Part 11 out of 13
is correct, theer's safe to be shooting if you're recognized, so
keep in the shadder o' the wall, d' ye see. Now, are ye ready?--keep
behind me--so. Here they come, I think."
Somewhere along the dark River hoarse cries arose, and the confused
patter of running feet that drew rapidly louder and more distinct.
Nearer they came until Barnahas could hear voices that panted out
fierce curses; also he heard Mr. Shrig's pistol click as it was
So, another minute dragged by and then, settling his broad-brimmed
hat more firmly, Mr. Shrig sprang nimbly from his lurking-place and
fronted the on-comers with levelled weapon:
"Stand!" he cried, "stand--in the King's name!"
By the feeble light of the moon, Barnabas made out divers figures who,
checking their career, stood huddled together some yards away, some
scowling at the threatening posture of Mr. Shrig, others glancing
back over their shoulders towards the dimness behind, whence came a
shrill whistle and the noise of pursuit.
"Ah, you may look!" cried Mr. Shrig, "but I've got ye, my lambs--all
on ye! You, Bunty Fagan, and Dancing Jimmy, I know you, and you know
me, so stand--all on ye. The first man as moves I'll shoot--stone
dead, and v'en I says a thing I--"
A sudden, blinding flash, a deafening report, and, dropping his
pistol, Mr. Shrig groaned and staggered up against the wall. But
Barnabas was ready and, as their assailants rushed, met them with
It was desperate work, but Barnabas was in the mood for it,
answering blow with blow, and shout with shout.
"Oh, Jarsper!" roared a distant voice, "we're coming. Hold 'em,
So Barnabas struck, and parried, and struck, now here, now there,
advancing and retreating by turns, until the flailing stick
splintered in his grasp, and he was hurled back to the wall and
borne to his knees. Twice he struggled up, but was beaten down again,
--down and down into a choking blackness that seemed full of griping
hands and cruel, trampling feet.
Faint and sick, dazed with his hurts, Barnabas rose to his knees and
so, getting upon unsteady feet, sought to close with one who
threatened him with upraised bludgeon, grasped at an arm, missed,
felt a stunning shock,--staggered back and back with the sounds of
the struggle ever fainter to his failing senses, tripped, and falling
heavily, rolled over upon his back, and so lay still.
WHICH TELLS OF A RECONCILIATION
"Oh, Lord God of the weary and heavy-hearted, have mercy upon me! Oh,
Father of the Sorrowful, suffer now that I find rest!"
Barnabas opened his eyes and stared up at a cloudless heaven where
rode the moon, a silver sickle; and gazing thither, he remembered
that some one had predicted a fine night later, and vaguely wondered
who it might have been.
Not a sound reached him save the slumberous murmur that the River
made lapping lazily against the piles, and Barnabas sighed and
closed his eyes again.
But all at once, upon this quiet, came words spoken near by, in a
voice low and broken, and the words were these:
"Oh, Lord of Pity, let now thy mercy lighten upon me, suffer that I
come to Thee this hour, for in Thee is my trust. Take back my life,
oh, Father, for, without hope, life is a weary burden, and Death, a
boon. But if I needs must live on, give me some sign that I may know.
Oh, Lord of Pity, hear me!"
The voice ceased and, once again, upon the hush stole the
everlasting whisper of the River. Then, clear and sharp, there broke
another sound, the oncoming tread of feet; soft, deliberate feet
they were, which yet drew ever nearer and nearer while Barnabas,
staring up dreamily at the moon, began to count their steps.
Suddenly they stopped altogether, and Barnabas, lying there, waited
for them to go on again; but in a while, as the silence remained
unbroken, he sighed and turning his throbbing head saw a figure
standing within a yard of him.
"Sir," said Mr. Chichester, coming nearer and smiling down at
prostrate Barnabas, "this is most thoughtful--most kind of you. I
have been hoping to meet you again, more especially since our last
interview, and now, to find you awaiting me at such an hour, in such
a place,--remote from all chances of disturbance, and--with the
River so very convenient too! Indeed, you couldn't have chosen a
fitter place, and I am duly grateful."
Saying which, Mr. Chichester seated himself upon the mouldering
remains of an ancient wherry, and slipped one hand into the bosom of
"Sir," said he, leaning towards Barnabas, "you appear to be hurt,
but you are not--dying, of course?"
"Dying!" repeated Barnabas, lifting a hand to his aching brow,
"And yet, I fear you are," sighed Mr. Chichester, "yes, I think you
will be most thoroughly dead before morning,--I do indeed." And he
drew a pistol from his pocket, very much as though it were a
"But before we write 'Finis' to your very remarkable career," he
went on, "I have a few,--a very few words to say. Sir, there have
been many women in my life, yes, a great many, but only one I ever
loved, and you, it seems must love her too. You have obtruded
yourself wantonly in my concerns from the very first moment we met.
I have always found you an obstacle, an obstruction. But latterly
you have become a menace, threatening my very existence for, should
you dispossess me of my heritage I starve, and, sir--I have no mind
to starve. Thus, since it is to be your life or mine, I, very
naturally, prefer that it shall be yours. Also you threatened to
hound me from the clubs--well, sir, had I not had the good fortune to
meet you tonight, I had planned to make you the scorn and
laughing-stock of Town, and to drive you from London like the
impostor you are. It was an excellent plan, and I am sorry to
forego it, but necessity knows no law, and so to-night I mean to rid
myself of the obstacle, and sweep it away altogether." As he ended,
Mr. Chichester smiled, sighed, and cocked his pistol. But, even as
it clicked, a figure rose up from behind the rotting wherry and, as
Mr. Chichester leaned towards Barnabas, smiling still but with eyes
of deadly menace, a hand, pale and claw-like in the half-light, fell
and clenched itself upon his shoulder.
At the touch Mr. Chichester started and, uttering an exclamation,
turned savagely; then Barnabas struggled to his knees, and pinning
his wrist with one hand, twisted the pistol from his grasp with the
other and, as Mr. Chichester sprang to his feet, faced him, still
upon his knees, but with levelled weapon.
"Don't shoot!" cried a voice.
"Shoot?" repealed Barnabas, and got unsteadily upon his legs.
"Shoot--no, my hands are best!" and, flinging the pistol far out
into the River, he approached Mr. Chichester, staggering a little,
but with fists clenched.
"Sir," cried the voice again, "oh, young sir, what would you do?"
"Kill him!" said Barnabas.
"No, no--leave him to God's justice, God will requite him--let him go."
"No!" said Barnabas, shaking his head. But, as he pressed forward
intent on his purpose, restraining hands were upon his arm, and the
voice pleaded in his ear:
"God is a just God, young sir--let the man go--leave him to the
And the hands upon his arm shook him with passionate entreaty.
Therefore Barnabas paused and, bowing his head, clasped his
throbbing temples between his palms and so, stood a while. When he
looked up again, Mr. Chichester was gone, and the Apostle of Peace
stood before him, his silver hair shining, his pale face uplifted
"I owe you--my life!" said Barnabas.
"You are alive, young sir, which is good, and your hands are not
stained with a villain's blood, which is much better. But, as for
me--God pity me!--I came here to-night, meaning to be a
self-murderer--oh, God forgive me!"
"But you--asked for--a sign, I think," said Barnabas, "and you--live
also. And to-night your pilgrimage ends, in Clemency's loving arms."
"Clemency? My daughter? Oh, sir,--young sir, how may that be? They
tell me she is dead."
"Lies!" said Barnabas, "lies! I spoke with her tonight." The Apostle
of Peace stood a while with bowed head; when at last he looked up,
his cheeks were wet with tears.
"Then, sir," said he, "take me to her. Yet, stay! You are hurt, and,
if in my dark hour I doubted God's mercy, I would not be selfish in
"Happiness!" said Barnabas, "yes--every one seems happy--but me."
"You are hurt, young sir. Stoop your head and let me see."
"No," sighed Barnabas, "I'm well enough. Come, let me take you to
So, without more ado, they left that dreary place, and walked on
together side by side and very silent, Barnabas with drooping head,
and his companion with eyes uplifted and ever-moving lips.
Thus, in a while, they turned into the narrow court, and reaching
the door of Nick the Cobbler, Barnabas knocked and, as they waited,
he could see that his companion was trembling violently where he
leaned beside him against the wall. Then the door was opened and
Clemency appeared, her shapely figure outlined against the light
"Mr. Beverley," she exclaimed, "dear brother, is it you--"
"Yes, Clemency, and--and I have kept my promise, I have brought you--"
But no need for words; Clemency had seen. "Father!" she cried,
stretching out her arms, "oh, dear father!"
"Beatrix," said the preacher, his voice very broken, "oh, my child,
--forgive me--!" But Clemency had caught him in her arms, had drawn
him into the little shop, and, pillowing the silvery head upon her
young bosom, folded it there, and so hung above him all sighs, and
tears, and tender endearments.
Then Barnabas closed the door upon them and, sighing, went upon his
way. He walked with lagging step and with gaze ever upon the ground,
heedless alike of the wondering looks of those he passed, or of time,
or of place, or of the voices that still wailed, and wrangled, and
roared songs; conscious only of the pain in his head, the dull ache
at his heart, and the ever-growing doubt and fear within him.
HOW BARNABAS WENT TO HIS TRIUMPH
The star of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, was undoubtedly in the
ascendant; no such radiant orb had brightened the Fashionable
Firmament since that of a certain Mr. Brummell had risen to
scintillate a while ere it paled and vanished before the royal frown.
Thus the Fashionable World turned polite eyes to mark the course of
this new luminary and, if it vaguely wondered how long that course
might be, it (like the perspicacious waiter at the "George")
regarded Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, as one to be flattered, smiled
upon, and as worthy of all consideration and respect.
