Part 2 out of 6
"I left the basket with the food behind, and I am so hungry," remarked
"There's a restaurant car on the train, come and have some breakfast,"
said Miss Ogilvy, "for on the boat you may not wish to eat. I shall at
This was untrue for she had breakfasted already, but that did not
"My father said I was not to take meals on the trains," explained
Godfrey, awkwardly, "because of the expense."
"Oh! I'm your father, or rather your mother, now. Besides, I have a
table," she added in a nebulous manner.
So Godfrey followed her to the dining car, where he made an excellent
"You don't seem to eat much," he said at length. "You have only had a
cup of tea and half a bit of toast."
"I never can when I am going on the sea," she explained. "I expect I
shall be very ill, and you will have to look after me, and you know
the less you eat, well--the less you can be ill."
"Why did you not tell me that before?" he remarked, contemplating his
empty plate with a gloomy eye. "Besides I expect we shall be in
different parts of the ship."
"Oh! I daresay it can be arranged," she answered.
And as a matter of fact, it was "arranged," all the way to Lucerne. At
Dover station Miss Ogilvy had a hurried interview at the ticket
office. Godfrey did not in the least understand what she was doing,
but as a result he was her companion throughout the long journey. The
crossing was very rough, and it was Godfrey who was ill, excessively
ill, not Miss Ogilvy who, with the assistance of her maid and the
steward, attended assiduously to him in his agonies.
"And to think," he moaned faintly as they moored alongside of the
French pier, "that once I wished to be a sailor."
"Nelson was always sick," said Miss Ogilvy, wiping his damp brow with
a scented pocket-handkerchief, while the maid held the smelling-salts
to his nose.
"Then he must have been a fool to go to sea," muttered Godfrey, and
relapsed into a torpor, from which he awoke only to find himself
stretched at length on the cushions of a first-class carriage.
Later on, the journey became very agreeable. Godfrey was interested in
everything, being of a quick and receptive mind, and Miss Ogilvy
proved a fund of information. When they had exhausted the scenery they
conversed on other topics. Soon she knew everything there was to know
about him and Isobel, whom it was evident she could not understand.
"Tell me," she said, looking at his dark and rather unusual eyes, "do
you ever have dreams, Godfrey?" for now she called him by his
"Not at night, when I sleep very soundly, except after that poor
cabman was killed. I have seen lots of dead people, because my father
always takes me to look at them in the parish, to remind me of my own
latter end, as he says, but they never made me dream before."
"Then do you have them at all?"
He hesitated a little.
"Sometimes, at least visions of a sort, when I am walking alone,
especially in the evening, or wondering about things. But always when
I am alone."
"What are they?" she asked eagerly.
"I can't quite explain," he replied in a slow voice. "They come and
they go, and I forget them, because they fade out, just like a dream
does, you know."
"You must remember something; try to tell me about them."
"Well, I seem to be among a great many people whom I have never met.
Yet I know them and they know me, and talk to me about all sorts of
things. For instance, if I am puzzling over anything they will explain
it quite clearly, but afterwards I always forget the explanation and
am no wiser than I was before. A hand holding a cloth seems to wipe it
out of my mind, just as one cleans a slate."
"Is that all?"
"Not quite. Occasionally I meet the people afterwards. For instance,
Thomas Sims, the cabman, was one of them, and," he added colouring,
"forgive me for saying so, but you are another. I knew it at once, the
moment I saw you, and that is what made me feel so friendly."
"How very odd!" she exclaimed, "and how delightful. Because, you see--
well never mind----"
He looked at her expectantly, but as she said no more, went on.
"Then now and again I see places before I really do see them. For
example, I think that presently we shall pass along a hillside with
great mountain slopes above and below us covered with dark trees.
Opposite to us also, running up to three peaks with a patch of snow on
the centre peak, but not quite at the top." He closed his eyes, and
added, "Yes, and there is a village at the bottom of the valley by a
swift-running stream, and in it a small white church with a spire and
a gilt weathercock with a bird on it. Then," he continued rapidly, "I
can see the house where I am going to live, with the Pasteur Boiset,
an old white house with woods above and all about it, and the
beautiful lake beneath, and beyond, a great mountain. There is a tree
in the garden opposite the front door, like a big cherry tree, only
the fruit looks larger than cherries," he added with confidence.
"I suppose that no one showed you a photograph of the place?" she
asked doubtfully, "for as it happens I know it. It is only about two
miles from Lucerne by the short way through the woods. What is more,
there is a tree with a delicious fruit, either a big cherry or a small
plum, for I have eaten some of it several years ago."
"No," he answered, "no one. My father only told me that the name of
the little village is Kleindorf. He wrote it on the label for my bag."
Just then the line went round a bend. "Look," he said, "there is the
place I told you we were coming to, with the dark trees, the three
peaks, and the stream, and the white church with the cock on top of
She let down the carriage window, and stared at the scene.
"Yes," she exclaimed, "it is just as you described. Oh! at last I have
found what I have been seeking for years. Godfrey, I believe that you
have the true gift."
"What gift, Miss Ogilvy?"
"Clairvoyance, of course, and perhaps clairaudience as well."
The lad burst out laughing, and said that he wished it were something
From all of which it will be guessed that Ethel Ogilvy was a mystic of
the first water.
About 11 o'clock on the day following this conversation, Godfrey found
himself standing on the platform in the big station of Lucerne.
"How are you going to get to Kleindorf?" Miss Ogilvy asked of him.
"It's five miles away by the road. I think you had better come to my
house and have some /déjeuner/. Afterwards I will send you there in
As she spoke a tall gaunt man in ultra-clerical attire, with a very
large hooked nose and wearing a pair of blue spectacles, came
shuffling towards them.
"Madame is Engleesh?" he said, peering at her through the blue
glasses. "Oh! it is easy to know it, though I am so blind. Has Madame
by chance seen a leetle, leetle Engleesh boy, who should arrive out of
this train? I look everywhere and I cannot find him, and the
conducteur, he says he not there. No leetle boy in the second class.
His name it is Godfrey, the son of an English pasteur, a man who fear
God in the right way."
There was something so absurd in the old gentleman's appearance and
method of address, that Miss Ogilvy, who had a sense of humour, was
obliged to turn away to hide her mirth. Recovering, she answered:
"I think this is your little boy, Monsieur le Pasteur," and she
indicated the tall and handsome Godfrey, who stood gazing at his
future instructor open-mouthed. Whoever he had met in his visions, the
Pasteur Boiset was not one of them. Never, asleep or waking, had he
seen anyone in the least like him.
The clergyman peered at Godfrey, studying him from head to foot.
"Mon Dieu!" he exclaimed, "I understood he was quite, quite leetle,
not a big young man who will eat much and want many things. Well, he
will be /bon compagnon/ for Juliette, and Madame too, she like the big
better than the leetle. /Il est beau et il a l'air intelligent, n'est
ce pas, Madame?/" he added confidentially.
"/Bien beau et très intelligent/," she replied, observing that Godfrey
was engaged in retrieving his overcoat which he had left in the
carriage. Then she explained that she had become friendly with this
young gentleman, and hoped that he would be allowed to visit her
whenever he wished. Also she gave her name and address.
"Oh! yes, Mademoiselle Ogilvee, the rich English lady who live in the
fine house. I have heard of her. /Mais voyons!/ Mademoiselle is not
Catholic, is she, for I promise to protect this lad from that red
"No, Monsieur, fear nothing. Whatever I am, I am not Catholic,"
(though, perhaps, if you knew all, you would think me something much
more dangerous, she added to herself.)
Then they said goodbye.
"I say, Miss Ogilvy," exclaimed Godfrey, blushing, "you've been
awfully kind to me. If it hadn't been for you I should have missed
that train and never heard the last of it. Also, I should have had to
go hungry from London here, since I promised my father not to buy
anything on the journey, and you know I forgot the basket." (By the
way, being addressed, it arrived three days afterwards, a mass of
corruption, with six francs to pay on it, and many papers to be
"Not at all, Godfrey, it was delightful to have you as a companion--
and a friend," she added meaningly. "You will come and see me, won't
"Yes, of course, if I can. But meanwhile, please wait a minute," and
he pulled out his purse.
"What on earth are you going to do, Godfrey? I don't want your card."
"Card! I haven't got a card. I am going to make you a present."
"Make me a present?" gasped Miss Ogilvy, a vague vision of half-crowns
flashing before her mind.
"Yes, it is rather a curious thing. It was found round the neck-bone
of an old knight, whose remains they threw out of the Abbey Church
when they put in the heating apparatus. I saw it there, and the sexton
gave it to me when he discovered that it was only stone. You will see
it has a hole in it, so he must have worn it as an ornament. The grave
he lay in was that of a Crusader, for the legs are crossed upon his
brass, although his name has gone. Oh! here it is," and he produced an
oblong piece of black graphite or some such stone, covered with
She seized the object, and examined it eagerly.
"Why, it is a talisman," she said, "Gnostic, I should think, for there
is the cock upon it, and a lot that I can't read, probably a magic
formula. No doubt the old Crusader got it in the East, perhaps as a
gift from some Saracen in whose family it had descended. Oh! my dear
boy, I do thank you. You could not have made me a present that I
should value more."
"I am so glad," said Godfrey.
"Yes, but I am ashamed to take it from you. Well, I'll leave it back
to you one day."
"Leave it back! Then you must die before me, and why should you do
that? You are quite young."
"Because I shall," she answered with a sad little smile. "I look
stronger than I am. Meanwhile you will come and tell me all about this
"I have told you all I know, Miss Ogilvy."
"Do you think so? I don't. But look, your old pasteur is calling that
the diligence is coming. Good-bye. I'll send the carriage for you next
Sunday in time for /déjeuner/."
A few minutes later Godfrey found himself packed in a rumbling old
diligence amidst a number of peasant women with baskets. Also there
was a Roman Catholic priest who sat opposite to the Pasteur. For a
while these two eyed each other with evident animosity, just like a
pair of rival dogs, Godfrey thought to himself.
