Part 4 out of 13
"Elegant!" snorted the Captain, "I say pooh! I say pish! Sir, you
must come in and sup with us, my house is near by. Good English beef
and ale, sir."
Barnabas hesitated, and glanced toward Cleone, but her face was
hidden in the shadow of her hood, wherefore his look presently
wandered to the finger-post, near by, upon whose battered sign he
read the words:--
TO HAWKHURST. TO LONDON.
"Sir," said he, "I would, most gratefully, but that I start for
London at once." Yet while he spoke, he frowned blackly at the
finger-post, as though it had been his worst enemy.
"London!" exclaimed the Captain, "so you are still bound for the
fashionable world, are ye?"
"Yes," sighed Barnabas, "but I--"
"Pish, sir, I say fiddle-de-dee!"
"I have lately undertaken a mission."
"Ha! So you won't come in?"
"Thank you, no; this mission is important, and I must be gone;" and
here again Barnabas sighed.
Then my lady turned and looked at Barnabas, and, though she uttered
no word, her eyes were eloquent; so that the heart of him was
uplifted, and he placed his hand upon the finger-post as though it
had been his best friend.
"Why then, so be it, young sir," said the Captain, "it remains only
to thank you, which I do, I say which I do most heartily, and to bid
"Until we meet again, Captain."
"Eh--what, sir? meet when?"
"At 'Barnaby Bright,'" says my lady, staring up at the moon.
"In a month's time," added Barnabas.
"Eh?" exclaimed the Captain, "what's all this?"
"In a month's time, sir, I shall return to ask Cleone to be my wife,"
"And," said my lady, smiling at the Captain's perplexity, "we shall
be glad to see him, shan't we, dear? and shall, of course, refuse him,
shan't we, dear?"
"Refuse him? yes--no--egad! I don't know," said the Captain, running
his fingers through his hair, "I say, deuce take me--I'm adrift; I
say where's the Bo'sun?"
"Good-by, sir!" says my lady, very seriously, and gave him her hand;
"Till 'Barnaby Bright,'" said Barnabas.
At this she smiled, a little tremulously perhaps.
"May heaven prosper you in your mission," said she, and turned away.
"Young sir," said the Captain, "always remember my name is Chumly,
John Chumly, plain and unvarnished, and, whether we refuse you or not,
John Chumly will ever be ready to take you by the hand. Farewell, sir!"
So tyrant and captive turned away and went down the by-road together,
and his solitary arm was close about her. But Barnabas stood there
under the finger-post until a bend in the road hid them; then he, too,
sighed and turned away. Yet he had gone only a little distance when
he heard a voice calling him, and, swinging round, he saw Cleone
standing under the finger-post.
"I wanted to give you--this," said she, as he came striding back,
and held out a folded paper. "It is his--my brother's--letter. Take
it with you, it will serve to show you what a boy he is, and will
tell you where to find him."
So Barnabas took the letter and thrust it into his pocket. But she
yet stood before him, and now, once again, their glances avoided
"I also wanted to--ask you--about your cheek," said she at last.
"Yes?" said Barnabas.
"You are quite sure it doesn't--pain you, Mr. Bev--"
"Must I remind you that my name--"
"Are you quite sure--Barnabas?"
"Quite sure--yes, oh yes!" he stammered.
"Because it--glows very red!" she sighed, though indeed she still
kept her gaze averted, "so will you please--stoop your head a little?"
Wonderingly Barnabas obeyed, and then--even as he did so, she leaned
swiftly towards him, and for an instant her soft, warm mouth rested
upon his cheek. Then, before he could stay her, she was off and away;
and her flying feet had borne her out of sight.
Then Barnabas sighed, and would have followed, but the ancient
finger-post barred his way with its two arms pointing:--
TO HAWKHURST. TO LONDON.
So he stopped, glanced about him to fix the hallowed place in his
memory, and, obeying the directing finger, set off London-wards.
HOW BARNABAS SAVED HIS LIFE--BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID
On went Barnabas swift of foot and light of heart, walking through a
World of Romance, and with his eyes turned up to the luminous heaven.
Yet it was neither of the moon, nor the stars, nor the wonder
thereof that he was thinking, but only of the witchery of a woman's
eyes, and the thrill of a woman's lips upon his cheek; and, indeed,
what more natural, more right, and altogether proper? Little recked
he of the future, of the perils and dangers to be encountered, of
the sorrows and tribulations that lay in wait for him, or of the
enemies that he had made that day, for youth is little given to
brooding, and is loftily indifferent to consequences.
So it was of Lady Cleone Meredith he thought as he strode along the
moonlit highway, and it was of her that he was thinking as he turned
into that narrow by-lane where stood "The Spotted Cow." As he
advanced, he espied some one standing in the shadow of one of the
great trees, who, as he came nearer, stepped out into the moonlight;
and then Barnabas saw that it was none other than his newly engaged
valet. The same, yet not the same, for the shabby clothes had given
place to a sober, well-fitting habit, and as he took off his hat in
salutation, Barnabas noticed that his hollow cheeks were clean and
freshly shaved; he was, indeed, a new man.
But now, as they faced each other, Barnabas observed something else;
John Peterby's lips were compressed, and in his eye was anxiety, the
which had, somehow, got into his voice when he spoke, though his
tone was low and modulated: "Sir, if you are for London to-night, we
had better start at once, the coach leaves Tenterden within the hour."
"But," says Barnabas, setting his head aslant, and rubbing his chin
with the argumentative air that was so very like his father,
"I have ordered supper here, Peterby."
"Which--under the circumstances--I have ventured to countermand, sir."
"Oh?" said Barnabas, "pray, what circumstances?"
"Sir, as I told you, the mail--"
"John Peterby, speak out--what is troubling you?"
But now, even while Peterby stood hesitating, from the open casement
of the inn, near at hand, came the sound of a laugh: a soft, gentle,
sibilant laugh which Barnabas immediately recognized.
"Ah!" said he, clenching his fist. "I think I understand." As he
turned towards the inn, Peterby interposed.
"Sir," he whispered, "sir, if ever a man meant mischief--he does. He
came back an hour ago, and they have been waiting for you ever since."
"He and the other."
"Sir, I don't know."
"Is he a very--young man, this other?"
"Yes, sir, he seems so. And they have been drinking together
and--I've heard enough to know that they mean you harm." But here
Master Barnabas smiled with all the arrogance of youth and shook his
"John Peterby," said he, "learn that the first thing I desire in my
valet is obedience. Pray stand out of my way!" So, perforce Peterby
stood aside, yet Barnabas had scarce taken a dozen strides ere
Clemency stood before him.
"Go back," she whispered, "go back!"
"Impossible," said Barnabas, "I have a mission to fulfil."
"Go back!" she repeated in the same tense whisper, "you must--oh,
you must! I've heard he has killed a man before now--"
"And yet I must see and speak with his companion."
"No, no--ah! I pray you--"
"Nay," said Barnabas, "if you will, and if need be, pray for me." So
saying he put her gently aside, and entering the inn, came to the
door of that room wherein he had written the letter to his father.
"I tell you I'll kill him, Dalton," said a soft, deliberate voice.
"Undoubtedly; the light's excellent; but, my dear fellow, why--?"
"I object to him strongly, for one thing, and--"
The voice was hushed suddenly, as Barnabas set wide the door and
stepped into the room, with Peterby at his heels.
Mr. Chichester was seated at the table with a glass beside him, but
Barnabas looked past him to his companion who sprawled on the other
side of the hearth--a sleepy, sighing gentleman, very high as to
collar, very tight as to waist, and most ornate as to waistcoat;
young he was certainly, yet with his first glance, Barnabas knew
instinctively that this could not be the youth he sought.
Nevertheless he took off his hat and saluted him with a bow that for
stateliness left the "stiff-legged gentleman" nowhere.
"Sir," said he, "pray what might your name be?"
Instead of replying, the sleepy gentleman opened his eyes rather
wider than was usual and stared at Barnabas with a growing surprise,
stared at him from head to foot and up again, then, without changing
his lounging attitude, spoke:
"Oh, Gad, Chichester!--is this the--man?"
"But--my dear Chit! Surely you don't propose to--this fellow! Who is
he? What is he? Look at his boots--oh, Gad!"
Hereupon Barnabas resumed his hat, and advancing leaned his clenched
fists on the table, and from that eminence smiled down at the speaker,
that is to say his lips curled and his teeth gleamed in the
"Sir," said he gently, "you will perhaps have the extreme
condescension to note that my boots are strong boots, and very
serviceable either for walking, or for kicking an insolent puppy."
"If I had a whip, now," sighed the gentleman, "if I only had a whip,
I'd whip you out of the room. Chichester,--pray look at that coat, oh,
But Mr. Chichester had risen, and now crossing to the door, he
locked it, and dropped the key into his pocket.
"As you say, the light is excellent, my dear Dalton," said he,
fixing Barnabas with his unwavering stare.
"But my dear Chit, you never mean to fight the fellow--a--a being
who wears such a coat! such boots! My dear fellow, be reasonable!
Observe that hat! Good Gad! Take your cane and whip him
out--positively you cannot fight this bumpkin."
