Part 3 out of 6
He stared at her for a little while. She met his gaze unflinchingly,
and in the end it was not her eyes that dropped. Then with a smothered
exclamation he stamped out of the room, kicking Isobel's little
terrier out of the path with his elephantine foot. The poor beast, of
which she was very fond, limped to her whining, for it was much hurt.
She took it in her arms and kissed it, weeping tears of wrath and
"I wonder what Godfrey would say about the fifth Commandment if he had
been here this afternoon, you poor thing," she whispered to the
whimpering dog, which was licking its hanging leg. "There is no God.
If there had been He would not have given me such a father, or my
mother such a husband."
Then still carrying the injured terrier, she went out and glided
through the darkness to her mother's grave in the neighbouring
churchyard. The sextons had done their work, and the raw, brown earth
of the grave, mixed with bits of decayed coffins and fragments of
perished human bones, was covered with hot-house flowers. Among these
lay a gorgeous wreath of white and purple orchids, to which was tied a
card whereon was written: "To my darling wife, from her bereaved
husband, John Blake."
Isobel lifted the wreath from its place of honour and threw it over the
the churchyard wall. Then she wept and wept as though her heart would break.
THE PASTEUR TAKES THE FIELD
In due course Godfrey received an epistle of frigid congratulation
from his father upon his accession to wealth which, he remarked, would
be of assistance to him in his future clerical career. The rest of the
letter was full of complaints against the indignities that had been
heaped upon him by Miss Ogilvy's executors and trustees, and also
against Godfrey himself for not having furnished him with more
information concerning the circumstances surrounding his inheritance.
Lastly, Mr. Knight enclosed a paper which he requested Godfrey to sign
and return, authorizing him to deal with the income of the legacy.
This Godfrey did obediently, only a week or two later to receive a
formal notification from the lawyers, sent to him direct this time as
his address had been filled in on the Authority, informing him that he
had no power to sign such documents, he being in fact under age, and
suggesting that he should refrain from doing so in the future.
Enclosed were copies of their first letter to him, and of the other
documents which Mr. Knight had not thought it worth while to forward
because, as he said, they were heavy and foreign postage was so
Further the trustees announced that they proposed to allow him £50 a
year out of the income for his personal needs, which would be paid
half-yearly, and enclosed a draft for £25, which was more money than
ever Godfrey had possessed before. This draft he was desired to
acknowledge, and generally to keep himself in touch with the trustees,
and to consult them before taking any step of importance, also as to
his future career.
All this, with the sense of independence which it gave him, was
agreeable enough to Godfrey, as it would have been to any youth. He
acknowledged the draft under the guidance of the Pasteur, saying that
he would write again when he had anything to communicate, but that as
yet he had not made up his mind as to his future, and proposed to stay
where he was, continuing his studies, if his father would allow him to
do so. Next he took an opportunity to go to Lucerne with the Pasteur,
who wished to inspect the Villa Ogilvy and consult the notary as to an
inventory of its contents and arrangements for its upkeep.
Godfrey, who was received by the servants with many bows, and requests
that they might be allowed to continue in their employment, wandered
through the big rooms which looked so desolate now, and stared until
he was tired at examples of beautiful French furniture, of which he
understood nothing. Then, oppressed by memories of his kind friend
into whose death chamber he had blundered, and, as it seemed to him,
by a sense of her presence which he imagined was warning him of
something, he left the house, telling the Pasteur, who was peering
about him through his blue spectacles in an innocent and interested
way, that he would meet him at the five o'clock diligence. Indeed, he
had business of his own to do, which seemed to him more important than
all this stock-taking and legal discussion. Having plenty of money in
his pocket Godfrey wished to spend some of it in presents.
First, he bought a large meerschaum pipe with a flexible stem as a
gift to the Pasteur, whom he had heard admire this very pipe in the
shop window and express regrets that it was too expensive for his
means. Having paid down thirty francs like a man for this treasure, he
proceeded to a jeweller's near by. There he acquired a necklace of
amethysts set with great taste in local silver work, for Madame to
wear, and a charming silver watch of the best Swiss make for Juliette.
When he found that these objects involved an expenditure of fourteen
sovereigns, he was a little staggered, but again smiled and paid up.
There was also a lovely little ring of gold with two turquoise hearts
that he bought for £2 to send to Isobel /when/ she wrote to him. But,
as Isobel had posted her letter in Mr. Knight's drawer, that ring
never reached her finger for many a day.
These gifts safely in his pocket, he began to stroll towards the
railway station, whence the diligence started, slowly, as he had
plenty of time. As he went he saw, in a shop window, a beautiful stick
of olive wood, with an ebony crook. It was marked ten francs, and he
coveted it greatly, but reflected with a sigh that having spent so
much on others he could afford nothing for himself, for Godfrey was an
unselfish soul. Instead he bought a collar of Swiss lace for Mrs.
Parsons. Immediately after he left the lace shop he became aware that
he was being shadowed. He heard no footfall, and he saw no one, but he
/knew/ that this was so; he could feel it down his back, and in a cold
wind which blew across his hands, as it had done always at the Villa
The road that he was following led across some public gardens beneath
an avenue of trees, which, of course, at this time of the year, were
leafless. This avenue was lighted here and there, and beneath one of
the gas lamps Godfrey wheeled round to see Madame Riennes advancing on
him out of the gloom. Her stout form padded forward noiselessly,
except for the occasional crackle of a dead and frosted leaf beneath
her foot. She wore a thick cloak of some sort with a black hood that
framed her large, white face, making her look like a monk of the
Inquisition as depicted in various old prints. Beneath the blackness
of this hood and above the rigid line of the set mouth, stared two
prominent and glowing eyes, in which the gaslight was reflected. They
reminded Godfrey of those of a stalking cat in a dark room. Indeed,
from the moment that he caught sight of them he felt like the mouse
cowering in a corner, or like a bird in a tree fascinated by the snake
that writhes towards it along the bough.
"Ah, /mon petit/," said Madame, in her thick, creamy voice, that
seemed to emerge from her lower regions, "so I have found you. I was
walking through the town and a notion came to me that you were here, a
--what you call it?--instinct like that which make the dog find its
master. Only I master and you dog, eh?"
Godfrey tried to pull himself together, feeling that it would not be
wise to show fear of this woman, and greeted her as politely as he
could, taking off his hat with a flourish in the foreign fashion.
"Put that hat back on your head, /mon petit/, or you will catch cold
and be ill, you who are much too precious to be ill. Listen, now: I
have something to say to you. You have great luck, have you not? Ah!
sweet Sister Helen, she go to join the spirits, quite quick, as I tell
her a little while ago she will do, and she leaves you much money,
though to me, her old friend, her sister in the speerit, she give not
one sou, although she know I want it. Well, I think there some
mistake, and I wish to talk to Sister Helen about this money business.
I think she leave me something, somehow, if I can find out where. And
you, dear /petit/, can help me. Next Sunday you will come to my rooms
of which I give you address," and she thrust a card into his hand,
"and we will talk with Sister Helen, or at least with Eleanor, your
Godfrey shook his head vigorously, but she took no notice.
"What have you been buying," she went on, "with Sister Helen's money?
Presents, I think. Yes, yes, I see them in your pocket," and she fixed
her eyes upon the unhappy Godfrey's pocket, at least that is where he
"Oh! very pretty presents. Necklace for the fine Madame, of whom I can
tell you some stories. Watch for pretty Mees, with the red, pouting
lips, so nice to kiss. Pipe for good old Pasteur, to smoke while he
think of heaven, where one time he sit all day and do nothing for
ever; lace for someone else, I know not who, and I think a charming
ring for one who will not wear it just yet; a big girl with a pale
face and eyes that flash, but can grow soft. One who would know how to
love, eh! Yes, not a doll, but one who would know how to love like a
woman should. Am I right?"
The confused Godfrey babbled something about a shop, and was silent.
"Well, never mind the shop, my leetle friend. You come to my shop next
"No," said Godfrey, "I have had enough of spirits."
"Yes, perhaps, though the speerits have been your good friends, taking
Sister Helen, who has left something behind her. But those dear
speerits, they have not had enough of you; they very faithful souls,
especially that pretty Eleanor. I tell you, Mr. Godfrey, you will come
to see me next Sunday, and if you not come, I'll fetch you."
"Fetch me! How?"
"Look at my eyes, that's how. I put you to sleep many times now, and I
have power to make you come where I want and do what I wish. You do
not believe me, eh? Well, now I show you. Come, /mon petit/, and give
your dear godmamma a kiss," and she smiled at him like an ogress.
Now the last thing in the whole world that Godfrey wished to do was to
embrace Madame Riennes, whom he loathed so that every fibre of his
body shrank from her. Yet, oh horror! a wild impulse to kiss her took
possession of him. In vain he struggled; he tried to step backwards,
and instead went forwards, he tried to turn his head away, but those
glowing eyes held and drew him as a magnet draws a needle. And as the
needle rolls across the table ever more quickly towards the magnet, so
did the unwilling Godfrey gravitate towards Madame Riennes. And now,
oh! now her stout arm was about his neck, and now--he was impressing a
fervent embrace upon her dome-like brow.
"There! What did I tell you, you nice, kind, little Godfrey," she
gurgled with a hollow laugh. "Your dear godmamma thanks you, and you
must run to catch that diligence. /Au revoir/ till Sunday afternoon.
Do not trouble about the hour, you will know exactly when to start.
She made a movement of her big, white hand, with the result that
Godfrey felt like a spring which had been suddenly released. Next
instant, still pursued by that gurgling laughter, he was running hard
towards the diligence.
Fortunately the Pasteur was so full of talk about the house and his
business with the notary, that there was no need for Godfrey to speak
in the coach, or indeed at dinner. Then after the meal was finished he
produced his presents, and with blushes and stammers offered them to
the various members of the family. What rapture there was! Madame was
delighted with her necklace, which she said and truly, was in the best
of taste. Juliette kissed the watch, and looked as though she would
like to kiss the donor, as indeed was her case. The Pasteur examined
the fine pipe through his blue spectacles, saying that never had he
expected to own one so beautiful, then at once filled it and began to
smoke. After this they all scolded him for his extravagance.
"You did not buy anything for yourself," said Juliette, reproachfully.
"Oh! yes, I see you did," and she pretended to perceive for the first
time the little red case containing the ring, which inadvertently he
had pulled out of his pocket with the other articles, although in
truth she had observed it from the beginning. "Let us learn what it
is," she went on, possessing herself of and opening the case. "Oh! a
ring, what a pretty ring, with two hearts. For whom is the ring,
Monsieur Godfrey? Someone in England?"
Then Godfrey, overcome, told a lie.
"No, for myself," he said.
Juliette looked at him and exclaimed:
"Then you should have told the jeweller to make it big enough. Try and
you will see."