For here was one, not only young, fabulously rich and a proved
sportsman, but a dandy, besides, with a nice taste and originality
in matters sartorial, more especially in waistcoats and cravats,
which articles, as the Fashionable World well knows, are the final
gauge of a man's depth and possibilities.
Thus, the waistcoats of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, or their
prototypes to a button, were to be met with any day sunning
themselves in the Mall, and the styles of cravat affected by
Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, were to be observed at the most
brilliant functions, bowing in all directions.
Wherefore, all this considered, what more natural than that the
Fashionable World should desire to make oblation to this, its newest
(and consequently most admired) ornament, and how better than to
feed him, since banquets are a holy rite sanctified by custom and
Hence, the Fashionable World appointed and set apart a day whereon,
with all due pomp and solemnity, to eat and drink to the glory and
honor of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire.
Nevertheless (perverse fate!) Barnabas Beverley was not happy, for,
though his smile was as ready as his tongue, yet, even amid the
glittering throng, yea, despite the soft beams of Beauty's eyes, his
brow would at times grow dark and sombre, and his white, strong
fingers clench themselves upon the dainty handkerchief of lace and
cambric fashion required him to carry. Yet even this was accepted in
all good faith, and consequently pale checks and a romantic gloom
became the mode.
No, indeed, Barnabas was not happy, since needs must he think ever
of Cleone. Two letters had he written her, the first a humble
supplication, the second an angry demand couched in terms of bitter
reproach. Yet Cleone gave no sign; and the days passed. Therefore,
being himself young and proud, he wrote no more, and waited for some
word of explanation, some sign from her; then, as the days
lengthened into weeks, he set himself resolutely to forget her, if
such a thing might be.
The better to achieve a thing so impossible, he turned to that most
fickle of all goddesses whose name is Chance, and wooed her fiercely
by day and by night. He became one of her most devoted slaves; in
noble houses, in clubs and hells, he sought her. Calm-eyed,
grim-lipped he wooed her, yet with dogged assiduity; he became a
familiar figure at those very select gaming-tables where play was
highest, and tales of his recklessness and wild prodigality began to
circulate; tales of huge sums won and lost with the same calm
indifference, that quiet gravity which marked him in all things.
Thus a fortnight has elapsed, and to-night the star of Barnabas
Beverley, Esquire, has indeed attained its grand climacteric, for
to-night he is to eat and drink with ROYALTY, and the Fashionable
World is to do him honor.
And yet, as he stands before his mirror, undergoing the ordeal of
dressing, he would appear almost careless of his approaching triumph;
his brow is overcast, his cheek a little thinner and paler than of
yore, and he regards his resplendent image in the mirror with
"Your cravat, sir," says Peterby, retreating a few paces and with
his head to one side the better to observe its effect, "your cravat
is, I fear, a trifle too redundant in its lower folds, and a little
"It is excellent, John! And you say--there is still no letter
"No, sir, none," answered Peterby abstractedly, and leaning forward
to administer a gentle pull to the flowered waistcoat. "This coat,
sir, is very well, I think, and yet--y-e-es, perhaps it might be a
shade higher in the collar, and a thought tighter at the waist. Still,
it is very well on the whole, and these flattened revers are an
innovation that will be quite the vogue before the week is out. You
are satisfied with the coat, I hope, sir?"
"Perfectly, John, and--should a letter come while I am at the
banquet you will send it on--at once, John."
"At once, sir!" nodded Peterby, crouching down to view his young
master's shapely legs in profile. "Mr. Brummell was highly esteemed
for his loop and button at the ankle, sir, but I think our ribbon is
better, and less conspicuous, that alone should cause a sensation."
"Unless, John," sighed Barnabas, "unless I receive a word to-night I
shall drive down to Hawkhurst as soon as I can get away, so have the
curricle and grays ready, will you?"
"Yes, sir. Pardon me one moment, there is a wrinkle in your left
stocking, silk stockings are very apt to--"
But here the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder planted themselves
quivering on the threshold to announce:--
He still carried his arm in a sling, but, excepting this, the
Viscount was himself again, Bright-eyed, smiling and debonair. But
now, as Peterby withdrew, and Barnabas turned to greet him, gravely
polite--he hesitated, frowned, and seemed a little at a loss.
"Egad!" said he ruefully, "it seems a deuce of a time since we saw
each other, Beverley."
"A fortnight!" said Barnabas.
"And it's been a busy fortnight for both of us, from what I hear."
"Beverley," said he, staring very hard at the toe of his varnished
shoe, "do you remember the white-haired man we met, who called
himself an Apostle of Peace?"
"Do you remember that he said it was meant we should be--friends?"
"Well I--think he was right,--I'm sure he was right. I--didn't know
how few my friends were until I--fell out with you. And so--I'm here
to--to ask your pardon, and I--don't know how to do it, only--oh,
deuce take it! Will you give me your hand, Bev?"
But before the words had well left his lips, Barnabas had sprang
forward, and so they stood, hand clasped in hand, looking into each
other's eyes as only true friends may.
"I--we--owe you so much, Bev--Clemency has told me--"
"Indeed, Dick," said Barnabas, a little hastily, "you are a
fortunate man to have won the love of so beautiful a woman, and one
"My dear fellow," said the Viscount, very solemn, "it is so
wonderful that, sometimes, I--almost fear that it can't be true."
"The love of a woman is generally a very uncertain thing!" said
"But Clemency isn't like an ordinary woman," said the Viscount,
smiling very tenderly, "in all the world there is only one Clemency
and she is all truth, and honor, and purity. Sometimes, Bev, I feel
so--so deuced unworthy, that I am almost afraid to touch her."
"Yes, I suppose there are a few such women in the world," said
Barnabas, turning away. "But, speaking of the Apostle of Peace, have
you met him again--lately?"
"No, not since that morning behind the 'Spotted Cow.' Why?"
"Well, you mentioned him."
"Why yes, but only because I couldn't think of any other way
of--er--beginning. You were so devilish high and haughty, Bev."
"And what of Clemency?"
"She has promised to--to marry me, next month,--to marry me--me, Bev.
Oh, my dear fellow, I'm the very happiest man alive, and, egad, that
reminds me! I'm also the discredited and disinherited son of a
"What Dick,--do you mean he has--cut you off?"
"As much as ever he could, my dear fellow, which reduces my income
by a half. Deuced serious thing, y' know, Bev. Shall have to get rid
of my stable, and the coach; 'Moonraker' must go, too, I'm afraid.
Yes, Bev," sighed the Viscount, shaking his head at the reflection
of his elegant person in the mirror, "you behold in me a beggar, and
the cause--Clemency. But then, I know I am the very happiest beggar
in all this wide world, and the cause--Clemency!"
"I feared your father would never favor such a match, Dick, but--"
"Favor it! Oh, bruise and blister me!--"
"Have you told Clemency?"
"Has he seen her?"
"No, that's the deuce of it, she's away with her father, y' know.
Bit of a mystery about him, I fancy--she made me promise to be
patient a while, and ask no questions."
"And where is she?"
"Haven't the least idea. However, I went down to beard my Roman, y'
know, alone and single handed. Great mistake! Had Clemency been with
me the flintiest of Roman P's would have relented, for who could
resist--Clemency? As it was, I did my best, Bev--ran over her
points--I mean--tried to describe her, y' know, but it was no go, Bev,
no go--things couldn't have gone worse!"
"'Sir,' says I--in an easy, off-hand tone, my dear fellow, and it
was _after_ dinner, you'll understand,--'Sir, I've decided to act
upon your very excellent advice, and get married. I intend to settle
down, at once!' 'Indeed, Horatio?' says he,--(Roman of eye, Bev)
'who is she, pray?' 'The most glorious woman in the world, sir!'
says I. 'Of course,' says he, 'but--which?' This steadied me a
little, Bev, so I took a fresh grip and began again: 'Sir,' says I,
'beauty in itself is a poor thing at best--' 'Therefore,' says my
Roman (quick as a flash, my dear fellow) 'therefore it is just as
well that beauty should not come--entirely empty-handed!' 'Sir,' says
I--(calmly, you'll understand, Bev, but with just sufficient
firmness to let him see that, after all, he was only a father) 'Sir,'
says I, 'beauty is a transient thing at best, unless backed up by
virtue, honor, wisdom, courage, truth, purity, nobility of soul--'
'Horatio,' says my father (pulling me up short, Bev) 'you do well to
put these virtues first but, in the wife of the future Earl of
Bamborough, I hearken for such common, though necessary attributes
as birth, breeding, and position, neither of which you have yet
mentioned, but I'm impatient, perhaps, and these come at the end of
your list,--pray continue.' 'Sir,' says I, 'my future wife is above
such petty considerations!' 'Ah!' says my Roman, 'I feared so! She
is then, a--nobody, I presume?' 'Sir--most beautiful girl in all
England,' says I. 'Ha!' says my Roman, nodding, 'then she _is_ a
nobody; that settles it.' 'She's all that is pure and good!' says I.
'And a nobody, beyond a doubt!' says he. 'She's everything sweet,
noble and brave,' says I. 'But--a nobody!' says he again. Now I'll
confess I grew a little heated at this, my dear fellow, though I
kept my temper admirably--oh, I made every allowance for him, as a
self-respecting son should, but, though filial, I maintained a front
of adamant, Bev. But, deuce take it! he kept on at me with his
confounded 'nobody' so long that I grew restive at last and jibbed.
'So you are determined to marry a nobody, are you, Horatio?' says he.
'No, my Lord,' says I, rising, (and with an air of crushing finality,
Bev) 'I am about to be honored with the hand of one who, by stress
of circumstances, was for some time waiting maid at the 'Spotted Cow'
inn, at Frittenden.' Well, Bev--that did it, y' know! My Roman
couldn't say a word, positively gaped at me and, while he gaped, I
bowed, and walked out entirely master of the situation. Result--
independence, happiness, and--beggary."
"But, Dick,--how shall you live?"
