Part 6 out of 6
He started and span about in answer to my touch, and exhibited a
face of inarticulate wonder.
'Yes!' I continued, 'it is even myself! Pardon me for
interrupting so agreeable a tete-a-tete, but you know, my good
fellow, we owe a first duty to Mr. Robbie. It would never do to
risk making a scene in the man's drawing-room; so the first thing I
had to attend to was to have you warned. The name I go by is
Ducie, too, in case of accidents.'
'I--I say, you know!' cried Ronald. 'Deuce take it, what are you
'Hush, hush!' said I. 'Not the place, my dear fellow--not the
place. Come to my rooms, if you like, to-night after the party, or
to-morrow in the morning, and we can talk it out over a segar. But
here, you know, it really won't do at all.'
Before he could collect his mind for an answer, I had given him my
address in St. James Square, and had again mingled with the crowd.
Alas! I was not fated to get back to Flora so easily! Mr. Robbie
was in the path: he was insatiably loquacious; and as he continued
to palaver I watched the insipid youths gather again about my idol,
and cursed my fate and my host. He remembered suddenly that I was
to attend the Assembly Ball on Thursday, and had only attended to-
night by way of a preparative. This put it into his head to
present me to another young lady; but I managed this interview with
so much art that, while I was scrupulously polite and even cordial
to the fair one, I contrived to keep Robbie beside me all the time
and to leave along with him when the ordeal was over. We were just
walking away arm in arm, when I spied my friend the Major
approaching, stiff as a ramrod and, as usual, obtrusively clean.
'Oh! there's a man I want to know,' said I, taking the bull by the
horns. 'Won't you introduce me to Major Chevenix?'
'At a word, my dear fellow,' said Robbie; and 'Major!' he cried,
'come here and let me present to you my friend Mr. Ducie, who
desires the honour of your acquaintance.'
The Major flushed visibly, but otherwise preserved his composure.
He bowed very low. 'I'm not very sure,' he said: 'I have an idea
we have met before?'
'Informally,' I said, returning his bow; 'and I have long looked
forward to the pleasure of regularising our acquaintance.'
'You are very good, Mr. Ducie,' he returned. 'Perhaps you could
aid my memory a little? Where was it that I had the pleasure?'
'Oh, that would be telling tales out of school,' said I, with a
laugh, 'and before my lawyer, too!'
'I'll wager,' broke in Mr. Robbie, 'that, when you knew my client,
Chevenix--the past of our friend Mr. Ducie is an obscure chapter
full of horrid secrets--I'll wager, now, you knew him as St. Ivey,'
says he, nudging me violently.
'I think not, sir,' said the Major, with pinched lips.
'Well, I wish he may prove all right!' continued the lawyer, with
certainly the worst-inspired jocularity in the world. 'I know
nothing by him! He may be a swell mobsman for me with his aliases.
You must put your memory on the rack, Major, and when ye've
remembered when and where ye met him, be sure ye tell me.'
'I will not fail, sir,' said Chevenix.
'Seek to him!' cried Robbie, waving his hand as he departed.
The Major, as soon as we were alone, turned upon me his impassive
'Well,' he said, 'you have courage.'
'It is undoubted as your honour, sir,' I returned, bowing.
'Did you expect to meet me, may I ask?' said he.
'You saw, at least, that I courted the presentation,' said I.
'And you were not afraid?' said Chevenix.
'I was perfectly at ease. I knew I was dealing with a gentleman.
Be that your epitaph.'
'Well, there are some other people looking for you,' he said, 'who
will make no bones about the point of honour. The police, my dear
sir, are simply agog about you.'
'And I think that that was coarse,' said I.
'You have seen Miss Gilchrist?' he inquired, changing the subject.
'With whom, I am led to understand, we are on a footing of
rivalry?' I asked. 'Yes, I have seen her.'
'And I was just seeking her,' he replied.
I was conscious of a certain thrill of temper; so, I suppose, was
he. We looked each other up and down.
'The situation is original,' he resumed.
'Quite,' said I. 'But let me tell you frankly you are blowing a
cold coal. I owe you so much for your kindness to the prisoner
'Meaning that the lady's affections are more advantageously
disposed of?' he asked, with a sneer. 'Thank you, I am sure. And,
since you have given me a lead, just hear a word of good advice in
your turn. Is it fair, is it delicate, is it like a gentleman, to
compromise the young lady by attentions which (as you know very
well) can come to nothing?'
I was utterly unable to find words in answer.
'Excuse me if I cut this interview short,' he went on. 'It seems
to me doomed to come to nothing, and there is more attractive
'Yes,' I replied, 'as you say, it cannot amount to much. You are
impotent, bound hand and foot in honour. You know me to be a man
falsely accused, and even if you did not know it, from your
position as my rival you have only the choice to stand quite still
or to be infamous.'
'I would not say that,' he returned, with another change of colour.
'I may hear it once too often.'
With which he moved off straight for where Flora was sitting amidst
her court of vapid youths, and I had no choice but to follow him, a
bad second, and reading myself, as I went, a sharp lesson on the
command of temper.
It is a strange thing how young men in their teens go down at the
mere wind of the coming of men of twenty-five and upwards! The
vapid ones fled without thought of resistance before the Major and
me; a few dallied awhile in the neighbourhood--so to speak, with
their fingers in their mouths--but presently these also followed
the rout, and we remained face to face before Flora. There was a
draught in that corner by the door; she had thrown her pelisse over
her bare arms and neck, and the dark fur of the trimming set them
off. She shone by contrast; the light played on her smooth skin to
admiration, and the colour changed in her excited face. For the
least fraction of a second she looked from one to the other of her
pair of rival swains, and seemed to hesitate. Then she addressed
'You are coming to the Assembly, of course, Major Chevenix?' said
'I fear not; I fear I shall be otherwise engaged,' he replied.
'Even the pleasure of dancing with you, Miss Flora, must give way
For awhile the talk ran harmlessly on the weather, and then
branched off towards the war. It seemed to be by no one's fault;
it was in the air, and had to come.
'Good news from the scene of operations,' said the Major.
