Part 12 out of 13
put a little drop o' summat inside of it--brandy, say--'t would be
doing a great favor."
"Ah, to be sure!" said Barnabas. And, having poured out a stiff
quantum of the spirit, he gave it to Mrs. Snummit, who took it,
curtsied, and rolling her solitary orb at the bottle on the table,
"Which I would thank you kindly on be'alf o' Mr. Bimby, sir, and,
seeing it upon the tip o' your tongue to ax me to partake, I begs to
say 'Amen,' with a slice o' lemming cut thin, and thank you from my
"I fear I have no lemon," began Barnabas.
"Then we won't say no more about it, sir, not a word. 'Evings forbid
as a lemming should come betwixt us seeing as I am that shook on
account o' pore, little Miss Pell."
"Who is Miss Pell?"
"She's one as was, sir, but now--ain't," answered Mrs. Snummitt and,
nodding gloomily, she took down the brandy in three separate and
distinct gulps, closed her eyes, sighed, and nodded her poke bonnet
more gloomily than before. "Little Miss Pell, sir, 'ad a attic three
doors down, sir, and pore little Miss Pell 'as been and gone
and--done it! Which do it I knowed she would."
"Done what?" inquired Barnabas.
"Five long year come shine, come rain, I've knowed pore Miss Pell,
and though small, a real lady she were, but lonesome. Last night as
ever was, she met me on the stairs, and by the same token I 'ad a
scrubbing-brush in one 'and and a bucket in the other, me 'aving
been charing for the first floor front, a 'andsome gent with
whiskers like a lord, and 'oh, Mrs. Snummitt!' she sez and all of a
twitter she was too, 'dear Mrs. Snummitt,' sez she, 'I'm a-going
away on a journey,' she sez, 'but before I go,' she sez, 'I should
like to kiss you good-by, me being so lonesome,' she sez. Which kiss
me she did, sir, and likewise wep' a couple o' big tears over me,
pore soul, and then, run away into 'er dark little attic and locked
'erself in, and--done it!"
"What--what did she do?"
"'Ung 'erself in the cupboard, sir. Kissed me only last night she did
and wep' over me, and now--cold and stiff, pore soul?"
"But why did she do it?" cried Barnabas, aghast.
"Well, there was the lonesomeness and--well, she 'adn't eat anything
for two days it seems, and--"
"You mean that she was hungry--starving?"
"Generally, sir. But things was worse lately on account of 'er heyes
getting weak. 'Mrs. Snummitt,' she used to say, 'my heyes is getting
worse and worse,' she'd say, 'but I shall work as long as I can see
the stitches, and then, Mrs. Snummitt, I must try a change o' scene,'
she used to say with a little shiver like. And I used to wonder
where she'd go, but--I know now, and--well--the Bow Street Runners
'as just gone up to cut the pore soul down."
"And she killed herself--because she was hungry!" said Barnabas,
"Oh, yes, lots on 'em do, I've knowed three or four as went and
done it, and it's generally hunger as is to blame for it. There's
Mr. Bimby, now, a nice little gent, but doleful like 'is flute, 'e's
always 'ungry 'e is, I'll take my oath--shouldn't wonder if 'e don't
come to it one o' these days. And talking of 'im I must be going, sir,
and thank you kindly, I'm sure."
"Why, then," said Barnabas as she bobbed him another curtsy,
"will you ask Mr. Bimby if he will do me the pleasure to step down
and take supper with me?"
"Which, sir, I will, though Mr. Bimby I won't answer for, 'im being
busy with the pore young man as 'e brought 'ome last night--it's 'im
as the brandy's for. Ye see, sir, though doleful, Mr. Bimby's very
kind 'earted, and 'e's always a-nussing somebody or something--last
time it were a dog with a broke leg--ah, I've knowed 'im bring 'ome
stray cats afore now, many's the time, and once a sparrer. But I'll
tell 'im, sir, and thank you kindly."
And in a while, when Mrs. Snummitt had duly curtsied herself out of
sight, Barnabas sighed, and turned once more to stare away, over
broken roof and crumbling chimney, towards the glory of the sunset.
But now, because he remembered poor little Miss Pell who had died
because she was so friendless and hungry, and Mr. Bimby who was
"always hungry" and played the flute, he stifled his fierce yearning
for dewy wood and copse and the sweet, pure breath of the country,
and thought no more of his father's inn that was so very far from
the sordid grime and suffering of Giles's Rents, down by the River;
and setting the kettle on the fire he sank into a chair and
stretching out his long legs, fell into a profound meditation.
From this he was roused by the opening of the door, and, glancing up,
beheld John Peterby. A very different person he looked from the neat,
well-groomed Peterby of a week ago, what with the rough, ill-fitting
clothes he wore and the fur cap pulled low over his brows; the
gentleman's gentleman had vanished quite, and in his stead was a
nondescript character such as might have been met with anywhere
along the River, or lounging in shadowy corners. He carried a bundle
beneath one arm, and cast a swift look round the room before turning
to see the door behind him.
"Ah," said Barnabas nodding, "I'm glad you're back, John, and with
plenty of provisions I hope, for I'm amazingly hungry, and besides,
I've asked a gentleman to sup with us."
Peterby put down the bundle and, crossing to the hearth, took the
kettle, which was boiling furiously, and set it upon the hob, then
laying aside the fur cap spoke:
"A gentleman, sir?"
"A neighbor, John."
"Sir," said he, as he began to prepare the tea in that swift, silent
manner peculiar to him in all things, "when do you propose we shall
leave this place?"
"Why, to tell you the truth, John, I had almost determined to start
for the country this very night, but, on second thoughts, I've
decided to stay on a while. After all, we have only been here a week
"Yes, sir, it is just a week since--Jasper Gaunt was murdered," said
Peterby gently as he stooped to unpack his bundle. Now when he said
this, Barnabas turned to look at him again, and thus he noticed that
Peterby's brow was anxious and careworn.
"I wish, John," said he, "that you would remember we are no longer
master and man."
"Old habits stick, sir."
"And that I brought you to this dismal place as my friend."
"But surely, sir, a man's friend is worthy of his trust and
"John Peterby, what do you mean?"
"Sir," said Peterby, setting down the teapot, "as I came along this
evening, I met Mr. Shrig; he recognized me in spite of my disguise
and he told me to--warn you--"
"That you may be arrested--"
"For--the murder of Jasper Gaunt. Oh, sir, why have you aroused
suspicion against yourself by disappearing at such a time?"
"Suspicion?" said Barnabas, and with the word he rose and laying his
hands upon John Peterby's shoulders, looked into his eyes. Then,
seeing the look they held, he smiled and shook his head.
"Oh, friend," said he, "what matters it so long as you know my hands
"But, sir, if you are arrested--"
"They must next prove me guilty, John," said Barnabas, sitting down
at the table.
"Or an accessory--after the fact!"
"Hum!" said Barnabas thoughtfully, "I never thought of that."
"And, sir," continued Peterby anxiously, "there are two Bow Street
Runners lounging outside in the court--"
"But they're not after me yet. So cheer up, John!" Yet in that moment,
Peterby sprang to his feet with fists clenched, for some one was
knocking softly at the door.
"Quick, sir--the other room--hide!" he whispered. But shaking his
head, Barnabas rose and, putting him gently aside, opened the door
and beheld a small gentleman who bowed.
A pale, fragile little gentleman this, with eyes and hair of an
indeterminate color, while his clothes, scrupulously neat and
brushed and precise to a button, showed pitifully shabby and
threadbare in contrast with his elaborately frilled and starched
cravat and gay, though faded, satin waistcoat; and, as he stood
bowing nervously to them, there was an air about him that somehow
gave the impression that he was smaller even than Nature had intended.
"Gentlemen," said he, coughing nervously behind his hand, "hem!--I
trust I don't intrude. Feel it my obligation to pay my respects,
to--hem! to welcome you as a neighbor--as a neighbor. Arthur Bimby,
humbly at your service--Arthur Bimby, once a man of parts though now
brought low by abstractions, gentlemen, forces not apparent to the
human optic, sirs. Still, in my day, I have been known about town as
a downy bird, a smooth file, and a knowing card--hem!"
Hereupon he bowed again, looking as unlike a "smooth file" or
"knowing card" as any small, inoffensive gentleman possibly could.
"Happy to see you, sir," answered Barnabas, returning his bow with
one as deep, "I am Barnabas Barty at your service, and this is my
good friend John Peterby. We are about to have supper--nothing very
much--tea, sir, eggs, and a cold fowl, but if you would honor us--"
"Sir," cried the little gentleman with a quaver of eagerness in his
voice and a gleam in his eye, both quickly suppressed, "hem!--indeed
I thank you, but--regret I have already supped--hem--duck and green
peas, gentlemen, though I'll admit the duck was tough--deuced tough,
hem! Still, if I might be permitted to toy with an egg and discuss a
dish of tea, the honor would be mine, sirs--would be mine!"
Then, while Peterby hastened to set the edibles before him, Barnabas
drew up a chair and, with many bows and flutterings of the thin,
restless hands, the little gentleman sat down.
"Indeed, indeed," he stammered, blinking his pale eyes, "this is
most kind, I protest, most kind and neighborly!" Which said, he
stooped suddenly above his plate and began to eat, that is to say he
swallowed one or two mouthfuls with a nervous haste that was very
like voracity, checked himself, and glancing guiltily from
unconscious Barnabas to equally unconscious Peterby, sighed and
thereafter ate his food as deliberately as might be expected of one
who had lately dined upon duck and green peas.
"Ah!" said he, when at length his hunger was somewhat assuaged,
"you are noticing the patch in my left elbow, sir?"
"No indeed!" began Barnabas.
"I think you were, sir--every one does, every one--it can't be missed,
sir, and I--hem! I'm extreme conscious of it myself, sirs. I really
must discard this old coat, but--hem! I'm attached to it--foolish
sentiment, sirs. I wear it for associations' sake, it awakens memory,
and memory is a blessed thing, sirs, a very blessed thing!"