"Oh, I have an old place at Devenham, in the wilds of Kent,--we
shall rusticate there."
"And you will give up Almack's, White's--all the glory of the
"Oh, man!" cried the Viscount, radiant of face, "how can all these
possibly compare? I shall have Clemency!"
"But surely you will find it very quiet, after London and the clubs?"
"Yes, it will be very quiet at Devenham, Bev," said the Viscount,
very gently, "and there are roses there, and she loves roses, I know!
We shall be alone in the world together,--alone! Yes, it will be
very quiet, Bev--thank heaven!"
"The loneliness will pall, after a time, Dick--say a month. And the
roses will fade and wither--as all things must, it seems," said
Barnabas bitterly, whereupon the Viscount turned and looked at him
and laid a hand upon his shoulder.
"Why, Bev," said he, "my dear old Bev,--what is it? You're greatly
changed, I think; it isn't like you to be a cynic. You are my friend,
but if you were my bitterest enemy I should forgive you, full and
freely, because of your behavior to Clemency. My dear fellow, are you
in any trouble--any danger? I have been away only a week, yet I come
back to find the town humming with stories of your desperate play. I
hear that D'Argenson plucked you for close on a thousand the other
"But I won fifteen hundred the same night, Dick."
"And lost all that, and more, to the Poodle later!"
"Why--one can't always win, Dick."
"Oh, Bev, my dear fellow, do you remember shaking your grave head at
me because I once dropped five hundred in one of the hells?"
"I fear I must have been very--young then, Dick!"
"And to-day, Bev, to-day you are a notorious gambler, and you sneer
at love! Gad! what a change is here! My dear fellow, what does it
Barnabas hesitated, and this history might have been very different
in the ending but, even as he met the Viscount's frank and anxious
look, the door was flung wide and Tressider, the thinnish, youngish
gentleman in sandy whiskers, rushed in, followed by the Marquis and
three or four other fine gentlemen, and, beholding the Viscount,
burst into a torrent of speech:
"Ha! Devenham! there you are,--back from the wilds, eh? Heard the
latest? No, I'll be shot if you have--none of you have, and I'm
bursting to tell it--positively exploding, damme if I'm not. It was
last night, at Crockford's you'll understand, and every one was
there--Skiffy, Apollo, the Poodle, Red Herrings, No-grow, the
Galloping Countryman and your obedient humble. One o'clock was
striking as the game broke up, and there's Beverley yawning and
waiting for his hat, d' ye see, when in comes the Golden Ball. 'Ha,
Beverley!' says he, 'you gamble, they tell me?' 'Oh, now and then,'
says Beverley. 'Why then,' says Golden Ball, 'you may have heard that
I do a little that way, myself?' Now you mention it, I believe I
have,' says Beverley. 'Ha!' says Golden Ball, winking at the rest of
us, 'suppose we have a match, you and I--call your game.' 'Sir,'
says Beverley, yawning again, 'it is past one o'clock, and I make it
a rule never to play after one o'clock except for rather high stakes,'
(Rather high stakes says he! and to the Golden Ball,--oh curse me!)
'Do you, begad!' says Golden Ball, purple in the face--'ha!
you may have heard that I occasionally venture a hundred or so
myself--whatever the hour! Waiter--cards!' 'Sir,' says Beverley,
I've been playing ever since three o'clock this afternoon and I'm
weary of cards.' 'Oh, just as you wish,' says Golden Ball, 'at
battledore and shuttlecock I'm your man, or rolling the bones, or--'
'Dice, by all means!' says Beverley, yawning again. 'At how much a
throw?' says Golden Ball, sitting down and rattling the box. 'Well,'
says Beverley, 'a thousand, I think, should do to begin with!'
('A thou-sand,' says he, damme if he didn't!) Oh Gad, but you
should have seen the Golden Ball, what with surprise and his cravat,
I thought he'd choke--shoot me if I didn't! 'Done!' says he at last
(for we were all round the table thick as flies you'll understand)
--and to it they went, and in less than a quarter of an hour,
Beverley had bubbled him of close on seven thousand! Quickest thing
I ever saw, oh, curse me!"
"Oh, Bev," sighed the Viscount, under cover of the ensuing talk and
laughter, "what a perfectly reckless fellow you are!"
"Why, you see, Dick," Barnabas answered, as Peterby re-entered with
his hat and cloak, "a man can't always lose!"
"Beverley," said the Marquis, proffering his arm, "I have my chariot
below; I thought we might drive round to the club together, you and
Devenham and I, if you are ready?"
"Thank you, Marquis, yes, I'm quite ready."
Thus, with a Marquis on his right, and a Viscount on his left, and
divers noble gentlemen in his train, Barnabas went forth to his
WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS TRIUMPHED IN SPITE OF ALL
Never had White's, that historic club, gathered beneath its roof a
more distinguished company; dukes, royal and otherwise, elbow each
other on the stairs; earls and marquises sit cheek by jowl;
viscounts and baronets exchange snuff-boxes in corners, but one and
all take due and reverent heed of the flattened revers and the
innovation of the riband.
Yes, White's is full to overflowing for, to-night, half the
Fashionable World is here, that is to say, the masculine half; beaux
and wits; bucks and Corinthians; dandies and macaronis; all are here
and, each and every, with the fixed and unshakable purpose of eating
and drinking to the glory and honor of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire.
Here, also, is a certain "Mr. Norton," whom Barnabas immediately
recognizes by reason of his waistcoat and his whiskers. And Mr. Norton
is particularly affable and is graciously pleased to commend the
aforesaid flattened revers and riband; indeed so taken with them
is he, that he keeps their wearer beside him, and even condescends
to lean upon his arm as far as the dining-room.
Forthwith the banquet begins and the air hums with talk and laughter
punctuated by the popping of corks; waiters hurry to and fro, dishes
come and dishes vanish, and ever the laughter grows, and the buzz of
talk swells louder.
And Barnabas? Himself "the glass of fashion and the mould of form,"
in very truth "the observed of all observers," surely to-night he
should be happy! For the soaring pinions of youth have borne him up
and up at last, into the empyrean, far, far above the commonplace;
the "Coursing Hound," with its faded sign and weatherbeaten gables,
has been lost to view long and long ago (if it ever really existed),
and to-night he stands above the clouds, his foot upon the topmost
pinnacle; and surely man can attain no higher, for to-night he feasts
Thus Barnabas sits among the glare and glitter of it all, smiling at
one, bowing to another, speaking with all by turns, and wondering in
his heart--if there is yet any letter from Hawkhurst. And now the
hurrying tread of waiters ceases, the ring and clatter of glass and
silver is hushed, the hum of talk and laughter dies away, and a
mottle-faced gentleman rises, and, clutching himself by the
shirt-frill with one hand, and elevating a brimming glass in the
other, clears his throat, and holds forth in this wise:
"Gentlemen, I'm an Englishman, therefore I'm blunt,--deuced
blunt--damned blunt! Gentlemen, I desire to speak a word upon this
happy and memorable occasion, and my word is this: Being an
Englishman I very naturally admire pluck and daring--Mr. Beverley has
pluck and daring--therefore I drink to him. Gentlemen, we need such
true-blue Englishmen as Beverley to keep an eye on old Bony; it is
such men as Beverley who make the damned foreigners shake in their
accursed shoes. So long as we have such men as Beverley amongst us,
England will scorn the foreign yoke and stand forth triumphant,
first in peace, first in war. Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Beverley, as
he is a true Sportsman I honor him, as he is an Englishman he is my
friend. Mr. Beverley, gentlemen!"
Hereupon the mottle-faced gentleman lets go of his shirt-frill, bows
to Barnabas and, tossing off his wine, sits down amid loud
acclamations and a roaring chorus of "Beverley! Beverley!"
accompanied by much clinking of glasses.
And now, in their turn, divers other noble gentlemen rise in their
places and deliver themselves of speeches, more or less eloquent,
flowery, witty and laudatory, but, one and all, full of the name and
excellences of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire; who duly learns that he
is a Maecenas of Fashion, a sportsman through and through, a shining
light, and one of the bulwarks of Old England, b'gad! etc., etc., etc.
To all of which he listens with varying emotions, and with one eye
upon the door, fervently hoping for the letter so long expected. But
the time is come for him to respond; all eyes are upon him, and all
glasses are filled; even the waiters become deferentially interested
as, amid welcoming shouts, the guest of the evening rises, a little
flushed, a little nervous, yet steady of eye.
And as Barnabas stands there, an elegant figure, tall and graceful,
all eyes may behold again the excellent fit of that wonderful coat,
its dashing cut and flattened revers, while all ears await his words.
But, or ever he can speak, upon this silence is heard the tread of
heavy feet beyond the door and Barnabas glances there eagerly, ever
mindful of the letter from Hawkhurst; but the feet have stopped and,
stifling a sigh, he begins:
"My Lords and gentlemen! So much am I conscious of the profound
honor you do me, that I find it difficult to express my--"
But here again a disturbance is heard at the door--a shuffle of feet
and the mutter of voices, and he pauses expectant; whereat his
auditors cry angrily for "silence!" which being duly accorded, he
"Indeed, gentlemen, I fear no words of mine, however eloquent, can
sufficiently express to you all my--"
"Oh, Barnabas," cries a deep voice; "yes, it _is_ Barnabas!" Even as
the words are uttered, the group of protesting waiters in the
doorway are swept aside by a mighty arm, and a figure strides into
the banqueting-room, a handsome figure, despite its country
habiliments, a commanding figure by reason of its stature and great
spread of shoulder, and John Barty stands there, blinking in the
light of the many candles.
Then Barnabas closed his eyes and, reaching out, set his hand upon
the back of a chair near by, and so stood, with bent head and a
strange roaring in his ears. Little by little this noise grew less
until he could hear voices, about him, an angry clamor:
"Put him out!"
"Throw the rascal into the street!"
"Kick him downstairs, somebody!"