"None the less I mean to shoot him--like a cur, Dalton." And Mr.
Chichester drew a pistol from his pocket, and fell to examining
flint and priming with a practised eye. "I should have preferred my
regular tools; but I dare say this will do the business well enough;
pray, snuff the candles."
Now, as Barnabas listened to the soft, deliberate words, as he noted
Mr. Chichester's assured air, his firm hand, his glowing eye and
quivering nostrils, a sudden deadly nausea came over him, and he
leaned heavily upon the table.
"Sirs," said he, uncertainly, and speaking with an effort, "I have
never used a pistol in my life."
"One could tell as much from his boots," murmured Mr. Dalton,
snuffing the candles.
"You have another pistol, I think, Dalton; pray lend it to him. We
will take opposite corners of the room, and fire when you give the
"All quite useless, Chit; this fellow won't fight."
"No," said Barnabas, thrusting his trembling hands into his pockets,
"not--in a corner."
Mr. Chichester shrugged his shoulders, sat down, and leaning back in
his chair stared up at pale-faced Barnabas, tapping the table-edge
softly with the barrel of his weapon.
"Not in a corner--I told you so, Chit. Oh, take your cane and whip
"I mean," said Barnabas, very conscious of the betraying quaver in
his voice, "I mean that, as I'm--unused to--shooting, the corner
would be--too far."
"Too far? Oh, Gad!" exclaimed Mr. Dalton. "What's this?"
"As for pistols, I have one here," continued Barnabas, "and if we
must shoot, we'll do it here--across the table."
"Eh--what? Across the table! but, oh, Gad, Chichester! this is
madness!" said Mr. Dalton.
"Most duels are," said Barnabas, and as he spoke he drew from his
pocket the pistol he had taken from Mr. Chichester earlier in the
evening and, weapon in hand, sank into a chair, thus facing Mr.
Chichester across the table.
"But this is murder--positive murder!" cried Mr. Dalton.
"Sir," said Barnabas, "I am no duellist, as I told you; and it seems
to me that this equalizes our chances, for I can no more fail of
hitting my man at this distance than he of shooting me dead across
the width of the room. And, sir--if I am to--die to-night, I shall
most earnestly endeavor to take Mr. Chichester with me."
There was a tremor in his voice again as he spoke, but his eye was
calm, his brow serene, and his hand steady as he cocked the pistol,
and leaning his elbow upon the table, levelled it within six inches
of Mr. Chichester's shirt frill. But hereupon Mr. Dalton sprang to
his feet with a stifled oath:
"I tell you it's murder--murder!" he exclaimed, and took a quick
step towards them.
"Peterby!" said Barnabas.
"Sir?" said Peterby, who had been standing rigid beside the door.
"Take my stick," said Barnabas, holding it out towards him, but
keeping his gaze upon Mr. Chichester's narrowed eyes; "it's heavy
you'll find, and should this person presume to interfere, knock him
down with it."
"Yes, sir," said Peterby, and took the stick accordingly.
"But--oh, Gad!" exclaimed Dalton, "I tell you this can't go on!"
"Indeed, I hope not," said Barnabas; "but it is for Mr. Chichester
to decide. I am ready for the count when he is."
But Mr. Chichester sat utterly still, his chin on his breast,
staring at Barnabas under his brows, one hand tight clenched about
the stock of his weapon on the table before him, the other hanging
limply at his side. So for an interval they remained thus, staring
into each other's eyes, in a stillness so profound that it seemed
all four men had ceased breathing. Then Mr. Chichester sighed faintly,
dropped his eyes to the muzzle of the weapon so perilously near,
glanced back at the pale, set face and unwinking eyes of him who
held it, and sighed again.
"Dalton," said he, "pray open the door, and order the chaise," and
he laid the key upon the table.
"First," said Barnabas, "I will relieve you of that--encumbrance,"
and he pointed to the pistol yet gripped in Mr. Chichester's right
hand. Without a word Mr. Chichester rose, and leaving the weapon
upon the table, turned and walked to the window, while Mr. Dalton,
having unlocked the door, hurried away to the stable-yard, and was
now heard calling for the ostlers.
"Peterby," said Barnabas, "take this thing and throw it into the
horse-pond; yet, no, give it to the gentleman who just went out."
"Yes, sir," said Peterby, and, taking up the pistol, he went out,
closing the door behind him.
Mr. Chichester still lounged in the window, and hummed softly to
himself; but as for Barnabas, he sat rigid in his chair, staring
blankly at the opposite wall, his eyes wide, his lips tense, and
with a gleam of moisture amid the curls at his temples. So the
one lounged and hummed, and the other glared stonily before him
until came the grind of wheels and the stamping of hoofs. Then
Mr. Chichester took up his hat and cane, and, humming still,
crossed to the door, and lounged out into the yard.
Came a jingle of harness, a sound of voices, the slam of a door, and
the chaise rolled away down the lane, farther and farther, until the
rumble of its wheels died away in the distance. Then Barnabas
laughed--a sudden shrill laugh--and clenched his fists, and strove
against the laughter, and choked, and so sank forward with his face
upon his arms as one that is very weary. Now, presently, as he sat
thus, it seemed to him that one spoke a long way off, whereupon, in
a little, he raised his head, and beheld Clemency.
"You--are not hurt?" she inquired anxiously.
"Hurt?" said Barnabas, "no, not hurt, Mistress Clemency, not hurt, I
thank you; but I think I have grown a--great deal--older."
"I saw it all, through the window, and yet I--don't know why you are
"I think because I was so very much--afraid," said Barnabas.
"Sir," said she, with her brown hands clasped together, "was it
for--if it was for--my sake that you--quarrelled, and--"
"No," said Barnabas, "it was because of--another."
Now, when he said this, Clemency stared at him wide-eyed, and, all
in a moment, flushed painfully and turned away, so that Barnabas
"Good-by!" said she, suddenly, and crossed to the door, but upon the
threshold paused; "I did pray for you," she said, over her shoulder.
"Ah!" said Barnabas, rising, "you prayed for me, and behold, I am
"Good-by!" she repeated, her face still averted.
"Good-by!" said Barnabas, "and will you remember me in your
"My prayers! Why?"
"Because the prayers of a sweet, pure woman may come between man
and evil--like a shield."
"I will," said she, very softly. "Oh, I will," and so, with a swift
glance, was gone.
Being come out of the inn, Barnabas met with his valet, John Peterby.
"Sir," he inquired, "what now?"
"Now," said Barnabas, "the Tenterden coach, and London."
WHICH RELATES SOMETHING OF THE "WHITE LION" AT TENTERDEN
Of all the lions that ever existed, painted or otherwise, white lions,
blue lions, black, green, or red lions, surely never was there one
like the "White Lion" at Tenterden. For he was such a remarkably
placid lion, although precariously balanced upon the extreme point
of one claw, and he stared down at all and sundry with such round,
inquiring eyes, as much as to say:
"Who are you? What's your father? Where are you going?" Indeed, so
very inquisitive was he that his very tail had writhed itself into a
note of interrogation, and, like a certain historical personage, was
forever asking a question. To-night he had singled out Barnabas from
the throng, and was positively bombarding him with questions, as:
"Dark or fair? Tall or short? Does she love you? Will she remember
you? Will she kiss you--next time? Aha! will she, will she?"
But here, feeling a touch upon his arm, Barnabas turned to find
Peterby at his elbow, and thus once more became aware of the hubbub
"Box seat, sir; next to the coachman!" says Peterby above the din,
for voices are shouting, horses snorting and stamping, ostlers are
hurrying here, running there, and swearing everywhere; waiters and
serving-maids are dodging to and fro, and all is hurry and bustle,
for the night mail is on the eve of departure for London.
Throned above all this clamor, calmly aloof, yet withal watchful of
eye, sits the coachman, beshawled to the ears of him, hatted to the
eyes of him, and in a wondrous coat of many capes; a ponderous man,
hoarse of voice and mottled of face, who, having swallowed his hot
rum and water in three leisurely gulps, tosses down the glass to the
waiting pot-boy (and very nearly hits a fussy little gentleman in a
green spencer, who carries a hat-box in one hand and a bulging
valise in the other, and who ducks indignantly, but just in time),
sighs, shakes his head, and proceeds to rewind the shawl about his
neck and chin, and to belt himself into his seat, throwing an
occasional encouraging curse to the perspiring ostlers below.
"Coachman!" cries the fussy gentleman, "hi, coachman!"
"The 'Markis' seems a bit fresh to-night, Sam," says Mottle-face
affably to one of the ostlers.
"Fresh!" exclaims that worthy as the 'Marquis' rears again,
"fresh, I believe you--burn 'is bones!"
"Driver!" shouts the fussy gentleman, "driver!"
"Why then, bear 'im up werry short, Sam."
"Driver!" roars the fussy little gentleman, "driver! coachman! oh,
"Vell, sir, that's me?" says Mottle-face, condescending to become
aware of him at last.
"Give me a hand up with my valise--d'ye hear?"
"Walise, sir? No, sir, can't be done, sir. In the boot, sir; guard,
"Boot!" cries the fussy gentleman indignantly. "I'll never trust my
property in the boot!"