"Sometimes!" sighed Barnabas.
"In me, sirs, you behold a decayed gentleman, yet one who has lived
in his time, but now, sirs, all that remains to me is--this coat. A
prince once commended it, the Beau himself condescended to notice it!
Yes, sirs, I was rich once and happily married, and my friends were
many. But--my best friend deceived and ruined me, my wife fled away
and left me, sirs, my friends all forsook me and, to-day, all that I
have to remind me of what I was when I was young and lived, is this
old coat. To-day I exist as a law-writer, to-day I am old, and with
my vanished youth hope has vanished too. And I call myself a decayed
gentleman because I'm--fading, sirs. But to fade is genteel;
Brummell faded! Yes, one may fade and still be a gentleman, but who
ever heard of a fading ploughman?"
"Who, indeed?" said Barnabas.
"But to fade, sir," continued the little gentleman, lifting a thin,
bloodless hand, "though genteel, is a slow process and a very weary
one. Without the companionship of Hope, life becomes a hard and
extreme long road to the ultimate end, and therefore I am sometimes
greatly tempted to take the--easier course, the--shorter way."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, sir, there are other names for it, but--hem!--I prefer to
call it 'the shorter way.'"
"Do you mean--suicide?"
"Sir," cried Mr. Bimby, shivering and raising protesting hands,
"I said 'the shorter way.' Poor little Miss Pell--a lady born,
sir--she used to curtsy to me on the stairs, she chose 'the shorter
way.' She also was old, you see, and weary. And to-night I met
another who sought to take this 'shorter way'--but he was young, and
for the young there is always hope. So I brought him home with me
and tried to comfort him, but I fear--"
Peterby sprang suddenly to his feet and Mr. Bimby started and turned
to glance fearfully towards the door which was quivering beneath the
blows of a ponderous fist. Therefore Barnabas rose and crossing the
room, drew the latch. Upon the threshold stood Corporal Richard Roe,
looming gigantic in the narrow doorway, who, having saluted Barnabas
with his shining hook, spoke in his slow, diffident manner.
"Sir," said he, "might I speak a word wi' you?"
"Why, Corporal, I'm glad to see you--come in!"
"Sir," said the big soldier with another motion of his glittering
hook, "might I ax you to step outside wi' me jest a moment?"
"Certainly, Corporal," and with a murmured apology to Mr. Bimby,
Barnabas followed the Corporal out upon the gloomy landing and
closed the door. Now at the further end of the landing was a window,
open to admit the air, and, coming to this window, the Corporal
glanced down stealthily into the court below, beckoning Barnabas to
do the like:
"Sir," said he in a muffled tone, "d' ye see them two coves in the
red weskits?" and he pointed to the two Bow Street Runners who
lounged in the shadow of an adjacent wall, talking together in
rumbling tones and puffing at their pipes.
"Well, Corporal, what of them?"
"Sir, they're a-waiting for you!"
"Are you sure, Corporal? A poor creature committed suicide to-day; I
thought they were here on that account."
"No, sir, that was only a blind, they're a-watching and a-waiting to
take you for the Gaunt murder. My pal Jarsper knows, and my pal
Jarsper sent me here to give you the office to lay low and not to
venture out to-night."
"Ah!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown.
"My pal Jarsper bid me say as you was to keep yourself scarce till
'e's got 'is 'ooks on the guilty party, sir."
"Ah!" said Barnabas, again, "and when does he intend to make the
"This here very night, sir."
"Hum!" said Barnabas thoughtfully.
"And," continued the Corporal, "I were likewise to remind you, sir,
as once your pals, ever and allus your pals. And, sir--good-night,
and good-luck to you!" So saying, the Corporal shook hands,
flourished his hook and strode away down the narrow stairs, smiling
up at Barnabas like a beneficent giant.
And, when he was gone, Barnabas hurried back into the room and,
taking pen and paper, wrote this:
You are to be arrested to-night, so I send you my friend, John
Peterby. Trust yourself to his guidance.
And having folded and sealed this letter, he beckoned to Peterby.
"John," said he, speaking in his ear, "take this letter to Mr. Barrymaine,
give it into his hand, see that he leaves at once. And, John, take a
coach and bring him back with you."
So Peterby the silent thrust the note into his bosom, took his fur
cap, and sighing, went from the room; and a moment later, glancing
cautiously through the window, Barnabas saw him hurry through the
court and vanish round the corner.
Then Barnabas turned back to the table, and seeing how wistfully
Mr. Bimby eyed the teapot, poured him out another cup; and while
they drank together, Mr. Bimby chatted, in his pleasant way, of
bitter wrong, of shattered faith and ideals, of the hopeless
struggle against circumstance, and of the oncoming terror of old age,
bringing with it failing strength and all the horrors of a debtor's
prison. And now, mingled with his pity, Barnabas was conscious of a
growing respect for this pleasant, small gentleman, and began to
understand why a man might seek the "shorter way," yet be no great
coward after all.
So Mr. Bimby chattered on and Barnabas listened until the day
declined to evening; until Barnabas began to hearken for Peterby's
returning footstep on the uncarpeted stair outside. Even in the act
of lighting the candles his ears were acutely on the stretch, and
thus he gradually became aware of another sound, soft and dull, yet
continuous, a sound difficult to locate. But as he stood staring
into the flame of the candle he had just lighted, striving meanwhile
to account for and place this noise, Mr. Bimby rose and lifted a thin,
"Sir," said he, "do you hear anything?"
"Yes. I was wondering what it could be."
"I think I can tell you, sir," said Mr. Bimby, pointing to a certain
part of the cracked and blackened ceiling; "it is up there, in my
And now, all at once Barnabas started and caught his breath, for
from the floor above came a soft trampling as of unshod feet, yet
the feet never moved from the one spot.
"Indeed," sighed Mr. Bimby, "I greatly fear my poor young friend is
ill again. I must go up to him, but first--may I beg--"
"Sir," said Barnabas, his gaze still fixed upon a certain corner of
the ceiling, "I should like to go with you, if I may."
"You are very good, sir, very kind, I protest you are," quavered
Mr. Bimby, "and hem! if I might suggest--a little brandy--?" But
even as Barnabas reached for the bottle, there came a hurry of
footsteps on the stair, a hand fumbled at the door and Mr. Smivvle
entered with Peterby at his heels.
"Oh, Beverley!" he exclaimed, tugging nervously at his whiskers,
"Barry's gone--most distressing--utterly vanished! I just happened
to--ah--pop round the corner, my dear fellow, and when I came back
he'd disappeared, been looking for him everywhere. Poor Barry--poor
fellow, they've got him safe enough by now! Oh Gad, Beverley! what
can I do?"
"Sit down," said Barnabas, "I think he's found." So saying he turned
and followed Mr. Bimby out of the room.
CONCERNING THE IDENTITY OF MR. BIMBY'S GUEST
It needed but a glance at the huddled figure in the comfortless
little attic to assure Barnabas of the identity of Mr. Bimby's
"poor young friend"; wherefore, setting down the candle on the
broken table, he crossed the room and touched that desolate figure
with a gentle hand.
Then Ronald Barrymaine looked up and, seeing Barnabas, struggled to
"Beverley!" he exclaimed, "oh, thank God! You'll save her from that
d-devil--I tried to kill him, b-but he was too quick for me. But
you--you'll save her!"
"What do you mean? Is it Cleone? What do you mean--speak!" said
Barnabas, beginning to tremble.
"Yes, yes!" muttered Barrymaine, passing a hand across his brow.
"Listen then! Chichester knows--he knows, I tell you! He came to me,
three days ago I think--while D-Dig was out, and he talked and talked,
and questioned me and questioned me, and s-so I--I told him
everything--everything! But I had to, Beverley, I had to--_he_ made
me--yes _he_, Jasper Gaunt. So I told C-Chichester everything and
then--he laughed, and I t-tried to k-kill him, but he got away and
left me alone with--him. He's always near me now--always c-close
behind me where I can't quite s-see him, only sometimes I hear him
ch-choke, oh, my God, Beverley!--like he did--that night! I r-ran
away to escape him but--oh Beverley!--he's followed me, he was here
a moment ago--I heard him, I t-tell you! Oh, Beverley, don't l-look
as if you thought me m-mad, I'm not! I'm not! I know it's all an
illusion, of c-course, but--"
"Yes," said Barnabas gently, "but what of Cleone?"
"Cleone? Oh, God help me, Beverley, she's going to g-give herself to
that devil--to buy his silence!"
"What--what," stammered Barnabas. "What do you mean?"
"I got this to-day--read it and see!" said Barrymaine and drew from
his bosom a crumpled letter. Then Barnabas took it, and smoothing it
out, read these words:
Ronald dear, I'm sorry I didn't let you kiss me good-by. So
sorry that I am going to do all that a woman can to save you.
Mr. Chichester has learned your awful secret, and I am the price of
his silence. So, because of my promise to our dying mother, and because
life can hold nothing for me now, because life and death are alike to
me now, I am going to marry him to-night, at his house at Headcorn.
Good-by, Ronald dear, and that God may forgive and save you in this
life and hereafter, is the undying prayer of
Barnabas refolded the letter and, giving it back to Barrymaine, took
out Natty Bell's great silver watch.
"It is a long way to Headcorn," said he, "I must start at once!"
"Ah! You'll g-go then, Beverley?"
"Go? Of course!"
"Then, oh Beverley, whatever happens--whether you're in time or no,
"I think," said Barnabas, putting away his watch, "yes, I think I
"The house is called Ashleydown," continued Barrymaine feverishly,
"a b-big house about a m-mile this side the village."
"Ashleydown? I think I've heard mention of it before. But now, you
must come with me, Smivvle is downstairs, you shall have my rooms
"Thanks, Beverley, but do you m-mind--giving me your arm? I get
f-faint sometimes--my head, I think, the faintness came on me in the
s-street to-night, and I f-fell, I think."