He turned red as a boiled lobster. Mademoiselle stood opposite to him,
shaking her pretty head, and murmuring: "/Quel mensonge! Quel bête
mensonge!/" while Madame broke into a low and melodious laughter, and
as she laughed, looked first at the ring and then at Juliette's
"Make not a mock of our young friend," said the Pasteur, suddenly
lifting his glance, or rather his spectacles from a long contemplation
of that noble pipe and becoming aware of what was passing. "We all
have our presents, which are magnificent. What then is our affair with
the ring? Pardon them, and put it in your pocket, Godfrey, and come,
let us go to the observatory, for the night is fine, and by now the
stove will be warm."
So they went, and soon were engaged in contemplation of the stars, an
occupation which absorbed Godfrey so much that for a while he forgot
all his troubles.
When the door had shut behind them Madame looked at Juliette, who with
her new watch held to her ear, observed her out of the corners of her
"I find him charming," said Madame presently.
"Yes, Mamma," replied Juliette, "so bright and even the tick is
"Stupid!" exclaimed Madame. "When I was your age--well."
"Pardon!" said Juliette, opening her eyes innocently.
"Child, I meant our young English friend. I repeat that I find him
"Of course, Mamma--after that necklace."
"And you--after that watch?"
"Oh! well enough, though too grave perhaps, and fond of what is far
off--I mean stars," she added hurriedly.
"Stars! Pish! It is but because there is nothing nearer. At his age--
stars!--well of a sort, perhaps."
She paused while Juliette still looked provokingly innocent. So her
mother took a long step forward, for in truth she grew impatient with
all this obtuseness in which, for reasons of her own, she did not
"If I were a girl of your age," mused Madame as though to herself, "I
do not think that ring would go to England."
"How, Mamma, would you steal it?"
"No, but I would make sure that it was given to me."
Now Juliette could no longer feign not to understand. She said
nothing, but turned as red as Godfrey had done a little while before
and stood waiting.
"I find him charming," repeated Madame, "though he is so young, which
is a fault that will mend," and she fixed her eyes upon her daughter's
face with a look of interrogation.
Then Juliette gave a little sigh and answered:
"Good. If you will make me say it, so do I also, at least, sometimes I
think so, when he is not dull," and turning she fled from the room.
Madame smiled as the door closed behind her.
"That goes well, and should go better," she said to herself. "Only,
for whom is the ring? There must be some girl in England, although of
her he says nothing. /Peste!/ There are so many girls. Still, she is
far away, and this one is near. But it could be wished that she were
more experienced, for then, since she likes him well enough, all would
be sure. What does a man count in such a case--especially when he is
so young? Pish! nothing at all," and Madame snapped her fingers at the
empty air. "It is the woman who holds the cards, if only she knows how
to play them."
Now all these things happened on a Wednesday. When Godfrey went to bed
that night uncomfortable memories of Madame Riennes, and of the chaste
embrace which she had forced him to impress upon her expansive
forehead, haunted him for a while, also fears for the future. However,
Sunday was still a long way off, so he went to sleep and dreamed that
he was buying presents at every shop in Lucerne and giving them all to
On Thursday he was quite happy. On Friday he began to suffer from
uneasiness, which on Saturday became very pronounced. It seemed to him
that already waves of influence were creeping towards him like the
fringes of some miasmic mist. Doubtless it was imagination, but he
could feel their first frail tentacles wrapping themselves around his
will, and drawing him towards Lucerne. As the day went on the
tentacles grew stronger, till by evening there might have been a very
octopus behind them. If this were so that night, he wondered what
would happen on the following day, when the octopus began to pull. On
one point he was determined. He would not go; never would he allow
Madame Riennes to put him to sleep again, and what was much worse to
make him kiss her. At any rate that spirit, Eleanor, was beautiful and
attractive--but Madame Riennes! Rather than forgather with her again
in this affectionate manner, much as he dreaded it--or her--he would
have compounded with the ghost called Eleanor.
Now, although like most young people, Godfrey was indolent and evasive
of difficulties, fearful of facing troubles also, he had a bedrock of
character. There were points beyond which he would not go, even for
the sake of peace. But here a trouble came in; he was well aware that
although he would not go--to Madame Riennes to wit--there was
something stronger than himself which would make him go. It was the
old story over again set out by St. Paul once and for ever, that of
the two laws which make a shuttlecock of man so that he must do what
he wills not. Having once given way to Madame Riennes, who was to him
a kind of sin incarnate, he had become her servant, and if she wished
to put him to sleep, or to do anything else with him, well, however
much he hated it, he must obey.
The thought terrified him. What could he do? He had tried prayers,
never before had he prayed so hard in all his life; but they did not
seem to be of the slightest use. No guardian angel, not even Eleanor,
appeared to protect him from Madame Riennes, and meanwhile, the fog
was creeping on, and the octopus tentacles were gripping tighter. In
his emergency there rose the countenance of Miss Ogilvy's dying
counsel, welcome and unexpected as light of the moon to a lost
traveller on a cloud-clothed night. What had she told him to do? To
resist Madame Riennes. He had tried that with lamentable results. To
invoke the help of religion. He had tried that with strictly negative
results; the Powers above did not seem inclined to intervene in this
private affair. To appeal to the Pasteur. That he had not tried but,
unpromising as the venture seemed to be, by Jove! he would. In his
imminent peril there was nothing to which he would have appealed, even
Mumbo-Jumbo itself if it gave him the slightest hope of protection
from Madame Riennes.
Accordingly, when they went to the observatory that night, instead of
applying his eye to the telescope in the accustomed fashion, Godfrey
rushed at the business like a bull at a gate. At first the Pasteur was
entirely confused, especially as Godfrey spoke in English, which the
preceptor must translate into French in his own mind. By degrees,
however, he became extraordinarily interested, so much so that he let
the new pipe go out, and what was very rare with him, except in the
most moving passages of his own sermons, pushed the blue spectacles
from his high nose upwards, till they caught upon the patch of
grizzled hair which remained upon his bald head.
"Ah!" he said, answering in French, which by now Godfrey understood
fairly well, "this is truly exciting; at last I come in touch with the
thing. Know, Godfrey, that you furnish me with a great occasion. Long
have I studied this, what you call it--demonology. Of it I know much,
though not from actual touch therewith."
Then he began to talk of gnosticism, and witchcraft, and /Incubi/, and
/Succubi/, and the developments of modern spiritualism, till Godfrey
was quite bewildered. At length he paused, relit the new pipe, and
"These matters we will study afterwards; they are, I assure you, most
entertaining. Meanwhile, we have to deal with your Madame Riennes. All
right, oh! quite all right. I will be her match. She will not make
/me/ kiss her, no, not at all, not at all! Be tranquil, young friend,
if to-morrow you feel the impulse to go, go you shall, but I will go
with you. Then we will see. Now to bed and sleep well. For me, I must
study; I have many books on this subject, and there are points whereon
I would refresh myself. Be not afraid. I know much of Madame Riennes
and I will leave her flat as that," and with surprising alacrity he
jumped on a large black beetle which, unhappily for itself, just then
ran across the observatory floor to enjoy the warmth of the stove.
"Wait," he added, as Godfrey was leaving. "First kneel down, I have
memory of the ancient prayer, or if I forget bits, I can fill in the
Godfrey obeyed in a rather abject fashion, whereon the old Pasteur,
waving the pipe above his head, from which emerged lines of blue smoke
such as might have been accessory to an incantation, repeated over him
something in Latin, that, owing to the foreign accent, he could not in
the least understand. It ended, however, with the sign of the cross
made with the bowl of the pipe, which the Pasteur forgot still
remained in his hand.
Fortified by the accession of this new ally, Godfrey slept fairly
well, till within a little while of dawn, when he was awakened by a
sound of rapping. At first he thought that these raps, which seemed
very loud and distinct, were made by someone knocking on the door,
perhaps to tell him there was a fire, and faintly murmured "/Entrez/."
Then to his horror he became aware that they proceeded, not from the
door, but from the back of his wooden bedstead, immediately above him,
and at the same time recollected that he had heard similar noises
while sitting at the little table in the Villa Ogilvy, which the
mystics gathered there declared were produced by spirits.
His hair rose upon his head, a cold perspiration trickled down him; he
shook in every limb. He thought of lighting a candle, but reflected
that it was on the chest of drawers at the other side of the room,
also that he did not know where he had put the matches. He thought of
flying to the Pasteur, but remembered that to do so, first he must get
out of bed, and perhaps expose his bare legs to the assault of ghostly
hands, and next that, to reach the chamber of Monsieur and Madame
Boiset, he must pass through the sanctuary of the room occupied by
Juliette. So he compromised by retiring under the clothes, much as a
tortoise draws its head into its shell.
This expedient proved quite useless, for there beneath the blankets
the raps sounded louder than ever. Moreover, of a sudden the bed
seemed to be filled with a cold and unnatural air, which blew all
about him, especially upon his hands, though he tried to protect these
by placing them under his back. Now Godfrey knew something of the
inadequate and clumsy methods affected by alleged communicating
spirits, and half automatically began to repeat the alphabet. When he
got to the letter I, there was a loud rap. He began again, and at A
came another rap. Once more he tried, for something seemed to make him
do so, and was stopped at M.
"I am," he murmured, and recommenced until the word "here" was spelt
out, after which came three rapid raps to signify a full stop.
"Who is here?" he asked in his own mind, at the same time determining
that he would leave it at that. It was of no use at all, for the other
party evidently intended to go on.
There was a perfect rain of raps, on the bed, off the bed, on the
floor, even on the jug by the washstand; indeed, he thought that this
and other articles were being moved about the room. To stop this
multiform assault once more he took refuge in the alphabet, with the
result that the raps unmistakably spelt the word "Eleanor."
"Great Heavens!" he thought to himself, "that dreadful spirit girl
here, in my bedroom! How can she? It is most improper, but I don't
suppose she cares a sou for that."
In his despair and alarm he tucked the clothes tightly round him, and
thrusting out his head, said in trembling accents:
"Please go away. You know I never asked you to come, and really it
isn't right," remarks which he thought, though, like all the rest,
this may have been fancy, were followed by a sound of ghostly
laughter. What was more, the bedclothes suddenly slipped off him, or--
oh horror! perhaps they were pulled off. At any rate, they went, and
when next he saw them they were lying in a heap by the side of the
Then it would seem that he fainted, overcome by these terrors, real or
imaginary. At any rate, when he opened his eyes again it was to see
the daylight creeping into the room (never before had he appreciated
so thoroughly the beauties of the dawn) and to find himself lying half
frozen on the bed with the pillow, which he was clasping
affectionately, for his sole covering.
At breakfast that morning he looked so peculiar and dilapidated, that
Madame and Juliette made tender inquiries as to his health, to which
he replied that his bedclothes had come off in the night and the cold
had given him a chill "in the middle." They were very sympathetic, and
dosed him with hot /café-au-lait/, but the Pasteur, studying him
through the blue spectacles, said, "Ah, is it so?" in a kind of
triumphant tone which Madame designated as "/bête/." Indeed, to those
unacquainted with what was passing in M. Boiset's mind, it must have
seemed particularly stupid.