"Then v'y not leave it be'ind, sir, and stay vith it, or--"
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the little man, growing angry. "I tell you
this is valuable property. D'ye know who I am?"
"Or ye might climb into the boot along vith it, sir--"
"Do you know who I am?"
"All aboard--all aboard for London!" roared the guard, coming up at
"Valter!" cried Mottle-face.
"Ay, ay, Joe?"
"Gentleman's walise for the boot, Valter; and sharp's the vord!"
"Ay, ay, Joe!" and, as he spoke, the guard caught the valise from
the protesting small gentleman with one hand, and the hat-box with
the other, and, forthwith, vanished. Hereupon the fussy gentleman,
redder of face, and more angry than ever, clambered to the roof,
still loudly protesting; all of which seemed entirely lost upon
Mottle-face, who, taking up the reins and settling his feet against
the dash-board, winked a solemn, owl-like eye at Barnabas sitting
beside him, and carolled a song in a husky voice, frequently
interrupting himself to admonish the ostlers, in this wise:--
"She vore no 'at upon 'er 'ead,
Nor a cap, nor a--"
"Bear the 'Markis' up werry short, Sam, vill 'ee?
But 'er 'air it 'ung all down 'er back,
"Easy--easy now! Hold on to them leaders, Dick!
"--bunch of carrots upon it.
Ven she cried 'sprats' in Vestminister,
Oh! sich a sveet loud woice, sir,
You could 'ear 'er all up Parlyment Street,
And as far as Charing Cross, sir."
"All aboard, all aboard for London!" roars the guard, and roaring,
swings himself up into the boot.
"All right be'ind?" cries Mottle-face.
"All right, Joe!" sings the guard.
"Then--leggo, there!" cries Mottle-face.
Back spring the ostlers, forward leap the four quivering horses,
their straining hoofs beating out showers of sparks from the cobbles;
the coach lurches forward and is off, amid a waving of hats and
pocket-handkerchiefs, and Barnabas, casting a farewell glance around,
is immediately fixed by the gaze of the "White Lion," as inquiring
of eye and interrogatory of tail as ever.
"Tall or short? Dark or fair? Will she kiss you--next time--will she,
will she? Will she even be glad to see you again--will she, now will
Whereupon Barnabas must needs become profoundly thoughtful all at
"Now--I wonder?" said he to himself.
OF THE COACHMAN'S STORY
Long before the lights of the "White Lion" had vanished behind them,
the guard blows a sudden fanfare on the horn, such a blast as goes
echoing merrily far and wide, and brings folk running to open doors
and lighted windows to catch a glimpse of the London Mail ere it
vanishes into the night; and so, almost while the cheery notes ring
upon the air, Tenterden is behind them, and they are bowling along
the highway into the open country beyond. A wonderful country this,
familiar and yet wholly new; a nightmare world where ghosts and
goblins flit under a dying moon; where hedge and tree become monsters
crouched to spring, or lift knotted arms to smite; while in the
gloom of woods beyond, unimagined horrors lurk.
But, bless you, Mottle-face, having viewed it all under the slant of
his hat-brim, merely settles his mottled chin deeper in his shawls,
flicks the off ear of the near leader with a delicate turn of the
wrists, and turning his owl-like eye upon Barnabas, remarks that
"It's a werry fine night!" But hereupon the fussy gentleman, leaning
over, taps Mottle-face upon the shoulder.
"Coachman," says he, "pray, when do you expect to reach The Borough,
"Vich I begs to re-mark, sir," retorts Mottle-face, settling his
curly-brimmed hat a little further over his left eye, "vich I 'umbly
begs to re-mark as I don't expect nohow!"
"Eh--what! what! you don't expect to--"
"Vich I am vun, sir, as don't novise expect nothin', consequent am
never novise disapp'inted," says Mottle-face with a solemn nod;
"but, vind an' veather permittin', ve shall be at the 'George' o'
South'ark at five, or thereabouts!"
"Ha!" says the fussy gentleman, "and what about my valise? is it safe?"
"Safe, ah! safe as the Bank o' England, unless ve should 'appen to
"Stopped? stopped, coachman? d' you mean--?"
"Ah! stopped by Blue-chinned Jack o' Brockley, or Gallopin' Toby o'
"Eh--what! what! d' you mean there are highwaymen on this road?"
"'Ighvaymen!" snorted Mottle-face, winking ponderously at Barnabas,
"by Goles, I should say so, it fair bristles vith 'em."
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman in an altered tone,
"but you are armed, of course?"
"Armed?" repeated Mottle-face, more owl-like of eye than ever,
"armed, sir, Lord love me yes! my guard carries a brace o' barkers
in the boot."
"I'm glad of that," said the fussy gentleman, "very!"
"Though," pursued Mottle-face, rolling his head heavily, "Joe ain't
'zactly what you might call a dead shot, nor yet a ex-pert, bein'
blind in 'is off blinker, d'ye see."
"Eh--blind, d'ye say--blind?" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.
"Only in 'is off eye," nodded Mottle-face, reassuringly, "t'other
'un's as good as yours or mine, ven 'e ain't got a cold in it."
"But this--this is an outrage!" spluttered the fussy gentleman,
"a guard blind in one eye! Scandalous! I shall write to the papers
of this. But you--surely you carry a weapon too?"
"A vepping? Ay, to be sure, sir, I've got a blunder-bush, under this
'ere werry seat, loaded up to the muzzle wi' slugs too,--though it
von't go off."
"Won't--eh, what? Won't go off?"
"Not on no account, sir, vich ain't to be 'spected of it, seeing as
it ain't got no trigger."
"But--heaven preserve us! why carry such a useless thing?"
"Force of 'abit, sir; ye see, I've carried that theer old
blunderbush for a matter of five-an'-twenty year, an' my feyther 'e
carried it afore me."
"But suppose we are attacked?"
"Vich I begs to re-mark, sir, as I don't never suppose no such thing,
like my feyther afore me. Brave as a lion were my feyther, sir, an'
bred up to the road; v'y, Lord! 'e were born vith a coachman's v'ip
in 'is mouth--no, I mean 'is fist, as ye might say; an' 'e were the
"But what's your father got to do with it?" cried the fussy gentleman.
"What about my valise?"
"Your walise, sir? we'm a-coming to that;" and here, once more,
Mottle-face slowly winked his owl-like eye at Barnabas. "My feyther,
sir," he continued, "my feyther, 'e druv' the Dartford Mail, an' 'e
were the finest v'ip as ever druv' a coach, Dartford or otherwise;
'Andsome 'Arry' 'e vere called, though v'y 'andsome I don't know,
seeing as 'is nose veren't all it might ha' been, on account o' a
quart pot; an' v'y 'Arry I don't know, seeing as 'is name vos Villiam;
but, ''Andsome 'Arry' 'e vere called, an' werry much respected 'e
vere too. Lord! there vos never less than a dozen or so young bloods
to see 'im start. Ah! a great favorite 'e vere vith them, an' no
error, an' werry much admired; admired? I should say so. They copied
'is 'at they copied 'is boots, they copied 'is coat, they'd a
copied 'im inside as well as out if they could."
"Hum!" said the fussy gentleman. "Ha!"
"Oh, 'e vos a great fav'rite vith the Quality," nodded Mottle-face.
"Ah! it vos a dream to see 'im 'andle the ribbons,--an' spit? Lord!
it vos a eddication to see my feyther spit, I should say so! Vun
young blood--a dock's son he vere too--vent an' 'ad a front tooth
drawed a purpose, but I never 'eard as it done much good; bless you,
to spit like my feyther you must be born to it!" (here Mottle-face
paused to suit the action to the word). "And, mark you! over an'
above all this, my feyther vere the boldest cove that ever--"
"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman impatiently, "but where
does my valise come in?"
"Your walise, sir," said Mottle-face, deftly flicking the off wheeler,
"your walise comes in--at the end, sir, and I'm a-comin' to it as
qvick as you'll let me."
"Hum!" said the gentleman again.
"Now, in my feyther's time," resumed Mottle-face serenely, "the
roads vos vorse than they are to-day, ah! a sight vorse, an' as for
'ighvaymen--Lord! they vos as thick as blackberries--blackberries? I
should say so! Theer vos footpads be'ind every 'edge--gangs of
'em--an' 'ighvaymen on every 'eath--"
"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman, "so many?"
"Many?" snorted Mottle-face, "there vos armies of 'em. But my feyther,
as I think I mentioned afore, vere the bravest, boldest, best-plucked
coachman as ever sat on a box."
"I hope it runs in the family."
"Sir, I ain't one give to boastin', nor yet to blowin' my own 'orn,
but truth is truth, and--it do!"
"Good!" said the fussy gentleman, "very good!"
"Now the vorst of all these rogues vos a cove called Black Dan, a
thieving, murdering, desprit wagabone as vere ewcntually 'ung
sky-'igh on Pembury 'Ill--"
"Good!" said the fussy gentleman louder than before, "good! Glad of it!"
"An' yet," sighed Mottle-face, "'e 'ad a werry good 'eart--as
'ighvaymen's 'earts go; never shot nobody unless 'e couldn't help it,
an' ven 'e did, 'e allus made a werry neat job of it, an' polished
'em off nice an' qvick."