And, amid this ever-growing tumult, Barnabas could distinguish his
father's voice, and in it was a note he had never heard before,
something of pleading, something of fear.
"Barnabas? Barnabas? Oh, this be you, my lad--bean't it, Barnabas?"
Yet still he stood with bent head, his griping fingers clenched hard
upon the chair-back, while the clamor about him grew ever louder and
"Throw him out!"
"Pitch the fellow downstairs, somebody!"
"Jove!" exclaimed the Marquis, rising and buttoning his coat,
"if nobody else will, I'll have a try at him myself. Looks a
promising cove, as if he might fib well. Come now, my good fellow,
you must either get out of here or--put 'em up, you know,--dooce
take me, but you must!"
But as he advanced, Barnabas lifted his head and staying him with a
gesture, turned and beheld his father standing alone, the centre of
an angry circle. And John Barty's eyes were wide and troubled, and
his usually ruddy cheek showed pale, though with something more than
fear as, glancing slowly round the ring of threatening figures that
hemmed him in, he beheld the white, stricken face of his son. And,
seeing it, John Barty groaned, and so took a step towards the door;
but no man moved to give him way.
"A--a mistake, gentlemen," he muttered, "I--I'll go!" Then, even as
the stammering words were uttered, Barnabas strode forward into the
circle and, slipping a hand within his father's nerveless arm,
looked round upon the company, pale of cheek, but with head carried
"My Lords!" said he, "gentlemen! I have the honor--to introduce to
you--John Barty, sometime known as 'Glorious John'--ex-champion of
England and--landlord of the 'Coursing Hound' inn--my father!"
A moment of silence! A stillness so profound that it seemed no man
drew breath; a long, long moment wherein Barnabas felt himself a
target for all eyes--eyes wherein he thought to see amazement that
changed into dismay which, in turn, gave place to an ever-growing
scorn of him. Therefore he turned his back upon them all and, coming
to the great window, stood there staring blindly into the dark street.
"Oh, Barnabas!" he heard his father saying, though as from a long
way off, "Barnabas lad, I--I--Oh, Barnabas--they're going! They're
leaving you, and--it's all my fault, lad! Oh, Barnabas,--what have I
done! It's my fault, lad--all my fault. But I heard you was sick,
Barnabas, and like to die,--ill, and calling for me,--for your father,
Barnabas. And now--Oh, my lad! my lad!--what have I done?"
"Never blame yourself, father, it--wasn't your fault," said Barnabas
with twitching lips, for from the great room behind him came the
clatter of chairs, the tread of feet, with voices and stifled
laughter that grew fainter and fainter, yet left a sting behind.
"Come away, John," said a voice, "we've done enough to-night--come
"Yes, Natty Bell, yes, I be coming--coming. Oh, Barnabas, my lad,
--my lad,--forgive me!"
Now in a while Barnabas turned; and behold! the candles glowed as
brightly as ever, silver and glass shone and glittered as bravely as
ever, but--the great room was empty, that is to say--very nearly. Of
all that brilliant and fashionable company but two remained. Very
lonely figures they looked, seated at the deserted table--the
Viscount, crumbling up bread and staring at the table-cloth, and the
Marquis, fidgeting with his snuff-box, and frowning at the ceiling.
To these solitary figures Barnabas spoke, albeit his voice was
hoarse and by no means steady:
"My Lords," said he, "why haven't you--followed the others?"
"Why, you see," began the Marquis, frowning at the ceiling harder
than ever, and flicking open his snuff-box, "you see--speaking for
myself, of course, I say speaking for myself, I--hum!--the fact
is--ha!--that is to say--oh, dooce take it!" And, in his distress, he
actually inhaled a pinch of snuff and immediately fell a-sneezing,
with a muffled curse after every sneeze.
"Sirs," said Barnabas, "I think you'd better go. You will be
less--conspicuous. Indeed, you'd better go."
"Go?" repeated the Viscount, rising suddenly. "Go, is it? No, damme
if we do! If you are John Barty's son, you are still my friend,
and--there's my hand--Barnabas."
"Mine--too!" sneezed the Marquis, "'s soon as I've got over
the--'ffects of this s-snuff--with a curse to it!"
"Oh Dick!" said Barnabas, his head drooping, "Marquis--"
"Name's Bob to--my friends!" gasped the Marquis from behind his
handkerchief. "Oh, damn this snuff!"
"Why, Bev," said the Viscount, "don't take it so much to heart, man.
Deuced unpleasant, of course, but it'll all blow over, y' know. A
week from now and they'll all come crawling back, y' know, if you
only have the courage to outface 'em. And we are with him--aren't we,
"Of course!" answered the Marquis, "dooce take me--yes! So would
poor old Sling have been."
"Sirs," said Barnabas, reaching out and grasping a hand of each,
"with your friendship to hearten me--all things are possible--even
But here a waiter appeared bearing a tray, and on the tray a letter;
he was a young waiter, a very knowing waiter, hence his demeanor
towards Barnabas had already undergone a subtle change--he stared at
Barnabas with inquisitive eyes and even forgot to bow until--observing
the Viscount's eye and the Marquis's chin, his back became immediately
subservient and he tendered Barnabas the letter with a profound
With a murmured apology Barnabas took it and, breaking the seal,
read these words in Cleone's writing:
"You have destroyed my faith, and with my faith all else. Farewell."
Then Barnabas laughed, sudden and sharp, and tore the paper across
and across, and dropping the pieces to the floor, set his foot upon
"Friends," said he, "my future is decided for me. I thank you deeply,
deeply for your brave friendship--your noble loyalty, but the fiat
has gone forth. To-night I leave the World of Fashion for one better
suited to my birth, for it seems I should be only an amateur
gentleman, as it were, after all. My Lords, your most obedient,
So Barnabas bowed to each in turn and went forth from the scene of
his triumph, deliberate of step and with head carried high as became
And thus the star of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, waxed and waned and
vanished utterly from the Fashionable Firmament, and, in time, came
to be regarded as only a comet, after all.
WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS HEARD THE TICKING OF A CLOCK
It was a dark night, the moon obscured as yet by a wrack of flying
cloud, for a wind was abroad, a rising wind that blew in fitful gusts;
a boisterous, blustering, bullying wind that met the traveller at
sudden corners to choke and buffet him and so was gone, roaring away
among roofs and chimneys, rattling windows and lattices,
extinguishing flickering lamps, and filling the dark with stir and
But Barnabas strode on heedless and deaf to it all. Headlong he went,
his cloak fluttering, his head stooped low, hearing nothing, seeing
nothing, taking no thought of time or direction, or of his ruined
career, since none of these were in his mind, but only the words of
And slowly a great anger came upon him with a cold and bitter scorn
of her that cast out sorrow; thus, as he went, he laughed suddenly,
--a shrill laugh that rose above the howl of the wind, that grew
even wilder and louder until he was forced to stop and lean against
an iron railing close by.
"An Amateur Gentleman!" he gasped, "An Amateur Gentleman! Oh, fool!
fool!" And once again the fierce laughter shook him in its grip and,
passing, left him weak and breathless.
Through some rift in the clouds, the moon cast a fugitive beam and
thus he found himself looking down into a deep and narrow area where
a flight of damp, stone steps led down to a gloomy door; and beside
the door was a window, and the window was open.
Now as he gazed, the area, and the damp steps, and the gloomy door
all seemed familiar; therefore he stepped back, and gazing up, saw a
high, flat-fronted house, surely that same unlovely house at whose
brass-knockered front door Captain Slingsby of the Guards had once
stood and rapped with trembling hand.
The place was very silent, and very dark, save for one window where
burned a dim light, and, moved by sudden impulse, Barnabas strode
forward and, mounting the two steps, seized the knocker; but, even
as he did so the door moved. Slowly, slowly it opened, swinging back
on noiseless hinges, wider and wider until Barnabas could look into
the dimness of the unlighted hall beyond. Then, while he yet stood
hesitating, he heard a sound, very faint and sweet, like the chime
of fairy bells, and from the dark a face peered forth, a face drawn,
and lined, and ghastly pale, whose staring eyes were wide with horror.
"You!" said a voice, speaking in a harsh whisper, "is it you? Alas,
Barnaby Bright! what would you--here? Go away! Go away! Here is an
evil place, a place of sin, and horror, and blood--go away! go away!"
"But," said Barnabas, "I wish to see--"
"Oh, Barnaby Bright,--hear me! Did I not tell you he was marked for
destruction, that evil begetteth evil, and the sword, the sword? I
have watched, and watched, and to-night my watch is ended! Go away!
"What is it? what do you mean?" demanded Barnabas.
With his eyes still fixed and staring, and without turning his head,
Billy Button raised one hand to point with a rigid finger at the wall,
just within the doorway.
"Look!" he whispered.
Then, glancing where he pointed, Barnabas saw a mark upon the
panelling--a blur like the shadow of a hand; but even as he stared
at it, Billy Button, shuddering, passed his sleeve across it and lo!
it was gone!
"Oh, Barnaby Bright!" he whispered, "there is a shadow upon this
place, as black as death, even as I told you--flee from the shadow,
--come away! come away!"
As he breathed the words, the madman sprang past him down the steps,
tossed up his long arms towards the moon with a wild, imploring
gesture, and turning, scudded away on his naked, silent feet.
Now after a while Barnabas stepped into the gloomy hall and stood
listening; the house was very silent, only upon the stillness he
could hear the loud, deliberate tick of the wizen-faced clock upon
the stairs, and, as he stood there, it seemed to him that to-night
it was trying to tell him something. Barnabas shivered suddenly and
drew his long cloak about him, then, closing the door, took a step
along the dark hall, yet paused to listen again, for now it seemed
to him that the tick of the clock was louder than ever.
