Part 4 out of 12
an invisible animal. Suddenly one of us exclaimed, 'We 're in a German
forest'; and we remembered grim tales of these forests, their awful
castles, barons, knights, ladies, long-bearded dwarfs, gnomes and thin
people. I commenced a legend off-hand.
'No, no,' said Temple, as if curdling; 'let's call this place the mouth
of Hades. Greek things don't make you feel funny.'
I laughed louder than was necessary, and remarked that I never had cared
so much for Greek as on board Captain Welsh's vessel.
'It's because he was all on the opposite tack I went on quoting,' said
Temple. 'I used to read with my father in the holidays, and your Rev.
Simon has kept you up to the mark; so it was all fair. It 's not on our
consciences that we crammed the captain about our knowledge.'
'No. I'm glad of it,' said I.
Temple pursued, 'Whatever happens to a fellow, he can meet anything so
long as he can say--I 've behaved like a man of honour. And those German
tales--they only upset you. You don't see the reason of the thing. Why
is a man to be haunted half his life? Well, suppose he did commit a
murder. But if he didn't, can't he walk through an old castle without
meeting ghosts? or a forest?'
The dusky scenery of a strange land was influencing Temple. It affected
me so, I made the worst of it for a cure.
'Fancy those pines saying, "There go two more," Temple. Well; and fancy
this--a little earth-dwarf as broad as I'm long and high as my shoulder.
One day he met the loveliest girl in the whole country, and she promised
to marry him in twenty years' time, in return for a sack of jewels worth
all Germany and half England. You should have seen her dragging it home.
People thought it full of charcoal. She married the man she loved, and
the twenty years passed over, and at the stroke of the hour when she
first met the dwarf, thousands of bells began ringing through the forest,
and her husband cries out, "What is the meaning of it?" and they rode up
to a garland of fresh flowers that dropped on her head, and right into a
gold ring that closed on her finger, and--look, Temple, look!'
'Where?' asked the dear little fellow, looking in all earnest, from which
the gloom of the place may be imagined, for, by suddenly mixing it with
my absurd story, I discomposed his air of sovereign indifference as much
as one does the surface of a lake by casting a stone in it.
We rounded the rocky corner of the gorge at a slightly accelerated pace
in dead silence. It opened out to restorative daylight, and we breathed
better and chaffed one another, and, beholding a house with pendent gold
grapes, applauded the diligence conductor's expressive pantomime. The
opportunity was offered for a draught of wine, but we held water
preferable, so we toasted the Priscilla out of the palms of our hands in
draughts of water from a rill that had the sound of aspen-leaves, such as
I used to listen to in the Riversley meadows, pleasantly familiar.
Several commanding elevations were in sight, some wooded, some bare. We
chose the nearest, to observe the sunset, and concurred in thinking it
unlike English sunsets, though not so very unlike the sunset we had taken
for sunrise on board the Priscilla. A tumbled, dark and light green
country of swelling forest-land and slopes of meadow ran to the West, and
the West from flaming yellow burned down to smoky crimson across it.
Temple bade--me 'catch the disc--that was English enough.' A glance at
the sun's disc confirmed the truth of his observation. Gazing on the
outline of the orb, one might have fancied oneself in England. Yet the
moment it had sunk under the hill this feeling of ours vanished with it.
The coloured clouds drew me ages away from the recollection of home.
A tower on a distant hill, white among pines, led us to suppose that
Sarkeld must lie somewhere beneath it. We therefore descended straight
toward the tower, instead of returning to the road, and struck
confidently into a rugged path. Recent events had given me the assurance
that in my search for my father I was subject to a special governing
direction. I had aimed at the Bench--missed it--been shipped across sea
and precipitated into the arms of friends who had seen him and could tell
me I was on his actual track, only blindly, and no longer blindly now.
'Follow the path,' I said, when Temple wanted to have a consultation.
'So we did in the London fog!' said he, with some gloom.
But my retort: 'Hasn't it brought us here?' was a silencer.
Dark night came on. Every height stood for a ruin in our eyes, every dip
an abyss. It grew bewilderingly dark, but the path did not forsake us,
and we expected, at half-hour intervals, to perceive the lights of
Sarkeld, soon to be thundering at one of the inns for admission and
supper. I could hear Temple rehearsing his German vocabulary, 'Brod,
butter, wasser, fleisch, bett,' as we stumbled along. Then it fell to
'Brod, wasser, bett,' and then, 'Bett' by itself, his confession of
fatigue. Our path had frequently the nature of a waterway, and was very
fatiguing, more agreeable to mount than descend, for in mounting the
knees and shins bore the brunt of it, and these sufferers are not such
important servants of the footfarer as toes and ankles in danger of
tripping and being turned.
I was walking on leveller ground, my head bent and eyes half-shut, when a
flash of light in a brook at my feet caused me to look aloft. The tower
we had marked after sunset was close above us, shining in a light of
torches. We adopted the sensible explanation of this mysterious sight,
but were rather in the grip of the superstitious absurd one, until we
discerned a number of reddened men.
'Robbers!' exclaimed one of us. Our common thought was, 'No; robbers
would never meet on a height in that manner'; and we were emboldened to
mount and request their help.
Fronting the tower, which was of white marble, a high tent had been
pitched on a green platform semicircled by pines. Torches were stuck in
clefts of the trees, or in the fork of the branches, or held by boys and
men, and there were clearly men at work beneath the tent at a busy rate.
We could hear the paviour's breath escape from them. Outside the ring of
torchbearers and others was a long cart with a dozen horses harnessed to
it. All the men appeared occupied too much for chatter and laughter.
What could be underneath the tent? Seeing a boy occasionally lift one of
the flapping corners, we took licence from his example to appease our
curiosity. It was the statue of a bronze horse rearing spiritedly. The
workmen were engaged fixing its pedestal in the earth.
Our curiosity being satisfied, we held debate upon our immediate
prospects. The difficulty of making sure of a bed when you are once
detached from your home, was the philosophical reflection we arrived at,
for nothing practical presented itself. To arm ourselves we pulled out
Miss Goodwin's paper. 'Gasthof is the word!' cried Temple. ' Gasthof,
zimmer, bett; that means inn, hot supper, and bed. We'll ask.' We asked
several of the men. Those in motion shot a stare at us; the torchbearers
pointed at the tent and at an unseen height, muttering 'Morgen.'
Referring to Miss Goodwin's paper we discovered this to signify the
unintelligible word morning, which was no answer at all; but the men,
apparently deeming our conduct suspicious, gave us to understand by
rather menacing gestures that we were not wanted there, so we passed into
the dusk of the trees, angry at their incivility. Had it been Summer we
should have dropped and slept. The night air of a sharp season obliged
us to keep active, yet we were not willing to get far away from the
torches. But after a time they were hidden; then we saw one moving
ahead. The holder of it proved to be a workman of the gang, and between
us and him the strangest parley ensued. He repeated the word morgen, and
we insisted on zimmer and bett.
'He takes us for twin Caspar Hausers,' sighed Temple.
'Nein,' said the man, and, perhaps enlightened by hearing a foreign
tongue, beckoned for us to step at his heels.
His lodging was a woodman's hut. He offered us bread to eat, milk to
drink, and straw to lie on: we desired nothing more, and were happy,
though the bread was black, the milk sour, the straw mouldy.
Our breakfast was like a continuation of supper, but two little girls of
our host, whose heads were cased in tight-fitting dirty linen caps,
munched the black bread and drank the sour milk so thankfully, while
fixing solemn eyes of wonder upon us, that to assure them we were the
same sort of creature as themselves we pretended to relish the stuff.
Rather to our amazement we did relish it. 'Mutter!' I said to them.
They pointed to the room overhead. Temple laid his cheek on his hand.
One of the little girls laid hers on the table. I said 'Doctor?' They
nodded and answered 'Princess,' which seemed perfectly good English, and
sent our conjectures as to the state of their mother's health astray. I
shut a silver English coin in one of their fat little hands.
We now, with the name Sarkeld, craved of their father a direction to that
place. At the door of his but he waved his hand carelessly South for
Sarkeld, and vigorously West where the tower stood, then swept both hands
up to the tower, bellowed a fire of cannon, waved his hat, and stamped
and cheered. Temple, glancing the way of the tower, performed on a
trumpet of his joined fists to show we understood that prodigious
attractions were presented by the tower; we said ja and ja, and
nevertheless turned into the Sarkeld path.
Some minutes later the sound of hoofs led us to imagine he had despatched
a messenger after us. A little lady on a pony, attended by a tawny-faced
great square-shouldered groom on a tall horse, rode past, drew up on one
side, and awaited our coming. She was dressed in a grey riding-habit and
a warm winter-jacket of gleaming grey fur, a soft white boa loose round
her neck, crossed at her waist, white gauntlets, and a pretty black felt
hat with flowing rim and plume. There she passed as under review. It
was a curious scene: the iron-faced great-sized groom on his bony black
charger dead still: his mistress, a girl of about eleven or twelve or
thirteen, with an arm bowed at her side, whip and reins in one hand, and
slips of golden brown hair straying on her flushed cheek; rocks and
trees, high silver firs rising behind her, and a slender water that fell
from the rocks running at her pony's feet. Half-a-dozen yards were
between the charger's head and the pony's flanks. She waited for us to
march by, without attempting to conceal that we were the objects of her
inspection, and we in good easy swing of the feet gave her a look as we
lifted our hats. That look was to me like a net thrown into moonlighted
water: it brought nothing back but broken lights of a miraculous beauty.
Burning to catch an excuse for another look over my shoulder, I heard her
'Young English gentlemen!'
We turned sharp round.
It was she without a doubt who had addressed us: she spurred her pony to
meet us, stopped him, and said with the sweetest painful attempt at
accuracy in pronouncing a foreign tongue:
'I sthink you go a wrong way?'
Our hats flew off again, and bareheaded, I seized the reply before Temple
'Is not this, may I ask you, the way to Sarkeld?'
She gathered up her knowledge of English deliberately.
'Yes, one goes to Sarkeld by sthis way here, but to-day goes everybody up
to our Bella Vista, and I entreat you do not miss it, for it is some-s-
thing to write to your home of.'
'Up at the tower, then? Oh, we were there last night, and saw the bronze
'Yes, I know. I called on my poor sick woman in a but where you fell
asleep, sirs. Her little ones are my lambs; she has been of our
household; she is good; and they said, two young, strange, small
gentlemen have gone for Sarkeld; and I supposed, sthey cannot know all go
to our Bella Vista to-day.'
'You knew at once we were English, mademoiselle?'
'Yes, I could read it off your backs, and truly too your English eyes are
quite open at a glance. It is of you both I speak. If I but make my
words plain! My "th" I cannot always. And to understand, your English
is indeed heavy speech! not so in books. I have my English governess.
We read English tales, English poetry--and sthat is your excellence. And
so, will you not come, sirs, up when a way is to be shown to you? It is
Temple thanked her for the kindness of the offer.
I was hesitating, half conscious of surprise that I should ever be
hesitating in doubt of taking the direction toward my father. Hearing
Temple's boldness I thanked her also, and accepted. Then she said,
'I beg you will cover your heads.'
We passed the huge groom bolt upright on his towering horse; he raised
two fingers to the level of his eyebrows in the form of a salute.