"Indeed, yes, sir," added Mr. Bimby with a little bow, "it was so I
found you, sir."
"Ah, yes, you were kind to me, I remember--you have my g-gratitude,
sir. Now, Beverley, give me your arm, I--I--oh, God help me!"
Barrymaine reached out with clutching fingers, swayed, twisted
sideways and would have fallen, had not Barnabas caught him.
"Poor boy!" cried Mr. Bimby, "a fit, I think--so very young, poor boy!
You'll need help, sir. Oh, poor boy, poor boy!" So saying, the
little gentleman hurried away and presently returned with John and
Mr. Smivvle. Thus, between them, they bore Ronald Barrymaine
downstairs and, having made him as comfortable as might be in the
inner room, left him to the care of the faithful Mr. Smivvle.
Then Barnabas crossed to the narrow window and stood there a while,
looking down at the dim figures of the Bow Street Runners who still
lounged against the wall in the gathering dusk and talked together
in gruff murmurs.
"John," said he at last, "I must trouble you to change coats with me."
Peterby slipped off the garment in question, and aided Barnabas to
put it on.
"Now, your fur cap, John."
"Sir," said Peterby all anxiety in a moment, "you are never thinking
of going out, tonight--it would be madness!"
"Then mad am I. Your cap, John."
"But--if you are arrested--"
"He will be a strong man who stays me tonight, John. Give me your cap."
So Peterby brought the fur cap and, putting it on, Barnabas pulled
it low down over his brows and turned to the door. But there Peterby
"Sir," he pleaded, "let me go for you."
"No," said Barnabas, shaking his head.
"Then let me go with you,"
"Because," answered Barnabas, grim-lipped, "tonight I go to ride
another race, a very long, hard race, and oh, John Peterby--my
faithful John, if you never prayed before--pray now, that I may win!"
"Sir," said Peterby, "I will!"
Then Barnabas caught his hand, wrung it, and striding from the room,
hurried away down the dark and narrow stair.
HOW BARNABAS LED A HUE AND CRY
The shadows were creeping down on Giles's Rents, hiding its grime,
its misery and squalor, what time Barnabas stepped out into the court,
and, turning his back upon the shadowy River, strode along,
watchful-eyed, toward that dark corner where the Bow Street Runners
still lounged, smoking their pipes and talking together in their
rumbling tones. As he drew nearer he became aware that they had
ceased their talk and guessed rather than saw that he was the object
of their scrutiny; nor was he mistaken, for as he came abreast of
where they stood, one of them lurched towards him.
"Why, hullo, Joe," exclaimed the man, in a tone of rough familiarity,
"strike me blue if this ain't fort'nate! 'Ow goes it, Joe?"
"My name isn't Joe," said Barnabas, pausing, for the man had lurched
in front of him, barring his way.
"Not Joe, eh?" growled the man, thrusting his head unpleasantly
close to Barnabas to peer into his face, "not Joe, eh? Why then
p'r'aps it might be--Barnabas, eh? P'r'aps it might be--Beverley, eh?
Barnabas Beverley like-wise, eh? All right, Ben!" he called to his
mate, "it's our man right enough!"
"What do you mean?" inquired Barnabas, casting a swift glance about
him; and thus, he saw a moving shadow some distance down the court,
a furtive shape that flitted towards them where the gathering shadows
lay thickest. And at the sight, Barnabas clenched his fists and
poised himself for swift action.
"What do you want?" he demanded, his gaze still wandering, his ears
hearkening desperately for the sound of creeping footsteps behind,
"what do you want with me?"
"W'y, we wants you, to be sure," answered Runner No. 1. "We wants you,
Barnabas Beverley, Esk-vire, for the murder of Jasper Gaunt. And,
wot's more--we've got ye! And, wot's more--you'd better come along
nice and quiet in the name o' the--"
But in that moment, even as he reached out to seize the prisoner,
Runner No. 1 felt himself caught in a powerful wrestling grip, his
legs were swept from under him, and he thudded down upon the cobbles.
Then, as Barnahas turned to meet the rush of Runner No. 2, behold a
dark figure, that leapt from the dimness behind, and bore No. 2,
cursing savagely, staggering back and back to the wall, and pinned
him there, while, above the scuffling, the thud of blows and the
trample of feet, rose a familiar voice:
"Run, sir--run!" cried John Peterby, "I've got this one--run!"
Incontinent, Barnabas turned, and taking to his heels, set off along
the court, but with No. 1 (who had scrambled to his feet again)
thundering after him in hot pursuit, roaring for help as he came.
"Stop, thief!" bellowed No. 1, pounding along behind.
"Stop, thief!" roared Barnabas, pounding along in front.
Round the corner into the street of tumble-down houses sped yelling
Barnabas, scattering people right and left; round the corner came
No. 1 Hard in his rear.
"Stop, thief!" bellowed No. 1, louder than ever.
"Stop, thief!" roared Barnabas, louder still, and running like the
wind. Thus, No. 1 continued to bellow along behind, and Barnabas ran
on roaring before, by dint of which he had very soon drawn about him
divers other eager pursuers who, in their turn, taking up the cry,
filled the air with a raving clamor that grew and ever grew. On sped
Barnabas, still yelling "thieves," and with a yelling rabblement all
about him, on he went by crooked ways, plunging down gloomy courts,
doubling sudden corners, leading the pursuit ever deeper into the
maze of dark alleys and crooked back streets, until, spying a place
suitable to his purpose, he turned aside, and darting down a dark
and narrow entry-way, he paused there in the kindly shelter to
regain his breath, and heard the hue and cry go raving past until it
had roared itself into the distance. Then, very cautiously and with
no little difficulty, he retraced his steps, and coming at length to
the River, crossed Blackfriars Bridge and hurried west-wards; nor
did he stop or slacken his swift pace until he found himself in that
quiet, back-street at the end of which his stables were situated.
Being come there, he hammered upon the door which was presently
opened by old Gabriel Martin himself.
"Martin, I'm in a hurry," said Barnabas, "have 'The Terror' saddled
at once, and bring me a pair of spurred boots--quick!"
Without wasting time in needless words, the old groom set the
stable-boys running to and fro, and himself brought Barnabas a pair
of riding-boots, and aided him to put them on. Which done, Barnabas
threw aside the fur cap, stripped off Peterby's rough coat, and
looked about for other garments to take their place.
"If it be a coat as you're wanting, sir, there be one as you wore at
the race," said Martin, "I keep it upstairs in my room. It be a bit
tore, sir, but--"
"It will do," said Barnabas, nodding, "only--hurry, Martin!" By the
time the old groom had returned with the scarlet hunting-frock and
helped Barnabas into it, "The Terror" was led out from his box, and
immediately began to snort and rear and beat a ringing tattoo with
his great, round hoofs to a chorus of chirruping and whoa-ing from
"A bit fresh-ish, p'r'aps, sir!" said Martin, viewing the
magnificent animal with glistening eyes, "exercised reg'lar, too!
But wot 'e wants is a good, stretching, cross-country gallop."
"Well, he's going to have it, Martin."
"Ah, sir," nodded the old groom, as Barnabas tested girth and
stirrup-leathers, "you done mighty well when you bought 'im--theer
ain't another 'oss 'is ekal in London--no, nor nowheers else as I
knows on. 'E's won one race for you, and done it noble, and wot's
"Tonight he must win me another!" said Barnabas, and swung himself
into the saddle. "And this will be a much harder and crueller race
than he ran before or will ever run again, Martin, I hope. Pray what,
time is it?"
"Nigh on to 'alf-past eight, sir."
"So late!" said Barnabas, grim-lipped and frowning as he settled his
feet in the stirrups. "Now--give him his head there--stay! Martin,
have you a brace of pistols?"
"Pistols! Why yes, sir, but--"
"Lend them to me."
Forthwith the pistols were brought, somewhat clumsy weapons, but
serviceable none the less.
"They're loaded, sir!" said Martin as he handed them up.
"Good!" nodded Barnabas, and slipping one into either pocket,
gathered up his reins.
"You'll not be back tonight, sir?"
"Not tonight, Martin."
"Good night, sir."
"Good night, Martin."
"Are you ready, sir?"
"Quite ready, Martin."
"Then--stand away there!"
Obediently the stable-boys leapt aside, freeing "The Terror's" proud
head, who snorted, reared, and plunged out through the open doorway,
swung off sharp to his right and thundered away down the echoing
And thus "The Terror" set out on his second race, which was to be a
very hard, cruel race, since it was to be run against no four-legged
opponent, no thing of flesh and blood and nerves, but against the
sure-moving, relentless fingers of Natty Bell's great, silver watch.
WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS RODE ANOTHER RACE
Over Westminster Bridge and down the Borough galloped Barnabas, on
through the roaring din of traffic, past rumbling coach and creaking
wain, heedless of the shouts of wagoners and teamsters and the
indignant cries of startled pedestrians, yet watchful of eye and
ready of hand, despite his seeming recklessness.
On sped the great, black horse, his pace increasing as the traffic
lessened, on and on along the Old Kent Road, up the hill at New
Cross and down again, and so through Lewisham to the open country
And now the way was comparatively clear save for the swift-moving
lights of some chaise or the looming bulk of crawling market-wagons:
therefore Barnabas, bethinking him always of the long miles before
him, and of the remorseless, creeping fingers of Natty Bell's great
watch, slacked his rein, whereat "The Terror," snorting for joy,
tossed his mighty crest on high and, bounding forward, fell into his
long, racing stride, spurning London further and further into the
Barnabas rode stooped low in the saddle, his watchful eyes scanning
the road ahead, a glimmering track bordered by flying hedges, and
trees that, looming ghost-like in the dusk, flitted past and, like
ghosts, were gone again. Swift, swift sped the great, black horse,
the glimmering road below, the luminous heaven above, a glorious
canopy whence shone a myriad stars filling the still night with
their soft, mysterious glow: a hot, midsummer night full of a great
hush, a stillness wherein no wind stirred and upon whose deep
silence distant sounds seemed magnified and rose, clear and plain,
above the rhythmic drumming of "The Terror's" flying hoofs. Presently,
out of the dimness ahead, lights twinkled, growing ever brighter and
more numerous and Bromley was before him; came a long, paved street
where people turned to stare, and point, and shout at him as he
flashed by, and Bromley was behind him, and he was out upon the open
road again where hedge, and barn, and tree seemed to leap at him from
the dark only to vanish in the dimness behind.
