Part 3 out of 12
Rippenger, and despatched a companion one composed in a very different
spirit to her father. Lady Ilchester did us the favour to draw a sea-
monster, an Andromeda, and a Perseus in the shape of a flying British
hussar, for Julia's valentine. It seemed to us so successful that we
scattered half-a-dozen over the neighbourhood, and rode round it on the
morning of St. Valentine's Day to see the effect of them, meeting the
postman on the road. He gave me two for myself. One was transparently
from Janet, a provoking counterstroke of mine to her; but when I opened
the other my heart began beating. The standard of Great Britain was
painted in colours at the top; down each side, encricled in laurels, were
kings and queens of England with their sceptres, and in the middle I read
the initials, A. F-G. R. R., embedded in blue forget-me-hots. I could
not doubt it was from my father. Riding out in the open air as I
received it, I could fancy in my hot joy that it had dropped out of
'He's alive; I shall have him with me; I shall have him with me soon!'
I cried to Temple. 'Oh! why can't I answer him? where is he? what
address? Let's ride to London. Don't you understand, Temple? This
letter's from my father. He knows I'm here. I'll find him, never mind
'Yes, but,' said Temple, 'if he knows where you are, and you don't know
where he is, there's no good in your going off adventuring. If a fellow
wants to be hit, the best thing he can do is to stop still.'
Struck by the perspicacity of his views, I turned homeward. Temple had
been previously warned by me to avoid speaking of my father at Riversley;
but I was now in such a boiling state of happiness, believing that my
father would certainly appear as he had done at Dipwell farm, brilliant
and cheerful, to bear me away to new scenes and his own dear society,
that I tossed the valentine to my aunt across the breakfast-table,
laughing and telling her to guess the name of the sender. My aunt
'Miss Bannerbridge?' she said.
A stranger was present. The squire introduced us.
'My grandson, Harry Richmond, Captain William Bulsted, frigate
Polyphemus; Captain Bulsted, Master Augustus Temple.'
For the sake of conversation, Temple asked him if his ship was fully
'All but a mate,' said the captain.
I knew him by reputation as the brother of Squire Gregory Bulsted of
Bulsted, notorious for his attachment to my aunt, and laughing-stock of
'So you've got a valentine,' the captain addressed me. 'I went on shore
at Rio last year on this very day of the month, just as lively as you
youngsters for one. Saltwater keeps a man's youth in pickle. No
valentine for me! Paid off my ship yesterday at Spithead, and here I am
again on Valentine's Day.'
Temple and I stared hard at a big man with a bronzed skin and a rubicund
laugh who expected to receive valentines.
My aunt thrust the letter back to me secretly. 'It must be from a lady,'
'Why, who'd have a valentine from any but a lady?' exclaimed the captain.
The squire winked at me to watch his guest. Captain Bulsted fed
heartily; he was thoroughly a sailor-gentleman, between the old school
and the new, and, as I perceived, as far gone in love with my aunt as his
brother was. Presently Sewis entered carrying a foaming tankard of old
ale, and he and the captain exchanged a word or two upon Jamaica.
'Now, when you've finished that washy tea of yours, take a draught of our
October, brewed here long before you were a lieutenant, captain,' said
'Thank you, sir,' the captain replied; 'I know that ale; a moment, and I
will gladly. I wish to preserve my faculties; I don't wish to have it
supposed that I speak under fermenting influences. Sewis, hold by, if
My aunt made an effort to retire.
'No, no, fair play; stay,' said the squire, trying to frown, but
twinkling; my aunt tried to smile, and sat as if on springs.
'Miss Beltham,' the captain bowed to her, and to each one as he spoke,
'Squire Beltham, Mr. Harry Richmond; Mr. Temple; my ship was paid off
yesterday, and till a captain's ship is paid off, he 's not his own
master, you are aware. If you think my behaviour calls for comment,
reflect, I beseech you, on the nature of a sailor's life. A three-years'
cruise in a cabin is pretty much equivalent to the same amount of time
spent in a coffin, I can assure you; with the difference that you're hard
at work thinking all the time like the--hum.'
'Ay, he thinks hard enough,' the squire struck in.
'Pardon me, sir; like the--hum--plumb-line on a leeshore, I meant to
observe. This is now the third--the fourth occasion on which I have
practised the observance of paying my first visit to Riversley to know my
fate, that I might not have it on my conscience that I had missed a day,
a minute, as soon as I was a free man on English terra firma. My brother
Greg and I were brought up in close association with Riversley. One of
the Beauties of Riversley we lost! One was left, and we both tried our
luck with her; honourably, in turn, each of us, nothing underhand; above-
board, on the quarter-deck, before all the company. I 'll say it of my
brother, I can say it of myself. Greg's chances, I need not remark, are
superior to mine; he is always in port. If he wins, then I tell him--"
God bless you, my boy; you've won the finest woman, the handsomest, and
the best, in or out of Christendom!" But my chance is my property,
though it may be value only one farthing coin of the realm, and there is
always pity for poor sinners in the female bosom. Miss Beltham, I
trespass on your kind attention. If I am to remain a bachelor and you a
maiden lady, why, the will of heaven be done! If you marry another,
never mind who the man, there's my stock to the fruit of the union, never
mind what the sex. But, if you will have one so unworthy of you as me,
my hand and heart are at your feet, ma'am, as I have lost no time in
coming to tell you.' So Captain Bulsted concluded. Our eyes were
directed on my aunt. The squire bade her to speak out, for she had his
sanction to act according to her judgement and liking.
She said, with a gracefulness that gave me a little aching of pity for
the poor captain: 'I am deeply honoured by you, Captain Bulsted, but it
is not my intention to marry.'
The captain stood up, and bowing humbly, replied 'I am ever your servant,
My aunt quitted the room.
'Now for the tankard, Sewis,' said the captain.
Gradually the bottom of the great tankard turned up to the ceiling. He
drank to the last drop in it.
The squire asked him whether he found consolation in that.
The captain sighed prodigiously and said: 'It 's a commencement, sir.'
'Egad, it's a commencement 'd be something like a final end to any dozen
of our fellows round about here. I'll tell you what: if stout stomachs
gained the day in love-affairs, I suspect you'd run a good race against
the male half of our county, William. And a damned good test of a man's
metal, I say it is! What are you going to do to-day?'
'I am going to get drunk, sir.'
'Well, you might do worse. Then, stop here, William, and give my old
Port the preference. No tongue in the morning, I promise you, and
pleasant dreams at night.' The captain thanked him cordially, but
declined, saying that he would rather make a beast of himself in another
The squire vainly pressed his hospitality by assuring him of perfect
secresy on our part, as regarded my aunt, and offering him Sewis and one
of the footmen to lift him to bed. 'You are very good, squire,' said the
captain; 'nothing but a sense of duty restrains me. I am bound to convey
the information to my brother that the coast is clear for him.'
'Well, then, fall light, and for'ard,' said the squire, shaking him by
the hand. Forty years ago a gentleman, a baronet, had fallen on the back
of his head and never recovered.
'Ay, ay, launch stern foremost, if you like!' said the captain, nodding;
'no, no, I don't go into port pulled by the tail, my word for it, squire;
and good day to you, sir.'
'No ill will about this bothering love-business of yours, William?'
'On my soul, sir, I cherish none.'
Temple and I followed him out of the house, fascinated by his manners and
oddness. He invited us to jump into the chariot beside him. We were
witnesses of the meeting between him and his brother, a little sniffling
man, as like the captain as a withered nut is like a milky one.
'Same luck, William?' said Squire Gregory.
'Not a point of change in the wind, Greg,' said the captain.
They wrenched hands thereupon, like two carpet-shakers, with a report,
and much in a similar attitude.
'These young gentlemen will testify to you solemnly, Greg, that I took no
unfair advantage,' said the captain; 'no whispering in passages, no
appointments in gardens, no letters. I spoke out. Bravely, man! And
now, Greg, referring to the state of your cellar, our young friends here
mean to float with us to-night. It is now half-past eleven A.M. Your
dinner-hour the same as usual, of course? Therefore at four P.M. the
hour of execution. And come, Greg, you and I will visit the cellar. A
dozen and half of light and half-a-dozen of the old family--that will be
about the number of bottles to give me my quietus, and you yours--all of
us! And you, young gentlemen, take your guns or your rods, and back and
be dressed by the four bell, or you 'll not find the same man in Billy
Temple was enraptured with him. He declared he had been thinking
seriously for a long time of entering the Navy, and his admiration of
the captain must have given him an intuition of his character, for he
persuaded me to send to Riversley for our evening-dress clothes,
appearing in which at the dinner-table, we received the captain's
compliments, as being gentlemen who knew how to attire ourselves to suit
an occasion. The occasion, Squire Gregory said, happened to him too
often for him to distinguish it by the cut of his coat.
'I observe, nevertheless, Greg, that you have a black tie round your neck
instead of a red one,' said the captain.
'Then it came there by accident,' said Squire Gregory.
'Accident! There's no such thing as accident. If I wander out of the
house with a half dozen or so in me, and topple into the brook, am I
accidentally drowned? If a squall upsets my ship, is she an accidental
residue of spars and timber and old iron? If a woman refuses me, is that
an accident? There's a cause for every disaster: too much cargo, want of
foresight, want of pluck. Pooh! when I'm hauled prisoner into a foreign
port in time of war, you may talk of accidents. Mr. Harry Richmond, Mr.
Temple, I have the accidental happiness of drinking to your healths in a
tumbler of hock wine. Nominative, hic, haec, hoc.'
Squire Gregory carried on the declension, not without pride. The
Vocative confused him.
'Claret will do for the Vocative,' said the captain, gravely; 'the more
so as there is plenty of it at your table, Greg. Ablative hoc, hac, hoc,
which sounds as if the gentleman had become incapable of speech beyond
the name of his wine. So we will abandon the declension of the article
for a dash of champagne, which there's no declining, I hope. Wonderful
men, those Romans! They fought their ships well, too. A question to
you, Greg. Those heathen Pagan dogs had a religion that encouraged them
to swear. Now, my experience of life pronounces it to be a human
necessity to rap out an oath here and there. What do you say?'
Squire Gregory said: 'Drinking, and no thinking, at dinner, William.' The
captain pledged him.
'I 'll take the opportunity, as we're not on board ship, of drinking to
you, sir, now,' Temple addressed the captain, whose face was resplendent;
and he bowed, and drank, and said,
'As we are not on board ship? I like you!'
Temple thanked him for the compliment.
'No compliment, my lad. You see me in my weakness, and you have the
discernment to know me for something better than I seem. You promise to
respect me on my own quarter-deck. You are of the right stuff. Do I
speak correctly, Mr. Harry?'
'Temple is my dear friend,' I replied.
'And he would not be so if not of the right stuff! Good! That 's a way
of putting much in little. By Jove! a royal style.'
'And Harry's a royal fellow!' said Temple.
We all drank to one another. The captain's eyes scrutinized me
'This boy might have been yours or mine, Greg,' I heard him say in a
faltering rough tone.