Temple murmured: 'I shouldn't mind entering the German Army,' just as
after our interview with Captain Bulsted he had wished to enter the
This was no more than a sign that he was highly pleased. For my part
delight fluttered the words in my mouth, so that I had to repeat half I
uttered to the attentive ears of our gracious new friend and guide:
'Ah,' she said, 'one does sthink one knows almost all before experiment.
I am ashamed, yet I will talk, for is it not so? experiment is a school.
And you, if you please, will speak slow. For I say of you English
gentlemen, silk you spin from your lips; it is not as a language of an
alphabet; it is pleasant to hear when one would lull, but Italian can do
that, and do it more--am I right? soft?
'Bella Vista, lovely view,' said I.
'Lovely view,' she repeated.
She ran on in the most musical tongue, to my thinking, ever heard:
'And see my little pensioners' poor cottage, who are out up to Lovely
View. Miles round go the people to it. Good, and I will tell you
strangers: sthe Prince von Eppenwelzen had his great ancestor, and his
sister Markgrafin von Rippau said, "Erect a statue of him, for he was a
great warrior." He could not, or he would not, we know not. So she
said, "I will," she said, "I will do it in seven days." She does
constantly amuse him, everybody at de Court. Immense excitement! For
suppose it!--a statue of a warrior on horseback, in perfect likeness,
chapeau tricorne, perruque, all of bronze, and his marshal's baton. Eh
bien, well, a bronze horse is come at a gallop from Berlin; sthat we
know. By fortune a most exalted sculptor in Berlin has him ready,--and
many horses pulled him to here, to Lovely View, by post-haste; sthat we
know. But we are in extremity of puzzlement. For where is the statue to
ride him? where--am I plain to you, sirs?--is sthe Marshal Furst von
Eppenwelzen, our great ancestor? Yet the Markgrafin says, "It is right,
wait!" She nods, she smiles. Our Court is all at de lake-palace odder
side sthe tower, and it is bets of gems, of feathers, of lace, not to be
numbered! The Markgrafin says--sthere to-day you see him, Albrecht
Wohlgemuth Furst von Eppenwelzen! But no sculptor can have cast him in
bronze--not copied him and cast him in a time of seven days! And we say
sthis:--Has she given a secret order to a sculptor--you understand me,
sirs, commission--where, how, has he sthe likeness copied? Or did he
come to our speisesaal of our lake-palace disguised? Oh! but to see, to
copy, to model, to cast in bronze, to travel betwixt Berlin and Sarkeld
in a time of seven days? No! so-oh! we guess, we guess, we are in
exhaustion. And to-day is like an eagle we have sent an arrow to shoot
and know not if he will come down. For shall we see our ancestor on
horseback? It will be a not-scribable joy! Or not? So we guess, we are
worried. At near eleven o'clock a cannon fires, sthe tent is lifted, and
we see; but I am impatient wid my breaths for de gun to go.'
I said it would be a fine sight.
'For strangers, yes; you should be of de palace to know what a fine
sight! sthe finest! And you are for Sarkeld? You have friends in
'My father is in Sarkeld, mademoiselle. I am told he is at the palace.'
'Indeed; and he is English, your fater?'
'Yes. I have not seen him for years; I have come to find him.'
'Indeed; it is for love of him, your fater, sir, you come, and not speak
I signified that it was so.
'She stroked her pony's neck musing.
'Because, of love is not much in de family in England, it is said,' she
remarked very shyly, and in recovering her self-possession asked the name
of my father.
'His name, mademoiselle, is Mr. Richmond.'
'Mr. Richmond Roy.'
She sprang in her saddle.
'You are son to Mr. Richmond Roy? Oh! it is wonderful.'
'Mademoiselle, then you have seen him lately?'
'Yes, yes! I have seen him. I have heard of his beautiful child, his
son; and you it is?'
She studied my countenance a moment.
'Tell me, is he well?' mademoiselle, is he quite well?'
'Oh, yes,' she answered, and broke into smiles of merriment, and then
seemed to bite her underlip. 'He is our fun-maker. He must always be
well. I owe to him some of my English. You are his son? you were for
Sarkeld? You will see him up at our Bella Vista. Quick, let us run.'
She put her pony to a canter up the brown path between the fir-trees,
crying that she should take our breath; but we were tight runners, and I,
though my heart beat wildly, was full of fire to reach the tower on the
height; so when she slackened her pace, finding us close on her pony's
hoofs, she laughed and called us brave boys. Temple's being no more than
my friend, who had made the expedition with me out of friendship,
surprised her. Not that she would not have expected it to be done by
Germans; further she was unable to explain her astonishment.
At a turning of the ascent she pointed her whip at the dark knots and
lines of the multitude mounting by various paths to behold the ceremony
of unveiling the monument.
I besought her to waste no time.
'You must, if you please, attend my pleasure, if I guide you,' she said,
tossing her chin.
'I thank you, I can't tell you how much, mademoiselle,' said I.
She answered: 'You were kind to my two pet lambs, sir.'
So we moved forward.
THE STATUE ON THE PROMONTORY
The little lady was soon bowing to respectful salutations from crowds of
rustics and others on a broad carriage-way circling level with the
height. I could not help thinking how doubly foreign I was to all the
world here--I who was about to set eyes on my lost living father, while
these people were tip-toe to gaze on a statue. But as my father might
also be taking an interest in the statue, I got myself round to a
moderate sentiment of curiosity and a partial share of the general
excitement. Temple and mademoiselle did most of the conversation, which
related to glimpses of scenery, pine, oak, beech-wood, and lake-water,
until we gained the plateau where the tower stood, when the giant groom
trotted to the front, and worked a clear way for us through a mass of
travelling sight-seers, and she leaned to me, talking quite inaudibly
amid the laughter and chatting. A band of wind instruments burst out.
'This is glorious!' I conceived Temple to cry like an open-mouthed mute.
I found it inspiriting.
The rush of pride and pleasure produced by the music was irresistible.
We marched past the tower, all of us, I am sure, with splendid feelings.
A stone's throw beyond it was the lofty tent; over it drooped a flag, and
flags were on poles round a wide ring of rope guarded by foresters and
gendarmes, mounted and afoot. The band, dressed in green, with black
plumes to their hats, played in the middle of the ring. Outside were
carriages, and ladies and gentlemen on horseback, full of animation;
rustics, foresters, town and village people, men, women, and children,
pressed against the ropes. It was a day of rays of sunshine, now from
off one edge, now from another of large slow clouds, so that at times we
and the tower were in a blaze; next the lake-palace was illuminated, or
the long grey lake and the woods of pine and of bare brown twigs making
bays in it.
Several hands beckoned on our coming in sight of the carriages. 'There
he is, then!' I thought; and it was like swallowing my heart in one solid
lump. Mademoiselle had free space to trot ahead of us. We saw a tall-
sitting lady, attired in sables, raise a finger to her, and nip her chin.
Away the little lady flew to a second carriage, and on again, as one may
when alive with an inquiry. I observed to Temple, 'I wonder whether she
says in her German, "It is my question"; do you remember?' There was no
weight whatever in what I said or thought.
She rode back, exclaiming, 'Nowhere. He is nowhere, and nobody knows.
He will arrive. But he is not yet. Now,' she bent coaxingly down to me,
'can you not a few words of German? Only a smallest sum! It is the
Markgrafin, my good aunt, would speak wid you, and she can no English-
only she is eager to behold you, and come! You will know, for my sake,
some scrap of German--ja? You will--nicht wahr? Or French? Make your
glom-pudding of it, will you?'
I made a shocking plum-pudding of it. Temple was no happier.
The margravine, a fine vigorous lady with a lively mouth and livelier
eyes of a restless grey that rarely dwelt on you when she spoke, and
constantly started off on a new idea, did me the honour to examine me,
much as if I had offered myself for service in her corps of grenadiers,
and might do in time, but was decreed to be temporarily wanting in manly
She smiled a form of excuse of my bungling half-English horrid French,
talked over me and at me, forgot me, and recollected me, all within
a minute, and fished poor Temple for intelligible replies to
incomprehensible language in the same manner, then threw her head
back to gather the pair of us in her sight, then eyed me alone.
'C'est peut-etre le fils de son petit papa, et c'est tout dire.'
Such was her summary comment.
But not satisfied with that, she leaned out of the carriage, and, making
an extraordinary grimace appear the mother in labour of the difficult
words, said, 'Doos yo' laff?'
There was no helping it: I laughed like a madman, giving one outburst and
a dead stop.
Far from looking displeased, she nodded. I was again put to the dreadful
'Can yo' mak' laff?'
It spurred my wits. I had no speech to 'mak' laff' with. At the very
instant of my dilemma I chanced to see a soberly-clad old townsman
hustled between two helpless women of the crowd, his pipe in his mouth,
and his hat, wig, and handkerchief sliding over his face, showing his
bald crown, and he not daring to cry out, for fear his pipe should be
trodden under foot.
'He can, your Highness.'
Her quick eyes caught the absurd scene. She turned to one of her ladies
and touched her forehead. Her hand was reached out to me; Temple she
patted on the shoulder.
'He can--ja: du auch.'
A grand gentleman rode up. They whispered, gazed at the tent, and
appeared to speak vehemently. All the men's faces were foreign: none of
them had the slightest resemblance to my father's. I fancied I might
detect him disguised. I stared vainly. Temple, to judge by the
expression of his features, was thinking. Yes, thought I, we might as
well be at home at old Riversley, that distant spot! We 're as out of
place here as frogs in the desert!
Riding to and fro, and chattering, and commotion, of which the margravine
was the centre, went on, and the band played beautiful waltzes. The
workmen in and out of the tent were full of their business, like seamen
under a storm.
'Fraulein Sibley,' the margravine called.
I hoped it might be an English name. So it proved to be; and the delight
of hearing English spoken, and, what was more, having English ears to
speak to, was blissful as the leap to daylight out of a nightmare.
'I have the honour to be your countrywoman,' said a lady, English all
over to our struggling senses.
We became immediately attached to her as a pair of shipwrecked boats
lacking provender of every sort are taken in tow by a well-stored vessel.
She knew my father, knew him intimately. I related all I had to tell,
and we learnt that we had made acquaintance with her pupil, the Princess
Ottilia Wilhelmina Frederika Hedwig, only child of the Prince of
'Your father will certainly be here; he is generally the margravine's
right hand, and it's wonderful the margravine can do without him so
long,' said Miss Sibley, and conversed with the margravine; after which
she informed me that she had been graciously directed to assure me my
father would be on the field when the cannon sounded.
'Perhaps you know nothing of Court life?' she resumed. 'We have very
curious performances in Sarkeld, and we owe it to the margravine that we
are frequently enlivened. You see the tall gentleman who is riding away
from her. I mean the one with the black hussar jacket and thick brown
moustache. That is the prince. Do you not think him handsome? He is
very kind--rather capricious; but that is a way with princes. Indeed, I
have no reason to complain. He has lost his wife, the Princess
Frederika, and depends upon his sister the margravine for amusement. He
has had it since she discovered your papa.'
'Is the gun never going off?' I groaned.