Could that be what it meant? Barnabas raised a hand to his brow and,
though he still shivered, felt it suddenly moist and clammy. Then,
clenching his teeth, he crept forward, guiding himself by the wall;
yet as he went, above the shuffle of his feet, above the rustle of
his cloak against the panelling, he could hear the tick of the
clock--ever louder, ever more insistent:
He reached the stairs at last and, groping for the banister, began
to ascend slowly and cautiously, often pausing to listen, and to
stare into the darkness before and behind. On he went and up, past
the wizen-faced clock, and so reached the upper hall at the further
end of which was the dim light that shone from behind a half-closed
Being come to the door, Barnabas lifted his hand to knock, yet stood
again hesitating, his chin on his shoulder, his eyes searching the
darkness behind him, whence came the slow, solemn ticking of the
For a long moment he stood thus, then, quick and sudden, he threw
wide the door and stepped into the room.
A candle flared and guttered upon the mantel, and by this flickering
light he saw an overturned chair, and, beyond that, a litter of
scattered papers and documents and, beyond that again, Jasper Gaunt
seated at his desk in the corner. He was lolling back in his chair
like one asleep, and yet--was this sleep?
Something in his attitude, something in the appalling stillness of
that lolling figure, something in the utter quiet of the whole place,
filled Barnabas with a nameless, growing horror. He took a step
nearer, another, and another--then stopped and, uttering a choking
gasp, fell back to the wall and leaned there suddenly faint and sick.
For, indeed, this was more than sleep. Jasper Gaunt lolled there, a
horrid, bedabbled thing, with his head at a hideous angle and the
dagger, which had been wont to glitter so evilly from the wall,
smitten sideways through his throat.
Barnabas crouched against the wall, his gaze riveted by the dull
gleam of the steel; and upon the silence, now, there crept another
sound soft and regular, a small, dull, plashing sound; and, knowing
what it was, he closed his eyes and the faintness grew upon him. At
length he sighed and, shuddering, lifted his head and moved a
backward step toward the door; thus it was he chanced to see Jasper
Gaunt's right hand--that white, carefully-tended right hand, whose
long, smooth fingers had clenched themselves even tighter in death
than they had done in life. And, in their rigid grasp was something
that struck Barnabas motionless; that brought him back slowly,
slowly across that awful room to sink upon one knee above that pale,
clenched hand, while, sweating, shuddering with loathing, he forced
open those stiffening fingers and drew from their dead clutch
something that he stared at with dilating eyes, and with white lips
suddenly compressed, ere he hid it away in his pocket.
Then, shivering, he arose and backed away, feeling behind him for
the door, and so passed out into the passage and down the stairs,
but always with his pale face turned toward the dim-lit room where
Jasper Gaunt lolled in his chair, a bedabbled, wide-eyed thing of
horror, staring up at the dingy ceiling.
Thus, moving ever backwards, Barnabas came to the front door, felt
for the catch, but, with his hand upon it, paused once more to listen;
yet heard only the thick beating of his own heart, and the loud,
deliberate ticking of the wizen-faced clock upon the stairs. And now,
as he hearkened, it seemed to him that it spoke no more but had
taken on a new and more awful sound; for now its slow, rhythmic beat
was hatefully like another sound, a soft sound and regular, a small,
dull, plashing sound,--the awful tap! tap! tap! of great,
slow-falling drops of blood.
WHICH SHOWS SOMETHING OF THE HORRORS OF REMORSE
With this dreadful sound in his ears, Barnabas hurried away from
that place of horror; but ever the sound pursued him, it echoed in
his step, it panted in his quickened breathing, it throbbed in the
pulsing of his heart. Wherever he looked, there always was Jasper
Gaunt lolling in his chair with his head dangling at its horrible
angle,--the very night was full of him.
Hot-foot went Barnabas, by dingy streets and silent houses, and with
his chin now on one shoulder, now on the other; and thus, he
presently found himself before a certain door and, remembering its
faulty catch, tried it but found it fast. Therefore he knocked,
softly at first, but louder and louder until at length the door was
plucked suddenly open and a woman appeared, a slatternly creature
who bore a candle none too steadily.
"Now then, owdacious," she began, somewhat slurring of speech.
"What d'ye want--this time o' night--knocking at 'spectable door of
"Is Mr. Barrymaine in?"
"Mist' Barrymaine?" repeated the woman, scattering grease-spots as
she raised the candle in her unsteady hand, "what d'ye wan' this
Here, becoming aware of the magnificence of the visitor's attire,
she dropped Barnabas a floundering curtsy and showered the step with
"Can I see Mr. Barrymaine?"
"Yes, sir--this way, sir, an' min' the step, sir. See Mist'
Barrymaine, yes, sir, firs' floor--an' would you be so good as to ax
'im to keep 'is feet still, or, as you might say, 'is trotters, sir--"
"Also 'is legs, sir, if you'd be so very obleeging, sir."
"What do you mean?"
"Come an' listen, sir!" So saying, the woman opened a door and stood
with a finger pointing unsteadily upwards. "Been a-doing of it ever
since 'e came in a hour ago. It ain't loud, p'r'aps, but it's
worriting--very worriting. If 'e wants to dance 'e might move about a
bit 'stead o' keeping in one place all the time--'ark!" And she
pointed with her quavering finger to a certain part of the ceiling
whence came the tramp! tramp! of restless feet; and yet the feet
never moved away.
"I'll go up!" said Barnabas, and, nodding to the slatternly woman,
he hurried along the passage and mounting the dark stair, paused
before a dingy door. Now, setting his ear to the panel, he heard a
sound--a muffled sound, hoarse but continuous, ever and anon rising
to a wail only to sink again, yet never quite ceasing. Then, feeling
the door yield to his hand, Barnabas opened it and, stepping softly
into the room, closed it behind him.
The place was very dark, except where the moon sent a fugitive beam
through the uncurtained window, and face downward across this pale
light lay a huddled figure from whose unseen lips the sounds
issued--long, awful, gasping sobs; a figure that stirred and writhed
like one in torment, whose clenched hands beat themselves upon the
frayed carpet, while, between the sobbing and the beat of those
clenched hands, came broken prayers intermingled with oaths and
Barnabas drew a step nearer, and, on the instant, the grovelling
figure started up to an elbow; thus, stooping down, Barnabas looked
into the haggard face of Ronald Barrymaine.
"Beverley!" he gasped, "w-what d'you want? Go away,--l-leave me!"
"No!" said Barnabas, "it is you who must go away--at once. You must
leave London to-night!"
"W-what d' you mean?"
"You must be clear of England by to-morrow night at latest."
Barrymaine stared up at Barnabas wide-eyed and passed his tongue to
and fro across his lips before he spoke again:
"Beverley, w-what d' you--mean?"
"I know why you keep your right hand hidden!" said Barnabas.
Barrymaine shivered suddenly, but his fixed stare never wavered, only,
as he crouched there, striving to speak yet finding no voice, upon
his furrowed brow and pallid cheek ran glittering lines of sweat. At
last he contrived to speak again, but in a whisper now:
"W-what do you mean?"
"I mean that tonight I found this scrap of cloth, and I recognized
it as part of the cuff of your sleeve, and I found it clenched in
Jasper Gaunt's dead hand."
With a hoarse, gasping cry Barrymaine cast himself face down upon
the floor again and writhed there like one in agony.
"I d-didn't mean to--oh, God! I never m-meant it!" he groaned and,
starting to his knees, he caught at Barnabas with wild, imploring
hands: "Oh, Beverley, I s-swear to you I n-never meant to do it.
I went there tonight to l-learn the truth, and he th-threatened
me--threatened me, I tell you, s-so we fought and he was s-strong
and swung me against the w-wall. And then, Beverley--as we
s-struggled--somehow I g-got hold of--of the dagger and struck at
him--b-blindly. And--oh, my God, Beverley--I shall never forget how
he--ch-choked! I can hear it now! But I didn't mean to--do it. Oh, I
s-swear I never meant it, Beverley--s-so help me, God!"
"But he is dead," said Barnabas, "and now--"
"Y-you won't give me up, Beverley?" cried Barrymaine, clinging to
his knees. "I wronged you, I know--n-now, but don't g-give me up.
I'm not afraid to d-die like a g-gentleman should, but--the
gallows--oh, my God!"
"No, you must be saved--from that!"
"Ah--w-will you help me?"
"That is why I came."
"W-what must I do?"
"Start for Dover--to-night."
"Yes--yes, Dover. B-but I have no money."
"Here are twenty guineas, they will help you well on your way. When
they are gone you shall have more."
"Beverley, I--wronged you, but I know now who my c-creditor really
is--I know who has been m-my enemy all along--oh, blind f-fool that
I've been,--but I know--now. And I think it's t-turned my brain.
Beverley,--my head's all confused--wish D-Dig were here. But I shall
be better s-soon. It was D-Dover you said, I think?"
"Yes,--but now, take off that coat."
"B-but it's the only one I've got!"
"You shall have mine," said Barnabas and, throwing aside his cloak,
he stripped off that marvellous garment (whose flattened revers were
never to become the vogue, after all), and laid it upon the table
beside Barrymaine who seemed as he leaned there to be shaken by
strange twitchings and tremblings.
"Oh, Beverley," he muttered, "it would have been a good th-thing for
me if somebody had s-strangled me at birth. No!--d-don't light the
candle!" he cried suddenly, for Barnabas had sought and found the
tinder-box, "don't! d-don't!"
But Barnabas struck and the tinder caught, then, as the light came,
Barrymaine shrank away and away, and, crouching against the wall,
stared down at himself, at his right sleeve ripped and torn, and at
certain marks that spattered and stained him, here and there, awful
marks much darker than the cloth. Now as he looked, a great horror
seemed to come upon him, he trembled violently and, stumbling forward,
sank upon his knees beside the table, hiding his sweating face
between his arms. And, kneeling thus, he uttered soft, strange,
unintelligible noises and the table shook and quivered under him.