They forgot the presence of Temple and me, but spoke as if they thought
they were whispering. The captain assured his brother that Squire
Beltham had given him as much fair play as one who holds a balance.
Squire Gregory doubted it, and sipped and kept his nose at his wineglass,
crabbedly repeating his doubts of it. The captain then remarked, that
doubting it, his conscience permitted him to use stratagems, though he,
the captain, not doubting it, had no such permission.
'I count I run away with her every night of my life,' said Squire
Gregory. 'Nothing comes of it but empty bottles.'
'Court her, serenade her,' said the captain; 'blockade the port, lay
siege to the citadel. I'd give a year of service for your chances, Greg.
Half a word from her, and you have your horses ready.'
'She's past po'chaises,' Squire Gregory sighed.
'She's to be won by a bold stroke, brother Greg.'
'Oh, Lord, no! She's past po'chaises.'
'Humph! it's come to be half-bottle, half-beauty, with your worship,
Greg, I suspect.'
'No. I tell you, William, she's got her mind on that fellow. You can't
'After he jilted her for her sister? Wrong, Greg, wrong. You are
muddled. She has a fright about matrimony--a common thing at her age,
I am told. Where's the man?'
'In the Bench, of course. Where'd you have him?'
'I, sir? If I knew my worst enemy to be there, I'd send him six dozen of
the best in my cellar.'
Temple shot a walnut at me. I pretended to be meditating carelessly, and
I had the heat and roar of a conflagration round my head.
Presently the captain said, 'Are you sure the man's in the Bench?'
'Cock,' Squire Gregory replied.
'He had money from his wife.'
'And he had the wheels to make it go.' Here they whispered in earnest.
'Oh, the Billings were as rich as the Belthams,' said the captain, aloud.
'Pretty nigh, William.'
'That's our curse, Greg. Money settled on their male issue, and money in
hand; by the Lord! we've always had the look of a pair of highwaymen
lurking for purses, when it was the woman, the woman, penniless, naked,
mean, destitute; nothing but the woman we wanted. And there was one
apiece for us. Greg, old boy, when will the old county show such another
couple of Beauties! Greg, sir, you're not half a man, or you'd have
carried her, with your, opportunities. The fellow's in the Bench, you
say? How are you cocksure of that, Mr. Greg?'
'Company,' was the answer; and the captain turned to Temple and me,
apologizing profusely for talking over family matters with his brother
after a separation of three years. I had guessed but hastily at the
subject of their conversation until they mentioned the Billings, the
family of my maternal grandmother. The name was like a tongue of fire
shooting up in a cloud of smoke: I saw at once that the man in the Bench
must be my father, though what the Bench was exactly, and where it was,
I had no idea, and as I was left to imagination I became, as usual,
childish in my notions, and brooded upon thoughts of the Man in the Iron
Mask; things I dared not breathe to Temple, of whose manly sense I stood
in awe when under these distracting influences.
'Remember our feast in the combe?' I sang across the table to him.
'Never forget it!' said he; and we repeated the tale of the goose at
Rippenger's school to our entertainers, making them laugh.
'And next morning Richie ran off with a gipsy girl,' said Temple; and I
composed a narrative of my wanderings with Kiomi, much more amusing than
the real one. The captain vowed he would like to have us both on board
his ship, but that times were too bad for him to offer us a prospect of
promotion. 'Spin round the decanters,' said he; 'now's the hour for them
to go like a humming-top, and each man lend a hand: whip hard, my lads.
It's once in three years, hurrah! and the cause is a cruel woman. Toast
her; but no name. Here's to the nameless Fair! For it's not my
intention to marry, says she, and, ma'am, I'm a man of honour or I'd
catch you tight, my nut-brown maid, and clap you into a cage, fal-lal,
like a squirrel; to trot the wheel of mat-trimony. Shame to the first
'That won't be I,' said Temple.
'Be me, sir, me,' the captain corrected his grammar.
'Pardon me, Captain Bulsted; the verb "To be" governs the nominative case
in our climate,' said Temple.
'Then I'm nominative hic . . . I say, sir, I'm in the tropics, Mr. Tem
. . . Mr. Tempus. Point of honour, not forget a man's name.
Rippenger, your schoolmaster? Mr. Rippenger, you've knocked some
knowledge into this young gentleman.' Temple and I took counsel together
hastily; we cried in a breath: ' Here 's to Julia Rippenger, the
prettiest, nicest girl living!' and we drank to her.
'Julia!' the captain echoed us. 'I join your toast, gentlemen. Mr.
Richmond, Mr. Tempus-Julia! By all that's holy, she floats a sinking
ship! Julia consoles me for the fairest, cruellest woman alive.
A rough sailor, Julia! at your feet.'
The captain fell commendably forward. Squire Gregory had already
dropped. Temple and I tried to meet, but did not accomplish it till next
morning at breakfast. A couple of footmen carried us each upstairs in
turn, as if they were removing furniture.
Out of this strange evening came my discovery of my father, and the
captain's winning of a wife.
I wondered audibly where the Bench was when Temple and I sat together
alone at Squire Gregory's breakfast-table next morning, very thirsty for
tea. He said it was a place in London, but did not add the sort of
place, only that I should soon be coming to London with him; and I
remarked, 'Shall I?' and smiled at him, as if in a fit of careless
affection. Then he talked runningly of the theatres and pantomimes and
The fear I had of this Bench made me passingly conscious of Temple's
delicacy in not repeating its name, though why I feared it there was
nothing to tell me. I must have dreamed of it just before waking,
and I burned for reasonable information concerning it. Temple respected
my father too much to speak out the extent of his knowledge on the
subject, so we drank our tea with the grandeur of London for our theme,
where, Temple assured me, you never had a headache after a carouse
overnight: a communication that led me to think the country a far less
favourable place of abode for gentlemen. We quitted the house without
seeing our host or the captain, and greatly admired by the footmen, the
maids, and the grooms for having drunk their masters under the table,
which it could not be doubted that we had done, as Temple modestly
observed while we sauntered off the grounds under the eyes of the
establishment. We had done it fairly, too, with none of those Jack the
Giant-Killer tricks my grandfather accused us of.
The squire would not, and he could not, believe our story until he heard
the confession from the mouth of the captain. After that he said we were
men and heroes, and he tipped us both, much to Janet Ilchester's
advantage, for the squire was a royal giver, and Temple's money had
already begun to take the same road as mine.
Temple, in fact, was falling desperately in love; for this reason he
shrank from quitting Riversley. I perceived it as clearly as a thing
seen through a windowpane. He was always meditating upon dogs, and what
might be the price of this dog or that, and whether lapdogs were good
travellers. The fashionable value of pugs filled him with a sort of
despair. 'My goodness!' he used an exclamation more suitable to women,
'forty or fifty pounds you say one costs, Richie?'
I pretended to estimate the probable cost of one. 'Yes, about that; but
I'll buy you one, one day or other, Temple.'
The dear little fellow coloured hot; he was too much in earnest to laugh
at the absurdity of his being supposed to want a pug for himself, and
walked round me, throwing himself into attitudes with shrugs and loud
breathings. 'I don't . . . don't think that I . . . I care for
nothing but Newfoundlands and mastiffs,' said he. He went on shrugging
and kicking up his heels.
'Girls like pugs,' I remarked.
'I fancy they do,' said Temple, with a snort of indifference.
Then I suggested, 'A pocket-knife for the hunting-field is a very good
'Do you think so?' was Temple's rejoinder, and I saw he was dreadfully
afraid of my speaking the person's name for whom it would be such a very
'You can get one for thirty shillings. We'll get one when we're in
London. They're just as useful for women as they are for us, you know.'
'Why, of course they are, if they hunt,' said Temple.
'And we mustn't lose time,' I drew him to the point I had at heart, 'for
hunting 'll soon be over. It 's February, mind!'
'Oh, lots of time!' Temple cried out, and on every occasion when I tried
to make him understand that I was bursting to visit London, he kept
evading me, simply because he hated saying good-bye to Janet Ilchester.
His dulness of apprehension in not perceiving that I could not commit a
breach of hospitality by begging him downright to start, struck me as
extraordinary. And I was so acute. I saw every single idea in his head,
every shift of, his mind, and how he half knew that he profited by my
shunning to say flatly I desired to set out upon the discovery of the
Bench. He took the benefit of my shamefacedness, for which I daily
punished his. I really felt that I was justified in giving my
irritability an airing by curious allusions to Janet; yet, though I made
him wince, it was impossible to touch his conscience. He admitted to
having repeatedly spoken of London's charms, and 'Oh, yes! you and I'll
go back together, Richie,' and saying that satisfied him: he doubled our
engagements with Janet that afternoon, and it was a riding party, a
dancing-party, and a drawing of a pond for carp, and we over to Janet,
and Janet over to us, until I grew so sick of her I was incapable of
summoning a spark of jealousy in order the better to torture Temple.
Now, he was a quick-witted boy. Well, I one day heard Janet address my
big dog, Ajax, in the style she usually employed to inform her hearers,
and especially the proprietor, that she coveted a thing: 'Oh, you own
dear precious pet darling beauty! if I might only feed you every day of
my life I should be happy! I curtsey to him every time I see him. If I
were his master, the men should all off hats, and the women all curtsey,
to Emperor Ajax, my dog! my own! my great, dear irresistible love!, Then
she nodded at me, 'I would make them, though.' And then at Temple, 'You
see if I wouldn't.'
Ajax was a source of pride to me. However, I heard Temple murmur, in a
tone totally unlike himself, 'He would be a great protection to you'; and
I said to him, 'You know, Temple, I shall be going to London to-morrow or
the next day, not later: I don't know when I shall be back. I wish you
would dispose of the dog just as you like: get him a kind master or
mistress, that's all.'
I sacrificed my dog to bring Temple to his senses. I thought it would
touch him to see how much I could sacrifice just to get an excuse for
begging him to start. He did not even thank me. Ajax soon wore one of
Janet's collars, like two or three other of the Riversley dogs, and I had
the satisfaction of hearing Temple accept my grandfather's invitation for
a further fortnight. And, meanwhile, I was the one who was charged with
going about looking lovelorn! I smothered my feelings and my reflections
on the wisdom of people.
At last my aunt Dorothy found the means of setting me at liberty on the
road to London. We had related to her how Captain Bulsted toasted Julia
Rippenger, and we had both declared in joke that we were sure the captain
wished to be introduced to her. My aunt reserved her ideas on the
subject, but by-and-by she proposed to us to ride over to Julia, and
engage her to come and stay at Riversley for some days. Kissing me, my
aunt said, 'She was my Harry's friend when he was an outcast.'