At the outskirts of the town they passed a shrine, in which was the
image of some saint. The priest crossed himself and bowed so low that
he struck the knee of the Pasteur, who remonstrated in an elaborate
and sarcastic fashion. Then the fight began, and those two holy men
belaboured each other, with words, not fists, for the rest of the
journey. Godfrey's French was sadly to seek, still before it was done,
he did wonder whether all their language was strictly Christian, for
such words as /Sapristi/, and /Nom de Dieu/, accompanied by snapping
of the fingers, and angry stares, struck him as showing a contentious
and even a hostile spirit. Moreover, that was not the end of it, since
of the occupants of the diligence, about one half seemed to belong to
the party of the priest, and the other half to the party of the
By degrees all of these were drawn into the conflict. They shouted and
screamed at each other, they waved their arms, and incidentally their
baskets, one of which struck Godfrey on the nose, and indeed nearly
came to actual fisticuffs.
Apparently the driver was accustomed to such scenes, for after a
glance through his little window he took no further notice. So it went
on until at last he pulled up and shouted:
"/Voyageurs pour Kleindorf, descendez. Vite, s'il vous plait./"
"Here we do get down, young Monsieur," said the Pasteur, suddenly
relapsing into a kind of unnatural calm. Indeed, at the door he turned
and bowed politely to his adversary, wishing him /bon voyage/, to
which the priest replied with a solemn benediction in the most
"He is not bad of heart, that priest," said the Pasteur, as he led the
way to the gate of a little shrubbery, "but he do try to steal my
sheep, and I protect them from him, the blood-toothed wolf. Jean,
A brawny Swiss appeared and seized the baggage. Then they advanced
across the belt of shrubbery to a lawn, through which ran a path. Lo!
in the centre of that lawn grew such a fruit-tree, covered with large
cherries or small plums, as Godfrey had described to Miss Ogilvy, and
beyond it stood the long white house, old, and big, and peaceful
looking. What he had not described, because of them his subliminal
sense had given him no inkling, were the two ladies, who sat expectant
on the verandah, that commanded a beautiful view of the lake and the
By a kind of instinct distilled from his experience of clergymen's
belongings, Godfrey had expected to see a dowdy female, with a red,
fat face, and watery eyes, perhaps wearing an apron and a black dress
hooked awry, accompanied by a snub-nosed little girl with straight
hair, and a cold in the head. In place of these he saw a fashionably-
dressed, Parisian-looking lady, who still seemed quite young, very
pleasant to behold, with her dark eyes and graceful movements, and a
girl, apparently about his own age, who was equally attractive.
She was brown-eyed, with a quick, mobile face, and a lithe and
shapely, if as yet somewhat unformed figure. The long thick plait in
which her chestnut hair was arranged could not hide its plenitude and
beauty, while the smallness of her hands and feet showed breeding, as
did her manners and presence. The observant Godfrey, at his first
sight of Juliette, for such was her name, marvelled how it was
possible that she should be the daughter of that plain and ungainly
old pasteur. On this point it is enough to say that others had
experienced the same wonder, and remained with their curiosity
unsatisfied. But then he might as well have inquired how he, Godfrey,
came to be his father's son, since in the whole universe no two
creatures could have been more diverse.
Monsieur Boiset waddled forward, with a gait like to that of a
superannuated duck, followed at some distance by Godfrey and the
stalwart Jean with the luggage.
"My dears," he called out in his high voice, "I have found our new
little friend; the train brought him safely. Here he is."
Madame and Juliette looked about them.
"I see him not," said Madame.
"Where is he?" asked Juliette, in a pleasant girlish voice. "Still at
the gate? And say then, my father," this in low tones meant not to be
overheard, "who is this monsieur?"
"He is the little boy," exclaimed the Pasteur, chuckling at his joke,
"but you see he has grown in the train."
"/Mon Dieu!/" exclaimed Madame, "I wonder if his bed will be long
"It is very amusing," remarked Juliette.
Then they both descended from the verandah, to greet him with foreign
cordiality which, as they spoke rapidly in French, was somewhat lost
on Godfrey. Recognizing their kind intentions, however, he took off
his hat and bowed to each in turn, remarking as he did so:
"/Bonjour, oui. Oui, bonjour/," the only words in the Gallic tongue
that occurred to him at the moment.
"I speek Engleesh," said Juliette, with solemn grandeur.
"I'm jolly glad to hear it," replied Godfrey, "and I /parle Français/,
or soon shall, I hope."
Such was Godfrey's introduction to his new home at Kleindorf, where
very soon he was happy enough. Notwithstanding his strange appearance
and his awkwardness, Monsieur Boiset proved himself to be what is
called "a dear old gentleman"; moreover, really learned, and this in
sundry different directions. Thus, he was an excellent astronomer, and
the possessor of a first-rate telescope, mounted in a little
observatory, on a rocky peak of ground which rose up a hundred feet or
more in the immediate neighbourhood of the house, that itself stood
high. This instrument, which its owner had acquired secondhand at some
sale, of course was not of the largest size. Still, it was powerful
enough for all ordinary observations, and to show many hundreds of the
heavenly bodies that are invisible to the naked eye, even in the clear
air of Switzerland.
To Godfrey, who had, it will be remembered, a strong liking for
astronomy, it was a source of constant delight. What is more, it
provided a link of common interest that soon ripened into friendship
between himself and his odd old tutor, who had been obliged hitherto
to pursue his astral researches in solitude, since to Madame and to
Juliette these did not appeal. Night by night, especially after the
winter snows began to fall, they would sit by the stove in the little
observatory, gazing at the stars, making calculations, in which,
notwithstanding his dislike of mathematics, Godfrey soon became
expert, and setting down the results of what they learned.
In was in course of these studies that the whole wonder of the
universe came home to him for the first time. He looked upon the
marvel of the heavens, the mighty procession of the planets, the
rising and setting of the vast suns that burn beyond them in the
depths of space, weighing their bulk and measuring their differences,
and trembled with mingled joy and awe. Were these the heritage of man?
Would he ever visit them in some unknown state and age? Or must they
remain eternally far and alien? This is what he longed to learn, and
to him astronomy was a gateway to knowledge, if only he could discover
how to pass the gate.
Godfrey had not the true scientific spirit, or a yearning for
information, even about the stars, for its own sake. He wanted to
ascertain how these affected /him/ and the human race of which he was
a member. In short, he sought an answer to the old question: Are we
merely the spawn of our little earth, destined to perish, as the earth
itself must do one day, or, through whatever changes we must pass, are
we as immortal as the universe and the Might that made it, whatever
that may be? That was his problem, the same which perplexes every high
and thinking soul, and at this impressionable period of his life it
scarcely ever left him. There he would sit with brooding eyes and bent
brow seeking the answer, but as yet finding none.
Once Juliette discovered him thus, having come to the observatory to
tell him that his dinner had been waiting for half an hour, and for a
while watched him unnoted with the little shaded lamp shining on his
face. Instantly, in her quick fashion, she christened him, /Hibou/,
and /Hibou/ or Owl, became his nickname in that establishment. Indeed,
with his dark eyes and strongly marked features, wrapped in a
contemplative calm such as the study of the stars engenders, in that
gloom he did look something like an owl, however different may have
been his appearance on other occasions.
"What are you thinking of, Monsieur Godfrey?" she asked.
He came back to earth with a start.
"The stars and Man," he answered, colouring.
"/Mon Dieu!/" she exclaimed, "I think man is enough to study without
the stars, which we shall never visit."
"How do you know that, Mademoiselle?"
"I know it because we are here and they are there, far, far away. Also
we die and they go on for ever."
"What is space, and what are death and time?" queried Godfrey, with
"/Mon Dieu!/" said Juliette again. "Come to dinner, the chicken it
grows cold," but to herself she added, "He is an odd bird, this
English /hibou/, but attractive--when he is not so grave."
Meanwhile Godfrey continued to ponder his mighty problem. When he had
mastered enough French in which Madame and Juliette proved efficient
instructors, he propounded it to the old Pasteur, who clapped his hand
upon a Bible, and said:
"/There/ is the answer, young friend."
"I know," replied Godfrey, "but it does not quite satisfy; I feel that
I must find that answer for myself."
Monsieur Boiset removed his blue spectacles and looked at him.
"Such searches are dangerous," he said. "Believe me, Godfrey, it is
better to accept."
"Then why do you find fault with the Roman Catholics, Monsieur?"
The question was like a match applied to a haystack. At once the
Pasteur took fire:
"Because they accept error, not truth," he began. "What foundation
have they for much of their belief? It is not here," and again he
slapped the Bible.
Then followed a long tirade, for the one thing this good and tolerant
old man could not endure was the Roman Catholic branch of the
Godfrey listened with patience, till at last the Pasteur, having burnt
himself out, asked him if he were not convinced.
"I do not know," he replied. "These quarrels of the Churches and of
the different faiths puzzle and tire me. I, too, Monsieur, believe in
God and a future life, but I do not think it matters much by what road
one travels to them, I mean so long as it is a road."
The Pasteur looked at him alarmed, and exclaimed:
"Surely you will not be a fish caught in the net which already I have
observed that cunning and plausible curé trying to throw about you!
Oh! what then should I answer to your father?"
"Do not be frightened, Monsieur. I shall never become a Roman
Catholic. But all the same I think the Roman Catholics very good
people, and that their faith is as well as another, at any rate for
those who believe it."
Then he made an excuse to slip away, leaving the Pasteur puzzled.
"He is wrong," he said to himself, "most wrong, but all the same, let
it be admitted that the boy has a big mind, and intelligent--yes,
It is certain that those who search with sufficient earnestness end in
finding something, though the discovered path may run in the wrong
direction, or prove impassable, or wind through caverns, or along the
edge of precipices, down which sooner or later the traveller falls, or
lead at length to some /cul-de-sac/. The axiom was not varied in
Godfrey's case, and the path he found was named--Miss Ogilvy.
On the first Sunday after his arrival at Kleindorf a fine carriage and
pair drew up at the shrubbery gate, just as the family were returning
from the morning service in the little church where the Pasteur
ministered. Madame sighed when she saw it, for she would have loved
dearly to possess such an equipage, as indeed, she had done at one
period in her career, before an obscure series of circumstances led to
her strange union with Monsieur Boiset.
"What beautiful horses," exclaimed Juliette, her hazel eyes sparkling.