"Come, you must take off that coat!"
Very slowly Barrymaine lifted his heavy head and looked at Barnabas
with dilating eyes and with his mouth strangely drawn and twisted.
"Oh, Beverley!" he whispered, "I--I think I'm--"
"You must give me that coat!" persisted Barnabas.
Still upon his knees, Barrymaine began to fumble at the buttons of
that stained, betraying garment but, all at once, his fingers seemed
to grow uncertain, they groped aimlessly, fell away, and he spoke in
a hoarse whisper, while upon his lip was something white, like foam.
"I--oh I--Beverley, I--c-can't!"
And now, all at once, as they stared into each other's eyes,
Barnabas leaning forward, strong and compelling, Barrymaine upon his
knees clinging weakly to the table, sudden and sharp upon the
stillness broke a sound--an ominous sound, the stumble of a foot
that mounted the stair.
Uttering a broken cry Barrymaine struggled up to his feet, strove
desperately to speak, his distorted mouth flecked with foam, and
beating the air with frantic hands pitched over and thudded to the
Then the door opened and Mr. Smivvle appeared who, calling upon
Barrymaine's name, ran forward and fell upon his knees beside that
convulsed and twisted figure.
"My God, Beverley!" he cried, "how comes he like this--what has
"Are you his friend?"
"Yes, yes, his friend--certainly! Haven't I told you the hand of a
"Tonight he killed Jasper Gaunt."
"Eh? Killed? Killed him?"
"Murdered him--though I think more by accident than design."
"Killed him! Murdered him!"
"Yes. Pull yourself together and listen. Tomorrow the hue and cry
will be all over London, we must get him away--out of the country if
"Yes, yes--of course! But he's ill--a fit, I think."
"Have you ever seen him so before?"
"Never so bad as this. There, Barry, there, my poor fellow! Help me
to get him on the couch, will you, Beverley?"
Between them they raised that twitching form; then, as Mr. Smivvle
stooped to set a cushion beneath the restless head, he started
suddenly back, staring wide-eyed and pointing with a shaking finger.
"My God!" he whispered, "what's that? Look--look at his coat."
"Yes," said Barnabas, "we must have it off."
"No, no--it's too awful!" whimpered Mr. Smivvle, shrinking away,
"see--it's--it's all down the front!"
"If this coat is ever found, it will hang him!" said Barnabas.
"Come, help me to get it off."
So between them it was done; thereafter, while Mr. Smivvle crouched
beside that restless, muttering form, Barnabas put on his cloak and,
rolling up the torn coat, hid it beneath its ample folds.
"What, are you going, Beverley?"
"Yes--for one thing to get rid of this coat. On the table are twenty
guineas, take them, and just so soon as Barrymaine is fit to travel,
get him away, but above all, don't--"
"Who is it?" cried Barrymaine suddenly, starting up and peering
wildly over his shoulder, "w-who is it? Oh, I t-tell you there's
s-somebody behind me--who is it?"
"Nobody, Barry--not a soul, my poor boy, compose yourself!" But,
even as Mr. Smivvle spoke, Barrymaine fell back and lay moaning
fitfully and with half-closed eyes. "Indeed I fear he is very ill,
"If he isn't better by morning, get a doctor," said Barnabas,
"but, whatever you do--keep Chichester away from him. As regards
money I'll see you shan't want for it. And now, for the present,
So saying, Barnabas caught up his hat and, with a last glance at the
moaning figure on the couch, went from the room and down the stairs,
and let himself out into the dingy street.
WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS DISCHARGED HIS VALET
It was long past midnight when Barnabas reached his house in St.
James's Square; and gazing up at its goodly exterior he sighed, and
thereafter frowned, and so, frowning still, let himself in. Now,
late though the hour, Peterby was up, and met him in the hall.
"Sir," said he, anxious of eye as he beheld his young master's
disordered dress and the grim pallor of his face, "the Marquis of
Jerningham and Viscount Devenham called. They waited for you,--they
waited over an hour."
"But they are gone now, of course?" inquired Barnabas, pausing, with
his foot on the stair.
"Good!" nodded Barnabas with a sigh of relief.
"But they left word they would call to-morrow morning, early; indeed
they seemed most anxious to see you, sir."
"Ha!" said Barnabas, and, frowning still, went on up the stair.
"Sir," said Peterby, lighting the way into the dressing-room,
"you received the--the letter safely?"
"Yes, I received it," said Barnabas, tossing aside his hat and cloak,
"and that reminds me,--to-morrow morning you will discharge all the
"Pay them a month's wages. Also you will get rid of this house and
furniture, and all the carriages and horses--except 'The Terror,'
--sell them for what they will fetch--no matter how little,
only--get rid of them."
"As for yourself, Peterby, I shall require your services no longer.
But you needn't lack for a position--every dandy of 'em all will be
wild to get you. And, because you are the very best valet in the
world, you can demand your own terms."
"And now, I think that is all, I shan't want you again tonight--stay
though, before I go to bed bring me the things I wore when I first
met you, the garments which as clothes, you told me, didn't exist."
"Sir, may I ask you a question?"
"Oh, yes--if you wish," sighed Barnabas, wearily.
"Are you leaving London, sir?"
"I'm leaving the World of Fashion--yes."
"And you--don't wish me to accompany you, sir."
"Have I--displeased you in any way?"
"No, it is only that the 'best valet in the world' would be wasted
on me any longer, and I shall not need you where I am going."
"Not as a--servant, sir?"
"Then, sir, may I remind you that I am also a--man? A man who owes
all that he is to your generosity and noble trust and faith. And, sir,
it seems to me that a man may sometimes venture where a servant may
not--if you are indeed done with the Fashionable World, I have done
with it also, for I shall never serve any other than you."
Then Barnabas turned away and coming to the mantel leaned there,
staring blankly down at the empty hearth; and in a while he spoke,
though without looking up:
"The Fashionable World has turned its polite back upon me, Peterby,
because I am only the son of a village inn-keeper. But--much more
than this--my lady has--has lost her faith in me, my fool's dream
is over--nothing matters any more. And so I am going away to a place
I have heard described by a pedler of books as 'the worst place in
the world'--and indeed I think it is."
"Sir," said Peterby, "when do we start?"
Then, very slowly, Barnabas lifted his heavy head and looked at John
Peterby; and, in that dark hour, smiled, and reaching out, caught
and grasped his hand; also, when he spoke again, his voice was less
hard and not so steady as before:
"Oh, John!" said he, "John Peterby--my faithful John! Come with me
if you will, but you come as my--friend."
"And--where are we going, sir?" inquired John, as they stood thus,
hand in hand, looking into each other's eyes.
"To Giles's Rents, John,--down by the River."
And thus did Barnabas, in getting rid of the "best valet in the world,"
find for himself a faithful friend instead.
OF CERTAIN CON-CLUSIONS DRAWN BY MR. SHRIG
Number Five St. James's Square was to let; its many windows were
blank and shuttered, its portal, which scarcely a week ago had been
besieged by Fashion, was barred and bolted, the Gentleman-in-Powder
had vanished quite, and with him the glory of Number Five St.
James's Square had departed utterly.
Barnabas paused to let his gaze wander over it, from roof to pavement,
then, smiling a little bitterly, buried his chin in the folds of his
belcher neckerchief and thrusting his hands deep into his pockets,
turned and went his way.
And as he went, smiling still, and still a little bitterly, he needs
must remember and vaguely wonder what had become of all that Polite
notepaper, and all those Fashionable cards, embossed, gilt-edged,
and otherwise, that had been wont to pour upon him every morning,
and which had so rejoiced the highly susceptible and eloquent legs
of the Gentleman-in-Powder.
Evening was falling and the square seemed deserted save for a
solitary man in a neckcloth of vivid hue, a dejected-looking man who
lounged against the wall under the shade of the trees in the middle
of the square, and seemed lost in contemplation of his boots. And
yet when Barnabas, having traversed Charles Street and turned into
the Haymarket, chanced to look back, he saw that the man was
lounging dejectedly after him. Therefore Barnabas quickened his steps,
and, reaching the crowded Strand, hurried on through the bustling
throng; but just beyond Temple Bar, caught a glimpse of the vivid
neckcloth on the opposite side of the road. Up Chancery Lane and
across Holborn went Barnabas, yet, as he turned down Leather Lane,
there, sure enough, was the man in the neckcloth as dejected as ever,
but not twelve yards behind.
Half-way down crowded Leather Lane Barnabas turned off down a less
frequented street and halting just beyond the corner, waited for his
pursuer to come up. And presently round the corner he came and, in
his hurry, very nearly stumbled over Barnabas, who promptly reached
out a long arm and pinned him by the vivid neckcloth.
"Why do you follow me?" he demanded.
"Foller you?" repeated the man.
"You have been following me all the way."
"Have I?" said the man.
"You know you have. Come, what do you want?"
"Well, first," said the man, sighing dejectedly, "leggo my neck,
will ye be so kind?"
"Not till you tell me why you follow me."
"Why, then," said the man, "listen and I'll tell ye."
"Well?" demanded Barnabas.
But, all at once, and quick as a flash, with a wrench and a cunning
twist, the man had broken away and, taking to his heels, darted off
down the street and was gone.
For a moment Barnabas stood hesitating, undecided whether to go on
to Barrymaine's lodging or no, and finally struck off in the
opposite direction, towards Gray's Inn Lane and so by devious ways
eventually arrived at the back door of the "Gun," on which he
It was opened, almost immediately, by Corporal Richard Roe himself,
who stared a moment, smiled, and thereupon extended a huge hand.
"What, is it you, sir?" he exclaimed, "for a moment I didn't know ye.
Step in, sir, step in, we're proud to see ye."
So saying, he ushered Barnabas down two steps into the small but
very snug chamber that he remembered, with its rows upon rows of
shelves whereon a whole regiment of bottles and glasses were drawn
up in neat array, "dressed" and marshalled as if on parade; it was
indeed a place of superlative tidiness where everything seemed to be
in a perpetual state of neatness and order.