'Good news while it lasts,' I said. 'But will Miss Gilchrist tell
us her private thought upon the war? In her admiration for the
victors, does not there mingle some pity for the vanquished?'
'Indeed, sir,' she said, with animation, 'only too much of it! War
is a subject that I do not think should be talked of to a girl. I
am, I have to be--what do you call it?--a non-combatant? And to
remind me of what others have to do and suffer: no, it is not
'Miss Gilchrist has the tender female heart,' said Chevenix.
'Do not be too sure of that!' she cried. 'I would love to be
allowed to fight myself!'
'On which side?' I asked.
'Can you ask?' she exclaimed. 'I am a Scottish girl!'
'She is a Scottish girl!' repeated the Major, looking at me. 'And
no one grudges you her pity!'
'And I glory in every grain of it she has to spare,' said I. 'Pity
is akin to love.'
'Well, and let us put that question to Miss Gilchrist. It is for
her to decide, and for us to bow to the decision. Is pity, Miss
Flora, or is admiration, nearest love?'
'Oh come,' said I, 'let us be more concrete. Lay before the lady a
complete case: describe your man, then I'll describe MINE, and
Miss Flora shall decide.'
'I think I see your meaning,' said he, 'and I'll try. You think
that pity--and the kindred sentiments--have the greatest power upon
the heart. I think more nobly of women. To my view, the man they
love will first of all command their respect; he will be steadfast-
-proud, if you please; dry, possibly--but of all things steadfast.
They will look at him in doubt; at last they will see that stern
face which he presents to all the rest of the world soften to them
alone. First, trust, I say. It is so that a woman loves who is
worthy of heroes.'
'Your man is very ambitious, sir,' said I, 'and very much of a
hero! Mine is a humbler, and, I would fain think, a more human
dog. He is one with no particular trust in himself, with no
superior steadfastness to be admired for, who sees a lady's face,
who hears her voice, and, without any phrase about the matter,
falls in love. What does he ask for, then, but pity?--pity for his
weakness, pity for his love, which is his life. You would make
women always the inferiors, gaping up at your imaginary lover; he,
like a marble statue, with his nose in the air! But God has been
wiser than you; and the most steadfast of your heroes may prove
human, after all. We appeal to the queen for judgment,' I added,
turning and bowing before Flora.
'And how shall the queen judge?' she asked. 'I must give you an
answer that is no answer at all. "The wind bloweth where it
listeth": she goes where her heart goes.'
Her face flushed as she said it; mine also, for I read in it a
declaration, and my heart swelled for joy. But Chevenix grew pale.
'You make of life a very dreadful kind of lottery, ma'am,' said he.
'But I will not despair. Honest and unornamental is still my
And I must say he looked extremely handsome and very amusingly like
the marble statue with its nose in the air to which I had compared
'I cannot imagine how we got upon this subject,' said Flora.
'Madame, it was through the war,' replied Chevenix.
'All roads lead to Rome,' I commented. 'What else would you expect
Mr. Chevenix and myself to talk of?'
About this time I was conscious of a certain bustle and movement in
the room behind me, but did not pay to it that degree of attention
which perhaps would have been wise. There came a certain change in
Flora's face; she signalled repeatedly with her fan; her eyes
appealed to me obsequiously; there could be no doubt that she
wanted something--as well as I could make out, that I should go
away and leave the field clear for my rival, which I had not the
least idea of doing. At last she rose from her chair with
'I think it time you were saying good-night, Mr Ducie!' she said.
I could not in the least see why, and said so.
Whereupon she gave me this appalling answer, 'My aunt is coming out
of the card-room.'
In less time than it takes to tell, I had made my bow and my
escape. Looking back from the doorway, I was privileged to see,
for a moment, the august profile and gold eyeglasses of Miss
Gilchrist issuing from the card-room; and the sight lent me wings.
I stood not on the order of my going; and a moment after, I was on
the pavement of Castle Street, and the lighted windows shone down
on me, and were crossed by ironical shadows of those who had
CHAPTER XXIX--EVENTS OF TUESDAY: THE TOILS CLOSING
This day began with a surprise. I found a letter on my breakfast-
table addressed to Edward Ducie, Esquire; and at first I was
startled beyond measure. 'Conscience doth make cowards of us all!'
When I had opened it, it proved to be only a note from the lawyer,
enclosing a card for the Assembly Ball on Thursday evening.
Shortly after, as I was composing my mind with a segar at one of
the windows of the sitting-room, and Rowley, having finished the
light share of work that fell to him, sat not far off tootling with
great spirit and a marked preference for the upper octave, Ronald
was suddenly shown in. I got him a segar, drew in a chair to the
side of the fire, and installed him there--I was going to say, at
his ease, but no expression could be farther from the truth. He
was plainly on pins and needles, did not know whether to take or to
refuse the segar, and, after he had taken it, did not know whether
to light or to return it. I saw he had something to say; I did not
think it was his own something; and I was ready to offer a large
bet it was really something of Major Chevenix's.
'Well, and so here you are!' I observed, with pointless cordiality,
for I was bound I should do nothing to help him out. If he were,
indeed, here running errands for my rival, he might have a fair
field, but certainly no favour.
'The fact is,' he began, 'I would rather see you alone.'
'Why, certainly,' I replied. 'Rowley, you can step into the
bedroom. My dear fellow,' I continued, 'this sounds serious.
Nothing wrong, I trust.'
'Well, I'll be quite honest,' said he. 'I AM a good deal
'And I bet I know why!' I exclaimed. 'And I bet I can put you to
'What do you mean!' he asked.
'You must be hard up,' said I, 'and all I can say is, you've come
to the right place. If you have the least use for a hundred
pounds, or any such trifling sum as that, please mention it. It's
here, quite at your service.'
'I am sure it is most kind of you,' said Ronald, 'and the truth is,
though I can't think how you guessed it, that I really AM a little
behind board. But I haven't come to talk about that.'
'No, I dare say!' cried I. 'Not worth talking about! But
remember, Ronald, you and I are on different sides of the business.
Remember that you did me one of those services that make men
friends for ever. And since I have had the fortune to come into a
fair share of money, just oblige me, and consider so much of it as
'No,' he said, 'I couldn't take it; I couldn't, really. Besides,
the fact is, I've come on a very different matter. It's about my
sister, St. Ives,' and he shook his head menacingly at me.
