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The Amateur Gentleman by Jeffery Farnol et al

Part 10 out of 13

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he smiled instead, a little grimly, as he settled his feet in the
stirrups, and shortening his reins, sat waiting, very patiently. Not
so "The Terror." Patient, forsooth! He backed and sidled and tossed
his head, he fidgeted with his bit, he glared viciously this way and
that, and so became aware of other four-legged creatures like himself,
notably of Sir Mortimer's powerful gray near by, and in his heart he
scorned them, one and all, proud of his strength and might, and sure
of himself because of the hand upon his bridle. Therefore he snuffed
the air with quivering nostril, and pawed the earth with an
impatient hoof,--eager for the fray.

Now all at once Sir Mortimer laughed again, louder than before, and
in that same moment his gray swerved and cannoned lightly against
"The Terror," and--reared back only just in time to avoid the
vicious snap of two rows of gleaming teeth.

"Damnation!" cried Sir Mortimer, very nearly unseated, "can't you
manage that brute of yours!" and he struck savagely at "The Terror"
with his whip. But Barnabas parried the blow, and now--even as they
stared and frowned upon each other, so did their horses, the black
and the gray, glare at each other with bared teeth.

But, here, a sudden shout arose that spread and spread, and swelled
into a roar; the swaying line of horsemen surges forward, bends,
splits into plunging groups, and man and horse are off and away--the
great Steeplechase has begun.

Half a length behind Carnaby's gray gallops "The Terror," fire in
his eye, rage in his heart, for there are horses ahead of him, and
that must not be. Therefore he strains upon the bit, and would fain
lengthen his stride, but the hand upon his bridle is strong and

On sweeps the race, across the level and up the slope; twice Sir
Mortimer glances over his shoulder, and twice he increases his pace,
yet, as they top the rise, "The Terror" still gallops half a length

Far in advance races Tressider, the thinnish, youngish gentleman in
sandy whiskers, hotly pressed by the Marquis, and with eight or nine
others hard in their rear; behind these again, rides the Viscount,
while to the right of Barnabas races Slingsby on his long-legged
sorrel, with the rest thundering on behind. And now before them is
the first jump--a hedge with the gleam of water beyond; and the
hedge is high, and the water broad. Nearer it looms, and
nearer--half a mile away! a quarter! less! Tressider's horse rises
to it, and is well over, with the Marquis hard on his heels. But now
shouts are heard, and vicious cries, as several horses, refusing,
swerve violently; there is a crash! a muffled cry--some one is down.
Then, as Barnabas watches, anxious-eyed, mindful of the Viscount's
injured arm--"Moonraker" shoots forward and has cleared it gallantly.

And now it is that "The Terror" feels the restraining bit relax and
thereupon, with his fierce eyes ever upon the gray flanks of his
chosen foe, he tosses his great head, lengthens his stride, and with
a snort of defiance sweeps past Carnaby's gray, on and on, with
thundering hoofs and ears laid back, while Barnabas, eyeing the
hedge with frowning brows, gauges his distance,--a hundred yards!
fifty! twenty-five! steadies "The Terror" in his stride and sends
him at it--feels the spring and sway of the powerful loins,--a rush
of wind, and is over and away, with a foot to spare. But behind him
is the sound of a floundering splash,--another! and another! The air
is full of shouts and cries quickly lost in the rush of wind and the
drumming of galloping hoofs, and, in a while, turning his head, he
sees Slingsby's "Rascal" racing close behind.

"Bit of a rasper, that, b'gad!" bellows the Captain, radiant of face.
"Thinned 'em out a bit, ye know, Beverley. Six of 'em--down and out
of it b'gad! Carnaby's behind, too,--foot short at the water. Told
you it would be--a good race, and b'gad--so it is!"

Inch by inch the great, black horse and the raking sorrel creep up
nearer the leaders, and, closing in with the Viscount, Barnabas
wonders to see the ghastly pallor of his cheek and the grim set of
mouth and jaw, till, glancing at the sleeve of his whip-arm, he sees
there a dark stain, and wonders no more. And the race is but begun!

"Dick!" he cried.

"That you, Bev?"

"Your arm, Dick,--keep your hand up!"

"Arm, Bev--right as a trivet!"

And to prove his words, the Viscount flourished his whip in the air.

"Deuce take me! but Jerningham's setting a devilish hot pace," he
cried. "Means to weed out the unlikely ones right away. Gad! there's
riding for you!--Tressider's 'Pilot''s blown already--Marquis hasn't
turned a hair!"

And indeed the Marquis, it would seem, has at last ceased to worry
over his cravat, and has taken the lead, and now, stooped low in the
saddle, gallops a good twelve yards in front of Tressider.

"Come on Bev!" cries the Viscount and, uttering a loud "view hallo,"
flourishes his whip. "Moonraker" leaps forward, lengthens his stride,
and away he goes fast and furious, filling the air with flying clods,
on and on,--is level with Tressider,--is past, and galloping neck
and neck with the Marquis.

Onward sweeps the race, over fallow and plough, over hedge and ditch
and fence, until, afar off, Barnabas sees again the gleam of
water--a jump full thirty feet across. Now, as he rides with
"The Terror" well in hand, Barnahas is aware of a gray head with
flaring nostrils, of a neck outstretched, of a powerful shoulder, a
heaving flank, and Carnaby goes by. "The Terror" sees this too and,
snorting, bores savagely upon the bit--but in front of him gallops
Tressider's chestnut, and beside him races the Captain's sorrel. So,
foot by foot, and yard by yard, the gray wins by. Over a
hedge--across a ditch, they race together till, as they approach the
water-jump, behold! once more "The Terror" gallops half a length
behind Sir Mortimer's gray.

The Marquis and the Viscount, racing knee and knee, have increased
their twelve yards by half, and now, as Barnabas watches, down go
their heads, in go their spurs, and away go chestnut and bay, fast
and faster, take off almost together, land fairly, and are steadied
down again to a rolling gallop.

And now, away races Carnaby, with Barnabas hard upon his left, the
pace quickens to a stretching gallop,--the earth flies beneath them.
Barnabas marks his take-off and rides for it--touches "The Terror"
with his spur and--in that moment, Carnaby's gray swerves. Barnabas
sees the danger and, clenching his teeth, swings "The Terror" aside,
just in time; who, thus balked, yet makes a brave attempt,--leaps,
is short, and goes down with a floundering splash, flinging Barnabas

Half-stunned, half-blinded, plastered with mud and ooze, Barnabas
staggers up to his feet, is aware in a dazed manner that horses are
galloping down upon him, thundering past and well-nigh over him; is
conscious also that "The Terror" is scrambling up and, even as he
gets upon his legs, has caught the reins, vaulted into the saddle,
and strikes in his spurs,--whereat "The Terror" snorts, rears and
sets off after the others. And a mighty joy fills his heart, for now
the hand upon his bridle restrains him no longer--nay, rather urges
him forward; and far in the distance gallop others of his kind,
others whom he scorns, one and all--notably a certain gray. Therefore
as he spurns the earth beneath him faster and faster, the heart of
"The Terror" is uplifted and full of rejoicing.

But,--bruised, bleeding and torn, all mud from heel to head, and
with a numbness in his brain Barnabas rides, stooped low in the
saddle, for he is sick and very faint. His hat is gone, and the cool
wind in his hair revives him somewhat, but the numbness remains. Yet
it is as one in a dream that he finds his stirrups, and is vaguely
conscious of voices about him--a thudding of hoofs and the creak of
leather. As one in a dream he lifts "The Terror" to a fence that
vanishes and gives place to a hedge which in turn is gone, or is
magically transfigured into an ugly wall. And, still as one in a
dream, he is thereafter aware of cries and shouting, and knows that
horses are galloping beside him--riderless. But on and ever on races
the great, black horse--head stretched out, ears laid back, iron
hoofs pounding--on and on, over hedge and ditch and wall--over fence
and brook--past blown and weary stragglers--his long stride unfaltering
over ploughland and fallowland, tireless, indomitable--on and ever on
until Barnabas can distinguish, at last, the horsemen in front.

Therefore, still as one in a dream, he begins to count them to
himself, over and over again. Yet, count how he will, can make them
no more than seven all told, and he wonders dully where the rest may

Well in advance of the survivors the Viscount is going strong, with
Slingsby and the Marquis knee and knee behind; next rides Carnaby
with two others, while Tressider, the thinnish, youngish gentleman,
brings up the rear. Inch by inch Barnabas gains upon him, draws level
and is past, and so "The Terror" once more sees before him Sir
Mortimer's galloping gray.

But now--something is wrong in front,--there is a warning yell from
the Marquis--up flashes the Captain's long arm, for "Moonraker" has
swerved suddenly, unaccountably,--loses his stride, and falls back
until he is neck and neck with "The Terror." Thus, still as one in a
dream, Barnabas is aware, little by little, that the Viscount's hat
and whip are gone, and that he is swaying oddly in the saddle with
"Moonraker's" every stride--catches a momentary glimpse of a pale,
agonized face, and hears the Viscount speaking:

"No go, Bev!" he pants. "Oh, Bev, I'm done! 'Moonraker's' game,
but--I'm--done, Bev--arm, y'know--devilish shame, y'know--"

And Barnabas sees that the Viscount's sleeve is all blood from the
elbow down. And in that moment Barnabas casts off the numbness, and
his brain clears again.

"Hold on, Dick!" he cries.