"Oh! that tenth Commandment, who can keep it? And why should some
people have fine horses and others not even a pony? /Ma mère/, why
were you not able to keep that carriage of which you have spoken to me
Madame bit her lip, and with a whispered "hold your tongue," plunged
into conversation about Miss Ogilvy. Then Godfrey entered the carriage
and was whirled away in style, looking like the prince in a fairy
book, as Juliette remarked, while the Pasteur tried to explain to her
how much happier she was without the temptation of such earthly
Miss Ogilvy's house was a beautiful dwelling of its sort, standing in
gardens of its own that ran down to the lake, and commanding fine
views of all the glorious scenery which surrounds Lucerne. The rooms
were large and lofty, with parquet floors, and in some of them were
really good pictures that their owner had inherited, also collections
of beautiful old French furniture. In short, it was a stately and
refined abode, such as is sometimes to be found abroad in the
possession of Americans or English people of wealth, who for their
health's sake or other reasons, make their homes upon the Continent.
On hearing the carriage arrive, Miss Ogilvy, who was dressed in a
simple, but charming grey gown and, as Godfrey noticed at once, wore
round her neck the old Gnostic talisman which he had given her, came
from a saloon to meet him in the large, square hall.
"I /am/ glad to see you, Godfrey," she said in her soft, cultivated
"So am I, Miss Ogilvy," he answered, with heartiness, "I mean to see
you. But," he added, studying her, "you do not look very well."
She smiled rather pathetically, and said in a quick voice:
"No, I took a cold on that journey. You see I am rather an invalid,
which is why I live here--while I do live--what they call
Godfrey shook his head, the word was beyond him.
"/Anglicé/ consumptive," she explained. "There are lots of us in
Switzerland, you know, and on the whole, we are a merry set. It is
characteristic of our complaint. But never mind about me. There are
two or three people here. I daresay you will think them odd, but they
are clever in their way, and you ought to have something in common.
He followed her into the beautiful cool saloon, with its large, double
French windows designed to keep out the bitter winds of winter, but
opened now upon the brilliant garden. Never before had he been in so
lovely a room, that is of a modern house, and it impressed him with
sensations that at the moment he did not try to analyse. All he knew
was that they were mingled with some spiritual quality, such as once
or twice he had felt in ancient churches, something which suggested
both the Past and the Future, and a brooding influence that he could
not define. Yet the place was all light and charm, gay with flowers
and landscape pictures, in short, lacking any sombre note.
Gathered at its far end where the bow window overlooked the sparkling
lake, were three or four people, all elderly. Instantly one of these
riveted his attention. She was stout, having her grey hair drawn back
from a massive forehead, beneath which shone piercing black eyes. Her
rather ungainly figure was clothed in what he thought an ugly green
dress, and she wore a necklet of emeralds in an old-fashioned setting,
which he also thought ugly but striking. From the moment that he
entered the doorway at the far end of that long saloon, he felt those
black eyes fixed upon him, and was painfully aware of their owner's
presence, so much so, that in a whisper, he asked her name of Miss
"Oh!" she answered, "that is Madame Riennes, the noted mesmerist and
"Indeed," said Godfrey in a vague voice, for he did not quite
understand what was meant by this description.
Also there was a thin, elderly American gentleman to whom Godfrey was
introduced, named Colonel Josiah Smith, and a big, blond Dane, who
talked English with a German accent, called Professor Petersen. All of
these studied Godfrey with the most unusual interest as, overwhelmed
with shyness, he was led by Miss Ogilvy to make their acquaintance. He
felt that their demeanour portended he knew not what, more at any rate
than hope of deriving pleasure from his society; in fact, that they
expected to get something out of him. Suddenly he recollected a
picture that once he had seen in a pious work which he was given to
read on Sundays. It represented a missionary being led by the hand by
a smiling woman into the presence of some savages in a South Sea
island, who were about to cook and eat him.
In the picture a large pot was already boiling over a fire in the
background. Instinctively Godfrey looked for the pot, but saw none,
except one of the flowers which stood on a little table in a recess,
and round it half a dozen chairs, one of them large, with arms. Had he
but known it, that chair was the pot.
No sooner had he made his somewhat awkward bow than luncheon was
announced, and they all went into another large and beautiful room,
where they were served with a perfect meal. The conversation at table
was general, and in English, but presently it drifted into a debate
which Godfrey did not understand, on the increase of spirituality
among the "initiated" of the earth.
Colonel Josiah Smith, who appeared to associate with remarkable
persons whom he called "Masters," who dwelt in the remote places of
the world, alleged that such increase was great, which Professor
Petersen, who dwelt much among German intellectuals, denied. It
appeared that these "intellectuals" were busy in turning their backs
on every form of spirituality.
"Ah!" said Miss Ogilvy, with a sigh, "they seek the company of their
kindred 'Elementals,' although they do not know it, and soon those
Elementals will have the mastery of them and break them to pieces, as
the lions did the maligners of Daniel."
In after years Godfrey always remembered this as a very remarkable
prophecy, but at the time, not knowing what an Elemental might be, he
At length Madame Riennes, who, it seemed, was half French and half
Russian, intervened in a slow, heavy voice:
"What does it matter, friends of my soul?" she asked. Then having
paused to drink off a full glass of sparkling Moselle, she went on:
"Soon we shall be where the spirituality, or otherwise, of this little
world matters nothing to us. Who will be the first to learn the
truths, I wonder?" and she stared in turn at the faces of every one of
them, a process which seemed to cause general alarm, bearing, as it
did, a strong resemblance to the smelling-out of savage witch-doctors.
Indeed, they all began to talk of this or that at hazard, but she was
not to be put off by such interruptions. Having investigated Godfrey
till he felt cold down the back, Madame turned her searchlight eyes
upon Miss Ogilvy, who shrank beneath them. Then of a sudden she
exclaimed with a kind of convulsive shudder:
"The Power possesses and guides me. It tells me that /you/ will be the
first, Sister Helen. I see you among the immortal Lilies with the Wine
of Life flowing through your veins."
On receipt of this information the Wine of Life seemed to cease to
flow in poor Miss Ogilvy's face. At any rate, she went deadly pale and
rested her hand upon Godfrey's shoulder as if she were about to faint.
Recovering a little, she murmured to herself:
"I thought it! Well, what does it matter though the gulf is great and
Then with an effort she rose and suggested that they should return to
They did so, and were served with Turkish coffee and cigarettes, which
Madame Riennes smoked one after the other very rapidly. Presently Miss
Ogilvy rang the bell, and when the butler appeared to remove the cups,
whispered something in French, at which he bowed and departed.
Godfrey thought he heard him lock the door behind him, but was not
"Let us sit round the table and talk," said Madame Riennes.
Thereon the whole party moved into the recess where was the flower-pot
that has been mentioned, which Miss Ogilvy took away.
They seated themselves round the little table upon which it had stood.
Godfrey, lingering behind, found, whether by design or accident, that
the only place left for him was the arm-chair which he hesitated to
"Be seated, young Monsieur," said the formidable Madame in bell-like
tones, whereon he collapsed into the chair. "Sister Helen," she went
on, "draw the curtain, it is more private so; yes, and the blind that
there may be no unholy glare."
Miss Ogilvy, who seemed to be entirely under Madame's thumb, obeyed.
Now to all intents and purposes they were in a tiny, shadowed room cut
off from the main apartment.
"Take that talisman from your neck and give it to young Monsieur
Knight," commanded Madame.
"But I gave it to her, and do not want it back," ventured Godfrey, who
was growing alarmed.
"Do what I say," she said sternly, and he found himself holding the
"Now, young Monsieur, look me in the eyes a little and listen. I
request of you that holding that black, engraved stone in your hand,
you will be so good as to throw your soul, do you understand, your
soul, back, back, /back/ and tell us where it come from, who have it,
what part it play in their life, and everything about it."
"How am I to know?" asked Godfrey, with indignation.
Then suddenly everything before him faded, and he saw himself standing
in a desert by a lump of black rock, at which a brown man clad only in
a waist cloth and a kind of peaked straw hat, was striking with an
instrument that seemed to be half chisel and half hammer, fashioned
apparently from bronze, or perhaps of greenish-coloured flint.
Presently the brown man, who had a squint in one eye and a hurt toe
that was bound round with something, picked up a piece of the black
rock that he had knocked off, and surveyed it with evident
satisfaction. Then the scene vanished.
Godfrey told it with interest to the audience who were apparently also
"The finding of the stone," said Madame. "Continue, young Monsieur."
Another vision rose before Godfrey's mind. He beheld a low room having
a kind of verandah, roofed with reeds, and beyond it a little
courtyard enclosed by a wall of grey-coloured mud bricks, out of some
of which stuck pieces of straw. This courtyard opened onto a narrow
street where many oddly-clothed people walked up and down, some of
whom wore peaked caps. A little man, old and grey, sat with the
fragment of black rock on a low table before him, which Godfrey knew
to be the same stone that he had already seen. By him lay graving
tools, and he was engaged in polishing the stone, now covered with
figures and writing, by help of a stick, a piece of rough cloth and
oil. A young man with a curly beard walked into the little courtyard,
and to him the old fellow delivered the engraved stone with
obeisances, receiving payment in some curious currency.
Then followed picture upon picture in all of which the talisman
appeared in the hands of sundry of its owners. Some of these pictures
had to do with love, some with religious ceremonies, and some with
war. One, too, with its sale, perhaps in a time of siege or scarcity,
for a small loaf of black-looking bread, by an aged woman who wept at
parting with it.
After this he saw an Arab-looking man finding the stone amongst the
crumbling remains of a brick wall that showed signs of having been
burnt, which wall he was knocking down with a pick-axe to allow water
to flow down an irrigation channel on his garden. Presently a person
who wore a turban and was girt about with a large scimitar, rode by,
and to him the man showed, and finally presented the stone, which the
Saracen placed in the folds of his turban.
The next scene was of this man engaged in battle with a knight clad in
mail. The battle was a very fine one, which Godfrey described with
much gusto. It ended in the knight killing the Eastern man and hacking
off his head with a sword. This violent proceeding disarranged the
turban out of which fell the black stone. The knight picked it up and
hid it about him. Next Godfrey saw this same knight, grown into an old
man and being borne on a bier to burial, clad in the same armour that
he had worn in the battle. Upon his breast hung the black stone which
had now a hole bored through the top of it.
Lastly there came a picture of the old sexton finding the talisman
among the bones of the knight, and giving it to himself, Godfrey, then
a small boy, after which everything passed away.
"I guess that either our young friend here has got the vision, or that
he will make a first-class novelist," said Colonel Josiah Smith. "Any
way, if you care to part with that talisman, Miss Ogilvy, I will be
glad to give you five hundred dollars for it on the chance of his
She smiled and shook her head, stretching out her hand to recover the
"Be silent, Brother Josiah Smith," exclaimed Madame Riennes, angrily.