When breakfast was over he possessed himself of Godfrey, and led him
to the observatory, where the stove was already lit, though this was
not usual in the daytime, especially on Sundays.
"Now, my boy, tell me all about it," he said, and Godfrey told him,
feebly suggesting that it might have been a nightmare.
"Nightmare! Nonsense. The witch Riennes has sent her demon to torment
you, that is all. I thought she would. It is quite according to rule,
a most clear and excellent case. Indeed, I /am/ a lucky student."
"I don't believe in witches," said Godfrey, "I always heard they were
"Ah! I don't know. Here in the mountains these Swiss people believe in
them, and tell strange stories, some of which I have heard as their
Pasteur, especially when I held office among the High Alps. Also the
Bible speaks of them often, does it not, and what was, is, and shall
be, as Solomon says. Oh! why hesitate? Without doubt this woman is a
witch who poses as an innocent modern spiritualist. But she shall not
send her pretty female devil after you again, for I will make that
room impossible to her."
"Please do," said Godfrey. "And as for Madame Riennes, it is certainly
strange that she should have known about the things I had in my pocket
the other day, although of course, she may have followed me into the
"Yes, yes, she followed you into the shops, she or her demon, though
perhaps you would not see her there. What did you tell me? That in the
villa you thought that the dead Mademoiselle was warning you against
something? Well, perhaps she was, for she was a good woman, though
weak and foolish to trust to spiritualism, and now, without doubt, she
sees all, and would protect you of whom she is fond."
"Then I wish she had done it a little better," said Godfrey. "Oh!
listen, there's a rap!"
A rap there was certainly, on the hot iron of the stove, a resonant,
ringing rap. The Pasteur advanced and made an examination, and while
he was doing so there came another. What is more, in a most
inexplicable fashion his blue spectacles flew from his nose. Very
solemnly he found and replaced them and then, with the utmost dignity,
addressing himself to the stove, he cursed and exorcised that article
of domestic furniture in his best mediæval Latin. Apparently the
effort was successful, for there were no more manifestations.
"Listen, my boy. You do not part from me this day. Presently we go to
church, and you sit under me where I can keep my eye on you. If you
make one movement towards the door, I descend from the desk or the
pulpit, and take you back there with me."
"I don't want to move," said Godfrey.
"No, but there are others who may want to move you. Then after church
we dine, and after dinner we take a nice walk through the woods arm in
arm. Yes, perhaps we go as far as Lucerne and pay a little visit
there, since this afternoon I have arranged that there is no service."
So Godfrey went to church and sat under the cold, blue glare of the
Pasteur's spectacles, listening to a really eloquent sermon, for his
preaching was excellent. He took his text from the story of Saul and
the witch of Endor, and after dwelling on it and its moral, opened up
the whole problem of the hidden influences which may, and probably do,
affect the human soul. He gave a short but learned account of the
history of demonology throughout the ages, which evidently he had at
his fingers' ends. He distinguished between good and evil spirits, and
while not denying the lawfulness of such research, pointed out the
peril that the seeker ran, since in his quest for the good he might
find the evil. Finally, he demonstrated that there was a sure refuge
from all such demoniacal attacks, which those who suffered from them
had but to seek.
Madame dozed during this sermon. Juliette wondered what had sent her
father down that road, and the little congregation, those of them who
understood, thought it a pleasant change from his usual discourse upon
their sins, since they at least had never practised demonology. But to
Godfrey, to whom, indeed, it was addressed, it brought much comfort,
for in the Pasteur and his pure and beautiful doctrine, he saw a rock
on which he might stand secure, defying Madame Riennes and Eleanor,
and all the hosts of hell behind them.
Then came dinner. It was towards the middle of this meal that Godfrey
began to feel very ill at ease. He fidgeted, he looked towards the
door, he half rose and sat down again.
"Do you perchance wish to go out?" asked the Pasteur, who was keeping
him under constant observation.
"What of it if he does?" interrupted Madame. "Did not Monsieur Godfrey
inform us that he was unwell? Go then, Monsieur Godfrey."
"No, not so," said the Pasteur. "Remain seated. In one minute I will
be ready to accompany you."
"/Mon Dieu!/ what for?" exclaimed Madame. "Never did I hear of such a
thing," while even Juliette looked amazed.
Meanwhile Godfrey had risen and was making for the door, with a fixed
and sickly smile upon his face. The Pasteur swallowed down his /vin
ordinaire/ and rushed after him.
"He is ill," said Juliette, with sympathy, "all day he has looked
"Perhaps," said Madame. "That sermon of your father's was enough to
turn anybody's stomach, with his talk about devils and witches. But
why cannot he leave him alone? A doctor in such a case perhaps, but a
clergyman----! /Mon Dieu!/ there they go, the two of them walking
towards the woods. What a strange idea! And your father has Monsieur
Godfrey by the arm, although assuredly he is not faint for he pulls
ahead as though in a great hurry. They must be mad, both of them. I
have half a mind----"
"No, no, Mother," said Juliette. "Leave them alone. Doubtless in time
they will return. Perhaps it has something to do with the stars."
"Silly girl! Stars at midday!"
"Well, Mamma, you know they are always there even if one cannot see them."
"Nonsense, child. They only come at night. The question is--where are
those two going?"
Juliette shook her head and gave it up, and so perforce did her mother.
THE PASTEUR CONQUERS
Meanwhile, following a short cut through the snowy woods that ran over
the shoulder of the intervening hill, the pair were wending their way
towards Lucerne. Godfrey, a fixed and vacant look upon his face, went
first; the Pasteur clinging to his arm like a limpet to a rock, puffed
along beside him.
"Heaven!" he gasped, "but this attraction of yours must be strong that
it makes you walk so fast immediately after dinner."
"It is, it is!" said Godfrey, in a kind of agony. "I feel as though my
inside were being drawn out, and I must follow it. Please hold my arm
tight or I shall run."
"Ah! the witch. The great witch!" puffed the Pasteur, "and up this
hill too, over snow. Well, it will be better on the down grade. Give
me your hand, my boy, for your coat is slipping, and if once you got
away how should I catch you?"
They accomplished the walk into Lucerne in absolutely record time.
Fortunately, at this after-dinner hour few people were about, but some
of those whom they met stared at them, and one called:
"Do you take him to the police-station? Shall I summon the /gens-
"No, no," replied the Pasteur, "he goes to keep an assignation, and is
in a hurry."
"Then why does he take you with him? Surely a clergyman will make a
bad third at such an affair?" ejaculated an outspoken lady who was
standing at her house door.
"Where is the street? I do not know it," asked the Pasteur.
"Nor do I," answered Godfrey, "but we shall come there all right. To
the left now."
"Oh! the influence! The strong influence!" muttered Monsieur Boiset.
"Behold! it leads him."
Truly it did lead him. Round corners and across squares they went into
an old part of the town with which neither of them was acquainted,
till at length Godfrey, diving beneath an archway, pulled up in front
of an antique doorway, saying:
"I think this is the place."
"Look at the writing and make sure," said the Pasteur, "for it seems
At that moment the door opened mysteriously, and Godfrey disappeared
into the passage beyond. Scarcely had the Pasteur time to follow him
when it shut again, although he could see no /concierge/.
"Doubtless it is one of those that works with a wire," he thought to
himself, but he had no time to stop to look, for already Godfrey was
climbing the stairs. Up he went, three floors, and up after him
scrambled the Pasteur. Suddenly Godfrey stopped at a door and not
waiting to ring the bell, knocked with his hand. Immediately it opened
and Godfrey, with his companion, passed into a very dark hall round
which were several other doors. Here in the gloom the Pasteur lost
him. Godfrey had gone through one of the doors, but which he could not
see. He stood still, listening, and presently heard a deep peculiar
voice speaking English with a very foreign accent, say:
"So you have come to see your godmamma, my dear little clever boy.
Well, I thought you would, and last night I sent you a pretty
messenger to give you remembrance."
Then the Pasteur found the handle of the door and entered the room. It
was a curious place draped, not without taste of a bizarre kind, in
vivid colours, wherein purple dominated, and it gave an idea of
mingled magnificence and squalor. Some of the furniture was very good,
as were one or two of the pictures, though all of it was of an odd and
unusual make. Thus, the sideboard was shaped like a sarcophagus, and
supported on solid sphinxes with gilded faces. In a corner of the room
also stood an unwrapped mummy in a glass case.
In the midst of all this stood a common deal table, whereon were a
black bottle, and the remains of Madame's meal, which seemed to have
consisted of large supplies of underdone meat. In front of the fire
was a large, well-worn couch, and by it a small stout table such as
spiritualists use, on which gleamed a ball of glass or crystal. On
this couch was seated Madame clad in a kind of black dressing-gown and
a wide gold scarf tied about her ample waist. Her fat, massive face
was painted and powdered; on her head she wore a kind of mantilla also
gold-coloured, and about her neck a string of old Egyptian amulets.
Anything more unwholesome or uncanny than were her general appearance
and surroundings as the bright flames of the fire showed them in this
stuffy, shadowed room, it would be impossible to imagine.
"Sit down here by my side, my little son in the speerit, where I have
made a place ready for you, and let me hold your hand while you tell
me all that you have been doing and if you have been thinking much of
me and that beautiful Eleanor whom I sent to see you last night," went
on Madame Riennes in her ogreish, purring voice, patting the sofa.
Just then she looked up and caught sight of the Pasteur standing in
the shadow. Staring at him with her fierce, prominent eyes, she
started violently as though at last she had seen something of which
she was afraid.
"Say, my Godfrey," she exclaimed in a rather doubtful voice, "what is
this that you have brought with you? Is it a scarecrow from the
fields? Or is it a speerit of your own? If so, I should have thought
that a young man would have liked better the lovely Eleanor than this
"Yes, Madame Jezebel," said the Pasteur striding forward, speaking in
a loud, high voice and waving a large umbrella, which had come partly
unfolded in his hurried walk. "It is a scarecrow--one that scares the
crows of hell who seek to pick out the souls of the innocent, like
/you/, Madame Jezebel."
Madame uttered a voluminous oath in some strange tongue, and sprang to
her feet with an agility surprising in one so stout.
"Say, who are you?" she ejaculated in French, confronting him.
"I am the Pasteur Boiset who accompany my ward to pay this little
"Oh! indeed. That thief of a clergyman, who got his finger into the
pie of dead Mademoiselle, eh? Well, there are no more pickings here,
Pasteur, but perhaps you come to have your fortune told. Shall I look
in the crystal for you and tell you nice things about--what shall we
say? About the past of that handsome Madame of yours, for instance?