"Can't Bev,--I--I'm done. Tried my best--but--I--" Barnabas reaches
out suddenly--but is too far off--the Viscount lurches forward,
loses his stirrups, sways--and "Moonraker" gallops--riderless. But
help is at hand, for Barnabas sees divers rustic onlookers who run
forward to lift the Viscount's inanimate form. Therefore he turns
him back to the race, and bends all his energies upon this, the last
and grimmest part of the struggle; as for "The Terror," he vents a
snort of joyful defiance, for now he is galloping again in full view
of Sir Mortimer Carnaby's foam-flecked gray.

And now--it's hey! for the rush and tear of wind through the hair!
for the muffled thunder of galloping hoofs! for the long, racing
stride, the creak of leather! Hey! for the sob and pant and strain
of the conflict!

Inch by inch the great, black horse creeps up, but Carnaby sees him
coming, and the gray leaps forward under his goading heels,--is up
level with Slingsby and the Marquis,--but with "The Terror" always
close behind.

Over a hedge,--across a ditch,--and down a slope they race together,
--knees in, heads low,--to where, at the bottom, is a wall. An
ancient, mossy wall it is, yet hideous for all that, an almost
impossible jump, except in one place, a gap so narrow that but one
may take it at a time. And who shall be first? The Marquis is losing
ground rapidly--a foot--a yard--six! and losing still, races now a
yard behind Barnabas. Thus, two by two, they thunder down upon the
gap that is but wide enough for one. Slingsby is plying his whip,
Carnaby is rowelling savagely, yet, neck and neck, the sorrel and
the gray race for the jump, with Barnabas and the Marquis behind.

"Give way, Slingsby!" shouts Sir Mortimer.

"Be damned if I do!" roars the Captain, and in go his spurs.

"Pull over, Slingsby!" shouts Sir Mortimer.

"No, b'gad! Pull over yourself," roars the Captain. "Give way,
Carnaby--I have you by a head!"

An exultant yell from Slingsby,--a savage shout from Sir Mortimer--a
sudden, crunching thud, and the gallant sorrel is lying a twisted,
kicking heap, with Captain Slingsby pinned beneath.

"What, Beverley!" he cries, coming weakly to his elbow, "well ridden,
b'gad! After him! The 'Rascal' 's done for, poor devil! So am I,
--it's you or Carnaby now--ride, Beverley, ride!" And so, as Barnabas
flashes past and over him, Captain Slingsby of the Guards sinks back,
and lies very white and still.

A stake-fence, a hedge, a ditch, and beyond that a clear stretch to
the winning-post.

At the fence, Carnaby sees "The Terror's" black head some six yards
behind; at the hedge, Barnabas has lessened the six to three; and at
the ditch once again the great, black horse gallops half a length
behind the powerful gray. And now, louder and louder, shouts come
down the wind!

"The gray! It's Carnaby's gray! Carnaby's 'Clasher' wins! 'Clasher'!

But, slowly and by degrees, the cries sink to a murmur, to a buzzing
drone. For, what great, black horse is this which, despite Carnaby's
flailing whip and cruel, rowelling spur, is slowly, surely creeping
up with the laboring gray? Who is this, a wild, bare-headed figure,
grim and bloody, stained with mud, rent and torn, upon whose miry
coat yet hangs a crushed and fading rose?

Down the stretch they race, the black and the gray, panting, sobbing,
spattered with foam, nearer and nearer, while the crowd rocks and
sways about the great pavilion, and buzzes with surprise and

Then all at once, above this sound, a single voice is heard, a
mighty voice, a roaring bellow, such, surely, as only a mariner
could possess.

"It's Mr. Beverley, sir!" roars the voice. "Beverley!

Little by little the crowd takes up the cry until the air rings with
it, for now the great, black horse gallops half a length ahead of
the sobbing gray, and increases his lead with every stride, by
inches--by feet! On and on until his bridle is caught and held, and
he is brought to a stand. Then, looking round, Barnabas sees the
Marquis rein up beside him, breathless he is still, and splashed
with mud and foam, but smiling and debonair as he reaches out his

"Congratulations, Beverley!" he pants. "Grand race!--I caught
Carnaby--at the post. Now, if it hadn't been for--my cravat--" But
here the numbness comes upon Barnabas again, and, as one in a dream,
he is aware that his horse is being led through the crowd--that he
is bowing to some one in the gaudy pavilion, a handsome, tall, and
chubby gentleman remarkable for waistcoat and whiskers.

"Well ridden, sir!" says the gentleman. "Couldn't have done it
better myself, no, by Gad I couldn't--could I, Sherry?"

"No, George, by George you couldn't!" answered a voice.

"Must take a run down to Brighton, Mr.--Mr.--ah, yes--Beverley.
Show you some sport at Brighton, sir. A magnificent race,
--congratulate you, sir. Must see more of you!"

Then, still as one in a dream, Barnabas bows again, sees Martin at
"The Terror's" bridle, and is led back, through a pushing, jostling
throng all eager to behold the winner, and thus, presently finds
himself once more in the quiet of the paddock behind the "White Hart"

Stiffly and painfully he descends from the saddle, hears a feeble
voice call his name and turning, beholds a hurdle set in the shade
of a tree, and upon the hurdle the long, limp form of Captain
Slingsby, with three or four strangers kneeling beside him.

"Ah, Beverley!" said he faintly. "Glad you beat Carnaby, he--crowded
me a bit--at the wall, y' know. Poor old 'Rascal' 's gone,
b'gad--and I'm going, but prefer to--go--out of doors,--seems more
room for it somehow--give me the sky to look at. Told you it would
be a grand race, and--b'gad, so it was! Best I--ever rode--or ever
shall. Eh--what, Beverley? No, no--mustn't take it--so hard, dear
fellow. B'gad it--might be worse, y' know. I--might have lost,
and--lived--been deeper in Gaunt's clutches than ever,--then. As it
is, I'm going beyond--beyond his reach--for good and all. Which is
the purest--bit of luck I ever had. Lift me up a little--will you,
Beverley? Deuced fine day, b'gad! And how green the grass is--never
saw it so green before--probably because--never troubled to look
though, was always so--deuced busy, b'gad!--The poor old 'Rascal'
broke his back, Beverley--so did I. They--shot 'The Rascal,' but--"

Here the Captain sighed, and closed his eyes wearily, but after a
moment opened them again.

"A fine race, gentlemen!" said he, addressing the silent group,
"a fine race well ridden--and won by--my friend, Beverley. I'll
warrant him a--true-blue, gentlemen. Beverley, I--I congratulate--"

Once more he closed his eyes, sighed deeply and, with the sigh,
Captain Slingsby of the Guards had paid his debts--for good and all.



And now, the "Galloping Countryman" found himself famous, and, being
so, made the further, sudden discovery that all men were his
"warmest friends," nay, even among the gentler sex this obtained,
for the most dragon-like dowagers, the haughtiest matrons, became
infinitely gracious; noble fathers were familiarly jocose; the
proudest beauties wore, for him, their most bewitching airs, since
as well as being famous, he was known to be one of the wealthiest
young men about town; moreover His Royal Highness had deigned to
notice him, and Her Grace of Camberhurst was his professed friend.
Hence, all this being taken into consideration, it is not surprising
that invitations poured in upon him, and that the doors of the most
exclusive clubs flew open at his step.

Number Five St. James's Square suddenly became a rendezvous of Sport
and Fashion, before its portal were to be seen dashing turn-outs of
all descriptions, from phaetons to coaches; liveried menials,
bearing cards, embossed, gild-edged, and otherwise, descended upon St.
James's Square in multi-colored shoals; in a word, the Polite World
forthwith took Barnabas to its bosom, which, though perhaps a
somewhat cold and flinty bosom, made up for such minor deficiencies
by the ardor of its embrace. By reason of these things, the legs of
the Gentleman-in-Powder were exalted,--that is to say, were in a
perpetual quiver of superior gratification, and Barnabas himself
enjoyed it all vastly--for a week.

At the end of which period behold him at twelve o'clock in the
morning, as he sits over his breakfast (with the legs of the
Gentleman-in-Powder planted, statuesque, behind his chair), frowning
at a stupendous and tumbled pile of Fashionable note-paper, and
Polite cards.

"Are these all?" he inquired, waving his hand towards the letters.

"Them, sir, is--hall!" answered the Gentleman-in-Powder.

"Then ask Mr. Peterby to come to me," said Barnabas, his frown
growing blacker.

"Cer-tainly, sir!" Here the Gentleman-in-Powder posed his legs, bowed,
and took them out of the room. Then Barnabas drew a letter from his
pocket and began to read as follows:

The Gables,

MY DEAR BARNABAS,--As Cleone's letter looks very
long (she sits opposite me at this precise moment writing
to you, and blushing very prettily over something her
pen has just scribbled--I can't quite see what, the table
is too wide), mine shall be short, that is, as short as
possible. Of course we are all disappointed not to have seen
you here since the race--that terrible race (poor, dear
Captain Slingsby,--how dreadful it was!) but of course,
it is quite right you should stay near the Viscount during
his illness. I rejoice to hear he is so much better. I am
having my town house, the one in Berkeley Square, put in
order, for Cleone has had quite enough of the country,
I think, so have I. Though indeed she seems perfectly
content (I mean Cleone) and is very fond of listening to the
brook. O Youth! O Romance! Well, I used to listen
to brooks once upon a time--before I took to a wig.
As for yourself now, Barnabas, the Marquis writes to
tell me that your cravats are 'all the thing,' and your
waistcoats 'all the go,' and that your new coat with the
opened cuff finds very many admirers. This is very well,
but since Society has taken you up and made a lion of you,
it will necessarily expect you to roar occasionally, just
to maintain your position. And there are many ways of
roaring, Barnabas. Brummell (whom I ever despised)
roared like an insolent cat--he was always very precise
and cat-like, and dreadfully insolent, but insolence palls,
after a while--even in Society. Indeed I might give you
many hints on Roaring, Barnabas, but--considering the
length of Cleone's letter, I will spare you more, nor even
give you any advice though I yearn to--only this: Be
yourself, Barnabas, in Society or out, so shall I always
subscribe myself:

Your affectionate friend,


3 P.M.--I have opened this letter to tell you that
Mr. Chichester and Ronald called here and stayed an hour.
Ronald was full of his woes, as usual, so I left him to
Cleone, and kept Mr. Chichester dancing attendance on
me. And, oh dear me! to see the white rage of the
man! It was deliciously thrilling, and I shivered most

"You sent for me, sir?" said Peterby, as Barnabas re-folded the

"Yes, John. Are you sure there is no other letter this morning
from--from Hawkhurst?"