"Hum!" said the fussy gentleman, "still, I'm glad he's hanged."
"Black Dan used to vork the roads south o' London,
"Kent an' Surrey mostly, conseqvent it vere a long time afore 'im an'
my feyther met; but at last vun night, as my feyther vos driving
along--a good fifteen mile an hour, for it vere a uncommon fine night,
vith a moon, like as it might be now--"
"Ah?" said the fussy gentleman.
"An' presently 'e came to vere the road narrered a bit, same as it
might be yonder--"
"Ah!" murmured the fussy gentleman again.
"An' vith a clump o' trees beyond, nice, dark, shady trees--like it
might be them werry trees ahead of us--"
"Oh!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.
"An' as 'e come up nearer an' nearer, all at vunce 'e made out a
shadder in the shade o' them trees--"
"Dear me!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman uneasily, staring very hard
at the trees in front.
"A shadder as moved, although the leaves vos all dead still. So my
feyther--being a bold cove--reached down for 'is blunderbush--this
werry same old blunderbush as I 've got under the box at this
i-dentical minute, (though its trigger veren't broke then) but,
afore 'e can get it out, into the road leaps a man on a great black
'oss--like it might be dead ahead of us, a masked man, an' vith a
pistol in each fist as long as yer arm."
"Good Lord!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.
"'Stand an' deliver!' roars the masked man, so my feyther, cocking
'is heye at the pistols, pulls up, an' there 'e is, starin' down at
the 'ighvayman, an' the 'ighvayman staring up at 'im. 'You 're
'Andsome 'Arry, ain't you?' sez the 'ighvayman. 'Ay,' sez my feyther,
'an' I guess you 're Black Dan.' 'Sure as you 're born!' sez Black
Dan, 'I've 'eered o' you before to-day, 'Andsome 'Arry,' sez 'e,
'an' meant to make your acquaintance afore this, but I 've been kep'
too busy till to-night,' sez 'e, 'but 'ere ve are at last,' 'e sez,
'an' now--vot d' ye think o' that?' sez 'e, an' pi'nts a pistol
under my feyther's werry nose. Now, as I think I 've 'inted afore,
my feyther vere a nat'rally bold, courage-ful cove, so 'e took a
look at the murderous vepping, an' nodded. 'It's a pistol, ain't it?'
sez 'e. 'Sure as you're settin' on that there box, it is,' sez Black
Dan, 'an' 'ere's another.' 'An' werry good veppings too,' sez my
feyther, 'but vot might you be vanting vith me, Black Dan?' 'First
of all, I vants you to come down off that box,' sez Black Dan. 'Oh?'
sez my feyther, cool as a coocumber. 'Ah!' sez Black Dan. 'Verefore
an' v'y?' enkvires my feyther, but Black Dan only vagged 'is
veppings in my feyther's face, an' grinned under 'is mask. 'I vants
you, so, 'Andsome 'Arry--come down!' sez 'e. Now I've told you as my
feyther vos the boldest--"
"Yes, yes," cried the fussy gentleman. "Well?"
"Vell, sir, my feyther stared at them murderous pistols, stared at
Black Dan, an' being the werry gamest an' bravest cove you ever see,
didn't 'esitate a second."
"Well," cried the fussy gentleman, "what did he do then?"
"Do, sir--v'y I'll tell you--my feyther--come down."
"Yes, yes," said the fussy gentleman, as Mottle-face paused.
"Go on, go on!"
"Go on v'ere, sir?"
"Go on with your story. What was the end of it?"
"V'y, that's the end on it."
"But it isn't; you haven't told us what happened after he got down.
What became of him after?"
"Took the 'Ring o' Bells,' out Islington vay, an' drank hisself to
death all quite nat'ral and reg'lar."
"But that's not the end of your story."
"It vere the end o' my feyther though--an' a werry good end it vere,
Now here there ensued a silence, during which the fussy gentleman
stared fixedly at Mottle-face, who chirruped to the horses
solicitously, and turned a serene but owl-like eye up to the waning
"And pray," said the fussy gentleman at length, very red in the face,
and more indignant than ever, "pray what's all this to do with my
valise, I should like to know?"
"So should I," nodded Mottle-face--"ah, that I should."
"You--you told me," spluttered the fussy gentleman, in sudden wrath,
"that you were coming to my valise."
"An' so ve have," nodded Mottle-face, triumphantly. "Ve're at it now;
ve've been a-coming to that theer blessed walise ever since you
"Well, and what's to be done about it?" snapped the fussy gentleman.
"Vell," said Mottle-face, with another ponderous wink at Barnabas,
"if it troubles you much more, sir, if I vos you I should get a
werry strong rope, and a werry large stone, and tie 'em together
werry tight, an' drop that theer blessed walise into the river, and
get rid of it that way."
Hereupon the fussy gentleman uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and,
throwing himself back in his seat, tugged his hat over his eyes, and
was heard no more.
But Mottle-face, touching up the near leader with deft and delicate
play of wrist, or flicking the off wheeler, ever and anon gave vent
to sounds which, though somewhat muffled, on account of coat-collar
and shawl, were uncommonly like a chuckle. Yet if this were so or no,
Barnabas did not trouble to ascertain, for he was already in that
dreamy state 'twixt sleeping and waking, drowsily conscious of being
borne on through the summer night, past lonely cottage and farmhouse,
past fragrant ricks and barns, past wayside pools on whose still
waters stars seemed to float--on and ever on, rumbling over bridges,
clattering through sleeping hamlets and villages, up hill and down
hill, on and ever on toward London and the wonders thereof. But,
little by little, the chink and jingle of the harness, the rumble of
the wheels, the rhythmic beat of the sixteen hoofs, all became
merged into a drone that gradually softened to a drowsy murmur, and
Barnabas fell into a doze; yet only to be awakened, as it seemed to
him, a moment later by lights and voices, and to find that they were
changing horses once more. Whereupon Mottle-face, leaning over,
winked his owl-like eye, and spoke in a hoarse, penetrating whisper:
"Ten mile, sir, an' not a vord out o' old Walise so far!" saying
which he jerked his head towards the huddled form of the fussy
gentleman, winked again, and turned away to curse the hurrying
ostlers, albeit in a tone good-natured and jovial.
And so, betimes, off they went again, down hill and up, by rolling
meadow and winding stream, 'neath the leafy arches of motionless
trees, through a night profoundly still save for the noise of their
own going, the crow of a cock, or the bark of a dog from some
farmyard. The moon sank and was gone, but on went the London Mail
swirling through eddying mist that lay in every hollow like ghostly
pools. Gradually the stars paled to the dawn, for low down in the
east was a gray streak that grew ever broader, that changed to a
faint pink, deepening to rose, to crimson, to gold--an ever
brightening glory, till at last up rose the sun, at whose advent the
mists rolled away and vanished, and lo! day was born.
Yawning, Barnabas opened drowsy eyes, and saw that here and there
were houses in fair gardens, yet as they went the houses grew
thicker and the gardens more scant. And now Barnabas became aware of
a sound, soft with distance, that rose and fell--a never-ceasing
murmur; therefore, blinking drowsily at Mottle-face, he inquired
what this might be.
"That, sir, that's London, sir--cobble-stones, sir, cart-vheels, sir,
and--Lord love you!"--here Mottle-face leaned over and once more
winked his owl-like eye--"but 'e ain't mentioned the vord 'walise'
all night, sir--so 'elp me!" Having said which, Mottle-face vented a
throaty chuckle, and proceeded to touch up his horses.
And now as one in a dream, Barnabas is aware that they are threading
streets, broad streets and narrow, and all alive with great wagons
and country wains; on they go, past gloomy taverns, past churches
whose gilded weather-cocks glitter in the early sunbeams, past
crooked side-streets and dark alley-ways, and so, swinging suddenly
to the right, have pulled up at last in the yard of the "George."
It is a great inn with two galleries one above another and many
windows, and here, despite the early hour, a motley crowd is gathered.
Forthwith Barnabas climbs down, and edging his way through the throng,
presently finds Peterby at his elbow.
"Very good--this way, sir."
Thereafter, though he scarcely knows how, he finds himself following
a trim-footed damsel, who, having shown him up a winding stair, worn
by the tread of countless travellers, brings him to a smallish,
dullish chamber, opening upon the lower gallery. Hereupon Barnabas
bids her "good night," but, blinking in the sunlight, gravely
changes it to "good morning." The trim-footed maid smiles, curtsies,
and vanishes, closing the door behind her.
Now upon the wall of the chamber, facing the bed, hangs the picture
of a gentleman in a military habit with an uncomfortably high stock.
He is an eagle-nosed gentleman with black whiskers, and a pair of
remarkably round wide-awake eyes, which stare at Barnabas as much as
"And who the devil are you, sir?"
Below him his name and titles are set forth fully and with many
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL OF POMFROY,
K.G., K.T.S., etc., etc., etc.
So remarkably wide-awake is he, indeed, that it seems to drowsy
Barnabas as if these round eyes wait to catch him unawares and
follow him pertinaciously about the smallish, dullish chamber.