Oh! I will do it for love, yes, for love. Or shall I make that mummy
speak for you? I can, for once I lived in that body of hers--it was a
gay life," and she stopped, gasping.
"Hearken, woman," said the Pasteur, "and do not think to frighten me.
I know all about my wife, and, if once she was foolish, what of it in
a world where none are altogether wise? If you do not wish to visit
the police cell, you will do well to leave her alone. As for your
tricks of chicanery, I want none of them. What I want is that you take
off the spell which you have laid upon this poor boy, as Satan your
master has given you the power to do. Now, obey me--or----"
"Or? Or what, you old paid advocate of God?"
"That is a good term. If I am an advocate, I know my Employer's mind,
I, who have taken His fee, and am therefore in honour bound to serve
Him faithfully. Now I will tell you His mind about you. It is that
unless you change your ways and repent, soon you will go to hell. Yes,
quite soon, I think, for one so fat cannot be very strong in the
heart. Do what I bid you, Madame, or I, the advocate of God, having
His authority, will curse you in the Name of God, and in the ancient
form of which you may have heard."
"Bah! would you frighten me, the great Madame Riennes who have spirits
at my command and who, as you admit, can lay on spells and take them
off. A flea for you and your God!"
"Spirits at your command! Yes, some of them in there, I think," and he
pointed to the black bottle on the table, "and others too, perhaps; I
will not deny it. Well, let them advance, and we will see who is on
the top of the mountain, I, the old paid advocate of God, or you and
your spirits, Madame," and hooking the handle of the big umbrella over
his wrist, he folded his arms and stared at her through the blue
Madame Riennes gibbered some invocation, but nothing happened.
"I await your spirits. They cannot have gone to bed so early,"
remarked the Pasteur like a new Elijah.
Then, also like Elijah, to use a vulgarism, he "sailed in" after a way
which even the terrified Godfrey, who was crouching against one of the
purple curtains, felt to be really magnificent with such artistic
sense as remained to him. In his mediæval Latin which, spoken with a
foreign accent, Godfrey, although a good scholar, could scarcely
follow save for certain holy names, he cursed Madame Riennes in some
archaic but most effective fashion. He consigned, this much Godfrey
made out, her soul to hell and her body to a number of the most
uncomfortable experiences. He trailed her in the dust at the rear of
his theological chariot; he descended from the chariot, so to speak,
and jumped upon her as he had done upon the beetle; he tossed up her
mangled remains as the holy bull, Apis of the Egyptians, might have
done with those of a Greek blasphemer. Then, like a triumphant
pugilist, metaphorically he stood over her and asked her if she wanted
For a little while Madame Riennes was crushed, also very evidently
frightened, for those who deal in the supernatural are afraid of the
supernatural. Indeed, none of us welcome the curse even of a malignant
and disappointed beggar, or of the venomous gipsy angered by this or
that, and much less that of a righteous man inspired by just and holy
indignation. Madame Riennes, an expert in the trade, a dealer in
maledictions, was not exempt from this common prejudice. As she would
have expressed it, she felt that he had the Power on his side.
But Madame was no common charlatan; she had strength of a sort, though
where it came from who could say? Moreover, for all kinds of secret
reasons of her own, she desired to keep in her grip this boy Godfrey,
who had shown himself to be so wonderful a medium or clairvoyant. To
her he meant strength and fortune; also for him she had conceived some
kind of unholy liking in the recesses of her dark soul. Therefore, she
was not prepared to give him up without a struggle.
Presently Madame seemed to cast off the influences with which the
Pasteur had overwhelmed her. While his maledictions were in full flow
she sank in a huddled heap upon the couch. Of a sudden she revived;
she sprang up; notwithstanding her bulk she leapt into the air like a
ballet-dancer. She tore the golden mantilla from her head, letting
down a flood of raven hair, streaked with grey, and waved it round
her. She called upon the names of spirits or demons, long, resounding
names with an Eastern ring about them, to come to her aid. Then she
pranced into the centre of the room, crying:
"Dog of a clergyman, I defy you and will overcome you. That boy's soul
is mine, not yours. I am the greatest mesmerist in the world and he is
in my net. I will show you!"
She turned towards the shrivelled, almost naked mummy in the case, and
"O Nofri," she said, "Priestess of Set, great seeress and magician of
the old world in whom once my spirit dwelt, send forth your Ka, your
everlasting Emanation, to help me. Crush this black hound. Come forth,
As she spoke the fearful Godfrey in his corner saw the door of the
glass case fly open, also as he thought, probably erroneously, that he
saw the mummy move, lifting its stiff legs and champing its iron jaws
so that the yellow, ancient teeth caught the light as they moved. Then
he heard and saw something else. Suddenly the Pasteur in tones that
rang like a trumpet, cried out:
"She seems to hesitate, this mummy of yours, Madame. Let me be polite
and help her."
With a single bound he was in front of the case. With the hook of his
big umbrella he caught the shrivelled thing round the neck; with his
long thin arm he gripped it about the middle, just like somebody
leading a lady to the dance, thought Godfrey. Then he bent himself and
pulled. Out flew the age-withered corpse. The head came off, the body
broke above the hips and fell upon the floor, leaving the legs
standing in the case, a ghastly spectacle. On to this severed trunk
the Pasteur leapt, again as he had done upon the black beetle. It
crunched and crumbled, filling the air with a pungent, resinous dust.
Then he stood amidst the débris, and placing his right foot upon what
had been the mummy's nose, said mildly:
"Now, Madame, what next? This lady is finished?"
Madame Riennes uttered a stifled scream, more she could not do for
rage choked her. Her big eyes rolled, she clenched and unclenched her
hands, and bent forward as though she were about to fly at the Pasteur
like a wild cat. Still poised upon the fragments of the mummy he
lifted the point of the umbrella to receive the charge as it came, and
taking advantage of Madame's temporary paralysis of speech, went on:
"Hearken! daughter of Beelzebub. You have the curse and it shall work
upon your soul, but, yes, it shall work well. Still your body remains,
and of that too I would say something. Know that I have heard much of
you--oh! the quiet old Pasteur hears many things, especially if he has
members of the secret police among his flock. I think that yonder in
an office there is a /dossier/, yes, an official record concerning you
and your doings both in this country and in other lands. It has been
allowed to sleep, but it can wake again; if it wakes--well, there is
the penitentiary for such as you."
Madame gasped and turned green. If Monsieur had drawn a bow at a
venture, evidently that chance arrow had found the bull's-eye, for now
she truly was frightened.
"What would you have me do?" she asked in a choking voice.
"Free this youth from your influence, as you can if you will."
"My influence! If I had any with him would not that bald skull of
yours by now have been shattered like an egg, seeing that he is strong
and holds a stick?"
"I have no time to waste, Madame. The Police Office closes early on
Then she gave in.
"Come here," she said sullenly to Godfrey, still speaking in French.
He came and stood before her sneezing, for the pungent dust of the
smashed mummy, which the Pasteur still ground beneath his large boots,
had floated up his nose.
"Cease that noise, little fool, and look at me."
Godfrey obeyed, but did not stop sneezing, because the mixture of
spices and organic matter would not allow him to do so. She stared at
him very evilly, muttered some more words, and made mystic upward
passes with her hands.
"There now," she said, "you are free, so far as I am concerned. But I
do not think that you are done with spirits, since they are guests
which once entertained to breakfast, stop to luncheon and to dinner;
yes, and pass the night when they are merriest. I think you will see
many spirits before you die, and afterwards--ah! who knows, little
pig? Put your string about his leg and take your little pig home,
Pasteur. He will not be drawn to come here again."
"Good, Madame, for remember, if he does I shall be drawn to call at
the Police Office. If Madame will take my advice she will try change
of air. Lucerne is cold in the winter, especially for those whose
hearts are not too strong. Is it finished?"
"Quite, for my part, but for you, interfering humbug, I do not know.
Get out of my room, both of you."
The Pasteur bowed with an old-fashioned politeness, and herding
Godfrey in front of him, turned to go. As he passed through the door
something hard hit him violently in the back, so that he nearly fell.
It was the head of the mummy, which Madame had hurled at him. It fell
to the floor, and striking against a chair leg, recoiled through the
doorway. Godfrey saw it, and an impulse seized him. Lifting that head,
he turned. Madame was standing in the middle of the room with her back
to the deal table, uttering short little howls of fury.
Godfrey advanced very politely and saying, "I believe this is your
property, Madame," placed the battered remnant of humanity upon the
table beside the black bottle. As he did so, he glanced at the
mesmerist, then turned and fled, for her face was like to that of a
"Monsieur Boiset," he said, when they reached the street, "something
has happened to me. I am quite changed. Not for all the world would I
go near Madame Riennes again. Indeed, now I feel as though I wished to
run away from her."
"That is good!" said the Pasteur. "Oh! I thought it would be so, for I
know how to deal with such witches. But not too fast, not too fast, my
Godfrey. I wonder what the old Egyptians put into the heads of their
mummies to make them so heavy."
"Bitumen," answered Godfrey, and proceeded in a cheerful voice to give
an account of the Egyptian process of mummification to his tutor,
which Isobel and he had acquired in the course of their miscellaneous
reading at Monk's Acre. Indeed, as he had said, whatever the reason,
he was changed and prepared to talk cheerfully about anything. A great
burden was lifted from his soul.
From that day forward Godfrey became what a youth of his years and
race should be, a high-spirited, athletic, and active young man.
Madame Riennes and her visions passed from him like a bad dream.
Thoughtful he remained always, for that was his nature; sometimes sad
also, when he thought of Isobel, who seemed to have disappeared quite
out of his life. But as was natural at his age, this mood weakened by
degrees. She was always there in the background, but she ceased to
obscure the landscape as she had done before, and was to do in his
after life. Had she been a girl of the common type, attractive only
because she was a young and vivacious woman, doubtless the eclipse
would have been complete. Occasionally, indeed, men do love fools in
an enduring fashion, which is perhaps the most evil fate that can be
laid upon them. For what can be worse than to waste what is deep and
real upon a thing of flesh without a soul, an empty, painted bubble,
which evades the hand, or bursts if it is grasped? Those are the real
unfortunates, who have sold themselves for a mess of potage, that for
the most part they are never even allowed to eat, since before the
bell rings it has probably been deposited by heaven knows what hand of
Circumstance in someone else's plate, or gone stale and been thrown
Godfrey was not one of these, because the hand of Circumstance had
managed his affairs otherwise. Isobel was no mess of potage, but with
all her faults and failings, a fair and great inheritance for him who
could take seisin of her. Still, as he believed, she had first treated
him badly, then utterly neglected him whose pride she had outraged, by
not even taking the trouble to write him a letter, and finally, had
vanished away. And he was young, with manhood advancing in his veins,
like the pulse of spring, and women are many in the world, some of
whom have pretty faces and proper figures. Also, although the fact is
overlooked by convention, it has pleased Nature to make man polygamous
in his instincts, though where those instincts end and what is called
love begins, is a thing almost impossible to define. Probably in truth
the limit lies beyond the borders of sex.
