Part 5 out of 13
"I've been rusticating with my 'Roman,'" the Viscount was proceeding
to explain, keeping his eye upon his horses, "but found him more
Roman than usual--Gad, I did that! Have 'em well rubbed down, Milo,"
he broke off suddenly, as the bays were led off to the stables,
"half a bucket of water apiece, no more, mind, and--say, a dash of
"Werry good, m'lud!" This from Milo of Crotona, portentous of brow
and stern of eye, as he overlooked the ostlers who were busily
unbuckling straps and traces.
"My 'Roman,' as I say," continued the Viscount, "was rather more so
than usual, actually wanted me to give up the Race! After that of
course I had to be firm with him, and we had a slight--ah,
misunderstanding in consequence--fathers, as a rule, are so
infernally parental and inconsiderate! Met Carnaby on the road, raced
him for a hundred; ding-dong all the way, wheel and wheel to Bromley,
though he nearly ditched me twice, confound him! Coming down Mason's
Hill I gave him my dust, up the rise he drew level again. 'Ease up
for the town, Carnaby,' says I, 'Be damned if I do!' says he, so at
it we went, full tilt. Gad! to see the folk jump! Carnaby drove like
a devil, had the lead to Southend, but, mark you, his whip was going!
At Catford we were level again. At Lewisham I took the lead and kept
it, and the last I saw of him he was cursing and lashing away at his
cattle, like a brute. Carnaby's a devilish bad loser, I've noticed,
and here I am. And oh! by the way--he's got a devil of an eye, and a
split lip. Says he fell out of his curricle, but looks as though
some one had--thrashed him."
"But my very dear fellow!" exclaimed the Corinthian, "thrash Carnaby?
"Never in the world!" added the Captain.
"Hum!" said the Viscount, feeling a tender part of his own ribs
thoughtfully, "ha! But, hallo, Jerningham! have you been at it too?
Why are you buffed?" And he nodded to the Corinthian's bare arms.
"Oh, dooce take me, I forgot!" exclaimed the Marquis, looking about;
"queer cove, doocid touchy, looks as if he might fib though. Ah,
there he is! talking to the rough-looking customer over yonder;" and
he pointed to Barnabas, who stood with his coat thrown open, and the
objectionable neckcloth in full evidence. The Viscount looked,
started, uttered a "view hallo," and, striding forward, caught
Barnabas by the hand.
"Why, Bev, my dear fellow, this is lucky!" he exclaimed. Now
Barnabas was quick to catch the glad ring in the Viscount's voice,
and to notice that the neckcloth was entirely lost upon him,
therefore he smiled as he returned the Viscount's hearty grip.
"When did you get here? what are you doing? and what the deuce is
the trouble between you and Jerningham?" inquired the Viscount all
in a breath. But before Barnabas could answer, the great, black horse,
tired of comparative inaction, began again to snort and rear, and
jerk his proud head viciously, whereupon the two ostlers fell to
swearing, and the Viscount's bays at the other end of the yard to
capering, and the Viscount's small groom to anathematizing, all in a
"Slingsby!" cried his Lordship, "look to that black demon of yours!"
"He is no concern of mine, Devenham," replied the Captain airily,
"sold him, b'gad!"
"And I bought him," added Barnabas.
"You did?" the Viscount exclaimed, "in heaven's name, what for?"
"Eh? my dear fellow!"
"I should like to try him for the race on the fifteenth, if it could
be managed, Dick."
"The race!" exclaimed the Viscount, staring.
"I 've been wondering if you could--get me entered for it," Barnabas
went on, rather diffidently, "I'd give anything for the chance."
"What--with that brute! my dear fellow, are you mad?"
"But he's unmanageable, Bev; he's full of vice--a killer--look at
And indeed at this moment, as if to bear out this character, up went
the great, black head again, eyes rolling, teeth gleaming, and ears
"I tell you, Bev, no one could ride that devil!" the Viscount
"But," said Barnabas, "I've bet your friend Captain Slingsby that I
"It would be madness!" exclaimed the Viscount. "Ha! look out!
There--I told you so!" For in that moment the powerful animal reared
suddenly--broke from the grip of one ostler, and swinging the other
aside, stood free, and all was confusion. With a warning shout, the
old groom sprang to his head, but Barnabas was beside him, had
caught the hanging reins, and swung himself into the saddle.
"I've got him, sir," cried Martin, "find yer stirrups!"
"Your stick," said Barnabas, "quick, man! Now--let go!"
For a moment the horse stood rigid, then reared again, up and
up--his teeth bared, his forefeet lashing; but down came the heavy
stick between the flattened ears, once--twice, and brought him to
And now began a struggle between the man and the brute--each young,
each indomitable, for neither had as yet been mastered, and
therefore each was alike disdainful of the other. The head of the
horse was high and proud, his round hoofs spurned the earth beneath,
fire was in his eye, rage in his heart--rage and scorn of this
presumptuous Two-legs who sought to pit his puny strength against
his own quivering, four-legged might. Therefore he mocked Two-legs,
scorned and contemned him, laughed ha! ha! (like his long-dead
ancestor among the Psalmist's trumpets) and gathered himself
together--eager for the battle.
But the eyes of Barnabas were wide and bright, his lips were curved,
his jaw salient--his knees gripped tight, and his grasp was strong
and sure upon the reins.
And now Four-legs, having voiced his defiance, tossed his crest on
high, then plunged giddily forward, was checked amid a whirlwind of
lashing hoofs, rose on his hind legs higher and higher, swinging
giddily round and round, felt a stunning blow, staggered, and
dropping on all fours, stove in the stable door with a fling of his
hind hoofs. But the eyes of Barnabas were glowing, his lips still
curved, and his grip upon the reins was more masterful. And, feeling
all this, Four-legs, foaming with rage, his nostrils flaring, turned
upon his foe with snapping teeth, found him out of reach, and so
sought to play off an old trick that had served him more than once;
he would smash his rider's leg against a post or wall, or brush him
off altogether and get rid of him that way. But lo! even as he leapt
in fulfilment of this manoeuvre, his head was wrenched round,
further and further, until he must perforce, stop--until he was
glaring up into the face above, the face of his bitter foe, with its
smiling mouth, its glowing eye, its serene brow.
"Time's up!" cried the Captain, suddenly; "b'gad, sir, you win the
bet!" But Barnabas scarcely heard.
"You've done it--you win; eleven and a half minutes, b'gad!" roared
the Captain again--"don't you hear, sir?--come off, before he breaks
But Barnabas only shook his head, and, dropping the stick, leaned
over and laid his hand upon that proud, defiant crest, a hand grown
suddenly gentle, and drew it down caressingly from ear to quivering
nostril, once, twice, and spoke words in a soft tone, and so,
loosed the cruel grip upon the rein, and sat back--waiting. But
Four-legs had become thoughtful; true, he still tossed his head
and pawed an impatient hoof, but that was merely for the sake of
appearances--Four-legs was thoughtful. No one had ever touched him so,
before--indeed blows had latterly been his portion--but this
Two-legs was different from his kind, besides, he had a pleasing
voice--a voice to soothe ragged nerves--there it was again! And then
surely, the touch of this hand awoke dim memories, reminded him of
far-off times when two-legged creatures had feared him less; and
there was the hand again! After all, things might be worse--the hand
that could be so gentle could be strong also; his mouth was sore yet,
and a strong man, strong-handed and gentle of voice, was better
Whether of all this, or any part of it, the great, black horse was
really thinking, who shall say? Howbeit Barnabas presently turned in
his saddle and beckoned the old groom to his stirrup.
"He'll be quiet now, I think," said he.
"Ah! that he will, sir. You've larned the trick o' voice an'
hand--it ain't many as has it--must be born in a man, I reckon, an'
'tis that as does more nor all your whips and spurs, an' curb-bits,
sir. 'E'll be a babe wi' you arter this, sir, an' I'm thinkin' as
you won't be wantin' me now, maybe? I ain't young enough nor smart
enough, d' ye see."
Here Barnabas dismounted, and gave the reins into the old groom's
"I shan't be wanting him for--probably three or four days, Gabriel,
until then--look after him, exercise him regularly, for I'm hoping
to do great things with him, soon, Gabriel, perhaps." And so
Barnabas smiled, and as Martin led the horse to the stables, turned
to find the young Corinthian at his elbow; he had resumed hat and
coat, and now regarded Barnabas as smiling and imperturbable as ever.
"Sir," said he, "I congratulate you heartily. Sir, any friend of
Viscount Devenham is also mine, I trust; and I know your name,
and--hem!--I swear Slingsby does! Beverley, I think--hem!--son of
old Beverley, and a devilish good name too! Eh, Sling my boy?"
Hereupon the Captain limped forward, if possible redder of face than
ever, very much like a large schoolboy in fault.
"Sir," he began, "b'gad--!" here he paused to clear his throat
loudly once or twice--"a devil incarnate! Fourteen minutes and a half,
by my watch, and devil a spur! I'd have lent you my boots had there
been time, I would, b'gad! As it is, if you've any desire to shake
hands with a--ha!--with a fellow--hum!--in a dirty coat--why--here's
"Captain the Honorable Marmaduke Slingsby--Mr. Beverley--The Marquis
of Jerningham--Mr. Beverley. And now," said the Viscount, as
Barnabas shook hands, "now tell 'em why you bought the horse, Bev."
"I was hoping, sirs," said Barnabas, rather diffidently, "that I
might perhaps have the honor of riding in the Steeplechase on the
Hereupon the Captain struck his riding boot a resounding blow with
his whip, and whistled; while the Marquis dangled his eyeglass by
its riband, viewing it with eyes of mild surprise, and the Viscount
glanced from one to the other with an enigmatical smile upon his lips.