The words revived my affection for Julia. Strong in the sacred sense of
gratitude, I turned on Temple, reproaching him with selfish forgetfulness
of her good heart and pretty face. Without defending himself, as he
might have done, he entreated me to postpone our journey for a day; he
and Janet had some appointment. Here was given me a noble cause and
matter I need not shrink from speaking of. I lashed Temple in my aunt's
presence with a rod of real eloquence that astonished her, and him, and
myself too; and as he had a sense of guilt not quite explicable in his
mind, he consented to bear what was in reality my burden; for Julia had
distinguished me and not him with all the signs of affection, and of the
two I had the more thoroughly forgotten her; I believe Temple was first
in toasting her at Squire Gregory's table. There is nothing like a pent-
up secret of the heart for accumulating powers of speech; I mean in
youth. The mental distilling process sets in later, and then you have
irony instead of eloquence. From brooding on my father, and not daring
to mention his name lest I should hear evil of it, my thoughts were a
proud family, proud of their origin, proud of their isolation,--and not
to be able to divine them was for the world to confess itself basely
beneath their level. But, when they did pour out, they were tremendous,
as Temple found. This oratorical display of mine gave me an ascendancy
over him. He adored eloquence, not to say grandiloquence: he was the son
of a barrister. 'Let 's go and see her at once, Richie,' he said of
Julia. 'I 'm ready to be off as soon as you like; I'm ready to do
anything that will please you'; which was untrue, but it was useless to
tell him so. I sighed at my sad gift of penetration, and tossed the
fresh example of it into the treasury of vanity.
'Temple,' said I, dissembling a little; 'I tell you candidly: you won't
please me by doing anything disagreeable to you. A dog pulled by the
collar is not much of a companion. I start for Julia to-morrow before
daylight. If you like your bed best, stop there; and mind you amuse
Janet for me duing my absence.'
'I'm not going to let any one make comparisons between us,' Temple
He dropped dozens of similar remarks, and sometimes talked downright
flattery, I had so deeply impressed him.
We breakfasted by candle-light, and rode away on a frosty foggy morning,
keeping our groom fifty yards to the rear, a laughable sight, with both
his coat-pockets bulging, a couple of Riversley turnover pasties in one,
and a bottle of champagne in the other, for our lunch on the road. Now
and then, when near him, we galloped for the fun of seeing him nurse the
bottle-pocket. He was generally invisible. Temple did not think it
strange that we should be riding out in an unknown world with only a
little ring, half a stone's-throw clear around us, and blots of copse,
and queer vanishing cottages, and hard grey meadows, fir-trees
wonderfully magnified, and larches and birches rigged like fairy ships,
all starting up to us as we passed, and melting instantly. One could
have fancied the fir-trees black torches. And here the shoulder of a
hill invited us to race up to the ridge: some way on we came to
crossroads, careless of our luck in hitting the right one: yonder hung a
village church in the air, and church-steeple piercing ever so high; and
out of the heart of the mist leaped a brook, and to hear it at one
moment, and then to have the sharp freezing silence in one's ear, was
piercingly weird. It all tossed the mind in my head like hay on a
pitchfork. I forgot the existence of everything but what I loved
passionately,--and that had no shape, was like a wind.
Up on a knoll of firs in the middle of a heath, glowing rosy in the
frost, we dismounted to lunch, leaning against the warm saddles, Temple
and I, and Uberly, our groom, who reminded me of a certain tramp of my
acquaintance in his decided preference of beer to champagne; he drank,
though, and sparkled after his draught. No sooner were we on horseback
again--ere the flanks of the dear friendly brutes were in any way cool--
than Temple shouted enthusiastically, 'Richie, we shall do it yet! I've
been funking, but now I'm sure we shall do it. Janet said, "What's the
use of my coming over to dine at Riversley if Harry Richmond and you
don't come home before ten or eleven o'clock?" I told her we'd do it by
dinner-time: Don't you like Janet, Richie?--That is, if our horses' hic-
haec-hocks didn't get strained on this hard nominative-plural-masculine
of the article road. Don't you fancy yourself dining with the captain,
Richie? Dative huic, says old Squire Gregory. I like to see him at
dinner, because he loves the smell of his wine. Oh! it's nothing to
boast of, but we did drink them under the table, it can't be denied.
Janet heard of it. Hulloa! you talk of a hunting-knife. What do you say
to a pair of skates? Here we are in for a frost of six weeks. It
strikes me, a pair of skates . . .'
This was the champagne in Temple. In me it did not bubble to speech, and
I soon drew him on at a pace that rendered conversation impossible.
Uberly shouted after us to spare the horses' legs. We heard him twice
out of the deepening fog. I called to Temple that he was right, we
should do it. Temple hurrahed rather breathlessly. At the end of an
hour I pulled up at an inn, where I left the horses to be groomed and
fed, and walked away rapidly as if I knew the town, Temple following me
with perfect confidence, and, indeed, I had no intention to deceive him.
We entered a new station of a railway.
'Oh!' said Temple, 'the rest of the way by rail.'
When the railway clerk asked me what place I wanted tickets for, London
sprang to my mouth promptly in a murmur, and taking the tickets I replied
'The rest of the way by rail. Uberly's sure to stop at that inn';
but my heart beat as the carriages slid away with us; an affectionate
commiseration for Temple touched me when I heard him count on our being
back at Riversley in time to dress for dinner.
He laughed aloud at the idea of our plumping down on Rippenger's school,
getting a holiday for the boys, tipping them, and then off with Julia,
exactly like two Gods of the Mythology, Apollo and Mercury.
'I often used to think they had the jolliest lives that ever were lived,'
he said, and trying to catch glimpses of the country, and musing, and
singing, he continued to feel like one of those blissful Gods until
wonder at the passage of time supervened. Amazement, when he looked at
my watch, struck him dumb. Ten minutes later we were in yellow fog, then
in brown. Temple stared at both windows and at me; he jumped from his
seat and fell on it, muttering, 'No; nonsense! I say!' but he had
accurately recognized London's fog. I left him unanswered to bring up
all his senses, which the railway had outstripped, for the contemplation
of this fact, that we two were in the city of London.
THE GREAT FOG AND THE FIRE AT MIDNIGHT
It was London city, and the Bench was the kernel of it to me. I throbbed
with excitement, though I sat looking out of the windows into the
subterranean atmosphere quite still and firm. When you think long
undividedly of a single object it gathers light, and when you draw near
it in person the strange thing to your mind is the absence of that light;
but I, approaching it in this dense fog, seemed to myself to be only
thinking of it a little more warmly than usual, and instead of fading it
reversed the process, and became, from light, luminous. Not being able,
however, to imagine the Bench a happy place, I corrected the excess of
brightness and gave its walls a pine-torch glow; I set them in the middle
of a great square, and hung the standard of England drooping over them in
a sort of mournful family pride. Then, because I next conceived it a
foreign kind of place, different altogether from that home growth of
ours, the Tower of London, I topped it with a multitude of domes of
pumpkin or turban shape, resembling the Kremlin of Moscow, which had
once leapt up in the eye of Winter, glowing like a million pine-torches,
and flung shadows of stretching red horses on the black smoke-drift.
But what was the Kremlin, that had seen a city perish, to this Bench
where my father languished! There was no comparing them for tragic
horror. And the Kremlin had snow-fields around it; this Bench was caught
out of sight, hemmed in by an atmosphere thick as Charon breathed; it
might as well be underground.
'Oh! it's London,' Temple went on, correcting his incorrigible doubts
about it. He jumped on the platform; we had to call out not to lose one
another. 'I say, Richie, this is London,' he said, linking his arm in
mine: 'you know by the size of the station; and besides, there's the fog.
Oh! it's London. We've overshot it, we're positively in London.'
I could spare no sympathy for his feelings, and I did not respond to his
inquiring looks. Now that we were here I certainly wished myself away,
though I would not have retreated, and for awhile I was glad of the
discomforts besetting me; my step was hearty as I led on, meditating upon
asking some one the direction to the Bench presently. We had to walk,
and it was nothing but traversing on a slippery pavement atmospheric
circles of black brown and brown red, and sometimes a larger circle of
pale yellow; the colours of old bruised fruits, medlars, melons, and the
smell of them; nothing is more desolate. Neither of us knew where we
were, nor where we were going. We struggled through an interminable
succession of squalid streets, from the one lamp visible to its neighbour
in the darkness: you might have fancied yourself peering at the head of
an old saint on a smoky canvas; it was like the painting of light rather
than light. Figures rushed by; we saw no faces.
Temple spoke solemnly: ' Our dinner-hour at home is half-past six.'
A street-boy overheard him and chaffed him. Temple got the worst of it,
and it did him good, for he had the sweetest nature in the world. We
declined to be attended by link-boys; they would have hurt our sense of
independence. Possessed of a sovereign faith that, by dint of
resolution, I should ultimately penetrate to the great square enclosing
the Bench, I walked with the air of one who had the map of London in his
eye and could thread it blindfold. Temple was thereby deceived into
thinking that I must somehow have learnt the direction I meant to take,
and knew my way, though at the slightest indication of my halting and
glancing round his suspicions began to boil, and he was for asking some
one the name of the ground we stood on: he murmured, 'Fellows get lost in
London.' By this time he clearly understood that I had come to London on
purpose: he could not but be aware of the object of my coming, and I was
too proud, and he still too delicate, to allude to it.
The fog choked us. Perhaps it took away the sense of hunger by filling
us as if we had eaten a dinner of soot. We had no craving to eat until
long past the dinner-hour in Temple's house, and then I would rather have
plunged into a bath and a bed than have been requested to sit at a feast;
Temple too, I fancy. We knew we were astray without speaking of it.
Temple said, 'I wish we hadn't drunk that champagne.' It seemed to me
years since I had tasted the delicious crushing of the sweet bubbles in
my mouth. But I did not blame them; I was after my father: he, dear
little fellow, had no light ahead except his devotion to me: he must have
had a touch of conscious guilt regarding his recent behaviour, enough to
hold him from complaining formally. He complained of a London without
shops and lights, wondered how any one could like to come to it in a fog,
and so forth; and again regretted our having drunk champagne in the
morning; a sort of involuntary whimpering easily forgiven to him, for I
knew he had a gallant heart. I determined, as an act of signal
condescension, to accost the first person we met, male or female, for
Temple's sake. Having come to this resolve, which was to be an open
confession that I had misled him, wounding to my pride, I hoped eagerly
for the hearing of a footfall. We were in a labyrinth of dark streets
where no one was astir. A wretched dog trotted up to us, followed at our
heels a short distance, and left us as if he smelt no luck about us; our
cajoleries were unavailing to keep that miserable companion.
'Sinbad escaped from the, pit by tracking a lynx,' I happened to remark.
Temple would not hear of Sinbad.
'Oh, come, we're not Mussulmen,' said he; 'I declare, Richie, if I saw a
church open, I'd go in and sleep there. Were you thinking of tracking
the dog, then? Beer may be had somewhere. We shall have to find an
hotel. What can the time be?'
I owed it to him to tell him, so I climbed a lamppost and spelt out the
hour by my watch. When I descended we were three. A man had his hands
on Temple's shoulders, examining his features.
'Now speak,' the man said, roughly.
I was interposing, but Temple cried, 'All right, Richie, we are two to
The man groaned. I asked him what he wanted.
'My son! I've lost my son,' the man replied, and walked away; and he
would give no answer to our questions.