On swept the great, black horse, past fragrant rick and misty pool,
past running rills that gurgled in the shadows, by wayside inns
whence came the sound of voices and laughter with snatches of song,
all quickly lost again in the rolling thunder of those tireless
galloping hoofs; past lonely cottages where dim lights burned, over
hill, over dale, by rolling meadow and sloping down, past darkling
woods whence breathed an air cool and damp and sweet, on up the long
ascent of Poll Hill and down into the valley again. Thus, in a while,
Barnabas saw more lights before him that, clustering together, seemed
to hang suspended in mid-air, and, with his frowning gaze upon these
clustering lights, he rode up that long, trying hill that leads into
the ancient township of Sevenoaks.
At the further end of the town he turned aside and, riding into the
yard of the Castle Inn, called for ale and, while he drank, stood by
to watch the hissing ostlers as they rubbed down "The Terror" and
gave him sparingly of water. So, into the saddle again and, bearing
to the right, off and away for Tonbridge.
But now, remembering the hill country before him, he checked his pace,
and thus, as he went, became once more aware of the profound
stillness of the night about him, and of a gathering darkness.
Therefore lifting his gaze to the heavens, he saw a great, black
cloud that grew and spread from east to west, putting out the stars.
Now, with the gathering cloud, came sudden fear to clutch at his
heart with icy fingers, a shivering dread lest, after all, he be too
late; and, clenching sweating palms, Barnabas groaned, and in that
moment "The Terror" leapt snorting beneath the rowelling spur.
Suddenly, as they topped River Hill, out of the murk ahead there met
him a puff of wind, a hot wind that came and so was gone again, but
far away beyond the distant horizon to his left, the sombre heaven
was split and rent asunder by a jagged lightning flash whose
quivering light, for one brief instant, showed him a glimpse of the
wide valley below, of the winding road, of field and hedgerow and
motionless tree and, beyond, the square tower of a church, very
small with distance yet, above whose battlements a tiny weather-vane
flashed and glittered vividly ere all things vanished, swallowed up
in the pitchy dark.
And now came the wind again and in the wind was rain, a few great
pattering drops, while the lightning flamed and quivered upon the
horizon, and the thunder rolled ever louder and more near.
Came a sudden, blinding flame, that seemed to crackle in the air
near by, a stunning thunder-clap shaking the very firmament, and
thereafter an aching blackness, upon whose startled silence burst
the rain--a sudden, hissing downpour.
Up--up reared "The Terror," whinnying with fear, then strove madly
to turn and flee before the fury of wind, and flame, and lashing rain.
Three times he swerved wildly, and three times he was checked, as
with hand, and voice, and goading spur, Barnabas drove him on
again--on down the steep descent, down, down into the yawning
blackness of the valley below, on into the raging fury of the storm.
So, buffeted by wind, lashed by stinging rain, blinded by vivid
lightning-flash, Barnabas rode on down the hill.
On and ever on, with teeth hard clenched, with eyes fierce and wide,
heedless alike of wind and wet and flame, since he could think only
of the man he rode to meet. And sometimes he uttered bitter curses,
and sometimes he touched and fondled the weapons in his pocket,
smiling evilly, for tonight, if he were not blasted by the lightning
or crushed beneath his terrified horse, Barnabas meant this man
And now upon the rushing wind were voices, demon voices that
shrieked and howled at him, filling the whirling blackness with
their vicious clamor.
"Kill him!" they shrieked. "Whether you are in time or no, kill him!
And Barnabas, heedless of the death that hissed and crackled in the
air about him, fronting each lightning-flash with cruel-smiling mouth,
nodded his head to the howling demons and answered:
"Yes, yes, whether in time or no, tonight he dies!"
And now, uplifted with a wild exhilaration, he laughed aloud,
exulting in the storm; and now, crushed by fear and dread, and black
despair, he raved out bitter curses and spurred on into the storm.
Little by little the thought of this man he meant to slay possessed
him utterly; it seemed to Barnabas that he could actually hear his
soft, mocking laughter; it filled the night, rising high above the
hiss of rain and rush of wind--the laugh of a satyr who waits,
confident, assured, with arms out-stretched to clasp a shuddering
On beneath trees, dim-seen, that rocked and swayed bending to the
storm, splashing through puddles, floundering through mire, slack of
rein and ready of spur, Barnabas galloped hard. And ever the mocking
laughter rang in his ears, and ever the demons shrieked to him on the
"Kill him! kill him!"
So, at last, amidst rain, and wind, and mud, Barnabas rode into
Tonbridge Town, and staying at the nearest inn, dismounted stiffly
in the yard and shouted hoarsely for ostlers to bring him to the
stables. Being come there, it is Barnabas himself who holds the
bucket while the foam-flecked "Terror" drinks, a modicum of water
with a dash of brandy. Thereafter Barnabas stands by anxious-eyed
what time two ostlers rub down the great, black horse; or, striding
swiftly to and fro, the silver watch clutched in impatient hand, he
questions the men in rapid tones, as:
"Which is the nearest way to Headcorn?"
"'Eadcorn, sir? Why surely you don't be thinking--"
"Which is the nearest way to Headcorn?" repeats Barnabas, scowling
blackly; whereat the fellow answers to the point and Barnabas falls
to his feverish striding to and fro until, glancing from the watch
in his hand to "The Terror's" lofty crest, observing that his heaving
flanks labor no more and that he paws an impatient hoof, Barnabas
thrusts watch in fob, tightens girth and surcingle and, having paid
his score, swings himself stiffly into the saddle and is off and away,
while the gaping ostlers stare after him through the falling rain
till he has galloped out of sight.
Away, away, down empty street, over rumbling bridge and so, bearing
to the left, on and up the long hill of Pembury.
Gradually the rain ceased, the wind died utterly away, the stars
peeped out again. And now, upon the quiet, came the small, soft
sound of trickling water, while the air was fragrant with a thousand
sweet scents and warm, moist, earthy smells.
But on galloped the great, black horse, by pointed oast-house, by
gloomy church, on and ever on, his nostrils flaring, his eye wild,
his laboring sides splashed with mire and streaked with foam and
blood; on he galloped, faltering a little, stumbling a little, his
breath coming in sobbing gasps, but maintaining still his long,
racing stride; thundering through sleeping hamlets and waking echoes
far and near, failing of strength, scant of breath, but indomitable
Oh, mighty "Four-legs"! Oh, "Terror"! whose proud heart scorns defeat!
to-night thou dost race as ne'er thou didst before, pitting thy
strength and high courage against old Time himself! Therefore on, on,
brave horse, enduring thy anguish as best thou may, nor look for
mercy from the pitiless human who bestrides thee, who rides
grim-lipped, to give death and, if need be, to taste of its
bitterness himself, and who, unsparing of himself, shall neither
On, on, brave horse, endure as best thou may, since Death rides thee
Now, in a while, Barnabas saw before him a wide street flanked on
either hand by cottages, and with an ancient church beyond. And, as
he looked at this church with its great, square tower outlined
against the starry heaven, there came, borne to his ears, the
fretful wailing of a sleepless child; therefore he checked his going
and, glancing about, espied a solitary lighted window. Riding thither,
he raised himself in his stirrups and, reaching up, tapped upon the
panes; and, in a while, the casement was opened and a man peered
forth, a drowsy being, touzled of head and round of eye.
"Pray," said Barnabas, "what village is this?"
"Why, sir," answered the man, "five an' forty year I've lived here,
and always heard as it was called Headcorn."
"Headcorn," said Barnabas, nodding, "then Ashleydown should be near
"Why, sir," said the man, nodding in turn, "I do believe
you--leastways it were here about yesterday."
"And where is it?"
"Half a mile back down the road, you must ha' passed it, sir. A
great house it be though inclined to ruination. And it lays back
from the road wi' a pair o' gates--iron gates as is also ruinated,
atween two stone pillars wi' a lion a-top of each, leastways if it
ain't a lion it's a griffin, which is a fab'lous beast. And talking
of beasts, sir, I do believe as that theer dratted child don't never
mean to sleep no more. Good night to ye, sir--and may you sleep
better a-nights than a married man wi' seven on 'em." Saying which,
he nodded, sighed, and vanished.
So back rode Barnabas the way he had come, and presently, sure enough,
espied the dim outlines of the two stone columns each with "a lion
a-top," and between these columns swung a pair of rusted iron gates;
and the gates were open, seeing which Barnabas frowned and set his
teeth, and so turned to ride between the gates, but, even as he did
so, he caught the sound of wheels far down the road. Glancing
thither he made out the twinkling lights of an approaching chaise,
and sat awhile to watch its slow progress, then, acting upon sudden
impulse, he spurred to meet it. Being come within hail he reined in
across the road, and drawing a pistol levelled it at the startled
"Stop!" cried Barnabas.
Uttering a frightened oath, the postilion pulled up with a jerk, but
as the chaise came to a standstill a window rattled down. Then
Barnabas lowered the pistol, and coming up beside the chaise looked
down into the troubled face of my Lady Cleone. And her checks were
very pale in the light of the lanterns, and upon her dark lashes was
the glitter of tears.
WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS, IN HIS FOLLY, CHOSE THE HARDER COURSE
"You! Is it you--Barnabas?" she whispered and thereafter sighed, a
long, quivering sigh. "I--I've been hoping you would come!"