"That would rest with Carnaby to decide, of course," said the
Captain at last.
"Why so?" inquired Barnabas.
"Because--well, because he--is Carnaby, I suppose," the Captain
"Though Jerningham has the casting-vote," added the Viscount.
"True," said the Marquis, rearranging a fold of his cravat with a
self-conscious air, "but, as Sling says--Carnaby is--Carnaby."
"Sirs," began Barnabas, very earnestly, "believe me I would spare no
"Expense, sir?" repeated the Marquis, lifting a languid eyebrow;
"of course it is no question of 'expense'!" Here the Viscount looked
uncomfortable all at once, and Barnabas grew suddenly hot.
"I mean," he stammered, "I mean that my being entered so late in the
day--the fees might be made proportionately heavier--double them if
need be--I should none the less be--be inestimably indebted to you;
indeed I--I cannot tell you--" Now as Barnabas broke off, the
Marquis smiled and reached out his hand--a languid-seeming hand,
slim and delicate, yet by no means languid of grip.
"My dear Beverley," said he, "I like your earnestness. A
race--especially this one--is a doocid serious thing; for some of us,
perhaps, even more serious than we bargain for. It's going to be a
punishing race from start to finish, a test of endurance for horse
and man, over the worst imaginable country. It originated in a match
between Devenham on his 'Moonraker' and myself on 'Clinker,' but
Sling here was hot to match his 'Rascal,' and Carnaby fancied his
'Clasher,' and begad! applications came so fast that we had a field
in no time."
"Good fellows and sportsmen all!" nodded the Captain. "Gentlemen
riders--no tag-rag, gamest of the game, sir."
"Now, as to yourself, my dear Beverley," continued the Marquis
authoritatively, "you 're doocid late, y' know; but then--"
"He can ride," said the Viscount.
"And he's game," nodded the Captain.
"And, therefore," added the Marquis, "we'll see what can be done
"And b'gad, here's wishing you luck!" said the Captain.
At this moment Peterby entered the yard, deep in converse with a slim,
gentleman-like person, whose noble cravat immediately attracted the
attention of the Marquis.
"By the way," pursued the Captain, "we three are dining together at
my club; may I have a cover laid for you, Mr. Beverley?"
"Sir," answered Barnabas, "I thank you, but, owing to--circumstances"
--here he cast a downward glance at his neckerchief--"I am unable to
accept. But, perhaps, you will, all three of you, favor me to dinner
at my house--say, in three days' time?"
The invitation was no sooner given than accepted.
"But," said the Viscount, "I didn't know that you had a place here
in town, Bev. Where is it?"
"Why, indeed, now you come to mention it, I haven't the least idea;
but, perhaps, my man can tell me."
"Eh--what?" exclaimed the Captain. "Oh, b'gad, he's smoking us!"
"Sir?" and having saluted the company, Peterby stood at respectful
"I shall be giving a small dinner in three days' time."
"At my house, Peterby,--consequently I desire to know its location.
Where do I live now, Peterby?"
"Number five, St. James's Square, sir."
"Thank you, Peterby."
"An invaluable fellow, that of yours," laughed the Marquis, as
Peterby bowed and turned away.
"Indeed, I begin to think he is, my Lord," answered Barnabas,
"and I shall expect you all, at six o'clock, on Friday next." So,
having shaken hands again, Captain Slingsby took the arm of the
Marquis, and limped off.
Now, when they were alone, the Viscount gazed at Barnabas, chin in
hand, and with twinkling eyes.
"My dear Bev," said he, "you can hang me if I know what to make of
you. Egad, you're the most incomprehensible fellow alive; you are,
upon my soul! If I may ask, what the deuce did it all mean--about
this house of yours?"
"Simply that until this moment I wasn't sure if I had one yet."
"Yes. I sent him out this morning to buy me one."
"To buy you--a house?"
"Yes; also horses and carriages, and many other things, chief among
The Viscount gasped.
"But--my dear fellow--to leave all that to your--servant! Oh, Gad!"
"But, as the Marquis remarked, Peterby is an inestimable fellow."
The Viscount eyed Barnabas with brows wrinkled in perplexity; then
all at once his expression changed.
"By the way," said he, "talking of Carnaby, he's got the most
beautiful eye you ever saw!"
"Oh?" said Barnabas, beginning to tuck in the ends of his neckerchief.
"And a devil of a split lip!"
"Oh?" said Barnabas again.
"And his coat had been nearly ripped off him; I saw it under his cape!"
"Ah?" said Barnabas, still busy with his neckcloth.
"And naturally enough," pursued the Viscount, "I've been trying to
imagine--yes, Bev, I've been racking my brain most damnably,
wondering why you--did it?
"It was in the wood," said Barnabas.
"So it _was_ you, then?"
"But--he didn't even mark you?"
"He lost his temper, Dick."
"You thrashed--Carnaby! Gad, Bev, there isn't a milling cove in
England could have done it."
"Yes--there are two--Natty Bell, and Glorious John."
"And I'll warrant he deserved it, Bev."
"I think so," said Barnabas; "it was in the wood, Dick."
"The wood? Ah! do you mean where you--"
"Where I found her lying unconscious."
"Unconscious! And with him beside her! My God, man!" cried the
Viscount, with a vicious snap of his teeth. "Why didn't you kill him?"
"Because I was beside her--first, Dick."
"Damn him!" exclaimed the Viscount bitterly.
"But he is your friend, Dick."
"Was, Bev, was! We'll make it in the past tense hereafter."
"Then you agree with your father after all?"
"I do, Bev; my father is a cursed, long-sighted, devilish observant
man! I'll back him against anybody, though he is such a Roman. But oh,
the devil!" exclaimed the Viscount suddenly, "you can never ride in
the race after this."
"Because you'll meet Carnaby; and that mustn't happen."
"Because he'll shoot you."
"You mean he'd challenge me? Hum," said Barnabas, "that is awkward!
But I can't give up the race."
"Then what shall you do?"
"Risk it, Dick."
But now, Mr. Smivvle, who from an adjoining corner had been an
interested spectator thus far, emerged, and flourishing off the
curly-brimmed hat, bowed profoundly, and addressed himself to the
"I believe," said he, smiling affably, "that I have the pleasure to
behold Viscount Devenham?"
"The same, sir," rejoined the Viscount, bowing stiffly.
"You don't remember me, perhaps, my Lord?"
The Viscount regarded the speaker stonily, and shook his head.
"No, I don't, sir."
Mr. Smivvle drew himself up, and made the most of his whiskers.
"My Lord, my name is Smivvle, Digby Smivvle, at your service, though
perhaps you don't remember my name, either?"
The Viscount took out his driving gloves and began to put them on.
"No, I don't, sir!" he answered dryly.
Mr. Smivvle felt for his whisker, found it, and smiled.
"Quite so, my Lord, I am but one of the concourse--the
multitude--the ah--the herd, though, mark me, my Lord, a Smivvle, sir,
--a Smivvle, every inch of me,--while you are the owner of 'Moonraker,'
and Moonraker's the word just now, I hear. But, sir, I have a
"Indeed, sir," said the Viscount, in a tone of faint surprise, and
beckoning a passing ostler, ordered out his curricle.
"As I say," repeated Mr. Smivvle, beginning to search for his
whisker again, "I have a friend, my Lord--"
"Congratulate you," murmured the Viscount, pulling at his glove.
"A friend who has frequently spoken of your Lordship--"
"Very kind of him!" murmured the Viscount.
"And though, my Lord, though my name is not familiar, I think you
will remember his; the name of my friend is "--here Mr. Smivvle,
having at length discovered his whisker, gave it a fierce twirl,--
The Viscount's smooth brow remained unclouded, only the glove tore
in his fingers; so he smiled, shook his head, and drawing it off,
tossed it away.
"Hum?" said he, "I seem to have heard some such name--somewhere or
other--ah! there's my Imp at last, as tight and smart as they make
'em, eh, Bev? Well, good-by, my dear fellow, I shan't forget Friday
next." So saying, the Viscount shook hands, climbed into his curricle,
and, with a flourish of his whip, was off and away in a moment.
"A fine young fellow, that!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle; "yes, sir,
regular out-and-outer, a Bang up! by heaven, a Blood, sir! a Tippy!
a Go! a regular Dash! High, sir, high, damned high, like my friend
Barrymaine,--indeed, you may have remarked a similarity between 'em,
"You forget, I have never met your friend," said Barnabas.
"Ah, to be sure, a great pity! You'd like him, for Barrymaine is a
cursed fine fellow in spite of the Jews, dammem! yes,--you ought to
know my friend, sir."
"I should be glad to," said Barnabas.
"Would you though, would you indeed, sir? Nothing simpler; call a
chaise! Stay though, poor Barry's not himself to-day, under a cloud,
sir. Youthful prodigalities are apt to bring worries in their
train--chiefly in the shape of Jews, sir, and devilish bad shapes too!
Better wait a day--say to-morrow, or Thursday--or even Friday would
"Let it be Saturday," said Barnabas.
"Saturday by all means, sir, I'll give myself the pleasure of
calling upon you."
"St. James's Square," said Barnabas, "number five."
But now Peterby, who had been eyeing Mr. Smivvle very much askance,
ventured to step forward.
"Sir," said he, "may I remind you of your appointment?"
"I hadn't forgotten, Peterby; and good day, Mr. Smivvle."