"Quite, sir."

"Yet the Duchess tells me that the Lady Cleone wrote me also. This
letter came by the post this morning?"

"Yes, sir."

"And no other? It's very strange!"

But here, the Gentleman-in-Powder re-appeared to say that the
Marquis of Jerningham desired to see Mr. Beverley on a matter of
importance, and that nobleman presenting himself, Peterby withdrew.

"Excuse this intrusion, my dear Beverley," said the Marquis as the
door closed, "doocid early I know, but the--ah--the matter is
pressing. First, though, how's Devenham, you saw him last night as
usual, I suppose?"

"Yes," answered Barnabas, shaking hands, "he ought to be up and
about again in a day or two."

"Excellent," nodded the Marquis, "I'll run over to Half-moon Street
this afternoon. Is Bamborough with him still?"

"No, his Lordship left yesterday."

"Ha!" said the Marquis, and taking out his snuff-box, he looked at it,
tapped it, and put it away again. "Poor old Sling," said he gently,
"I miss him damnably, y'know, Beverley."

"Marquis," said Barnabas, "what is it?"

"Well, I want you to do me a favor, my dear fellow, and I don't know
how to ask you--doocid big favor--ah--I was wondering if you would
consent to--act for me?"

"Act for you?" repeated Barnabas, wholly at a loss.

"Yes, in my little affair with Carnaby--poor old Sling, d' you see.
What, don't you twig, Beverley, haven't you heard?"

"No!" answered Barnabas, "you don't mean that you and Carnaby are
going--to fight?"

"Exactly, my dear fellow, of course! He fouled poor old Sling at the
wall, y'know--you saw it, I saw it, so naturally I mean to call him
to account for it. And he can't refuse--I spoke doocid plainly, and
White's was full. He has the choice of weapons,--pistols I expect.
Personally, I should like it over as soon as possible, and anywhere
would do, though Eltham for preference, Beverley. So if you will
oblige me--"

But here, once again the Gentleman-in-Powder knocked to announce:
"Mr. Tressider."

The thinnish, youngish gentleman in sandy whiskers entered with a
rush, but, seeing the Marquis, paused.

"What, then--you 're before me, are you, Jerningham?" he exclaimed;
then turning, he saluted Barnabas, and burst into a torrent of speech.
"Beverley!" he cried, "cursed early to call, but I'm full o'
news--bursting with it, damme if I'm not--and tell it I must! First,
then, by Gad!--it was at White's you'll understand, and the
card-room was full--crammed, sir, curse me if it wasn't, and there's
Carnaby and Tufton Green, and myself and three or four others,
playing hazard, d'ye see,--when up strolls Jerningham here. 'It's
your play, Carnaby,' says I. 'Why then,' says the Marquis,--'why then,'
says he, 'look out for fouling!' says he, cool as a cucumber, curse
me! 'Eh--what?' cries Tufton, 'why--what d' ye mean?' 'Mean?' says
the Marquis, tapping his snuff-box, 'I mean that Sir Mortimer Carnaby
is a most accursed rascal' (your very words, Marquis, damme if they
weren't). Highly dramatic, Beverley--could have heard a pin
drop--curse me if you couldn't! End of it was they arranged a
meeting of course, and I was Carnaby's second, but--"

"Was?" repeated the Marquis.

"Yes, was,--for begad! when I called on my man this morning he'd
bolted, damme if he hadn't!"

"Gone?" exclaimed the Marquis in blank amazement.

"Clean gone! Bag and baggage! I tell you he's bolted, but--with all
due respect to you, Marquis, only from his creditors. He was
devilish deep in with Gaunt, I know, beside Beverley here. Oh damme
yes, he only did it to bilk his creditors, for Carnaby was always
game, curse me if he wasn't!"

Hereupon the Marquis had recourse to his snuff-box again.

"Under the circumstances," said he, sighing and shaking his head,
"I think I'll go and talk with our invalid--"

"No good, my boy, if you mean Devenham," said Tressider, shaking his
head, "just been there,--Viscount's disappeared too--been away all

"What?" cried Barnabas, springing to his feet, "gone?"

"Damme if he hasn't! Found his fellow in the devil of a way about it,
and his little rascal of a groom blubbering on the stairs."

"Then I must dress! You'll excuse me, I know!" said Barnabas, and
rang for Peterby. But his hand was even yet upon the bellrope when
stumbling feet were heard outside, the door was flung wide, and the
Viscount himself stood upon the threshold.

Pale and haggard of eye, dusty and unkempt, he leaned there, then
staggering to a chair he sank down and so lay staring at the floor.

"Oh, Bev!" he groaned, "she's gone--Clemency's gone, I--I can't find
her, Bev!"

Now hereupon the Marquis very quietly took up his hat and, nodding
to Barnabas, linked his arm in Tressider's and went softly from the
room, closing the door behind him.

"Dick!" cried Barnabas, bending over him, "my dear fellow!"

"Ever since you spoke, I--I've wanted her, Bev. All through my
illness I've hungered for her--the sound of her voice,--the touch of
her hand. As soon as I was strong enough--last night, I think it
was--I went to find her, to--to kneel at her feet, Bev. I drove down
to Frittenden and oh, Bev--she was gone! So I started back--looking
for her all night. My arm bothered me--a bit, you know, and I didn't
think I could do it. But I kept fancying I saw her before me in the
dark. Sometimes I called to her--but she--never answered, she's--gone,
Bev, and I--"

"Oh, Dick--she left there weeks ago--"

"What--you knew?"

"Yes, Dick."

"Then oh, Bev,--tell me where!"

"Dick, I--can't!"


"I promised her to keep it secret."

"Then--you won't tell me?"

"I can't."

"Won't! won't! Ah, but you shall, yes, by God!"

"Dick, I--"

"By God, but you shall, I say you shall--you must--where is she?"
The Viscount's pale cheek grew suddenly suffused, his eyes glared
fiercely, and his set teeth gleamed between his pallid lips.
"Tell me!" he demanded.

"No," said Barnabas, and shook his head.

Then, in that moment the Viscount sprang up and, pinning him with
his left hand, swung Barnabas savagely to the wall.

"She's mine!" he panted, "mine, I tell you--no one shall take her
from me, neither you nor the devil himself. She's mine--mine. Tell
me where she is,--speak before I choke you--speak!"

But Barnabas stood rigid and utterly still. Thus, in a while, the
griping fingers fell away, the Viscount stepped back, and groaning,
bowed his head.

"Oh, Bev," said he, "forgive me, I--I'm mad I think. I want her so
and I can't find her. And I had a spill last night--dark road you see,
and only one hand,--and I'm not quite myself in consequence. I'll

But, as he turned toward the door, Barnabas interposed.

"Dick, I can't let you go like this--what do you intend to do?"

"Will you tell me where she is?"

"No, but--"

"Then, sir, my further movements need not concern you."

"Dick, be reasonable,--listen--"

"Have the goodness to let me pass, sir."

"You are faint, worn out--stay here, Dick, and I--"

"Thanks, Beverley, but I accept favors from my friends only--pray
stand aside."

"Dick, if you'll only wait, I'll go to her now--this moment--I'll
beg her to see you--"

"Very kind, sir!" sneered the Viscount, "you are--privileged it seems.
But, by God, I don't need you, or any one else, to act as go-between
or plead my cause. And mark me, sir! I'll find her yet. I swear to
you I'll never rest until I find her again. And now, sir, once and
for all, I have the honor to wish you a very good day!" saying which
the Viscount bowed, and, having re-settled his arm in its sling,
walked away down the corridor, very upright as to back, yet a little
uncertain in his stride nevertheless, and so was gone.

Then Barnabas, becoming aware of the polite letters, and cards,
embossed, gilt-edged and otherwise, swept them incontinent to the
floor and, sinking into a chair, set his elbows upon the table, and
leaning his head upon his hands fell into a gloomy meditation. It
was thus that the Gentleman-in-Powder presently found him, and,
advancing into the room with insinuating legs, coughed gently to
attract his attention, the which proving ineffectual, he spoke:

"Ex-cuse me, sir, but there is a--person downstairs, sir--at the door,

"What kind of person?" inquired Barnabas without looking up.

"A most ex-tremely low person, sir--very common indeed, sir. Won't
give no name, sir, won't go away, sir. A very 'orrid person--in
gaiters, sir."

"What does he want?" said Barnabas, with head still bent.

"Says as 'ow 'e 'as a letter for you, sir, but--"

Barnabas was on his feet so quickly that the Gentleman-in-Powder
recoiled in alarm.

"Show him up--at once!"

"Oh!--cer-tainly, sir!" And though the bow of the
Gentleman-in-Powder was all that it should be, his legs quivered
disapprobation as they took him downstairs.

When next the door opened it was to admit the person in gaiters, a
shortish, broad-shouldered, bullet-headed person he was, and his
leggings were still rank of the stables; he was indeed a very horsey
person who stared and chewed upon a straw. At sight of Barnabas he
set a stubby finger to one eyebrow, and chewed faster than ever.