I caught hold of the lamp-post, overcome. I meant to tell Temple, in
response to the consoling touch of his hand, that I hoped the poor, man
would discover his son, but said instead, 'I wish we could see the Bench
to-night.' Temple exclaimed, 'Ah!' pretending by his tone of voice that
we had recently discussed our chance of it, and then he ventured to
inform me that he imagined he had heard of the place being shut up after
a certain hour of the night.
My heart felt released, and gushed with love for him. 'Very well,
Temple,' I said: 'then we'll wait till tomorrow, and strike out for some
Off we went at a furious pace. Saddlebank's goose was reverted to by
both of us with an exchange of assurances that we should meet a dish the
fellow to it before we slept.
'As for life,' said I, as soon as the sharp pace had fetched my breathing
to a regular measure, 'adventures are what I call life.'
Temple assented. 'They're capital, if you only see the end of them.'
We talked of Ulysses and Penelope. Temple blamed him for leaving
Calypso. I thought Ulysses was right, otherwise we should have had no
slaying of the Suitors but Temple shyly urged that to have a Goddess
caring for you (and she was handsomer than Penelope, who must have been
an oldish woman) was something to make you feel as you do on a hunting
morning, when there are half-a-dozen riding-habits speckling the field--
a whole glorious day your own among them! This view appeared to me very
captivating, save for an obstruction in my mind, which was, that
Goddesses were always conceived by me as statues. They talked and they
moved, it was true, but the touch of them was marble; and they smiled and
frowned, but they had no variety they were never warm.
'If I thought that!' muttered Temple, puffing at the raw fog. He
admitted he had thought just the contrary, and that the cold had
suggested to him the absurdity of leaving a Goddess.
'Look here, Temple,' said I, 'has it never struck you? I won't say I'm
like him. It's true I've always admired Ulysses; he could fight best,
talk best, and plough, and box, and how clever he was! Take him all
round, who wouldn't rather have had him for a father than Achilles? And
there were just as many women in love with him.'
'More,' said Temple.
'Well, then,' I continued, thanking him in my heart, for it must have
cost him something to let Ulysses be set above Achilles, 'Telemachus is
the one I mean. He was in search of his father. He found him at last.
Upon my honour, Temple, when I think of it, I 'm ashamed to have waited
so long. I call that luxury I've lived in senseless. Yes! while I was
uncertain whether my father had enough to eat or not.'
'I say! hush!' Temple breathed, in pain at such allusions. 'Richie, the
squire has finished his bottle by about now; bottle number two. He won't
miss us till the morning, but Miss Beltham will. She'll be at your
bedroom door three or four times in the night, I know. It's getting
darker and darker, we must be in some dreadful part of London.'
The contrast he presented to my sensations between our pleasant home and
this foggy solitude gave me a pang of dismay. I diverged from my
favourite straight line, which seemed to pierce into the bowels of the
earth, sharp to the right. Soon or late after, I cannot tell, we were in
the midst of a thin stream of people, mostly composed of boys and young
women, going at double time, hooting and screaming with the delight of
loosened animals, not quite so agreeably; but animals never hunted on a
better scent. A dozen turnings in their company brought us in front of a
fire. There we saw two houses preyed on by the flames, just as if a lion
had his paws on a couple of human creatures, devouring them; we heard his
jaws, the cracking of bones, shrieks, and the voracious in-and-out of his
breath edged with anger. A girl by my side exclaimed, 'It's not the
Bench, after all! Would I have run to see a paltry two-story
washerwoman's mangling-shed flare up, when six penn'orth of squibs and
shavings and a cracker make twice the fun!'
I turned to her, hardly able to speak. 'Where 's the Bench, if you
please?' She pointed. I looked on an immense high wall. The blunt
flames of the fire opposite threw a sombre glow on it.
The girl said, 'And don't you go hopping into debt, my young cock-
sparrow, or you'll know one side o' the turnkey better than t' other.'
She had a friend with her who chid her for speaking so freely.
'Is it too late to go in to-night?' I asked.
She answered that it was, and that she and her friend were the persons to
show me the way in there. Her friend answered more sensibly: 'Yes, you
can't go in there before some time--in the morning.'
I learnt from her that the Bench was a debtors' prison.
The saucy girl of the pair asked me for money. I handed her a crown-
'Now won't you give another big bit to my friend?' said she.
I had no change, and the well-mannered girl bade me never mind, the saucy
one pressed for it, and for a treat. She was amusing in her talk of the
quantity of different fires she had seen; she had also seen accidental-
death corpses, but never a suicide in the act; and here she regretted the
failure of her experiences. This conversation of a good-looking girl
amazed me. Presently Temple cried, 'A third house caught, and no engines
yet! Richie, there's an old woman in her night-dress; we can't stand
The saucy girl joked at the poor half-naked old woman. Temple stood
humping and agitating his shoulders like a cat before it springs. Both
the girls tried to stop us. The one I liked best seized my watch, and
said, 'Leave this to me to take care of,' and I had no time to wrestle
for it. I had a glimpse of her face that let me think she was not
fooling me, the watch-chain flew off my neck, Temple and I clove through
the crowd of gapers. We got into the heat, which was in a minute
scorching. Three men were under the window; they had sung out to the old
woman above to drop a blanket--she tossed them a water-jug. She was
saved by the blanket of a neighbour. Temple and I strained at one corner
of it to catch her.
She came down, the men said, like a singed turkey. The flames
illuminated her as she descended. There was a great deal of laughter in
the crowd, but I was shocked. Temple shared the painful impression
produced on me. I cannot express my relief when the old woman was
wrapped in the blanket which had broken her descent, and stood like a
blot instead of a figure. I handed a sovereign to the three men,
complimenting them on the humanity of their dispositions. They cheered
us, and the crowd echoed the cheer, and Temple and I made our way back to
the two girls: both of us lost our pocket-handkerchiefs, and Temple a
penknife as well. Then the engines arrived and soused the burning
houses. We were all in a crimson mist, boys smoking, girls laughing and
staring, men hallooing, hats and caps flying about, fights going on,
people throwing their furniture out of the windows. The great wall of
the Bench was awful in its reflection of the labouring flames--it rose
out of sight like the flame-tops till the columns of water brought them
down. I thought of my father, and of my watch. The two girls were not
visible. 'A glorious life a fireman's!' said Temple.
The firemen were on the roofs of the houses, handsome as Greek heroes,
and it really did look as if they were engaged in slaying an enormous
dragon, that hissed and tongued at them, and writhed its tail, paddling
its broken big red wings in the pit of wreck and smoke, twisting and
darkening-something fine to conquer, I felt with Temple.
A mutual disgust at the inconvenience created by the appropriation of our
pocket-handkerchiefs by members of the crowd, induced us to disentangle
ourselves from it without confiding to any one our perplexity for supper
and a bed. We were now extremely thirsty. I had visions of my majority
bottles of Burgundy, lying under John Thresher's care at Dipwell, and
would have abandoned them all for one on the spot. After ranging about
the outskirts of the crowd, seeking the two girls, we walked away, not so
melancholy but that a draught of porter would have cheered us. Temple
punned on the loss of my watch, and excused himself for a joke neither of
us had spirit to laugh at. Just as I was saying, with a last glance at
the fire, 'Anyhow, it would have gone in that crowd,' the nice good girl
ran up behind us, crying, 'There!' as she put the watch-chain over my
'There, Temple,' said I, 'didn't I tell you so?' and Temple kindly
The girl said, 'I was afraid I'd missed you, little fellow, and you'd
take me for a thief, and thank God, I'm no thief yet. I rushed into the
crowd to meet you after you caught that old creature, and I could have
kissed you both, you're so brave.'
'We always go in for it together,' said Temple.
I made an offer to the girl of a piece of gold. 'Oh, I'm poor,' she
cried, yet kept her hand off it like a bird alighting on ground, not on
prey. When I compelled her to feel the money tight, she sighed, 'If I
wasn't so poor! I don't want your gold. Why are you out so late?'
We informed her of our arrival from the country, and wanderings in the
'And you'll say you're not tired, I know,' the girl remarked, and laughed
to hear how correctly she had judged of our temper. Our thirst and
hunger, however, filled her with concern, because of our not being used
to it as she was, and no place was open to supply our wants. Her friend,
the saucy one, accompanied by a man evidently a sailor, joined us, and
the three had a consultation away from Temple and me, at the end of which
the sailor, whose name was Joe, raised his leg dancingly, and smacked it.
We gave him our hands to shake, and understood, without astonishment,
that we were invited on, board his ship to partake of refreshment. We
should not have been astonished had he said on board his balloon. Down
through thick fog of a lighter colour, we made our way to a narrow lane
leading to the river-side, where two men stood thumping their arms across
their breasts, smoking pipes, and swearing. We entered a boat and were
rowed to a ship. I was not aware how frozen and befogged my mind and
senses had become until I had taken a desperate and long gulp of smoking
rum-and-water, and then the whole of our adventures from morning to
midnight, with the fir-trees in the country fog, and the lamps in the
London fog, and the man who had lost his son, the fire, the Bench, the
old woman with her fowl-like cry and limbs in the air, and the row over
the misty river, swam flashing before my eyes, and I cried out to the two
girls, who were drinking out of one glass with the sailor Joe, my
entertainer, 'Well, I'm awake now!' and slept straight off the next
WE FIND OURSELVES BOUND ON A VOYAGE
It seemed to me that I had but taken a turn from right to left, or gone
round a wheel, when I repeated the same words, and I heard Temple
somewhere near me mumble something like them. He drew a long breath, so
did I: we cleared our throats with a sort of whinny simultaneously. The
enjoyment of lying perfectly still, refreshed, incurious, unexcited, yet
having our minds animated, excursive, reaping all the incidents of our
lives at leisure, and making a dream of our latest experiences, kept us
tranquil and incommunicative. Occasionally we let fall a sigh fathoms
deep, then by-and-by began blowing a bit of a wanton laugh at the end of
it. I raised my foot and saw the boot on it, which accounted for an
uneasy sensation setting in through my frame.
I said softly, 'What a pleasure it must be for horses to be groomed!'
'Just what I was thinking! ' said Temple.
We started up on our elbows, and one or the other cried:
'There's a chart! These are bunks! Hark at the row overhead! We're in
a ship! The ship's moving! Is it foggy this morning? It's time to get
up! I've slept in my clothes! Oh, for a dip! How I smell of smoke!
What a noise of a steamer! And the squire at Riversley! Fancy Uberly's
Temple, with averted face, asked me whether I meant to return to
Riversley that day. I assured him I would, on my honour, if possible;
and of course he also would have to return there. 'Why, you've an
appointment with Janet Ilchester,' said I, 'and we may find a pug; we'll
buy the hunting-knife and the skates. And she shall know you saved an
old woman's life.'
'No, don't talk about that,' Temple entreated me, biting his lip.
'Richie, we're going fast through the water. It reminds me of breakfast.
I should guess the hour to be nine A.M.'
My watch was unable to assist us; the hands pointed to half-past four,
and were fixed. We ran up on deck. Looking over the stern of the
vessel, across a line of rippling eddying red gold, we saw the sun low
upon cushions of beautiful cloud; no trace of fog anywhere; blue sky
overhead, and a mild breeze blowing.
