.
"Have you any bad news there, papa?" she asked.
"Dreadful news!" Mr. Bowmore answered. "Dreadful news, my child,
to every Englishman who respects the liberties which his
ancestors won. My correspondent is a man who is in the confidence
of the Ministers," he continued, addressing Percy. "What do you
think is the remedy that the Government proposes for the
universal distress among the population, caused by an infamous
and needless war? Despotism, Mr. Linwood; despotism in this free
country is the remedy! In one week more, sir, Ministers will
bring in a Bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus Act!"
Before Percy could do justice in words to the impression produced
on him, Charlotte innocently asked a question which shocked her
"What is the Habeas Corpus Act,
"Good God!" cried Mr. Bowmore, "is it possible that a child of
mine has grown up to womanhood, in ignorance of the palladium of
English liberty? Oh, Charlotte! Charlotte!"
"I am very sorry, papa. If you will only tell me, I will never
Mr. Bowmore reverently uncovered his head, saluting an invisible
Habeas Corpus Act. He took his daughter by the hand, with a
certain parental sternness: his voice trembled with emotion as he
spoke his next words:
"The Habeas Corpus Act, my child, forbids the imprisonment of an
English subject, unless that imprisonment can be first justified
by law. Not even the will of the reigning monarch can prevent us
from appearing before the judges of the land, and summoning them
to declare whether our committal to prison is legally just."
He put on his hat again. "Never forget what I have told you,
Charlotte!" he said solemnly. "I would not remove my hat, sir,"
he continuing, turning to Percy, "in the presence of the proudest
autocrat that ever sat on a throne. I uncover, in homage to the
grand law which asserts the sacredness of human liberty. When
Parliament has sanctioned the infamous Bill now before it,
English patriots may be imprisoned, may even be hanged, on
warrants privately obtained by the paid spies and informers of
the men who rule us. Perhaps I weary you, sir. You are a young
man; the conduct of the Ministry may not interest you."
"On the contrary," said Percy, "I have the strongest personal
interest in the conduct of the Ministry."
"How? in what way?" cried Mr. Bowmore eagerly.
"My late father had a claim on government," Percy answered, "for
money expended in foreign service. As his heir, I inherit the
claim, which has been formally recognized by the present
Ministers. My petition for a settlement will be presented by
friends of mine who can advocate my interests in the House of
Mr. Bowmore took Percy's hand, and shook it warmly.
"In such a matter as this you cannot have too many friends to
help you," he said. "I myself have some influence, as
representing opinion outside the House; and I am entirely at your
service. Come tomorrow, and let us talk over the details of your
claim at my humble dinner-table. To-day I must attend a meeting
of the Branch-Hampden-Club, of which I am vice-president, and to
which I am now about to communicate the alarming news which my
letter contains. Excuse me for leaving you--and count on a hearty
welcome when we see you to-morrow."
The amiable patriot saluted his daughter with a smile, and
"I hope you like my father?" said Charlotte. "All our friends say
he ought to be in Parliament. He has tried twice. The expenses
were dreadful; and each time the other man defeated him. The
agent says he would be certainly elected, if he tried again; but
there is no money, and we mustn't think of it."
A man of a suspicious turn of mind might have discovered, in
those artless words, the secret of Mr. Bowmore's interest in the
success of his young friend's claim on the Government. One
British subject, with a sum of ready money at his command, may be
an inestimably useful person to another British subject (without
ready money) who cannot sit comfortably unless he sits in
Parliament. But honest Percy Linwood was not a man of a
suspicious turn of mind. He had just opened his lips to echo
Charlotte's filial glorification of her father, when a
shabbily-dressed man-servant met them with a message, for which
they were both alike unprepared:
"Captain Bervie has called, Miss, to say good-by, and my mistress
requests your company in the parlor."
HAVING delivered his little formula of words, the shabby servant
cast a look of furtive curiosity at Percy and withdrew. Charlotte
turned to her lover, with indignation sparkling in her eyes and
flushing on her cheeks at the bare idea of seeing Captain Bervie
again. "Does he think I will breathe the same air," she
exclaimed, "with the man who attempted to take your life!"