"If this were imposture, should I not have discovered it? It is good
vision--psychometry is the right term--though of a humbler order such
as might be expected from a beginner. Still, there is hope, there is
hope. Let us see, now. Young gentleman, be so good as to look me in
Much against his will Godfrey found himself bound to obey, and looked
her "in the eye." A few moments later he felt dizzy, and after that he
remembered no more.
When Godfrey awoke again the curtain was drawn, the blinds were pulled
up and the butler was bringing in tea. Miss Ogilvy sat by his side,
looking at him rather anxiously, while the others were conversing
together in a somewhat excited fashion.
"It is splendid, splendid!" Madame was saying. "We have discovered a
pearl beyond price, a great treasure. Hush! he awakes."
Godfrey, who experienced a curious feeling of exhaustion and of
emptiness of brain, yawned and apologized for having fallen asleep,
whereon the professor and the colonel both assured him that it was
quite natural on so warm a day. Only Madame Riennes smiled like a
sphinx, and asked him if his dreams were pleasant. To this he replied
that he remembered none.
Miss Ogilvy, however, who looked rather anxious and guilty, did not
speak at all, but busied herself with the tea which Godfrey thought
very strong when he drank it. However, it refreshed him wonderfully,
which, as it contained some invigorating essence, was not strange. So
did the walk in the beautiful garden which he took afterwards, just
before the carriage came to drive him back to Kleindorf.
Re-entering the drawing-room to say goodbye, he found the party
engaged listening to the contents of a number of sheets of paper
closely written in pencil, which were being read to them by Colonel
Josiah Smith, who made corrections from time to time.
"/Au revoir/, my young brother," said Madame Riennes, making some
mysterious sign before she took his hand in her fat, cold fingers,
"you will come again next Sunday, will you not?"
"I don't know," he answered awkwardly, for he felt afraid of this
lady, and did not wish to see her next Sunday.
"Oh! but I do, young brother. You will come, because it gives me so
much pleasure to see you," she replied, staring at him with her
Then Godfrey knew that he would come because he must.
"Why does that lady call me 'young brother'?" he asked Miss Ogilvy,
who accompanied him to the hall.
"Oh! because it is a way she has. You may have noticed that she called
"I don't think that I shall call /her/ sister," he remarked with
decision. "She is too alarming."
"Not really when you come to know her, for she has the kindest heart
and is wonderfully gifted."
"Gifts which make people tell others that they are going to die are
not pleasant, Miss Ogilvy."
She shivered a little.
"If her spirit--I mean the truth--comes to her, she must speak it, I
suppose. By the way, Godfrey, don't say anything about this talisman
and the story you told of it, at Kleindorf, or in writing home."
"Oh! because people like your dear old Pasteur, and clergymen
generally, are so apt to misunderstand. They think that there is only
one way of learning things beyond, and that every other must be wrong.
Also I am sure that your friend, Isobel Blake, would laugh at you."
"I don't write to Isobel," he exclaimed setting his lips.
"But you may later," she said smiling. "At any rate you will promise,
"Yes, if you wish it, Miss Ogilvy, though I can't see what it matters.
That kind of nonsense often comes into my head when I touch old
things. Isobel says that it is because I have too much imagination."
"Imagination! Ah! what is imagination? Well, goodbye, Godfrey, the
carriage will come for you at the same time next Sunday. Perhaps, too,
I shall see you before then, as I am going to call upon Madame
Then he went, feeling rather uncomfortable, and yet interested, though
what it was that interested him he did not quite know. That night he
dreamed that Madame Riennes stood by his bed watching him with her
burning eyes. It was an unpleasant dream.
He kept his word. When the Boiset family, especially Madame, cross-
examined him as to the details of his visit to Miss Ogilvy, he merely
described the splendours of that opulent establishment and the
intellectual character of its guests. Of their mystic attributes he
said nothing at all, only adding that Miss Ogilvy proposed to do
herself the honour of calling at the Maison Blanche, as the Boisets'
house was called.
About the middle of the week Miss Ogilvy arrived and, as Madame had
taken care to be at home in expectation of her visit, was entertained
to tea. Afterwards she visited the observatory, which interested her
much, and had a long talk with the curious old Pasteur, who also
interested her in his way, for as she afterwards remarked to Godfrey,
one does not often meet an embodiment of human goodness and charity.
When he replied that the latter quality was lacking to the Pasteur
where Roman Catholics were concerned, she only smiled and said that
every jewel had its flaw; nothing was quite perfect in the world.
In the end she asked Madame and Juliette to come to lunch with her,
leaving out Godfrey, because, as she said, she knew that he would be
engaged at his studies with the Pasteur. She explained also that she
did not ask them to come with him on Sunday because they would be
taken up with their religious duties, a remark at which Juliette made
what the French call a "mouth," and Madame smiled faintly.
In due course she and her daughter went to lunch and returned
delighted, having found themselves fellow-guests of some of the most
notable people in Lucerne, though not those whom Miss Ogilvy
entertained on Sundays. Needless to say from that time forward
Godfrey's intimacy with this charming and wealthy hostess was in every
way encouraged by the Boiset family.
The course of this intimacy does not need any very long description.
Every Sunday after church the well-appointed carriage and pair
appeared and bore Godfrey away to luncheon at the Villa Ogilvy. Here
he always met Madame Riennes, Colonel Josiah Smith, and Professor
Petersen; also occasionally one or two others with whom these seemed
to be sufficiently intimate to admit of their addressing them as
"Brother" or "Sister."
Soon Godfrey came to understand that they were all members of some
kind of semi-secret society, though what this might be he could not
quite ascertain. All he made sure of was that it had to do with
matters which were not of this world. Nothing concerning mundane
affairs, however important or interesting, seemed to appeal to them;
all their conversation was directed towards what might be called
spiritual problems, reincarnations, Karmas (it took him a long time to
understand what a Karma is), astral shapes, mediumship, telepathic
influences, celestial guides, and the rest.
At first this talk with its jargon of words which he did not
comprehend, bored him considerably, but by degrees he felt that he was
being drawn into a vortex, and began to understand its drift. Even
while it was enigmatic it acquired a kind of unholy attraction for
him, and he began to seek out its secret meaning in which he found
that company ready instructors.
"Young brother," said Madame Riennes, "we deal with the things not of
the body, but of the soul. The body, what is it? In a few years it
will be dust and ashes, but the soul--it is eternal--and all those
stars you study are its inheritance, and you and I, if we cultivate
our spiritual parts, shall rule in them."
Then she would roll her big eyes and become in a way magnificent, so
that Godfrey forgot her ugliness and the repulsion with which she
In the end his outlook on life and the world became different, and
this not so much because of what he learned from his esoteric
teachers, as through some change in his internal self. He grew to
appreciate the vastness of things and the infinite possibilities of
existence. Indeed, his spiritual education was a fitting pendant to
his physical study of the heavens, peopled with unnumbered worlds,
each of them the home, doubtless, of an infinite variety of life, and
each of them keeping its awful secrets locked in its floating orb. He
trembled in presence of the stupendous Whole, of which thus by degrees
he became aware, and though it frightened him, thought with pity of
the busy millions of mankind to whom such mysteries are nothing at
all; who are lost in their business or idleness, in their eating,
drinking, sleeping, love-making, and general satisfaction of the
instincts which they possess in common with every other animal. The
yearning for wisdom, the desire to know, entered his young heart and
possessed it, as once these did that of Solomon, to such a degree
indeed, that standing on the threshold of his days, he would have paid
them all away, and with them his share in this warm and breathing
world, could he have been assured that in exchange he would receive
the key of the treasure-house of the Infinite.
Such an attitude was neither healthy nor natural to a normal, vigorous
lad just entering upon manhood, and, as will be seen, it did not
endure. Like everything else, it had its causes. His astronomical
studies were one of these, but a deeper reason was to be found in
those Sunday séances at the Villa Ogilvy. For a long while Godfrey did
not know what happened to him on these occasions. The party sat round
the little table, talking of wonderful things; Madame Riennes looked
at him and sometimes took his hand, which he did not like, and then he
remembered no more until he woke up, feeling tired, and yet in a way
exhilarated, for with the mysteries of hypnotic sleep he was not yet
acquainted. Nor did it occur to him that he was being used a medium by
certain of the most advanced spiritualists in the world.
By degrees, however, inklings of the truth began to come. Thus, one
day his consciousness awoke while his body seemed still to be wrapt in
trance, and he saw that there was a person present who had not been of
the party when he went to sleep. A young woman, clad in a white robe,
with lovely hair flowing down her back, stood by his side and held his
supine fingers in her hand.
She was beautiful, and yet unearthly, she wore ornaments also, but as
he watched, to his amazement these seemed to change. What had been a
fillet of white stones, like diamonds, which bound her hair, turned to
one of red stones, like rubies, and as it did so the colour of her
eyes, which were large and very tranquil, altered.
She was speaking in a low, rich voice to Miss Ogilvy, who answered,
addressing her as Sister Eleanor, but what she said Godfrey could not
understand. Something of his inner shock and fear must have reflected
itself upon his trance-bound features, for suddenly he heard Madame
"Have done! the medium awakes, and I tell you it is dangerous while
our Guide is here. Back to his breast, Eleanor! Thence to your place!"
The tall figure changed; it became misty, shapeless. It seemed to fall
on him like a cloud of icy vapour, chilling him to the heart, and
through that vapour he could see the ormolu clock which stood on a
bracket in the recess, and even note the time, which was thirteen
minutes past four. After this he became unconscious, and in due course
woke up as usual. The first thing his eyes fell on was the clock, of
which the hands now pointed to a quarter to five, and the sight of it
brought everything back to him. Then he observed that all the circle
seemed much agitated, and distinctly heard Madame Riennes say to
Professor Petersen in English:--
"The thing was very near. Had it not been for that medicine of
yours----! It was because that speerit do take his hand. She grow fond
of him; it happen sometimes if the medium be of the other sex and
attractive. She want to carry him away with her, that Control, and I
expect she never quite leave him all his life, because, you see, she
materialize out of him, and therefore belong to him. Next time she
come, I give her my mind. Hush! Our wonderful little brother wake up--
quite right this time."