'Sunrise,' I said.
Temple answered, 'Yes,' most uncertainly.
We looked round. A steam-tug was towing our ship out toward banks of
red-reflecting cloud, and a smell of sea air.
'Why, that's the East there!' cried Temple. We faced about to the sun,
and behold, he was actually sinking!
'Nonsense!' we exclaimed in a breath. From seaward to this stupefying
sunset we stood staring. The river stretched to broad lengths; gulls
were on the grey water, knots of seaweed, and the sea-foam curled in
advance of us.
'By jingo!' Temple spoke out, musing, 'here's a whole day struck out of
'It can't be!' said I, for that any sensible being could be tricked of a
piece of his life in that manner I thought a preposterous notion.
But the sight of a lessening windmill in the West, shadows eastward, the
wide water, and the air now full salt, convinced me we two had slept
through an entire day, and were passing rapidly out of hail of our native
'We must get these fellows to put us on shore at once,' said Temple: 'we
won't stop to eat. There's a town; a boat will row us there in half-an-
hour. Then we can wash, too. I've got an idea nothing's clean here.
And confound these fellows for not having the civility to tell us they
were going to start!'
We were rather angry, a little amused, not in the least alarmed at our
position. A sailor, to whom we applied for an introduction to the
captain, said he was busy. Another gave us a similar reply, with a
monstrous grimace which was beyond our comprehension. The sailor Joe was
nowhere to be seen. None of the sailors appeared willing to listen to
us, though they stopped as they were running by to lend half an ear to
what we had to say. Some particular movement was going on in the ship.
Temple was the first to observe that the steamtug was casting us loose,
and cried he, 'She'll take us on board and back to London Bridge. Let's
hail her.' He sang out, ' Whoop! ahoy!' I meanwhile had caught sight of
'Well, young gentleman!' he accosted me, and he hoped I had slept well.
My courteous request to him to bid the tug stand by to take us on board,
only caused him to wear a look of awful gravity. 'You're such a deuce of
a sleeper,' he said. 'You see, we had to be off early to make up for
forty hours lost by that there fog. I tried to wake you both; no good;.
so I let you snore away. We took up our captain mid-way down the river,
and now you're in his hands, and he'll do what he likes with you, and
that 's a fact, and my opinion is you 'll see a foreign shore before
you're in the arms of your family again.'
At these words I had the horrible sensation of being caged, and worse,
transported into the bargain.
I insisted on seeing the captain. A big bright round moon was dancing
over the vessel's bowsprit, and this, together with the tug thumping into
the distance, and the land receding, gave me--coming on my wrath--
No difficulties were presented in my way. I was led up to a broad man in
a pilot-coat, who stood square, and looked by the bend of his eyebrows as
if he were always making head against a gale. He nodded to my respectful
salute. 'Cabin,' he said, and turned his back to me.
I addressed him, 'Excuse me, I want to go on shore, captain. I must and
will go! I am here by some accident; you have accidentally overlooked me
here. I wish to treat you like a gentleman, but I won't be detained.'
Joe spoke a word to the captain, who kept his back as broad to me as a
school-slate for geography and Euclid's propositions.
'Cabin, cabin,' the captain repeated.
I tried to get round him to dash a furious sentence or so in his face,
since there was no producing any impression on his back; but he occupied
the whole of a way blocked with wire-coil, and rope, and boxes, and it
would have been ridiculous to climb this barricade when by another right-
about-face he could in a minute leave me volleying at the blank space
between his shoulders.
Joe touched my arm, which, in as friendly a way as I could assume, I bade
him not do a second time; for I could ill contain myself as it was, and
beginning to think I had been duped and tricked, I was ready for
hostilities. I could hardly bear meeting Temple on my passage to the
cabin. 'Captain Jasper Welsh,' he was reiterating, as if sounding it to
discover whether it had an ominous ring: it was the captain's name, that
he had learnt from one of the seamen.
Irritated by his repetition of it, I said, I know not why, or how the
words came: 'A highwayman notorious for his depredations in the vicinity
of the city of Bristol.'
This set Temple off laughing: 'And so he bought a ship and had traps laid
down to catch young fellows for ransom.'
I was obliged to request Temple not to joke, but the next moment I had
launched Captain Jasper Welsh on a piratical exploit; Temple lifted the
veil from his history, revealing him amid the excesses of a cannibal
feast. I dragged him before a British jury; Temple hanged him in view of
an excited multitude. As he boasted that there was the end of Captain
Welsh, I broke the rope. But Temple spoiled my triumph by depriving him
of the use of his lower limbs after the fall, for he was a heavy man. I
could not contradict it, and therefore pitched all his ship's crew upon
the gallows in a rescue. Temple allowed him to be carried off by his
faithful ruffians, only stipulating that the captain was never after able
to release his neck from the hangman's slip knot. The consequence was
that he wore a shirt-collar up to his eyebrows for concealment by day,
and a pillow-case over his head at night, and his wife said she was a
deceived unhappy woman, and died of curiosity.
The talking of even such nonsense as this was a relief to us in our
impatience and helplessness, with the lights of land heaving far distant
to our fretful sight through the cabin windows.
When we had to talk reasonably we were not so successful. Captain Welsh
was one of those men who show you, whether you care to see them or not,
all the processes by which they arrive at an idea of you, upon which they
forthwith shape their course. Thus, when he came to us in the cabin, he
took the oil-lamp in his hand and examined our faces by its light; he had
no reply to our remonstrances and petitions: all he said was, 'Humph!
well, I suppose you're both gentlemen born'; and he insisted on
prosecuting his scrutiny without any reference to the tenour of our
We entreated him half imperiously to bring his ship to and put us on
shore in a boat. He bunched up his mouth, remarking, 'Know their
grammar: habit o' speaking to grooms, eh? humph.' We offered to pay
largely. 'Loose o' their cash,' was his comment, and so on; and he was
the more exasperating to us because he did not look an evil-minded man;
only he appeared to be cursed with an evil opinion of us. I tried to
remove it; I spoke forbearingly. Temple, imitating me, was sugar-sweet.
We exonerated the captain from blame, excused him for his error, named
the case a mistake on both sides. That long sleep of ours, we said, was
really something laughable; we laughed at the recollection of it, a
lamentable piece of merriment.
Our artfulness and patience becoming exhausted, for the captain had
vouchsafed us no direct answer, I said at last, 'Captain Welsh, here we
are on board your ship will you tell us what you mean to do with us?'
He now said bluntly, ' I will.'
'You'll behave like a man of honour,' said I, and to that he cried
vehemently, 'I will.'
'Well, then,' said I, 'call out the boat, if you please; we're anxious to
'So you shall!' the captain shouted, 'and per ship--my barque Priscilla;
and better men than you left, or I 'm no Christian.'
Temple said briskly, 'Thank you, captain.'
'You may wait awhile with that, my lad,' he answered; and, to our
astonishment, recommended us to go and clean our faces and prepare to
drink some tea at his table.
'Thank you very much, captain, we'll do that when we 're on shore,' said
'You'll have black figure-heads and empty gizzards, then, by that time,'
he remarked. We beheld him turning over the leaves of a Bible.
Now, this sight of the Bible gave me a sense of personal security, and a
notion of hypocrisy in his conduct as well; and perceiving that we had
conjectured falsely as to his meaning to cast us on shore per ship, his
barque Priscilla, I burst out in great heat, 'What! we are prisoners?
You dare to detain us?'
Temple chimed in, in a similar strain. Fairly enraged, we flung at him
without anything of what I thought eloquence.
The captain ruminated up and down the columns of his Bible.
I was stung to feel that we were like two small terriers baiting a huge
mild bull. At last he said, 'The story of the Prodigal Son.'
'Oh!' groaned Temple, at the mention of this worn-out old fellow, who has
gone in harness to tracts ever since he ate the fatted calf.
But the captain never heeded his interruption.
'Young gentlemen, I've finished it while you 've been barking at me. If
I 'd had him early in life on board my vessel, I hope I'm not
presumptuous in saying--the Lord forgive me if I be so!--I'd have stopped
his downward career--ay, so!--with a trip in the right direction. The
Lord, young gentlemen, has not thrown you into my hands for no purpose
whatsoever. Thank him on your knees to-night, and thank Joseph Double,
my mate, when you rise, for he was the instrument of saving you from bad
company. If this was a vessel where you 'd hear an oath or smell the
smell of liquor, I 'd have let you run when there was terra firma within
stone's throw. I came on board, I found you both asleep, with those
marks of dissipation round your eyes, and I swore--in the Lord's name,
mind you--I'd help pluck you out of the pit while you had none but one
leg in. It's said! It's no use barking. I am not to be roused. The
devil in me is chained by the waist, and a twenty-pound weight on his
tongue. With your assistance I'll do the same for the devil in you.
Since you've had plenty of sleep, I 'll trouble you to commit to memory
the whole story of the Prodigal Son 'twixt now and morrow's sunrise.
We 'll have our commentary on it after labour done. Labour you will in
my vessel, for your soul's health. And let me advise you not to talk;
in your situation talking's temptation to lying. You'll do me the
obligation to feed at my table. And when I hand you back to your
parents, why, they'll thank me, if you won't. But it's not thanks I look
for: it's my bounden Christian duty I look to. I reckon a couple o'
stray lambs equal to one lost sheep.'
The captain uplifted his arm, ejaculating solemnly, 'By!' and faltered.
'You were going to swear!' said Temple, with savage disdain.
'By the blessing of Omnipotence! I'll save a pair o' pups from turning
wolves. And I'm a weak mortal man, that 's too true.'
'He was going to swear,' Temple muttered to me.
I considered the detection of Captain Welsh's hypocrisy unnecessary,
almost a condescension toward familiarity; but the ire in my bosom was
boiling so that I found it impossible to roll out the flood of eloquence
with which I was big. Soon after, I was trying to bribe the man with all
my money and my watch.
'Who gave you that watch?' said he.
'Downright Church catechism!' muttered Temple.
'My grandfather,' said I.
The captain's head went like a mechanical hammer, to express something
'My grandfather,' I continued, 'will pay you handsomely for any service
you do to me and my friend.'
'Now, that's not far off forgoing,' said the captain, in a tone as much
as to say we were bad all over.
I saw the waters slide by his cabin-windows. My desolation, my
humiliation, my chained fury, tumbled together. Out it came--
'Captain, do behave to us like a gentleman, and you shall never repent
it. Our relatives will be miserable about us. They--captain!--they
don't know where we are. We haven't even a change of clothes. Of course
we know we're at your mercy, but do behave like an honest man. You shall
be paid or not, just as you please, for putting us on shore, but we shall
be eternally grateful to you. Of course you mean kindly to us; we see
'I thank the Lord for it!' he interposed.
'Only you really are under a delusion. It 's extraordinary. You can't
be quite in your right senses about us; you must be--I don't mean to
speak disrespectfully-what we call on shore, cracked about us. . . .
'Doddered, don't they say in one of the shires?' he remarked.