Percy gently remonstrated with her.
"You are sadly mistaken," he said. "Captain Bervie stood to
receive my fire as fairly as I stood to receive his. When I
discharged my pistol in the air, he was the first man who ran up
to me, and asked if I was seriously hurt. They told him my wound
was a trifle; and he fell on his knees and thanked God for
preserving my life from his guilty hand. 'I am no longer the
rival who hates you,' he said. 'Give me time to try if change of
scene will quiet my mind; and I will be _your_ brother, and _her_
brother.' Whatever his faults may be, Charlotte, Arthur Bervie
has a great heart. Go in, I entreat you, and be friends with him
as I am."
Charlotte listened with downcast eyes and changing color. "You
believe him?" she asked in low and trembling tones.
"I believe him as I believe You," Percy answered.
She secretly resented the comparison, and detested the Captain
more heartily than ever. "I will go in and see him, if you wish
it," she said. "But not by myself. I want you to come with me."
"Why?" Percy asked.
"I want to see what his face says, when you and he meet."
"Do you still doubt him, Charlotte?"
She made no reply. Percy had done his best to convince her, and
had evidently failed.
They went together into the cottage. Fixing her eyes steadily on
the Captain's face, Charlotte saw it turn pale when Percy
followed her into the parlor. The two men greeted one another
cordially. Charlotte sat down by her mother, preserving her
composure so far as appearances went. "I hear you have called to
bid us good-by," she said to Bervie. "Is it to be a long
"I have got two months' leave," the Captain answered, without
looking at her while he spoke.
"Are you going abroad?"
"Yes. I think so."
She turned away to her mother. Bervie seized the opportunity of
speaking to Percy. "I have a word of advice for your private
ear." At the same moment, Charlotte whispered to her mother:
"Don't encourage him to prolong his visit."
The Captain showed no intention to prolong his visit. To
Charlotte's surprise, when he took leave of the ladies, Percy
also rose to go. "His carriage," he said, "was waiting at the
door; and he had offered to take Captain Bervie back to London."
Charlotte instantly suspected an arrangement between the two men
for a confidential interview. Her obstinate distrust of Bervie
strengthened tenfold. She reluctantly gave him her hand, as he
parted from her at the parlor-door. The effort of concealing her
true feeling toward him gave a color and a vivacity to her face
which made her irresistibly beautiful. Bervie looked at the woman
whom he had lost with an immeasurable sadness in his eyes. "When
we meet again," he said, "you will see me in a new character." He
hurried out of the gate, as if he feared to trust himself for a
moment longer in her presence.
Charlotte followed Percy into the passage. "I shall be here
to-morrow, dearest!" he said, and tried to raise her hand to his
lips. She abruptly drew it away. "Not that hand!" she answered.
"Captain Bervie has just touched it. Kiss the other!"
"Do you still doubt the Captain?" said Percy, amused by her
She put her arm over his shoulder, and touched the plaster on his
neck gently with her finger. "There's one thing I don't doubt,"
she said: "the Captain did _that!_"
Percy left her, laughing. At the front gate of the cottage he
found Arthur Bervie in conversation with the same
shabbily-dressed man-servant who had announced the Captain's
visit to Charlotte.
"What has become of the other servant?" Bervie asked. "I mean the
old man who has been with Mr. Bowmore for so many years."
"He has left his situation, sir."
"As I understand, sir, he spoke disrespectfully to the master."
"Oh! And how came the master to hear of _you?_"
"I advertised; and Mr. Bowmore answered my advertisement."
Bervie looked hard at the man for a moment, and then joined Percy
at the carriage door. The two gentlemen started for London.
"What do you think of Mr. Bowmore's new servant?" asked the
Captain as they drove away from the cottage. "I don't like the
look of the fellow."
"I didn't particularly notice him," Percy a nswered.
There was a pause. When the conversation was resumed, it turned
on common-place subjects. The Captain looked uneasily out of the
carriage window. Percy looked uneasily at the Captain.