"You have a letter for me, I think?"


"Then give it to me."

The horsey person coughed, took out his straw, looked at it, shook
his head at it, and put it back again.

"Name o' Beverley, sir?" he inquired, chewing feverishly.


Hereupon the horsey person drew a letter from his pocket, chewed
over it a moment, nodded, and finally handed it to Barnabas, who,
seeing the superscription, hurriedly broke the seal. Observing which,
the horsey person sighed plaintively and shook his head, alternately
chewing upon and looking at his straw the while Barnabas read the

Oh, Barnabas dear, when shall I see you again? I
am very foolish to-day perhaps, but though the sun shines
gloriously, I am cold, it is my heart that is cold, a
deadly chill--as if an icy hand had touched it. And I
seem to be waiting--waiting for something to happen,
something dreadful that I cannot avert. I fear you will
think me weak and fanciful, but, dear, I cannot help wondering
what it all means. You ask me if I love you.
Can you doubt? How often in my dreams have I seen
you kneeling beside me with your neck all bare and the
dripping kerchief in your hand. Oh, dear Wood of Annersley!
it was there that I first felt your arms about me,
Barnabas, and I dream of that too--sometimes. But
last night I dreamed of that awful race,--I saw you
gallop past the winning post again, your dear face all cut
and bleeding, and as you passed me your eyes looked into
mine--such an awful look, Barnabas. And then it
seemed that you galloped into a great, black shadow
that swallowed you up, and so you were lost to me, and
I awoke trembling. Oh Barnabas, come to me! I want
you here beside me, for although the sky here is blue and
cloudless, away to the north where London lies, there is a
great, black shadow like the shadow of my dream, and
God keep all shadows from you, Barnabas. So come to
me--meet me to-morrow--there is a new moon. Come
to Oakshott's Barn at 7:30, and we will walk back to
the house together.

I am longing to see you, and yet I am a little afraid
also, because my love is not a quiet love or gentle, but
such a love as frightens me sometimes, because it has
grown so deep and strong.

This window, you may remember, faces north, and
now as I lift my eyes I can see that the shadow is still dark
over London, and very threatening. Come to me soon,
and that God may keep all shadows from you is the
prayer of


Now when he had finished reading, Barnabas sighed, and glancing up,
found the horsey person still busy with his straw, but now he took
it from his mouth, shook his head at it more sternly than ever,
dropped it upon the carpet and set his foot upon it; which done, he
turned and looked at Barnabas with a pair of very round, bright eyes.

"Now," said he, "I should like to take the liberty o' axing you one
or two questions, Mr. Barty, sir,--or as I should say, p'r'aps,
Mr. Beverley."

"What," exclaimed Barnabas, starting up, "it's you again, Mr. Shrig?"

"That werry same i-dentical, sir. Disguises again, ye see. Yesterday,
a journeyman peg-maker vith a fine lot o' pegs as I didn't vant to
sell--to-day a groom looking for a job as I don't need. Been
a-keeping my ogles on Number Vun and Number Two, and things is
beginning to look werry rosy, sir, yes, things is werry promising

"How do you mean?"

"Vell, to begin vith," said Mr. Shrig, taking the chair Barnabas
proffered, "you didn't 'appen to notice as that theer letter had
been broke open and sealed up again, did ye?"

"No," said Barnabas, staring at what was left of the seal.

"No, o' course you didn't--you opened it too quick to notice
anything--but I did."

"Oh, surely not--"

"That theer letter," said Mr. Shrig impressively, "vas wrote you by
a certain lady, vasn't it?"


"And I brought you that theer letter, didn't I?"

"Yes, but--"

"And 'oo do ye suppose give me that theer letter, to bring to
you,--the lady? Oh no! I'll tell you 'oo give it me,--it vas--shall ve
say, Number Two, the Accessory afore the fact,--shall ve call 'im C.?
Werry good! Now, 'ow did C. or Number Two, 'appen to give me that
theer letter? I'll tell you. Ven Number Vun and Number Two, B. and C.,
vent down to Hawkhurst, I vent down to Hawkhurst. They put up at the
'Qveen's 'ead,' so I 'angs about the 'Qveen's 'ead,'--offers myself
as groom--I'm 'andy vith an 'orse--got in the 'abit o' doing odd
jobs for Number Vun and Number Two, and, last night, Number Two
gives me that theer letter to deliver, and werry pertickler 'e vas
as I should give it into your werry own daddle, 'e also gives me a
guinea and tells as 'ow 'e don't vant me no more, and them's the
circumstances, sir."

"But," said Barnabas in frowning perplexity, "I don't understand.
How did he get hold of the letter?"

"Lord, sir, 'ow do I know that? But get it 'e did--'e likewise broke
the seal."


"Vell now, first, it's a love-letter, ain't it?"


"Werry good! Now, sir, might that theer letter be making a

"Yes, an appointment for to-morrow evening."

"Ah! In a nice, qviet, lonely place--say a vood?"

"Yes, at a very lonely place called Oakshott's Barn."

"Come, that's better and better!" nodded Mr. Shrig brightly,
"that's werry pretty, that is--things is rosier than I 'oped, but
then, as I said afore, things is allus blackest afore the dawn.
Oakshott's Barn, eh? Ecod, now, but it sounds a nice, lonesome
place--just the sort o' place for it, a--a--capital place as you
might call it." And Mr. Shrig positively chuckled and rubbed his
chubby hands together; but all at once, he shook his head gloomily,
and glancing at Barnabas, sighed deeply. "But you--von't go, o'
course, sir?"


"To Oakshott's Barn, to-morrow evening?"

"Yes, of course," answered Barnabas, "the appointment is for

"Seven-thirty!" nodded Mr. Shrig, "and a werry nice time for it too!
Sunset, it'll be about--a good light and not too long to vait till
dark! Yes, seven-thirty's a werry good time for it!"

"For what?"

"V'y," said Mr. Shrig, lowering his voice suddenly, "let's say for

"'It,'" repeated Barnabas, staring.

"Might I jest take a peep at that theer letter, v'ere it says
seven-thirty, sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, pointing to a certain line of Cleone's letter,
"here it is!"

"Ah," exclaimed Mr. Shrig, nodding and rubbing his hands again,
"your eyes is good 'uns, ain't they, sir?"


"Then jest take a good look at that theer seven-thirty, vill you,
sir--come, vot do you see?"

"That the paper is roughened a little, and the ink has run."

"Yes, and vot else? Look at it a bit closer, sir."

"Why," said Barnabas staring hard at the spot, "it looks as though
something had been scratched out!"

"And so it has, sir. If you go there at seven-thirty, it von't be a
fair lady as'll be vaiting to meet you. The time's been altered o'
course--jest as I 'oped and expected."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, slowly and very softly, and clenched his fist.

"So now, d'ye see, you can't go--can ye?" said Mr. Shrig in a
hopeless tone.

"Yes!" said Barnabas.

"Eh? Vot--you vill?"

"Most assuredly!"

"But--but it'll be madness!" stammered Mr. Shrig, his round eyes
rounder than ever, "it'll be fair asking to be made a unfort'nate
wictim of, if ye go. O' course it 'ud be a good case for me, and
good cases is few enough--but you mustn't go now, it 'ud be madness!"

"No," said Barnabas, frowning darkly, "because I shall go--before
seven-thirty, you see."



Even on a summer's afternoon Oakshott's Barn is a desolate place, a
place of shadows and solitude, whose slumberous silence is broken
only by the rustle of leaves, the trill of a skylark high overhead,
or the pipe of throstle and blackbird.

It is a place apart, shut out from the world of life and motion, a
place suggestive of decay and degeneration, and therefore a
depressing place at all times.

Yet, standing here, Barnabas smiled and uncovered his head, for here,
once, SHE had stood, she who was for him the only woman in all the
world. So having paused awhile to look about him, he presently went
on into the gloom of the barn, a gloom damp and musty with years and

Now glancing sharply this way and that, Barnabas espied a ladder or
rather the mouldering remains of one, that led up from the darkest
corner to a loft; up this ladder, with all due care, he mounted, and
thus found himself in what had once served as a hay-loft, for in one
corner there yet remained a rotting pile. It was much lighter up here,
for in many places the thatch was quite gone, while at one end of
the loft was a square opening or window. He was in the act of
looking from this window when, all at once he started and crouched
down, for, upon the stillness broke a sudden sound,--the rustling of
leaves, and a voice speaking in loud, querulous tones. And in a
while as he watched, screening himself from all chance of observation,
Barnabas saw two figures emerge into the clearing and advance
towards the barn.

"I tell you C-Chichester, it will be either him or m-me!"

"If he--condescends to fight you, my dear Ronald."

"C-condescend?" cried Barrymaine, and it needed but a glance at his
flushed cheek and swaying figure to see that he had been drinking
more heavily than usual. "C-condescend, damn his insolence!
Condescend, will he? I'll give him no chance for his c-cursed
condescension, I--I tell you, Chichester, I'll--"

"But you can't make a man fight, Ronald."

"Can't I? Why then if he won't fight I'll--"

"Hush! don't speak so loud!"

"Well, I will, Chichester,--s-so help me God, I will!"

"Will--what, Ronald?"

"W-wait and see!"

"You don't mean--murder, Ronald?"

"I didn't s-say so, d-did I?"

"Of course not, my dear Barrymaine, but--shall I take the pistols?"
And Mr. Chichester stretched out his hand towards a flat, oblong box
that Barrymaine carried clutched beneath his arm. "Better give them
to me, Ronald."

"No,--w-why should I?"