Nevertheless Barnabas yawns, and proceeds to undress, which done,
remembering he is in London, he takes purse and valuables and very
carefully sets them under his pillow, places Mr. Chichester's pistol
on the small table conveniently near, and gets into bed.
Yet now, sleepy though he is, he must needs turn to take another
look at the Honorable the Earl of Pomfroy, wonders idly what the
three "etc.'s" may mean, admires the glossy curl of his whiskers,
counts the medals and orders on his bulging breast, glances last of
all at his eyes, and immediately becomes aware that they are
curiously like those of the "White Lion" at Tenterden, in that they
are plying him with questions.
"Tall or short? dark or fair? Will she kiss you--next time, sir?
Will she even be glad to see you again, you presumptuous young
dog--will she--will she, confound you?"
"Ah!" sighed Barnabas. "Next time--I wonder!"
So saying, he sighed again, once, twice, and with the third fell
fast asleep, and dreamed that a certain White Lion, clad in a
Lieutenant-General's uniform, and with a pair of handsome black
whiskers, stood balancing himself upon a single claw on the rail of
CONCERNING THE DUTIES OF A VALET--AND A MAN
"And now, Peterby," said Barnabas, pushing his chair from the
breakfast table, "the first thing I shall require is--a tailor."
"Very true, sir."
"These clothes were good enough for the country, Peterby, but--"
"Exactly, sir!" answered Peterby, bowing.
"Hum!" said Barnabas, with a quick glance. "Though mark you," he
continued argumentatively,--"they might be worse, Peterby; the fit
is good, and the cloth is excellent. Yes, they might be a great deal
"It is--possible, sir," answered Peterby, with another bow. Hereupon,
having glanced at his solemn face, Barnabas rose, and surveyed
himself, as well as he might, in the tarnished mirror on the wall.
"Are they so bad as all that?" he inquired.
Peterby's mouth relaxed, and a twinkle dawned in his eye.
"As garments they are--serviceable, sir," said he, gravely,
"but as clothes they--don't exist."
"Why then," said Barnabas, "the sooner we get some that do,--the
better. Do you know of a good tailor?"
"I know them all, sir."
"Who is the best--the most expensive?"
"Stultz, sir, in Clifford Street; but I shouldn't advise you to
"And why not?"
"Because he _is_ a tailor."
"Oh?" said Barnabas.
"I mean that the clothes he makes are all stamped with his
individuality, as it were,--their very excellence damns them. They
are the clothes of a tailor instead of being simply a gentleman's
"Hum!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown at this, "it would seem
that dress can be a very profound subject, Peterby."
"Sir," answered Peterby, shaking his head, "it is a life study, and,
so far as I know, there are only two people in the world who
understand it aright; Beau Brummell was one, and, because he was the
Beau, had London and the World of Fashion at his feet."
"And who was the other?"
Peterby took himself by the chin, and, though his mouth was solemn,
the twinkle was back in his eye as he glanced at Barnabas.
"The other, sir," he answered, "was one who, until yesterday, was
reduced to the necessity of living upon poached rabbits."
Here Barnabas stared thoughtfully up at the ceiling.
"I remember you told me you were the best valet in the world,"
"It is my earnest desire to prove it, sir."
"And yet," said Barnabas, with his gaze still turned ceiling-wards,
"I would have you--even more than this, Peterby."
"I would have you, sometimes, forget that you are only 'the best
valet in the world,' and remember that you are--a man: one in whom I
can confide; one who has lived in this great world, and felt, and
suffered, and who can therefore advise me; one I may trust to in an
emergency; for London is a very big place, they tell me, and my
friends are few--or none--and--do you understand me, Peterby?"
"Sir," said Peterby in an altered tone, "I think I do."
"Then--sit down, John, and let us talk."
With a murmur of thanks Peterby drew up a chair and sat watching
Barnabas with his shrewd eyes.
"You will remember," began Barnabas, staring up at the ceiling again,
"that when I engaged you I told you that I intended to--hum! to--cut
a figure in the fashionable world?"
"Yes, sir; and I told you that,--after what happened in a certain
wood,--it was practically impossible."
"You mean because I thrashed a scoundrel?"
"I mean because you knocked down a friend of the Prince Regent."
"And is Carnaby so very powerful, Peterby?"
"Sir, he is--the Prince's friend! He is also as great a Buck as
George Hanger, as Jehu, or Jockey of Norfolk, and as famous, almost,
as the late Sir Maurice Vibart."
"Ah!" said Barnabas.
"And since the retirement of Mr. Brummell, he and the Marquis of
Jerningham have to some extent taken his place and become the
Arbiters of Fashion."
"Oh!" said Barnabas.
"And furthermore, sir, I would warn you that he is a dangerous enemy,
said to be one of the best pistol-shots in England."
"Hum," said Barnabas, "nevertheless, I mean to begin--"
"To begin, sir?"
"At once, Peterby."
"That is for you to decide, Peterby."
Here Peterby took himself by the chin again, and looked at Barnabas
with thoughtful eyes and gloomy brow.
"Sir," said he, "the World of Fashion is a trivial world where all
must appear trivial; it is a place where all must act a part, and
where those are most regarded who are most affected; it is a world
of shams and insincerity, and very jealously guarded."
"So I have heard," nodded Barnabas.
"To gain admission you must, first of all, have money."
"Yes," said Barnabas.
"Hum," said Barnabas.
"Wit and looks may be helpful, but all these are utterly useless
unless you have what I may call the magic key."
"And what is that?"
"For anything that will serve to lift you out of the ruck--to set
you above the throng,--you must be one apart--an original."
"Originality is divine!" said Barnabas.
"More or less, sir," added Peterby, "for it is very easily achieved.
Lord Alvanly managed it with apricot tarts; Lord Petersham with
snuff-boxes; Mr. Mackinnon by his agility in climbing round
drawing-rooms on the furniture; Jockey of Norfolk by consuming a
vast number of beef-steaks, one after the other; Sir George Cassilis,
who was neither rich nor handsome nor witty, by being insolent; Sir
John Lade by dressing like a stagecoach-man, and driving like the
devil; Sir George Skeffington by inventing a new color and writing
bad plays; and I could name you many others beside--"
"Why then, Peterby--what of Sir Mortimer Carnaby?"
"He managed it by going into the ring with Jack Fearby, the 'Young
Ruffian,' and beating him in twenty-odd rounds for one thing, and
winning a cross-country race--"
"Ha!" exclaimed Barnabas, "a race!" and so he fell to staring up at
the ceiling again.
"But I fear, sir," continued Peterby, "that in making him your enemy,
you have damned your chances at the very outset, as I told you."
"A race!" said Barnabas again, vastly thoughtful.
"And therefore," added Peterby, leaning nearer in his earnestness,
"since you honor me by asking my advice, I would strive with all my
power to dissuade you."
"Because, in the first place, I know it to be impossible."
"I begin to think not, John."
"Why, then, because--it's dangerous!"
"Danger is everywhere, more or less, John."
"And because, sir, because you--you--" Peterby rose, and stood with
bent head and hands outstretched, "because you gave a miserable
wretch another chance to live; and therefore I--I would not see you
crushed and humiliated. Ah, sir! I know this London, I know those
who make up the fashionable world. Sir, it is a heartless world,
cruel and shallow, where inexperience is made a mock of--generosity
laughed to scorn; where he is most respected who can shoot the
straightest; where men seldom stoop to quarrel, but where death is
frequent, none the less--and, sir, I could not bear--I--I wouldn't
have you cut off thus--!"
Peterby stopped suddenly, and his head sank lower; but as he stood
Barnabas rose, and coming to him, took his hand into his own firm
"Thank you, John Peterby," said he. "You may be the best valet in
the world--I hope you are--but I know that you are a man, and, as a
man, I tell you that I have decided upon going on with the adventure."
"Then I cannot hope to dissuade you, sir?"
"Indeed, I feared not."
"It was for this I came to London, and I begin--at once."
"Very good, sir."
"Consequently, you have a busy day before you; you see I shall
require, first of all, clothes, John; then--well, I suppose a house
to live in--"
"In a fashionable quarter, and furnished, if possible."
"A lodging, St. James's Street way, is less expensive, sir, and more
"Good!" said Barnabas; "to buy a house will be more original, at
least. Then there must be servants, horses--vehicles--but you will
"Well then, John--go and get 'em."
"Sir?" exclaimed Peterby.
"Go now, John," said Barnabas, pulling out his purse, "this very
"But," stammered Peterby, "but, sir--you will--"
"I shall stay here--I don't intend to stir out until you have me
dressed as I should be--in 'clothes that exist,' John!"
"But you--don't mean to--to entrust--everything--to--me?"
"Of course, John."
"I have every confidence in your judgment, you see. Here is money,
you will want more, of course, but this will do to go on with."
But Peterby only stared from Barnabas to the money on the table, and
"Sir," said he at last, "this is--a great deal of money."
"And I would remind you that we are in London, sir, and that
yesterday I--was a poacher--a man of no character--a--"
"But to-day you are my valet, John. So take the money and buy me
whatever I require, but a tailor first of all."
Then, as one in a dream, Peterby took up the money, counted it,
buttoned it into his pocket, and crossed to the door; but there he
paused and turned.