They had left Dartford about two miles behind them, when Percy
noticed an old gabled house, sheltered by magnificent trees, and
standing on an eminence well removed from the high-road.
Carriages and saddle-horses were visible on the drive in front,
and a flag was hoisted on a staff placed in the middle of the
"Something seems to be going on there," Percy remarked. "A fine
old house! Who does it belong to?"
Bervie smiled. "It belongs to my father," he said. "He is
chairman of the bench of local magistrates, and he receives his
brother justices to-day, to celebrate the opening of the
He stopped and looked at Percy with some embarrassment. "I am
afraid I have surprised and disappointed you," he resumed,
abruptly changing the subject. "I told you when we met just now
at Mr. Bowmore's cottage that I had something to say to you; and
I have not yet said it. The truth is, I don't feel sure whether I
have been long enough your friend to take the liberty of advising
"Whatever your advice is," Percy answered, "trust me to take it
kindly on my side."
Thus encouraged, the Captain spoke out.
"You will probably pass much of your time at the cottage," he
began, "and you will be thrown a great deal into Mr. Bowmore's
society. I have known him for many years. Speaking from that
knowledge, I most seriously warn you against him as a thoroughly
unprincipled and thoroughly dangerous man."
This was strong language--and, naturally enough, Percy said so.
The Captain justified his language.
"Without alluding to Mr. Bowmore's politics," he went on, "I can
tell you that the motive of everything he says and does is
vanity. To the gratification of that one passion he would
sacrifice you or me, his wife or his daughter, without hesitation
and without remorse. His one desire is to get into Parliament.
You are wealthy, and you can help him. He will leave no effort
untried to reach that end; and, if he gets you into political
difficulties, he will desert you without scruple."
Percy made a last effort to take Mr. Bowmore's part--for the one
irresistible reason that he was Charlotte's father.
"Pray don't think I am unworthy of your kind interest in my
welfare," he pleaded. "Can you tell me of any _facts_ which
justify what you have just said?"
"I can tell you of three facts," Bervie said. "Mr. Bowmore
belongs to one of the most revolutionary clubs in England; he has
spoken in the ranks of sedition at public meetings; and his name
is already in the black book at the Home Office. So much for the
past. As to the future, if the rumor be true that Ministers mean
to stop the insurrectionary risings among the population by
suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, Mr. Bowmore will certainly be
in danger; and it may be my father's duty to grant the warrant
that apprehends him. Write to my father to verify what I have
said, and I will forward your letter by way of satisfying him
that he can trust you. In the meantime, refuse to accept Mr.
Bowmore's assistance in the matter of your claim on Parliament;
and, above all things, stop him at the outset, when he tries to
steal his way into your intimacy. I need not caution you to say
nothing against him to his wife and daughter. His wily tongue has
long since deluded them. Don't let him delude _you!_ Have you
thought any more of our evening at Doctor Lagarde's?" he asked,
abruptly changing the subject.
"I hardly know," said Percy, still under the impression of the
formidable warning which he had just received.
"Let me jog your memory," the other continued. "You went on with
the consultation by yourself, after I had left the Doctor's
house. It will be really doing me a favor if you can call to mind
what Lagarde saw in the trance--in my absence?"
Thus entreated Percy roused himself. His memory of events were
still fresh enough to answer the call that his friend had made on
it. In describing what had happened, he accurately repeated all
that the Doctor had said.
Bervie dwelt on the words with alarm in his face as well as
"A man like me, trying to persuade a woman like--" he checked
himself, as if he was afraid to let Charlotte's name pass his
lips. "Trying to induce a woman to go away with me," he resumed,
"and persuading her at last? Pray, go on! What did the Doctor see
"He was too much exhausted, he said, to see any more."
"Surely you returned to consult him again?"
"No; I had had enough of it."
"When we get to London," said the Captain, "we shall pass along
the Strand, on the way to your chambers. Will you kindly drop me
at the turning that leads to the Doctor's lodgings?"