"Well,--in your present mood--"

"I--I'm not--d-drunk,--damme, I'm not, I tell you! And I'll give
the f-fellow every chance--honorable meeting."

"Then, if he refuses to fight you, as of course he will, you'll let
him go to--ah--make love to Cleone?"

"No, by God!" cried Barrymaine in a sudden, wild fury, "I-I'll
sh-shoot him first!"

"Kill him?"

"Yes, k-kill him!"

"Oh no you won't, Ronald, for two reasons. First of all, it would be

"Murder!" Barrymaine repeated, "so it would--murder! Yes, by God!"

"And secondly, you haven't the nerve. Though he has clandestine
meetings with your sister, though he crush you into the mud, trample
you under his feet, throw you into a debtor's prison to rot out your
days--though he ruin you body and soul, and compromise your sister's
honor--still you'd never--murder him, Ronald, you couldn't, you
haven't the heart, because it would be--murder!"

Mr. Chichester's voice was low, yet each incisive, quick-spoken word
reached Barnabas, while upon Barrymaine their effect was demoniac.
Dropping his pistol-case, he threw up wild arms and shook his
clenched fists in the air.

"Damn him!" he cried, "damn him! B-bury me in a debtor's prison,
will he? Foul my sister's honor w-will he? Never! never! I tell you
I'll kill him first!"

"Murder him, Ronald?"

"Murder? I t-tell you it's no murder to kill his sort. G-give me the

"Hush! Come into the barn."

"No. W-what for?"

"Well, the time is getting on, Ronald,--nearly seven o'clock, and
your ardent lovers are usually before their time. Come into the barn."

"N-no,--devilish dark hole!"

"But--he'll see you here!"

"What if he does, can't g-get away from me,--better f-for it out

"What do you mean? Better--for what?"

"The m-meeting."

"What--you mean to try and make him fight, do you?"

"Of course--try that way first. Give him a ch-chance, you know,
--c-can't shoot him down on s-sight."

"Ah-h!" said Mr. Chichester, very slowly, "you can't shoot him on
sight--of course you can't. I see."

"What? W-what d'ye see? Devilish dark hole in there!"

"All the better, Ronald,--think of his surprise when instead of
finding an armful of warm loveliness waiting for him in the shadows,
he finds the avenging brother! Come into the shadows, Ronald."

"All right,--yes, the shadow. Instead of the sister, the
b-brother--yes, by God!"

Now the flooring of the loft where Barnabas lay was full of wide
cracks and fissures, for the boards had warped by reason of many
years of rain and sun; thus, lying at full length, Barnabas saw
them below, Barrymaine leaning against the crumbling wall, while
Mr. Chichester stooped above the open duelling-case.

"What--they're loaded are they?" said he.

"Of c-course!"

"They're handsome tools, Ronald, and with your monogram, I see!"

"Yes. Is your f-flask empty, Chichester?"

"No, I think not," answered Mr. Chichester, still stooping above the
pistol in his hand.

"Then give it me, will you--m-my throat's on fire."

"Surely you 've had enough, Ronald? Did you know this flint was loose?"

"I'm n-not drunk, I t-tell you. I know when I've had enough,
g-give me some brandy, Chit, I know there's p-precious little left."

"Why then, fix this flint first, Ronald, I see you have all the
necessary tools here." So saying, Mr. Chichester rose and began
feeling through his pockets, while Barrymaine, grumbling, stooped
above the pistol-case. Then, even as he did so, Mr. Chichester drew
out a silver flask, unscrewed it, and thereafter made a certain quick,
stealthy gesture behind his companion's back, which done, he screwed
up the flask again, shook it, and, as Barrymaine rose, held it out
to him:

"Yes, I'm afraid there's very little left, Ronald," said he. With a
murmur of thanks Barrymaine took the flask and, setting it to his
lips, drained it at a gulp, and handed it back.

"Gad, Chichester!" he exclaimed, "it tastes damnably of the
f-flask--faugh! What time is it?"

"A quarter to seven!"

"Th-three quarters of an hour to wait!"

"It will soon pass, Ronald, besides, he's sure to be early."

"Hope so! But I--I think I'll s-sit down."

"Well, the floor's dry, though dirty."

"D-dirty? So it is, but beggars can't be c-choosers and--dev'lish
drowsy place, this!--I'm a b-beggar--you know t-that, and--pah! I
think I'm l-losing my--taste for brandy--"

"Really, Ronald? I've thought you seemed over fond of it--especially

"No--no!" answered Barrymaine, speaking in a thick, indistinct voice
and rocking unsteadily upon his heels, "I'm not--n-not drunk,
only--dev'lish sleepy!" and swaying to the wall he leaned there with
head drooping.

"Then you'd better--lie down, Ronald."

"Yes, I'll--lie down, dev'lish--drowsy p-place--lie down," mumbled
Barrymaine, suiting the action to the word; yet after lying down
full length, he must needs struggle up to his elbow again to blink
at Mr. Chichester, heavy eyed and with one hand to his wrinkling brow.
"Wha-what w-was it we--came for? Oh y-yes--I know--Bev'ley, of course!
You'll w-wake me--when he c-comes?"

"I'll wake you, Ronald."

"S-such a c-cursed--drowsy--" Barrymaine sank down upon his side,
rolled over upon his back, threw wide his arms, and so lay,
breathing stertorously.

Then Mr. Chichester smiled, and coming beside him, looked down upon
his helpless form and flushed face and, smiling still, spoke in his
soft, gentle voice:

"Are you asleep, Ronald?" he inquired, and stirred Barrymaine
lightly with his foot, but, feeling him so helpless, the stirring
foot grew slowly more vicious. "Oh Ronald," he murmured, "what a
fool you are! what a drunken, sottish fool you are. So you'd give
him a chance, would you? Ah, but you mustn't, Ronald, you shan't,
for your sake and my sake. My hand is steadier than yours, so sleep,
my dear Ronald, and wake to find that you have rid us of our good,
young Samaritan--once and for all, and then--hey for Cleone, and no
more dread of the Future. Sleep on, you swinish sot!"

Mr. Chichester's voice was as soft as ever, but, as he turned away,
the sleeping youth started and groaned beneath the sudden movement
of that vicious foot.

And now Mr. Chichester stooped, and taking the pistols, one by one,
examined flint and priming with attentive eye, which done, he
crossed to a darkened window and, bursting open the rotting shutter,
knelt and levelled one of the weapons, steadying his wrist upon the
sill; then, nodding as though satisfied, he laid the pistols upon
the floor within easy reach, and drew out his watch.

Slowly the sun declined, and slowly the shadows lengthened about
Oakshott's Barn, as they had done many and many a time before; a
rabbit darted across the clearing, a blackbird called to his mate in
the thicket, but save for this, nothing stirred; a great quiet was
upon the place, a stillness so profound that Barnabas could
distinctly hear the scutter of a rat in the shadows behind him, and
the slow, heavy breathing of the sleeper down below. And ever that
crouching figure knelt beside the broken shutter, very silent, very
still, and very patient.

But all at once, as he watched, Barnabas saw the rigid figure grow
suddenly alert, saw the right arm raised slowly, stealthily, saw the
pistol gleam as it was levelled across the sill; for now, upon the
quiet rose a sound faint and far, yet that grew and ever grew, the
on-coming rustle of leaves.

Then, even as Barnabas stared down wide-eyed, the rigid figure
started, the deadly pistol-hand wavered, was snatched back, and
Mr. Chichester leapt to his feet. He stood a moment hesitating as
one at a sudden loss, then crossing to the unconscious form of
Barrymaine, he set the pistol under his lax hand, turned, and
vanished into the shadow.

Thereafter, from the rear of the barn, came the sound of a blow and
the creak of a rusty hinge, quickly followed by a rustle of leaves
that grew fainter and fainter, and so was presently gone. Then
Barnabas rose, and coming to the window, peered cautiously out, and
there, standing before the barn surveying its dilapidation with round,
approving eyes, his nobbly stick beneath his arm, his high-crowned,
broad-brimmed hat upon his head, was Mr. Shrig.



Surprise and something very like disappointment were in Mr. Shrig's
look as Barnabas stepped out from the yawning doorway of the barn.

"V'y, sir," said he, consulting a large-faced watch. "V'y, Mr. Beverley,
it's eggs-actly tventy minutes arter the time for it!"

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"And you--ain't shot, then?"

"No, thank heaven."

"Nor even--vinged?"

"Nor even winged, Mr. Shrig."

"Fate," said Mr. Shrig, shaking a dejected head at him, "Fate is a
werry wexed problem, sir! 'Ere's you now, Number Three, as I might
say, the unfort'nate wictim as was to be--'ere you are a-valking up
to Fate axing to be made a corp', and vot do you get? not so much as
a scrat--not a westige of a scrat, v'ile another unfort'nate wictim
vill run avay from Fate, run? ah! 'eaven's 'ard! and werry nat'ral
too! and vot does 'e get? 'e gets made a corp' afore 'e knows it. No,
sir, Fate's a werry wexed problem, sir, and I don't understand it,
no, nor ever shall."

"But this was very simple," said Barnabas, slipping his hand in
Mr. Shrig's arm, and leading him away from the barn, "very simple
indeed, I got here before they came, and hid in the loft. Then,
while they were waiting for me down below, you came and frightened
them away."