"Sir," said he slowly, "I'll bring you a man who, though he is
little known as yet, will be famous some day, for he is what I may
term an artist in cloth. And sir,"--here Peterby's voice grew
uncertain--"you shall find me worthy of your trust, so help me God!"
Then he opened the door, went out, and closed it softly behind him.
But as for Barnabas, he sat with his gaze fixed on the ceiling again,
lost in reverie and very silent. After a while he spoke his thoughts
"A race!" said he.
HOW BARNABAS BOUGHT AN UNRIDABLE HORSE--AND RODE IT
The coffee-room at the "George" is a longish, narrowish, dullish
chamber, with a row of windows that look out upon the yard,--but
upon this afternoon they looked at nothing in particular; and here
Barnabas found a waiter, a lonely wight who struck him as being very
like the room itself, in that he, also, was long, and narrow, and
dull, and looked out upon the yard at nothing in particular; and, as
he gazed, he sighed, and tapped thoughtfully at his chin with a
salt-spoon. As Barnabas entered, however, he laid down the spoon,
flicked an imaginary crumb from the table-cloth with his napkin, and
"Dinner, sir?" he inquired in a dullish voice, and with his head set
engagingly to one side, while his sharp eyes surveyed Barnabas from
boots to waistcoat, from waistcoat to neckcloth, and stayed there
while he drew out his own shirt-frill with caressing fingers, and
coughed disapprobation into his napkin. "Did you say dinner, sir?"
he inquired again.
"Thank you, no," answered Barnabas.
"Perhaps cheese an' a biscuit might be nearer your mark, and say--a
half of porter?"
"I've only just had breakfast," said Barnabas, aware of the waiter's
"Ah!" sighed the waiter, still caressing his shirt-frill, "you're
Number Four, I think--night coach?"
"From the country of course, sir?"
"Yes--from the country," said Barnabas, beginning to frown a little,
"but how in the world did you guess that?"
"From your 'toot example,' sir, as they say in France--from your
"You are evidently a very observant man!" said Barnabas.
"Well," answered the waiter, with his gaze still riveted upon the
neckcloth--indeed it seemed to fascinate him, "well, I can see as
far through a brick wall as most,--there ain't much as I miss, sir."
"Why, then," said Barnabas, "you may perhaps have noticed a door
The waiter stared from the neckcloth to the door and back again, and
scratched his chin dubiously.
"Then suppose you go out of that door, and bring me pens, and ink,
"Also the latest newspapers."
"Yessir--certainly, sir;" and with another slight, though eloquent
cough into his napkin, he started off upon his errand. Hereupon, as
soon as he was alone, Barnabas must needs glance down at that
offending neckcloth, and his frown grew the blacker.
"Now, I wonder how long Peterby will be?" he said to himself. But
here came the creak of the waiter's boots, and that observant person
reappeared, bearing the various articles which he named in turn as
he set them on the table.
"A bottle of ink, sir; pens and writing-paper, sir; and the Gazette."
"Thank you," said Barnabas, very conscious of his neckcloth still.
"And now, sir," here the waiter coughed into his napkin again,
"now--what will you drink, sir; shall we say port, or shall we make
"Neither," said Barnabas.
"Why, then, we 'ave some rare old burgundy, sir--'ighly esteemed by
connysoors and (cough again) other--gentlemen."
"No, thank you."
"On the other 'and--to suit 'umbler tastes, we 'ave,"--here the
waiter closed his eyes, sighed, and shook his head--"ale, sir,
likewise beer, small and otherwise."
"Nothing, thank you," said Barnabas; "and you will observe the door
is still where it was."
"Door, sir, yessir--oh, certainly, sir!" said he, and stalked out of
Then Barnabas set a sheet of paper before him, selected a pen, and
began to write as follows:--
June 2, 18--.
To VISCOUNT DEVENHAM,
MY DEAR DICK,--I did not think to be asking favors
of you so soon, but--(here a blot).
"Confound it!" exclaimed Barnabas, and taking out his penknife he
began to mend the spluttering quill. But, in the midst of this
operation, chancing to glance out of the window, he espied a
long-legged gentleman with a remarkably fierce pair of whiskers; he
wore a coat of ultra-fashionable cut, and stood with his booted legs
wide apart, staring up at the inn from under a curly-brimmed hat.
But the hat had evidently seen better days, the coat was frayed at
seam and elbow, and the boots lacked polish; yet these small
blemishes were more than offset by his general dashing, knowing air,
and the untamable ferocity of his whiskers. As Barnabas watched him,
he drew a letter from the interior of his shabby coat, unfolded it
with a prodigious flourish, and began to con it over. Now, all at
once, Barnabas dropped knife and pen, thrust a hand into his own
breast and took thence a letter also, at sight of which he
straightway forgot the bewhiskered gentleman; for what he read was
Dearest and Best of Sisters,--Never, in all this
world was there such an unfortunate, luckless dog as I--were
it not for your unfailing love I should have
made an end of it all, before now.
I write this letter to beg and implore you to grant
me another interview, anywhere and at any time you may
name. Of course you will think it is more money I want--so
I do; I'm always in need of it, and begin to fear
I always shall be. But my reasons for wishing this meeting
are much more than this--indeed, _most urgent_!
(this underlined). I am threatened by a GRAVE DANGER
(this doubly underlined). I am at my wit's end, and
only you can save me, Cleone--you and you only.
Chichester has been more than kind, _indeed, a true friend
to me_! (this also underlined). I would that you could
feel kinder towards him.
This letter must reach you where none of your
guardian's spies can intercept it; your precious Captain
has always hated me, damn him! (this scratched out).
Oh, shame that he, a stranger, should ever have been
allowed to come between brother and sister. I shall
journey down to Hawkhurst to see you and shall stay
about until you can contrive to meet me. Chichester
may accompany me, and if he should, try to be kinder
to your brother's only remaining friend. How different
are our situations! you surrounded by every luxury,
while I--yet heaven forbid I should forget my manhood
and fill this letter with my woes. But if you ever loved
your unfortunate brother, do not fail him in this, Cleone.
Your loving, but desperate,
Having read this effusion twice over, and very carefully, Barnabas
was yet staring at the last line with its scrawling signature, all
unnecessary curls and flourishes, when he heard a slight sound in
the adjacent box, and turning sharply, was just in time to see the
top of a hat ere it vanished behind the curtain above the partition.
Therefore he sat very still, waiting. And lo! after the lapse of
half a minute, or thereabouts, it reappeared, slowly and by
degrees--a beaver hat, something the worse for wear. Slowly it rose
up over the curtain--the dusty crown, the frayed band, the curly brim,
and eventually a pair of bold, black eyes that grew suddenly very
wide as they met the unwinking gaze of Barnabas. Hereupon the lips,
as yet unseen, vented a deep sigh, and, thereafter, uttered these
"The same, and yet, curse me, the nose!--y-e-s, the nose seems, on
closer inspection, a trifle too aquiline, perhaps; and the
chin--y-e-s, decidedly a thought too long! And yet--!" Here another
sigh, and the face rising into full view, Barnabas recognized the
bewhiskered gentleman he had noticed in the yard.
"Sir," continued the stranger, removing the curly-brimmed hat with a
flourish, and bowing over the partition as well as he could,
"you don't happen to be a sailor--Royal Navy, do you?"
"No, sir," answered Barnabas.
"And your name don't happen to be Smivvle, does it?"
"No, sir," said Barnabas again.
"And yet," sighed the bewhiskered gentleman, regarding him with
half-closed eyes, and with his head very much on one side, "in spite
of your nose, and in spite of your chin, you are the counterpart, sir,
the facsimile--I might say the breathing image of a--ha!--of a
nephew of mine; noble youth, handsome as Adonis--Royal Navy--regular
Apollo; went to sea, sir, years ago; never heard of more; tragic,
sir--devilish tragic, on my soul and honor."
"Very!" said Barnabas; "but--"
"Saw you from the yard, sir, immediately struck by close resemblance;
flew here, borne on the wings of hope, sir; you 're quite sure your
name ain't Smivvle, are you?"
"Ah, well--mine is; Digby Smivvle, familiarly known as 'Dig,' at
your service, sir. Stranger to London, sir?"
"Yes," said Barnabas.
"Ha! Bad place, London, sink of iniquity! Full of rogues, rascals,
damn scoundrels,--by heaven, sharks, sir! confounded cannibals, by
George!--eat you alive. Stranger myself, sir; just up from my little
place in Worcestershire--King's Heath,--know it, perhaps? No?
Charming village! rural, quiet; mossy trees, sir; winding brooks,
larks and cuckoos carolling all day long. Sir, there has been a
Smivvle at the Hall since before the Conquest! Fine old place, the
Hall; ancient, sir, hoary and historic--though devilish draughty,
upon my soul and honor!"
Here, finding that he still held the open letter in his hand,
Barnabas refolded it and thrust it into his pocket, while Mr. Smivvle
smilingly caressed his whiskers, and his bold, black eyes darted
glances here and there, from Barnabas mending his pen to the table,
from the table to the walls, to the ceiling, and from that altitude
they dropped to the table again, and hovered there.