In a great elbow chair beside the ingle, with a cushion at his back
and another beneath one foot, sat Mr. Shrig puffing at a pipe and
with his little reader open on the table at his elbow. He looked a
little thinner and paler than usual, and Barnabas noticed that one
leg was swathed in bandages, but his smile was as innocent and
guileless and his clasp as warm as ever as they greeted each other.
"You must ax-cuse me rising, sir," said he, "the sperrit is villing
but natur' forbids, it can't be done on account o' this here leg o'
mine,--a slug through the stamper, d' ye see, vich is bad enough,
though better than it might ha' been. But it vere a good night on
the whole,--thanks to you and the Corp 'ere, I got the whole gang,
--though, from conclusions as I'd drawed I'ad 'oped to get--vell,
shall ve say Number Two? But Fate was ag'in me. Still, I don't
complain, and the vay you fought 'em off till the Corp and my
specials come up vas a vonder!"
"Ah! that it were!" nodded the Corporal.
"Though 'ow you wanished yourself avay, and v'ere you wanished to,
is more vonderful still."
"Ah, that it is, sir!" nodded the Corporal again.
"Why," explained Barnabas, "I was stunned by a blow on the head, and
when I came to, found myself lying out on the wharf behind a broken
boat. I should have come round here days ago to inquire how you were,
Mr. Shrig, only that my time has been--much occupied--of late."
"Veil, sir," said Mr. Shrig, puffing hard at his pipe, "from all
accounts I should reckon as it 'ad. By Goles! but ve vas jest
talking about you, sir, the werry i-dentical moment as you knocked
at the door. I vas jest running over my little reader and telling
the Corp the v'y and the v'erefore as you couldn't ha' done the deed."
"V'y--_the_ deed. The deed as all London is a-talking of,--the
murder o' Jasper Gaunt, the money-lender."
"Ah!" said Barnabas thoughtfully. "And so you are quite sure that
I--didn't murder Jasper Gaunt, are you. Mr. Shrig?"
"Quite--oh, Lord love you, yes!"
"Because," said Mr. Shrig with his guileless smile, and puffing out
a cloud of smoke and watching it vanish ceilingwards, "because I
'appen to know 'oo did."
"Oh!" said Barnabas more thoughtfully than ever. "And who do you
think it is?"
"Vell, sir," answered Mr. Shrig ponderously, "from conclusions as
I've drawed I don't feel at liberty to name no names nor yet cast no
insinivations, but--v'en the other traps (sich werry smart coves too!)
'ave been and gone an' arrested all the innercent parties in London,
v'y then I shall put my castor on my napper, and take my tickler in
my fib and go and lay my 'ooks on the guilty party."
"And when will that be?"
"Jest so soon as my leg sarves me, sir,--say a veek,--say, two."
"You're in no hurry then?"
"Lord, no, sir, I'm never in an 'urry."
"And you say you think you know who the murderer is?"
"V-y no, sir,--from conclusions as I've drawed I'm sure and sartin
'oo did the deed. But come, sir, vot do you say to a glass o' the
Vun and Only, to drink a quick despatch to the guilty party?"
But the clock striking eight, Barnabas shook his head and rose.
"Thank you, but I must be going," said he.
"V'y if you must, you must," sighed Mr. Shrig as they shook hands;
"good evening, sir, an' if anything unpleasant should 'appen to you
in the next day or two--jest tip me the vord."
"What do you mean by unpleasant, Mr. Shrig?"
"Vell, took up p'r'aps, or shall ve say--arrested,--by some o' the
other traps--sich werry smart coves, too!"
"Do you think it likely, Mr. Shrig?"
"Vell, sir," said Mr. Shrig, with his placid smile, "there's some
traps as is so uncommon smart that they've got an 'abit of arresting
innercent parties verever found, d'ye see. But if they should 'appen
to lay their 'ooks on ye, jest tip me the office, sir."
"Thank you," said Barnabas, "I shan't forget," and, with a final nod
to Mr. Shrig, turned and followed the Corporal into Gray's Inn Lane.
Now when Barnabas would have gone his way the Corporal stayed him
with a very large but very gentle hand, and thereafter stood,
rubbing his shaven chin with his shining hook and seeming very much
"What is it, Corporal?" Barnabas inquired.
"Well, sir," said the soldier diffidently, "it's like this, sir, my
pal Jarsper and me, 'aving heard of--of your--altered circumstances,
sir, wishes it to be understood as once your pals, ever your pals,
come shine, come rain. We likewise wish it to be understood as if at
any time a--a guinea would come in 'andy-like, sir--or say two or
three, my pal Jarsper and me will be proud to oblige, proud, sir.
And lastly, sir, my pal Jarsper and me would 'ave you to know as if
at any time you want a friend to your back, there's me and there's
'im--or a roof to your 'ead, why there's ever and always the 'Gun'
open to you, sir. We wishes you to understand this and--good evening,
But, or ever the blushing Corporal could escape, Barnabas caught and
wrung his hand:
"And I, Corporal," said he, "I wish you both to know that I am proud
to have won two such staunch friends, and that I shall always esteem
it an honor to ask your aid or take your hands,--good night, Corporal!"
So saying, Barnabas turned upon his heel, and as he went his step
was free and his eye brighter than it had been.
He took an intricate course by winding alleys and narrow side-streets,
keeping his glance well about him until at length he came to a
certain door in a certain dingy street,--and, finding the faulty
latch yield to his hand, entered a narrow, dingy hall and groped his
way up the dingiest stairs in the world.
Now all at once he fancied he heard a stealthy footstep that climbed
on in the darkness before him, and he paused suddenly, but, hearing
nothing, strode on, then stopped again for, plain enough this time,
some one stumbled on the stair above him. So he stood there in the
gloom, very still and very silent, and thus he presently heard
another sound, very soft and faint like the breathing of a sigh. And
all at once Barnabas clenched his teeth and spoke.
"Who is it?" he demanded fiercely, "now, by God--if it's you,
Chichester--" and with the word, he reached out before him in the
dark with merciless, griping hands.
The contact of something warm and soft; a broken, pitiful cry of fear,
and he had a woman in his arms. And, even as he clasped that
yielding form, Barnabas knew instinctively who it was, and
straightway thrilled with a wild joy.
"Madam!" he said hoarsely. "Madam!"
But she never stirred, nay it almost seemed she sank yet closer into
his embrace, if that could well be.
"Cleone!" he whispered.
"Barnabas," sighed a voice; and surely no other voice in all the
world could have uttered the word so tenderly.
"I--I fear I frightened you?"
"Yes, a little--Barnabas."
"You are--trembling very much."
"I am sorry that I--frightened you."
"I'm better now."
"But I--think I can walk if--"
"If you will help me, please--Barnabas."
Oh, surely never had those dark and dingy stairs, worn though they
were by the tread of countless feet, heard till now a voice so soft,
so low and sweet, so altogether irresistible! Such tender, thrilling
tones might have tamed Hyrcanean tigers or charmed the ferocity of
Cerberus himself. Then how might our Barnabas hope to resist, the
more especially as one arm yet encircled the yielding softness of
her slender waist and her fragrant breath was upon his cheek?
Help her? Of course he would.
"It's so very--dark," she sighed.
"Yes, it's very dark," said Barnabas, "but it isn't far to the
landing--shall we go up?"
"Yes, but--" my lady hesitated a moment as one who takes breath for
some great effort, and, in that moment, he felt her bosom heave
beneath his hand. "Oh, Barnabas," she whispered, "won't you--kiss
Then Barnabas trembled in his turn, the arm about her grew suddenly
rigid and, when he spoke, his voice was harsh and strained.
"Madam," said he, "can the mere kiss of an--inn-keeper's son restore
your dead faith?"
Now when he had said this, Cleone shrank in his embrace and uttered
a loud cry as if he had offered her some great wrong, and, breaking
from him, was gone before him up the stair, running in the dark.
Oh, Youth! Oh, Pride!
So Barnabas hurried after her and thus, as she threw open
Barrymaine's door he entered with her and, in his sudden abasement,
would have knelt to her, but Ronald Barrymaine had sprung up from
the couch and now leaned there, staring with dazed eyes like one new
wakened from sleep.
"Ronald," she cried, running to him, "I came as soon as I could, but
I didn't understand your letter. You wrote of some great danger. Oh,
Ronald dear, what is it--this time?"
"D-danger!" he repeated, and with the word, turned to stare over his
shoulder into the dingiest corner: "d-danger, yes, so I am,--but
t-tell me who it is--behind me, in the corner?"
"No one, Ronald."
"Yes--yes there is, I tell you," he whispered, "look again--now,
d-don't you see him?"
"No, oh no!" answered Cleone, clasping her hands, and shrinking
before Barrymaine's wild and haggard look. "Oh, Ronald, there's--no
"Yes there is, he's always there now--always just behind me. Last
night he began to talk to me--ah, no, no--what am I saying? never
heed me, Clo. I--I asked you to come because I'm g-going away, soon,
very s-soon, Clo, and I know I shall n-never see you again. I suppose
you thought it was m-money I wanted, but no--it's not that, I wanted
to say good-by because you see I'm g-going away--to-night!"
"Going away, Ronald?" she repeated, sinking to her knees beside the
rickety couch, for he had fallen back there as though overcome by
sudden weakness. "Dear boy, where are you going--and why?"
"I'm g-going far away--because I must--the s-sooner the better!" he
whispered, struggling to his elbow to peer into the corner again.
"Yes, the s-sooner the better. But, before I go I want you to
promise--to swear, Clo--to s-swear to me--" Barrymaine sat up
suddenly and, laying his nervous hands upon her shoulders, leaned
down to her in fierce eagerness, "You must s-swear to me n-never to
see or have anything to do with that d-devil, Chichester, d' ye hear
me, Clo, d' ye hear me?"