"Ah! So they meant business, did they?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, nodding grimly, "they certainly meant business,
--especially Mr. Chich--"

"Ssh!" said Mr. Shrig, glancing round, "call 'im Number Two. Sir,
Number Two is a extra-special, super-fine, over-weight specimen, 'e
is. I've knowed a many 'Capitals' in my time, but I never knowed
such a Capital o' Capital Coves as 'im. Sir, Vistling Dick vas a
innercent, smiling babe, and young B. is a snowy, pet lamb alongside
o' Number Two. Capital Coves like 'im only 'appen, and they only
'appen every thousand year or so. Ecod! I 'm proud o' Number Two.
And talking of 'im, I 'appened to call on Nick the Cobbler, last


"Ah! and I found 'im vith 'is longest awl close 'andy--all on
account o' Number Two."

"How on his account?" demanded Barnabas, frowning suddenly.

"Vell, last evening, Milo o' Crotona, a pal o' Nick's, and a werry
promising bye 'e is too, 'appened to drop in sociable-like, and it
seems as Number Two followed 'im. And werry much Number Two
frightened that 'andsome gal, by all accounts. She wrote you a letter,
vich she give me to deliver, and--'ere it is."

So Barnabas took the letter and broke the seal. It was a very short
letter, but as he read Barnabas frowned blacker than ever.

"Mr. Shrig," said he very earnestly as he folded and pocketed the
letter, "will you do something for me--will you take a note to my
servant, John Peterby? You'll find him at the 'Oak and Ivy' in
Hawkhurst village."

"Vich, seeing as you're a pal, sir, I vill. But, sir," continued
Mr. Shrig, as Barnabas scribbled certain instructions for Peterby on
a page of his memorandum, "vot about yourself--you ain't a-going
back there, are ye?" and he jerked his thumb over his shoulder
towards the barn, now some distance behind them.

"Of course," said Barnabas, "to keep my appointment."

"D'ye think it's safe--now?"

"Quite,--thanks to you," answered Barnabas. "Here is the note, and
if you wish, John Peterby will drive you back to London with him."

"V'y, thank'ee sir,--'e shall that,--but you, now?" Mr. Shrig paused,
and, somewhat diffidently drew from his side pocket a very
business-like, brass-bound pistol, which he proffered to Barnabas,
"jest in case they should 'appen to come back, sir," said he.

But Barnabas laughingly declined it, and shook his chubby hand

"Vell," said Mr. Shrig, pocketing note and weapon, "you're true game,
sir, yes, game's your breed, and I only 'ope as you don't give me a
case--though good murder cases is few and far between, as I've told
you afore. Good-by, sir, and good luck."

So saying, Mr. Shrig nodded, touched the broad rim of his castor,
and strode away through the gathering shadows.

And when he was gone, and the sound of his going had died away in
the distance, Barnabas turned and swiftly retraced his steps; but
now he went with fists clenched, and head forward, as one very much
on the alert.

Evening was falling and the shadows were deepening apace, and as he
went, Barnabas kept ever in the shelter of the trees until he saw
before him once more, the desolate and crumbling barn of Oakshott.
For a moment he paused, eyeing its scarred and battered walls
narrowly, then, stepping quickly forward, entered the gloomy doorway
and, turning towards a certain spot, started back before the
threatening figure that rose up from the shadows.

"Ah! So you 've c-come at last, sir!" said Barrymaine, steadying
himself against the wall with one hand while he held the pistol
levelled in the other, "ins-stead of the weak s-sister you find the
avenging brother! Been waiting for you hours. C-cursed dreary hole
this, and I fell asleep, but--"

"Because you were drugged!" said Barnabas.

"D-drugged, sir! W-what d' you mean?"

"Chichester drugged the brandy--"


"He meant to murder me while you slept and fix the crime on you--"

"Liar!" cried Barrymaine, "you came here to meet my s-sister, but
instead of a defenceless girl you meet me and I'm g-going to settle
with you--once and for all--t-told you I would, last time we met.
There's another pistol in the c-case yonder--pick it up and t-take
your ground."

"Listen to me," Barnabas began.

"N-not a word--you're going to fight me--"


"Pick up that pistol--or I'll sh-shoot you where you stand!"


"I'll c-count three!" said Barrymaine, his pale face livid against
the darkness behind, "One! Two!--"

But, on the instant, Barnabas sprang in and closed with him, and,
grappled in a fierce embrace, they swayed a moment and staggered out
through the gaping doorway.

Barrymaine fought desperately. Barnabas felt his coat rip and tear,
but he maintained his grip upon his opponent's pistol hand, yet
twice the muzzle of the weapon covered him, and twice he eluded it
before Barrymaine could fire. Therefore, seeing Barrymaine's
intention, reading his deadly purpose in vicious mouth and dilated
nostril, Barnabas loosed one hand, drew back his arm, and
smote--swift and hard. Barrymaine uttered a cry that seemed to
Barnabas to find an echo far off, flung out his arms and, staggering,

Then Barnabas picked up the pistol and, standing over Barrymaine,

"I--had to--do it!" he panted. "Did I--hurt you much?"

But Ronald Barrymaine lay very white and still, and, stooping,
Barnabas saw that he had struck much harder than he had meant, and
that Barrymaine's mouth was cut and bleeding.

Now at this moment, even as he sank on his knees, Barnabas again
heard a cry, but nearer now and with the rustle of flying draperies,
and, glancing up, saw Cleone running towards them.

"Cleone!" he cried, and sprang to his feet.

"You--struck him!" she panted.

"I--yes, I--had to! But indeed he isn't much hurt--" But Cleone was
down upon her knees, had lifted Barrymaine's head to her bosom and
was wiping the blood from his pale face with her handkerchief.

"Cleone," said Barnabas, humbly, "I--indeed I--couldn't help it. Oh,
Cleone--look up!" Yet, while he spoke, there came a rustling of
leaves near by and glancing thither, he saw Mr. Chichester surveying
them, smiling and debonair, and, striding forward, Barnabas
confronted him with scowling brow and fierce, menacing eyes.

"Rogue!" said he, his lips curling, "Rascal!"

"Ah!" nodded Mr. Chichester gently, "you have a pistol there, I see!"

"Your despicable villainy is known!" said Barnabas. "Ha!--smile if
you will, but while you knelt, pistol in hand, in the barn there,
had you troubled to look in the loft above your head you might have
murdered me, and none the wiser. As it is, I am alive, to strip you
of your heritage, and you still owe me twenty thousand guineas. Pah!
keep them to help you from the country, for I swear you shall be
hounded from every club in London; men shall know you for what you
are. Now go, before you tempt me to strangle you for a nauseous beast.
Go, I say!"

Smiling still, but with a devil looking from his narrowed eyes,
Mr. Chichester slowly viewed Barnabas from head to foot, and, turning,
strolled away, swinging his tasselled walking cane as he went, with
Barnabas close behind him, pistol in hand, even as they had once
walked months before.

Now at this moment it was that Cleone, yet kneeling beside Barrymaine,
chanced to espy a crumpled piece of paper that lay within a yard of
her, and thus, half unwitingly, she reached out and took it up,
glanced at it with vague eyes, then started, and knitting her black
brows, read these words:

My Dear Barnabas,--The beast has discovered me.
I thought I only scorned him, but now I know I fear him,
too. So, in my dread, I turn to you. Yes, I will go now--
anywhere you wish. Fear has made me humble, and I
accept your offer. Oh, take me away--hide me, anywhere,
so shall I always be

Your grateful,


Thus, in a while, when Barrymaine opened his eyes it was to see
Cleone kneeling beside him with bent head, and with both hands
clasped down upon her bosom, fierce hands that clenched a crumpled
paper between them. At first he thought she was weeping, but, when
she turned towards him, he saw that her eyes were tearless and very
bright, and that on either cheek burned a vivid patch of color.

"Oh, Ronald!" she sighed, her lips quivering suddenly, "I--am glad
you are better--but--oh, my dear, I wish I--were dead!"

"There, there, Clo!" he muttered, patting her stooping shoulder,
"I f-frightened you, I suppose. But I'm all right now, dear. W-where's

"I--don't know, Ronald."

"But you, Cleone? You came here to m-meet this--this Beverley?"

"Yes, Ronald."

"D'you know w-what he is? D'you know he's a publican's son?--a vile,
low fellow masquerading as a g-gentleman? Yes, he's a p-publican's
son, I tell you!" he repeated, seeing how she shrank at this.
"And you s-stoop to such as he--s-stoop to meet him in s-such a
place as this! So I came to save you f-from yourself!"

"Did you, Ronald?"

"Yes--but oh, Cleone, you don't love the fellow, do you?"

"I think I--hate him, Ronald."

"Then you won't m-meet him again?"

"No, Ronald."

"And you'll try to be a little kinder--to C-Chichester?" Cleone
shivered and rose to her feet.

"Come!" said she, her hands once more clasped upon her bosom,
"it grows late, I must go."

"Yes. D-devilish depressing place this! G-give me your arm, Clo."
But as they turned to go, the bushes parted, and Barnabas appeared.

"Cleone!" he exclaimed.

"I--I'm going home!" she said, not looking at him.

"Then I will come with you,--if I may?"

"I had rather go--alone--with my brother."

"So pray s-stand aside, sir!" said Barrymaine haughtily through his
swollen lips, staggering a little despite Cleone's arm.

"Sir," said Barnabas pleadingly, "I struck you a while ago, but it
was the only way to save you from--a greater evil, as you know--"

"He means I threatened to s-shoot him, Clo--so I did, but it was for
your sake, to sh-shield you from--persecution as a brother should."

"Cleone," said Barnabas, ignoring Barrymaine altogether, "if there
is any one in this world who should know me, and what manner of man
I am, surely it is you--"

"Yes, she knows you--b-better than you think, she knows you for a
publican's son, first of all--"

"May I come with you, Cleone?"

"No, sir, n-not while I'm here. Cleone, you go with him, or m-me,

"Oh, Ronald, take me home!" she breathed.