Percy looked at him in amazement. "You still take it seriously?"
"Is it _not_ serious?" Bervie asked. "Have you and I, so far, not
done exactly what this man saw us doing? Did we not meet, in the
days when we were rivals (as he saw us meet), with the pistols in
our hands? Did you not recognize his description of the lady when
you met her at the ball, as I recognized it before you?"
"Mere coincidences!" Percy answered, quoting Charlotte's opinion
when they had spoken together of Doctor Lagarde, but taking care
not to cite his authority. "How many thousand men have been
crossed in love? How many thousand men have fought duels for
love? How many thousand women choose blue for their favorite
color, and answer to the vague description of the lady whom the
Doctor pretended to see?"
"Say that it is so," Bervie rejoined. "The thing is remarkable,
even from your point of view. And if more coincidences follow,
the result will be more remarkable still."
Arrived at the Strand, Percy set the Captain down at the turning
which led to the Doctor's lodgings. "You will call on me or write
me word, if anything remarkable happens?" he said.
"You shall hear from me without fail, " Bervie replied.
That night, the Captain's pen performed the Captain's promise, in
few and startling words.
"Melancholy news! Madame Lagarde is dead. Nothing is known of her
son but that he has left England. I have found out that he is a
political exile. If he has ventured back to France, it is barely
possible that I may hear something of him. I have friends at the
English embassy in Paris who will help me to make inquiries; and
I start for the Continent in a day or two. Write to me while I am
away, to the care of my father, at 'The Manor House, near
Dartford.' He will always know my address abroad, and will
forward your letters. For your own sake, remember the warning I
gave you this afternoon! Your faithful friend, A. B."
THERE WAS a more serious reason than Bervie was aware of, at the
time, for the warning which he had thought it his duty to address
to Percy Linwood. The new footman who had entered Mr. Bowmore's
service was a Spy.
Well practiced in the infamous vocation that he followed, the
wretch had been chosen by the Department of Secret Service at the
Home Office, to watch the proceedings of Mr. Bowmore and his
friends, and to report the result to his superiors. It may not be
amiss to add that the employment of paid spies and informers, by
the English Government of that time, was openly acknowledged in
the House of Lords, and was defended as a necessary measure in
the speeches of Lord Redesdale and Lord Liverpool.*
The reports furnished by the Home Office Spy, under these
circumstances, begin with the month of March, and take the form
of a series of notes introduced as follows:
"MR. SECRETARY--Since I entered Mr. Bowmore's service, I have the
honor to inform you that my eyes and ears have been kept in a
state of active observation; and I can further certify that my
means of making myself useful in the future to my honorable
employers are in no respect diminished. Not the slightest
suspicion of my true character is felt by any person in the
"The young gentleman now on a visit to Mr. Bowmore is, as you
have been correctly informed, Mr. Percy Linwood. Although he is
engaged to be married to Miss
Bowmore, he is not discreet enough to conceal a certain want of
friendly feeling, on his part, toward her father. The young lady
has noticed this, and has resented it. She accuses her lover of
having allowed himself to be prejudiced against Mr. Bowmore by
some slanderous person unknown.
"Mr. Percy's clumsy defense of himself led (in my hearing) to a
quarrel! Nothing but his prompt submission prevented the marriage
engagement from being broken off.
" 'If you showed a want of confidence in Me' (I heard Miss
Charlotte say), 'I might forgive it. But when you show a want of
confidence in a man so noble as my father, I have no mercy on
you.' After such an expression of filial sentiment as this, Mr.
Percy wisely took the readiest way of appealing to the lady's
indulgence. The young man has a demand on Parliament for moneys
due to his father's estate; and he pleased and flattered Miss
Charlotte by asking Mr. Bowmore to advise him as to the best
means of asserting his claim. By way of advancing his political
interests, Mr. Bowmore introduced him to the local Hampden Club;
and Miss Charlotte rewarded him with a generosity which must not
be passed over in silence. Her lover was permitted to put an
engagement ring on her finger, and to kiss her afterward to his
"Mr. Percy has paid more visits to the Republican Club; and
Justice Bervie (father of the Captain) has heard of it, and has
written to his son. The result that might have been expected has
followed. Captain Bervie announces his return to England, to
exert his influence for political good against the influence of
Mr. Bowmore for political evil.