So Isobel's grey eyes faded into the background of Godfrey's mental
vision, while the violet eyes of Juliette drew ever nearer to his
physical perceptions. And here, to save trouble, it may be said at
once, that he never cared in the least for Juliette, except as a male
creature cares for a pretty female creature, and that Juliette never
cared in the least for him, except as a young woman cares in general
for a handsome and attractive young man--with prospects. Indeed, she
found him too serious for her taste. She did not understand him, as,
for his part, in her he found nothing to understand.
After all, ruling out the primary impulses which would make a scullery
maid congenial to a genius upon a desert isle, what was there in a
Juliette to appeal to a Godfrey? And, with the same qualification,
what was there in a Godfrey to appeal to a Juliette? As once, with an
accidental touch of poetry, she said to her mother, when at his side
she felt as though she were walking over a snow-covered crevasse in
the surrounding Alps. All seemed firm beneath her feet, but she never
knew when the crust would break, and he would vanish into unfathomed
depths, perchance dragging her with him. Or, feeling her danger she
might run from him on to safer ground, where she knew herself to be on
good, common rock or soil, and no strange, hollow echoes struck her
ears, leaving him to pursue his perilous journey alone.
Her mother laughed, and falling into her humour, answered, that beyond
the crevasse and at the foot of the further slope lay the warm and
merry human town, the best house of which--not unlike the Villa Ogilvy
--could be reached in no other way, and that with such a home waiting
to receive her, it was worth while to take a little risk. Thereon
Juliette shrugged her white shoulders, and in the intervals of one of
the French /chansonettes/ which she was very fond of warbling in her
gay voice, remarked that she preferred to make journeys, safe or
perilous, in the company of a singing-bird in the sunlight, rather
than in that of an owl in the dusk, who always reminded her of the
At least, that was the substance of what she said, although she did
not put it quite so neatly. Then, as though by an afterthought, she
asked when her cousin Jules, a young notary of Berne, was coming to
stay with them.
The winter wore away, the spring came, and after spring, summer, with
its greenery and flowers. Godfrey was happy enough during this time.
To begin with, the place suited him. He was very well now, and grew
enormously in that pure and trenchant air, broadening as well as
lengthening, till, notwithstanding his slimness, he gave promise of
becoming a large, athletic man.
Madame Riennes too and her unholy terrors had faded into the
background. He no longer thought of spirits, although, it is true that
a sense of the immanence and reality of the Unseen was always with
him; indeed, as time went on, it increased rather than lessened.
Partly, this was owing to the character and natural tendencies of his
mind, partly also, without doubt, to the fact that his recent
experiences had, as it were, opened a door to him between the Seen and
the Hidden, or rather burst a breach in the dividing wall that never
was built up again. Also his astronomical studies certainly gave an
impetus to thoughts and speculations such as were always present with
him. Only now these were of a wholesome and reverent nature, tending
towards those ends which are advanced by religion in its truest sense.
He worked hard, too, under the gentle guidance of the learned Pasteur,
at the classics, literature, and other subjects, while in French he
could not fail to become proficient in the company of the talkative
Madame and the sprightly Juliette. Nor did he want for relaxation.
There were great woods on the hills behind the Maison Blanche, and in
these he obtained leave to shoot rabbits, and, horrible to say, foxes.
Juliette and he would set out together towards evening, accompanied by
a clever cur which belonged to Jean, the factotum of the house.
They would post themselves at some convenient spot, while the
instructed hound ranged the woods above. Then would appear perhaps a
rabbit, perhaps a hare, though these in that land of poaching were not
common, or occasionally a great, red, stealthy fox. At first, with his
English traditions, Godfrey shrank from shooting the last, which he
had been taught ought to die in one way only, namely, by being torn to
pieces in the jaws of the hounds.
Juliette, however, mocked at him, volubly reciting Reynard's many
misdeeds--how he stole chickens; how he tore out the throats of lambs,
and, according to local report, was not even above killing a baby if
he found that innocent alone. So it came about next time the excited
yapping of the cur-dog was heard on the slopes above them, followed by
stealthy movements among the fallen pine needles, and at length by the
appearance of the beautiful red creature slyly slinking away to
shelter, not twenty yards from where they stood behind a tree-trunk,
that Juliette whispered:
"/Tirez/! /Tirez/!" and he lifted the gun, an old-fashioned, single-
barrelled piece, aimed and fired.
Then followed a horrid scene. The big shot with which he had loaded,
mortally wounded but did not kill the fox, that with its forepaws
broken, rolled, and bit, and made dreadful noises in its agony, its
beautiful fur all stained with blood. Godfrey did not know what to do;
it was too big and strong to kill with Juliette's little stick, so he
tried to batter it to death with the stock of the gun, but without
success, and at last withdrew, looking at it horrified.
"What shall I do?" he asked faintly of Juliette.
"Load the gun and shoot it again," replied that practical young woman.
So with some mistakes, for the emergency made him nervous, such as the
dropping of the cap among the pine needles, he obeyed. At last the
poor beast lay dead, a very disagreeable spectacle, with the cur-dog
that had arrived, biting joyously at its quivering form.
Godfrey put down the gun and retired behind a tree, whence presently
he emerged, looking very pale, for to tell the truth, he had been ill.
"I do not think I like shooting foxes," he said.
"How strange you are," answered Juliette. "Quite unlike other men. Now
my Cousin Jules, there is nothing that he loves better. Go now and cut
off his tail, to hang upon the wall. It is beautiful."
"I can't," said Godfrey still more faintly.
"Then give me the knife, for I can."
And she did!
Had Madame but known it, that fox did not die unavenged upon her
family, for with it departed from the world all hopes of the alliance
which she desired so earnestly.
GODFREY BECOMES A HERO
The truth is that Godfrey was no true sportsman, really he did not
enjoy exterminating other and kindred life to promote his own
amusement. Like most young men, he was delighted if he made a good
shot; moreover, he had some aptitude for shooting, but unlike most
young men, to him afterwards came reflections. Who gave him the right
to kill creatures as sentient, and much more beautiful in their way
then himself, just because it was "great fun"? Of course, he was
familiar with the common answer, that day by day his body was
nourished upon the flesh of other animals destroyed for that purpose.
But then this was a matter of necessity, so arranged by a law, that
personally, he thought dreadful, but over which he had no manner of
control. It was part of the hellish system of a world built upon the
foundation stone of death.
Nature told him that he must live, and that to live, not being a
vegetarian, which for most of us is difficult in a cold climate, he
must kill, or allow others to kill for him. But to his fancy, perhaps
meticulous, between such needful slaughter and that carried out for
his own amusement, and not really for the purposes of obtaining food,
there seemed to be a great gulf fixed. To get food he would have
killed anything, and indeed, often did in later days, as he would and
also often did in after days, have destroyed noxious animals, such as
But to inflict death merely to show his own skill or to gratify man's
innate passion for hunting, which descends to him from a more
primitive period, well, that was another matter. It is true, that he
was not logical, since always he remained an ardent fisherman, partly
because he had convinced himself from various observations, that fish
feel very little, and partly for the reason that there is high
authority for fishing, although, be it admitted, with a single
exception, always in connection with the obtaining of needful food.
In these conclusions Godfrey was strengthened by two circumstances;
first, his reading, especially of Buddhistic literature, that enjoins
them so strongly, and in which he found a great deal to admire, and
secondly, by the entire concurrence of the Pasteur Boiset, whom he
admired even more than he did Buddhistic literature.
"I am delighted, my young friend," said the Pasteur, beaming at him
through the blue spectacles, "to find someone who agrees with me.
Personally, although you might not believe it, I love the chase with
ardour; when I was young I have shot as many as twenty-five--no--
twenty-seven blackbirds and thrushes in one day, to say nothing of
thirty-one larks, and some other small game. Also, once I wounded a
chamois, which a bold hunter with me killed. It was a glorious moment.
But now, for the reasons that you mention, I have given up all this
sport, which formerly to me was so great an excitement and relaxation.
Yet I admit that I still fish. Only last year I caught a large hatful
of perch and dace, of which I persuaded Madame to cook some that
Juliette would not eat and gave to the cat. Once, too, there was a big
trout in the Lake Lucerne. He broke my line, but, my boy, we will go
to fish for that trout. No doubt he is still there, for though I was
then young, these fishy creatures live for many years, and to catch
him would be a glory."
After Godfrey had given up his fox-shooting, not because in itself is
a terrible crime, like fishing for salmon with herring roe, but for
reasons which most of his countrymen would consider effeminate and
absurd, he took to making expeditions, still in company with Juliette,
for Madame stretched Continental conventions in his case, in search of
certain rare flowers which grew upon the lower slopes of these Alps.
In connection with one of these flowers an incident occurred, rather
absurd in itself, but which was not without effect upon his fortunes.
The search for a certain floral treasure was long and arduous.
"If only I could find that lovely white bloom," exclaimed Juliette in
exasperation at the close of a weary hour of climbing, "why, I would
"So would I," said Godfrey, mopping himself with a pocket
handkerchief, for the sun was hot, "and with pleasure."
"Hidden flower," invoked Juliette with appropriate heroic gestures,
"white, secret, maiden flower, hear us! Discover thyself, O shrinking
flower, and thou shalt be kissed by the one that first finds thee."
"I don't know that the flower would care for that," remarked Godfrey,
as they renewed their quest.
At length behind a jutting mass of rock, in a miniature valley, not
more than a few yards wide that was backed by other rocks, this flower
was found. Godfrey and Juliette, passing round either side of the
black, projecting mass to the opening of the toy vale beyond,
discovered it simultaneously. There it stood, one lovely, lily-like
bloom growing alone, virginal, perfect. With a cry of delight they
sprang at it, and plucked it from its root, both of them grasping the
"I saw it first, and I will kiss it!" cried Juliette, "in token of
"No," said Godfrey, "I did, and I will. I want that flower for my
"So do I, for mine," answered Juliette.
Then they both tried to set this seal of possession upon that lily
bloom, with the strange result that their young lips met through its
fragile substance and with so much energy that it was crushed and
"Oh!" said Godfrey with a start, "look what you have done to the
"I! I, wicked one! Well, for the matter of that, look what you have
done to my lips. They feel quite bruised."
Then first she laughed, and next looked as though she were going to
"Don't be sad," said Godfrey remorsefully. "No doubt we shall find
another, now that we know where they are."
"Perhaps," she answered, "but it is always the first that one
remembers, and it is finished," and she threw down the stalk and
stamped on it.
Just then they heard a sound of laughter, and looking up, to their
horror perceived that they were not alone. For there, seated upon
stones at the end of the tiny valley, in composed and comfortable
attitudes, which suggested that they had not arrived that moment, were
two gentlemen, who appeared to be highly amused.