'You're quite sure?' I persisted. 'It's here, at your service--up
to five hundred pounds, if you like. Well, all right; only
remember where it is, when you do want it.'
'Oh, please let me alone!' cried Ronald: 'I've come to say
something unpleasant; and how on earth can I do it, if you don't
give a fellow a chance? It's about my sister, as I said. You can
see for yourself that it can't be allowed to go on. It's
compromising; it don't lead to anything; and you're not the kind of
man (you must feel it yourself) that I can allow my female
relatives to have anything to do with. I hate saying this, St.
Ives; it looks like hitting a man when he's down, you know; and I
told the Major I very much disliked it from the first. However, it
had to be said; and now it has been, and, between gentlemen, it
shouldn't be necessary to refer to it again.'
'It's compromising; it doesn't lead to anything; not the kind of
man,' I repeated thoughtfully. 'Yes, I believe I understand, and
shall make haste to put myself en regle.' I stood up, and laid my
segar down. 'Mr. Gilchrist,' said I, with a bow, 'in answer to
your very natural observations, I beg to offer myself as a suitor
for your sister's hand. I am a man of title, of which we think
lightly in France, but of ancient lineage, which is everywhere
prized. I can display thirty-two quarterings without a blot. My
expectations are certainly above the average: I believe my uncle's
income averages about thirty thousand pounds, though I admit I was
not careful to inform myself. Put it anywhere between fifteen and
fifty thousand; it is certainly not less.'
'All this is very easy to say,' said Ronald, with a pitying smile.
'Unfortunately, these things are in the air.'
'Pardon me,--in Buckinghamshire,' said I, smiling.
'Well, what I mean is, my dear St. Ives, that you CAN'T PROVE
them,' he continued. 'They might just as well not be: do you
follow me? You can't bring us any third party to back you.'
'Oh, come!' cried I, springing up and hurrying to the table. 'You
must excuse me!' I wrote Romaine's address. 'There is my
reference, Mr. Gilchrist. Until you have written to him, and
received his negative answer, I have a right to be treated, and I
shall see that you treat me, as a gentleman.' He was brought up
with a round turn at that.
'I beg your pardon, St. Ives,' said he. 'Believe me, I had no wish
to be offensive. But there's the difficulty of this affair; I
can't make any of my points without offence! You must excuse me,
it's not my fault. But, at any rate, you must see for yourself
this proposal of marriage is--is merely impossible, my dear fellow.
It's nonsense! Our countries are at war; you are a prisoner.'
'My ancestor of the time of the Ligue,' I replied, 'married a
Huguenot lady out of the Saintonge, riding two hundred miles
through an enemy's country to bring off his bride; and it was a
'Well!' he began; and then looked down into the fire, and became
'Well?' I asked.
'Well, there's this business of--Goguelat,' said he, still looking
at the coals in the grate.
'What!' I exclaimed, starting in my chair. 'What's that you say?'
'This business about Goguelat,' he repeated.
'Ronald,' said I, 'this is not your doing. These are not your own
words. I know where they came from: a coward put them in your
'St. Ives!' he cried, 'why do you make it so hard for me? and
where's the use of insulting other people? The plain English is,
that I can't hear of any proposal of marriage from a man under a
charge like that. You must see it for yourself, man! It's the
most absurd thing I ever heard of! And you go on forcing me to
argue with you, too!'
'Because I have had an affair of honour which terminated unhappily,
you--a young soldier, or next-door to it--refuse my offer? Do I
understand you aright?' said I.
'My dear fellow!' he wailed, 'of course you can twist my words, if
you like. You SAY it was an affair of honour. Well, I can't, of
course, tell you that--I can't--I mean, you must see that that's
just the point! Was it? I don't know.'
'I have the honour to inform you,' said I.
'Well, other people say the reverse, you see!'
'They lie, Ronald, and I will prove it in time.'
'The short and the long of it is, that any man who is so
unfortunate as to have such things said about him is not the man to
be my brother-in-law!' he cried.
'Do you know who will be my first witness at the court? Arthur
Chevenix!' said I.
'I don't care!' he cried, rising from his chair and beginning to
pace outrageously about the room. 'What do you mean, St. Ives?
What is this about? It's like a dream, I declare! You made an
offer, and I have refused it. I don't like it, I don't want it;
and whatever I did, or didn't, wouldn't matter--my aunt wouldn't
bear of it anyway! Can't you take your answer, man?'
'You must remember, Ronald, that we are playing with edged tools,'
said I. 'An offer of marriage is a delicate subject to handle.
You have refused, and you have justified your refusal by several
statements: first, that I was an impostor; second, that our
countries were at war; and third-- No, I will speak,' said I; 'you
can answer when I have done,--and third, that I had dishonourably
killed--or was said to have done so--the man Goguelat. Now, my
dear fellow, these are very awkward grounds to be taking. From any
one else's lips I need scarce tell you how I should resent them;
but my hands are tied. I have so much gratitude to you, without
talking of the love I bear your sister, that you insult me, when
you do so, under the cover of a complete impunity. I must feel the
pain--and I do feel it acutely--I can do nothing to protect
myself.' He had been anxious enough to interrupt me in the
beginning; but now, and after I had ceased, he stood a long while
'St. Ives,' he said at last, 'I think I had better go away. This
has been very irritating. I never at all meant to say anything of
the kind, and I apologise to you. I have all the esteem for you
that one gentleman should have for another. I only meant to tell
you--to show you what had influenced my mind; and that, in short,
the thing was impossible. One thing you may be quite sure of: I
shall do nothing against you. Will you shake hands before I go
away?' he blurted out.
'Yes,' said I, 'I agree with you--the interview has been
irritating. Let bygones be bygones. Good-bye, Ronald.'
'Good-bye, St. Ives!' he returned. 'I'm heartily sorry.'
And with that he was gone.