"Au revoir, sir, delighted to have had the happiness. If you _should_
chance ever to be in Worcestershire, the Hall is open to you. Good
afternoon, sir!" And so, with a prodigious flourish of the hat,
Mr. Smivvle bowed, smiled, and swaggered off. Then, as he turned to
follow Peterby into the inn, Barnabas must needs pause to glance
towards the spot where lay the Viscount's torn glove.
CONCERNING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE LEGS OF A GENTLEMAN-IN-POWDER
In that delightful book, "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments," one
may read of Spirits good, and bad, and indifferent; of slaves of
lamps, of rings and amulets, and talismanic charms; and of the
marvels and wonders they performed. But never did Afrit, Djinn, or
Genie perform greater miracles than steady-eyed, soft-voiced Peterby.
For if the far away Orient has its potent charms and spells, so, in
this less romantic Occident, have we also a spell whereby all things
are possible, a charm to move mountains--a spell whereby kings
become slaves, and slaves, kings; and we call it Money.
Aladdin had his wonderful Lamp, and lo! at the Genie's word, up
sprang a palace, and the wilderness blossomed; Barnabas had his
overflowing purse, and behold! Peterby went forth, and the dull room
at the "George" became a mansion in the midst of Vanity Fair.
Thus, at precisely four o'clock on the afternoon of the third day,
Barnabas stood before a cheval mirror in the dressing-room of his
new house, surveying his reflection with a certain complacent
His silver-buttoned blue coat, high-waisted and cunningly rolled of
collar, was a sartorial triumph; his black stockinette pantaloons,
close-fitting from hip to ankle and there looped and buttoned,
accentuated muscled calf and virile thigh in a manner somewhat
disconcerting; his snowy waistcoat was of an original fashion and cut,
and his cravat, folded and caressed into being by Peterby's fingers,
was an elaborate masterpiece, a matchless creation never before seen
upon the town. Barnabas had become a dandy, from the crown of his
curly head to his silk stockings and polished shoes, and, upon the
whole, was not ill-pleased with himself.
"But they're--dangerously tight, aren't they, Peterby?" he inquired
suddenly, speaking his thought aloud.
"Tight, sir!" repeated Mr. Barry, the tailor, reproachfully, and
shaking his gentleman-like head, "impossible, sir,--with such a leg
"Tight, sir?" exclaimed Peterby, from where he knelt upon the floor,
having just finished looping and buttoning the garments in question,
"indeed, sir, since you mention it, I almost fear they are a trifle
too--roomy. Can you raise your bent knee, sir?"
"Only with an effort, John."
"That settles it, Barry," said Peterby with a grim nod, "you must
take them in at least a quarter of an inch."
"Take 'em in?" exclaimed Barnabas, aghast, "no, I'll be shot if you
do,--not a fraction! I can scarcely manage 'em as it is." Peterby
shook his head in grave doubt, but at this juncture they were
interrupted by a discreet knock, and the door opening, a
Gentleman-in-Powder appeared. He was a languid gentleman, an
extremely superior gentleman, but his character lay chiefly in his
nose, which was remarkably short and remarkably supercilious of tip,
and his legs which were large and nobly shaped; they were, in a sense,
eloquent legs, being given to divers tremors and quiverings when
their possessor labored under any strong feeling or excitement; but,
above all, they were haughty legs, contemptuous of this paltry world
and all that therein is, yea, even of themselves, for their very
calves seemed striving to turn their backs upon each other.
"Are you in, sir?" he inquired in an utterly impersonal tone.
"In?" repeated Barnabas, with a quick downward glance at his tight
nether garments, "in?--in what?--in where?"
"Are you at 'ome, sir?"
"At home? Of course,--can't you see that?"
"Yes, sir," returned the Gentleman-in-Powder, his legs growing a
"Then why do you ask?"
"There is a--person below, sir."
"Yes, sir,--very much so! Got 'is foot in the door--wouldn't take it
out--had to let 'em in--waiting in the 'all, sir."
"What's he like, who is he?"
"Whiskers, sir,--name of Snivels,--no card!" Here might have been
observed the same agitation of the plump legs.
"Ask him to wait."
"Beg pardon, sir--did you say--to wait?" (Agitation growing.)
"Yes. Say I'll be down at once." (Agitation extreme.)
"Meaning as you will--see 'im, sir?" (Agitation indescribable.)
"Yes," said Barnabas, "yes, of course."
The Gentleman-in-Powder bowed; his eye was calm, his brow unruffled,
but his legs!!! And his nose was more supercilious than ever as he
closed the door upon it.
Mr. Smivvle, meanwhile, was standing downstairs before a mirror,
apparently lost in contemplation of his whiskers, and indeed they
seemed to afford him a vast degree of pleasure, for he stroked them
with caressing fingers, and smiled upon them quite benevolently.
"Six pair of silver candlesticks!" he murmured. "Persian rugs!
Bric-a-brac, rare--costly pictures! He's a Nabob, by heaven,--yes he
is,--a mysterious young Nabob, wallowing in wealth! Five shillings?
--preposterous! we'll make it--ten,--and--yes, shall we say another
five for the pampered menial? By all means let us make it another
five shillings for the cursed flunkey,--here he comes!"
And indeed, at that moment the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder might
have been descried descending the stair rather more pompously than
usual. As soon as they had become stationary, Mr. Smivvle directed a
glance at the nearest, and addressed it.
"James!" said he.
The Gentleman-in-Powder became lost in dreamy abstraction, with the
exception of his legs which worked slightly. Hereupon Mr. Smivvle
reached out and poked him gently with the head of his tasselled cane.
"Awake, James?" said he.
"Name of Harthur--_if_ you please, sir!" retorted the
Gentleman-in-Powder, brushing away the touch of the cane, and eyeing
the place with much concern.
"If, James," continued Mr. Smivvle, belligerent of whisker,
"if you would continue to ornament this lordly mansion, James, be
more respectful, hereafter, to your master's old and tried friends,"
saying which Mr. Smivvle gave a twirl to each whisker, and turned to
inspect a cabinet of old china.
"Sevres, by George!" he murmured, "we'll make it a pound!" He was
still lost in contemplation of the luxurious appointments that
everywhere met his view, and was seriously considering the
advisability of "making it thirty shillings," when the appearance of
Barnabas cut him short, and he at once became all smiles, flourishes
"Ah, Beverley, my boy!" he cried heartily, "pray forgive this
horribly unseasonable visit, but--under the circumstances--I felt it
my duty to--ah--to drop in on you, my dear fellow."
"What circumstances?" demanded Barnabas, a little stiffly, perhaps.
"Circumstances affecting our friend Barrymaine, sir."
"Ah?" said Barnabas, his tone changing, "what of him? though you
forget, Mr. Barrymaine and I are still strangers."
"By heaven, you are right, sir, though, egad! I'm only a little
previous,--eh, my dear fellow?" and, smiling engagingly, Mr. Smivvle
followed Barnabas into a side room, and shutting the door with
elaborate care, immediately shook his whiskers and heaved a profound
sigh. "My friend Barrymaine is low, sir,--devilish low," he
proceeded to explain, "indeed I'm quite distressed for the poor
fellow, 'pon my soul and honor I am,--for he is--in a manner of
speaking--in eclipse as it were, sir!"
"I fear I don't understand," said Barnabas.
"Why, then--in plain words, my dear Beverley,--he's suffering from
an acute attack of the Jews, dammem!--a positive seizure, sir!"
"Do you mean he has been taken--for debt?"
"Precisely, my dear fellow. An old affair--ages ago--a stab in the
dark! Nothing very much, in fact a mere bagatelle, only, as luck
will have it, I am damnably short myself just now."
"How much is it?"
"Altogether exactly twenty-five pound ten. An absurd sum, but all my
odd cash is on the race. So I ventured here on my young friend's
behalf to ask for a trifling loan,--a pound--or say thirty shillings
would be something."
Barnabas crossed to a cabinet, unlocked a drawer, and taking thence
a smallish bag that jingled, began to count out a certain sum upon
"You said twenty-five pounds ten, I think?" said Barnabas, and
pushed that amount across the table. Mr. Smivvle stared from the
money to Barnabas and back again, and felt for his whisker with
"Sir," he said, "you can't--you don't mean to--to--"
"Yes," said Barnabas, turning to re-lock the drawer. Mr. Smivvle's
hand dropped from his whiskers, indeed, for the moment he almost
seemed to have forgotten their existence.
"Sir," he stammered, "I cannot allow--no indeed, sir! Mr. Beverley,
you overwhelm me--"
"Debts are necessary evils," said Barnabas, "and must be paid."
Mr. Smivvle stared at Barnabas, his brow furrowed by perplexity,
--stared like one who is suddenly at a loss; and indeed his usual
knowing air was quite gone. Then, dropping his gaze to the money on
the table, he swept it into his pocket, almost furtively, and took
up his hat and cane, and, it is worthy of note, that he did it all
without a flourish.
"Mr. Beverley," said he, "in the name of my friend Barrymaine, I
thank you, and--I--I thank you!" So he turned and went out of the
room, and, as he went, he even forgot to swagger.
Then Barnabas crossed to a mirror, and, once more, fell to studying
his reflection with critical eyes, in the midst of which examination
he looked up to find Peterby beside him.
"Are you quite satisfied, sir?"
"They are wonderful, John."
"The coat," said Peterby, "y-e-s, the coat will pass well enough,
but I have grave doubts as regard the pantaloons."
"I refuse to have 'em touched, John. And Natty Bell was quite right."
"Sir?" said Peterby.