And now, as he looked at her, he saw that her cheeks were suffused,
all at once, with a warm and vivid color. "Hoped?" said Barnabas,
"And--prayed!" she whispered.
"Then, you expected me? You knew I should come?"
"Yes, Barnabas. I--I hoped you would see my--letter to Ronald--that
was why I wrote it! And I prayed that you might come--"
"Because I--oh, Barnabas, I'm afraid!"
"You were going to--Chichester?"
"You don't--love him, do you?"
"Love him!" she repeated, "Oh, God!"
And Barnabas saw her shudder violently.
"Yet you were going to him."
"To save my brother. But now--God help me, I can't do it! Oh, it's
too hateful and--and I am afraid, Barnabas. I ought to have been at
Ashleydown an hour ago, but oh, I--I couldn't, it was too horrible--I
couldn't! So I came the longest way; I made the post-boy drive very
slowly, I--I was waiting--for you, Barnabas, praying God that you
would come to me--"
"Because you--were afraid, my lady."
"And behold, I am here!" said Barnabas. But now, seeing the quiver
of her white hands, and the light in her eyes--a sudden glow that
was not of the lanterns, he turned his head and looked resolutely
"I am here, my lady, to take you back home again," said he.
"Home?" she repeated. "Ah, no, no--I have no home, now! Oh, Barnabas,"
she whispered, "take me, take me away--to my brother. Let us go away
from England to-night--anywhere, take me with you, Barnabas."
Now, as she spoke, her hands came out to him with a swift gesture,
full of passionate entreaty. And the lanterns made a shining glory
of her hair, and showed him the deep wonder of her eyes, the quick
surge of her round, young bosom, the tender quiver of the parted
lips as she waited his answer; thus our Barnabas beholding the
witchery of her shy-drooping lashes, the scarlet lure of her mouth,
the yielding warmth and all the ripe beauty of her, fell suddenly
a-trembling and sighed; then, checking the sigh, looked away again
across the dim desolation of the country-side, and clenched his hands.
"My lady," said he, his voice hoarse and uncertain, "why do
you--tempt me? I am only--an amateur gentleman--why do you tempt me
so?" As he spoke he wheeled his horse and motioned to the flinching
postboy. "Turn!" he commanded.
"No!" cried Cleone.
"Turn!" said Barnabas, and, as the post-boy hesitated, levelled his
But now, even as the postilion chirruped to his horses, the chaise
door was flung open and Cleone sprang down into the road; but even so,
Barnabas barred her way.
"Let me pass!" she cried.
"Yes--God help me. Since you force me to it! Let me go!"
"Get back into the chaise, my lady."
"No, no! Let me pass, I go to save my brother--"
"Not this way!"
"Oh!" she cried passionately, "you force it upon me, yes--you! you!
If you won't help me, I must go to him! Dear heaven! there is no
other way, let me go--you must--you shall!"
"Go back into the chaise, my lady."
Barnabas spoke very gently but, as she stared up at him, a movement
of his horse brought him into the light of the lanterns and, in that
moment, her breath caught, for now she beheld him as she had seen
him once before, a wild, desperate figure, bare-headed, torn, and
splashed with mud; grim of mouth, and in his eyes a look she had
once dreamed of and never since forgotten. And, as she gazed,
Barnabas spoke again and motioned with his pistol hand.
"Get back into the chaise, my lady."
"No!" she answered, and, though her face was hidden now, he knew
that she was weeping. "I'm going on, now--to Ashleydown, to save
Ronald, to redeem the promise I gave our mother; I must, I must, and
oh--nothing matters to me--any more, so let me go!"
"My lady," said Barnabas, in the same weary tone, "you must get back
into the chaise."
"And let Ronald die--and such a death! Never! oh never!"
Barnabas sighed, slipped the pistol into his pocket and dismounted,
but, being upon his feet, staggered; then, or ever she knew, he had
caught her in his arms, being minded to bear her to the chaise. But
in that moment, he looked down and so stood there, bound by the spell
of her beauty, forgetful of all else in the world, for the light of
the lanterns was all about them, and Cleone's eyes were looking up
"Barnabas," she whispered, "Barnabas, don't let me go!--save me
"Ah, Cleone," he murmured, "oh, my lady, do you doubt me still? Can
you think that I should fail you?
"Oh, my dear, my dear--I've found a way, and mine is a better way
than yours. Be comforted then and trust me, Cleone."
Then, she stirred in his embrace, and, sighing, hid her face close
against him and, with her face thus hidden, spoke:
"Yes, yes--I do trust you, Barnabas, utterly, utterly! Take me away
with you--tonight, take me to Ronald and let us go away together, no
matter where so long as--we go--together, Barnabas." Now when she
said this, she could feel how his arms tightened about her, could
hear how his breath caught sudden and sharp, and, though she kept
her face hid from him, well she knew what look was in his eyes;
therefore she lay trembling a little, sighing a little, and with
fast-beating heart. And, in a while, Barnabas spoke:
"My lady," said he heavily, "would you trust yourself to--a
"If he would not be--too proud to--take me, Barnabas."
"Oh, my lady--can't you see that if I--if I take you with me tonight,
you must be with me--always?"
"And I am a discredited impostor, the--the jest of every club in
Cleone's hand stole up, and she touched his grimly-set chin very
gently with one white finger.
"I am become a thing for the Fashionable World to sharpen its wits
upon," he continued, keeping his stern gaze perseveringly averted.
"And so, my lady--because I cannot any longer cheat folks into
accepting me as a--gentleman, I shall in all probability become a
farmer, some day."
"But you," Barnabas continued, a little harshly, "you were born for
higher and greater fortune than to become the wife of a humble
farming fellow, and consequently--"
"But I can make excellent butter, Barnabas," she sighed, stealing a
glance up to him, "and I can cook--a little."
Now when she said this, he must needs look down at her again and lo!
there, at the corner of her mouth was the ghost of the dimple! And,
beholding this, seeing the sudden witchery of her swift-drooping
lashes, Barnabas forgot his stern resolutions and stooped his head,
that he might kiss the glory of her hair. But, in that moment, she
turned, swift and sudden, and yielded him her lips, soft, and warm,
and passionate with youth and all the joy of life. And borne away
upon that kiss, it seemed to Barnabas, for one brief, mad-sweet
instant that all things might be possible; if they started now they
might reach London in the dawn and, staying only for Barrymaine, be
aboard ship by evening! And it was a wide world, a very fair world,
and with this woman beside him--
"It would be so--so very easy!" said he, slowly.
"Yes, it will be very easy!" she whispered.
"Too easy!" said he, beginning to frown, "you are so helpless and
lonely, and I want you so bitterly, Cleone! Yes, it would be very
easy. But you taught me once, that a man must ever choose the harder
way, and this is the harder way, to love you, to long for you, and
to bid you--good-by!"
"Ah, Cleone, you could make the wretchedest hut a paradise for me,
but for you, ah, for you it might some day become only a hut, and I,
only a discredited Amateur Gentleman, after all."
Then Barnabas sighed and thereafter frowned, and so bore her to the
chaise and setting her within, closed the door.
"Turn!" he cried to the postilion.
But the word was lost in the creak of wheels and stamping of hoofs
as the chaise swung round; then Barnabas remounted and, frowning
still, trotted along beside it. Now in a while, lifting his sombre
gaze towards a certain place beside the way, he beheld the dim
outline of a finger-post, a very ancient finger-post which (though
it was too dark to read its inscription) stood, he knew, with
wide-stretched arms pointing the traveller:
TO LONDON. TO HAWKHURST.
And being come opposite the finger-post, he ordered the post-boy to
stop, for, small with distance, he caught the twinkling lights of
lanterns that swung to and fro, and, a moment later, heard a hail,
faint and far, yet a stentorian bellow there was no mistaking.
Therefore coming close beside the chaise, he stooped down and looked
within, and thus saw that Cleone leaned in the further corner with
her face hidden in her hands.
"You are safe, now, my lady," said he, "the Bo'sun is coming, the
Captain will be here very soon."
But my lady never stirred.
"You are safe now," he repeated, "as for Ronald, if Chichester's
silence can save him, you need grieve no more, and--"
"Ah!" she cried, glancing up suddenly, "what do you mean?"
"That I must go, my lady, and--and--oh, my dear love, this harder
way--is very hard to tread. If--we should meet no more after tonight,
remember that I loved you--as I always have done and always must,
humble fellow though I am. Yes, I think I love you as well as any
fine gentleman of them all, and--Cleone--Good-by!"
"Barnabas," she cried, "tell me what you mean to do--oh, Barnabas,
where are you going?" And now she reached out her hands as though to
stay him. But, even so, he drew away, and, wheeling his horse,
pointed towards the twinkling lights.
"Drive on!" he cried to the post-boy.
"Drive on!" he cried, "whip--spur!"
"Barnabas, stay! Oh, Barnabas, listen--"
But as Cleone strove desperately to open the door, the chaise
lurched forward, the horses broke into a gallop, and Barnabas,
sitting there beneath the ancient finger-post, saw imploring hands
stretched out towards him, heard a desolate cry, and--he was alone.
So Barnabas sat there amid the gloom, and watched Happiness go from
him. Very still he sat until the grind of wheels had died away in
the distance; then he sighed, and spurring his jaded horse, rode
back towards Headcorn.
And thus did Barnabas, in his folly, forego great joy, and set aside
the desire of his heart that he might tread that Harder Way, which
yet can be trod only by the foot of--A Man.
HOW RONALD BARREYMAINE SQUARED HIS ACCOUNT
A distant clock was striking the hour as Barnabas rode in at the
rusted gates of Ashleydown and up beneath an avenue of sombre trees
beyond which rose the chimneys of a spacious house, clear and plain
against the palpitating splendor of the stars. But the house, like
its surroundings, wore a desolate, neglected look, moreover it was
dark, not a light was to be seen anywhere from attic to cellar. Yet,
as Barnabas followed the sweep of the avenue, he suddenly espied a
soft glow that streamed from an uncurtained window giving upon the
terrace; therefore he drew rein, and dismounting, led his horse in
among the trees and, having tethered him there, advanced towards the
gloomy house, his gaze upon the lighted window, and treading with an
ever growing caution.