The windows of my own sitting-room looked towards the north; but
the entrance passage drew its light from the direction of the
square. Hence I was able to observe Ronald's departure, his very
disheartened gait, and the fact that he was joined, about half-way,
by no less a man than Major Chevenix. At this, I could scarce keep
from smiling; so unpalatable an interview must be before the pair
of them, and I could hear their voices, clashing like crossed
swords, in that eternal antiphony of 'I told you,' and 'I told you
not.' Without doubt, they had gained very little by their visit;
but then I had gained less than nothing, and had been bitterly
dispirited into the bargain. Ronald had stuck to his guns and
refused me to the last. It was no news; but, on the other hand, it
could not be contorted into good news. I was now certain that
during my temporary absence in France, all irons would be put into
the fire, and the world turned upside down, to make Flora disown
the obtrusive Frenchman and accept Chevenix. Without doubt she
would resist these instances: but the thought of them did not
please me, and I felt she should be warned and prepared for the
It was no use to try and see her now, but I promised myself early
that evening to return to Swanston. In the meantime I had to make
all my preparations, and look the coming journey in the face. Here
in Edinburgh I was within four miles of the sea, yet the business
of approaching random fishermen with my hat in the one hand and a
knife in the other, appeared so desperate, that I saw nothing for
it but to retrace my steps over the northern counties, and knock a
second time at the doors of Birchell Fenn. To do this, money would
be necessary; and after leaving my paper in the hands of Flora I
had still a balance of about fifteen hundred pounds. Or rather I
may say I had them and I had them not; for after my luncheon with
Mr. Robbie I had placed the amount, all but thirty pounds of
change, in a bank in George Street, on a deposit receipt in the
name of Mr. Rowley. This I had designed to be my gift to him, in
case I must suddenly depart. But now, thinking better of the
arrangement, I despatched my little man, cockade and all, to lift
the fifteen hundred.
He was not long gone, and returned with a flushed face, and the
deposit receipt still in his hand.
'No go, Mr. Anne,' says he.
'How's that?' I inquired,
'Well, sir, I found the place all right, and no mistake,' said he.
'But I tell you what gave me a blue fright! There was a customer
standing by the door, and I reckonised him! Who do you think it
was, Mr. Anne? W'y, that same Red-Breast--him I had breakfast with
'You are sure you are not mistaken?' I asked.
'Certain sure,' he replied. 'Not Mr. Lavender, I don't mean, sir;
I mean the other party. "Wot's he doing here?' says I. It don't
'Not by any means,' I agreed.
I walked to and fro in the apartment reflecting. This particular
Bow Street runner might be here by accident; but it was to imagine
a singular play of coincidence that he, who had met Rowley and
spoken with him in the 'Green Dragon,' hard by Aylesbury, should be
now in Scotland, where he could have no legitimate business, and by
the doors of the bank where Rowley kept his account.
'Rowley,' said I, 'he didn't see you, did he?'
'Never a fear,' quoth Rowley. 'W'y Mr. Anne, sir, if he 'ad, you
wouldn't have seen ME any more! I ain't a hass, sir!'
'Well, my boy, you can put that receipt in your pocket. You'll
have no more use for it till you're quite clear of me. Don't lose
it, though; it's your share of the Christmas-box: fifteen hundred
pounds all for yourself.'
'Begging your pardon, Mr. Anne, sir, but wot for!' said Rowley.
'To set up a public-house upon,' said I.
'If you'll excuse me, sir, I ain't got any call to set up a public-
house, sir,' he replied stoutly. 'And I tell you wot, sir, it
seems to me I'm reether young for the billet. I'm your body
servant, Mr. Anne, or else I'm nothink.'
'Well, Rowley,' I said, 'I'll tell you what it's for. It's for the
good service you have done me, of which I don't care--and don't
dare--to speak. It's for your loyalty and cheerfulness, my dear
boy. I had meant it for you; but to tell you the truth, it's past
mending now--it has to be yours. Since that man is waiting by the
bank, the money can't be touched until I'm gone.'
'Until you're gone, sir?' re-echoed Rowley. 'You don't go
anywheres without me, I can tell you that, Mr. Anne, sir!'
'Yes, my boy,' said I, 'we are going to part very soon now;
probably to-morrow. And it's for my sake, Rowley! Depend upon it,
if there was any reason at all for that Bow Street man being at the
bank, he was not there to look out for you. How they could have
found out about the account so early is more than I can fathom;
some strange coincidence must have played me false! But there the
fact is; and Rowley, I'll not only have to say farewell to you
presently, I'll have to ask you to stay indoors until I can say it.
Remember, my boy, it's only so that you can serve me now.'
'W'y, sir, you say the word, and of course I'll do it!' he cried.
'"Nothink by 'alves," is my motto! I'm your man, through thick and
thin, live or die, I am!'
In the meantime there was nothing to be done till towards sunset.
My only chance now was to come again as quickly as possible to
speech of Flora, who was my only practicable banker; and not before
evening was it worth while to think of that. I might compose
myself as well as I was able over the Caledonian Mercury, with its
ill news of the campaign of France and belated documents about the
retreat from Russia; and, as I sat there by the fire, I was
sometimes all awake with anger and mortification at what I was
reading, and sometimes again I would be three parts asleep as I
dozed over the barren items of home intelligence. 'Lately
arrived'--this is what I suddenly stumbled on--'at Dumbreck's
Hotel, the Viscount of Saint-Yves.'
'Rowley,' said I.
'If you please, Mr. Anne, sir,' answered the obsequious, lowering
'Come and look at this, my boy,' said I, holding out the paper.
'My crikey!' said he. 'That's 'im, sir, sure enough!'
'Sure enough, Rowley,' said I. 'He's on the trail. He has fairly
caught up with us. He and this Bow Street man have come together,
I would swear. And now here is the whole field, quarry, hounds and
hunters, all together in this city of Edinburgh.'
'And wot are you goin' to do now, sir? Tell you wot, let me take
it in 'and, please! Gimme a minute, and I'll disguise myself, and
go out to this Dum--to this hotel, leastways, sir--and see wot he's
up to. You put your trust in me, Mr. Anne: I'm fly, don't you
make no mistake about it. I'm all a-growing and a-blowing, I am.'
'Not one foot of you,' said I. 'You are a prisoner, Rowley, and
make up your mind to that. So am I, or next door to it. I showed
it you for a caution; if you go on the streets, it spells death to
'If you please, sir,' says Rowley.