"You don't know Natty Bell as yet, John, but you may; he is a very
remarkable man! He told me, I remember, that in Town, a man had his
clothes put on for him, and--remembered them,--and so he does,--the
difficulty will be ever to forget 'em, they"--here Barnabas stole a
glance at his legs--"they positively obtrude themselves, John! Yes,
clothes are wonderful things, but I fear they will take a great deal
of living up to!"
Here Barnabas drew a long sigh, in the midst of which he was
interrupted by the calves of the Gentleman-in-Powder, which
presented themselves at the doorway with the announcement:
"Viscount Deafenem, sir!"
Barnabas started and hurried forward, very conscious, very nervous,
and for once uncertain of himself by reason of his new and
unaccustomed splendor. But the look in the Viscount's boyish eyes,
his smiling nod of frank approval, and the warm clasp of his hand,
were vastly reassuring.
"Why, Bev, that coat's a marvel!" he exclaimed impulsively,
"it is, I swear it is; turn round--so! Gad, what a fit!"
"I hoped you 'd approve of it, Dick," said Barnabas, a little flushed,
"you see, I know very little about such things, and--"
"Approve of it! My dear fellow! And the cut!"
"Now--as for these--er--pantaloons, Dick--?"
"Dashing, my dear fellow,--devilish dashing!"
"But rather too--too tight, don't you think?"
"Can't be, Bev, tighter the better,--have 'em made too tight to get
into, and you're right; look at mine, if I bend, I split,--deuced
uncomfortable but all the mode, and a man must wear something! My
fellow has the deuce of a time getting me into 'em, confound 'em. Oh,
for ease, give me boots and buckskins!" Hereupon the Viscount having
walked round Barnabas three times, and viewed him critically from
every angle, nodded with an air of finality. "Yes, they do you
infinite credit, my dear fellow,--like everything else;" and he cast
a comprehensive glance round the luxurious apartment.
"The credit of it all rests entirely with Peterby," said Barnabas.
"John--where are you?" But Peterby had disappeared.
"You're the most incomprehensible fellow, Bev," said the Viscount,
seating himself on the edge of the table and swinging his leg.
"You have been a constant surprise to me ever since you found
me--er--let us say--ruminating in the bilboes, and now"--here he
shook his head gravely--"and now it seems you are to become a source
of infernal worry and anxiety as well."
"I hope not, Dick."
"You are, though," repeated the Viscount, looking graver than ever.
"Because--well, because you are evidently bent upon dying young."
"How so, Dick?"
"Well, if you ride in the race and don't break your neck, Carnaby
will want a word with you; and if he doesn't shoot you, why then
Chichester certainly will--next time, damn him!"
"Oh, I know all about your little affair with him--across the table.
Gad, Beverley, what a perfectly reckless fellow you are!"
"But--how do you know of this?"
"So you've seen her again, Dick?"
"Yes, of course; that is, I took 'Moonraker' for a gallop yesterday,
and--happened to be that way."
"Ah!" said Barnabas.
"And she told me--everything," said the Viscount, beginning to
stride up and down the room, with his usual placidity quite gone,
"I mean about--about the button you found, it was that devil
Chichester's it seems, and--and--Beverley, give me your hand! She
told me how you confronted the fellow. Ha! I'll swear you had him
shaking in his villain's shoes, duellist as he is."
"But," said Barnabas, as the Viscount caught his hand, "it was not
altogether on Clemency's account, Dick."
"No matter, you frightened the fellow off. Oh, I know--she told me;
I made her! She had to fight with the beast, that's how he lost his
button. I tell you, if ever I get the chance at him, he or I shall
get his quietus. By God, Bev, I'm half-minded to send the brute a
challenge, as it is."
"Because of Clemency, Dick?"
"Well--and why not?"
"The Earl of Bamborough's son fight a duel over the chambermaid of a
The Viscount's handsome face grew suddenly red, and as suddenly pale
again, and his eyes glowed as he fronted Barnabas across the hearth.
"Mr. Beverley," said he very quietly, "how am I to take that?"
"In friendship, Dick, for the truth of it is that--though she is as
brave, as pure, as beautiful as any lady in the land, she is a
chambermaid none the less."
The Viscount turned, and striding to the window stood there, looking
out with bent head.
"Have I offended you?" inquired Barnabas.
"You go--too far, Beverley."
"I would go farther yet for my friend, Viscount, or for our Lady
Now when Barnabas said this, the Viscount's head drooped lower yet,
and he stood silent. Then, all at once, he turned, and coming to the
hearth, the two stood looking at each other.
"Yes, I believe you would, Beverley. But you have a way of jumping
to conclusions that is--devilish disconcerting. As for Chichester,
the world would be well rid of him. And, talking of him, I met
another rascal as I came--I mean that fellow Smivvle; had he been
"Begging, I suppose?"
"He borrowed some money for his friend Barrymaine."
The Viscount flushed hotly, and looked at Barnabas with a sudden
"Perhaps you are unaware, that is a name I never allow spoken in my
presence, Mr. Beverley."
"Indeed, Viscount, and pray, why not?"
"For one thing, because he is--what he is--"
"Lady Cleone's brother."
"Half-brother, sir, and none the less a--knave."
"I mean that he is a card-sharper, a common cheat."
"A cheat! Are you sure?"
"Certain! I had the misfortune to make the discovery. And it killed
him in London, all the clubs shut their doors upon him of course, he
was cut in the streets,--it is damning to be seen in his company or
even to mention his name--now."
"And you--you exposed him?"
"I said I made the discovery; but I kept it to myself. The stakes
were unusually high that night, and we played late. I went home with
him, but Chichester was there, waiting for him. So I took him aside,
and, in as friendly a spirit as I could, told him of my discovery.
He broke down, and, never attempting a denial, offered restitution
and promised amendment. I gave my word to keep silent and, on one
pretext or another, the loser's money was returned. But next week,
the whole town hummed with the news. One night--it was at
White's--he confronted me, and--he gave me--the lie!" The Viscount's
fists were tight clenched, and he stared down blindly at the floor.
"And, sir, though you'll scarcely credit it of course, I--there,
before them all--I took it."
"Of course," said Barnabas, "for Her sake."
"Beverley!" exclaimed the Viscount, looking up with a sudden light
in his eyes. "Oh, Bev!" and their hands met and gripped.
"You couldn't do anything else, Dick."
"No, Bev, no, but I'm glad you understand. Later it got about that
I--that I was--afraid of the fellow--he's a dead shot, they say,
young as he is--and--well, it--it wasn't pleasant, Bev. Indeed it
got worse until I called out one of Chichester's friends, and winged
him--a fellow named Dalton."
"I think I've seen him," said Barnabas, nodding.
"Anyhow, Barrymaine was utterly discredited and done for--he's an
outcast, and to be seen with him, or his friends, is to be damned
"And yet," said Barnabas, sighing and shaking his head, "I must call
upon him to-morrow."
"Call upon him! Man--are you mad?"
"No; but he is her brother, and--"
"And, as I tell you, he is banned by society as a cheat!"
"And is that so great a sin, Dick?"
"Are there any--worse?"
"Oh, yes; one might kill a man in a duel, or dishonor a trusting
woman, or blast a man's character; indeed it seems to me that there
are many greater sins!"
The Viscount dropped back in his chair, and stared at Barnabas with
"My--dear--Beverley," said he at last, "are you--serious?"
"My dear Viscount--of course I am."
"Then let me warn you, such views will never do here: any one
holding such views will never succeed in London."
"Yet I mean to try," said Barnabas, squaring his jaw.
"But why," said the Viscount, impatiently, "why trouble yourself
about such a fellow?"
"Because She loves him, and because She asked me to help him."
"She asked--you to?"
"And--do you think you can?"
"I shall try."
"First, by freeing him from debt."
"Do you know him--have you ever met him?"
"No, Dick, but I love his sister."
"And because of this, you'd shoulder his debts? Ah, but you can't,
and if you ask me why, I tell you, because Jasper Gaunt has got him,
and means to keep him. To my knowledge Barrymaine has twice had
the money to liquidate his debt--but Gaunt has put him off, on one
pretext or another, until the money has all slipped away. I tell you,
Bev, Jasper Gaunt has got him in his clutches--as he's got Sling,
and poor George Danby, and--God knows how many more--as he'd get me
if he could, damn him! Yes, Gaunt has got his claws into him, and
he'll never let him go again--never."
"Then," said Barnabas, "I must see Jasper Gaunt as soon as may be."
"Oh, by all means," nodded the Viscount, "if you have a taste for
snakes, and spiders, and vermin of that sort, Slingsby will show you
where to find him--Slingsby knows his den well enough, poor old Sling!
But look to yourself, for spiders sting and snakes bite, and Jasper
Gaunt does both."
The knuckles of the Gentleman-in-Powder here made themselves heard,
and thereafter the door opened to admit his calves, which were
immediately eclipsed by the Marquis, who appeared to be in a state
of unwonted hurry.
"What, have I beat Slingsby, then?" he inquired, glancing round the
room, "he was close behind me in Piccadilly--must have had a
spill--that's the worst of those high curricles. As a matter of fact,"
he proceeded to explain, "I rushed round here--that is we both did,
but I've got here first, to tell you that--Oh, dooce take me!" and
out came the Marquis's eyeglass. "Positively you must excuse me, my
dear Beverley. Thought I knew 'em all, but no--damme if I ever saw
the fellow to yours! Permit me!" Saying which the Marquis gently led
Barnabas to the window, and began to study his cravat with the most
"By George, Devenham," he exclaimed suddenly,--"it's new!"