Now, as he went, he took out one of the pistols, cocked it, and with
it ready in his hand, came to the window and peered into the room.
It was a long, low chamber with a fireplace at one end, and here,
his frowning gaze bent upon the blazing logs, sat Mr. Chichester.
Upon the small table at his elbow were decanter and glasses, with a
hat and gloves and a long travelling cloak. As Barnabas stood there
Mr. Chichester stirred impatiently, cast a frowning glance at the
clock in the corner and reaching out to the bell-rope that hung
beside the mantel, jerked it viciously, and so fell to scowling at
the fire again until the door opened and a bullet-headed,
square-shouldered fellow entered, a formidable ruffian with pugilist
written in his every feature; to whom Mr. Chichester appeared to
give certain commands; and so dismissed him with an impatient
gesture of his slim, white hands. As the door closed, Mr. Chichester
started up and fell to pacing the floor only to return, and,
flinging himself back in his chair, sat scowling at the fire again.
Then Barnabas raised the pistol-butt and, beating in the window,
loosed the catch, and, as Mr. Chichester sprang to his feet, opened
the casement and stepped into the room.
For a long moment neither spoke, while eyes met and questioned eyes,
those of Barnabas wide and bright, Mr. Chichester's narrowed to
shining slits. And indeed, as they fronted each other thus, each was
the opposite of the other, Barnabas leaning in the window, his pistol
hand hidden behind him, a weary, bedraggled figure mired from heel
to head; Mr. Chichester standing rigidly erect, immaculate of dress
from polished boot to snowy cravat.
"So," said he at last, breaking the ominous silence, "so it's--yes,
it is Mr.--Barty, I think, unpleasantly damp and devilish muddy, and,
consequently, rather more objectionable than usual."
"I have ridden far, and the roads were bad," said Barnabas.
"Ah! and pray why inflict yourself upon me?"
"For a very good and sufficient reason, sir."
"Ha, a reason?" said Mr. Chichester, lounging against the mantel.
"Can it be you have discerned at last that the highly dramatic
meeting between father and son at a certain banquet, not so long ago,
was entirely contrived by myself--that it was my hand drove you from
society and made you the derision of London, Mr. Barty?"
"Why, yes," sighed Barnabas; "I guessed that much, sir."
"Indeed, I admire your perspicacity, Mr. Barty. And now, I presume
you have broken into my house with some brutal idea of pummelling me
with your fists? But, sir, I am no prizefighter, like you and your
estimable father, and I warn you that--"
"Sir," said Barnabas softly, "do not trouble to ring the bell, my
mission here is--not to thrash you."
"No? Gad, sir, but you're very forbearing, on my soul you are!" and
Mr. Chichester smiled; but his nostrils were twitching as his
fingers closed upon the bell-rope. "Now understand me--having shown
up your imposture, having driven you from London, I do not propose
to trouble myself further with you. True, you have broken into my
house, and should very properly be shot like any other rascally thief.
I have weapons close by, and servants within call, but you have
ceased to interest me--I have other and weightier affairs on hand,
so you may go, sir. I give you one minute to take yourself back to
your native mud." As he ended, Mr. Chichester motioned airily
towards the open window. But Barnabas only sighed again and shook
"Sir," said he, more softly than before, "give me leave to tell you
that the Lady Cleone will not keep her appointment here, to-night."
"Ah-h!" said Mr. Chichester slowly, and staring at Barnabas under
his drawn brows, "you--mean--?"
"That she was safe home three-quarters of an hour ago."
Mr. Chichester's long, white fingers writhed suddenly upon the
bell-rope, released it, and, lifting his hand swiftly, he loosened
his high cravat, and so stood, breathing heavily, his eyes once more
narrowed to shining slits, and with the scar burning redly upon his
"So you have dared," he began thickly, "you have dared to interfere
again? You have dared to come here, to tell me so?"
"No, sir," answered Barnabas, shaking his head, "I have come here to
Barnabas spoke very gently, but as Mr. Chichester beheld his calm eye,
the prominence of his chin, and his grimly-smiling mouth, his eyes
widened suddenly, his clenched fingers opened, and he reached out
again towards the bell-rope. "Stop!" said Barnabas, and speaking,
levelled his pistol.
"Ah!" sighed Mr. Chichester, falling back a step, "you mean to
murder me, do you?"
"I said 'kill'--though yours is the better word, perhaps. Here are
two pistols, you will observe; one is for you and one for me. And we
are about to sit down--here, at the table, and do our very utmost to
murder each other. But first, I must trouble you to lock the door
yonder and bring me the key. Lock it, I say!"
Very slowly, and with his eyes fixed in a wide stare upon the
threatening muzzle of the weapon Barnabas held, Mr. Chichester,
crossed to the door, hesitated, turned the key, and drawing it from
the lock, stood with it balanced in his hand a moment, and then
tossed it towards Barnabas.
Now the key lay within a yard of Barnabas who, stepping forward,
made as though to reach down for it; but in that instant he glanced
up at Mr. Chichester under his brows, and in that instant also,
Mr. Chichester took a swift, backward step towards the hearth;
wherefore, because of this, and because of the look in Mr. Chichester's
eyes, Barnabas smiled, and, so smiling, kicked the key into a
"Come, sir," said he, drawing another chair up to the table,
"be seated!" saying which, Barnabas sat down, and, keeping one
pistol levelled, laid the other within Mr. Chichester's reach.
"They are both loaded, sir," he continued; "but pray assure yourself."
But Mr. Chichester stood where he was, his eyes roving swiftly from
Barnabas to the unlatched window, from that to the door, and so back
again to where Barnabas sat, pale, smiling, and with the heavy
weapon levelled across the narrow table; and as he stood thus,
Mr. Chichester lifted one white hand to his mouth and began to pull
at his lips with twitching fingers.
"Come," repeated Barnabas, "be seated, sir."
But Mr. Chichester yet stood utterly still save for the petulant
action of those nervous, twitching fingers.
"Sir," Barnabas persisted, "sit down, I beg!"
"I'll fight you--here--and now," said Mr. Chichester, speaking in a
strange, muffled tone, "yes--I'll fight you wherever or whenever
you wish, but not--not across a table!"
"I think you will," nodded Barnabas grimly. "Pray sit down."
"Why, then, we'll stand up for it," sighed Barnabas rising.
"Now, sir, take up your pistol."
"Then," said Barnabas, his teeth agleam, "as God's above, I'll shoot
you where you stand--but first I'll count three!" And once more he
levelled the pistol he held.
Mr. Chichester sighed a fluttered sigh, the twitching fingers fell
from his mouth and with his burning gaze upon Barnabas, he stepped
forward and laid his hand upon the chair-back, but, in the act of
sitting down, paused.
"The candles--a little more light--the candles," he muttered, and
turning, crossed to the hearth and raised his hand to a branched
silver candlestick that stood upon the mantel. But in the moment
that his left hand closed upon this, his right had darted upon
another object that lay there, and, quick as a flash, he had spun
round and fired point-blank.
While the report yet rang on the air, Barnabas staggered, swayed, and,
uttering a gasp, sank down weakly into his chair. But, as Mr. Chichester
watched him, his eyes wide, his lips parted, and the pistol yet smoking
in his hand, Barnabas leaned forward, and steadying his elbow on the
table, slowly, very slowly raised and levelled his weapon.
And now, as he fronted that deadly barrel, Mr. Chichester's face
grew suddenly livid, and haggard, and old-looking, while upon his
brow the sweat had started and rolled down, glistening upon his
The fire crackled upon the hearth, the clock ticked softly in the
corner, the table creaked as Barnabas leaned his weight across it,
nearer and nearer, but, save for this, the place was very quiet. Then,
all at once, upon this silence broke another sound, a distant sound
this, but one that grew ever nearer and louder--the grind of wheels
and the hoof-strokes of madly galloping horses. Mr. Chichester
uttered a gasping cry and pointed towards the window--
"Cleone!" he whispered. "It's Cleone! She's coming, in God's
The galloping hoofs drew rapidly nearer, stopped suddenly, and as
Barnabas, hesitating, glanced towards the window, it was flung wide
and somebody came leaping through--a wild, terrible figure; and as
he turned in the light of the candles, Barnabas looked into the
distorted face of Ronald Barrymaine.
For a moment he stood, his arms dangling, his head bent, his
glowing eyes staring at Mr. Chichester, and as he stood thus fixing
Mr. Chichester with that awful, unwavering stare, a smile twisted his
pallid lips, and he spoke very softly:
"It's all r-right, Dig," said he, "the luck's with me at l-last--
we're in time--I've g-got him! Come in, D-Dig, and bring the
tools--I--I've g-got him!"
Hereupon Mr. Smivvle stepped into the room; haggard of eye he looked,
and with cheeks that showed deadly pale by contrast with the
blackness of his glossy whiskers, and beneath his arm he carried a
familiar oblong box; at sight of Barnabas he started, sighed, and
crossing hastily, set the box upon the table and caught him by the
"Stop him, Beverley--stop him!" he whispered hurriedly. "Barry's
gone mad, I think, insisted on coming here. Devil of a time getting
away, Bow Street Runners--hard behind us now. Means to fight! Stop
him, Beverley, for the love of--Ah! by God, what's this? Barry,
look--look here!" And he started back from Barnabas, staring at him
with horrified eyes. "Barry, Barry--look here!"
But Ronald Barrymaine never so much as turned his head; motionless
he stood, his lips still contorted with their drawn smile, his
burning gaze still fixed on Mr. Chichester--indeed he seemed
oblivious to all else under heaven.