'If they would only conduct their ceremonies without their guns!'
exclaimed Miss Sibley. 'The origin of the present ceremony is this: the
margravine wished to have a statue erected to an ancestor, a renowned
soldier--and I would infinitely prefer talking of England. But never
mind. Oh, you won't understand what you gaze at. Well, the prince did
not care to expend the money. Instead of urging that as the ground of
his refusal, he declared there were no sculptors to do justice to Prince
Albrecht Wohlgemuth, and one could not rely on their effecting a
likeness. We have him in the dining-hall; he was strikingly handsome.
Afterward he pretended--I'm speaking now of the existing Prince Ernest--
that it would be ages before the statue was completed. One day the
margravine induced him to agree to pay the sum stipulated for by the
sculptor, on condition of the statue being completed for public
inspection within eight days of the hour of their agreement. The whole
Court was witness to it. They arranged for the statue, horse and man, to
be exhibited for a quarter of an hour. Of course, the margravine did not
signify it would be a perfectly finished work. We are kept at a great
distance, that we may not scrutinize it too closely. They unveil it to
show she has been as good as her word, and then cover it up to fix the
rider to the horse,--a screw is employed, I imagine. For one thing we
know about it, we know that the horse and the horseman travelled hither
separately. In all probability, the margravine gave the order for the
statue last autumn in Berlin. Now look at the prince. He has his eye on
you. Look down. Now he has forgotten you. He is impatient to behold
the statue. Our chief fear is that the statue will not maintain its
balance. Fortunately, we have plenty of guards to keep the people from
pushing against it. If all turns out well, I shall really say the
margravine has done wonders. She does not look anxious; but then she is
not one ever to show it. The prince does. Every other minute he is
glancing at the tent and at his watch. Can you guess my idea? Your
father's absence leads me to think-oh! only a passing glimmer of an idea
--the statue has not arrived, and he is bringing it on. Otherwise, he
would be sure to be here. The margravine beckons me.'
'Don't go!' we cried simultaneously.
The Princess Ottilia supplied her place.
'I have sent to our stables for two little pretty Hungarian horses for
you two to ride,' she said. 'No, I have not yet seen him. He is asked
for, and de Markgrafin knows not at all. He bades in our lake; he has
been seen since. The man is exciteable; but he is so sensible. Oh, no.
And he is full of laughter. We shall soon see him. Would he not ever be
cautious of himself for a son like you?'
Her compliment raised a blush on me.
The patience of the people was creditable to their phlegm. The smoke of
pipes curling over the numberless heads was the most stirring thing about
Temple observed to me,
'We'll give the old statue a British cheer, won't we, Richie?'
'After coming all the way from England!' said I, in dejection.
'No, no, Richie; you're sure of him now. He 's somewhere directing
affairs, I suspect. I say, do let us show them we can ring out the right
tune upon occasion. By jingo! there goes a fellow with a match.'
We saw the cannonier march up to the margravine's carriage for orders.
She summoned the prince to her side. Ladies in a dozen carriages were
standing up, handkerchief in hand, and the gentlemen got their horses'
heads on a line. Temple counted nearly sixty persons of quality
stationed there. The workmen were trooping out of the tent.
Miss Sibley ran to us, saying,--
'The gun-horror has been commanded. Now then: the prince can scarcely
contain himself. The gunner is ready near his gun; he has his frightful
match lifted. See, the manager-superintendent is receiving the
margravine's last injunctions. How firm women's nerves are! Now the
margravine insists on the prince's reading the exact time by her watch.
Everybody is doing it. Let us see. By my watch it is all but fifteen
minutes to eleven, A.M. Dearest,' she addressed the little princess;
'would you not like to hold my hand until the gun is fired?'
'Dearest,' replied the princess, whether in childish earnest or irony I
could not divine, 'if I would hold a hand it would be a gentleman's.'
All eyes were on the Prince of Eppenwelzen, as he gazed toward the
covered statue. With imposing deliberation his hand rose to his hat. We
saw the hat raised. The cannon was fired and roared; the band struck up
a pompous slow march: and the tent-veil broke apart and rolled off. It
was like the dawn flying and sunrise mounting.
I confess I forgot all thought of my father for awhile; the shouts of the
people, the braying of the brass instruments, the ladies cheering
sweetly, the gentlemen giving short, hearty expressions of applause,
intoxicated me. And the statue was superb-horse and rider in new bronze
polished by sunlight.
'It is life-like! it is really noble! it is a true Prince!' exclaimed
Miss Sibley. She translated several exclamations of the ladies and
gentlemen in German: they were entirely to the same effect. The horse
gave us a gleam of his neck as he pawed a forefoot, just reined in. We
knew him; he was a gallant horse; but it was the figure of the Prince
Albrecht that was so fine. I had always laughed at sculptured figures on
horseback. This one overawed me. The Marshal was acknowledging the
salute of his army after a famous victory over the infidel Turks. He sat
upright, almost imperceptibly but effectively bending his head in harmony
with the curve of his horse's neck, and his baton swept the air low in
proud submission to the honours cast on him by his acclaiming soldiery.
His three-cornered lace hat, curled wig, heavy-trimmed surcoat, and high
boots, reminded me of Prince Eugene. No Prince Eugene--nay, nor
Marlborough, had such a martial figure, such an animated high old
warrior's visage. The bronze features reeked of battle.
Temple and I felt humiliated (without cause, I granted) at the success of
a work of Art that struck us as a new military triumph of these Germans,
and it was impossible not to admire it. The little Princess Ottilia
clapped hands by fits. What words she addressed to me I know not. I
dealt out my stock of German--'Ja, ja--to her English. We were drawn by
her to congratulate the margravine, whose hand was then being kissed by
the prince: he did it most courteously and affectionately. Other
gentlemen, counts and barons, bowed over her hand. Ladies, according to
their rank and privileges, saluted her on the cheek or in some graceful
fashion. When our turn arrived, Miss Sibley translated for us, and as we
were at concert pitch we did not acquit ourselves badly. Temple's remark
was, that he wished she and all her family had been English. Nothing was
left for me to say but that the margravine almost made us wish we had
Smiling cordially, the margravine spoke, Miss Sibley translated:
'Her Royal Highness asks you if you have seen your father?'
I shook my head.
The Princess Ottilia translated, 'Her Highness, my good aunt, would know,
would you know him, did you see him?'
'Yes, anywhere,' I cried.
The margravine pushed me back with a gesture.
'Yes, your Highness, on my honour; anywhere on earth!'
She declined to hear the translation.
Her insulting disbelief in my ability to recognize the father I had come
so far to embrace would have vexed me but for the wretched thought that I
was losing him again. We threaded the carriages; gazed at the horsemen
in a way to pierce the hair on their faces. The little princess came on
'Here, see, are the horses. I will you to mount. Are they not pretty
animals?' She whispered, 'I believe your fater have been hurt in his mind
by something. It is only perhaps. Now mount, for de Markgrafin says you
are our good guests.'
We mounted simply to show that we could mount, for we would rather have
been on foot, and drew up close to the right of the margravine's
'Hush! a poet is reading his ode,' said the princess. 'It is Count
Fretzel von Wolfenstein.'
This ode was dreadful to us, and all the Court people pretended they
liked it. When he waved his right hand toward the statue there was a
shout from the rustic set; when he bowed to the margravine, the ladies
and gentlemen murmured agreeably and smiled. We were convinced of its
being downright hypocrisy, rustic stupidity, Court flattery. We would
have argued our case, too. I proposed a gallop; Temple said,
'No, we'll give the old statue our cheer as soon as this awful fellow has
done. I don't care much for poetry, but don't let me ever have to stand
and hear German poetry again for the remainder of my life.'
We could not imagine why they should have poetry read out to them instead
of their fine band playing, but supposed it was for the satisfaction of
the margravine, with whom I grew particularly annoyed on hearing Miss
Sibley say she conceived her Highness to mean that my father was actually
on the ground, and that we neither of us, father and son, knew one
another. I swore on my honour, on my life, he was not present; and the
melancholy in my heart taking the form of extreme irritation, I spoke
passionately. I rose in my stirrups, ready to shout, 'Father! here's
Harry Richmond come to see you. Where are you!' I did utter something--
a syllable or two: 'Make haste!' I think the words were. They sprang
from my inmost bosom, addressed without forethought to that drawling
mouthing poet. The margravine's face met mine like a challenge. She had
her lips tight in a mere lip-smile, and her eyes gleamed with
'Her Highness,' Miss Sibley translated, 'asks whether you are prepared to
bet that your father is not on the ground?'
'Beg her to wait two minutes, and I'll be prepared to bet any sum,'
Temple took one half the circle, I the other, riding through the
attentive horsemen and carriage-lines, and making sure the face we sought
was absent, more or less discomposing everybody. The poet finished his
ode; he was cheered, of course. Mightily relieved, I beheld the band
resuming their instruments, for the cheering resembled a senseless
beating on brass shields. I felt that we English could do it better.
Temple from across the sector of the circle, running about two feet in
front of the statue, called aloud,
'Richie! he's not here!'
'Not here!' cried I.
The people gazed up at us, wondering at the tongue we talked.
'Richie! now let 's lead these fellows off with a tiptop cheer!'
Little Temple crowed lustily.
The head of the statue turned from Temple to me.
I found the people falling back with amazed exclamations. I--so
prepossessed was I--simply stared at the sudden-flashing white of the
statue's eyes. The eyes, from being an instant ago dull carved balls,
were animated. They were fixed on me. I was unable to give out a
breath. Its chest heaved; both bronze hands struck against the bosom.
'Richmond! my son! Richie! Harry Richmond! Richmond Roy!'
That was what the statue gave forth.
My head was like a ringing pan. I knew it was my father, but my father
with death and strangeness, earth, metal, about him; and his voice was
like a human cry contending with earth and metal-mine was stifled. I saw
him descend. I dismounted. We met at the ropes and embraced. All his
figure was stiff, smooth, cold. My arms slid on him. Each time he spoke
I thought it an unnatural thing: I myself had not spoken once.
After glancing by hazard at the empty saddle of the bronze horse, I
called to mind more clearly the appalling circumstance which had
stupefied the whole crowd. They had heard a statue speak--had seen a
figure of bronze walk. For them it was the ancestor of their prince; it
was the famous dead old warrior of a hundred and seventy years ago set
thus in motion. Imagine the behaviour of people round a slain tiger that
does not compel them to fly, and may yet stretch out a dreadful paw!
Much so they pressed for a nearer sight of its walnut visage, and shrank
in the act. Perhaps I shared some of their sensations. I cannot tell:
my sensations were tranced. There was no warmth to revive me in the
gauntlet I clasped. I looked up at the sky, thinking that it had fallen
MY FATHER BREATHES, MOVES, AND SPEAKS
The people broke away from us like furrowed water as we advanced on each
side of the ropes toward the margravine's carriage.
I became a perfectly mechanical creature: incapable, of observing, just
capable of taking an impression here and there; and in such cases the
impressions that come are stamped on hot wax; they keep the scene fresh;
they partly pervert it as well. Temple's version is, I am sure, the
truer historical picture. He, however, could never repeat it twice
exactly alike, whereas I failed not to render image for image in clear
succession as they had struck me at the time. I could perceive that the
figure of the Prince Albrecht, in its stiff condition, was debarred from
vaulting, or striding, or stooping, so that the ropes were a barrier
between us. I saw the little Princess Ottilia eyeing us with an absorbed
comprehensive air quite unlike the manner of a child. Dots of heads,
curious faces, peering and starting eyes, met my vision. I heard sharp
talk in German, and a rider flung his arm, as if he wished to crash the
universe, and flew off. The margravine seemed to me more an implacable
parrot than a noble lady. I thought to myself: This is my father, and I
am not overjoyed or grateful. In the same way, I felt that the daylight
was bronze, and I did not wonder at it: nay, I reasoned on the
probability of a composition of sun and mould producing that colour.