"Sir," said Barnabas without looking up, "pray excuse the blot, the
pen was a bad one; I am making another, as you see."
Mr. Smivvle started, and raised his eyes swiftly. Stared at
unconscious Barnabas, rubbed his nose, felt for his whisker, and,
having found it, tugged it viciously.
"Blot, sir!" he exclaimed loudly; "now, upon my soul and honor--what
"This," said Barnabas, taking up his unfinished letter to the
Viscount--"if you've finished, we may as well destroy it," and
forthwith he crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it into the empty
"Sir!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, louder than before, "'pon my soul, now,
if you mean to insinuate--" Here he paused, staring at Barnabas, and
with his whiskers fiercer than ever.
"Well, sir?" inquired Barnabas, still busily trimming his quill.
Mr. Smivvle frowned; but finding Barnabas was quite unconscious of it,
shook his head, felt for his whisker again, found it, tugged it, and
"Sir," said he, "you are a devilish sharp fellow, and a fine fellow.
I swear you are. I like your spirit, on my soul and honor I do, and,
as for blots, I vow to you I never write a letter myself that I
don't smear most damnably--curse me if I don't. That blot, sir,
shall be another bond between us, for I have conceived a great
regard for you. The astounding likeness between you and one who--was
snatched away in the flower of his youth--draws me, sir, draws me
most damnably; for I have a heart, sir, a heart--why should I
disguise it?" Here Mr. Smivvle tapped the third left-hand button of
his coat. "And so long as that organ continues its functions, you
may count Digby Smivvle your friend, and at his little place in
Worcestershire he will be proud to show you the hospitality _of_ a
Smivvle. Meanwhile, sir, seeing we are both strangers in a strange
place, supposing we--join forces and, if you are up for the race, I
"The race!" exclaimed Barnabas, looking up suddenly.
"Yes, sir, devilish swell affair, with gentlemen to ride, and
Royalty to look on--a race of races! London's agog with it, all the
clubs discuss it, coffee houses ring with it, inns and taverns
clamor with it--soul and honor, betting--everywhere. The odds
slightly favor Sir Mortimer Carnaby's 'Clasher'; but Viscount
Devenham's 'Moonraker' is well up. Then there's Captain Slingsby's
'Rascal,' Mr. Tressider's 'Pilot,' Lord Jerningham's 'Clinker,' and
five or six others. But, as I tell you, 'Clasher' and 'Moonraker'
carry the money, though many knowing ones are sweet on the 'Rascal.'
But, surely, you must have heard of the great steeplechase? Devilish
ugly course, they tell me."
"The Viscount spoke of it, I remember," said Barnabas, absently.
"Viscount, sir--not--Viscount Devenham?"
Here Mr. Smivvle whistled softly, took off the curly-brimmed hat,
looked at it, and put it on again at a more rakish angle than ever.
"Didn't happen to mention my name, did he--Smivvle, sir?"
"Nor Dig, perhaps?"
"Remarkable--hum!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, shaking his head;
"but I'm ready to lay you odds that he _did_ speak of my friend Barry.
I may say my bosom companion--a Mr. Ronald Barrymaine, sir."
"Ronald Barrymaine," repeated Barnabas, trying the new point of his
pen upon his thumb-nail, yet conscious of the speaker's keen glance,
none the less. "No, he did not."
"Astounding!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle.
"Because my friend Barrymaine was particularly intimate with his
Lordship, before he fell among the Jews, dammem! My friend Barry, sir,
was a dasher, by George! a regular red-hot tearer, by heaven! a Go,
sir, a Tippy, a bang up Blood, and would be still if it were not for
the Jews--curse 'em!"
"And is Mr. Barrymaine still a friend of yours?"
At this Mr. Smivvle took off his hat again, clapped it to his bosom,
"Sir," said he, "for weal or woe, in shadow or shine, the hand of a
Smivvle, once given, is given for good."
As he spoke, Mr. Smivvle stretched out the member in question, which
Barnabas observed was none too clean.
"The hand of a Smivvle, sir," pursued that gentleman, "the hand of a
Smivvle is never withdrawn either on account of adversity, plague,
poverty, pestilence, or Jews--dammem! As for my friend Barrymaine;
but, perhaps, you are acquainted with him, sir."
"No," answered Barnabas.
"Ah! a noble fellow, sir! Heroic youth, blood, birth, and breeding
to his finger-tips, sir. But he is, above all else, a brother to
a--a sister, sir. Ah! what a creature! Fair, sir? fair as the
immortal Helena! Proud, sir? proud as an arch-duchess! Handsome, sir?
handsome, sir, as--as--oh, dammit, words fail me; but go, sir, go
and ransack Olympus, and you couldn't match her, 'pon my soul! Diana,
sir? Diana was a frump! Venus? Venus was a dowdy hoyden, by George!
and as for the ox-eyed Juno, she was a positive cow to this young
beauty! And then--her heart, sir!"
"Well, what of it?" inquired Barnabas, rather sharply.
"Utterly devoted--beats only for my friend--"
"You mean her brother?"
"I mean her brother, yes, sir; though I have heard a rumor that
Sir Mortimer Carnaby--"
"Pooh!" said Barnabas.
"With pleasure, sir; but the fact remains that it was partly on his
account, and partly because of another, that she was dragged away
"Well, let us say--H.R.H."
"Sir," inquired Barnabas, frowning, "do you mean the Prince?"
"Sir," said Mr. Smivvle, with a smiling shake of the head, "I prefer
the letters H.R.H. Anyhow, there were many rumors afloat at the time,
and her guardian--a regular, tarry old sea dog, by George--drags her
away from her brother's side, and buries her in the country, like
the one-armed old pirate he is, eye to her money they tell me;
regular old skinflint; bad as a Jew--damn him! But speaking of the
race, sir, do you happen to--know anything?"
"I know that it is to be run on the fifteenth of July," said
"Oh, very good!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle--"ha! ha!--excellent! knows
it is to be run on the fifteenth; very facetious, curse me! But,
joking apart, sir, have you any private knowledge? The Viscount, now,
did he happen to tell you anything that--"
But, at this juncture, they were interrupted by a sudden tumult in
the yard outside, a hubbub of shouts, the ring and stamp of hoofs,
and, thereafter, a solitary voice upraised in oaths and curses.
Barnabas sprang to his feet, and hurrying out into the yard, beheld
a powerful black horse that reared and plunged in the grip of two
struggling grooms; in an adjacent corner was the late rider, who sat
upon a pile of stable-sweepings and swore, while, near by, perched
precariously upon an upturned bucket, his slim legs stretched out
before him, was a young exquisite--a Corinthian from top to toe--who
rocked with laughter, yet was careful to keep his head rigid, so as
to avoid crushing his cravat, a thing of wonder which immediately
arrested the attention of Barnabas, because of its prodigious height,
and the artful arrangement of its voluminous folds.
"Oh, dooce take me," he exclaimed in a faint voice, clapping a hand
to his side, "I'll be shot if I saw anything neater, no, not even at
Sadler's Wells! Captain Slingsby of the Guards in his famous double
somersault! Oh, damme, Sling! I'd give a hundred guineas to see you
do it again--I would, dooce take me!"
But Captain Slingsby continued to shake his fist at the great, black
horse, and to swear with unabated fervor.
"You black devil!" he exclaimed, "you four-legged imp of Satan! So,
you're up to your tricks again, are you? Well, this is the last
chance you shall have to break my neck, b'gad! I'm done with you
Here the Captain became extremely fluent, and redder of face than
ever, as he poured forth a minute description of the animal; he
cursed him from muzzle to crupper and back again; he damned his eyes,
he damned his legs, individually and collectively, and reviled him,
through sire and dam, back to the Flood.
Meanwhile Barnabas turned from raging Two-legs to superbly wrathful
Four-legs; viewed him from sweeping tail to lofty crest; observed
his rolling eye and quivering nostril; took careful heed of his
broad chest, slender legs, and powerful, sloping haunches with keen,
appraising eyes, that were the eyes of knowledge and immediate desire.
And so, from disdainful Four-legs he turned back to ruffled Two-legs,
who, having pretty well sworn himself out by this time, rose
gingerly to his feet, felt an elbow with gentle inquiry, tenderly
rubbed a muddied knee, and limped out from the corner.
Now, standing somewhat apart, was a broad-shouldered man, a
rough-looking customer in threadbare clothes, whose dusty boots
spoke of travel. He was an elderly man, for the hair, beneath the
battered hat, was gray, and he leaned wearily upon a short stick.
Very still he stood, and Barnabas noticed that he kept his gaze bent
ever upon the horse; nor did he look away even when the Captain
began to speak again.
"B'gad!" exclaimed the Captain, "I'll sell the brute to the highest
bidder. You, Jerningham, you seem devilish amused, b'gad! If you
think you can back him he's yours for what you like. Come, what's
"Emphatically no, my dear, good Sling," laughed the young Corinthian,
shaking his curly head. "I don't mean to risk this most precious
neck of mine until the fifteenth, dear fellow, dooce take me if I do!"
"Why then, b'gad! I'll sell him to any one fool enough to bid. Come
now," cried the Captain, glancing round the yard, "who'll buy him?