"Gad!" said the Viscount, "now you come to mention it,--so it is!"
"Positively--new!" repeated the Marquis in an awestruck voice,
staring at the Viscount wide-eyed. "D'you grasp the importance of
this, Devenham?--d'you see the possibilities, Dick? It will create a
sensation,--it will set all the clubs by the ears, by George! We
shall have the Prince galloping up from Brighton. By heaven, it's
stupendous! Permit me, my dear Beverley. See--here we have three
folds and a tuck, then--oh, Jupiter, it's a positive work of art,
--how the deuce d'you tie it? Never saw anything approaching this,
and I've tried 'em all,--the Mail-coach, the Trone d'Amour, the
Osbaldistone, the Napoleon, the Irish tie, the Mathematical tie, and
the Oriental,--no, 'pon my honor it's unique, it's--it's--" the
Marquis sighed, shook his head, and words failing him, took out his
enamelled snuff-box. "Sir," said he, "I have the very highest regard
for a man of refined taste, and if there is one thing in which that
manifests itself more than another, it is the cravat. Sir, I make
you free of my box, pray honor me." And the Marquis flicked open his
snuff-box and extended it towards Barnabas with a bow.
"My Lord," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "I appreciate the honor
you do me, but pray excuse me,--I never take it."
"No?" said the Marquis with raised brows, "you astonish me; but
then--between ourselves--neither do I. Can't bear the infernal stuff.
Makes me sneeze most damnably. And then, it has such a cursed way of
blowing about! Still, one must conform to fashion, and--"
The Gentleman-in-Powder had scarcely articulated the words, when the
Captain had gripped Barnabas by the hand.
"Congratulate you, Beverley, heartily."
"Thank you, but why?" inquired Barnabas.
"Eh--what? Hasn't Jerningham told you? B'gad, is it possible you
"Why, dooce take me, Sling, if I didn't forget!" said the Marquis,
clapping hand to thigh, "but his cravat put everything else out of
my nob, and small wonder either! You tell him."
"No," answered the Captain. "I upset a cursed apple-stall on my way
here--you got in first--tell him yourself."
"Why, then, Beverley," said the Marquis, extending his hand, in his
turn, as he spoke, "we have pleasure, Sling and I, to tell you that
you are entered for the race on the fifteenth."
"The race!" exclaimed Barnabas, flushing. "You mean I'm to ride then?"
"Yes," nodded the Captain, "but b'gad! we mean more than that, we
mean that you are one of us, that Devenham's friend must be ours
because he's game--"
"And can ride," said the Viscount.
"And is a man of taste," added the Marquis.
Thus it was as one in a dream that Barnabas beheld the legs of the
Gentleman-in-Powder, and heard the words:
"Dinner is served, gentlemen!"
But scarcely had they taken their places at the table when the
Marquis rose, his brimming glass in his hand.
"Mr. Beverley," said he, bowing, "when Devenham, Slingsby, and I
meet at table, it is our invariable custom to drink to one whom we
"Admire!" said the Viscount, rising.
"Adore!" said the Captain, rising also.
"Therefore, gentlemen," pursued the Marquis, "with our host's
permission, we will--"
"Stay a moment, Jerningham," said the Viscount,--"it is only right
to tell you that my friend Beverley is one with us in this,--he also
is a suitor for the hand of Lady Cleone."
"Is he, b'gad!" exclaimed the Captain. "Dooce take me!" said the
Marquis, "might have known it though. Ah, well! one more or less
makes small difference among so many."
So Barnabas rose, and lifting his glass with the others, drank to--
"Our Lady Cleone--God bless her!"
WHICH DESCRIBES SOMETHING OF THE MISFORTUNES OF RONALD BARRYMAINE
Holborn was in full song,--a rumbling, roaring melody, a clattering,
rushing, blaring symphony made up of the grind of wheels upon
resounding cobble-stones, the thudding beat of horse-hoofs, the
tread of countless feet, the shrill note of voices; it was all there,
the bass and the treble blending together, harsh, discordant, yet
the real symphony of life.
And, amidst it all, of it all, came Barnabas, eager-eyed, forgetful
of his companion, lost to all but the stir and bustle, the rush and
roar of the wonderful city about him. The which Mr. Smivvle duly
remarked from under the curly-brimmed hat, but was uncommonly silent.
Indeed, though his hat was at its usual rakish angle, though he
swung his cane and strode with all his ordinary devil-may-care
swagger, though his whiskers were as self-assertive as ever, yet
Mr. Smivvle himself was unusually pensive, and in his bold black
eyes was a look very like anxiety. But in a while, as they turned
out of the rush of Holborn Hill, he sighed, threw back his shoulders,
"Nearly there now, my dear fellow, this is the Garden."
"Garden?" said Barnabas, glancing about. "Where?"
"Here, sir; we're in it,--Hatton Garden. Charmingly rustic spot,
you'll observe, delightfully rural retreat! Famous for strawberries
once, I believe,--flowers too, of course. Talking of flowers, sir, a
few of 'em still left to--ah--blush unseen? I'm one, Barrymaine's
another--a violet? No. A lily? No. A blush-rose? Well, let us say a
blush-rose, but damnably run to seed, like the rest of us.
And--ah--talking of Barrymaine, I ought, perhaps, to warn you that
we may find him a trifle--queer--a leetle touched perhaps." And
Mr. Smivvle raised an invisible glass, and tossed down its imaginary
contents with an expression of much beatitude.
"Is he given to--that sort of thing?"
"Sir," said Mr. Smivvle, "can you blame one who seeks forgetfulness
in the flowing bowl--and my friend Barry has very much to
forget--can you blame him?"
"No, poor fellow!"
"Sir, allow me to tell you my friend Barry needs no man's pity,
though I confess I could wish Chichester was not quite so
generous--in one respect."
"In--ah--in keeping the flowing bowl continually brimming, my dear
"Is Mr. Chichester a friend of his?"
"The only one, with the exception of yours obediently, who has not
deserted him in his adversity."
"Because, well,--between you and me, my dear fellow, I believe his
regard for Barry's half-sister, the Lady Cleone, is largely
accountable in Chichester's case; as for myself, because, as I think
I mentioned, the hand of a Smivvle once given, sir, is never
withdrawn, either on account of plague, poverty, pestilence, or Jews,
--dammem! This way, my dear fellow!" and turning into Cross Street,
up towards Leather Lane, Mr. Smivvle halted at a certain dingy door,
opened it, and showed Barnabas into a dingier hall, and so, leading
the way up the dingiest stairs in the world, eventually ushered him
into a fair-sized, though dingy, room; and being entered,
immediately stood upon tip-toe and laid a finger on his lips.
"Hush! the poor fellow's asleep, but you'll excuse him, I know."
Barnabas nodded, and, softly approaching the couch, looked down upon
the sleeper, and, with the look, felt his heart leap.
A young face he saw, delicately featured, a handsome face with
disdainful lips that yet drooped in pitiful weariness, a face which,
for all its youth, was marred by the indelible traces of fierce,
ungoverned passions. And gazing down upon these features, so
dissimilar in expression, yet so strangely like in their beauty and
lofty pride, Barnabas felt his heart leap,--because of the long
lashes that curled so black against the waxen pallor of the cheek;
for in that moment he almost seemed to be back in the green, morning
freshness of Annersley Wood, and upon his lips there breathed a
But all at once the sleeper stirred, frowned, and started up with a
bitter imprecation upon his lips that ended in a vacant stare.
"Why, Barry," cried Mr. Smivvle leaning over him, "my dear boy, did
we disturb you?"
"Ah, Dig--is that you? Fell asleep--brandy, perhaps, and--ha,--your
pardon, sir!" and Ronald Barrymaine rose, somewhat unsteadily, and,
folding his threadbare dressing-gown about him, bowed, and so stood
facing Barnabas, a little drunk and very stately.
"This is my friend Beverley, of whom I told you," Mr. Smivvle
hastened to explain. "Mr. Barnabas Beverley,--Mr. Ronald Barrymaine."
"You are--welcome, sir," said Mr. Barrymaine, speaking with
elaborate care, as if to make quite sure of his utterance. "Pray be
seated, Mr. Bev'ley. We--we are a little crowded I f-fear. Move
those boots off the chair, Dig. Indeed my apartment might be a
little more commodious, but it's all I have at p-present, and by God!"
he cried, suddenly fierce, "I shouldn't have even this but for Dig
here! Dig's the only f-friend I have in the world--except Chichester.
Push the brandy over, Dig. Of course there's--Cleone, but she's only
a sister, after all. Don't know what I should do if it wasn't for
Dig--d-do I, Dig? And Chichester of course. Give Mr. Bev'ley a chair.
Dig. I'll get him--glass!" Hereupon Mr. Smivvle hurried forward with
a chair which, like all the rest of the furniture, had long ago seen
its best days, during which manoeuvre he contrived to whisper
"Poor Barry's decidedly 'touched' to-day, a little more so than usual,
but you'll excuse him I know, my dear fellow. Hush!" for Barrymaine,
who had crossed to the other end of the room, now turned and came
towards them, swaying a little, and with a glass in his hand.