Half-encouraged, and in the belief that I might be getting eloquent, I
appealed to his manliness. Why should he take advantage of a couple of
boys? I struck the key of his possible fatherly feelings: What misery
were not our friends suffering now. ('Ay, a bucketful now saves an ocean
in time to come!' he flung in his word.) I bade him, with more pathetic
dignity reflect on the dreadful hiatus in our studies.
'Is that Latin or Greek?' he asked.
I would not reply to the cold-blooded question. He said the New
Testament was written in Greek, he knew, and happy were those who could
read it in the original.
'Well, and how can we be learning to read it on board ship?' said Temple,
an observation that exasperated me because it seemed more to the point
than my lengthy speech, and betrayed that he thought so; however, I took
'How can we be graduating for our sphere in life, Captain Welsh, on board
your vessel? Tell us that.'
He played thumb and knuckles on his table. Just when I was hoping that
good would come of the senseless tune, Temple cried,
'Tell us what your exact intentions are, Captain Welsh. What do you mean
to do with us?'
'Mean to take you the voyage out and the voyage home, Providence
willing,' said the captain, and he rose.
We declined his offer of tea, though I fancy we could have gnawed at a
'There's no compulsion in that matter,' he said. 'You share my cabin
while you're my guests, shipmates, and apprentices in the path of living;
my cabin and my substance, the same as if you were what the North-
countrymen call bairns o' mine: I've none o' my own. My wife was a
barren woman. I've none but my old mother at home. Have your sulks out,
lads; you'll come round like the Priscilla on a tack, and discover you've
made way by it.'
We quitted his cabin, bowing stiffly.
Temple declared old Rippenger was better than this canting rascal.
The sea was around us, a distant yellow twinkle telling of land.
'His wife a barren woman! what's that to us!' Temple went on, exploding
at intervals. 'So was Sarah. His cabin and his substance! He talks
more like a preacher than a sailor. I should like to see him in a storm!
He's no sailor at all. His men hate him. It wouldn't be difficult to
get up a mutiny on board this ship. Richie, I understand the whole plot:
he's in want of cabin-boys. The fellow has impressed us. We shall have
to serve till we touch land. Thank God, there's a British consul
everywhere; I say that seriously. I love my country; may she always be
powerful! My life is always at her---- Did you feel that pitch of the
ship? Of all the names ever given to a vessel, I do think Priscilla is
without exception the most utterly detestable. Oh! there again. No,
it'll be too bad, Richie, if we 're beaten in this way.'
'If YOU are beaten,' said I, scarcely venturing to speak lest I should
cry or be sick.
We both felt that the vessel was conspiring to ruin our self-respect.
I set my head to think as hard as possible on Latin verses (my instinct
must have drawn me to them as to a species of intellectual biscuit
steeped in spirit, tough, and comforting, and fundamentally opposed to
existing circumstances, otherwise I cannot account for the attraction).
They helped me for a time; they kept off self-pity, and kept the
machinery of the mind at work. They lifted me, as it were, to an upper
floor removed from the treacherously sighing Priscilla. But I came down
quickly with a crash; no dexterous management of my mental resources
could save me from the hemp-like smell of the ship, nor would leaning
over the taffrail, nor lying curled under a tarpaulin. The sailors
heaped pilot-coats upon us. It was a bad ship, they said, to be sick on
board of, for no such thing as brandy was allowed in the old Priscilla.
Still I am sure I tasted some before I fell into a state of semi-
insensibility. As in a trance I heard Temple's moans, and the captain's
voice across the gusty wind, and the forlorn crunching of the ship down
great waves. The captain's figure was sometimes stooping over us, more
great-coats were piled on us; sometimes the wind whistled thinner than
one fancies the shrieks of creatures dead of starvation and restless,
that spend their souls in a shriek as long as they can hold it on, say
nursery-maids; the ship made a truce with the waters and grunted; we took
two or three playful blows, we were drenched with spray, uphill we
laboured, we caught the moon in a net of rigging, away we plunged; we
mounted to plunge again and again. I reproached the vessel in argument
for some imaginary inconsistency. Memory was like a heavy barrel on my
breast, rolling with the sea.
WE CONDUCT SEVERAL LEARNED ARGUMENTS WITH THE CAPTAIN OF THE PRISCILLA
Captain Welsh soon conquered us. The latest meal we had eaten was on the
frosty common under the fir-trees. After a tremendous fast, with sea-
sickness supervening, the eggs and bacon, and pleasant benevolent-
smelling tea on the captain's table were things not to be resisted by two
healthy boys who had previously stripped and faced buckets of maddening
ice-cold salt-water, dashed at us by a jolly sailor. An open mind for
new impressions came with the warmth of our clothes. We ate, bearing
within us the souls of injured innocents; nevertheless, we were thankful,
and, to the captain's grace, a long one, we bowed heads decently. It was
a glorious breakfast, for which land and sea had prepared us in about
equal degrees: I confess, my feelings when I jumped out of the cabin were
almost those of one born afresh to life and understanding. Temple and I
took counsel. We agreed that sulking would be ridiculous, unmanly,
ungentlemanly. The captain had us fast, as if we were under a lion's
paw; he was evidently a well-meaning man, a fanatic deluded concerning
our characters: the barque Priscilla was bound for a German port, and
should arrive there in a few days,--why not run the voyage merrily since
we were treated with kindness? Neither the squire nor Temple's father
could complain of our conduct; we were simply victims of an error that
was assisting us to a knowledge of the world, a youth's proper ambition.
'And we're not going to be starved,' said Temple.
I smiled, thinking I perceived the reason why I had failed in my oration
over-night; so I determined that on no future occasion would I let pride
stand in the way of provender. Breakfast had completely transformed us
We held it due to ourselves that we should demand explanations from
Joseph Double, the mate, and then, after hearing him, furnish them with a
cordial alacrity to which we might have attached unlimited credence had
he not protested against our dreaming him to have supplied hot rum-and-
water on board, we wrote our names and addresses in the captain's log-
book, and immediately asked permission to go to the mast-head.
He laughed. Out of his cabin there was no smack of the preacher in him.
His men said he was a stout seaman, mad on the subject of grog and girls.
Why, it was on account of grog and girls that he was giving us this dish
of salt-water to purify us! Grog and girls! cried we. We vowed upon
our honour as gentlemen we had tasted grog for the first time in our
lives on board the Priscilla. How about the girls? they asked. We
informed them we knew none but girls who were ladies. Thereupon one
sailor nodded, one sent up a crow, one said the misfortune of the case
lay in all girls being such precious fine ladies; and one spoke in
dreadfully blank language, he accused us of treating the Priscilla as a
tavern for the entertainment of bad company, stating that he had helped
to row me and my associates from the shore to the ship.
'Poor Mr. Double!' says he; 'there was only one way for him to jump you
two young gentlemen out o' that snapdragon bowl you was in--or quashmire,
call it; so he 'ticed you on board wi' the bait you was swallowing, which
was making the devil serve the Lord's turn. And I'll remember that
night, for I yielded to swearing, and drank too!' The other sailors
roared with laughter.
I tipped them, not to appear offended by their suspicions. We thought
them all hypocrites, and were as much in error as if we had thought them
Things went fairly well with the exception of the lessons in Scripture.
Our work was mere playing at sailoring, helping furl sails, haul ropes,
study charts, carry messages, and such like. Temple made his voice
shrewdly emphatic to explain to the captain that we liked the work, but
that such lessons as these out of Scripture were what the eeriest
youngsters were crammed with.
'Such lessons as these, maybe, don't have the meaning on land they get to
have on the high seas,' replied the captain: 'and those youngsters you
talk of were not called in to throw a light on passages: for I may teach
you ship's business aboard my barque, but we're all children inside the
He groaned heartily to hear that our learning lay in the direction of
Pagan Gods and Goddesses, and heathen historians and poets; adding, it
was not new to him, and perhaps that was why the world was as it was.
Nor did he wonder, he said, at our running from studies of those filthy
writings loose upon London; it was as natural as dunghill steam. Temple
pretended he was forced by the captain's undue severity to defend Venus;
he said, I thought rather wittily, 'Sailors ought to have a respect for
her, for she was born in the middle of the sea, and she steered straight
for land, so she must have had a pretty good idea of navigation.'
But the captain answered none the less keenly, 'She had her idea of
navigating, as the devil of mischief always has, in the direction where
there's most to corrupt; and, my lad, she teaches the navigation that
leads to the bottom beneath us.'
He might be right, still our mien was evil in reciting the lessons from
Scripture; and though Captain Welsh had intelligence we could not draw
into it the how and the why of the indignity we experienced. We had
rather he had been a savage captain, to have braced our spirits to sturdy
resistance, instead of a mild, good-humoured man of kind intentions, who
lent us his linen to wear, fed us at his table, and taxed our most
gentlemanly feelings to find excuses for him. Our way of revenging
ourselves becomingly was to laud the heroes of antiquity, as if they had
possession of our souls and touched the fountain of worship. Whenever
Captain Welsh exclaimed, 'Well done,' or the equivalent, 'That 's an
idea,' we referred him to Plutarch for our great exemplar. It was
Alcibiades gracefully consuming his black broth that won the captain's
thanks for theological acuteness, or the young Telemachus suiting his
temper to the dolphin's moods, since he must somehow get on shore on the
dolphin's back. Captain Welsh could not perceive in Temple the
personifier of Alcibiades, nor Telemachus in me; but he was aware of an
obstinate obstruction behind our compliance. This he called the devil
coiled like a snake in its winter sleep. He hurled texts at it openly,
or slyly dropped a particularly heavy one, in the hope of surprising it
with a death-blow. We beheld him poring over his Bible for texts that
should be sovereign medicines for us, deadly for the devil within us.
Consequently, we were on the defensive: bits of Cicero, bits of Seneca,
soundly and nobly moral, did service on behalf of Paganism; we remembered
them certainly almost as if an imp had brought them from afar. Nor had
we any desire to be in opposition to the cause he supported. What we
were opposed to was the dogmatic arrogance of a just but ignorant man,
who had his one specific for everything, and saw mortal sickness in all
other remedies or recreations. Temple said to him,
'If the Archbishop of Canterbury were to tell me Greek and Latin authors
are bad for me, I should listen to his remarks, because he 's a scholar:
he knows the languages and knows what they contain.'
Captain Welsh replied,
'If the Archbishop o' Canterbury sailed the sea, and lived in Foul Alley,
Waterside, when on shore, and so felt what it is to toss on top of the
waves o' perdition, he'd understand the value of a big, clean, well-
manned, well-provisioned ship, instead o' your galliots wi' gaudy sails,
your barges that can't rise to a sea, your yachts that run to port like
mother's pets at first pipe o' the storm, your trim-built wherries.'
'So you'd have only one sort of vessel afloat!' said I. 'There's the
difference of a man who's a scholar.'
'I'd have,' said the captain, 'every lad like you, my lad, trained in the
big ship, and he wouldn't capsize, and be found betrayed by his light
timbers as I found you. Serve your apprenticeship in the Lord's three-
decker; then to command what you may.'