The truth was, the powers of my heart and will were frozen; I thought
and felt at random. And I crave excuses for dwelling on such trifling
phenomena of the sensations, which have been useful to me by helping me
to realize the scene, even as at the time they obscured it.
According to Temple's description, when the statue moved its head toward
him, a shudder went through the crowd, and a number of forefingers were
levelled at it, and the head moved toward me, marked of them all. Its
voice was answered by a dull puling scream from women, and the men gaped.
When it descended from the saddle, the act was not performed with one
bound, as I fancied, but difficultly; and it walked up to me like a
figure dragging logs at its heels. Half-a-dozen workmen ran to arrest
it; some townswomen fainted. There was a heavy altercation in German
between the statue and the superintendent of the arrangements. The sun
shone brilliantly on our march to the line of carriages where the Prince
of Eppenwelzen was talking to the margravine in a fury, and he dashed
away on his horse, after bellowing certain directions to his foresters
and the workmen, by whom we were surrounded; while the margravine talked
loudly and amiably, as though everything had gone well. Her watch was
out. She acknowledged my father's bow, and overlooked him. She seemed
to have made her courtiers smile. The ladies and gentlemen obeyed the
wave of her hand by quitting the ground; the band headed a long line of
the commoner sort, and a body of foresters gathered the remnants and
joined them to the rear of the procession. A liveried groom led away
Temple's horse and mine. Temple declared he could not sit after seeing
the statue descend from its pedestal.
Her Highness's behaviour roughened as soon as the place was clear of
company. She spoke at my father impetuously, with manifest scorn and
reproach, struck her silver-mounted stick on the carriage panels, again
and again stamped her foot, lifting a most variable emphatic countenance.
Princess Ottilia tried to intercede. The margravine clenched her hands,
and, to one not understanding her speech, appeared literally to blow the
little lady off with the breath of her mouth. Her whole bearing
consisted of volleys of abuse, closed by magisterial interrogations.
Temple compared her Highness's language to the running out of Captain
Welsh's chaincable, and my father's replies to the hauling in: his
sentences were short, they sounded like manful protestations; I barely
noticed them. Temple's version of it went: 'And there was your father
apologizing, and the margravine rating him,' etc. My father, as it
happened, was careful not to open his lips wide on account of the
plaster, or thick coating of paint on his face. No one would have
supposed that he was burning with indignation; the fact being, that to
give vent to it, he would have had to exercise his muscular strength; he
was plastered and painted from head to foot. The fixture of his wig and
hat, too, constrained his skin, so that his looks were no index of his
feelings. I longed gloomily for the moment to come when he would present
himself to me in his natural form. He was not sensible of the touch of
my hand, nor I of his. There we had to stand until the voluble portion
of the margravine's anger came to an end. She shut her eyes and bowed
curtly to our salute.
'You have seen the last of me, madam,' my father said to her whirling
He tried to shake, and strained in his ponderous garments. Temple gazed
abashed. I knew not how to act. My father kept lifting his knees on the
spot as if practising a walk.
The tent was in its old place covering the bronze horse. A workman
stepped ahead of us, and we all went at a strange leisurely pace down the
hill through tall pinetrees to where a closed vehicle awaited us. Here
were also a couple of lackeys, who deposited my father on a bed of moss,
and with much effort pulled his huge boots off, leaving him in red silk
stockings. Temple and I snatched his gauntlets; Temple fell backward,
but we had no thought of laughter; people were seen approaching, and the
three of us jumped into the carriage. I had my father's living hand in
mine to squeeze; feeling him scarcely yet the living man I had sought,
and with no great warmth of feeling. His hand was very moist. Often I
said, 'Dear father!--Papa, I'm so glad at last,' in answer to his short-
breathed 'Richie, my little lad, my son Richmond! You found me out; you
found me!' We were conscious that his thick case of varnished clothing
was against us. One would have fancied from his way of speaking that he
suffered from asthma. I was now gifted with a tenfold power of
observation, and let nothing escape me.
Temple, sitting opposite, grinned cheerfully at times to encourage our
spirits; he had not recovered from his wonderment, nor had I introduced
him. My father, however, had caught his name. Temple (who might as well
have talked, I thought) was perpetually stealing secret glances of
abstracted perusal at him with a pair of round infant's eyes, sucking his
reflections the while. My father broke our silence.
'Mr. Temple, I have the honour,' he said, as if about to cough; 'the
honour of making your acquaintance; I fear you must surrender the hope of
making mine at present.'
Temple started and reddened like a little fellow detected in straying
from his spelling-book, which was the window-frame. In a minute or so
the fascination proved too strong for him; his eyes wandered from the
window and he renewed his shy inspection bit by bit as if casting up a
column of figures.
'Yes, Mr. Temple, we are in high Germany,' said my father.
It must have cost Temple cruel pain, for he was a thoroughly gentlemanly
boy, and he could not resist it. Finally he surprised himself in his
stealthy reckoning: arrived at the full-breech or buttoned waistband,
about half-way up his ascent from the red silk stocking, he would pause
and blink rapidly, sometimes jump and cough.
To put him at his ease, my father exclaimed, 'As to this exterior,' he
knocked his knuckles on the heaving hard surface, 'I can only affirm that
it was, on horseback--ahem! particularly as the horse betrayed no
restivity, pronounced perfect! The sole complaint of our interior
concerns the resemblance we bear to a lobster. Human somewhere, I do
believe myself to be. I shall have to be relieved of my shell before I
can at all satisfactorily proclaim the fact. I am a human being, believe
He begged permission to take breath a minute.
'I know you for my son's friend, Mr. Temple: here is my son, my boy,
Harry Lepel Richmond Roy. Have patience: I shall presently stand
unshelled. I have much to relate; you likewise have your narrative in
store. That you should have lit on me at the critical instant is one of
those miracles which combine to produce overwhelming testimony--ay,
Richie! without a doubt there is a hand directing our destiny.' His
speaking in such a strain, out of pure kindness to Temple, huskily, with
his painful attempt to talk like himself, revived his image as the father
of my heart and dreams, and stirred my torpid affection, though it was
still torpid enough, as may be imagined, when I state that I remained
plunged in contemplation of his stocking of red silk emerging from the
full bronzed breech, considering whether his comparison of himself to a
shell-fish might not be a really just one. We neither of us regained our
true natures until he was free of every vestige of the garb of Prince
Albrecht Wohlgemuth. Attendants were awaiting him at the garden-gate of
a beautiful villa partly girdled by rising fir-woods on its footing of
bright green meadow. They led him away, and us to bath-rooms.
WE PASS A DELIGHTFUL EVENING, AND I HAVE A MORNING VISION
In a long saloon ornamented with stags' horns and instruments of the
chase, tusks of boars, spear-staves, boarknives, and silver horns, my
father, I, and Temple sat down to a memorable breakfast, my father in his
true form, dressed in black silken jacket and knee-breeches, purple-
stockings and pumps; without a wig, I thanked heaven to see. How
blithely he flung out his limbs and heaved his chest released from
confinement! His face was stained brownish, but we drank old Rhine wine,
and had no eye for appearances.
'So you could bear it no longer, Richie?' My father interrupted the
narrative I doled out, anxious for his, and he began, and I interrupted
'You did think of me often, papa, didn't you?'
His eyes brimmed with tenderness.
'Think of you!' he sighed.
I gave him the account of my latest adventures in a few panting breaths,
suppressing the Bench. He set my face to front him.
'We are two fools, Mr. Temple,' he said.
'No, sir,' said Temple.
'Now you speak, papa,' said I.
He smiled warmly.
'Richie begins to remember me.'
I gazed at him to show it was true.
'I do, papa--I'm not beginning to.'
At his request, I finished the tale of my life at school. 'Ah, well!
that was bad fortune; this is good!' he exclaimed. 'Tis your father, my
son: 'tis day-light, though you look at it through a bed-curtain, and
think you are half-dreaming. Now then for me, Richie.'
My father went on in this wise excitedly:
'I was laying the foundation of your fortune here, my boy. Heavens!
when I was in that bronze shell I was astonished only at my continence in
not bursting. You have grown,--you have shot up and filled out. I
register my thanks to your grandfather Beltham; the same, in a minor
degree, to Captain Jasper Welsh. Between that man Rippenger and me there
shall be dealings. He flogged you: let that pass. He exposed you to the
contempt of your school-fellows because of a breach in my correspondence
with a base-born ferule-swinger. What are we coming to? Richie, my son,
I was building a future for you here. And Colonel Goodwin-Colonel
Goodwin, you encountered him too, and his marriageable daughter--I owe it
to them that I have you here! Well, in the event of my sitting out the
period this morning as the presentment of Prince Albrecht, I was to have
won something would have astonished that unimpressionable countryman of
ours. Goodness gracious, my boy! when I heard your English shout, it
went to my marrow. Could they expect me to look down on my own flesh and
blood, on my son--my son Richmond--after a separation of years, and
continue a statue? Nay, I followed my paternal impulse. Grant that the
show was spoilt, does the Markgrafin insist on my having a bronze heart
to carry on her pastime? Why, naturally, I deplore a failure, let the
cause be what it will. Whose regrets can eclipse those of the principal
actor? Quotha! as our old Plays have it. Regrets? Did I not for
fifteen minutes and more of mortal time sit in view of a multitude,
motionless, I ask you, like a chiselled block of stone,--and the compact
was one quarter of an hour, and no farther? That was my stipulation. I
told her--I can hold out one quarter of an hour: I pledged myself to it.
Who, then, is to blame? I was exposed to view twenty-three minutes, odd
seconds. Is there not some ancient story of a monstrous wretch baked in
his own bull? My situation was as bad. If I recollect aright, he could
roar; no such relief was allowed to me. And I give you my word, Richie,
lads both, that while that most infernal Count Fretzel was pouring forth
his execrable humdrum, I positively envied the privilege of an old
palsied fellow, chief boatman of the forest lake, for, thinks I, hang
him! he can nod his head and I can not. Let me assure you, twenty
minutes of an ordeal like that,--one posture, mind you, no raising of
your eyelids, taking your breath mechanically, and your heart beating--
jumping like an enraged balletdancer boxed in your bosom--a literal
description, upon my honour; and not only jumping, jumping every now and
then, I may say, with a toe in your throat: I was half-choked:--well, I
say, twenty minutes, twenty-seven minutes and a half of that, getting on,
in fact, to half-an-hour, it is superhuman!--by heavens, it is heroical!
And observe my reward: I have a son--my only one. I have been divided
from him for years; I am establishing his fortune; I know he is provided
with comforts: Richie, you remember the woman Waddy? A faithful soul!
She obtained my consent at last--previously I had objections; in fact,
your address was withheld from the woman--to call at your school. She
saw Rippenger, a girl of considerable attractions. She heard you were
located at Riversley: I say, I know the boy is comfortably provided for;
but we have been separated since he was a little creature with curls on
his forehead, scarce breeched '
'Papa, I have been in jacket and trousers I don't know how long.'