So Barrymaine drew her arm through his and, turning his back on
Barnabas, led her away. But, when they had gone a little distance,
he frowned suddenly and came striding after them.

"Cleone," said he, "why are you so strange to me,--what is it,
--speak to me."

But Cleone was dumb, and walked on beside Ronald Barrymaine with
head averted, and so with never a backward glance, was presently
lost to sight among the leaves.

Long after they had gone, Barnabas stood there, his head bowed,
while the shadows deepened about him, dark and darker. Then all at
once he sighed again and, lifting his head, glanced about him; and
because of the desolation of the place, he shivered; and because of
the new, sharp pain that gripped him, he uttered a bitter curse, and
so, becoming aware of the pistol he yet grasped, he flung it far
from him and strode away through the deepening gloom.

On he went, heeding only the tumult of sorrow and anger that surged
within him. And so, betimes, reached the "Oak and Ivy" inn, where,
finding Peterby and the phaeton already gone, according to his
instructions, he hired post-horses and galloped away for London.

Now, as he went, though the evening was fine, it seemed to him that
high overhead was a shadow that followed and kept pace with him,
growing dark and ever darker; and thus as he rode he kept his gaze
upon this menacing shadow.

As for my lady, she, securely locked within the sanctuary of her
chamber, took pen and paper and wrote these words:

"You have destroyed my faith, and with that all else. Farewell."

Which done, she stamped a small, yet vicious foot upon a certain
crumpled letter, and thereafter, lying face down upon her bed, wept
hot, slow, bitter tears, stifling her sobs with the tumbled glory of
her hair, and in her heart was an agony greater than any she had
ever known.



It will perhaps be expected that, owing to this unhappy state of
affairs, Barnabas should have found sleep a stranger to his pillow;
but, on the contrary, reaching London at daybreak, he went to bed,
and there, wearied by his long ride, found a blessed oblivion from
all his cares and sorrows. Nor did he wake till the day was far spent
and evening at hand. But, with returning consciousness came Memory
to harrow him afresh, came cold Pride and glowing Anger. And with
these also was yet another emotion, and one that he had never known
till now, whose name is Doubt; doubt of himself and of his
future--that deadly foe to achievement and success--that ghoul-like
incubus which, once it fastens on a man, seldom leaves him until
courage, and hope, and confidence are dead, and nothing remains but
a foreknowledge and expectation of failure.

With this grisly spectre at his elbow Barnabas rose and dressed, and
went downstairs to make a pretence of breaking his fast.

"Sir," said Peterby, watching how he sat staring down moodily at the
table, "sir, you eat nothing."

"No, John, I'm not hungry," he answered, pushing his plate aside.
"By the way, did you find the cottage I mentioned in my note? Though,
indeed, you've had very little time."

"Yes, sir, I found one just beyond Lewisham, small, though
comfortable. Here is the key, sir."

"Thank you, John," said Barnabas, and thereafter sat staring
gloomily at the key until Peterby spoke again:

"Sir, pray forgive me, but I fear you are in some trouble. Is it
your misunderstanding with Viscount Devenham? I couldn't help but
overhear, and--"

"Ah, yes--even the Viscount has quarrelled with me," sighed Barnabas,
"next it will be the Marquis, I suppose, and after him--Gad, John
Peterby--I shall have only you left!"

"Indeed, sir, you will always have me--always!"

"Yes, John, I think I shall."

"Sir, when you--gave a miserable wretch another chance to live and
be a man, you were young and full of life."

"Yes, I was very, very young!" sighed Barnabas.

"But you were happy--your head was high and your eye bright with
confident hope and purpose."

"Yes, I was very confident, John."

"And therefore--greatly successful, sir. Your desire was to cut a
figure in the Fashionable World. Well, to-day you have your
wish--to-day you are famous, and yet--"

"Well, John?"

"Sir, to-day I fear you are--not happy."

"No, I'm not happy," sighed Barnabas, "for oh! John Peterby, what
shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world, and lose his

"Ah, sir--you mean--?"

"I mean--the Lady Cleone, John. Losing her, I lose all, and success
is worse than failure."

"But, sir,--must you lose her?"

"I fear so. Who am I that she should stoop to me among so many? Who
am I to expect so great happiness?"

"Sir," said Peterby, shaking his head, "I have never known you doubt
yourself or fortune till now!"

"It never occurred to me, John."

"And because of this unshaken confidence in yourself you won the
steeplechase, sir--unaided and alone you won for yourself a place in
the most exclusive circles in the World of Fashion--without friends
or influence you achieved the impossible, because you never doubted."

"Yes, I was very confident, John, but then, you see, I never thought
anything impossible--till now."

"And therefore you succeeded, sir. But had you constantly doubted
your powers and counted failure even as a possibility, you might
still have dreamed of your success--but never achieved it."

"Why then," sighed Barnabas, rising, "it seems that Failure has
marked me for her own at last, for never was man fuller of doubt
than I."



Night was falling as, turning out of St. James's Square, Barnabas
took his way along Charles Street and so, by way of the Strand,
towards Blackfriars. He wore a long, befrogged surtout buttoned up
to the chin, though the weather was warm, and his hat was drawn low
over his brows; also in place of his tasselled walking-cane he
carried a heavy stick.

For the first half mile or so he kept his eyes well about him, but,
little by little, became plunged in frowning thought, and so walked
on, lost in gloomy abstraction. Thus, as he crossed Blackfriars
Bridge he was quite unaware of one who followed him step by step,
though upon the other side of the way; a gliding, furtive figure, and
one who also went with coat buttoned high and face hidden beneath
shadowy hat-brim.

On strode Barnabas, all unconscious, with his mind ever busied with
thoughts of Cleone and the sudden, unaccustomed doubt in himself and
his future that had come upon him.

Presently he turned off to the right along a dirty street of squalid,
tumble-down houses; a narrow, ill-lighted street which, though
comparatively quiet by day, now hummed with a dense and seething life.

Yes, a dark street this, with here and there a flickering lamp, that
served but to make the darkness visible, and here and there the
lighted window of some gin-shop, or drinking-cellar, whence
proceeded a mingled clamor of voices roaring the stave of some song,
or raised in fierce disputation.

On he went, past shambling figures indistinct in the dusk; past
figures that slunk furtively aside, or crouched to watch him from
the gloom of some doorway; past ragged creatures that stared,
haggard-eyed; past faces sad and faces evil that flitted by him in
the dark, or turned to scowl over hunching shoulders. Therefore
Barnabas gripped his stick the tighter as he strode along, suddenly
conscious of the stir and unseen movement in the fetid air about him,
of the murmur of voices, the desolate wailing of children, the noise
of drunken altercation, and all the sordid sounds that were part and
parcel of the place. Of all this Barnabas was heedful, but he was
wholly unaware of the figure that dogged him from behind, following
him step by step, patient and persistent. Thus, at last, Barnabas
reached a certain narrow alley, beyond which was the River, dark,
mysterious, and full of sighs and murmurs. And, being come to the
door of Nick the Cobbler, he knocked upon it with his stick.

It was opened, almost immediately, by Clemency herself.

"I saw you coming," she said, giving him her hand, and so led him
through the dark little shop, into the inner room.

"I came as soon as I could. Clemency."

"Yes, I knew you would come," she answered, with bowed head.

"I am here to take you away to a cottage I have found for you--a
place in the country, where you will be safe until I can find and
bring your father to you."

As he ended, she lifted her head and looked at him through gathering

"How good--how kind of you!" she said, very softly, "and oh, I thank
you, indeed I do--but--"

"But, Clemency?"

"I must stay--here."

"In this awful place! Why?"

Clemency flushed, and looking down at the table, began to pleat a
fold in the cloth with nervous fingers.

"Poor little Nick hasn't been very well lately, and I--can't leave
him alone--" she began.

"Then bring him with you."

"And," she continued slowly, "when I wrote you that letter I
was--greatly afraid, but I'm--not afraid any longer. And oh, I
couldn't leave London yet--I couldn't!"

Now while she spoke, Barnabas saw her clasp and wring her hands
together, that eloquent gesture he remembered so well. Therefore he
leaned across the table and touched those slender fingers very gently.

"Why not? Tell me your trouble, my sister."

Now Clemency bowed her dark head, and when she spoke her voice was
low and troubled: "Because--he is ill--dangerously ill, Milo tells me,
and I--I am nearer to him here in London. I can go, sometimes, and
look at the house where he lies. So you see, I cannot leave him, yet."

"Then--you love him, Clemency?"

"Yes," she whispered, "yes, oh yes, always--always! That was why I
ran away from him. Oh, I love him so much that I grew afraid of my
love, and of myself, and of him. Because he is a great gentleman,
and I am only--what I am."

"A very good and beautiful woman!" said Barnabas.

"Beauty!" she sighed, "oh, it is only for that he--wanted me, and
dear heaven! I love him so much that--if he asked me--I fear--" and
she hid her burning face in hands that trembled.


The word was hoarse and low, scarcely more than a whisper, but, even
so, Clemency started and lifted her head to stare wide-eyed at the
figure leaning in the doorway, with one hand outstretched to her
appealingly; a tall figure, cloaked from head to foot, with hat
drawn low over his brows, his right arm carried in a sling. And as
she gazed, Clemency uttered a low, soft cry, and rose to her feet.

"My Lord!" she whispered, "oh, my Lord!"


The Viscount stepped into the room and, uncovering his head, sank
upon his knees before her.

"Oh, Clemency," said he, "the door was open and I heard it
all--every word. But, dearest, you need never fear me any
more--never any more, because I love you. Clemency, and here, upon
my knees, beg you to honor me by--marrying me, if you will stoop to
such a pitiful thing as I am. Clemency dear, I have been ill, and it
has taught me many things, and I know now that I--cannot live
without you. So, Clemency, if you will take pity on me--oh!