'Come to think of it,' I continued, 'you must take a cold, or
something. No good of awakening Mrs. McRankine's suspicions.'
'A cold?' he cried, recovering immediately from his depression. 'I
can do it, Mr. Anne.'
And he proceeded to sneeze and cough and blow his nose, till I
could not restrain myself from smiling.
'Oh, I tell you, I know a lot of them dodges,' he observed proudly.
'Well, they come in very handy,' said I.
'I'd better go at once and show it to the old gal, 'adn't I?' he
I told him, by all means; and he was gone upon the instant, gleeful
as though to a game of football.
I took up the paper and read carelessly on, my thoughts engaged
with my immediate danger, till I struck on the next paragraph:-
'In connection with the recent horrid murder in the Castle, we are
desired to make public the following intelligence. The soldier,
Champdivers, is supposed to be in the neighbourhood of this city.
He is about the middle height or rather under, of a pleasing
appearance and highly genteel address. When last heard of he wore
a fashionable suit of pearl-grey, and boots with fawn-coloured
tops. He is accompanied by a servant about sixteen years of age,
speaks English without any accent, and passed under the alias of
Ramornie. A reward is offered for his apprehension.'
In a moment I was in the next room, stripping from me the pearl-
I confess I was now a good deal agitated. It is difficult to watch
the toils closing slowly and surely about you, and to retain your
composure; and I was glad that Rowley was not present to spy on my
confusion. I was flushed, my breath came thick; I cannot remember
a time when I was more put out.
And yet I must wait and do nothing, and partake of my meals, and
entertain the ever-garrulous Rowley, as though I were entirely my
own man. And if I did not require to entertain Mrs. McRankine
also, that was but another drop of bitterness in my cup! For what
ailed my landlady, that she should hold herself so severely aloof,
that she should refuse conversation, that her eyes should be
reddened, that I should so continually hear the voice of her
private supplications sounding through the house? I was much
deceived, or she had read the insidious paragraph and recognised
the comminated pearl-grey suit. I remember now a certain air with
which she had laid the paper on my table, and a certain sniff,
between sympathy and defiance, with which she had announced it:
'There's your Mercury for ye!'
In this direction, at least, I saw no pressing danger; her tragic
countenance betokened agitation; it was plain she was wrestling
with her conscience, and the battle still hung dubious. The
question of what to do troubled me extremely. I could not venture
to touch such an intricate and mysterious piece of machinery as my
landlady's spiritual nature: it might go off at a word, and in any
direction, like a badly-made firework. And while I praised myself
extremely for my wisdom in the past, that I had made so much a
friend of her, I was all abroad as to my conduct in the present.
There seemed an equal danger in pressing and in neglecting the
accustomed marks of familiarity. The one extreme looked like
impudence, and might annoy, the other was a practical confession of
guilt. Altogether, it was a good hour for me when the dusk began
to fall in earnest on the streets of Edinburgh, and the voice of an
early watchman bade me set forth.
I reached the neighbourhood of the cottage before seven; and as I
breasted the steep ascent which leads to the garden wall, I was
struck with surprise to hear a dog. Dogs I had heard before, but
only from the hamlet on the hillside above. Now, this dog was in
the garden itself, where it roared aloud in paroxysms of fury, and
I could hear it leaping and straining on the chain. I waited some
while, until the brute's fit of passion had roared itself out.
Then, with the utmost precaution, I drew near again; and finally
approached the garden wall. So soon as I had clapped my head above
the level, however, the barking broke forth again with redoubled
energy. Almost at the same time, the door of the cottage opened,
and Ronald and the Major appeared upon the threshold with a
lantern. As they so stood, they were almost immediately below me,
strongly illuminated, and within easy earshot. The Major pacified
the dog, who took instead to low, uneasy growling intermingled with
'Good thing I brought Towzer!' said Chevenix.
'Damn him, I wonder where he is!' said Ronald; and he moved the
lantern up and down, and turned the night into a shifting puzzle-
work of gleam and shadow. 'I think I'll make a sally.'
'I don't think you will,' replied Chevenix. 'When I agreed to come
out here and do sentry-go, it was on one condition, Master Ronald:
don't you forget that! Military discipline, my boy! Our beat is
this path close about the house. Down, Towzer! good boy, good boy-
-gently, then!' he went on, caressing his confounded monster.
'To think! The beggar may be hearing us this minute!' cried
'Nothing more probable,' said the Major. 'You there, St. Ives?' he
added, in a distinct but guarded voice. 'I only want to tell you,
you had better go home. Mr. Gilchrist and I take watch and watch.'
The game was up. 'Beaucoup de plaisir!' I replied, in the same
tones. 'Il fait un peu froid pour veiller; gardez-vous des
I suppose it was done in a moment of ungovernable rage; but in
spite of the excellent advice he had given to Ronald the moment
before, Chevenix slipped the chain, and the dog sprang, straight as
an arrow, up the bank. I stepped back, picked up a stone of about
twelve pounds weight, and stood ready. With a bound the beast
landed on the cope-stone of the wall; and, almost in the same
instant, my missile caught him fair in the face. He gave a stifled
cry, went tumbling back where he had come from, and I could hear
the twelve-pounder accompany him in his fall. Chevenix, at the
same moment, broke out in a roaring voice: 'The hell-hound! If
he's killed my dog!' and I judged, upon all grounds, it was as well
to be off.
CHAPTER XXX--EVENTS OF WEDNESDAY; THE UNIVERSITY OF CRAMOND
I awoke to much diffidence, even to a feeling that might be called
the beginnings of panic, and lay for hours in my bed considering
the situation. Seek where I pleased, there was nothing to
encourage me and plenty to appal. They kept a close watch about
the cottage; they had a beast of a watch-dog--at least, unless I
had settled it; and if I had, I knew its bereaved master would only
watch the more indefatigably for the loss. In the pardonable
ostentation of love I had given all the money I could spare to
Flora; I had thought it glorious that the hunted exile should come
down, like Jupiter, in a shower of gold, and pour thousands in the
lap of the beloved. Then I had in an hour of arrant folly buried
what remained to me in a bank in George Street. And now I must get
back the one or the other; and which? and how?