'Let me pursue,' said my father. 'And to show you, Richie, it is a
golden age ever when you and I are together, and ever shall be till we
lose our manly spirit, and we cling to that,--till we lose our princely
spirit, which we never will abandon--perish rather!--I drink to you, and
challenge you; and, mind you, old Hock wine has charms. If Burgundy is
the emperor of wines, Hock is the empress. For youngsters, perhaps, I
should except the Hock that gets what they would fancy a trifle pique,
turned with age, so as to lose in their opinion its empress flavour.'
Temple said modestly: 'I should call that the margravine of wines.'
My father beamed on him with great approving splendour. 'Join us, Mr.
Temple; you are a man of wit, and may possibly find this specimen worthy
of you. This wine has a history. You are drinking wine with blood in
it. Well, I was saying, the darling of my heart has been torn from me; I
am in a foreign land; foreign, that is, by birth, and on the whole
foreign. Yes!--I am the cynosure of eyes; I am in a singular posture, a
singular situation; I hear a cry in the tongue of my native land, and
what I presume is my boy's name: I look, I behold him, I follow a
parent's impulse. On my soul! none but a fish-father could have stood
Well, for this my reward is--and I should have stepped from a cathedral
spire just the same, if I had been mounted on it--that I, I,--and the
woman knows all my secret--I have to submit to the foul tirade of a
She drew language, I protest, from the slums. And I entreat you, Mr.
Temple, with your "margravine of wines"--which was very neatly said, to
be sure--note you this curious point for the confusion of Radicals in
your after life; her Highness's pleasure was to lend her tongue to the
language--or something like it--of a besotted fish-wife; so! very well,
and just as it is the case with that particular old Hock you youngsters
would disapprove of, and we cunning oldsters know to contain more virtues
in maturity than a nunnery of May-blooming virgins, just so the very
faults of a royal lady-royal by birth and in temper a termagant--impart a
perfume! a flavour! You must age; you must live in Courts, you must
sound the human bosom, rightly to appreciate it. She is a woman of the
most malicious fine wit imaginable.
She is a generous woman, a magnanimous woman; wear her chains and she
will not brain you with her club. She is the light, the centre of every
society where she appears, like what shall I say? like the moon in a
bowl of old Rhenish. And you will drain that bowl to the bottom to seize
her, as it were--catch a correct idea of her; ay, and your brains are
drowned in the attempt. Yes, Richie; I was aware of your residence at
Riversley. Were you reminded of your wandering dada on Valentine's day?
Come, my boy, we have each of us a thousand things to relate. I may be
dull--I do not understand what started you on your journey in search of
me. An impulse? An accident? Say, a directing angel! We rest our legs
here till evening, and then we sup. You will be astonished to hear that
you have dined. 'Tis the fashion with the Germans. I promise you good
wine shall make it up to you for the return to school-habits. We sup,
and we pack our scanty baggage, and we start tonight. Brook no insult at
Courts if you are of material value: if not, it is unreservedly a
question whether you like kickings.'
My father paused, yawned and stretched, to be rid of the remainder of his
aches and stiffness. Out of a great yawn he said:
'Dear lads, I have fallen into the custom of the country; I crave your
permission that I may smoke. Wander, if you choose, within hail of me,
or sit by me, if you can bear it, and talk of your school-life, and your
studies. Your aunt Dorothy, Richie? She is well? I know not her like.
I could bear to hear of any misfortune but that she suffered pain.
My father smoked his cigar peacefully. He had laid a guitar on his
knees, and flipped a string, or chafed over all the strings, and plucked
and thrummed them as his mood varied. We chatted, and watched the going
down of the sun, and amused ourselves idly, fermenting as we were.
Anything that gave pleasure to us two boys pleased and at once occupied
my father. It was without aid from Temple's growing admiration of him
that I recovered my active belief and vivid delight in his presence. My
younger days sprang up beside me like brothers. No one talked, looked,
flashed, frowned, beamed, as he did! had such prompt liveliness as he!
such tenderness! No one was ever so versatile in playfulness. He took
the colour of the spirits of the people about him. His vivacious or
sedate man-of-the-world tone shifted to playfellow's fun in a twinkling.
I used as a little fellow to think him larger than he really was, but he
was of good size, inclined to be stout; his eyes were grey, rather
prominent, and his forehead sloped from arched eyebrows. So
conversational were his eyes and brows that he could persuade you to
imagine he was carrying on a dialogue without opening his mouth. His
voice was charmingly clear; his laughter confident, fresh, catching, the
outburst of his very self, as laughter should be. Other sounds of
laughter were like echoes.
Strange to say, I lost the links of my familiarity with him when he left
us on a short visit to his trunks and portmanteaux, and had to lean on
Temple, who tickled but rejoiced me by saying: 'Richie, your father is
just the one I should like to be secretary to.'
We thought it a pity to have to leave this nice foreign place
immediately. I liked the scenery, and the wine, and what I supposed to
be the habit of the gentlemen here to dress in silks. On my father's
return to us I asked him if we could not stay till morning.
'Till morning, then,' he said: 'and to England with the first lark.'
His complexion was ruddier; his valet had been at work to restore it; he
was getting the sanguine hue which coloured my recollection of him.
Wearing a black velvet cap and a Spanish furred cloak, he led us over the
villa. In Sarkeld he resided at the palace, and generally at the lake-
palace on the removal of the Court thither. The margravine had placed
the villa, which was her own property, at his disposal, the better to
work out their conspiracy.
'It would have been mine!' said my father, bending suddenly to my ear,
and humming his philosophical 'heigho,' as he stepped on in minuet
fashion. We went through apartments rich with gilded oak and pine
panellings: in one was a rough pattern of a wooden horse opposite a
mirror; by no means a figure of a horse, but apparently a number of
pieces contributed by a carpenter's workshop, having a rueful seat in the
middle. My father had practised the attitude of Prince Albrecht
Wohlgemuth on it. 'She timed me five and twenty minutes there only
yesterday,' he said; and he now supposed he had sat the bronze horse as a
statue in public view exactly thirty-seven minutes and a quarter. Tubs
full of colouring liquid to soak the garments of the prince, pots of
paint, and paint and plaster brushes, hinted the magnitude of the
'Here,' said my father in another apartment, 'I was this morning
apparelled at seven o'clock: and I would have staked my right arm up to
the collar-bone on the success of the undertaking!'
'Weren't they sure to have found it out in the end, papa?' I inquired.
'I am not so certain of that,' he rejoined: 'I cannot quaff consolation
from that source. I should have been covered up after exhibition; I
should have been pronounced imperfect in my fitting-apparatus; the
sculptor would have claimed me, and I should have been enjoying the
fruits of a brave and harmless conspiracy to do honour to an illustrious
prince, while he would have been moulding and casting an indubitable
bronze statue in my image. A fig for rumours! We show ourself; we are
caught from sight; we are again on show. Now this being successfully
done, do you see, Royalty declines to listen to vulgar tattle.
Presumably, Richie, it was suspected by the Court that the margravine had
many months ago commanded the statue at her own cost, and had set her
mind on winning back the money. The wonder of it was my magnificent
resemblance to the defunct. I sat some three hours before the old
warrior's portraits in the dining-saloon of the lake-palace. Accord me
one good spell of meditation over a tolerable sketch, I warrant myself to
represent him to the life, provided that he was a personage: I incline to
stipulate for handsome as well. On my word of honour as a man and a
gentleman, I pity the margravine--my poor good Frau Feldmarschall! Now,
here, Richie,'--my father opened a side-door out of an elegant little
room into a spacious dark place, 'here is her cabinet-theatre, where we
act German and French comediettas in Spring and Autumn. I have
superintended it during the two or more years of my stay at the Court.
Humph! 'tis over.'
He abruptly closed the door. His dress belonged to the part of a Spanish
nobleman, personated by him in a Play called The Hidalgo Enraged, he
said, pointing a thumb over his shoulder at the melancholy door, behind
which gay scenes had sparkled.
'Papa!' said I sadly, for consolation.
'You're change for a sovereign to the amount of four hundred and forty-
nine thousand shillings every time you speak!' cried he, kissing my
He sparkled in good earnest on hearing that I had made acquaintance with
the little Princess Ottilia. What I thought of her, how she looked at
me, what I said to her, what words she answered, how the acquaintance
began, who were observers of it,--I had to repair my omission to mention
her by furnishing a precise description of the circumstances, describing
her face and style, repeating her pretty English.
My father nodded: he thought I exaggerated that foreign English of hers;
but, as I said, I was new to it and noticed it. He admitted the greater
keenness of attention awakened by novelty.
'Only,' said he, 'I rather wonder--' and here he smiled at me
inquiringly. ''Tis true,' he added, 'a boy of fourteen or fifteen--
ay, Richie, have your fun out. A youngster saw the comic side of her.
Do you know, that child has a remarkable character? Her disposition is
totally unfathomable. You are a deep reader of English poetry, I hope,;
she adores it, and the English Navy. She informed me that if she had
been the English people she would have made Nelson king. The Royal
family of England might see objections to that, I told her. Cries she:
"Oh! anything for a sea-hero." You will find these young princes and
princesses astonishingly revolutionary when they entertain brains. Now
at present, just at present, an English naval officer, and a poet, stand
higher in the esteem of that young Princess Ottilia than dukes, kings, or
emperors. So you have seen her!' my father ejaculated musingly, and
hummed, and said: 'By the way, we must be careful not to offend our
grandpapa Beltham, Richie. Good acres--good anchorage; good coffers--
good harbourage. Regarding poetry, my dear boy, you ought to be writing
it, for I do--the diversion of leisure hours, impromptus. In poetry, I
would scorn anything but impromptus. I was saying, Richie, that if
tremendous misfortune withholds from you your legitimate prestige, you
must have the substantial element. 'Tis your springboard to vault by,
and cushions on the other side if you make a miss and fall. 'Tis the
essence if you have not the odour.'
I followed my father's meaning as the shadow of a bird follows it in
sunlight; it made no stronger an impression than a flying shadow on the
grass; still I could verify subsequently that I had penetrated him--I had
caught the outline of his meaning--though I was little accustomed to his
manner of communicating his ideas: I had no notion of what he touched on
with the words, prestige, essence, and odour.
My efforts to gather the reason for his having left me neglected at
school were fruitless. 'Business, business! sad necessity! hurry,
worry-the-hounds!' was his nearest approach to an explicit answer; and
seeing I grieved his kind eyes, I abstained. Nor did I like to defend
Mr. Rippenger for expecting to be paid. We came to that point once or
twice, when so sharply wronged did he appear, and vehement and indignant,
that I banished thoughts which marred my luxurious contentment in hearing
him talk and sing, and behave in his old ways and new habits.
Plain velvet was his dress at dinner. We had a yellow Hock. Temple's
meditative face over it, to discover the margravine, or something, in its
flavour, was a picture. It was an evening of incessant talking; no
telling of events straightforwardly, but all by fits--all here and there.
My father talked of Turkey, so I learnt he had been in that country;
Temple of the routine of our life at Riversley; I of Kiomi, the gipsy
girl; then we two of Captain Jasper Welsh; my father of the Princess
Ottilia. When I alluded to the margravine, he had a word to say of Mrs.