"But--oh, Ronald, I don't understand, you always told me he was your
friend, I thought--"
"Friend!" cried Barrymaine passionately. "He's a devil, I tell you
he's a d-devil, oh--" Barrymaine choked and fell back gasping; but,
even as Cleone leaned above him all tender solicitude, he pushed her
aside and, springing to his feet, reached out and caught Barnabas by
the arm. "Beverley," he cried, "you'll shield her from him--w-when
I'm gone, you'll l-look after her, won't you, Beverley? She's the
only thing I ever loved--except my accursed self. You will shield
her from--that d-devil!"
Then, still clutching Barnabas, he turned and seized Cleone's hands.
"Clo!" he cried, "dearest of sisters, if ever you need a f-friend
when I'm gone, he's here. Turn to him, Clo--look up--give him your
hand. Y-you loved him once, I think, and you were right--quite
r-right. You can t-trust Beverley, Clo--g-give him your hand."
"No, no!" cried Cleone, and, snatching her fingers from Barrymaine's
clasp, she turned away.
"Why not? Answer me! Speak, I tell you!"
But Cleone knelt there beside the couch, her head proudly averted,
uttering no word.
"Why, you don't think, like so many of the fools, that he killed
Jasper Gaunt, do you?" cried Barrymaine feverishly. "You don't think
he d-did it, do you--do you? Ah, but he didn't--he didn't, I tell you,
and I know--because--"
"Stop!" exclaimed Barnabas.
"Stop--no, why should I? She'll learn soon enough now and I'm m-man
enough to tell her myself--I'm no c-coward, I tell you--"
Then Cleone raised her head and looked up at her half-brother, and
in her eyes were a slow-dawning fear and horror.
"Oh, Ronald!" she whispered, "what do you mean?"
"Mean?" cried Barrymaine, "I mean that I did it--I did it. Yes, I
k-killed Jasper Gaunt, but it was no m-murder, Clo--a--a fight, an
accident--yes, I s-swear to God I never meant to do it."
"You!" she whispered, "you?"
"Yes, I--I did it, but I swear I never m-meant to--oh, Cleone--" and
he reached down to her with hands outstretched appealingly. But
Cleone shrank down and down--away from him, until she was crouching
on the floor, yet staring up at him with wide and awful eyes.
"You!" she whispered.
"Don't!" he cried. "Ah, don't look at me like that and oh, my God!
W-won't you l-let me t-touch you, Clo?"
"I--I'd rather you--wouldn't;" and Barnabas saw that she was
"But it was no m-murder," he pleaded, "and I'm g-going away, Clo--ah!
won't you let me k-kiss you good-by--just once, Clo?"
"I'd rather--you wouldn't," she whispered.
"Y-your hand, then--only your hand, Clo."
"I'd rather--you didn't!"
Then Ronald Barrymaine groaned and fell on his knees beside her and
sought to kiss her little foot, the hem of her dress, a strand of
her long, yellow hair; but seeing how she shuddered away from him, a
great sob broke from him and he rose to his feet.
"Beverley," he said, "oh, Beverley, s-she won't let me touch her."
And so stood a while with his face hidden in his griping hands.
After a moment he looked down at her again, but seeing how she yet
gazed at him with that wide, awful, fixed stare, he strove as if to
speak; then, finding no words, turned suddenly upon his heel and
crossing the room, went into his bed-chamber and locked the door.
Then Barnabas knelt beside that shaken, desolate figure and fain
would have comforted her, but now he could hear her speaking in a
passionate whisper, and the words she uttered were these:
"Oh, God forgive him! Oh, God help him! Have mercy upon him, oh God
And these words she whispered over and over again until, at length,
Barnabas reached out and touched her very gently.
"Cleone!" he said.
At the touch she rose and stood looking round the dingy room like
one distraught, and, sighing, crossed unsteadily to the door.
And when they reached the stair, Barnabas would have taken her hand
because of the dark, but she shrank away from him and shook her head.
"Sir," said she very softly, "a murderer's sister needs no help, I
And so they went down the dark stair with never a word between them
and, reaching the door with the faulty latch, Barnabas held it open
and they passed out into the dingy street, and as they walked side
by side towards Hatton Garden, Barnabas saw that her eyes were still
fixed and wide and that her lips still moved in silent prayer.
In a while, being come into Hatton Garden, Barnabas saw a hackney
coach before them, and beside the coach a burly, blue-clad figure, a
conspicuous figure by reason of his wooden leg and shiny, glazed hat.
"W'y, Lord, Mr. Beverley, sir!" exclaimed the Bo'sun, hurrying
forward, with his hairy fist outstretched, "this is a surprise, sir,
likewise a pleasure, and--" But here, observing my lady's face, he
checked himself suddenly, and opening the carriage door aided her in
very tenderly, beckoning Barnabas to follow. But Barnabas shook his
"Take care of her, Bo'sun," said he, clasping the sailor's hand,
"take great care of her." So saying, he closed the door upon them,
and stood to watch the rumbling coach down the bustling street until
it had rumbled itself quite out of sight.
WHICH GIVES SOME ACCOUNT OF THE WORST PLACE IN THE WORLD
A bad place by day, an evil place by night, an unsavory place at all
times is Giles's Rents, down by the River.
It is a place of noisome courts and alleys, of narrow, crooked
streets, seething with a dense life from fetid cellar to crowded
garret, amid whose grime and squalor the wail of the new-born infant
is echoed by the groan of decrepit age and ravaging disease; where
Vice is rampant and ghoulish Hunger stalks, pale and grim.
Truly an unholy place is Giles's Rents, down by the River.
Here, upon a certain evening, Barnabas, leaning out from his narrow
casement, turned wistful-eyed, to stare away over broken roof and
chimney, away beyond the maze of squalid courts and alleys that
hemmed him in to where, across the River, the sun was setting in a
blaze of glory, yet a glory that served only to make more apparent
all the filth and decay, all the sordid ugliness of his surroundings.
Below him was a dirty court, where dirty children fought and played
together, filling the reeking air with their shrill clamor, while
slatternly women stood gossiping in ragged groups with grimy hands
on hips, or with arms rolled up in dingy aprons. And Barnabas
noticed that the dirty children and gossiping women turned very
often to stare and point up at a certain window a little further
along the court, and he idly wondered why.
It had been a day of stifling heat, and even now, though evening was
at hand, he breathed an air close and heavy and foul with a thousand
Now as he leaned there, with his earnest gaze bent ever across the
River, Barnabas sighed, bethinking him of clean, white, country roads,
of murmuring brooks and rills, of the cool green shades of dewy
woods full of the fragrance of hidden flower and herb and sweet,
moist earth. But most of all he bethought him of a certain wayside
inn, an ancient inn of many gables, above whose hospitable door
swung a sign whereon a weather-beaten hound, dim-legged and faded of
tail, pursued a misty blur that by common report was held to be hare;
a comfortable, homely inn of no especial importance perhaps, yet the
very best inn to be found in all broad England, none the less. And,
as he thought, a sudden, great yearning came upon Barnabas and,
leaning his face between his hands, he said within himself:
"'I will arise, and go to my father!'"
But little by little he became aware that the clamor below had
ceased and, glancing down into the court, beheld two men in red
waistcoats, large men, bewhiskered men and square of elbow.
Important men were these, at sight of whom the ragged children stood
awed and silent and round of eye, while the gossiping women drew
back to give them way. Yes, men of consequence they were, beyond a
doubt, and Barnabas noticed that they also stared very often at a
certain window a little further up the court and from it to a third
man who limped along close behind them by means of a very nobbly
stick; a shortish, broadish, mild-looking man whose face was hidden
beneath the shadow of the broad-brimmed hat. Nevertheless at sight
of this man Barnabas uttered an exclamation, drew in his head very
suddenly and thereafter stood, listening and expectant, his gaze on
the door like one who waits to meet the inevitable.
And after a while, he saw the latch raised cautiously, and the door
begin to open very slowly and noiselessly. It had opened thus
perhaps some six inches when he spoke:
"Is that you, Mr. Shrig?"
Immediately the door became stationary and, after some brief pause a
voice issued from behind it, a voice somewhat wheezing and hoarse.
"Which your parding I ax, sir," said the voice, "which your parding
I 'umbly ax, but it ain't, me being a respectable female, sir, name
o' Snummitt, sir--charing, sir, also washing and clear-starching, sir!"
Hereupon, the door having opened to its fullest, Barnabas saw a stout,
middle-aged woman whose naturally unlovely look had been further
marred by the loss of one eye, while the survivor, as though
constantly striving to make amends, was continually rolling itself
up and down and to and fro, in a manner quite astonishing to behold.
"Which my name is Snummitt," she repeated, bobbing a curtsy and
momentarily eclipsing the rolling eye under the poke of a very large
bonnet, "Mrs. Snummitt, sir, which though a widder I'm respectable
and of 'igh character and connections. Which me 'aving only one heye
ain't by no manner of means to be 'eld ag'in me, seeing as it were
took away by a act o' Providence in the shape of another lady's
boot-'eel sixteen summers ago come Michaelmas."
"Indeed," said Barnabas, seeing Mrs. Snummitt had paused for breath,
"Which I were to give you Mr. Bimby's compliments, sir, and ax if
you could oblige him with the loan of a wine-glass?"
"Over-'ead, sir--garret! You may 'ave 'eard 'im, now and then--flute,
sir, 'armonious, though doleful."
"And he wants a wine-glass, does he?" said Barnabas, and forthwith
produced that article from a rickety corner-cupboard and handed it
to Mrs. Snummitt, who took it, glanced inside it, turned it
upside-down, and rolled her eye at Barnabas eloquently.
"What more?" he inquired.
"Which I would mention, sir, or shall we say, 'int, as if you could