As I tossed in my bed, I could see three possible courses, all
extremely perilous. First, Rowley might have been mistaken; the
bank might not be watched; it might still be possible for him to
draw the money on the deposit receipt. Second, I might apply again
to Robbie. Or, third, I might dare everything, go to the Assembly
Ball, and speak with Flora under the eyes of all Edinburgh. This
last alternative, involving as it did the most horrid risks, and
the delay of forty-eight hours, I did but glance at with an averted
head, and turned again to the consideration of the others. It was
the likeliest thing in the world that Robbie had been warned to
have no more to do with me. The whole policy of the Gilchrists was
in the hands of Chevenix; and I thought this was a precaution so
elementary that he was certain to have taken it. If he had not, of
course I was all right: Robbie would manage to communicate with
Flora; and by four o'clock I might be on the south road and, I was
going to say, a free man. Lastly, I must assure myself with my own
eyes whether the bank in George Street were beleaguered.
I called to Rowley and questioned him tightly as to the appearance
of the Bow Street officer.
'What sort of looking man is he, Rowley?' I asked, as I began to
'Wot sort of a looking man he is?' repeated Rowley. 'Well, I don't
very well know wot you would say, Mr. Anne. He ain't a beauty,
'Is he tall?'
'Tall? Well, no, I shouldn't say TALL Mr. Anne.'
'Well, then, is he short?'
'Short? No, I don't think I would say he was what you would call
SHORT. No, not piticular short, sir.'
'Then, I suppose, he must be about the middle height?'
'Well, you might say it, sir; but not remarkable so.'
I smothered an oath.
'Is he clean-shaved?' I tried him again.
'Clean-shaved?' he repeated, with the same air of anxious candour.
'Good heaven, man, don't repeat my words like a parrot!' I cried.
'Tell me what the man was like: it is of the first importance that
I should be able to recognise him.'
'I'm trying to, Mr. Anne. But CLEAN-SHAVED? I don't seem to
rightly get hold of that p'int. Sometimes it might appear to me
like as if he was; and sometimes like as if he wasn't. No, it
wouldn't surprise me now if you was to tell me he 'ad a bit o'
'Was the man red-faced?' I roared, dwelling on each syllable.
'I don't think you need go for to get cross about it, Mr. Anne!'
said he. 'I'm tellin' you every blessed thing I see! Red-faced?
Well, no, not as you would remark upon.'
A dreadful calm fell upon me.
'Was he anywise pale?' I asked.
'Well, it don't seem to me as though he were. But I tell you
truly, I didn't take much heed to that.'
'Did he look like a drinking man?'
'Well, no. If you please, sir, he looked more like an eating one.'
'Oh, he was stout, was he?'
'No, sir. I couldn't go so far as that. No, he wasn't not to say
STOUT. If anything, lean rather.'
I need not go on with the infuriating interview. It ended as it
began, except that Rowley was in tears, and that I had acquired one
fact. The man was drawn for me as being of any height you like to
mention, and of any degree of corpulence or leanness; clean-shaved
or not, as the case might be; the colour of his hair Rowley 'could
not take it upon himself to put a name on'; that of his eyes he
thought to have been blue--nay, it was the one point on which he
attained to a kind of tearful certainty. 'I'll take my davy on
it,' he asseverated. They proved to have been as black as sloes,
very little and very near together. So much for the evidence of
the artless! And the fact, or rather the facts, acquired? Well,
they had to do not with the person but with his clothing. The man
wore knee-breeches and white stockings; his coat was 'some kind of
a lightish colour--or betwixt that and dark'; and he wore a 'mole-
skin weskit.' As if this were not enough, he presently haled me
from my breakfast in a prodigious flutter, and showed me an honest
and rather venerable citizen passing in the Square.
'That's HIM, sir,' he cried, 'the very moral of him! Well, this
one is better dressed, and p'r'aps a trifler taller; and in the
face he don't favour him noways at all, sir. No, not when I come
to look again, 'e don't seem to favour him noways.'
'Jackass!' said I, and I think the greatest stickler for manners
will admit the epithet to have been justified.
Meanwhile the appearance of my landlady added a great load of
anxiety to what I already suffered. It was plain that she had not
slept; equally plain that she had wept copiously. She sighed, she
groaned, she drew in her breath, she shook her head, as she waited
on table. In short, she seemed in so precarious a state, like a
petard three times charged with hysteria, that I did not dare to
address her; and stole out of the house on tiptoe, and actually ran
downstairs, in the fear that she might call me back. It was plain
that this degree of tension could not last long.
It was my first care to go to George Street, which I reached (by
good luck) as a boy was taking down the bank shutters. A man was
conversing with him; he had white stockings and a moleskin
waistcoat, and was as ill-looking a rogue as you would want to see
in a day's journey. This seemed to agree fairly well with Rowley's
signalement: he had declared emphatically (if you remember), and
had stuck to it besides, that the companion of the great Lavender
was no beauty.
Thence I made my way to Mr. Robbie's, where I rang the bell. A
servant answered the summons, and told me the lawyer was engaged,
as I had half expected.
'Wha shall I say was callin'?' she pursued; and when I had told her
'Mr. Ducie,' 'I think this'll be for you, then?' she added, and
handed me a letter from the hall table. It ran:
'DEAR MR. DUCIE,
'My single advice to you is to leave quam primum for the South.
Yours, T. ROBBIE.'
That was short and sweet. It emphatically extinguished hope in one
direction. No more was to be gotten of Robbie; and I wondered,
from my heart, how much had been told him. Not too much, I hoped,
for I liked the lawyer who had thus deserted me, and I placed a
certain reliance in the discretion of Chevenix. He would not be
merciful; on the other hand, I did not think he would be cruel
It was my next affair to go back along George Street, and assure
myself whether the man in the moleskin vest was still on guard.