"It's rickety, sir, you'll notice," said he, nodding. "I--I mean
that chair--dev'lish rickety, like everything else 'bout
here--especially myself, eh, Dig? B-but don't be alarmed, it--will
bear you, sir. D-devil of a place to ask--gentleman to sit down in,
--but the Spanswick hasn't been round to clean the place this
week--damn her! S-scarcely blame her, though--never gets
paid--except when Dig remembers it. Don't know what I should do
without D-Dig,--raised twenty pounds yesterday, damme if I know where!
said it was watch--but watch went weeks ago. Couldn't ever pay the
Spanswick. That's the accursed part of it--pay, pay! debt on debt,
and--n-nothing to pay with. All swallowed up by that merciless
"Now, Barry!" Mr. Smivvle expostulated, "my dear boy--"
"He's a cursed v-vampire, I tell you!" retorted Barrymaine, his pale
cheeks suddenly flushed, and his dark eyes flashing in swift passion,
--"he's a snake."
"Now, my dear fellow, calm yourself."
"Calm myself. How can I, when everything I have is his, when
everything I g-get belongs to him before--curse him--even before I
get it! I tell you, Dig, he's--he's draining my life away, drop by
drop! He's g-got me down with his foot on my neck--crushing me into
the mud. I say he's stamping me down into hell--damn him!"
"Restrain yourself, Barry, my dear boy, remember Mr. Beverley is our
"Restrain myself--yes, Dig, yes. B-beg Mr. Beverley's pardon for me,
Dig. Not myself to-day,--but must restrain myself--certainly. Give
me some more brandy--ha! and pass bottle to Mr. Bev'ley, Dig. No,
sir? Ah well, help yourself, Dig. Must forgive exhibition of feeling,
sir, but I always do get carried away when I remember that inhuman
monster--God's curse on him!"
"Sir," said Barnabas, "whom do you mean?"
"Mean? ha! ha! oh damme, hark to that, Dig! Dev'lish witty I call
that--oh c-cursed rich! Whom do I mean? Why," cried Barrymaine,
starting up from the couch, "whom should I mean but Gaunt! Gaunt!
Gaunt!" and he shook his clenched fists passionately in the air. Then,
as suddenly he turned upon Barnabas with a wild, despairing gesture,
and stretching out his arms, pointed to each wrist in turn.
"D'ye see 'em?" he cried, "d'ye hear 'em; jangle? No? Ah, but they
_are_ there! riveted on, never to come off, eating deeper into my
flesh every day! I'm shackled, I tell you,--fettered hand and foot.
Oh! egad, I'm an object lesson!--point a moral and adorn a tale,
--beware of p-prodigality and m-money lenders. Shackled--shackled
hand and foot, and must drag my chain until I f-fall into a debtor's
"No!" cried Barnabas, so suddenly that Ronald Barrymaine started,
and thereafter grew very high and haughty.
"Sir," said he with upflung head, "I don't permit my word to be--to
be--contra--dicted,--never did and never will. Though you see before
you a m-miserable wretch, yet that wretch is still a gentleman at
heart, and that wretch tells you again he's shackled, sir, hand and
foot--yes, damme, and so I am!"
"Well then," said Barnabas, "why not free yourself?"
Ronald Barrymaine sank down upon the couch, looked at Barnabas,
looked at Smivvle, drained his glass and shook his head.
"My dear Dig," said he, "your friend's either mad or drunk--mos'
probably drunk. Yes, that's it,--or else he's smoking me, and I
won't be smoked, no man shall laugh at me now that I'm down. Show
him the door, Dig. I--I won't have my private affairs discussed by
s-strangers, no, by heaven!"
"Now, Barry," exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, "do be calm, Mr. Beverley only
wants to help you--er--that is, in a friendly way, of course, and I
"Damn his help! I'd rather die in the g-gutter than ask help or
charity of any one."
"Yes, yes--of course, my dear fellow! But you're so touchy, Barry,
so infernally proud, my dear boy. Mr. Beverley merely wishes to--"
"Be honored with your friendship," said Barnabas with his ingenuous
"Why then, Dig," says his youthful Mightiness, beginning to relent,
"pray beg Mr. Bev'ley's pardon for me again, and 'sure him the honor
"And I would have you trust me also," Barnabas pursued.
"Trust you?" repeated Barrymaine with a sudden laugh. "Gad, yes,
willingly! Only it happens I've n-noth-ing left to trust you with,
--no, not enough to pay the Spanswick."
"And yet, if you will, you may be free," said Barnabas the persistent.
"Free! He's at it again, Dig."
"Believe me it is my earnest desire to help you,--to--"
"Help me, sir! a stranger! by heaven,--no! A stranger, damme!"
"Let us say your friend."
"I tell you, sir," said Barrymaine, starting up unsteadily,
"I seek no man's aid--s-scorn it! I'm not one to weep out my
misfortunes to strangers. Damme, I'm man enough to manage my own
affairs, what's left of 'em. I want nobody's accursed pity
either--pah!" and he made a gesture of repudiation so fierce that he
staggered and recovered himself only by clutching at Mr. Smivvle's
ready arm. "The Past, sir," said he, supporting himself by that
trusty arm, "the Past is done with, and the F-Future I'll face alone,
as I have done all along, eh, Dig?"
"Ay, surely, sir, I'm no object of charity whining for alms, no, by
Gad! I--I'm--Dig, push the brandy!"
"If you would but listen--" Barnabas began again.
"Not--not a word. Why should I? Past's dead, and damn the Future. Dig,
pass the brandy."
"And I tell you," said Barnabas, "that in the future are hope and
the chance of a new life, once you are free of Gaunt."
"Free of Gaunt! Hark to that, Dig. Must be dev'lish drunk to talk
such cursed f-folly! Why, I tell you again," he cried in rising
passion, "that I couldn't get free of Gaunt's talons even if I had
the money, and mine's all gone long ago, and half Cleone's beside,
--her Guardian's tied up the rest. She can't touch another penny
without his consent, damn him!--so I'm done. The future? In the
future is a debtor's prison that opens for me whenever Jasper Gaunt
says the word. Hope? There can be no hope for me till Jasper Gaunt's
dead and shrieking in hell-fire."
"But your debts shall be paid,--if you will."
"Paid? Who--who's to pay 'em?"
"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "on a condition."
Ronald Barrymaine sank back upon the couch, staring at Barnabas with
eyes wide and with parted lips; then, leaned suddenly forward,
sobered by surprise.
"Ah-h!" said he slowly. "I think I begin to understand. You have
seen my--my sister."
"Do you know--how much I owe?"
"No, but I'll pay it,--on a condition."
"A condition?" For a long moment the passionate dark eyes met and
questioned the steady gray; then Barrymaine's long lashes fluttered
"Of course it would be a loan. I--I'd pay you back," he muttered.
"At your own convenience."
"And you would advance the money at once?"
"On a condition!"
Once again their eyes met, and once again Barrymaine's dropped; his
fingers clenched and unclenched themselves, he stirred restlessly,
and, finally, spoke.
"And your condition. Is it--Cleone?"
"No!" said Barnabas vehemently.
"Then, what is it?"
"That from this hour you give up brandy and Mr. Chichester--both
"Well, and what more,--what--for yourself? How can this benefit you?
Come, speak out,--what is your real motive?"
"The hope that you may, some day, be worthy of your sister's love."
"Worthy, sir!" exclaimed Barrymaine, flushing angrily. "Poverty is
"No; but there remain brandy and Mr. Chichester."
"Ha! would you insult m-my friend?"
"Impossible. You have no friend, unless it be Mr. Smivvle here."
"Now by heaven," began Barrymaine passionately, "I tell you--"
"And I tell you that these are my only conditions," said Barnabas.
"Accept them and you may begin a new life. It is in your power to
become the man you might be, to regain the place in men's esteem
that you have lost, for if you are but sufficiently determined,
nothing is impossible."
Now as he spoke, Barnabas beheld Barrymaine's drooping head uplifted,
his curving back grew straight, and a new light sprang into his eyes.
"A new life," he muttered, "to come back to it all, to outface them
all after their cursed sneers and slights! Are you sure you don't
promise too much,--are you sure it's not too late?"
"Sure and certain!" said Barnabas. "But remember the chance of
salvation rests only with and by yourself, after all," and he
pointed to the half-emptied bottle. "Do you agree to my conditions?"
"Yes, yes, by God I do!"
"Then, friend, give me your hand. To-day I go to see Jasper Gaunt."
So Ronald Barrymaine, standing square upon his feet, gave Barnabas
his hand. But even in that moment Barnabas was conscious that the
door had opened softly behind him, saw the light fade out of
Barrymaine's eyes, felt the hand grow soft and lax, and turning about,
beheld Mr. Chichester smiling at them from the threshold.
IN WHICH RONALD BARRYMAINE MAKES HIS CHOICE
There was a moment of strained silence, then, as Barnabas sank back
on the rickety chair, Mr. Chichester laughed softly, and stepped
into the room.
"Salvation, was it, and a new life?" he inquired, "are you the one
to be saved, Ronald, or Smivvle here, or both?"
Ronald Barrymaine was dumb, his eyes sought the floor, and his pale
cheek became, all at once, suffused with a burning, vivid scarlet.
"I couldn't help but overhear as I came upstairs," pursued
Mr. Chichester pleasantly, "and devilish dark stairs they are--"
"Though excellent for eavesdropping, it appears!" added Barnabas.
"What?" cried Barrymaine, starting up, "listening, were
you--s-spying on me--is that your game, Chichester?" But hereupon
Mr. Smivvle started forward.