"Come, Dig," said he in the same soft voice, "get out the barkers,
and quick about it, d' you hear?"
"But, Barry--oh, my dear fellow, here's poor Beverley, look--look at
"G-give us the barkers, will you--quick! Oh, damnation. Dig, y-you
know G-Gaunt and his hangman are hard on my heels! Quick, then, and
g-get it over and done with--d'you hear, D-Dig?" So saying,
Barrymaine crossed to the hearth and stood there, warming his hands
at the blaze, but, even so, he must needs turn his head so that he
could keep his gloating eyes always directed to Chichester's pale
"I'm w-warming my pistol-hand, Dig," he continued, "mustn't be cold
or s-stiff tonight, you see. Oh, I tell you the luck's with me at
last! He's b-been so vastly clever, Dig! He's dragged me down to hell,
but--tonight I'm g-going to-take him with me."
And ever as he spoke, warming himself at the fire, Ronald Barrymaine
kept his burning gaze upon Mr. Chichester's pale face, while
Barnabas leaned, twisted in his chair, and Mr. Smivvle busied
himself with the oblong box. With shaking hands he took out the
duelling-pistols, one by one, and laid them on the table.
"We'll g-give him first choice, eh, Dig?" said Barrymaine. "Ah--he's
chosen, I s-see. Now we'll t-take opposite corners of the room and
f-fire when you give the word, eh, Dig?"
As he spoke, Barrymaine advanced to the table, his gaze always upon
Mr. Chichester, nor did he look away even for an instant, thus, his
hand wandered, for a moment, along the table, ere he found and took
up the remaining pistol. Then, with it cocked in his hand, he backed
away to the corner beside the hearth, and being come there, nodded.
"A good, comfortable distance, D-Dig," said he, "now tell him to
take his g-ground."
But even as he spoke, Mr. Chichester strode to the opposite corner
of the long room, and turning, stood there with folded arms. Up till
now, he had uttered no word, but as Mr. Smivvle leaned back against
the wall, midway between them, and glanced from one to the other,
Mr. Chichester spoke.
"Sirs," said he, "I shall most certainly kill him, and I call upon
you to witness that it was forced upon me."
Now as his voice died away, through the open window came a faint
sound that might have been wind in the trees, or the drumming of
horse-hoofs, soft and faint with distance.
"Oh, g-give us the word, D-Dig!" said Barrymaine.
"Gentlemen," said Mr. Smivvle, steadying himself against the
panelling with shaking hands, "the word will be--Ready? One! Two!
Three--Fire! Do you understand?"
An eager "Yes" from Barrymaine, a slight nod from Chichester, yet
Mr. Smivvle still leaned there mutely against the wall, as though
his tongue failed him, or as if hearkening to that small, soft sound,
that might have been wind in the trees.
"The word, Dig--will you give us the word?"
"Yes, yes, Barry, yes, my dear boy--certainly!" But still Mr. Smivvle
hesitated, and ever the small sound grew bigger and louder.
"S-speak! Will you s-speak, Dig?"
"Oh, Barry--my dear boy, yes! Ready?"
At the word the two pistols were raised and levelled, almost on the
instant, and with his haggard eyes turned towards Barrymaine's corner,
Mr. Smivvle spoke again:
A flash, a single deafening report, and Ronald Barrymaine lurched
sideways, caught at the wall, swayed backwards into the corner and
"Coward,--you fired too soon!" cried Smivvle, turning upon Mr. Chichester
in sudden frenzy, "Villain! Rouge! you fired too soon--!"
"S-stand away, Dig!" said Barrymaine faintly.
"Oh, Barry--you're bleeding! By God, he's hit you!"
"Of c-course, Dig--he never m-misses--neither do I--w-watch now, ah!
hold me up, Dig--so! Now, stand away!" But even as Barrymaine, livid
of brow and with teeth hard clenched, steadied himself for the shot,
loud and clear upon the night came the thudding of swift-galloping
And now, for the first time, Barrymaine's gaze left Chichester's face,
and fixed itself upon the open casement instead.
"Ha!" he cried, "here comes G-Gaunt at last, D-Dig, and with his
hangman at his elbow! But he's t-too late, Dig, he's too l-late--I'm
going, but I mean to take our friend--our d-dear friend Chichester
w-with me--look now!"
As he spoke he raised his arm, there came the stunning report of the
pistol, and a puff of blinding smoke; but when it cleared, Mr. Chichester
still stood up rigid in his corner, only, as he stood he lifted his
hand suddenly to his mouth, glanced at his fingers, stared at them
with wide, horrified eyes. Then his pistol clattered to the floor and
he coughed--a hideous, strangling sound, thin and high-pitched.
Coughing still, he took a swift pace forward, striving to speak,
but choked instead, and so choking, sank to his knees. Even then he
strove desperately to utter something, but with it still unspoken,
sank down upon his hands, and thence slowly upon his face and lay
there very still and quiet.
Then Barrymaine laughed, an awful, gasping laugh, and began to edge
himself along the wall and, as he went, he left hideous smears and
blotches upon the panelling behind him. Being come to that inanimate
figure he stood awhile watching it with gloating eyes. Presently he
spoke in a harsh whisper:
"He's dead, D-Dig--quite dead, you see! And he was my f-friend,
which was bad! And I trusted him--which was w-worse. A rogue always,
Dig, and a l-liar!"
Then Barrymaine groaned, and groaning, spurned that quiet form
weakly with his foot and so, pitched down headlong across it.
Now as they lay thus, they together made a great cross upon the floor.
But presently shadows moved beyond the open window, a broad-brimmed,
high-crowned hat projected itself into the candle light, and a voice
"In the King's name! I arrest Ronald Barrymaine for the murder of
Jasper Gaunt--in the King's name, genelmen!"
But now, very slowly and painfully, Ronald Barrymaine raised himself
upon his hands, lifted his heavy head and spoke in a feeble voice.
"Oh, m-master Hangman," he whispered, "y-you're too l-late--j-just
too late!" And so, like a weary child settling itself to rest, he
pillowed his head upon his arm, and sighing--fell asleep.
Then Mr. Shrig stepped forward very softly, and beholding that
placid young face with its tender, smiling lips, and the lashes that
drooped so dark against the dead pallor of the cheek, he took off
his broad-brimmed hat and stood there with bent head.
But another figure had followed him, and now sprang toward Barnabas
with supporting arms outstretched, and in that moment Barnabas sighed,
and falling forward, lay there sprawled across the table.
WHICH RECOUNTS THREE AWAKENINGS
The sunlight was flooding in at the open lattice and, as if borne
upon this shaft of glory, came the mingled fragrance of herb and
flower and ripening fruit with the blithe carolling of birds, a very
paean of thanksgiving; the chirp of sparrows, the soft, rich notes
of blackbirds, the warbling trill of thrushes, the far, faint song
of larks high in the blue--it was all there, blent into one
harmonious chorus of joy, a song that spoke of hope and a fair future
to such as were blessed with ears to hear. And by this, our Barnabas,
opening drowsy eyes and hearkening with drowsy ears, judged it was
yet early morning.
He lay very still and full of a great content because of the glory
of the sun and the merry piping of the birds.
But, little by little, as he hearkened, he became conscious of
another sound, a very gentle sound, yet insistent because of its
regularity, a soft click! click! click! that he could in no wise
account for. Therefore he would have turned his head, and
straightway wondered to find this so difficult to accomplish;
moreover he became aware that he lay in a bed, undressed, and that
his arm and shoulder were bandaged. And now, all at once he forgot
the bird-song and the sunshine, his brow grew harassed and troubled,
and with great caution he lifted his free hand to his neck and began
to feel for a certain ribbon that should be there. And presently,
having found the ribbon, his questing fingers followed it down into
his bosom until they touched a little, clumsily-wrought linen bag,
that he had fashioned, once upon a time, with infinite trouble and
pains, and in which he had been wont to carry the dried-up wisp of
what had once been a fragrant, scarlet rose.
And now, having found this little bag, he lay with brow still
troubled as one in some deep perplexity, the while his fingers felt
and fumbled with it clumsily. This was the little bag indeed; he
knew it by reason of its great, uneven stitches and its many knots
and ends of cotton; yes, this was it beyond all doubt, and yet?
Truly it was the same, but with a difference.
Now as he lay thus, being full of trouble because of this difference
which he could in no wise understand, he drew a deep sigh, which was
answered all at once by another; the soft clicking sound abruptly
ceased and he knew that some one had risen and now stood looking down
at him. Therefore Barnabas presently turned his head and saw a face
bent over him, a face with cheeks suspiciously pink, framed in curls
suspiciously dark and glossy, but with eyes wonderfully young and
bright and handsome; in one small, white hand was a needle and silk,
and in the other, a very diminutive piece of embroidery.
"Why, Barnabas!" said the Duchess, very gently, "dear boy--what is it?
Ah! you've found it then, already--your sachet? Though indeed it
looks more like a pudding-bag--a very small one, of course. Oh, dear
me! but you're not a very good needlewoman, are you, Barnabas?
Neither am I--I always prick my fingers dreadfully. There--let me
open it for you--so! Now, while I hold it, see what is inside."
Then, wondering, Barnabas slipped a clumsy thumb and finger into the
little bag and behold the faded wisp had become transfigured and
bloomed again in all its virgin freshness. For in his hand there lay
a great, scarlet rose, as sweet and fresh and fragrant as
though--for all the world as though it had been plucked that very
"Ah, no, no, no," cried the Duchess, reading his look, "it was no
hand of mine worked the transformation, dear Barnabas."
"But," murmured drowsy Barnabas, speaking with an effort--
"Yet behold it is alive again!" said the Duchess. "And oh, Barnabas
dear, if a withered, faded wisp may bloom again--so may a woman's
faith and love. There, there, dear boy! Close your eyes and go to
So, being very weary, Barnabas closed his eyes and, with the touch
of her small, cool fingers in his hair, fell fast asleep.