"In the meanwhile, Mr. Percy's claim has been brought before the
House of Commons, and has been adjourned for further
consideration in six months' time. Both the gentlemen are
indignant--especially Mr. Bowmore. He has called a meeting of the
Club to consider his young friend's wrongs, and has proposed the
election of Mr. Percy as a member of that revolutionary society."
"Mr. Percy has been elected. Captain Bervie has tried to awaken
his mind to a sense of the danger that threatens him, if he
persists in associating with his republican friends--and has
utterly failed. Mr. Bowmore and Mr. Percy have made speeches at
the Club, intended to force the latter gentleman's claim on the
immediate attention of Government. Mr. Bowmore's flow of frothy
eloquence has its influence (as you know from our shorthand
writers' previous reports) on thousands of ignorant people. As it
seems to me, the reasons for at once putting this man in prison
are beyond dispute. Whether it is desirable to include Mr. Percy
in the order of arrest, I must not venture to decide. Let me only
hint that his seditious speech rivals the more elaborate efforts
of Mr. Bowmore himself.
"So much for the present. I may now respectfully direct your
attention to the future.
"On the second of April next the Club assembles a public meeting,
'in aid of British liberty,' in a field near Dartford. Mr.
Bowmore is to preside, and is to be escorted afterward to
Westminster Hall on his way to plead Mr. Percy's cause, in his
own person, before the House of Commons. He is quite serious in
declaring that 'the minions of Government dare not touch a hair
of his head.' Miss Charlotte agrees with her father And Mr. Percy
agrees with Miss Charlotte. Such is the state of affairs at the
house in which I am acting the part of domestic servant.
"I inclose shorthand reports of the speeches recently delivered
at the Hampden Club, and have the honor of waiting for further
"Your commands have reached me by this morning's post.
"I immediately waited on Justice Bervie (in plain clothes, of
course), and gave him your official letter, instructing me to
arrest Mr. Bowmore and Mr. Percy Linwood.
"The venerable magistrate hesitated.
"He quite understood the necessity for keeping the arrest a
strict secret, in the interests of Government. The only
reluctance he felt in granting the warrant related to his son's
intimate friend. But for the peremptory tone of your letter, I
really believe he would have asked you to give Mr. Percy time for
consideration. Not being rash enough to proceed to such an
extreme as this, he slyly consulted the young man's interests by
declining, on formal grounds, to date the warrant earlier than
the second of April. Please note that my visit to him was paid at
noon, on the thirty-first of March.
"If the object of this delay (to which I was obliged to submit)
is to offer a chance of escape to Mr. Percy, the same chance
necessarily includes Mr. Bowmore, whose name is also in the
warrant. Trust me to keep a watchful eye on both these gentlemen;
especially on Mr. Bowmore. He is the most dangerous man of the
two, and the most likely, if he feels any suspicions, to slip
through the fingers of the law.
"I have also to report that I discovered three persons in the
hall of Justice Bervie's house, as I went out.
"One of them was his son, the Captain; one was his daughter, Miss
Bervie; and the third was that smooth-tongued old soldier, Major
Mulvany. If the escape of Mr. Bowmore and Mr. Linwood is in
contemplation, mark my words: the persons whom I have just
mentioned will be concerned in it--and perhaps Miss Charlotte
herself as well. At present, she is entirely unsuspicious of any
misfortune hanging over her head; her attention being absorbed in
the preparation of her bridal finery. As an admirer myself of the
fair sex, I must own that it seems hard on the girl to have her
lover clapped into prison, before the wedding-day.
"I will bring you word of the arrest myself. There will be plenty
of time to catch the afternoon coach to London.
"Here--unless something happens which it is impossible to
foresee--my report may come to an end."