"Now, my dear Barry," he remonstrated, "be calm--"
"Calm? I tell you nobody's going to spy on me,--no, by heaven!
neither you, nor Chichester, nor the d-devil himself--"
"Certainly not, my dear fellow," answered Mr. Smivvle, drawing
Barrymaine's clenched fist through his arm and holding it there,
"nobody wants to. And, as for you, Chichester--couldn't come at a
better time--let me introduce our friend Mr. Beverley--"
"Thank you, Smivvle, but we've met before," said Mr. Chichester dryly,
"last time he posed as Rustic Virtue in homespun, to-day it seems he
is the Good Samaritan in a flowered waistcoat, very anxiously bent
on saving some one or other--conditionally, of course!"
"And what the devil has it to do with you?" cried Barrymaine
"Nothing, my dear boy, nothing in the world,--except that until
to-day you have been my friend, and have honored me with your
"Yes, by heavens! So I have--utterly--utterly,--and what I haven't
told you--y-you've found out for yourself--though God knows how.
N-not that I've anything to f-fear,--not I!"
"Of course not," smiled Mr. Chichester, "I am--your friend, Ronald,
--and I think you will always remember that." Mr. Chichester's tone
was soothing, and the pat he bestowed upon Barrymaine's drooping
shoulder was gentle as a caress, yet Barrymaine flinched and drew
away, and the hand he stretched out towards the bottle was trembling
all at once.
"Yes," Mr. Chichester repeated more softly than before, "yes, I am
your friend, Ronald, you must always remember that, and indeed
I--fancy--you always will." So saying, Mr. Chichester patted the
drooping shoulder again, and turned to lay aside his hat and cane.
Barrymaine was silent, but into his eyes had crept a look--such a
look as Barnabas had never seen--such a look as Barnabas could never
afterwards forget; then Barrymaine stooped to reach for the bottle.
"Well," said he, without looking up again, "s-suppose you are my
"Why, then, my dear fellow, hearing you are to be saved--on a
condition--I am, naturally enough, anxious to know what that
condition may be?"
"Sir," said Barnabas, "let me hasten to set your anxiety at rest. My
condition is merely that Mr. Barrymaine gives up two evil
things--namely, brandy and yourself."
And now there fell a silence so utter that Barnabas could distinctly
hear the tick of Natty Bell's great watch in his fob; a silence in
which Mr. Smivvle stared with wide-eyed dismay, while Barrymaine sat
motionless with his glass half-way to his lips. Then Mr. Chichester
laughed again, but the scar glowed upon his pallid cheek, and the
lurking demon peeped out of his narrowed eyes.
"And for this," said he, shaking his head in gentle disbelief,
"for this our young Good Samaritan is positively eager to pay twenty
thousand odd pounds--"
"As a loan," muttered Barrymaine, "it would be only a loan, and I--I
should be free of Jasper Gaunt f-for good and all, damn him!"
"Let us rather say you would try a change of masters--"
"Ah!--ah, to be sure, Ronald, our young Good Samaritan having
purchased the brother, would naturally expect the sister--"
"Have a c-care, Chichester, I say!"
"The sister to be grateful, my dear boy. Pah! don't you see it,
Ronald? a sprat to catch a whale! The brother saved, the sister's
gratitude gained--Oh, most disinterested, young Good Samaritan!"
"Ha! by heaven, I never thought of that!" cried Barrymaine, turning
upon Barnabas, "is it Cleone--is it? is it?"
"No," said Barnabas, folding his arms--a little ostentatiously,
"I seek only to be your friend in this."
"Friend!" exclaimed Mr. Chichester, laughing again, "friend, Ronald?
Nay, let us rather say your guardian angel in cords and Hessians."
"Since you condescend to mention my boots, sir," said Barnabas
growing polite, "may I humbly beg you to notice that, in spite of
their polish and tassels, they are as strong, as serviceable for
kicking purposes as those I wore when we last--sat at table together."
Mr. Chichester's iron self-control wavered for a moment, his brows
twitched together, and he turned upon Barnabas with threatening
gesture but, reading the purpose in the calm eye and smiling lip of
Barnabas, he restrained himself; yet seeming aware of the glowing
mark upon his cheek, he turned suddenly and, coming to the dingy
casement, stood with his back to the room, staring down into the
dingy street. Then Barnabas leaned forward and laid his hand upon
Barrymaine's, and it so happened it was the hand that yet held the
"Think--think!" said Barnabas earnestly, "once you are free of Gaunt,
life will begin afresh for you, you can hold up your head again--"
"Though never in London, Ronald, I fear," added Mr. Chichester over
"Once free of Gaunt, you may attain to higher things than you ever
did," said Barnabas.
"Unless the dead past should happen to come to life again, and find
a voice some day," added Mr. Chichester over his shoulder.
"No, no!" said Barnabas, feeling the quiver of the fingers within
his own, "I tell you it would mean a new beginning--a new life--a
new ending for you--"
"And for Cleone!" added Mr. Chichester over his shoulder, "our young,
disinterested Good Samaritan knows she is too proud to permit a
stranger to shoulder her brother's responsibilities--"
"Proud, eh?" cried Barrymaine, leaping up in sudden boyish passion,
"well, am I not proud? Did you ever know me anything else--did you?"
"Never, my dear Ronald," cried Mr. Chichester, turning at last.
"You are unfortunate, but you have always met disaster--so far,
with the fortitude of a gentleman, scorning your detractors
"C-charity! damn you, Chichester, d' ye think I-I'd accept any man's
c-charity? D' you think I'd ever drag Cleone to that depth--do you?"
"Never, Barrymaine, never, I swear."
"Why then--leave me alone, I can m-manage my own affairs--"
"Perfectly, my dear fellow, I am sure of it."
"Then sir," said Barnabas, rising, "seeing it really is no concern
of yours, after all, suppose you cease to trouble yourself any
further in the matter, and allow Mr. Barrymaine to choose for
"I--I have decided!" cried Barrymaine, "and I tell you--"
"Wait!" said Barnabas.
"Speak!" said Mr. Chichester.
"Wait!" repeated Barnabas, "Mr. Chichester is--going, I think. Let
us wait until we are alone." Then, bowing to Mr. Chichester,
Barnabas opened the door wide. "Sir," said he, "may I venture to
suggest that your presence is--not at all necessary?"
"Ah!" said Mr. Chichester, "you will certainly compel me to kill you,
"'Sufficient unto the day,' sir!" Barnabas retorted; "in the
meantime I shall most certainly give myself the pleasure of kicking
you downstairs unless you choose to walk--at once."
As he spoke, Barnabas took a stride towards Mr. Chichester's rigid
figure, but, in that moment, Barrymaine snatched up the bottle and
sprang between them.
"Ah!--would you?" he cried, "who are you to order my f-friends
about--and in m-my own place too! Ha! did you think you could buy me,
d-did you? Did you think I--I'd sacrifice my sister--did you? Ha!
drunk, am I? Well, I'm sober enough to--to 'venge my honor and hers;
by God I'll kill you! Ah--let go, Dig! Let go, I say! Didn't you hear?
Tempt me with his cursed money, will he! Oh, let go my arm! Damn him,
I say--I'll kill him!"
But, as he struck, Mr. Smivvle caught his wrist, the bottle crashed
splintering to the floor, and they were locked in a fierce grapple.
"Beverley--my dear fellow--go!" panted Mr. Smivvle, "must
forgive--poor Barry--not himself. Go--go,--I can--manage him. Now
Barry, do be calm! Go, my dear fellow--leave him to me--go!" So,
perforce, Barnabas turned away and went down the dingy stairs, and
in his ears was the echo of the boy's drunken ravings and Mr.
Chichester's soft laughter.
And presently, being come into the dingy street, Barnabas paused to
look up at the dingy house, and looking, sighed.
"She said it would be 'difficult, and dangerous, perhaps,'" said he
to himself, "and indeed I think she was right."
Then he turned and went upon his way, heavy-footed and chin on breast.
On he went, plunged in gloomy abstraction, turning corners at random,
lost to all but the problem he had set himself, which was this:
How he might save Ronald Barrymaine in spite of Ronald Barrymaine.
WHICH DESCRIBES SOME OF THE EVILS OF VINDICTIVENESS
Barnabas stumbled suddenly, dropped his cane, saw his hat spin
through the air and roll on before him; staggered sideways, was
brought up by a wall, and turning, found three men about him,
--evil-faced men whose every move and look held a menace. A darting
hand snatched at his fob-seals, but Barnabas smote, swift and hard,
and the three were reduced, for the moment, to two. Thus with his
back to the wall stood Barnabas, fists clenched, grim of mouth, and
with eyes quick and bright; wherefore, beholding him in this posture,
his assailants hesitated. But the diamonds sparkled at them from his
cravat, the bunch of seals gleamed at them from his fob, and the
fallen man having risen, albeit unsteadily, they began to close in
upon him. Then, all at once, even as he poised himself to meet their
rush, a distant voice uttered a sharp, warning cry, whereat the three,
spattering curses, incontinent took to their heels, and were gone
with a thud of flying feet.
For a moment Barnabas stood dazed by the suddenness of it all, then,
stooping to recover hat and cane, glanced about, and saw that he was
in a dirty, narrow street, or rather alley. Now up this alley a man
was approaching, very deliberately, for as he came, he appeared to
be perusing a small book. He was a short, broad-shouldered man, a
mild-faced man of a sober habit of dress, with a broad-brimmed hat
upon his head--a hat higher in the crown than was the custom, and a
remarkably nobbly stick beneath his arm; otherwise, and in all
respects, he was a very ordinary-looking man indeed, and as he walked,
book in hand, might have been some small tradesman busily casting up
his profit and loss, albeit he had a bright and roving eye.
Being come up with Barnabas, he stopped, closed his book upon his
finger, touched the broad rim of his hat, and looked at Barnabas, or
to be exact, at the third left-hand button of his coat.