Then Godfrey really opened his eyes; hitherto he had been feigning to
be still in trance, but thought it wisest to say nothing. At this
moment Miss Ogilvy turned very pale and went into a kind of light
The Professor produced some kind of smelling-bottle from his pocket,
which he held to her nostrils. She came to at once, and began to laugh
at her own silliness, but begged them all to go away and leave her
quiet, which they did. Godfrey was going too, but she stopped him,
saying that the carriage would not be ready till after tea, and that
it was too wet for him to walk in the garden, for now autumn had come
in earnest. The tea arrived, a substantial tea, with poached eggs, of
which she made him eat two, as she did always after these sittings.
Then suddenly she asked him if he had seen anything. He told her all,
"I am frightened. I do not like this business, Miss Ogilvy. Who and
what was that lady in white, who stood by me and held my hand? My
fingers are still tingling, and a cold wind seems to blow upon me."
"It was a spirit, Godfrey, but there is no need to be afraid, she will
not do you any harm."
"I don't know, and I don't think that you have any right to bring
spirits to me, or out of me, as I heard that dreadful Madame say had
happened. It is a great liberty."
"Oh! don't be angry with me," she said piteously. "If only you
understood. You are a wonderful medium, the most wonderful that any of
us has ever known, and through you we have learned things; holy,
marvellous things, which till now have not been heard of in the world.
Your fame is already great among leading spiritualists of the earth,
though of course they do not know who you are."
"That does not better matters," said Godfrey, "you know it is not
"Perhaps not, but my dear boy, if only you guessed all it means to me!
Listen; I will tell you; you will not betray me, will you? Once I was
very fond of someone; he was all my life, and he died, and my heart
broke. I only hope and pray that such a thing may never happen to you.
Well, from that hour to this I have been trying to find him and
failed, always failed, though once or twice I thought----. And now
through you I have found him. Yes, he has spoken to me telling me much
which proves to me that he still lives elsewhere and awaits me. And
oh! I am happy, and do not care how soon I go to join him. And it is
all through you. So you will forgive me, will you not?"
"Yes, I suppose so," said Godfrey, "but all the same I don't want to
have anything more to do with that white lady who is called Eleanor
and changes her jewels so often; especially as Madame said she was
growing fond of me and would never leave me. So please don't ask me
here again on Sundays."
Miss Ogilvy tried to soothe him.
"You shouldn't be frightened of her," she said. "She is really a
delightful spirit, and declares that she knew you very intimately
indeed, when you were an early Egyptian, also much before that on the
lost continent, which is called Atlantis, to say nothing of deep
friendships which have existed between you in other planets."
"I say!" exclaimed Godfrey, "do you believe all this?"
"Well, if you ask me, I must say that I do. I am sure that we have all
of us lived many lives, here and elsewhere, and if this is so, it is
obvious that in the course of them we must have met an enormous number
of people, with certain of whom we have been closely associated in the
various relationships of life. Some of these, no doubt, come round
with us again, but others do not, though we can get into touch with
them under exceptional circumstances. That is your case and Eleanor's.
At present you are upon different spheres, but in the future, no
doubt, you will find yourselves side by side again, as you have often
been, in due course to be driven apart once more by the winds of
Destiny, and perhaps, after ages, finally to be united. Meanwhile she
plays the part of one of your guardian angels."
"Then I wish she wouldn't," said Godfrey, with vigour. "I don't care
for a guardian angel of whom I have no memory, and who seems to fall
on you like snow upon a hot day. If anybody does that kind of thing I
should prefer a living woman."
"Which doubtless she has been, and will be again. For you see, where
she is, she has memory and foreknowledge, which are lacking to the
incarnated. Meanwhile, through you, and because of you, she can tell
us much. You are the wire which connects us to her in the Unseen."
"Then I hope you will find another wire; I really do, for it upsets me
and makes me feel ill. I know that I shall be afraid to go to bed
to-night, and even for you, Miss Ogilvy, I won't come next Sunday."
Then, as the carriage was now at the door, he jumped into it and
departed without waiting for an answer.
Moreover, on the next Sunday, when, as usual, it arrived to fetch him
at Kleindorf, Godfrey kept his word, so that it went back empty. By
the coachman he sent an awkwardly worded note to Miss Ogilvy, saying
that he was suffering from toothache which had prevented him from
sleeping for several nights, and was not well enough to come out.
This note she answered by post, telling him that she had been
disappointed not to see him as she was also ill. She added that she
would send the carriage on the following Sunday on the chance of his
toothache being better, but that if it was not, she would understand
and trouble him no more.
During all that week Godfrey fought with himself. He did not wish to
have anything more to do with the white and ghostly Eleanor, who
changed her gems so constantly, and said that she had known him
millenniums ago. Indeed, he felt already as though she were much too
near him, especially at night, when he seemed to become aware of her
bending over his bed, and generally making her presence known in other
uncomfortable ways that caused his hair to stand up and frightened
At the same time he was really fond of Miss Ogilvy, and what she said
about being ill touched him. Also there was something that drew him;
it might be Eleanor, or it might be Madame Riennes. At any rate he
felt a great longing to go. Putting everything else aside, these
investigations had their delights. What other young fellow of his age
could boast an Eleanor, who said she had been fond of him tens of
thousands of years before?
Moreover, here was one of the gates to that knowledge which he desired
so earnestly, and how could he find the strength to shut it in his own
Of course the end of the matter was that by the following Sunday, his
toothache had departed, and the carriage did not return empty to the
He found his hostess looking white and ethereal, an appearance that
she had acquired increasingly ever since their first meeting. Her
delight at seeing him was obvious, as was that of the others. For this
he soon discovered the reason. It appeared that the sitting on the
previous Sunday, when he was overcome by toothache, had been an almost
total failure. Professor Petersen had tried to fill his place as
medium, with the result that when he fell under the influence, the
only spirit that broke through his lips was one which discoursed
interminably about lager beer and liqueurs of some celestial brew,
which, as Madame Riennes, a lady not given to mince her words, told
him to his face afterwards, was because he drank too much. Hence the
joy of these enthusiasts at the re-appearance of Godfrey.
With considerable reluctance that youth consented to play his usual
rôle, and to be put into a charmed sleep by Madame. This time he saw
no Eleanor, and knew nothing of what happened until he awoke to be
greeted by the horrific spectacle of Miss Ogilvy lying back in her
chair bathed in blood. General confusion reigned in the midst of which
Madame Riennes alone was calm.
"It is hæmorrhage from the lungs," she said, "which is common among
/poitrinaires/. Brother Petersen, do what you can, and you, Brother
Smith, fly for Mademoiselle's doctor, and if he is not at home, bring
Later Godfrey heard what had chanced. It seemed that the wraith, or
emanation, or the sprite, good or evil, or whatever it may have been,
which called itself Eleanor, materialized in a very ugly temper. It
complained that it had not been allowed to appear upon the previous
Sunday and had been kept away from its brother, i.e. Godfrey. Then it
proceeded to threaten all the circle, except Godfrey, who was the real
culprit, with divers misfortunes, especially directing its wrath
against Miss Ogilvy.
"You will die soon," it said, "and in the spirit world I will pay you
back." Thrice it repeated this: "You will die," to which Miss Ogilvy
answered with calm dignity:
"I am not afraid to die, nor am I at all afraid of you, Eleanor, who,
as I now see, are not good but evil."
While she spoke a torrent of blood burst from her lips, Eleanor
disappeared, and almost immediately Godfrey awoke.
In due course the doctor came and announced that the hæmorrhage had
ceased, and that the patient was in no imminent danger. As to the
future, he could say nothing, except that having been Miss Ogilvy's
medical attendant for some years, he had expected something of this
sort to happen, and known that her life could not be very long.
Then Godfrey went home very terrified and chastened, blaming himself
also for this dreadful event, although in truth no one could have been
more innocent. He had grown very fond of Miss Ogilvy, and shuddered to
think that she must soon leave the world to seek a dim Unknown, where
there were bad spirits as well as good.
He shuddered, too, at the thought of this Eleanor, who made use of him
to appear in human form, and on his knees prayed God to protect him
from her. This indeed happened, if she had any real existence and was
not some mere creation of the brain of Madame Riennes, made visible by
the working of laws whereof we have no knowledge. Never again, during
all his life, did he actually see any more of Eleanor, and the
probability is that he never will, either here or elsewhere.
Three days later Godfrey received a letter from the doctor, saying
that Miss Ogilvy wished to see him, and that he recommended him not to
delay his visit. Having obtained the permission of the Pasteur, he
went in at once by the diligence, and on arrival at the villa, where
evidently he was expected, was shown up to a bedroom which commanded a
beautiful view of the lake and Mount Pilatus. Here a nurse met him and
told him that he must not stay long; a quarter of an hour at the
outside. He asked how Mademoiselle was, whereon she answered with an
"Soon she will be further from the earth than the top of that
Then she took him to another smaller room, and there upon the bed,
looking whiter than the sheets, lay his friend. She smiled very
sweetly when she caught sight of him.
"Dear Godfrey," she said, "it is kind of you to come. I wanted to see
you very much, for three reasons. First, I wish to beg your pardon for
having drawn you into this spiritualism without your knowing that I
was doing so. I have told you what my motive was, and therefore I will
not repeat it, as my strength is small. Secondly, I wish you to
promise me that you will never go to another séance, since now I am
quite sure that it is dangerous for the young. To me spiritualism has
brought much good and joy, but with others it may be different,
especially as among spirits, as on the earth, there are evil beings.
Do you promise?"
"Yes, yes," answered Godfrey, "only I am afraid of Madame Riennes."
"You must stand up against her if she troubles you, and seek the help
of religion; if necessary consult your old Pasteur, for he is a good
man. There is no danger in the world that cannot be escaped if only
one is bold enough, or so I think, though, alas! myself I have lacked
courage," she added with a gentle sigh.
"Now, dear boy," she went on after pausing to recover strength, "I
have a third thing to say to you. I have left you some money, as I
know that you will have little. It is not every much, but enough,
allowing for accidents and the lessening of capital values, to give
you £260 a year clear. I might have given you more, but did not, for
two reasons. The first is, that I have observed that young men who
have what is called a competence, say £500 or £600 a year, very often
are content to try and live on it, and to do nothing for themselves,
so that in the end it becomes, not a blessing, but a curse. The second
is, that to do so I should be obliged to take away from certain
charities and institutions which I wish to benefit. That is all I have
to say about money. Oh! no, there is one more thing. I have also left
you the talisman you gave me, and with it this house and grounds.