Godfrey knew them at once, although he had not seen them since the
previous autumn. They were Brother Josiah Smith, the spiritualist, and
Professor Petersen, the investigating Dane, whom he used to meet at
the séances in the Villa Ogilvy.
"I guess, young Brother Knight," said the former, his eyes sparkling
with sarcastic merriment, "that there is no paint on you. When you
find a flower, you know how to turn it to the best possible use."
"The substance of flowers is fragile, especially if of the lily tribe,
and impedes nothing," remarked the learned Dane in considered tones,
though what he meant Godfrey did not understand at the moment. On
consideration he understood well enough.
"Our mutual friend, Madame Riennes, who is absent in Italy, will be
greatly amused when she hears of this episode," said Brother Smith.
"She is indeed a remarkable woman, for only this morning I received a
letter in which she informed me that very soon I should meet you,
young man, under peculiar circumstances, how peculiar she did not add.
Well, I congratulate you and the young lady. I assure you, you made
quite a pretty picture with nothing but that flower between you,
though, I admit, it was rough on the flower. If I remember right you
are fond of the classics, as I am, and will recall to mind a Greek
poet named Theocritus. I think, had he been wandering here in the Alps
to-day, he would have liked to write one of his idylls about you two
and that flower."
"Because of the interruption give pardon, for it is owed an apology,"
said the solemn Professor, adding, "I think it must have been the
emanation of Madame Riennes herself which led us to this place, where
we did not at all mean to come, for she is very anxious to know how
you progress and what you are doing."
"Yes, young friend," broke in Brother Smith, not without a touch of
malice, for like the rest he was resentful of Godfrey's desertion of
their "circle," "and now we shall be able to tell her."
"Say then," said Juliette, "who are these gentlemen, and of what do
"They--are--friends of mine," Godfrey began to explain with awkward
hesitation, but she cut him short with:
"I like not your friends. They make a mock of me, and I will never
"But Juliette, I----" he began, and got no further, for she turned and
ran away. Anxious to explain, he ran after her, pursued by the loud
hilarity of the intruding pair. In vain, for Juliette was singularly
swift of foot, and he might as well have pursued Atalanta.
She reached the Maison Blanche, which fortunately was empty, a clear
ten yards ahead of him, and shut herself in her room, whence,
declaring that she had a headache, she did not emerge till the
Godfrey departed to the observatory where he often worked in summer,
feeling very sore and full of reflections. He had not really meant to
kiss Juliette, at least he thought not, and it was unthinkable that
she meant to kiss him, since, so far as he was aware, no young woman
ever wanted to do such a thing, being, every one of them, doubtless,
as unapproachable and frigid as the topmost, snowy peak of the Alps.
(Such was, and always remained his attitude, where the other sex was
concerned, one not without inconvenience in a practical world of
disillusions.) No, it was that confounded flower which brought about
this pure accident--as though Nature, which designs such accidents,
had not always a flower, or something equally serviceable, up her
Moreover, had it not been for that accursed pair, sent, doubtless, to
spy on him by Madame Riennes, the accident would never have mattered;
at least not much. He could have apologized suitably to Juliette, that
is, if she wanted an apology, which she showed no signs of doing until
she saw the two men. Indeed, at the moment, he thought that she seemed
He thought of searching out Brother Smith and Professor Petersen, and
explaining to them exactly what had happened in full detail, and
should they still continue their ribald jests, of punching their
heads, which as a manly young fellow, he was quite capable of doing.
Reflection showed him, however, that this course might not be wise,
since such adventures are apt to end in the police-court, where the
flower, and its fruit, would obtain undue publicity. No, he must leave
the business alone, and trust that Juliette would be merciful.
Supposing that she were to tell Madame that he had tried to kiss her,
though probably she would /not/ mention that he had actually
The mere idea made him feel cold down the back. He felt sure that
Madame would believe the worst of him; to judge from their
conversations, ladies, good as they all were, invariably did seem to
believe the worst in such affairs. Should he throw himself upon the
mercy of the Pasteur? Again, no. It would be so hard to make him
comprehend. Also, if he did, he might suggest that the altar was the
only possible expiation. And--and, oh! he must confess it, she was
very nice and sweet, but he did /not/ wish to marry Juliette and live
with her all his life.
No, there was but one thing to be done: keep the burden of his secret
locked in his own breast, though, unfortunately, it was locked as well
in those of Juliette and of two uninvited observers, and probably
would soon also be locked in the capacious bosom of Madame Riennes.
For the rest, towards Juliette in the future, he would observe an
attitude of strictest propriety; never more should she have occasion
to complain of his conduct, which henceforth would be immaculate.
Alas! how easy it is for the most innocent to be misjudged, and
apparently, not without reason.
This reflection brought something to Godfrey's mind which had escaped
it in his first disturbance, also connected with a flower. There came
before him the vision of a London square, and of a tall, pale girl, in
an antique dress, giving a rose to a man in knight's armour, which
rose both of them kissed simultaneously. Of course, when he saw it he
had ruled out the rose and only thought of the kisses, although, now
that he came to think of it, a rose is of a much thicker texture than
a lily. As he had witnessed that little scene, and drawn his own
conclusions, so others had witnessed another little scene that
afternoon, and made therefrom deductions which, in his innocent soul,
he knew to be totally false. Suppose, then, that /his/ deductions were
also false. Oh! it was not possible. Besides, a barrier built of rose
leaves was not sufficient, which again, with perfect justice, he
remembered was exactly what Brother Smith and Professor Petersen had
thought of one composed of lily petals.
There for the time the matter ended. Juliette reappeared on the morrow
quite cured of her headache, and as gay and charming as ever. Possibly
she had confided in her mamma, who had told her that after all things
were not so terrible, even if they /had/ been seen.
At any rate, the equilibrium was restored. Godfrey acted on his solemn
resolutions of haughtiness and detachment for quite an hour, after
which Juliette threw a kitten at him and asked what was the matter,
and then sang him one of her pretty /chansonettes/ to the
accompaniment of a guitar with three strings, which closed the
incident. Still there were no more flower hunts and no new adventures.
Tacitly, but completely, everything of the sort was dropped out of
their relationship. They remained excellent friends, on affectionate
terms indeed, but that was all.
Meanwhile, owing to his doubts arising out of a singular coincidence
concerned with flowers and kisses, Godfrey gradually made up his mind
to write to Isobel. Indeed, he had half composed the epistle when at
the end of one of his brief letters his father informed him that she
had gone to Mexico with her uncle. So it came about that it was never
posted, since it is a kind of superstition with young people that
letters can only be delivered at the place where the addressee last
resided. It rarely occurs to them that these may be forwarded, and
ultimately arrive. Nor, indeed, did it occur to Godfrey that as
Isobel's uncle was the British Minister to a certain country, an
envelope addressed to her in his care in that country probably would
have reached her.
She was gone and there was an end; it was of no use to think more of
the matter. Still, he was sorry, because in that same letter his
father had alluded casually to the death of Lady Jane, which had
caused Hawk's Hall to be shut up for a while, and he would have liked
to condole with Isobel on her loss. He knew that she loved her mother
dearly, and of this gentle lady he himself had very affectionate
remembrances, since she had always been most kind to him. Yet for the
reasons stated, he never did so.
About a fortnight after the flower episode a chance came Godfrey's way
of making an Alp-climbing expedition in the company of some
mountaineers. They were friends of the Pasteur who joined the party
himself, but stayed in a village at the foot of the mountains they
were to climb, since for such exercise he had lost the taste. The
first two expeditions went off very successfully, Godfrey showing
himself most agile at the sport which suited his adventurous spirit
and delighted him. By nature, notwithstanding his dreamy
characteristics, he was fearless, at any rate where his personal
safety was concerned, and having a good head, it gave him pleasure to
creep along the edge of precipices, or up slippery ice slopes, cutting
niches with an axe for his feet.
Then came the third attempt, up a really difficult peak which had not
yet been conquered that year. The details of the expedition do not
matter, but the end of it was that at a particularly perilous place
one of the party lost his head or his breath and rolled from the path.
There he lay half senseless, on the brink of a gulf, with a drop of a
thousand feet or more beneath him. As it happened, they were climbing
in lots of three, each of which lots was roped together, but at some
distance between the parties, that with the guide being a good way
Godfrey was leading his party along the track made by the other, but
their progress was not very rapid owing to the weakness of the man who
had fallen who, as it afterwards transpired, suffered from his heart,
and was affected by the altitude. The climber behind Godfrey was
strong and bold; also, as it chanced at the moment of the fall, this
man's feet were planted upon a lump of projecting rock, so firmly that
by throwing himself forward against the snow slope, grasping another
lump of rock with his left hand and bearing on to the alpenstock with
his right, he was able to sustain the weight of their companion. But
the rope which bound them together, though strong, was thin; moreover,
at the point where most of the strain came it rested on a knife-like
edge of ice, so sharp that there was momentarily danger of its fraying
through as the movements of the weight beneath rubbed it against the
When a shout and the stoppage warned Godfrey of what had happened, he
turned round and studied the position. Even to his inexperienced eye
it was obvious that a catastrophe was imminent. Now there were two
things which might be done; one was to stay in his place and help to
bear the strain of the swinging body, for almost immediately the
fainting man slipped from the ledge, and hung above the gulf. The
other was to trust to number two to hold his weight, and go to his
assistance in the hope of being able to support him until the guide
could return to the first party. As by a flash-like working of the
mind Godfrey weighed these alternatives, his quick eye saw what looked
like a little bit of fluff appear from the underside of the rope,
which told him that one at least of the strands must have severed upon
the edge of ice. Then almost instinctively he made his choice.
"Can you hold him?" he said swiftly to number two, who answered, "Yes,
I think so," in a muffled voice.
"Then I go to help him."
"If you slip, I cannot bear you both," said the muffled voice.
"No," answered Godfrey, and drawing the sheath knife he wore,
deliberately cut the rope which joined him to number two.
Then he scrambled down to the ledge without much difficulty, reaching
it, but just in time, for now the razor blade of the ice had cut half
through the rope, and very soon the swinging of the senseless weight
beneath must complete its work. This ledge, being broad, though
sloping, was not a particularly bad place; moreover, on it were little
hummocks of ice, resulting from snow that had melted and frozen again,
against one of which Godfrey was able to rest his left shoulder, and
even to pass his arm round it. But here came the rub. He could not get
sufficient grip of the thin rope with his right hand beyond the point
where it was cut, to enable him to support even half the weight that
hung below. Should it sever, as it must do very shortly, it would be
torn from his grasp.
What then could be done? Godfrey peered over the edge. The man was
swinging not more than two feet below its brink, that is to say, the
updrawn loop of his stout leather belt, to which the rope was
fastened, was about that distance from the brink, and on either side
of it he hung down like a sack tied round the middle, quite motionless
in his swoon, his head to one side and his feet to the other.