* Readers who may desire to test the author's authority for this
statement, are referred to "The Annual Register" for 1817,
Chapters I. and III.; and, further on, to page 66 in the same
ON the evening of the first of April, Mrs. Bowmore was left alone
with the servants. Mr. Bowmore and Percy had gone out together to
attend a special meeting of the Club. Shortly afterward Miss
Charlotte had left the cottage, under very extraordinary
A few minutes only after the departure of her father and Percy,
she received a letter, which appeared to cause her the most
violent agitation. She said to Mrs. Bowmore:
"Mamma, I must see Captain Bervie for a few minutes in private,
on a matter of serious importance to all of us. He is waiting at
the front gate, and he will come in if I show myself at the hall
Upon this, Mrs. Bowmore had asked for an explanation.
"There is no time for explanation," was the only answer she
received; "I ask you to leave me for five minutes alone with the
Mrs. Bowmore still hesitated. Charlotte snatched up her garden
hat, and declared, wildly, that she would go out to Captain
Bervie, if she was not permitted to receive him at home. In the
face of this declaration, Mrs. Bowmore yielded, and left the
In a minute more the Captain made his appearance.
Although she had given way, Mrs. Bowmore was not disposed to
trust her daughter, without supervision, in the society of a man
whom Charlotte herself had reviled as a slanderer and a false
friend. She took up her position in the veranda outside the
parlor, at a safe distance from one of the two windows of the
room which had been left partially open to admit the fresh air.
Here she waited and listened.
The conversation was for some time carried on in whispers.
As they became more and more excited, both Charlotte and Bervie
ended in unconsciously raising their voices.
"I swear it to you on my faith as a Christian!" Mrs. Bowmore
heard the Captain say. "I declare before God who hears me that I
am speaking the truth!"
And Charlotte had answered, with a burst of tears:
"I can't believe you! I daren't believe you! Oh, how can you ask
me to do such a thing? Let me go! let me go!"
Alarmed at those words, Mrs. Bowmore advanced to the window and
Bervie had put her da ughter's arm on his arm, and was trying to
induce her to leave the parlor with him. She resisted, and
implored him to release her. He dropped her arm, and whispered in
her ear. She looked at him--and instantly made up her mind.
"Let me tell my mother where I am going," she said; "and I will
"Be it so!" he answered. "And remember one thing: every minute is
precious; the fewest words are the best."
Mrs. Bowmore re-entered the cottage by the adjoining room, and
met them in the passage. In few words, Charlotte spoke.
"I must go at once to Justice Bervie's house. Don't be afraid,
mamma! I know what I am about, and I know I am right."
"Going to Justice Bervie's!" cried Mrs. Bowmore, in the utmost
extremity of astonishment. "What will your father say, what will
Percy think, when they come back from the Club?"
"My sister's carriage is waiting for me close by," Bervie
answered. "It is entirely at Miss Bowmore's disposal. She can
easily get back, if she wishes to keep her visit a secret, before
Mr. Bowmore and Mr. Linwood return."
He led her to the door as he spoke. She ran back and kissed her
mother tenderly. Mrs. Bowmore called to them to wait.
"I daren't let you go," she said to her daughter, "without your
Charlotte seemed not to hear, the Captain seemed not to hear.
They ran across the front garden, and through the gate--and were
out of sight in less than a minute.
More than two hours passed; the sun sank below the horizon, and
still there were no signs of Charlotte's return.
Feeling seriously uneasy, Mrs. Bowmore crossed the room to ring
the bell, and send the man-servant to Justice Bervie's house to
hasten her daughter's return.
As she approached the fireplace, she was startled by a sound of
stealthy footsteps in the hall, followed by a loud noise as of
some heavy object that had dropped on the floor. She rang the
bell violently, and opened the door of the parlor. At the same
moment, the spy-footman passed her, running out, apparently in
pursuit of somebody, at the top of his speed. She followed him,
as rapidly as she could, across the little front garden, to the
gate. Arrived in the road, she was in time to see him vault upon