The Viscount stopped, still kneeling before her with bent head, nor
did he look up or attempt to touch her as he waited her answer.

Then, slowly, she reached out and stroked that bowed and humble head,
and, setting her hands upon his drooping shoulders, she sank to her
knees before him, so that now he could look into the glowing beauty
of her face and behold the deep, yearning tenderness of her eyes.

"Dear," said she very gently, "dear, if you--want me so much you
have only to--take me!"

"For my Viscountess, Clemency!"

"For your--wife, dear!"

And now, beholding their great happiness, Barnabas stole from the
room, closing the door softly behind him.

Then, being only human, he sighed deeply and pitied himself mightily
by contrast.



Now as Barnabas stood thus, he heard another sigh, and glancing up
beheld Mr. Shrig seated at the little Cobbler's bench, with a
guttering candle at his elbow and a hat upon his fist, which he
appeared to be examining with lively interest.

"Sir," said he, as Barnabas approached, wondering, "I'm taking the
liberty o' looking at your castor."

"Oh!" said Barnabas.

"Sir, it's a werry good 'at as 'ats go, but it's no kind of an 'at
for you to-night."

"And why not, Mr. Shrig?"

"Because it ain't much pertection ag'in windictiveness--in the shape
of a bludgeon, shall ve say, and as for a brick--v'y, Lord! And
theer's an uncommon lot of windictiveness about to-night; it's
a-vaiting for you--as you might say--round the corner."

"Really, Mr. Shrig, I'm afraid I don't understand you."

"Sir, d' ye mind a cove o' the name o' 'Vistling Dick,' as got
'isself kicked to death by an 'orse?"


"And d' ye mind another cove commonly known as 'Dancing Jimmy,' and
another on 'em as is called 'Bunty Fagan'?"

"Yes, they tried to rob me once."

"Right, sir,--only I scared 'em off, you'll remember. Conseqvently,
p'r'aps you ain't forgot certain other coves as you and me had a bit
of a turn-up vith v'en I sez to you 'Run,' and you sez to me 'No,'
and got a lump on your sconce like an 'ard-biled egg according?"

"Yes, I remember of course, but why--"

"Sir, they 're all on 'em out on the windictive lay again to-night,
--only, this time, it's you they 're arter."

"Me--are you sure?"

"And sartin! Corporal Richard Roe, late Grenadiers, give me the
office, and Corporal Richard's never wrong, sir. Corporal Dick's
my pal as keeps the 'Gun' in Gray's Inn Lane, you may remember, and
the 'Gun' 's a famous chaffing-crib for the flash, leary coves. So,
v'en the Corp tipped me the vord, sir, I put my castor on my sconce,
slipped a barker in my cly, took my stick in my fib--or as you might
say 'daddle,' d' ye see, and toddled over to keep a ogle on you. And,
sir, if it hadn't been for the young gent as shadowed ye all the way
to Giles's Rents, it's my opinion as they'd ha' done you into a
corp as you come along."

"But why should they want to do for me?"

"V'y, sir, they'd do for their own mothers, j'yful, if you paid 'em

"But who would employ such a gang?"

"Vell, sir, naming no names, there's a party as I suspect from
conclusions as I've drawed, a party as I'm a-going to try to ketch
this here werry night, sir--as I mean to ketch in flay-grant
de-lick-too, vich is a law term meaning--in the werry act, sir, if
you'll help me?"

"Of course I will," said Barnabas, a little eagerly, "but how?"

"By doing eggs-actly as I tell you, sir. Is it a go?"

"It is," nodded Barnabas.

"V'y, then, to begin vith, that theer coat o' yours,--it's too long
to run in--off vith it, sir!"

Barnabas smiled, but off came the long, befrogged surtout.

"Now--my castor, sir" and Mr. Shrig handed Barnabas his famous hat.
"Put it on, sir, if you please. You'll find it a bit 'eavyish at
first, maybe, but it's werry good ag'in windictiveness."

"Thank you," said Barnabas, smiling again, "but it's too small, you

"That's a pity!" sighed Mr. Shrig, "still, if it von't go on, it
von't. Now, as to a vepping?"

"I have my stick," said Barnabas, holding it up. Mr. Shrig took it,
balanced it in his grasp and passed it back with a nod of approval.

"V'y then, sir, I think ve may wenture," said he, and rising, put on
his hat, examined the priming of the brass-bound pistol, and taking
the nobbly stick under his arm, blew out the candle and crossed to
the door; yet, being there, paused. "Sir," said he, a note of
anxiety in his voice, "you promise to do eggs-actly vot I say?"

"I promise!"

"Ven I say 'run' you'll run?"


"Then come on, sir, and keep close behind me."

So saying, Mr. Shrig opened the door and stepped noisily out into
the narrow court and waited while Barnabas fastened the latch; even
then he paused to glance up at the sombre heaven and to point out a
solitary star that twinkled through some rift in the blackness above.

"Going to be a fine night for a little walk," said he, "Oliver vill
be in town later on."

"Oliver?" inquired Barnabas.

"Ah! that's flash for the moon, sir. Jest a nice light there'll be.
This vay, sir." With the words Mr. Shrig turned sharp to his left
along the alley towards the River.

"Why this way, Mr. Shrig?"

"First, sir, because they're a-vaiting for you at t'other end o' the
alley, and second, because v'en they see us go this vay they'll
think they've got us sure and sartin, and follow according, and third,
because at a certain place along by the River I've left Corporal
Dick and four o' my specials, d'ye see. S-sh! Qviet now! Oblige me
with your castor--your 'at, sir."

Wonderingly, Barnabas handed him the article in question, whereupon
Mr. Shrig, setting it upon the end of the nobbly stick, began to
advance swiftly where the shadow lay blackest, and with an added
caution, motioning to Barnabas to do the like.

They were close upon the River now, so close that Barnabas could
hear it lapping against the piles, and catch the indefinable reek of
it. But on they went, swift and silent, creeping ever in the gloom
of the wall beside them, nearer and nearer until presently the River
flowed before them, looming darker than the dark, and its sullen
murmur was all about them; until Mr. Shrig, stopping all at once,
raised the hat upon his stick and thrust it slowly, inch by inch,
round the angle of the wall. And lo! even as Barnabas watched with
bated breath, suddenly it was gone--struck away into space by an
unseen weapon, and all in an instant it seemed, came a vicious oath,
a snarl from Mr. Shrig, the thud of a blow, and a dim shape staggered
sideways and sinking down at the base of the wall lay very silent
and very still.

"Run!" cried Mr. Shrig, and away he went beside the River, holding a
tortuous course among the piles of rotting lumber, dexterously
avoiding dim-seen obstacles, yet running with a swiftness wonderful
to behold. All at once he stopped and glanced about him.

"What now?" inquired Barnabas.

"S-sh! d'ye 'ear anything, sir?"

Sure enough, from the darkness behind, came a sound there was no
mistaking, the rush and patter of pursuing feet, and the feet were

"Are we to fight here?" demanded Barnabas, buttoning his coat.

"No, not yet, sir. Ah! there's Oliver--told you it vould be a fine
night. This vay, sir!" And turning to the left again, Mr. Shrig led
the way down a narrow passage. Half-way along this dim alley he
paused, and seating himself upon a dim step, fell to mopping his brow.

"A extra-special capital place, this, sir!" said he. "Bankside's
good enough for a capital job, but this is better, ah, a sight better!
Many a unfort'nate wictim has been made a corp' of, hereabouts, sir!"

"Yes," said Barnabas shivering, for the air struck chill and damp,
"but what do we do now?"

"V'y, sir, I'll tell you. Ve sit here, nice and qviet and let 'em
run on till they meet my four specials and Corporal Richard Roe,
late Grenadiers. My specials has their staves and knows how to use
'em, and the Corp has 's 'ook,--and an 'ook ain't no-vise pleasant
as a vepping. So, ven they come running back, d' ye see, theer's you
vith your stick, an' me vith my barker, an' so ve 'ave 'em front and

"But can we stop them--all?"

"Ah!" nodded Mr. Shrig, "all as the Corp 'as left of 'em. Ye see
they know me, most on 'em, and likevise they knows as v'en I pull a
barker from my cly that theer barker don't miss fire. Vot's more,
they must come as far as this passage or else drownd theirselves in
the River, vich vould save a lot o' trouble and expense, and--s-sh!"

He broke off abruptly and rose to his feet, and Barnahas saw that he
held the brass-bound pistol in his hand. Then, as they stood
listening, plain and more plain was the pad-pad of running feet that
raced up to the mouth of the alley where they stood--past it, and so
died down again. Hereupon Mr. Shrig took out his large-faced watch
and, holding it close to his eyes, nodded.

"In about vun minute they'll run up ag'in the Corp," said he,
"and a precious ugly customer they'll find him, not to mention
my specials--ve'll give 'em another two minutes." Saying which,
Mr. Shrig reseated himself upon the dim step, watch in hand. "Sir,"
he continued, "I'm sorry about your 'at--sich a werry good 'at, too!
But it 'ad to be yours or mine, and sir,--axing your pardon, but
there's a good many 'ats to be 'ad in London jest as good as yourn,
for them as can afford 'em, but theer ain't another castor like
mine--no, not in the U-nited Kingdom."

"Very true," nodded Barnabas, "and no hat ever could have had a
more--useful end, than mine."

"V'y yes, sir--better your castor than your sconce any day," said
Mr. Shrig, "and now I think it's about time for us to--wenture forth.
But, sir," he added impressively, "if the conclusion as I've drawed

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