Now as Barnabas lay thus, lost in slumber, he dreamed a dream. He
had known full many sleeping visions and fancies of late, but, of
them all, surely none had there been quite like this.
For it seemed to him that he was lying out amid the green, dewy
freshness of Annersley Wood. And as he lay there, grievously hurt, lo!
there came one hasting, light-footed to him through the green like
some young nymph of Arcady or Goddess of the Wood, one for whom he
seemed to have been waiting long and patiently, one as sweet and
fresh and fair as the golden morning and tender as the Spirit of
And, for that he might not speak or move because of his hurt, she
leaned above him and her hands touched him, hands very soft, and cool,
and gentle, upon his brow, upon his cheek; and every touch was a
Slowly, slowly her arms came about him in a warm, clinging embrace,
arms strong and protecting that drew his weary head to the swell of
a bosom and pillowed it sweetly there. And clasping him thus, she
sighed over him and wept, though very silently, and stooped her lips
to him to kiss his brow, his slumberous eyes, and, last of all, his
So, because of this dream, Barnabas lay in a deep and utter content,
for it seemed that Happiness had come to him after all, and of its
own accord. But, in a while, he stirred and sighed, and presently
opened dreamy eyes, and thus it chanced that he beheld the door of
his chamber, and the door was quivering as though it had but just
closed. Then, as he lay watching it, sleepy-eyed, it opened again,
slowly and noiselessly, and John Peterby entered softly, took a step
towards the bed, but, seeing Barnabas was awake, stopped, and so
stood there very still.
Suddenly Barnabas smiled, and held out a hand to him.
"Why, John," said he, "my faithful John--is it you?"
"Sir," murmured Peterby, and coming forward, took that extended hand,
looking down at Barnabas joyful-eyed, and would have spoken, yet
uttered no other word.
"John," said Barnabas, glancing round the faded splendors of the
bed-chamber, "where am I, pray?"
"At Ashleydown, sir."
"Ashleydown?" repeated Barnabas, wrinkling his brow.
"Sir, you have been--very ill."
"Ah, yes, I was shot I remember--last night, I think?"
"Sir, it happened over three weeks ago."
"Three weeks!" repeated Barnabas, sitting up with an effort,
"three weeks, John?--Oh, impossible!"
"You have been very near death, sir. Indeed I think you would have
died but for the tender nursing and unceasing care of--"
"Ah, God bless her! Where is she, John--where is the Duchess?"
"Her Grace went out driving this morning, sir."
"This morning? Why, I was talking with her this morning--only a
little while ago."
"That was yesterday morning, sir."
"Oh!" said Barnabas, hand to head, "do you mean that I have slept
the clock round?"
"Hum!" said Barnabas. "Consequently I'm hungry, John, deuced sharp
"That, sir," quoth Peterby, smiling his rare smile, "that is the
best news I've heard this three weeks and more, and your chicken
broth is ready--"
"Chicken broth!" exclaimed Barnabas, "for shame, John. Bring me a
steak, do you hear?"
"But, sir," Peterby remonstrated, shaking his head, yet with his
face ever brightening, "indeed I--"
"Or a chop, John, or ham and eggs--I'm hungry; I tell you."
"Excellent!" laughed Peterby, nodding his head, "but the doctor,
"Doctor!" cried Barnabas, with a snort, "what do I want with doctors?
I'm well, John. Bring me my clothes."
"Clothes, sir!" exclaimed Peterby, aghast. "Impossible, sir! No, no!"
"Yes, yes, John--I'm going to get up."
"This very moment! My clothes, John, my clothes!"
"Indeed, sir, I--"
"John Peterby," said Barnabas, scowling blackly, "you will oblige me
with my garments this instant,--obey me, sir!"
But hereupon, while Barnabas scowled and Peterby hesitated, puckered
of brow yet joyful of eye, there came the sound of wheels on the
drive below and the slam of a coach door, whereat Peterby crossed to
the window and, glancing out, heaved a sigh of relief.
"Who is it?" demanded Barnabas, his scowl blacker than ever.
"Her Grace has returned, sir."
"Very good, John! Present my compliments and sa'y I will wait upon
her as soon as I'm dressed."
But hardly had Peterby left the room with this message, than the
door opened again and her Grace of Camberhurst appeared, who,
catching sight of Barnabas sitting up shock-headed among his pillows,
uttered a little, glad cry and hurried to him.
"Why, Barnabas!" she exclaimed, "oh, Barnabas!" and with the words
stooped, quick and sudden, yet in the most matter-of-fact manner in
the world, and kissed him lightly on the brow.
"Oh, dear me!" she cried, beginning to pat and smooth his tumbled
pillows, "how glad I am to see you able to frown again, though
indeed you look dreadfully ferocious, Barnabas!"
"I'm--very hungry, Duchess!"
"Of course you are, Barnabas, and God bless you for it!"
"A steak, madam, or a chop, I think--"
"Would be excellent, Barnabas!"
"And I wish to get up, Duchess."
"To be sure you do, Barnabas--there, lie down, so!"
"But, madam, I am firmly resolved--I'm quite determined to get up,
"Quite so, dear Barnabas--lay your head back on the pillow! Dear me,
how comfortable you look! And now, you are hungry you say? Then I'll
sit here and gossip to you while you take your chicken broth! You may
bring it in, Mr. Peterby."
"Chicken broth!" snarled Barnabas, frowning blacker than ever,
"but, madam, I tell you I won't have the stuff; I repeat, madam,
that I am quite determined to--"
"There, there--rest your poor tired head--so! And it's all a
delicious jelly when it's cold--I mean the chicken broth, of course,
not your head. Ah! you may give it to me, Mr. Peterby, and the
spoon--thank you! Now, Barnabas!"
And hereupon, observing the firm set of her Grace's mouth, and the
authoritative flourish of the spoon she held in her small, though
imperious hand, Barnabas submitted and lying back among his pillows
in sulky dignity, swallowed the decoction in sulky silence, and
thereafter lay hearkening sulkily to her merry chatter until he had
sulked himself to sleep again.
His third awakening was much like the first in that room, was full
of sunshine, and the air vibrant with the song of birds; yet here
indeed lay a difference; for now, mingled with the piping chorus,
Barnabas was vaguely conscious of another sound, soft and low and
oft repeated, a very melodious sound that yet was unlike any note
ever uttered by thrush or blackbird, or any of the feathered kind.
Therefore, being yet heavy with sleep, Barnabas yawned, and
presently turning, propped himself upon his elbow and was just in
time to see a shapeless something vanish from the ledge of the open
The sun was low as yet, the birds in full song, the air laden with
fresh, sweet, dewy scents; and from this, and the profound stillness
of the house about him, he judged it to be yet early morning.
Now presently as he lay with his eyes turned ever towards the open
casement, the sound that had puzzled him came again, soft and
Some one was whistling "The British Grenadiers."
And, in this moment a bedraggled object began to make its appearance,
slowly and by degrees resolving itself into a battered hat. Inch by
inch it rose up over the window-ledge--the dusty crown--the frayed
band--the curly brim, and beneath it a face there was no mistaking
by reason of its round, black eyes and the untamable ferocity of its
whiskers. Hereupon, with its chin resting upon the window-sill, the
head gently shook itself to and fro, sighed, and thereafter
pronounced these words:
Devilish pale! Deuced thin! But himself again. Oh, lucky dog! With
Fortune eager to dower him with all the treasures of her cornucopia,
and Beauty waiting for him with expectant arms, oh, lucky dog! Oh,
happy youth! Congratulations, Beverley, glad of it, my dear fellow,
you deserve it all and more. Oh, fortunate wight!
But, as for me--you behold the last of lonely Smivvle, sir, of
bereaved Digby--of solitary Dig. Poor Barrymaine's star is set and
mine is setting--westwards, sir--my bourne is the far Americas,
"Ah, Mr. Smivvle!" exclaimed Barnabas, sitting up, "I'm glad to see
you--very glad. But what do you mean by America?"
"Sir," answered Mr. Smivvle, shaking his head and sighing again,
"on account of the lamentable affair of a month ago, the Bow Street
Runners have assiduously chivvied me from pillar to post and from
perch to perch, dammem! Had a notion to slip over to France, but the
French will insist on talking their accursed French at one, so I've
decided for America. But, though hounded by the law, I couldn't go
without knowing precisely how you were--without bidding you
good-by--without endeavoring to thank you--to thank you for poor
Barry's sake and my own, and also to return--"
"Come in," said Barnabas, stretching out his hand, "pray come
in--through the window if you can manage it."
In an instant Mr. Smivvle was astride the sill, but paused there to
glance about him and twist a whisker in dubious fingers.
"Coast clear?" he inquired. "I've been hanging about the place for a
week hoping to see you, but by Gad, Beverley, you're so surrounded
by watchful angels--especially one in an Indian shawl, that I didn't
dare disturb you, but--"
"Pooh, nonsense--come in, man!" said Barnabas. "Come in, I want your
"My help, Oh Gemini!" and, with the word, Mr. Smivvle was in the room.
"My help?" he repeated. "Oh Jupiter--only say the word, my dear
"Why, then, I want you to aid me to dress."
"Dress? Eh, what, Beverley--get up, is it?"
"Yes. Pray get me my clothes--in the press yonder, I fancy."
"Certainly, my dear fellow, but are you strong enough?" inquired
Mr. Smivvle, coming to the press on tip-toe.
"Strong enough!" cried Barnabas in profound scorn, "Of course I am!"
and forthwith sprang to the floor and--clutched at the bedpost to
save himself from falling.
"Ha--I feared so!" said Mr. Smivvle, hurrying to him with the
garments clasped in his arms. "Steady! There, lean on me--I'll have
you back into bed in a jiffy."
"Bed!" snorted Barnabas, scowling down at himself. "Bed--never! I
shall be as right as a trivet in a minute or so. Oblige me with my