Perhaps one day you might like to live here. I have a sort of feeling
that it will be useful to you at some great crisis of your fate, and
at least it will remind you of me, who have loved and tried to
beautify the place. In any case it will always let, and if it becomes
a white elephant, you can sell it and the furniture, which is worth
Godfrey began to stammer his thanks, but she cut him short with a wave
of her hand, murmuring:
"Don't let us waste more time on such things, for soon you must go
away. Already I see that nurse looking at me from the doorway of the
other room, and I have something more to say to you. You will come to
think that all this spiritualism, as it is called, is nothing but a
dangerous folly. Well, it is dangerous, like climbing the Alps, but
one gets a great view from the top. And, oh! from there how small men
look and how near are the heavens. I mean, my dear boy, that although
I have asked you to abjure séances and so forth, I do pray of you to
cultivate the spiritual. The physical, of course, is always with us,
for that is Nature's law, without which it could not continue. But
around and beyond it broods the spirit, as once it did upon the face
of the waters, encircling all things; the beginning of all things, and
the end. Only, as wine cannot be poured into a covered cup, so the
spirit cannot flow into a world-sealed heart, and what is the cup
without the wine? Open your heart, Godfrey, and receive the spirit, so
that when the mortal perishes the immortal may remain and
everlastingly increase. For you know, if we choose death we shall die,
and if we choose life we shall live; we, and all that is dear to us."
Miss Ogilvy paused a little to get her breath, then went on: "Now, my
boy, kiss me and go. But first--one word more. I have taken a strange
affection for you, perhaps because we were associated in other
existences, I do not know. Well, I want to say that from the land
whither I am about to be borne, it shall be my great endeavour, if it
is so allowed, to watch over you, to help you if there be need, and in
the end to be among the first to greet you there, you, or any whom you
may love in this journey of yours through life. Look, the sun is
sinking. Now, goodbye till the dawn."
He bent down and kissed her and she kissed him back, throwing her thin
and feeble arm about his neck, after which the nurse came and hurried
him away weeping. At the door he turned back and saw her smile at him,
and, oh! on her wasted face were peace and beauty.
Next day she died.
Forty-eight hours later Godfrey attended her funeral, to which the
Pasteur Boiset was also bidden, and after it was over they were both
summoned to the office of a notary where her will was read. She was a
rich woman, who left behind her property to the value of quite
£100,000, most of it in England. Indeed, this Swiss notary was only
concerned with her possessions in Lucerne, namely the Villa Ogilvy,
its grounds and furniture, and certain moneys that she had in local
securities or at the bank. The house, its appurtenances and contents,
were left absolutely to Godfrey, the Pasteur Boiset being appointed
trustee of the property until the heir came of age, with a legacy of
£200, and an annual allowance of £100 for his trouble.
Moreover, with tender care, except for certain bequests to servants,
the testatrix devoted all her Swiss moneys to be applied to the upkeep
of the place, with the proviso that if it were sold these capital sums
should revert to her other heirs in certain proportions. The total of
such moneys as would pass with the property, was estimated by the
notary to amount to about £4,000 sterling, after the payment of all
State charges and legal expenses. The value of the property itself,
with the fine old French furniture and pictures which it contained,
was also considerable, but unascertained. For the rest it would appear
that Godfrey inherited about £12,000 in England, together with a
possible further sum of which the amount was not known, as residuary
legatee. This bequest was vested in the English trustees of the
testatrix who were instructed to apply the interest for his benefit
until he reached the age of twenty-five, after which the capital was
to be handed over to him absolutely.
Godfrey, whose knowledge of the French tongue was still limited, and
who was overcome with grief moreover after the sad scene through which
he had just passed, listened to all these details with bewilderment.
He was not even elated when the grave notary shook his hand and
congratulated him with the respect that is accorded to an heir, at the
same time expressing a hope that he would be allowed to remain his
legal representative in Switzerland. Indeed, the lad only muttered
something and slipped away behind the servants whose sorrow was
distracted by the exercise of mental arithmetic as to the amount of
After his first stupefaction, however, the Pasteur could not conceal
his innocent joy. A legacy of £200, a trusteeship "of the most
important," as he called it, and an allowance of £100 for years to
come, were to him wonderful wealth and honour.
"Truly, dear young friend," he said to Godfrey, as they left the
office, "it was a fortunate hour for me, and for you also, when you
entered my humble house. Now I am not only your instructor, but the
guardian of your magnificent Lucerne property. I assure you that I
will care for it well. To-morrow I will interview those domestics and
dismiss at least half of them, for there are far too many."
MR. KNIGHT AND DUTY
The pair returned to Kleindorf by the evening diligence, and among the
passengers was that same priest who had been their companion on the
day of Godfrey's arrival. As usual he was prepared to be bellicose,
and figuratively, trailed the tails of his coat before his ancient
enemy. But the Pasteur would not tread on them. Indeed, so mild and
conciliatory were his answers that at last the priest, who was a good
soul at bottom, grew anxious and inquired if he were ill.
"No, no," said a voice from the recesses of the dark coach, "Monsieur
le Pasteur has come into money. Oh, I have heard!"
"Is it so? Now I understand," remarked the priest with a sniff, "I
feared that he had lost his health."
Then they arrived at Kleindorf, and the conversation ended with mutual
Great was the excitement of Madame and Juliette at the news which they
brought with them. To their ears Godfrey's inheritance sounded a tale
of untold wealth, nearly 300,000 francs! Why, they did not know anyone
in the neighbourhood of Kleindorf who owned so much. And then that
fine house, with its gardens and lovely furniture, which was the talk
of Lucerne. And the Pasteur with his 5,000 francs clear to be paid
immediately, plus an income of 2,500 for the next eight years. Here
were riches indeed. It was wonderful, and all after an acquaintance of
only a few months. They looked at Godfrey with admiration. Truly he
must be a remarkable youth who was thus able to attract the love of
An idea occurred to Madame. Why should he not marry Juliette? She was
vivacious and pretty, fit in every way to become a great lady, even
perhaps to adorn the lovely Villa Ogilvy in future years. She would
have a word with Juliette, and show her where fortune lay. If the girl
had any wit it should be as good as assured, for with her
And so, doubtless, it might have chanced had it not been for a certain
determined and unconventional young woman far away in England, of whom
the persistent memory, however much he might flirt, quite prevented
Godfrey from falling in love, as otherwise he ought to, and indeed,
probably must have done at his age and in his circumstances.
Perhaps Miss Juliette, who although young was no fool, also had ideas
upon the subject, at any rate at this time, especially as she had
found /l'Hibou/ always attractive, notwithstanding his star-gazing
ways, and the shower of wealth that had descended on him as though
direct from the /Bon Dieu/, did not lessen his charms. If so, who
could blame her? When one has been obliged always to look at both
sides of a sou and really pretty frocks, such as ladies wear, are
almost as unobtainable as Godfrey's stars, money becomes important,
especially to a girl with an instinct for dress and a love of life.
Thenceforward, at least, as may be imagined, Monsieur Godfrey became a
very prominent person indeed in the Boiset establishment. All his
little tastes were consulted; Madame moved him into the best spare
bedroom, on the ground that the one he occupied would be cold in
winter, which, when he was out, Juliette made a point of adorning with
flowers if these were forthcoming, or failing them with graceful
sprays of winter berries. Also she worked him some slippers covered
with little devils in black silk, which she said he must learn to
tread under foot, though whether this might be a covert allusion to
his spiritualistic experiences or merely a flight of fancy on her
part, Godfrey did not know.
On the evening of the reading of the will, prompted thereto by the
Pasteur, that young gentleman wrote a letter to his father, a task
which he always thought difficult, to tell him what had happened. As
he found explanations impossible, it was brief, though the time
occupied in composing drafts, was long. Finally it took the following
"My dear Father,--I think I told you that I travelled out here with
a lady named Miss Ogilvy, whom I have often seen since. She has
just died and left me, as I understand, about £12,000, which I am
to get when I am twenty-five. Meanwhile I am to have the income,
so I am glad to say I shall not cost you any more. Also she has
left me a large house in Lucerne with a beautiful garden and a lot
of fine furniture, and some money to keep it up. As I can't live
there, I suppose it will have to be let.
"I hope you are very well. Please give my love to Mrs. Parsons and
tell her about this. It is growing very cold here, and the
mountains are covered with snow, but there has been little frost.
I am getting on well with my French, which I talk with
Mademoiselle Juliette, who knows no English, although she thinks
she does. She is a pretty girl and sings nicely. Madame, too, is
very charming. I work at the other things with the Pasteur, who is
kind to me. He will write to you also and I will enclose his
"Your affectionate son,
The receipt of this epistle caused astonishment in Mr. Knight, not
unmixed with irritation. Why could not the boy be more explicit? Who
was Miss Ogilvy, whose name, so far as he could recollect, he now
heard for the first time, and how did she come to leave Godfrey so
much money? The story was so strange that he began to wonder whether
it were a joke, or perhaps, an hallucination. If not, there must be a
great deal unrevealed. The letter which Godfrey said the Pasteur would
write was not enclosed, and if it had been, probably would not have
helped him much as he did not understand French, and could scarcely
decipher his cramped calligraphy. Lastly, he had heard nothing from
any lawyers or trustees.
In his bewilderment he went straight to Hawk's Hall, taking the letter
with him, with a view to borrowing books of reference which might
enable him to identify Miss Ogilvy. The butler said that he thought
Sir John was in and showed him to the morning room, where he found
Isobel, who informed him that her father had just gone out. Their
meeting was not affectionate, for as has been told, Isobel detested
Mr. Knight, and he detested Isobel. Moreover, there was a reason,
which shall be explained, which just then made him feel uncomfortable
in her presence. Being there, however, he thought it necessary to
explain the object of his visit.
"I have had a very strange letter from that odd boy, Godfrey," he
said, "which makes me want to borrow a book. Here it is, perhaps you
will read it, as it will save time and explanation."
"I don't want to read Godfrey's letters," said Isobel, stiffly.
"It will save time," repeated Mr. Knight, thrusting it towards her.
Then, being overcome by curiosity, she read it. The money part did not
greatly interest her; money was such a common thing of which she heard
so much. What interested her were, first, Miss Ogilvy and the
unexplained reasons of her bequest, and secondly, in a more acute
fashion, Mademoiselle Boiset, who was pretty and sang so nicely. Miss
Ogilvy, whoever she might have been, at any rate, was dead, but
Juliette clearly was much alive, with her prettiness and good voice.