Could he reach and grasp that leather belt without falling himself,
and if so, could he bear the man's weight and not be dragged over?
Godfrey shrank from the attempt; his blood curdled. Then he pictured,
again in a mind-flash, his poor companion whirling down through space
to be dashed to pulp at the bottom, and the agony of his wife and
children whom he knew, and who had wished to prevent him from climbing
that day. Oh! he would try. But still a paralysing fear overcame him,
making him weak and nervous. Then it was in Godfrey's extremity that
his imagination produced a very curious illusion. Quite distinctly he
seemed to hear a voice, that of Miss Ogilvy, say to him:
"Do it, Godfrey, at once, or it will be too late. We will help you."
This phantasy, or whatever it was, seemed to give him back his nerve
and courage. Coolly he tightened the grip of his left arm about the
knob of ice, and drawing himself forward a little, so that his neck
and part of his chest were over the edge, reached his right hand
downwards. His fingers touched the belt; to grasp it he must have
another inch and a half, or two inches. He let himself down that
distance. Oh! how easy it seemed to do so--and thrust his fingers
beneath the belt. As he closed them round it, the rope parted and all
the weight that it had borne came upon Godfrey's arm!
How long did he support it, he often wondered afterwards. For ages it
seemed. He felt as though his right arm was being torn from the
socket, while the ice cut into the muscles of his left like active
torture. He filled himself with air, blowing out his lower part so
that its muscles might enable him to get some extra hold of the rough
ground; he dug his toes deep into the icy snow. His hat fell from his
head, rested for a moment in a ridiculous fashion upon the swinging
body beneath, then floated off composedly into space, the tall feather
in it sticking upwards and fluttering a little. He heard voices
approaching, and above them the shouts of the guide, though what these
said conveyed no meaning to him. He must loose his hold and go too.
No, he would not. He would not, although now he felt as though his
shoulder-joint were dislocated, also that his left arm was slipping.
He would die like a brave man--like a brave man. Surely this was
death! He was gone--everything passed away.
Godfrey woke again to find himself lying upon a flat piece of snow.
Recollection came back to him with a pang, and he thought that he must
Then he heard voices, and saw faces looking at him as through a mist,
also he felt something in his mouth and throat, which seemed to burn
them. One of the voices, it was that of the guide, said:
"Good, good! He finds himself, this young English hero. See, his eyes
open; more cognac, it will make him happy, and prevent the shock.
Never mind the other one; he is all right, the stupid."
Godfrey sat up and tried to lift his arm to thrust away the flask
which he saw approaching him, but he could not.
"Take that burning stuff away, Karl, confound you," he said.
Then Karl, a good honest fellow, who was on his knees beside him,
threw his arms about him, and embraced him in a way that Godfrey
thought theatrical and unpleasant, while all the others, except the
rescued man, who lay semi-comatose, set up a kind of pæan of praise,
like a Greek chorus.
"Oh! shut up!" said Godfrey, "if we waste so much time we shall never
get to the top," a remark at which they all burst out laughing.
"They talk of Providence on the Alps," shouted Karl in stentorian
tones, while he performed a kind of war-dance, "but that's the kind of
providence for me," and he pointed to Godfrey. "Many things have I
seen in my trade as guide, but never one like this. What? To cut the
rope for the sake of Monsieur there," and he pointed to number two,
whose share in the great adventure was being overlooked, "before
giving himself to almost certain death for the sake of Monsieur with
the weak heart, who had no business on a mountain; to stretch over the
precipice as the line parted, and hold Monsieur with the weak heart
for all that while, till I could get a noose round him--yes, to go on
holding him after he himself was almost dead--without a mind! Good
God! never has there been such a story in my lifetime on these Alps,
or in that of my father before me."
Then came the descent, Godfrey supported on the shoulder of the
stalwart Karl, who, full of delight at this great escape from tragedy,
and at having a tale to tell which would last him for the rest of his
life, "jodelled" spontaneously at intervals in his best "large-tip"
voice, and occasionally skipped about like a young camel, while
"Monsieur with the weak heart" was carried in a chair provided to bear
elderly ladies up the lower slopes of the Alps.
Some swift-footed mountaineer had sped down to the village ahead of
them and told all the story, with the result that when they reached
the outskirts of the place, an excited crowd was waiting to greet
them, including two local reporters for Swiss journals.
One of these, who contributed items of interest to the English press
also, either by mistake, or in order to make his narrative more
interesting, added to a fairly correct description of the incident, a
statement that the person rescued by Godfrey was a young lady. At
least, so the story appeared in the London papers next morning, under
the heading of "Heroic Rescue on the Alps," or in some instances of,
"A Young English Hero."
Among the crowd was the Pasteur, who beamed at Godfrey through his
blue spectacles, but took no part in these excited demonstrations.
When they were back at their hotel, and the doctor who examined
Godfrey, had announced that he was suffering from nothing except
exhaustion and badly sprained muscles, he said simply:
"I do not compliment you, my dear boy, like those others, because you
acted only as I should have expected of you in the conditions. Still,
I am glad that in this case another was not added to my long list of
"/I/ didn't act at all, Pasteur," blurted out Godfrey. "A voice, I
thought it was Miss Ogilvy's, told me what to do, and I obeyed."
The old gentleman smiled and shook his head, as he answered:
"It is ever thus, young Friend. When we wish to do good we hear a
voice prompting us, which we think that of an angel, and when we wish
to do evil, another voice, which we think that of a devil, but believe
me, the lips that utter both of them are in our own hearts. The rest
comes only from the excitement of the instant. There in our hearts the
angel and the devil dwell, side by side, like the two figures in a
village weather-clock, ready to appear, now one and now the other, as
the breath of our nature blows them."
"But I heard her," said Godfrey stubbornly.
"The excitement of the instant!" repeated the Pasteur blandly. "Had I
been so situated I am quite certain that I should have heard all the
deceased whom I have ever known," and he patted Godfrey's dark hair
with his long, thin hand, thanking God in his heart for the brave
spirit which He had been pleased to give to this young man, who had
grown so dear to one who lacked a son. Only this he did in silence,
nor did he ever allude to the subject afterwards, except as a
commonplace matter-of-course event.
Notwithstanding the "jodellings" which continued outside his window to
a late hour, and the bouquet of flowers which was sent to him by the
wife of the mayor, who felt that a distinction had been conferred upon
their village that would bring them many visitors in future seasons,
and ought to be suitably acknowledged, Godfrey soon dropped into a
deep sleep. But in the middle of the night it passed from him, and he
awoke full of terrors. Now, for the first time, he understood what he
had escaped, and how near he had been to lying, not in a comfortable
bed, but a heap of splintered bones and mangled flesh at the foot of a
precipice, whence, perhaps, it would have been impossible ever to
recover his remains. In short, his nerves re-acted, and he felt
anything but a hero, rather indeed, a coward among cowards. Nor did he
wish ever to climb another Alp; the taste had quite departed from him.
To tell the truth, a full month went by before he was himself again,
and during that month he was as timid as a kitten, and as careful of
his personal safety as a well-to-do old lady unaccustomed to travel.
When Godfrey returned to the Maison Blanche, wearing a handsome gold
watch, which had been presented to him with an effusive letter of
thanks by the gentleman whom he had rescued and his relatives, he
found himself quite a celebrity. Most of the Pasteur's congregation
met him when he descended from the diligence, and waved their hats,
but as he thanked heaven, did not "jodel."
Leaving the Pasteur to make some acknowledgment, he fled to the house,
only to find Madame, Juliette, a number of friends, to say nothing of
Jean, the cook and the servant girl, awaiting him there. Madame
beamed, and looked as though she were about to kiss him; the fresh and
charming Juliette shook his hand, and murmured into his ear that she
had no idea he was so brave, also that every night she thanked the
/Bon Dieu/ for his escape; while the others said something appropriate
--or the reverse.
Once more he fled, this time to his bedroom. There upon his dressing-
table lay two letters, one from his father and one addressed in a
curious pointed hand-writing, which he did not know. This he opened at
once. It was in French, and ran, as translated:
"Ah! Little Brother,--I know all that has happened to you, nor did
your godmother need to wait to read about it in the journals.
Indeed, I saw it in my crystal before it happened; you with the
man hanging to your arm and the rest. But then a cloud came over
the crystal, and I could not see the end. I hoped that he would
pull you over the edge, so that in one short minute you became
nothing but a red plum-pudding at the bottom of the gulf. For you
know that the sweetest-tempered fairy godmother can be made cross
by wicked ingratitude and evil treatment. Do not think, little
Brother, that I have forgiven you for bringing that old pasteur-
fool to insult and threaten me. Not so. I pray the speerits night
and day to pay you back in your own coin, you who have insulted
them also. Indeed, it was they who arranged this little incident,
but they tell me that some other speerit interfered at the last
moment and saved you. If so, better luck next time, for do not
think you shall escape me and them. Had you been true to us you
should have had great good fortune and everything you desire in
life, including, perhaps, something that you desire most of all.
As it is, you shall have much trouble and lose what you desire
most of all. Have you been kissing that pretty Mademoiselle again
and trying to make her as bad as her mother? Well, I hope you
will, because it will hurt that old fool-pasteur. Wherever you go,
remember that eyes follow you, mine and those of the speerits.
Hate and bad luck to you, my little Brother, from your dear
godmamma, whose good heart you have so outraged. So fare ill till
you hear from me again, yes and always. Now you will guess my
name, so I need not sign it.
"P.S.--Eleanor also sends you her hate from another sphere."
This precious epistle, filled with malignity, reaching him in the
midst of so many congratulations, struck upon Godfrey like a blast of
icy wind at the zenith of a summer day. To tell the truth also, it
He had tried to forget all about Madame Riennes and now here she was
stabbing him from afar, for the letter bore a Venice postmark. It may
be foolish, but few of us care to be the object of a concentrated,
personal hate. Perhaps this is due to the inherited superstitions of
our race, not long emerged from the blackness of barbarism, but at
least we still feel as our forefathers did; as though the will to work
evil had the power to bring about the evil desired. It is nonsense,
since were it true, none could escape the direst misfortune, as every
one of us is at some time or another the object of the hate or
jealousy of other human beings. Moreover, as most of us believe, there
is a being, not human, that hates us individually and collectively,
and certainly would compass our destruction, had he the power, which
happily he has not, unless we ourselves give it to him.