'No, no, Captain Welsh,' says Temple: 'you must grind at Latin and Greek
when you 're a chick, or you won't ever master the rudiments. Upon my
honour, I declare it 's the truth, you must. If you'd like to try, and
are of a mind for a go at Greek, we'll do our best to help you through
the aorists. It looks harder than Latin, but after a start it 's easier.
Only, I'm afraid your three-decker's apprenticeship 'll stand in your
'Greek 's to be done for me; I can pay clever gentlemen for doing Greek
for me,' said the captain. 'The knowledge and the love of virtue I must
do for myself; and not to be wrecked, I must do it early.'
'Well, that's neither learning nor human nature,' said I.
'It's the knowledge o' the right rules for human nature, my lad.'
'Would you kidnap youngsters to serve in your ship, captain?'
'I'd bless the wind that blew them there, foul or not, my lad.'
'And there they'd stick when you had them, captain?'
'I'd think it was the Lord's will they should stick there awhile,
'And what of their parents?'
'Youngsters out like gossamers on a wind, their parents are where they
sow themselves, my lad.'
'I call that hard on the real parents, Captain Welsh,' said Temple.
'It's harder on Providence when parents breed that kind o' light
creature, my lad.'
We were all getting excited, talking our best, such as it was; the
captain leaning over his side of the table, clasping his hands
unintentionally preacher-like; we on our side supporting our chins on our
fists, quick to be at him. Temple was brilliant; he wanted to convert
the captain, and avowed it.
'For,' said he, 'you're not like one of those tract-fellows. You're a
man we can respect, a good seaman, master of your ship, and hearty, and
no mewing sanctimoniousness, and we can see and excuse your mistake as to
us two; but now, there's my father at home--he's a good man, but he 's a
man of the world, and reads his classics and his Bible. He's none the
worse for it, I assure you.'
'Where was his son the night of the fog?' said the captain.
'Well, he happened to be out in it.'
'Where'd he be now but for one o' my men?'
'Who can answer that, Captain Welsh?'
'I can, my lad-stewing in an ante-room of hell-gates, I verily believe.'
Temple sighed at the captain's infatuation, and said, 'I'll tell you of a
fellow at our school named Drew; he was old Rippenger's best theological
scholar--always got the prize for theology. Well, he was a confirmed
sneak. I've taken him into a corner and described the torments of dying
to him, and his look was disgusting--he broke out in a clammy sweat.
"Don't, don't!" he'd cry. "You're just the fellow to suffer intensely,"
I told him. And what was his idea of escaping it? Why, by learning the
whole of Deuteronomy and the Acts of the Apostles by heart! His idea of
Judgement Day was old Rippenger's half-yearly examination. These are
facts, you know, Captain Welsh.'
I testified to them briefly.
The captain said a curious thing: 'I'll make an appointment with you in
leviathan's jaws the night of a storm, my lad.'
'With pleasure,' said Temple.
'The Lord send it!' exclaimed the captain.
His head was bent forward, and he was gazing up into his eyebrows.
Before we knew that anything was coming, he was out on a narrative of a
scholar of one of the Universities. Our ears were indifferent to the
young man's career from the heights of fortune to delirium tremens down
the cataract of brandy, until the captain spoke of a dark night on the
Pool of the Thames; and here his voice struggled, and we tried hard to
catch the thread of the tale. Two men and a girl were in the boat. The
men fought, the girl shrieked, the boat was upset, the three were
All this came so suddenly that nothing but the captain's heavy thump of
his fist on the table kept us from laughing.
He was quite unable to relate the tale, and we had to gather it from his
exclamations. One of the men was mate of a vessel lying in the Pool,
having only cast anchor that evening; the girl was his sweetheart; the
other man had once been a fine young University gentleman, and had become
an outfitter's drunken agent. The brave sailor had nourished him often
when on shore, and he, with the fluent tongue which his college had
trimmed for him, had led the girl to sin during her lover's absence.
Howsoever, they put off together to welcome him on his arrival, never
suspecting that their secret had been whispered to Robert Welsh
beforehand. Howsoever, Robert gave them hearty greeting, and down to the
cabin they went, and there sat drinking up to midnight.
'Three lost souls!' said the captain.
'See how they run,' Temple sang, half audibly, and flushed hot, ashamed
''Twas I had to bear the news to his mother,' the captain pursued; 'and it
was a task, my lads, for I was then little more than your age, and the
glass was Robert's only fault, and he was my only brother.'
I offered my hand to the captain. He grasped it powerfully. 'That crew
in a boat, and wouldn't you know the devil'd be coxswain?' he called
loudly, and buried his face.
'No,' he said, looking up at us, 'I pray for no storm, but, by the Lord's
mercy, for a way to your hearts through fire or water. And now on deck,
my lads, while your beds are made up. Three blind things we verily are.'
Captain Welsh showed he was sharp of hearing. His allusion to the
humming of the tune of the mice gave Temple a fit of remorse, and he
'Ay,' said the captain, 'it is so; own it: frivolity's the fruit of that
training that's all for the flesh. But dip you into some o' my books on
my shelves here, and learn to see living man half skeleton, like life and
shadow, and never to living man need you pray forgiveness, my lad.'
By sheer force of character he gained the command of our respect. Though
we agreed on deck that he had bungled his story, it impressed us; we felt
less able to cope with him, and less willing to encounter a storm.
'We shall have one, of course,' Temple said, affecting resignation, with
a glance aloft.
I was superstitiously of the same opinion, and praised the vessel.
'Oh, Priscilla's the very name of a ship that founders with all hands and
sends a bottle on shore,' said Temple.
'There isn't a bottle on board,' said I; and this piece of nonsense
helped us to sleep off our gloom.
I MEET OLD FRIENDS
Notwithstanding the prognostications it pleased us to indulge, we had a
tolerably smooth voyage. On a clear cold Sunday morning we were sailing
between a foreign river's banks, and Temple and I were alternately
reading a chapter out of the Bible to the assembled ship's crew, in
advance of the captain's short exhortation. We had ceased to look at
ourselves inwardly, and we hardly thought it strange. But our hearts
beat for a view of the great merchant city, which was called a free city,
and therefore, Temple suggested, must bear certain portions of
resemblance to old England; so we made up our minds to like it.
'A wonderful place for beer cellars,' a sailor observed to us slyly, and
hitched himself up from the breech to the scalp.
At all events, it was a place where we could buy linen.
For that purpose, Captain Welsh handed us over to the care of his trusted
mate Mr. Joseph Double, and we were soon in the streets of the city,
desirous of purchasing half their contents. My supply of money was not
enough for what I deemed necessary purchases. Temple had split his
clothes, mine were tarred; we were appearing at a disadvantage, and we
intended to dine at a good hotel and subsequently go to a theatre. Yet I
had no wish to part with my watch. Mr. Double said it might be arranged.
It was pawned at a shop for a sum equivalent in our money to about twelve
pounds, and Temple obliged me by taking charge of the ticket. Thus we
were enabled to dress suitably and dine pleasantly, and, as Mr. Double
remarked, no one could rob me of my gold watch now. We visited a couple
of beer-cellars to taste the drink of the people, and discovered three of
our men engaged in a similar undertaking. I proposed that it should be
done at my expense. They praised their captain, but asked us, as
gentlemen and scholars, whether it was reasonable to object to liquor
because your brother was carried out on a high tide? Mr. Double
commended them to moderation. Their reply was to estimate an immoderate
amount of liquor as due to them, with profound composure.
'Those rascals,' Mr. Double informed us, 'are not in the captain's
confidence they're tidy seamen, though, and they submit to the captain's
laws on board and have their liberty ashore.'
We inquired what the difference was between their privileges and his.
'Why,' said he, 'if they're so much as accused of a disobedient act, off
they 're scurried, and lose fair wages and a kind captain. And let any
man Jack of 'em accuse me, and he bounds a india-rubber ball against a
wall and gets it; all he meant to give he gets. Once you fix the
confidence of your superior, you're waterproof.'
We held our peace, but we could have spoken.
Mr. Double had no moral hostility toward theatres. Supposing he did not
relish the performance, he could enjoy a spell in the open air, he said,
and this he speedily decided to do. Had we not been bound in honour to
remain for him to fetch us, we also should have retired from a
representation of which we understood only the word ja. It was tiresome
to be perpetually waiting for the return of this word. We felt somewhat
as dogs must feel when human speech is addressed to them. Accordingly,
we professed, without concealment, to despise the whole performance.
I reminded Temple of a saying of the Emperor Charles V. as to a knowledge
'Hem!' he went critically; 'it's all very well for a German to talk in
that way, but you can't be five times an Englishman if you're a
We heard English laughter near us. Presently an English gentleman
'Mr. Villiers, I believe?' He bowed at me.
'My name is Richmond.'
He bowed again, with excuses, talked of the Play, and telegraphed to a
lady sitting in a box fronting us. I saw that she wrote on a slip of
paper; she beckoned; the gentleman quitted us, and soon after placed a
twisted note in my hand. It ran:
'Miss Goodwin (whose Christian name is Clara) wishes very much to know
how it has fared with Mr. Harry Richmond since he left Venice.'
I pushed past a number of discontented knees, trying, on my way to her
box, to recollect her vividly, but I could barely recollect her at all,
until I had sat beside her five minutes. Colonel Goodwin was asleep in a
corner of the box. Awakened by the sound of his native tongue, he
recognized me immediately.
'On your way to your father?' he said, as he shook my hand.
I thought it amazing he should guess that in Germany.
'Do you know where he is, sir?' I asked.
'We saw him,' replied the colonel; 'when was it, Clara? A week or ten
'Yes,' said Miss Goodwin; 'we will talk of that by-and-by.' And she
overflowed with comments on my personal appearance, and plied me with
questions, but would answer none of mine.
I fetched Temple into the box to introduce him. We were introduced in
turn to Captain Malet, the gentleman who had accosted me below.
'You understand German, then?' said Miss Goodwin.
She stared at hearing that we knew only the word ja, for it made our
presence in Germany unaccountable.
'The most dangerous word of all,' said Colonel Goodwin, and begged us
always to repeat after it the negative nein for an antidote.
'You have both seen my father?' I whispered to Miss Goodwin; 'both? We
have been separated. Do tell me everything. Don't look at the stage-
they speak such nonsense. How did you remember me? How happy I am to
have met you! Oh! I haven't forgotten the gondolas and the striped
posts, and stali and the other word; but soon after we were separated,
and I haven't seen him since.'
She touched her father's arm.
'At once, if you like,' said he, jumping up erect.
'In Germany was it?' I persisted.
She nodded gravely and leaned softly on my arm while we marched out of
the theatre to her hotel--I in such a state of happiness underlying
bewilderment and strong expectation that I should have cried out loud had
not pride in my partner restrained me. At her tea-table I narrated the
whole of my adventure backwards to the time of our parting in Venice,
hurrying it over as quick as I could, with the breathless termination,
They had an incomprehensible reluctance to perform their part of the
implied compact. Miss Goodwin looked at Captain Malet. He took his
leave. Then she said, 'How glad I am you have dropped that odious name
of Roy! Papa and I have talked of you frequently--latterly very often.