No wonder, then, that she had not heard from Godfrey. He was too
occupied with the late Miss Ogilvy and the very present Mademoiselle
Juliette, in whose father's house he was living as one of the family.
Isobel's face, however, showed none of her wonderings. She read the
letter quite composedly, but with such care that afterwards she could
have repeated it by heart. Then she handed it back, saying:
"Well, Godfrey seems to have been fortunate."
"Yes, but why? I find no explanation of this bequest--if there is a
"No doubt there is, Mr. Knight. Godfrey was always most truthful and
above-board," she answered, looking at him.
Mr. Knight flinched and coloured at her words, and the steady gaze of
those grey eyes. She wondered why though she was not to learn for a
"I thought perhaps you could lend me some book, or books, which would
enable me to find out about Miss Ogilvy. I have never heard of her
before, though I think that in one of his brief communications Godfrey
did mention a lady who was kind to him in the train."
"Certainly, there are lots of them. 'Who's Who'--only she would not be
there unless she was very rich, but you might look. Peerages; they're
no good as she was Miss Ogilvy, though, of course, she might be the
daughter of a baron. 'County Families,' Red Books, etc. Let's try some
So they did try. Various Ogilvys there were, but none who gave them
any clue. This was not strange, as both Miss Ogilvy's parents had died
in Australia, when she was young, leaving her to be brought up by an
aunt of another name in England, who was also long dead.
So Mr. Knight retreated baffled. Next morning, however, a letter
arrived addressed "Godfrey Knight, Esq.," which after his pleasing
fashion he opened promptly. It proved to be a communication from a
well-known firm of lawyers, which enclosed a copy of Miss Ogilvy's
will, called special attention to the codicil affecting himself, duly
executed before the British Consul and his clerk in Lucerne, gave the
names of the English trustees, solicited information as to where the
interest on the sum bequeathed was to be paid, and so forth.
To this inquiry Mr. Knight at once replied that the moneys might be
paid to him as the father of the legatee, and was furious when all
sorts of objections were raised to that course, unless every kind of
guarantee were given that they would be used solely and strictly for
the benefit of his son. Finally, an account had to be opened on which
cheques could be drawn signed by one of the trustees and Mr. Knight.
This proviso made the latter even more indignant than before,
especially as it was accompanied by an intimation that the trustees
would require his son's consent, either by letter or in a personal
interview, to any arrangements as to his career, etc., which involved
expenditure of the trust moneys. When a somewhat rude and lengthy
letter to them to that effect was met with a curt acknowledgment of
its receipt and a reference to their previous decision, Mr. Knight's
annoyance hardened into a permanent grievance against his son, whom he
seemed to hold responsible for what he called an "affront" to himself.
He was a man with large ideas of paternal rights, of which an example
may be given that was not without its effect upon the vital interests
When Isobel returned from London, after the fancy-dress ball, at which
she thought she had seen a ghost whilst sitting in the square with her
young admirer who was dressed as a knight, she waited for a long while
expecting to receive a letter from Godfrey. As none came, although she
knew from Mrs. Parsons that he had written home several times, she
began to wonder as to the cause of his silence. Then an idea occurred
Supposing that what she had seen was no fancy of her mind, but Godfrey
himself, who in some mysterious fashion had found his way into that
square, perhaps in the hope of seeing her at the ball in order to say
goodbye? This was possible, since she had ascertained from some casual
remark by his father that he did not leave London until the following
If this had happened, if he had seen her "playing the fool," as she
expressed it to herself with that good-looking man in the square, what
would he have thought of her? She never paused to remember that he had
no right to think anything. Somehow from childhood she acknowledged in
her heart that he had every right, though when she said this to
herself, she did not in the least understand all that the admission
conveyed. Although she bullied and maltreated him at times, yet to
herself she always confessed him to be her lord and master. He was the
one male creature for whom she cared in the whole world, indeed,
putting her mother out of the question, she cared for no other man or
woman, and would never learn to do so.
For hers was a singular and very rare instance of almost undivided
affection centred on a single object. So far as his sex was concerned
Godfrey was her all, a position of which any man might well be proud
in the case of any woman, and especially of one who had many
opportunities of devoting herself to others. In her example, however,
she was not to be thanked, for the reason that she only followed her
nature, or perhaps the dictates of that fate which inspires and rules
very great love, whether it be between man and woman, between parent
and child, between brother and brother, or between friend and friend.
Such feelings do not arise, or grow. They simply /are/; the blossoms
of a plant that has its secret roots far away in the soil of
Circumstance beyond our ken, and that, mayhap, has pushed its branches
through existences without number, and in the climates of many worlds.
So at least it was with Isobel, and so it had always been since she
kissed the sleeping child in the old refectory of the Abbey. She was
his, and in a way, however much she might doubt or mistrust, her inner
sense and instinct told her that he was always hers, that so he had
always been and so always would remain. With the advent of womanhood
these truths came home to her with an increased force because she knew
--again by instinct--that this fact of womanhood multiplied the
chances of attainment to the unity which she desired, however partial
that might still prove to be.
Yet she knew also that this great mutual attraction did not depend on
sex, though by the influence of sex it might be quickened and
accentuated. It was something much more deep and wide, something which
she did not and perhaps never would understand. The sex element was
accidental, so much so that the passage of a few earthly years would
rob it of its power to attract and make it as though it had never
been, but the perfect friendship between their souls was permanent and
without shadow of change. She knew, oh!, she knew, although no word of
it had ever been spoken between them, that theirs was the Love
Eternal. The quick perception of her woman's mind told her these
things, of which Godfrey's in its slower growth was not yet aware.
Animated by this new idea that she had really seen Godfrey, and what
was much worse, that Godfrey had really seen her upon an occasion when
she would have much preferred to remain invisible to him, she was
filled with remorse, and determined to write him a letter. Like that
of the young man himself to his father, its composition took her a
good deal of time.
Here it is as copied from her third and final draft:--
"My dear old Godfrey,--I have an idea that you were in the Square
on the night of the fancy ball when I came out, and wore that
horrid Plantagenet dress which, after all, did not fit. (I sent it
to a jumble-sale where no one would buy it, so I gave it to Mrs.
Smilie, who has nine children, to cut into frocks for her little
girls.) If you /were/ there, instead of resting before your long
journey as you ought to have done, and saw me with a man in armour
and a rose--and the rest, of course you will have understood that
this was all part of the game. You see, we had to pretend that we
were knights and ladies who, when they were not cutting throats or
being carried off with their hair down, seem to have wasted their
time in giving each other favours, and all that sort of bosh. (We
did not know what a favour was, so we used a rose.) The truth is
that the young man and his armour, especially his spurs which tore
my dress, and everything about him bored me, the more so because
all the while I was thinking of--well, other things--how you would
get through your journey, and like those French people and the
rest. So now, if you /were/ there, you won't be cross, and if you
were /not/, and don't understand what I am saying, it isn't worth
bothering about. In any case, you had no right to--I mean, be
cross. It is I who should be cross with you for poking about in a
London square so late and not coming forward to say how do you do
and be introduced to the knight. That is all I have to say about
the business, so don't write and ask me any questions.
"There is no news here--there never is--except that I haven't been
into that church since you left, and don't mean to, which makes
your father look at me as sourly as though he had eaten a whole
hatful of crab-apples. He hates me, you know, and I rather like
him for showing it, as it saves me the trouble of trying to keep
up appearances. Do tell me, when you write, how to explain his
ever having been /your/ father. If he still wants you to go into
the Church I advise you to study the Thirty-nine Articles. I read
them all through yesterday, and how anybody can swear to them in
this year of grace I'm sure I don't know. They must shut their
eyes and open their mouths, like we used to do when we took
powders. By the way, did you ever read anything about Buddhism?
I've got a book on it which I think rather fine. At any rate, it
is a great idea, though I think I should find it difficult to
follow 'the Way.'
"I am sorry to say that Mother is not well at all. She coughs a
great deal now that Essex is getting so damp, and grows thinner
and thinner. The doctor says she ought to go to Egypt, only
Father won't hear of it. But I won't write about that or we should
have another argument on the fourth Commandment. Good-bye, dear
old boy.--Your affectionate Isobel.
"P.S.--When you write don't tell me all about Switzerland and snow-
covered mountains and blue, bottomless lakes, etc., which I can
read in books. Tell me about yourself and what you are doing and
thinking--especially what you are thinking.
"P.P.S.--That man in armour isn't really good-looking; he has a
squint. Also he puts scent upon his hair and can't spell. I know
because he tried to write a bit of poetry on my programme and got
it all wrong."
When she had finished this somewhat laboured epistle Isobel remembered
that she had forgotten to ask Godfrey to write down his address.
Bethinking her that it would be known to Mrs. Parsons, she took it
round to the Abbey House, proposing to add it there. As it happened
Mrs. Parsons was out, so she left it with the housemaid, who promised
faithfully to give it to her when she returned, with Isobel's message
as to writing the address on the sealed envelope. In order that she
might not forget, the maid placed it on a table by the back door. By
ill luck, however, presently through that door, came, not Mrs.
Parsons, but the Rev. Mr. Knight. He saw the letter addressed to
Godfrey Knight, Esq., and, though he half pretended to himself that he
did not, at once recognized Isobel's large, upright hand. Taking it
from the table he carried it with him into his study and there
contemplated it for a while.
"That pernicious girl is communicating with Godfrey," he said to
himself, "which I particularly wish to prevent."
A desire came upon him to know what was in the letter, and he began to
argue with himself as to his "duty"--that was the word he used.
Finally he concluded that as Godfrey was still so young and so open to
bad influences from that quarter, this duty clearly indicated that he
should read the letter before it was forwarded. In obedience to this
high impulse he opened and read it, with the result that by the time
it was finished there was perhaps no more angry clergyman in the
British Empire. The description of himself looking as though he had
eaten a hatful of crab-apples; the impious remarks about the Thirty-
nine Articles; the suggestion that Godfrey, instead of going to bed as
he had ordered him to do that evening, was wandering about London at
midnight; the boldly announced intention of the writer of not going to
church--indeed, every word of it irritated him beyond bearing.
"Well," he said aloud, "I do not think that I am called upon to spend
twopence-halfpenny" (for Isobel had forgotten the stamp) "in
forwarding such poisonous trash to a son whom I should guard from
evil. Hateful girl! At any rate she shall have no answer to this
Then he put the letter into a drawer which he locked.