Waddy; so I learnt she had been in continual correspondence with him, and
had cried heavily about me, poor soul. Temple laughed out a recollection
of Captain Bulsted's 'hic, haec, hoc'; I jumped Janet Ilchester up on the
table; my father expatiated on the comfort of a volume of Shakespeare to
an exiled Englishman. We drank to one another, and heartily to the
statue. My father related the history of the margravine's plot in duck-
and-drake skips, and backward to his first introduction to her at some
Austrian Baths among the mountains. She wanted amusement--he provided
it; she never let him quit her sight from that moment.
'And now,' he said, 'she has lost me!' He drew out of his pocket-book a
number of designs for the statue of Prince Albrecht, to which the
margravine's initials were appended, and shuffled them, and sighed, and
said:'Most complete arrangements! most complete! No body of men were
ever so well drilled as those fellows up at Bella Vista--could not have
been! And at the climax, in steps the darling boy for whom I laboured
and sweated, and down we topple incontinently! Nothing would have shaken
me but the apparition of my son! I was proof against everything but
that! I sat invincible for close upon an hour--call it an hour! Not a
muscle of me moved: I repeat, the heart in my bosom capered like an
independent organ; had it all its own way, leaving me mine, until Mr.
Temple, take my word for it, there is a guiding hand in some families;
believe it, and be serene in adversity. The change of life at a merry
Court to life in a London alley will exercise our faith. But the
essential thing is that Richie has been introduced here, and I intend him
to play a part here. The grandson and heir of one of the richest
commoners in England--I am not saying commoner as a term of reproach--
possessed of a property that turns itself over and doubles itself every
ten years, may--mind you, may--on such a solid foundation as that!--and
as to birth, your Highness has only to grant us a private interview.'
Temple was dazed by this mystifying address to him; nor could I
'Why, papa, you always wished for me to go into Parliament,' said I.
'I do,' he replied, 'and I wish you to lead the London great world. Such
topics are for by-and-by. Adieu to them!' He kissed his wafting finger-
We fell upon our random talk again with a merry rattle.
I had to give him a specimen of my piano-playing and singing.
He shook his head. 'The cricketer and the scholar have been developed at
the expense of the musician; and music, Richie, music unlocks the chamber
Late at night we separated. Temple and I slept in companion-rooms.
Deadly drowsy, the dear little fellow sat on the edge of my bed
chattering of his wonder. My dreams led me wandering with a ship's diver
under the sea, where we walked in a light of pearls and exploded old
wrecks. I was assuring the glassy man that it was almost as clear
beneath the waves as above, when I awoke to see my father standing over
me in daylight; and in an ecstasy I burst into sobs.
'Here, Richie'--he pressed fresh violets on my nostrils-- 'you have had a
morning visitor. Quick out of bed, and you will see the little fairy
crossing the meadow.'
I leapt to the window in time to have in view the little Princess
Ottilia, followed by her faithful gaunt groom, before she was lost in the
shadow of the fir-trees.
OUR RETURN HOMEWARD
We started for England at noon, much against my secret wishes; but my
father would not afford the margravine time to repent of her violent
language and injustice toward him. Reflection increased his indignation.
Anything that went wrong on the first stages of the journey caused him to
recapitulate her epithets and reply to them proudly. He confided to me
in Cologne Cathedral that the entire course of his life was a grand plot,
resembling an unfinished piece of architecture, which might, at a future
day, prove the wonder of the world: and he had, therefore, packed two
dozen of hoar old (uralt: he used comical German) Hock for a present to
my grandfather Beltham, in the hope of its being found acceptable.
'For, Richie,' said he, 'you may not know--and it is not to win your
thanks I inform you of it--that I labour unremittingly in my son's
interests. I have established him, on his majority, in Germany, at a
Court. My object now is to establish him in England. Promise me that it
shall be the decided endeavour of your energies and talents to rise to
the height I point out to you? You promise, I perceive,' he added, sharp
in detecting the unpleasant predicament of a boy who is asked to speak
priggishly. So then I could easily promise with a firm voice. He
dropped certain explosive hints, which reminded me of the funny ideas of
my state and greatness I had when a child. I shrugged at them; I cared
nothing for revelations to come by-and-by. My object was to unite my
father and grandfather on terms of friendship.
This was the view that now absorbed and fixed my mind. To have him a
frequent visitor at Riversley, if not a resident in the house, enlivening
them all, while I, perhaps, trifled a cavalry sabre, became one of my
settled dreams. The difficult part of the scheme appeared to me the
obtaining of my father's consent. I mentioned it, and he said
immediately that he must have his freedom. 'Now, for instance,' said he,
'what is my desire at this moment? I have always a big one perched on a
rock in the distance; but I speak of my present desire. And let it be
supposed that the squire is one of us: we are returning to England.
Well, I want to show you a stork's nest. We are not far enough South for
the stork to build here. It is a fact, Richie, that I do want to show
you the bird for luck, and as a feature of the country. And in me, a
desire to do a thing partakes of the impetus of steam.
Well, you see we are jogging home to England. I resist myself for duty's
sake: that I can do. But if the squire were here with his yea and his
nay, by heavens! I should be off to the top of the Rhine like a tornado.
I submit to circumstances: I cannot, and I will not, be dictated to by
'That seems to me rather unreasonable,' I remonstrated.
'It is; I am ashamed of it,' he answered. 'Do as you will, Richie; set
me down at Riversley, but under no slight, mark you. I keep my honour
intact, like a bottled cordial; my unfailing comfort in adversity! I
hand it to you, my son, on my death-bed, and say, "You have there the
essence of my life. Never has it been known of me that I swallowed an
'Then, papa, I shall have a talk with the squire.'
'Make good your ground in the castle,' said he. 'I string a guitar
outside. You toss me a key from the walls. If there is room, and I have
leisure, I enter. If not, you know I am paving your way in other
quarters. Riversley, my boy, is an excellent foothold and fortress:
Riversley is not the world. At Riversley I should have to wear a double
face, and, egad! a double stomach-bag, like young Jack feeding with the
giant--one full of ambition, the other of provender. That place is our
touchstone to discover whether we have prudence. We have, I hope. And
we will have, Mr. Temple, a pleasant day or two in Paris.'
It was his habit to turn off the bent of these conversations by drawing
Temple into them. Temple declared there was no feeling we were in a
foreign country while he was our companion. We simply enjoyed strange
scenes, looking idly out of our windows. Our recollection of the
strangest scene ever witnessed filled us with I know not what scornful
pleasure, and laughed in the background at any sight or marvel pretending
to amuse us. Temple and I cantered over the great Belgian battlefield,
talking of Bella Vista tower, the statue, the margravine, our sour milk
and black-bread breakfast, the little Princess Ottilia, with her 'It is
my question,' and 'You were kind to my lambs, sir,' thoughtless of glory
and dead bones. My father was very differently impressed. He was in an
exultant glow, far outmatching the bloom on our faces when we rejoined
him. I cried,
'Papa, if the prince won't pay for a real statue, I will, and I'll
present it in your name!'
'To the nation?' cried he, staring, and arresting his arm in what seemed
an orchestral movement.
'To the margravine !'
He heard, but had to gather his memory. He had been fighting the battle,
and made light of Bella Vista. I found that incidents over which a day
or two had rolled lost their features to him. He never smiled at
recollections. If they were forced on him noisily by persons he liked,
perhaps his face was gay, but only for a moment. The gaiety of his
nature drew itself from hot-springs of hopefulness: our arrival in
England, our interviews there, my majority Burgundy, my revisitation of
Germany--these events to come gave him the aspect children wear out a-
Maying or in an orchard. He discussed the circumstances connected with
the statue as dry matter-of-fact, and unless it was his duty to be
hilarious at the dinner-table, he was hardly able to respond to a call on
his past life and mine. His future, too, was present tense: 'We do
this,' not 'we will do this'; so that, generally, no sooner did we speak
of an anticipated scene than he was acting in it. I studied him eagerly,
I know, and yet quite unconsciously, and I came to no conclusions. Boys
are always putting down the ciphers of their observations of people
beloved by them, but do not add up a sum total.
Our journey home occupied nearly eleven weeks, owing to stress of money
on two occasions. In Brussels I beheld him with a little beggar-girl in
'She has asked me for a copper coin, Richie,' he said, squeezing her fat
cheeks to make cherries of her lips.
I recommended him to give her a silver one.
'Something, Richie, I must give the little wench, for I have kissed her,
and, in my list of equivalents, gold would be the sole form of repayment
after that. You must buy me off with honour, my boy.'
I was compelled to receive a dab from the child's nose, by way of a kiss,
in return for buying him off with honour.
The child stumped away on the pavement fronting our hotel, staring at its
fist that held the treasure.
'Poor pet wee drab of it!' exclaimed my father. 'One is glad, Richie, to
fill a creature out of one's emptiness. Now she toddles; she is
digesting it rapidly. The last performance of one's purse is rarely so
pleasant as that. I owe it to her that I made the discovery in time.'
In this manner I also made the discovery that my father had no further
supply of money, none whatever. How it had run out without his remarking
it, he could not tell; he could only assure me that he had become aware
of the fact while searching vainly for a coin to bestow on the beggar-
girl. I despatched a letter attested by a notary of the city, applying
for money to the banker to whom Colonel Goodwin had introduced me on my
arrival on the Continent. The money came, and in the meantime we had
formed acquaintances and entertained them; they were chiefly half-pay
English military officers, dashing men. One, a Major Dykes, my father
established in our hotel, and we carried him on to Paris, where,
consequent upon our hospitalities, the purse was again deficient.
Two reasons for not regretting it were adduced by my father; firstly,
that it taught me not to despise the importance of possessing money;
secondly, that we had served our country by assisting Dykes, who was on
the scent of a new and terrible weapon of destruction, which he believed
to be in the hands of the French Government. Major Dykes disappeared on
the scent, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that we had done our
best toward saving the Navy of Great Britain from being blown out of
water. Temple and I laughed over Major Dykes, and he became our puppet
for by-play, on account of his enormous whiskers, his passion for strong
drinks, and his air of secresy. My father's faith in his patriotic
devotedness was sufficient to withhold me from suspicions of his
character. Whenever my instinct, or common sense, would have led me to
differ with my father in opinion fun supervened; I was willing that
everything in the world should be as he would have it be, and took up
with a spirit of laughter, too happy in having won him, in having fished
him out of the deep sea at one fling of the net, as he said, to care for
accuracy of sentiment in any other particular.
Our purse was at its lowest ebb; he suggested no means of replenishing
it, and I thought of none. He had heard that it was possible to live in
Paris upon next to nothing with very great luxury, so we tried it; we
strolled through the lilac aisles among bonnes and babies, attended
military spectacles, rode on omnibuses, dined on the country heights,
went to theatres, and had a most pleasurable time, gaining everywhere
front places, friendly smiles, kind little services, in a way that would
have been incomprehensible to me but for my consciousness of the magical
influence of my father's address, a mixture of the ceremonious and the
affable such as the people could not withstand.
'The poet is perhaps, on the whole, more exhilarating than the alderman,'
These were the respective names given by him to the empty purse and the
full purse. We vowed we preferred the poet.