There was no sign of him on the pavement. Spying the door of a
common stair nearly opposite the bank, I took it in my head that
this would be a good point of observation, crossed the street,
entered with a businesslike air and fell immediately against the
man in the moleskin vest. I stopped and apologised to him; he
replied in an unmistakable English accent, thus putting the matter
almost beyond doubt. After this encounter I must, of course,
ascend to the top story, ring the bell of a suite of apartments,
inquire for Mr. Vavasour, learn (with no great surprise) that he
did not live there, come down again and, again politely saluting
the man from Bow Street, make my escape at last into the street.
I was now driven back upon the Assembly Ball. Robbie had failed
me. The bank was watched; it would never do to risk Rowley in that
neighbourhood. All I could do was to wait until the morrow
evening, and present myself at the Assembly, let it end as it
might. But I must say I came to this decision with a good deal of
genuine fright; and here I came for the first time to one of those
places where my courage stuck. I do not mean that my courage
boggled and made a bit of a bother over it, as it did over the
escape from the Castle; I mean, stuck, like a stopped watch or a
dead man. Certainly I would go to the ball; certainly I must see
this morning about my clothes. That was all decided. But the most
of the shops were on the other side of the valley, in the Old Town;
and it was now my strange discovery that I was physically unable to
cross the North Bridge! It was as though a precipice had stood
between us, or the deep sea had intervened. Nearer to the Castle
my legs refused to bear me.
I told myself this was mere superstition; I made wagers with
myself--and gained them; I went down on the esplanade of Princes
Street, walked and stood there, alone and conspicuous, looking
across the garden at the old grey bastions of the fortress, where
all these troubles had begun. I cocked my hat, set my hand on my
hip, and swaggered on the pavement, confronting detection. And I
found I could do all this with a sense of exhilaration that was not
unpleasing, and with a certain cranerie of manner that raised me in
my own esteem. And yet there was one thing I could not bring my
mind to face up to, or my limbs to execute; and that was to cross
the valley into the Old Town. It seemed to me I must be arrested
immediately if I had done so; I must go straight into the twilight
of a prison cell, and pass straight thence to the gross and final
embraces of the nightcap and the halter. And yet it was from no
reasoned fear of the consequences that I could not go. I was
unable. My horse baulked, and there was an end!
My nerve was gone: here was a discovery for a man in such imminent
peril, set down to so desperate a game, which I could only hope to
win by continual luck and unflagging effrontery! The strain had
been too long continued, and my nerve was gone. I fell into what
they call panic fear, as I have seen soldiers do on the alarm of a
night attack, and turned out of Princes Street at random as though
the devil were at my heels. In St. Andrew Square, I remember
vaguely hearing some one call out. I paid no heed, but pressed on
blindly. A moment after, a hand fell heavily on my shoulder, and I
thought I had fainted. Certainly the world went black about me for
some seconds; and when that spasm passed I found myself standing
face to face with the 'cheerful extravagant,' in what sort of
disarray I really dare not imagine, dead white at least, shaking
like an aspen, and mowing at the man with speechless lips. And
this was the soldier of Napoleon, and the gentleman who intended
going next night to an Assembly Ball! I am the more particular in
telling of my breakdown, because it was my only experience of the
sort; and it is a good tale for officers. I will allow no man to
call me coward; I have made my proofs; few men more. And yet I
(come of the best blood in France and inured to danger from a
child) did, for some ten or twenty minutes, make this hideous
exhibition of myself on the streets of the New Town of Edinburgh.
With my first available breath I begged his pardon. I was of an
extremely nervous disposition, recently increased by late hours; I
could not bear the slightest start.
He seemed much concerned. 'You must be in a devil of a state!'
said he; 'though of course it was my fault--damnably silly, vulgar
sort of thing to do! A thousand apologies! But you really must be
run down; you should consult a medico. My dear sir, a hair of the
dog that bit you is clearly indicated. A touch of Blue Ruin, now?
Or, come: it's early, but is man the slave of hours? what do you
say to a chop and a bottle in Dumbreck's Hotel?'
I refused all false comfort; but when he went on to remind me that
this was the day when the University of Cramond met; and to propose
a five-mile walk into the country and a dinner in the company of
young asses like himself, I began to think otherwise. I had to
wait until to-morrow evening, at any rate; this might serve as well
as anything else to bridge the dreary hours. The country was the
very place for me: and walking is an excellent sedative for the
nerves. Remembering poor Rowley, feigning a cold in our lodgings
and immediately under the guns of the formidable and now doubtful
Bethiah, I asked if I might bring my servant. 'Poor devil! it is
dull for him,' I explained.
'The merciful man is merciful to his ass,' observed my sententious
friend. 'Bring him by all means!
"The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy;"
and I have no doubt the orphan boy can get some cold victuals in
the kitchen, while the Senatus dines.'
Accordingly, being now quite recovered from my unmanly condition,
except that nothing could yet induce me to cross the North Bridge,
I arranged for my ball dress at a shop in Leith Street, where I was
not served ill, cut out Rowley from his seclusion, and was ready
along with him at the trysting-place, the corner of Duke Street and
York Place, by a little after two. The University was represented
in force: eleven persons, including ourselves, Byfield the
aeronaut, and the tall lad, Forbes, whom I had met on the Sunday
morning, bedewed with tallow, at the 'Hunters' Rest.' I was
introduced; and we set off by way of Newhaven and the sea beach; at
first through pleasant country roads, and afterwards along a
succession of bays of a fairylike prettiness, to our destination--
Cramond on the Almond--a little hamlet on a little river, embowered
in woods, and looking forth over a great flat of quicksand to where
a little islet stood planted in the sea. It was miniature scenery,
but charming of its kind. The air of this good February afternoon
was bracing, but not cold. All the way my companions were
skylarking, jesting and making puns, and I felt as if a load had
been taken off my lungs and spirits, and skylarked with the best of
Byfield I observed, because I had heard of him before, and seen his
advertisements, not at all because I was disposed to feel interest
in the man. He was dark and bilious and very silent; frigid in his
manners, but burning internally with a great fire of excitement;
and he was so good as to bestow a good deal of his company and
conversation (such as it was) upon myself, who was not in the least
grateful. If I had known how I was to be connected with him in the
immediate future, I might have taken more pains.
In the hamlet of Cramond there is a hostelry of no very promising
appearance, and here a room had been prepared for us, and we sat
down to table.