B'gad! who'll give ten pounds for an accursed brute that nobody can
"I will!" said Barnabas.
"Fifteen, sir!" cried the shabby man on the instant, with his gaze
still on the horse.
"Twenty!" said Barnabas, like an echo.
"Twenty-five, sir!" retorted the shabby man.
"Hey?" cried the Captain, staring from one to the other. "What's all
this? B'gad! I say stop a bit--wait a minute! Bob, lend me your
Hereupon the Corinthian obligingly vacating that article. Captain
Slingsby incontinent stood upon it, and from that altitude began to
harangue the yard, flourishing his whip after the manner of an
"Now here you are, gentlemen!" he cried. "I offer you a devilishly
ugly, damnably vicious brute, b'gad! I offer you a four-legged demon,
an accursed beast that nobody can ever hope to ride--a regular terror,
curse me! Killed one groom already, will probably kill another. Now,
what is your price for this lady's pet? Look him over and bid
"Twenty-five pound, sir," said the shabby man.
"Thirty!" said Barnabas.
"Fifty!" said Barnabas.
"Fifty!" cried the Captain, flourishing his whip. "Fifty pounds from
the gentleman in the neckcloth--fifty's the figure. Any more? Any
advance on fifty? What, all done! Won't any one go another pound for
a beast fit only for the knacker's yard? Oh, Gad, gentlemen, why
this reticence? Are you all done?"
"I can't go no higher, sir," said the shabby man, shaking his gray
"Then going at fifty--at fifty! Going! Going! Gone, b'gad! Sold to
the knowing young cove in the neckcloth."
Now, at the repetition of this word, Barnabas began to frown.
"And b'gad!" exclaimed the Captain, stepping down from the bucket,
"a devilish bad bargain he's got, too."
"That, sir, remains to be seen," said Barnabas, shortly.
"Why, what do you mean to do with the brute?"
"Do you, b'gad?"
"Lay you ten guineas you don't sit him ten minutes."
"Done!" said Barnabas, buttoning up his coat.
But now, glancing round, he saw that the shabby man had turned away,
and was trudging heavily out of the yard, therefore Barnabas
hastened after him, and touched him upon the arm.
"I'm sorry you were disappointed," said he.
"Is it about the 'oss you mean, sir?" inquired the shabby man,
touching his hat.
"Why, it do come a bit 'ard-like to ha' lost 'im, sir, arter waiting
my chance so long. But fifty guineas be a sight o' money to a chap
as be out of a job, though 'e's dirt-cheap at the price. There ain't
many 'osses like 'im, sir."
"That was why I should have bought him at ten times the price," said
The man took off his hat, ran his stubby fingers through his
grizzled hair, and stared hard at Barnabas.
"Sir," said he, "even at that you couldn't ha' done wrong. He ain't
a kind 'oss--never 'aving been understood, d' ye see; but take my
word for it, 'e's a wonder, that 'oss!"
"You know him, perhaps?"
"Since 'e were foaled, sir. I was stud-groom; but folks think I'm
too old for the job, d' ye see, sir?"
"Do you think he 'd remember you?"
"Ay, that 'e would!"
"Do you suppose--look at him!--do you suppose you could hold him
quieter than those ostlers?"
"'Old 'im, sir!" exclaimed the man, throwing back his shoulders.
"'Old 'im--ah, that I could! Try me!"
"I will," said Barnabas. "How would forty shillings a week suit you?"
"Sir?" exclaimed the old groom, staring.
"Since you need a job, and I need a groom, I'll have you--if you're
The man's square jaw relaxed, his eyes glistened; then all at once
he shook his head and sighed.
"Ah! sir," said he, "ah! young sir, my 'air's gray, an' I'm not so
spry as I was--nobody wants a man as old as I be, and, seeing as
you've got the 'oss, you ain't got no call to make game o' me, young
sir. You 've got--the 'oss!"
Now at this particular moment Captain Slingsby took it into his head
to interrupt them, which he did in characteristic fashion.
"Hallo!--hi there!" he shouted, flourishing his whip.
"But I'm not making game of you," said Barnabas, utterly unconscious
of the Captain, at least his glance never wavered from the eager
face of the old groom.
"Hallo, there!" roared the Captain, louder than ever.
"And to prove it," Barnabas continued, "here is a guinea in advance,"
and he slipped the coin into the old groom's lax hand.
"Oh, b'gad," cried the Captain, hoarsely, "don't you hear me, you
over there? Hi! you in the neckcloth!"
"Sir," said Barnabas, turning sharply and frowning again at the
repetition of the word, "if you are pleased to allude to me, I would
humbly inform you that my name is Beverley."
"Oh!" exclaimed the Captain, "I see--young Beverley, son of old
Beverley--and a devilish good name too!"
"Sir, I'm vastly relieved to hear you say so," retorted Barnabas,
with a profound obeisance. Then taking out his purse, he beckoned
his new groom to approach.
"What is your name?" he inquired, as he counted out a certain sum.
"Gabriel Martin, sir."
"Then, Martin, pray give the fellow his money."
"I mean the red-faced man in the dirty jacket, Martin," added
The old groom hesitated, glanced from the Captain's scowling brow to
the smiling lips of Barnabas.
"Very good, sir," said he, touching his shabby hat, and taking the
money Barnabas held out, he tendered it to the Captain, who, redder
of face than ever, took it, stared from it to Barnabas, and whistled.
"Now, damme!" he exclaimed, "damme, if I don't believe the fellow
means to be offensive!"
"If so, sir, the desire would seem to be mutual!" returned Barnabas.
"Yes, b'gad! I really believe he means to be offensive!" repeated
the Captain, nodding as he pocketed the money.
"Of that you are the best judge, sir," Barnabas retorted. Captain
Slingsby whistled again, frowned, and tossing aside his whip,
proceeded to button up his coat.
"Why then," said he, "we must trouble this offensive person to
apologize or--or put 'em up, begad!"
But hereupon the young Corinthian (who had been watching them
languidly through the glass he carried at the end of a broad ribbon)
stepped forward, though languidly, and laid a white and languid hand
upon the Captain's arm.
"No, no, Sling," said he in a die-away voice, "he's a doocid fine
'bit of stuff'--look at those shoulders! and quick on his
pins--remark those legs! No, no, my dear fellow, remember your knee,
you hurt it, you know--fell on it when you were thrown,--must be
doocid painful! Must let me take your place. Shall insist! Pleasure's
all mine, 'sure you."
"Never, Jerningham!" fumed the Captain, "not to be thought of, my
dear Bob--no begad, he's mine; why you heard him, he--he positively
called me a--a fellow!"
"So you are, Sling," murmured the Corinthian, surveying Barnabas
with an approving eye, "dev'lish dashing fellow, an 'out-and-outer'
with the 'ribbons'--fiddle it with any one, by George, but no good
with your mauleys, damme if you are! Besides, there's your knee, you
know--don't forget your knee--"
"Curse my knee!"
"Certainly, dear fellow, but--"
"My knee's sound enough to teach this countryman manners, b'gad; you
heard him say my coat was filthy?"
"So it is, Sling, my boy, devilish dirty! So are your knees--look at
'em! But if you will dismount head over heels into a muck-heap, my
dear fellow, what the dooce can you expect?" The Captain merely swore.
"Doocid annoying, of course," his friend continued, "I mean your knee,
you know, you can hardly walk, and this country fellow looks a
regular, bang up milling cove. Let me have a try at him, do now.
Have a little thought for others, and don't be so infernally selfish,
Sling, my boy."
As he spoke, the Corinthian took off his hat, which he forced into
the Captain's unwilling grasp, drew off his very tight-fitting coat,
which he tossed over the Captain's unwilling arm, and, rolling back
his snowy shirt-sleeves, turned to Barnabas with shining eyes and
"Sir," said he, "seeing my friend's knee is not quite all it should
be, perhaps you will permit me to take his place, pleasure's
entirely mine, 'sure you. Shall we have it here, or would you prefer
the stables--more comfortable, perhaps--stables?"
Now while Barnabas hesitated, somewhat taken aback by this
unlooked-for turn of events, as luck would have it, there came a
diversion. A high, yellow-wheeled curricle swung suddenly into the
yard, and its two foam-spattered bays were pulled up in masterly
fashion, but within a yard of the great, black horse, which
immediately began to rear and plunge again; whereupon the bays began
to snort, and dance, and tremble (like the thoroughbreds they were),
and all was uproar and confusion; in the midst of which, down from
the rumble of the dusty curricle dropped a dusty and remarkably
diminutive groom, who, running to the leader's head, sprang up and,
grasping the bridle, hung there manfully, rebuking the animal,
meanwhile, in a voice astonishingly hoarse and gruff for one of his
"Dooce take me," exclaimed the Corinthian, feeling for his eye-glass,
"Why, Dicky!" cried the Captain, "where have you sprung from?" and,
forgetful of Barnabas, they hurried forward to greet the Viscount,
who, having beaten some of the dust from his driving coat, sprang
down from his high seat and shook hands cordially.
Then, finding himself unnoticed, Barnabas carefully loosed his
neckerchief, and drew out the ends so that they dangled in full view.