'Ay,' said he, 'but for all that the alderman is lighter on his feet: I
back him to be across the Channel first. The object of my instructions
to you will be lost, Richie, if I find you despising the Alderman's
Pegasus. On money you mount. We are literally chained here, you know,
there is no doubt about it; and we are adding a nail to our fetters
daily. True, you are accomplishing the Parisian accent. Paris has also
this immense advantage over all other cities: 'tis the central hotel on
the high-road of civilization. In Paris you meet your friends to a
certainty; it catches them every one in turn; so now we must abroad early
and late, and cut for trumps.' A meeting with a friend of my father,
Mr. Monterez Williams, was the result of our resolute adoption of this
system. He helped us on to Boulogne, where my father met another friend,
to whom he gave so sumptuous a dinner that we had not money enough to pay
the hotel bill.
'Now observe the inconvenience of leaving Paris,' said he. 'Ten to one
we shall have to return. We will try a week's whistling on the jetty;
and if no luck comes, and you will admit, Richie--Mr. Temple, I call your
attention to it--that luck will scarcely come in profuse expedition
through the narrow neck of a solitary seaport, why, we must return to
I proposed to write to my aunt Dorothy for money, but he would not hear
of that. After two or three days of whistling, I saw my old friend, Mr.
Bannerbridge, step out of the packetboat. On condition of my writing to
my aunt to say that I was coming home, he advanced me the sum we were in
need of, grudgingly though, and with the prediction that we should break
down again, which was verified. It occurred only a stage from Riversley,
where my grandfather's name was good as coin of the realm. Besides, my
father remained at the inn to guarantee the payment of the bill, while
Temple and I pushed on in a fly with the two dozen of Hock. It could
hardly be called a break-down, but my father was not unwilling for me to
regard it in that light. Among his parting remarks was an impressive
adjuration to me to cultivate the squire's attachment at all costs.
'Do this,' he said, 'and I shall know that the lesson I have taught you
on your journey homeward has not been thrown away. My darling boy! my
curse through life has been that the sense of weight in money is a sense
I am and was born utterly a stranger to. The consequence is, my grandest
edifices fall; there is no foundation for them. Not that I am worse,
understand me, than under a temporary cloud, and the blessing of heaven
has endowed me with a magnificent constitution. Heaven forefend that I
should groan for myself, or you for me! But digest what you have learnt,
Richie; press nothing on the squire; be guided by the advice of that
esteemed and admirable woman, your aunt Dorothy. And, by the way, you
may tell her confidentially of the progress of your friendship with the
Princess Ottilia. Here I shall employ my hours in a tranquil study of
nature until I see you.' Thus he sped me forward.
We sighted Riversley about mid-day on a sunny June morning. Compared
with the view from Bella Vista, our firs looked scanty, our heath-tracts
dull, as places having no page of history written on them, our fresh
green meadows not more than commonly homely. I was so full of my sense
of triumph in my adventurous journey and the recovery of my father, that
I gazed on the old Grange from a towering height. The squire was on the
lawn, surrounded by a full company: the Ilchesters, the Ambroses, the
Wilfords, Captain and Squire Gregory Bulsted, the Rubreys, and others,
all bending to roses, to admire, smell, or pluck. Charming groups of
ladies were here and there; and Temple whispered as we passed them:
'We beat foreigners in our women, Richie.'
I, making it my business to talk with perfect unconcern, replied
'Do you think so? Perhaps. Not in all cases'; all the while I was
exulting at the sweet beams of England radiating from these dear early-
My aunt Dorothy swam up to me, and, kissing me, murmured:
'Take no rebuff from your grandpapa, darling.'
My answer was: 'I have found him!'
Captain Bulsted sang out our names; I caught sight of Julia Rippenger's
face; the squire had his back turned to me, which reminded me of my first
speech with Captain Jasper Welsh, and I thought to myself, I know
something of the world now, and the thing is to keep a good temper. Here
there was no wire-coil to intercept us, so I fronted him quickly.
'Hulloa!' he cried, and gave me his shoulder.
'Temple is your guest, sir,' said I.
He was obliged to stretch out his hand to Temple.
A prompt instinct warned me that I must show him as much Beltham as I
'Dogs and horses all right, sir?' I asked.
Captain Bulsted sauntered near.
'Here, William,' said the squire, 'tell this fellow about my stables.'
'In excellent condition, Harry Richmond,' returned the captain.
'Oh! he 's got a new name, I 'll swear,' said the squire.
'Not I !'
'Then what have you got of your trip, eh?'
'A sharper eye than I had, sir.'
'You've been sharpening it in London, have you?'
'I've been a little farther than London, squire.'
'Well, you're not a liar.'
'There, you see the lad can stand fire!' Captain Bulsted broke in.
'Harry Richmond, I'm proud to shake your hand, but I'll wait till you're
through the ceremony with your grandad.'
The squire's hands were crossed behind him. I smiled boldly in his face.
'Shall I make the tour of you to get hold of one of them, sir?' He
frowned and blinked.
'Shuffle in among the ladies; you seem to know how to make friends among
them,' he said, and pretended to disengage his right hand for the purpose
of waving it toward one of the groups.
I seized it, saying heartily, 'Grandfather, upon my honour, I love you,
and I'm glad to be home again.'
'Mind you, you're not at home till you've begged Uberly's pardon in
public, you know what for,' he rejoined.
'Leaving the horse at that inn is on my conscience,' said I.
The squire grumbled a bit.
'Suppose he kicks?' said I; and the captain laughed, and the squire too,
and I was in such high spirits I thought of a dozen witty suggestions
relative to the seat of the conscience, and grieved for a minute at going
to the ladies.
All the better; keep him there Captain Bulsted convoyed me to pretty
Irish-eyed Julia Rippenger. Temple had previously made discovery of
Janet Ilchester. Relating our adventures on different parts of the lawn,
we both heard that Colonel Goodwin and his daughter had journeyed down to
Riversley to smooth the way for my return; so my easy conquest of the
squire was not at all wonderful; nevertheless, I maintained my sense of
triumph, and was assured in my secret heart that I had a singular
masterfulness, and could, when I chose to put it forth, compel my
grandfather to hold out his hand to my father as he had done to me.
Julia Rippenger was a guest at Riversley through. a visit paid to her by
my aunt Dorothy in alarm at my absence. The intention was to cause the
squire a distraction. It succeeded; for the old man needed lively
prattle of a less childish sort than Janet Ilchester's at his elbow, and
that young lady, though true enough in her fashion, was the ardent friend
of none but flourishing heads; whereas Julia, finding my name under a
cloud at Riversley, spoke of me, I was led to imagine by Captain Bulsted,
as a ballad hero, a gloriful fellow, a darling whose deeds were all
pardonable--a mere puff of smoke in the splendour of his nature.
'To hear the young lady allude to me in that style!' he confided to my
ear, with an ineffable heave of his big chest.
Certain good influences, at any rate, preserved the squire from
threatening to disinherit me. Colonel Goodwin had spoken to him very
manfully and wisely as to my relations with my father. The squire, it
was assumed by my aunt, and by Captain Bulsted and Julia, had undertaken
to wink at my father's claims on my affection. All three vehemently
entreated me to make no mention of the present of Hock to him, and not to
attempt to bring about an interview. Concerning the yellow wine I
disregarded their advice, for I held it to be a point of filial duty,
and an obligation religiously contracted beneath a cathedral dome; so I
performed the task of offering the Hock, stating that it was of ancient
birth. The squire bunched his features; he tutored his temper, and said
not a word. I fancied all was well. Before I tried the second step,
Captain Bulsted rode over to my father, who himself generously enjoined
the prudent course, in accordance with his aforegone precepts. He was
floated off, as he termed it, from the inn where he lay stranded, to
London, by I knew not what heaven-sent gift of money, bidding me keep in
view the grand career I was to commence at Dipwell on arriving at my
majority. I would have gone with him had he beckoned a finger. The
four-and-twenty bottles of Hock were ranged in a line for the stable-boys
to cock-shy at them under the squire's supervision and my enforced
attendance, just as revolutionary criminals are executed. I felt like
the survivor of friends, who had seen their blood flow.
He handed me a cheque for the payment of debts incurred in my recent
adventures. Who could help being grateful for it? And yet his
remorseless spilling of the kindly wine full of mellow recollections of
my father and the little princess, drove the sense of gratitude out of
NEWS OF A FRESH CONQUEST OF MY FATHER'S
Temple went to sea. The wonder is that I did not go with him: we were
both in agreement that adventures were the only things worth living for,
and we despised English fellows who had seen no place but England.
I could not bear the long separation from my father that was my reason
for not insisting on the squire's consent to my becoming a midshipman.
After passing a brilliant examination, Temple had the good fortune to
join Captain Bulsted's ship, and there my honest-hearted friend dismally
composed his letter of confession, letting me know that he had been
untrue to friendship, and had proposed to Janet Ilchester, and
interchanged vows with her. He begged my forgiveness, but he did love
her so!--he hoped I would not mind. I sent him a reproachful answer; I
never cared for him more warmly than when I saw the letter shoot the
slope of the postoffice mouth. Aunt Dorothy undertook to communicate
assurances of my undying affection for him. As for Janet--Temple's
letter, in which he spoke of her avowed preference for Oriental presents,
and declared his intention of accumulating them on his voyages, was a
harpoon in her side. By means of it I worried and terrified her until
she was glad to have it all out before the squire. What did he do? He
said that Margery, her mother, was niggardly; a girl wanted presents, and
I did not act up to my duty; I ought to buy Turkey and Tunis to please
her, if she had a mind for them.
The further she was flattered the faster she cried; she had the face of
an old setter with these hideous tears. The squire promised her fifty
pounds per annum in quarterly payments, that she might buy what presents
she liked, and so tie herself to constancy. He said aside to me, as if
he had a knowledge of the sex--'Young ladies must have lots of
knickknacks, or their eyes 'll be caught right and left, remember that.'
I should have been delighted to see her caught. She talked of love in a
ludicrous second-hand way, sending me into fits of disgusted laughter.
On other occasions her lips were not hypocritical, and her figure
anything but awkward. She was a bold, plump girl, fond of male society.
Heriot enraptured her. I believed at the time she would have appointed a
year to marry him in, had he put the question. But too many women were
in love with Heriot. He and I met Kiomi on the road to the race-course
on the Southdowns; the prettiest racecourse in England, shut against
gipsies. A bare-footed swarthy girl ran beside our carriage and tossed
us flowers. He and a friend of his, young Lord Destrier, son of the
Marquis of Edbury, who knew my father well, talked and laughed with her,
and thought her so very handsome that I likewise began to stare, and I
suddenly called 'Kiomi!' She bounded back into the hedge. This was our
second meeting. It would have been a pleasant one had not Heriot and
Destrier pretended all sorts of things about our previous acquaintance.
Neither of us, they said, had made a bad choice, but why had we
separated? She snatched her hand out of mine with a grin of anger like
puss in a fury. We had wonderful fun with her. They took her to a great
house near the race-course, and there, assisted by one of the young
ladies, dressed her in flowing silks, and so passed her through the gate
of the enclosure interdicted to bare feet. There they led her to groups
of fashionable ladies, and got themselves into pretty scrapes. They said
she was an Indian. Heriot lost his wagers and called her a witch. She
replied, 'You'll find I'm one, young man,' and that was the only true
thing she spoke of the days to come. Owing to the hubbub around the two
who were guilty of this unmeasured joke upon consequential ladies, I had
to conduct her to the gate. Instantly, and without a good-bye, she
scrambled up her skirts and ran at strides across the road and through
the wood, out of sight. She won her dress and a piece of jewelry.