'Here you will find no guttling or gormandising, no turtle or
nightingales' tongues,' said the extravagant, whose name, by the
way, was Dalmahoy. 'The device, sir, of the University of Cramond
is Plain Living and High Drinking.'
Grace was said by the Professor of Divinity, in a macaronic Latin,
which I could by no means follow, only I could hear it rhymed, and
I guessed it to be more witty than reverent. After which the
Senatus Academicus sat down to rough plenty in the shape of
rizzar'd haddocks and mustard, a sheep's head, a haggis, and other
delicacies of Scotland. The dinner was washed down with brown
stout in bottle, and as soon as the cloth was removed, glasses,
boiling water, sugar, and whisky were set out for the manufacture
of toddy. I played a good knife and fork, did not shun the bowl,
and took part, so far as I was able, in the continual fire of
pleasantry with which the meal was seasoned. Greatly daring, I
ventured, before all these Scotsmen, to tell Sim's Tale of
Tweedie's dog; and I was held to have done such extraordinary
justice to the dialect, 'for a Southron,' that I was immediately
voted into the Chair of Scots, and became, from that moment, a full
member of the University of Cramond. A little after, I found
myself entertaining them with a song; and a little after--perhaps a
little in consequence--it occurred to me that I had had enough, and
would be very well inspired to take French leave. It was not
difficult to manage, for it was nobody's business to observe my
movements, and conviviality had banished suspicion.
I got easily forth of the chamber, which reverberated with the
voices of these merry and learned gentlemen, and breathed a long
breath. I had passed an agreeable afternoon and evening, and I had
apparently escaped scot free. Alas! when I looked into the
kitchen, there was my monkey, drunk as a lord, toppling on the edge
of the dresser, and performing on the flageolet to an audience of
the house lasses and some neighbouring ploughmen.
I routed him promptly from his perch, stuck his hat on, put his
instrument in his pocket, and set off with him for Edinburgh.
His limbs were of paper, his mind quite in abeyance; I must uphold
and guide him, prevent his frantic dives, and set him continually
on his legs again. At first he sang wildly, with occasional
outbursts of causeless laughter. Gradually an inarticulate
melancholy succeeded; he wept gently at times; would stop in the
middle of the road, say firmly 'No, no, no,' and then fall on his
back: or else address me solemnly as 'M'lord' and fall on his face
by way of variety. I am afraid I was not always so gentle with the
little pig as I might have been, but really the position was
unbearable. We made no headway at all, and I suppose we were
scarce gotten a mile away from Cramond, when the whole Senatus
Academicus was heard hailing, and doubling the pace to overtake
Some of them were fairly presentable; and they were all Christian
martyrs compared to Rowley; but they were in a frolicsome and
rollicking humour that promised danger as we approached the town.
They sang songs, they ran races, they fenced with their walking-
sticks and umbrellas; and, in spite of this violent exercise, the
fun grew only the more extravagant with the miles they traversed.
Their drunkenness was deep-seated and permanent, like fire in a
peat; or rather--to be quite just to them--it was not so much to be
called drunkenness at all, as the effect of youth and high spirits-
-a fine night, and the night young, a good road under foot, and the
world before you!
I had left them once somewhat unceremoniously; I could not attempt
it a second time; and, burthened as I was with Mr. Rowley, I was
really glad of assistance. But I saw the lamps of Edinburgh draw
near on their hill-top with a good deal of uneasiness, which
increased, after we had entered the lighted streets, to positive
alarm. All the passers-by were addressed, some of them by name. A
worthy man was stopped by Forbes. 'Sir,' said he, 'in the name of
the Senatus of the University of Cramond, I confer upon you the
degree of LL.D.,' and with the words he bonneted him. Conceive the
predicament of St. Ives, committed to the society of these
outrageous youths, in a town where the police and his cousin were
both looking for him! So far, we had pursued our way unmolested,
although raising a clamour fit to wake the dead; but at last, in
Abercromby Place, I believe--at least it was a crescent of highly
respectable houses fronting on a garden--Byfield and I, having
fallen somewhat in the rear with Rowley, came to a simultaneous
halt. Our ruffians were beginning to wrench off bells and door-
'Oh, I say!' says Byfield, 'this is too much of a good thing!
Confound it, I'm a respectable man--a public character, by George!
I can't afford to get taken up by the police.'
'My own case exactly,' said I.
'Here, let's bilk them,' said he.
And we turned back and took our way down hill again.
It was none too soon: voices and alarm bells sounded; watchmen
here and there began to spring their rattles; it was plain the
University of Cramond would soon be at blows with the police of
Edinburgh! Byfield and I, running the semi-inanimate Rowley before
us, made good despatch, and did not stop till we were several
streets away, and the hubbub was already softened by distance.
'Well, sir,' said he, 'we are well out of that! Did ever any one
see such a pack of young barbarians?'
'We are properly punished, Mr. Byfield; we had no business there,'
'No, indeed, sir, you may well say that! Outrageous! And my
ascension announced for Friday, you know!' cried the aeronaut. 'A
pretty scandal! Byfield the aeronaut at the police-court! Tut-
tut! Will you be able to get your rascal home, sir? Allow me to
offer you my card. I am staying at Walker and Poole's Hotel, sir,
where I should be pleased to see you.'
'The pleasure would be mutual, sir,' said I, but I must say my
heart was not in my words, and as I watched Mr. Byfield departing I
desired nothing less than to pursue the acquaintance
One more ordeal remained for me to pass. I carried my senseless
load upstairs to our lodging, and was admitted by the landlady in a
tall white nightcap and with an expression singularly grim. She
lighted us into the sitting-room; where, when I had seated Rowley
in a chair, she dropped me a cast-iron courtesy. I smelt gunpowder
on the woman. Her voice, tottered with emotion.
'I give ye nottice, Mr. Ducie,' said she. 'Dacent folks' houses .
And at that apparently temper cut off her utterance, and she took
herself off without more words.
I looked about me at the room, the goggling Rowley, the
extinguished fire; my mind reviewed the laughable incidents of the
day and night; and I laughed out loud to myself--lonely and
[As this point the Author's manuscript breaks off]