As a consequence, naturally, Isobel did receive "no answer," a fact
from which she drew her own conclusions. Indeed, it would not be too
much to say that these seared her soul. She had written to Godfrey,
she had humbled herself before Godfrey, and he sent her--no answer. It
never occurred to her to make inquiries as to the fate of that letter,
except once when she asked the housemaid whom she chanced to meet,
whether she had given it to Mrs. Parsons. The girl, whose brain, or
whatever represented that organ, was entirely fixed upon a young man
in the village of whom she was jealous, answered, yes. Perhaps she had
entirely forgotten the incident, or perhaps she considered the
throwing of the letter upon a table as equivalent to delivery.
At any rate, Isobel, who thought, like most other young people, that
when they once have written something, it is conveyed by a magical
agency to the addressee, even if left between the leaves of a blotter,
accepted the assurance as conclusive. Without doubt the letter had
gone and duly arrived, only Godfrey did not choose to answer it, that
was all. Perhaps this might be because he was still angry on account
of the knight in armour--oh! how she hoped that this was the reason,
but, as her cold, common sense, of which she had an unusual share,
convinced her, much more probably the explanation was that he was
engaged otherwise, and did not think it worth while to take the
trouble to write.
Later on, it is true, she did mean to ask Mrs. Parsons whether she had
forwarded the letter. But as it chanced, before she did so, that good
woman burst into a flood of conversation about Godfrey, saying how
happy he seemed to be in his new home with such nice ladies around,
who it was plain, thought so much of him, and so forth. This garrulity
Isobel took as an intended hint and ceased from her contemplated
queries. When some months later Mr. Knight brought her Godfrey's
epistle which announced his inheritance, needless to say, everything
became plain as a pikestaff to her experienced intelligence.
So it came about that two young people, who adored each other, were
estranged for a considerable length of time. For Isobel wrote no more
letters, and the proud and outraged Godfrey would rather have died
than attempt to open a correspondence--after what he had seen in that
London square. It is true that in his brief epistles home, which were
all addressed to his father, since Mrs. Parsons was what is called "a
poor scholar," he did try in a roundabout way to learn something about
Isobel, but these inquiries, for reasons of his own, his parent
completely ignored. In short, she might have been dead for all that
Godfrey heard of her, as he believed that she was dead--to him.
Meanwhile, Isobel had other things to occupy her. Her mother, as she
had said in the letter which Mr. Knight's sense of duty compelled him
to steal, became very ill with lung trouble. The doctors announced
that she ought to be taken to Egypt or some other warm climate, such
as Algeria, for the winter months. Sir John would hear nothing of the
sort. For years past he had chosen to consider that his wife was
hypochondriacal, and all the medical opinions in London would not have
induced him to change that view. The fact was, as may be guessed, that
it did not suit him to leave England, and that for sundry reasons
which need not be detailed, he did not wish that Isobel should
accompany her mother to what he called "foreign parts." In his secret
heart he reflected that if Lady Jane died, well, she died, and while
heaven gained a saint, earth, or at any rate, Sir John Blake, would be
no loser. She had played her part in his life, there was nothing more
to be made of her either as a woman as a social asset. What would it
matter if one more pale, uninteresting lady of title joined the
Isobel had one of her stormy interviews with Sir John upon this matter
of her mother's health.
"She ought to go abroad," she said.
"Who told you that?" asked her father.
"The doctors. I waited for them and asked them."
"Then you had no business to do so. You are an impertinent and
"Is it impertinent and interfering to be anxious about one's mother's
health, even if one is a chit?" inquired Isobel, looking him straight
in the eyes.
Then he broke out in his coarse way, saying things to his daughter of
which he should have been ashamed.
She waited until he ceased, red-faced, and gasping, and replied:
"Were it not for my mother, whom you abuse, although she is such an
angel and has always been so kind to you, I would leave you, Father,
and earn my own living, or go with my uncle Edgar to Mexico, where he
is to be appointed Minister, as he and Aunt Margaret asked me to. As
it is I shall stop here, though if anything happens to Mother, because
you will not send her abroad, I shall go if I have to run away. Why
won't you let her go?" she added with a change of voice. "You need not
come; I could look after her. If you think that Egypt or the other
place is too far, you know the doctors say that perhaps Switzerland
would do her good, and that is quite near."
He caught hold of this suggestion, and exclaimed, with a sneer:
"I know why you want to go to Switzerland, Miss. To run after that
whipper-snapper of a parson's son, eh? Well, you shan't. And as for
why I won't let her go, it's because I don't believe those doctors,
who say one minute that she should go to Egypt, which is hot, and the
next to Switzerland, which is cold. Moreover, I mean you to stop in
England, and not go fooling about with a lot of strange men in these
foreign places. You are grown up now and out, and I have my own plans
for your future, which can't come off if you are away. We stop here
till Christmas, and then go to London. There, that's all, so have
At these insults, especially that which had to do with Godfrey, Isobel
turned perfectly scarlet and bit her lip till the blood ran. Then
without another word she went away, leaving him, if the truth were
known, a little frightened. Still, he would not alter his decision,
partly because to do so must interfere with his plans, and he was a
very obstinate man, and partly because he refused to be beaten by
Isobel. This was, he felt, a trial of strength between them, and if he
gave way now, she would be master. His wife's welfare did not enter
into his calculations.
So they stopped in Essex, where matters went as the doctors had
foretold, only more quickly than they expected. Lady Jane's complaint
grew rapidly worse, so rapidly that soon there was no question of her
going abroad. At the last moment Sir John grew frightened, as bullies
are apt to do, and on receipt of an indignant letter from Lord
Lynfield, now an old man, who had been informed of the facts by his
grand-daughter, offered to send his wife to Egypt, or anywhere else.
Again the doctors were called in to report, and told him with brutal
frankness that if their advice had been taken when it was first given,
probably she would have lived for some years. As it was, it was
impossible for her to travel, since the exertion might cause her death
upon the journey, especially if she became seasick.
This verdict came to Isobel's knowledge as the first had done. Indeed,
in his confusion, emphasized by several glasses of port, her father
blurted it out himself.
"I wonder whether you will ever be sorry," was her sole comment.
Then she sat down to watch her mother die, and to think. Could there
be any good God, she wondered, if He allowed such things to happen.
Poor girl! it was her first experience of the sort, and as yet she did
not know what things are allowed to happen in this world in obedience
to the workings of unalterable laws by whoever and for whatever
purpose these may be decreed.
Being ignorant, however, and still very young and untaught of life,
she could not be expected to take these large views, or to guess at
the Hand of Mercy which holds the cup of human woes. She saw her
mother fading away because of her father's obstinacy and self-seeking,
and it was inconceivable to her that such an unnecessary thing could
be allowed by a gentle and loving Providence. Therefore, she turned
her back on Providence, as many a strong soul has done before her,
rejecting it for the reason that she could not understand.
Had she but guessed, this attitude of hers, which could not be
concealed entirely in the case of a nature so frank, was the bitterest
drop in her mother's draught of death. She, poor gentle creature, made
no complaints, but only excuses for her husband's conduct. Nor, save
for Isobel's sake did she desire to live. Her simple faith upbore her
through the fears of departure, and assured her of forgiveness for all
errors, and of happiness beyond in a land where there was one at least
whom she wished to meet.
"I won't try to argue with you, because I am not wise enough to
understand such things," she said to Isobel, "but I wish, dearest,
that you would not be so certain as to matters which are too high for
"I can't help it, Mother," she answered.
Lady Jane looked at her and smiled, and then said:
"No, darling, you can't help it now, but I am sure that a time must
come when you will think differently. I say this because something
tells me that it is so, and the knowledge makes me very happy. You see
we must all of us go through darkness and storms in life; that is if
we are worth anything, for, of course, there are people who do not
feel. Yet at the end there is light, and love, and peace, for you as
well as for me, Isobel; yes, and for all of us who have tried to trust
and to repent of what we have done wrong."
"As you believe it I hope that it is true; indeed, I think that it
must be true, Mother dear," said Isobel with a little sob.
The subject was never discussed between them again, but although
Isobel showed no outward change of attitude, from that time forward
till the end, her mother seemed much easier in her mind about her and
"It will all come right. We shall meet again. I know it. I know it,"
were her last words.
She died quite suddenly on the 27th of December, the day upon which
Sir John had announced that they were to move to London.
As a matter of fact, one of the survivors of this trio was to move
much further than to London, namely, Isobel herself. It happened thus.
The funeral was over; the relatives and the few friends who attended
it had departed to their rooms if they were stopping in the house, or
elsewhere; Isobel and her father were left alone. She confronted him,
a tall, slim figure, whose thick blonde hair and pale face contrasted
strikingly with her black dress. Enormous in shape, for so Sir John
had grown, carmine-coloured shading to purle about the shaved chin and
lips (which were also of rather a curious hue), bald-headed, bold yet
shifty-eyed, also clad in black, with a band of crape like to that of
a Victorian mute, about his shining tall hat, he leaned against the
florid, marble mantelpiece, a huge obese blot upon its whiteness. They
were a queer contrast, as dissimilar perhaps as two human beings well
For a while there was silence between them, which he, whose nerves
were not so young or strong as his daughter's, was the first to break.
"Well, she's dead, poor dear," he said.
"Yes," answered Isobel, her pent-up indignation bursting forth, "and
you killed her."
Then he too burst forth.
"Damn you, what do you mean, you little minx?" he asked. "Why do you
say I killed her, because I did what I thought the best for all of us?
No woman had a better husband, as I am sure she acknowledges in heaven
"I don't know what Mother thinks in heaven, if there is one for her,
as there ought to be. But I do know what I think on earth," remarked
the burning Isobel.
"And I know what I think also," shouted her enraged parent, dashing
the new, crape-covered hat on to the table in front of him, "and it is
that the further you and I are apart from each other, the better we
are likely to get on."
"I agree with you, Father."
"Look here, Isobel, you said that your uncle Edgar, who has been
appointed Minister to Mexico, offered to take you with him to be a
companion to his daughter, your cousin Emily. Well, you can go if you
like. I'll pay the shot and shut up this house for a while. I'm sick
of the cursed place, and can get to Harwich just as well from London.
Write and make the arrangements, for one year, no more. By that time
your temper may have improved," he added with an ugly sneer.
"Thank you, Father, I will."