"Anything stole, sir?" he inquired hopefully.
"No," answered Barnabas, "no, I think not."
"Ah, then you won't be vantin' to mek a charge ag'in 'em, sir?"
"No,--besides, they've escaped."
"Escaped, Lord no, sir, they've only run avay, I can allus put my
'ooks on 'em,--I spotted 'em, d'ye see. And I know 'em, Lord love you!
--like a feyther! They vas Bunty Fagan, Dancin' James, and Vistlin'
Dick, two buzmen an' a prig."
"What do you mean?" inquired Barnabas, beginning to eye the man
askance for all his obtrusive mildness.
"I means two pickpockets and a thief, sir. It vas Vistlin' Dick as
you give such a 'leveller' to,--a rare pretty knock-down I vill say,
sir,--never saw a cleaner--Oh! they're a bad lot, they are,
'specially Vistlin' Dick, an' it's lucky for you as I 'appened to
come this vay."
"Why, do you mean to say," said Barnabas, staring at the mild-faced
man, "do you want me to believe that it was the sight of you that
sent them running?"
"Vell, there veren't nobody else to, as I could see, sir," said the
man, with a gentle smile and shake of the head. "Volks ain't partial
to me in these yere parts, and as to them three, they're a bad lot,
they are, but Vistlin' Dick's the vorst--mark my vords, 'e'll come to
be topped yet."
"What do you mean by 'topped'?"
"V'y, I means scragged, sir," answered the man, his roving eye
glancing continually up and down the alley,
"I means 'anged, sir,--Lord love you, it's in 'is face--never see a
more promising mug, consequent, I 've got Vistlin' Dick down in my
little book 'ere, along vith a lot of other promising vuns."
"But why in your book?"
"Veil, d' ye see, I keeps a record of all the likely coves, Capital
Coves as you might call 'em--" Here the mild man jerked his head
convulsively to one side, rolled up his eyes, and protruded his
tongue, all in hideous pantomime, and was immediately his placid
"Ah! you mean--hanged?" said Barnabas.
"As ever vas, sir, capital punishment. And I goes round reg'lar jest
to keep an eye on my capital coves. Lord! I vatches over 'em
all--like a feyther. Theer's some volks as collects books, an' some
volks as collects picters an' old coins, but I collects capital
coves,--names and faces. The faces I keeps 'ere," and he tapped his
placid forehead, "the names I keeps 'ere," and he tapped the little
book. "It's my trade d' ye see, and though there's better trades,
still there's trades as is vorse, an' that's summat, ain't it?"
"And what might your trade be?" inquired Barnabas, as they walked on
together along the narrow alley.
"Veil, sir, I'm vot they calls a bashaw of the pigs--but I'm more
"Pray," said Barnabas, "what do you mean?" For answer the man smiled,
and half drew from his pocket a short staff surmounted by a crown.
"Ah!" said Barnabas, "a Bow Street Runner?"
"And my name is Shrig, sir, Jasper Shrig. You'll have heard it afore,
"No!" said Barnabas. Mr. Shrig seemed placidly surprised, and vented
a gentle sigh.
"It's pretty vell known, in London, sir, though it ain't a pretty
name, I'll allow. Ye-es, I've 'eard prettier, but then it's better
than a good many, and that's sum-mat, ain't it? And then, as I said
afore, it's pretty vell known."
"Vell, sir, there be some as 'as a leanin' to one branch o' the
profession, and some to another,--now mine's murders."
"Murders?" said Barnabas, staring.
"Vith a werry big M., sir. V'y, Lord love you, there's been more
murderers took and topped through me than any o' the other traps in
London, it's a nat'ral gift vith me. Ye see, I collects 'em--afore
the fact, as ye might say. I can smell 'em out, feel 'em out, taste
'em out, it's jest a nat'ral gift."
"But--how? What do you mean?"
"I means as I'll be valking along a street, say, looking at every
face as I pass. Vell, all at once I'll spot a cove or covess vith
vot I calls a capital mug, I'll follow that cove or covess, and by
'ook or by crook I'll find out that there cove or covess's name,
and--down it goes in my little book, d' ye see?" and he tapped the
"But surely," said Barnabas, "surely they don't all prove to be
"Vell no, sir--that's hardly to be expected,--ye see, some on 'em
wanishes away, an' some goes an' dies, but they mostly turns out
true capitals--if I only vaits for 'em long enough, and--up they goes."
"And are you always on the lookout for such faces?"
"Yes, sir,--v'en I ain't busy on some case. A man must 'ave some
little relaxation, and that's mine. Lord love you, sir, scarcely a
day goes by that I don't spot one or two. I calls 'em my children,
an' a werry large, an' a werry mixed lot they are too! Rich an' poor,
men an' women,--rolling in their coaches an' crawling along the
kennel. Aha! if you could look into my little reader an' see the
names o' some o' my most promisin' children they'd as-tonish you.
I've been to 'ave a look at a couple of 'em this mornin'. Aha! it
would a-maze you if you could look into my little reader."
"I should like to," said Barnabas, eyeing the small, shabby book
with a new interest. But Mr. Shrig only blinked his wide, innocent
eyes, and slipping the book into his pocket, led the way round a
sudden corner into another alley narrower than the last, and, if
"Where are we going?" Barnabas demanded, for Mr. Shrig, though
always placid, had suddenly taken on an air that was almost alert,
his bright, roving eye wandered more than ever, and he appeared to
be hearkening to distant sounds. "Where are we going?" repeated
"Gray's Inn is 'andiest, sir, and I must ask you to step out a bit,
they're a rough crowd as lives 'ereabouts,--scamps an' hunters,
didlers an' cly-fakers, so I must ask you to step out a bit, this is
a bad country for me."
"Bad for you? Why?"
"On account o' windictiveness, sir!"
"Windictiveness, sir--windictiveness in every shape an' form, but
brick-ends mostly--vith a occasional chimbley-pot."
"I'm afraid I don't understand," Barnabas began.
"Veil then," explained Mr. Shrig as they strode along, "I vere the
means o' four coves bein' topped d' ye see, 'ighvay robbery vith
wiolence,--'bout a month ago, used to live round 'ere, they did, an'
their famblies an' friends is windictive against me accordingly, an'
werry nat'ral too, for 'uman natur' is only 'uman natur', ain't it?
Werry good then. Now their windictiveness,--or as you might say,
'uman natur',--generally takes the shape of chimbley-pots and
brick-ends, though I 'ave met windictiveness in the form o' b'iling
vater and flat-irons, not to mention saucepans an' sich, afore now,
and vunce a arm-cheer, all of vich is apt to vorry you a bit until
you gets used to it. Then there's knives--knives is allus awk'ard,
and bludgeons ain't to be sneezed at, neither. But, Lord! every
perfession and trade 'as its drawbacks, an' there's a sight o'
comfort in that, ain't there?"
All this time the eyes of Mr. Shrig were roving here, wandering there,
now apparently glancing up at the strip of sky between the dingy
house tops, now down at the cobbles beneath their feet; also
Barnabas noticed that his step, all at once, grew slower and more
deliberate, as one who hesitates, uncertain as to whether he shall
go on, or turn back. It was after one of those swift, upward glances,
that Mr. Shrig stopped all at once, seized Barnabas by the middle
and dragged him into an adjacent doorway, as something crashed down
and splintered within a yard of them.
"What now--what is it?" cried Barnabas.
"Win-dictiveness!" sighed Mr. Shrig, shaking his head at the missile,
"a piece o' coping-stone, thirty pound if a ounce--Lord! Keep flat
agin the door sir, same as me, they may try another--I don't think
so--still they may, so keep close ag'in the door. A partic'lar narrer
shave I calls it!" nodded Mr. Shrig; "shook ye a bit sir?"
"Yes," said Barnabas, wiping his brow.
"Ah well, it shook me--and I'm used to windictiveness. A brick now,"
he mused, his eyes wandering again, "a brick I could ha' took kinder,
bricks an' sich I'm prepared for, but coping-stones--Lord love me!"
"But a brick would have killed you just the same--"
"Killed me? A brick? Oh no, sir!"
"But, if it had hit you on the head--"
"On the 'at sir, the 'at--or as you might say--the castor--this, sir,"
said Mr. Shrig; and glancing furtively up and down the gloomy alley
he took off the broad-brimmed hat; "just run your ogles over this
'ere castor o' mine, an' you'll understand, perhaps."
"It's very heavy," said Barnabas, as he took the hat.
"Ah, it is a bit 'eavyish, sir. Peep inside of it."
"Why," exclaimed Barnabas, "it's lined with--"
"Iron, sir. My own inwention ag'in windictiveness in the shape o'
bricks an' bludgeons, an' werry useful an comfortin' I've found it.
But if they're going to begin on me vith coping-stones,--v'y Lord!"
And Mr. Shrig sighed his gentle sigh, and rubbed his placid brow, and
once more covered it with the "inwention."
"And now sir, you've got a pair o' good, long legs--can ye use 'em?"
"Use them,--yes. Why?"
"Because it's about time as we cut our stick an' run for it."
"What are we to run for?"
"Because they're arter me,--nine on 'em,--consequent they're arter
you too, d' ye see. There's four on 'em be'ind us, an' five on 'em
in front. You can't see 'em because they're layin' low. And they're
bad uns all, an' they means business."
"As ever vas, sir. I've 'ad my eye on 'em some time. That 'ere
coping-stone vas the signal."
"Ha!" said Barnabas, buttoning up his coat.
"Now, are ye ready, sir?"