With Heriot I went on a sad expedition, the same I had set out upon with
Temple. This time I saw my father behind those high red walls, once so
mysterious and terrible to me. Heriot made light of prisons for debt.
He insisted, for my consolation, that they had but a temporary
dishonourable signification; very estimable gentlemen, as well as scamps,
inhabited them, he said. The impression produced by my visit--the
feasting among ruined men who believed in good luck the more the lower
they fell from it, and their fearful admiration of my imprisoned father
--was as if I had drunk a stupefying liquor. I was unable clearly to
reflect on it. Daily afterwards, until I released him, I made journeys
to usurers to get a loan on the faith of the reversion of my mother's
estate. Heriot, like the real friend he was, helped me with his name to
the bond. When my father stood free, I had the proudest heart alive; and
as soon as we had parted, the most amazed. For a long while, for years,
the thought of him was haunted by racketballs and bearded men in their
shirtsleeves; a scene sickening to one's pride. Yet it had grown
impossible for me to think of him without pride. I delighted to hear
him. We were happy when we were together. And, moreover, he swore to me
on his honour, in Mrs. Waddy's presence, that he and the constable would
henceforth keep an even pace. His exuberant cheerfulness and charming
playfulness were always fascinating. His visions of our glorious future
enchained me. How it was that something precious had gone out of my
life, I could not comprehend.
Julia Rippenger's marriage with Captain Bulsted was, an agreeable
distraction. Unfortunately for my peace of mind, she went to the altar
poignantly pale. My aunt Dorothy settled the match. She had schemed it,
her silence and half-downcast look seemed to confess, for the sake of her
own repose, but neither to her nor to others did that come of it. I
wrote a plain warning of the approaching catastrophe to Heriot, and
received his reply after it was over, to this effect:
'In my regiment we have a tolerable knowledge of women. They like
change, old Richie, and we must be content to let them take their twenty
shillings for a sovereign. I myself prefer the Navy to the Army; I have
no right to complain. Once she swore one thing, now she has sworn
another. We will hope the lady will stick to her choice, and not seek
smaller change. "I could not forgive coppers"; that 's quoting your dad.
I have no wish to see the uxorious object, though you praise him. His
habit of falling under the table is middling old-fashioned; but she may
like him the better, or she may cure him. Whatever she is as a woman,
she was a very nice girl to enliven the atmosphere of the switch. I
sometimes look at a portrait I have of J. R., which, I fancy, Mrs.
William Bulsted has no right to demand of me; but supposing her husband
thinks he has, why then I must consult my brother officers. We want a
war, old Richie, and I wish you were sitting at our mess, and not mooning
about girls and women.'
I presumed from this that Heriot's passion for Julia was extinct. Aunt
Dorothy disapproved of his tone, which I thought admirably philosophical
and coxcombi-cally imitable, an expression of the sort of thing I should
feel on hearing of Janet Ilchester's nuptials.
The daring and success of that foreign adventure of mine had, with the
aid of Colonel and Clara Goodwin, convinced the squire of the folly of
standing between me and him I loved. It was considered the best sign
possible that he should take me down on an inspection of his various
estates and his great coal-mine, and introduce me as the heir who would
soon relieve him of the task.
Perhaps he thought the smell of wealth a promising cure for such fits of
insubordination as I had exhibited. My occasional absences on my own
account were winked at. On my return the squire was sour and snappish,
I cheerful and complaisant; I grew cold, and he solicitous; he would
drink my health with a challenge to heartiness, and I drank to him
heartily and he relapsed to a fit of sulks, informing me, that in his
time young men knew when they were well off, and asking me whether I was
up to any young men's villanies, had any concealed debts perchance,
because, if so--Oh! he knew the ways of youngsters, especially when they
fell into bad hands: the list of bad titles rumbled on in an underbreath
like cowardly thunder:--well, to cut the matter short, because, if so,
his cheque-book was at my service; didn't I know that, eh? Not being
immediately distressed by debt, I did not exhibit the gush of gratitude,
and my sedate 'Thank you, sir,' confused his appeal for some sentimental
show of affection.
I am sure the poor old man suffered pangs of jealousy; I could even at
times see into his breast and pity him. He wanted little more than to be
managed; but a youth when he perceives absurdity in opposition to him
chafes at it as much as if he were unaware that it is laughable. Had the
squire talked to me in those days seriously and fairly of my father's
character, I should have abandoned my system of defence to plead for him
as before a judge. By that time I had gained the knowledge that my
father was totally of a different construction from other men. I wished
the squire to own simply to his loveable nature. I could have told him
women did. Without citing my dear aunt Dorothy, or so humble a creature
as the devoted Mrs. Waddy, he had sincere friends among women, who
esteemed him, and were staunch adherents to his cause; and if the widow
of the City knight, Lady Sampleman, aimed openly at being something more,
she was not the less his friend. Nor was it only his powerful animation,
generosity, and grace that won them.
There occurred when I was a little past twenty, already much in his
confidence, one of those strange crucial events which try a man publicly,
and bring out whatever can be said for and against him. A young Welsh
heiress fell in love with him. She was, I think, seven or eight months
younger than myself, a handsome, intelligent, high-spirited girl, rather
wanting in polish, and perhaps in the protecting sense of decorum. She
was well-born, of course--she was Welsh. She was really well-bred too,
though somewhat brusque. The young lady fell hopelessly in love with my
father at Bath. She gave out that he was not to be for one moment
accused of having encouraged her by secret addresses. It was her
unsolicited avowal--thought by my aunt Dorothy immodest, not by me--that
she preferred him to all living men. Her name was Anna Penrhys. The
squire one morning received a letter from her family, requesting him to
furnish them with information as to the antecedents of a gentleman
calling himself Augustus Fitz-George Frederick William Richmond Guelph
Roy, for purposes which would, they assured him, warrant the inquiry.
He was for throwing the letter aside, shouting that he thanked his God
he was unacquainted with anybody on earth with such an infernal list of
names as that. Roy! Who knew anything of Roy?
'It happens to be my father's present name,' said I.
'It sounds to me like the name of one of those blackguard adventurers who
creep into families to catch the fools,' pursued the squire, not hearing
me with his eyes.
'The letter at least must be answered,' my aunt Dorothy said.
'It shall be answered!' the squire worked himself up to roar.
He wrote a reply, the contents of which I could guess at from my aunt's
refusal to let me be present at the discussion of it. The letter
despatched was written by her, with his signature. Her eyes glittered
for a whole day.
Then came a statement of the young lady's case from Bath.
'Look at that! look at that!' cried the squire, and went on, 'Look at
that!' in a muffled way. There was a touch of dignity in his unforced
My aunt winced displeasingly to my sight: 'I see nothing to astonish
'Nothing to astonish one !' The squire set his mouth in imitation of her.
'You see nothing to astonish one? Well, ma'am, when a man grows old
enough to be a grandfather, I do see something astonishing in a child of
nineteen--by George! it's out o' nature. But you women like
monstrosities. Oh! I understand. Here's an heiress to fifteen thousand
a year. It's not astonishing if every ruined gambler and scapegrace in
the kingdom's hunting her hot! no, no! that's not astonishing. I
suppose she has her money in a coal mine.'
The squire had some of his in a coal-mine; my mother once had; it was the
delivery of a blow at my father, signifying that he had the scent for
this description of wealth. I left the room. The squire then affected
that my presence had constrained him, by bellowing out epithets easy for
me to hear in the hall and out on the terrace. He vowed by solemn oath
he was determined to save this girl from ruin. My aunt's speech was
I was summoned to Bath by my father in a curious peremptory tone implying
the utmost urgent need of me.
I handed the letter to the squire at breakfast, saying, 'You must spare
me for a week or so, sir.'
He spread the letter flat with his knife, and turned it over with his
'Harry,' said he, half-kindly, and choking, 'you're better out of it.'
'I'm the best friend he could have by him, sir.'
'You're the best tool he could have handy, for you're a gentleman.'
'I hope I shan't offend you, grandfather, but I must go.'
'Don't you see, Harry Richmond, you're in for an infernal marriage
'The young lady is not of age,' interposed my aunt.
'Eh? An infernal elopement, then. It's clear the girl's mad-head's
cracked as a cocoa-nut bowled by a monkey, brains nowhere. Harry, you're
not a greenhorn; you don't suspect you're called down there to stop it,
do you? You jump plump into a furious lot of the girl's relatives; you
might as well take a header into a leech-pond. Come! you're a man;
think for yourself. Don't have this affair on your conscience, boy.
I tell you, Harry Richmond, I'm against your going. You go against my
will; you offend me, sir; you drag my name and blood into the mire.
She's Welsh, is she? Those Welsh are addle-pated, every one. Poor
He threw a horrible tremour into his accent of pity.
My aunt expressed her view mildly, that I was sent for to help cure the
young lady of her delusion.
'And take her himself!' cried the squire. 'Harry, you wouldn't go and do
that? Why, the law, man, the law--the whole country 'd be up about it.
You'll be stuck in a coloured caricature!'
He was really alarmed lest this should be one of the consequences of my
going, and described some of the scourging caricatures of his day with an
intense appreciation of their awfulness as engines of the moral sense of
the public. I went nevertheless.
A PROMENADE IN BATH
I found my father at his hotel, sitting with his friend Jorian DeWitt,
whom I had met once before, and thought clever. He was an ex-captain of
dragoons, a martyr to gout, and addicted to Burgundy, which necessitated
his resorting to the waters, causing him, as he said, between his
appetites and the penance he paid for them, to lead the life of a
pendulum. My father was in a tempered gay mood, examining a couple of
the county newspapers. One abused him virulently; he was supported by
the other. After embracing me, he desired me to listen while he read out
opposing sentences from the columns of these eminent journals:
'The person calling himself "Roy," whose monstrously absurd pretensions
are supposed to be embodied in this self-dubbed surname . . .'
'--The celebrated and courtly Mr. Richmond Roy, known no less by the
fascination of his manners than by his romantic history . . .'
'--has very soon succeeded in making himself the talk of the town . . '
'--has latterly become the theme of our tea-tables . . .'
'--which is always the adventurer's privilege . . .'
'--through no fault of his own . . '
'--That we may throw light on the blushing aspirations of a crow-sconced
Cupid, it will be as well to recall the antecedents of this (if no worse)
preposterous imitation buck of the old school . . .'
'--Suffice it, without seeking to draw the veil from those affecting
chapters of his earlier career which kindled for him the enthusiastic
sympathy of all classes of his countrymen, that he is not yet free from a
tender form of persecution . . .'
'--We think we are justified in entitling him the Perkin Warbeck of
society . . .'
'--Reference might be made to mythological heroes . . .'
Hereat I cried out mercy.
Captain DeWitt (stretched nursing a leg) removed his silk handkerchief
from his face to murmur,
'The bass stedfastly drowns the treble, if this is meant for harmony.'
My father rang up the landlord, and said to him,
'The choicest of your cellar at dinner to-day, Mr. Lumley; and, mind you,
I am your guest, and I exercise my right of compelling you to sit down
with us and assist in consuming a doubtful quality of wine. We dine
four. Lay for five, if your conscience is bad, and I excuse you.'
The man smirked. He ventured to say he had never been so tempted to