I meant to write to you, Harry Richmond. I should have done it the
moment we returned to England.'
'You must know,' said the colonel, 'that I am an amateur inspector of
fortresses, and my poor Clara has to trudge the Continent with me to pick
up the latest inventions in artillery and other matters, for which I get
no thanks at head-quarters--but it 's one way of serving one's country
when the steel lies rusting. We are now for home by way of Paris. I
hope that you and your friend will give us your company. I will see this
Captain Welsh of yours before we start. Clara, you decided on dragging
me to the theatre to-night with your usual admirable instinct.'
I reminded Miss Goodwin of my father being in Germany.
'Yes, he is at one of the Courts, a long distance from here,' she said,
rapidly. 'And you came by accident in a merchant-ship! You are one of
those who are marked for extraordinary adventures. Confess: you would
have set eyes on me, and not known me. It's a miracle that I should meet
my little friend Harry--little no longer my friend all the same, are you
I hoped so ardently.
She with great urgency added, 'Then come with us. Prove that you put
faith in our friendship.'
In desperation I exclaimed, 'But I must, I must hear of my father.'
She turned to consult the colonel's face.
'Certainly,' he said, and eulogized a loving son. 'Clara will talk to
you. I'm for bed. What was the name of the play we saw this evening?
Oh! Struensee, to be sure. We missed the scaffold.'
He wished us good-night on an appointment of the hour for breakfast, and
ordered beds for us in the hotel.
Miss Goodwin commenced: 'But really I have nothing to tell you, or very
little. You know, Papa has introductions everywhere; we are like
Continental people, and speak a variety of languages, and I am almost a
foreigner, we are so much abroad; but I do think English boys should be
educated at home: I hope you'll go to an English college.'
Noticing my painful look, 'We saw him at the Court of the Prince of
Eppenwelzen,' she said, as if her brows ached. 'He is very kindly
treated there; he was there some weeks ago. The place lies out in the
Hanover direction, far from here. He told us that you were with your
grandfather, and I must see Riversley Grange, and the truth is you must
take me there. I suspect you have your peace to make; perhaps I shall
help you, and be a true Peribanou. We go over Amsterdam, the Hague,
Brussels, and you shall see the battlefield, Paris, straight to London.
Yes, you are fickle; you have not once called me Peribanou.'
Her voluble rattling succeeded in fencing off my questions before I could
exactly shape them, as I staggered from blind to blind idea, now thinking
of the sombre red Bench, and now of the German prince's Court.
'Won't you tell me any more to-night?' I said, when she paused.
'Indeed, I have not any more to tell,' she assured me.
It was clear to me that she had joined the mysterious league against my
father. I began to have a choking in the throat. I thanked her and
wished her good-night while I was still capable of smiling.
At my next interview with Colonel Goodwin he spoke promptly on the
subject of my wanderings. I was of an age, he said, to know my own
interests. No doubt filial affection was excellent in its way, but in
fact it was highly questionable whether my father was still at the Court
of this German prince; my father had stated that he meant to visit
England to obtain an interview with his son, and I might miss him by a
harum-scarum chase over Germany. And besides, was I not offending my
grandfather and my aunt, to whom I owed so much? He appealed to my
warmest feelings on their behalf. This was just the moment, he said,
when there was a turning-point in my fortunes. He could assure me most
earnestly that I should do no good by knocking at this prince's doors,
and have nothing but bitterness if I did in the end discover my father.
'Surely you understand the advantages of being bred a gentleman?' he
wound up. 'Under your grandfather's care you have a career before you,
a fine fortune in prospect, everything a young man can wish for. And I
must tell you candidly, you run great risk of missing all these things by
hunting your father to earth. Give yourself a little time: reflect on
'I have,' I cried. 'I have come out to find him, and I must.'
The colonel renewed his arguments and persuasions until he was worn out.
I thanked him continually for his kindness. Clara Goodwin besought me in
a surprising manner to accompany her to England, called herself
Peribanou, and with that name conjured up my father to my eyes in his
breathing form. She said, as her father had done, that I was called on
now to decide upon my future: she had a presentiment that evil would come
to me of my unchecked, headstrong will, which she dignified by terming it
a true but reckless affection: she believed she had been thrown in my
path to prove herself a serviceable friend, a Peribanou of twenty-six who
would not expect me to marry her when she had earned my gratitude.
They set Temple on me, and that was very funny. To hear him with his
'I say, Richie, come, perhaps it's as well to know where a thing should
stop; your father knows you're at Riversley, and he'll be after you when
convenient; and just fancy the squire!' was laughable. He had some
anxiety to be home again, or at least at Riversley. I offered him to
She reproached me and coaxed me; she was exceedingly sweet. 'Well,' she
said, in an odd, resigned fashion, 'rest a day with us; will you refuse
I consented; she knew not with what fretfulness. We went out to gaze at
the shops and edifices, and I bought two light bags for slinging over the
shoulder, two nightshirts, toothbrushes, and pocket-combs, and a large
map of Germany. By dint of vehement entreaties I led her to point to the
territory of the Prince of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld. 'His income is rather
less than that of your grandfather, friend Harry,' she remarked. I
doated on the spot until I could have dropped my finger on it blindfold.
Two or three pitched battles brought us to a friendly arrangement. The
colonel exacted my promise that if I saw my father at Sarkeld in
Eppenwelzen I would not stay with him longer than seven days: and that if
he was not there I would journey home forthwith. When I had yielded the
promise frankly on my honour, he introduced me to a banker of the city,
who agreed to furnish me money to carry me on to England in case I should
require it. A diligence engaged to deliver me within a few miles of
Sarkeld. I wrote a letter to my aunt Dorothy, telling her facts, and one
to the squire, beginning, 'We were caught on our arrival in London by the
thickest fog ever remembered,' as if it had been settled on my departure
from Riversley that Temple and I were bound for London. Miss Goodwin was
my post-bag. She said when we had dined, about two hours before the
starting of the diligence, 'Don't you think you ought to go and wish that
captain of the vessel you sailed in goodbye?' I fell into her plot so
far as to walk down to the quays on the river-side and reconnoitre the
ship. But there I saw my prison. I kissed my hand to Captain Welsh's
mainmast rather ironically, though not without regard for him. Miss
Goodwin lifted her eyelids at our reappearance. As she made no
confession of her treason I did not accuse her, and perhaps it was owing
to a movement of her conscience that at our parting she drew me to her
near enough for a kiss to come of itself.
Four-and-twenty German words of essential service to a traveller in
Germany constituted our knowledge of the language, and these were on
paper transcribed by Miss Goodwin's own hand. In the gloom of the
diligence, packed between Germans of a size that not even Tacitus had
prepared me for, smoked over from all sides, it was a fascinating study.
Temple and I exchanged the paper half-hourly while the light lasted.
When that had fled, nothing was left us to combat the sensation that we
were in the depths of a manure-bed, for the windows were closed, the
tobacco-smoke thickened, the hides of animals wrapping our immense
companions reeked; fire occasionally glowed in their pipe-bowls; they
were silent, and gave out smoke and heat incessantly, like inanimate
forces of nature. I had most fantastic ideas,--that I had taken root and
ripened, and must expect my head to drop off at any instant: that I was
deep down, wedged in the solid mass of the earth. But I need not repeat
them: they were accurately translated in imagination from my physical
miseries. The dim revival of light, when I had well-nigh ceased to hope
for it, showed us all like malefactors imperfectly hanged, or drowned
wretches in a cabin under water. I had one Colossus bulging over my
shoulder! Temple was blotted out. His face, emerging from beneath a
block of curly bearskin, was like that of one frozen in wonderment.
Outside there was a melting snow on the higher hills; the clouds over
them grew steel-blue. We were going through a valley in a fir-forest.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Attacked my conscience on the cowardly side
Days when you lay on your back and the sky rained apples
Dogmatic arrogance of a just but ignorant man
He put no question to anybody
I can pay clever gentlemen for doing Greek for me
Irony instead of eloquence
Simplicity is the keenest weapon
The most dangerous word of all--ja
There's ne'er a worse off but there's a better off
Vessel was conspiring to ruin our self-respect
THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY RICHMOND
By George Meredith
XV. WE ARE ACCOSTED BY A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE LADY IN THE FOREST
XVI. THE STATUE ON THE PROMONTORY
XVII. MY FATHER BREATHES, MOVES, AND SPEAKS
XVIII. WE PASS A DELIGHTFUL EVENING, AND I HAVE A MORNING VISION
XIX. OUR RETURN HOMEWARD
XX. NEWS OF A FRESH CONQUEST OF MY FATHER'S
XXI. A PROMENADE IN BATH
XXII. CONCLUSION OF THE BATH EPISODE
WE ARE ACCOSTED BY A BEAUTIFUL LITTLE LADY IN THE FOREST
Bowls of hot coffee and milk, with white rolls of bread to dip in them,
refreshed us at a forest inn. For some minutes after the meal Temple and
I talked like interchangeing puffs of steam, but soon subsided to our
staring fit. The pipes were lit again. What we heard sounded like a
language of the rocks and caves, and roots plucked up, a language of
gluttons feasting; the word ja was like a door always on the hinge in
every mouth. Dumpy children, bulky men, compressed old women with baked
faces, and comical squat dogs, kept the villages partly alive. We
observed one young urchin sitting on a stone opposite a dog, and he and
the dog took alternate bites off a platter-shaped cake, big enough to
require both his hands to hold it. Whether the dog ever snapped more
than his share was matter of speculation to us. It was an education for
him in good manners, and when we were sitting at dinner we wished our
companions had enjoyed it. They fed with their heads in their plates,
splashed and clattered jaws, without paying us any hospitable attention
whatever, so that we had the dish of Lazarus. They were perfectly kind,
notwithstanding, and allowed a portion of my great map of Germany to lie
spread over their knees in the diligence, whilst Temple and I pored along
the lines of the rivers. One would thrust his square-nailed finger to
the name of a city and pronounce it; one gave us lessons in the
expression of the vowels, with the softening of three of them, which
seemed like a regulation drill movement for taking an egg into the mouth,
and showing repentance of the act. 'Sarkeld,' we exclaimed mutually, and
they made a galloping motion of their hands, pointing beyond the hills.
Sarkeld was to the right, Sarkeld to the left, as the road wound on.
Sarkeld was straight in front of us when the conductor, according to
directions he had received, requested us to alight and push through this
endless fir-forest up a hilly branch road, and away his hand galloped
beyond it, coming to a deep place, and then to grapes, then to a tip-toe
station, and under it lay Sarkeld. The pantomime was not bad. We waved
our hand to the diligence, and set out cheerfully, with our bags at our
backs, entering a gorge in the fir-covered hills before sunset, after
starting the proposition--Does the sun himself look foreign in a foreign
'Yes, he does,' said Temple; and so I thought, but denied it, for by the
sun's favour I hoped to see my father that night, and hail Apollo
joyfully in the morning; a hope that grew with exercise of my limbs.
Beautiful cascades of dark bright water leaped down the gorge; we chased