Godfrey comforted himself with this reflection, also, with another;
that in this instance the issue of his peril had been far different
from what his enemy desired. Yet, with his nerves still shaken both by
his spiritualistic experiences, and by those of the danger which he
had passed, the letter undoubtedly did affect him in the way that it
was meant to do, and the worst of it was that he could not consult his
friend and guide, the Pasteur, because of the allusion to the scene
Throwing it down as though it were a venomous snake, which indeed, it
was, he opened that from his father, which was brief. It congratulated
him coldly on his escape, whereof Mr. Knight said he had heard, not in
the way that he would have expected, from himself, but through the
papers. This, it may be explained, was not strange, since the account
was telegraphed long before Godfrey had time to write. As a matter of
fact, however, he had not written, for who cares to indite epistles to
an unsympathetic and critical recipient? Most people only compose
letters for the benefit of those who like to receive them and, by
intuition, read in them a great deal more than the sender records in
black and white. For letter-writing, at its best, is an allusive art,
something that suggests rather than describes. It was because Godfrey
appreciated this truth in a half unconscious fashion, that he did not
care to undertake an active correspondence with his father. It is the
exception also, for young men to care to correspond with their
fathers; the respective outlooks, and often, the respective interests,
are too diverse. With mothers it is different, at any rate, sometimes,
for in their case the relationship is more intimate. In the instance
of the male parent, throughout the realm of nature, it is apt to have
an accidental aspect or to acquire one as time goes by.
The letter went on to request that he would climb no more Alps, since
he had been sent to Switzerland, to scale not mountains, but the peaks
of knowledge. It added, with that naive selfishness from which
sometimes even the most pious are not exempt, "had you been killed, in
addition to losing your own life, which would not so much have
mattered, since I trust that you would have passed to a better, you
would have done a wrong to your family. In that event, as you are not
yet of age, I believe the money which your friend left to you
recently, would have returned to her estate instead of going to
benefit your natural heirs."
Godfrey pondered over the words "natural heirs," wondering who these
might be. Coming finally to the conclusion that he had but one, namely
his father, which accounted for the solicitude expressed so earnestly
in the letter, he uttered an expletive, which should not have passed
his youthful lips, and threw it down upon the top of that of Madame
After this he left the room much depressed, and watching his
opportunity, for the merry party in the /salon/ who had gathered to
greet him were still there drinking heavy white wine, he slipped
through the back door to walk in the woods. These woods were lonely,
but then they suited his mood. In truth, never had he felt more alone
in his life. His father and he were utterly different, and estranged,
and he had no other relatives. In friends he was equally lacking. Miss
Ogilvy, whom he had begun to love, was dead, and a friend in heaven is
some way off, although he did think he had heard her voice when he was
so near to joining her.
There remained no one save the Pasteur, of whom he was growing truly
fond, so much so, that he wished that the old gentleman had been
appointed to be his father according to the flesh. The rest of the
world was a blank to him, except for Isobel, who had deserted him.
Besides, some new sentiment had entered into his relations with
Isobel, whereby these were half spoiled. Of course, although he did
not altogether understand it, this was the eternal complication of sex
which curses more than it blesses in the world; of sex, the eating
fire that is so beautiful but burns. For when that fire has passed
over the flowers of friendship, they are changed into some new growth,
that however gorgeous it may be, yet always smells of flame. Sex being
the origin of life is necessarily also the origin of trouble, since
life and trouble are inseparable, and devours the gentle joys of
friendship, as a kite devours little singing birds. These go to its
sustenance, it is true, and both are birds, but the kite is a very
different creature from the nightingale or the lark. One of the great
advantages of matrimony, if it endures long enough, is that when the
sex attraction, which was its cause, has faded, or practically died,
once more it makes friendship possible.
Perhaps the best thing of the little we have been told about heaven,
is that in it there will be no sex. If there were, it is doubtful
whether it could remain heaven, as we define that state, since then
must come desires, and jealousies, and selfishness, and
disappointment; also births and deaths, since we cannot conceive sex-
love without an object, or a beginning without an end. From all of
which troubles we learn that the angels are relieved.
Now this wondrous, burning mantle of sex had fallen on Godfrey and
Isobel, as he had learned when he saw her with the knight in armour in
the garden, and everything was changed beneath its fiery, smothering
folds, and for him there was no Isobel. His friend had gone, and he
was left wandering alone. His distress was deep, and since he was too
young to mask his feelings, as people must learn to do in life, it
showed itself upon his face. At supper that night, all of the little
party observed it, for he who should have been gay, was sad and spoke
little. Afterwards, when the Pasteur and Godfrey went to the
observatory to resume their astronomical studies, the former looked at
him a while, and said:
"What is the matter, Godfrey? Tell me."
"I cannot," he replied, colouring.
"Is it so bad as that then? I thought that perhaps you had only
received a letter, or letters."
"I received two of them. One was from my father, who scolds me because
I was nearly killed."
"Indeed. He seems fond of scolding, your father. But that is no new
thing, and one to which you should be used. How about the other
letter? Was it, perchance, from Madame Riennes?"
"It is not signed, but I think so."
"Really. It is odd, but, I too, have had a letter from Madame Riennes,
also unsigned, and I think, after reading it, that you may safely show
me yours, and then tell me the truth of all these accusations she
makes concerning you and Juliette."
Now Godfrey turned crimson.
"How can I?" he murmured. "For myself I do not care, but it seems like
"It is difficult, my boy, to betray that which is already well known,
to me, among others. Had this letter, perchance, something to do with
an expedition which you two young people made to search for flowers,
and nothing else? Ah! I see it is so. Then you may safely show it to
me, since I know all about that expedition."
So Godfrey produced the epistle, for at the moment he forgot that it
contained allusions to Madame also, and holding it gingerly between
his thumb and finger, handed it to him. The Pasteur read it through
without showing the slightest emotion.
"Ah!" he said, when he had finished, "in her way she is quite
magnificent, that old witch. But, surely, one day, unless she repents,
she will be accommodated with some particular hell of her own, since
there are few worthy to share it with her. You see, my boy, what she
says about Madame. Well, as I think I told her, that dear wife of mine
may have had her foolish moments, like most others, if all the truth
were known. But note this--there is a great difference between those
who have foolish moments, of whatever sort, and those who make it
their business to seek such moments; further, between those who repent
of their errors and those who glory in, and try to continue them. If
you have any doubt of that study the Bible, and read amongst others,
of David, who lived to write the Psalms, and of Mary Magdalene, who
became a saint. Also, although this did not occur to that tiger of a
woman, I may have known of those moments, and even done my best to
help my wife out of them, and been well rewarded"--here his kind old
face beamed like the sun--"oh! yes, most gloriously rewarded. So a fig
for the old witch and her tales of Madame! And now tell me the truth
about yourself and Juliette, with a mind at ease, for Juliette has
told it to me already, and I wish to compare the stories."
So Godfrey told him everything, and a ridiculous little tale it was.
When he had finished the Pasteur burst out laughing.
"You are indeed sinners, you two," he said, "so great, that surely you
should stand dressed in white sheets, one on either side of the altar,
with the crushed flower in the middle. Ah! that is what I regret, this
flower, for it is very rare. Only once have I found it in all my life,
and then, as there was no lady present, I left it where it grew.
Hearken, all this is a pack of nonsense.
"Hearken again, Godfrey. Everybody things me an old fool. How can it
be helped with such a face as mine, and these blue spectacles, which I
must wear? But even an old fool sees things sometimes. Thus, I have
seen that Madame, who had once plenty of money to play with, and
longs, poor dear, for the fine things of life, is very anxious that
her Juliette should make a good marriage. I have seen, too, that she
has thought of you, whom she thinks much richer than you are, as a
good match for Juliette, and has done her best to make Juliette think
as she does, all of which is quite natural in her, and indeed,
praiseworthy, especially if she likes and respects the young man. But,
my boy, it is the greatest nonsense. To begin with, you do not, and
never will, care for Juliette, and she does not, and never will, care
for you. Your natures, ah! they are quite different. You have
something big in the you, and Juliette--well, she has not. Marriage
with her would be for you a misery, and for Juliette a misery also,
since what have you in common? Besides, even if it were otherwise, do
you think I would allow such a thing, with you so young and in my
charge? Bah! be good friends with that pretty girl, and go hunt for
flowers with her as much as you like, for nothing will ever come of
it. Only, bet no more in kisses, for they are dangerous, and sparks
sometimes set fire to haystacks."
"Indeed, I will not," exclaimed Godfrey with fervour.
"There, then, that trouble is finished." (Here, although he did not
know it, the Pasteur was mistaken.) "And now, as to the rest of this
letter. It is malignant, malignant, and its writer will always seek to
do you ill, and perhaps, sometimes succeed. It is the price which you
must pay for having mixed with such a person who mixes with the devil,
though that was no fault of yours, my boy. Still, always, always in
the world we are suffering from the faults of others. It is a law, the
law of vicarious sacrifice, which runs through everything, why, we do
not know. Still, be not afraid, for it is you who will win at the
last, not she. For the rest, soon you will go away from here, since
the year for which you came is almost finished, and you must turn your
mind to the bigger life. I pray you when you do, not to forget me,
for, my boy, I, who have no son, have learned to love you like a son,
better perhaps, than had you been one, since often I have observed
that it is not always fathers and sons that love each other most,
frequently the other way, indeed.
"Also I pray another thing of you--that if you think I have any
wisdom, or any little light in the lamp of this ugly, old body of
mine, you will always take me for a counsellor, and write to me
concerning your troubles, (as indeed, you must do, for remember I am
your trustee of this property,) and perhaps pay attention to the
advice I may give. And now let us get to our stars; they are much more
amusing than Madame Riennes. It is strange to think that the same God
who made the stars also made Madame Riennes. Truly He is a charitable
and tolerant God!"
"Perhaps the devil made her," suggested Godfrey.
"It may be so, it may be so, but is it not said in the Book of
Proverbs, I believe, that He makes both good and evil for His own
infinite ends, though what these may be, I, worm that I am, cannot
pretend to understand. And now to our stars that are far away and
pure, though who knows but that if one were near to them, they would
prove as full of foulness as the earth?"
The Pasteur was right when he said that Madame Riennes would not cease
from attempts to do evil to Godfrey, and therefore wrong when he added
that the trouble she had caused was finished. Of this, that young man
was made painfully aware, when a fortnight or so later another letter
from his father reached him. It informed him that Mr. Knight had
received an anonymous communication which stated that he, Godfrey, was
leading an evil life in Lucerne, also that he was being entrapped into
a marriage with Mademoiselle Boiset, whom he had been seen embracing
behind some rocks. The letter ended:
"Lacking proof, I do not accept these stories as facts, although,
as there is no smoke without fire, I think it probable that there
is something in them and that you are drifting into undesirable
companionships. At any rate I am sure that the time has come for
you to return home and to commence your studies for the Church. I
have to request, therefore, that you will do this at once as I am
entering your name at my own college for the next term and have so
informed the trustees under Miss Ogilvy's will, who will no doubt
meet the expense and give you a suitable allowance. I am writing
to the Pasteur Boiset to the same effect. Looking forward to
seeing you, when we can discuss all these matters in more detail,
--I am, your affectionate father,
In dismay Godfrey took this letter to the Pasteur. For the last thing
Godfrey wished to do was to leave Kleindorf and the house in which he
was so welcome and so well treated, in order to return to the stony