Part 7 out of 13
_The Preacher_. "Young sir, into each of us who are born into this
world God puts something of Himself, and by reason of this Divine
part, all things are possible."
_Barnabas_. "Yet the world is full of failures."
_The Preacher_. "Alas! yes; but only because men do not realize power
within them. For man is a selfish creature, and Self is always
grossly blind. But let a man look within himself, let him but become
convinced of this Divine power, and the sure and certain knowledge
of ultimate success will be his. So, striving diligently, this power
shall grow within him, and by and by he shall achieve great things,
and the world proclaim him a Genius."
_Barnabas_. "Then--all men might succeed."
_The Preacher_. "Assuredly! for success is the common heritage of Man.
It is only Self, blind, ignorant Self, who is the coward, crying 'I
cannot! I dare not! It is impossible!'"
_Barnabas_. "What do you mean by 'Self'?"
_The Preacher_. "I mean the grosser part, the slave that panders to
the body, a slave that, left unchecked, may grow into a tyrant, a
Circe, changing Man to brute."
Here Barnabas, having finished his bread and butter, very
thoughtfully cut himself another slice.
_Barnabas_ (still thoughtful). "And do you still go about preaching
Forgetfulness of Self, sir?"
_The Preacher_. "And Forgiveness, yes. A good theme, young sir,
but--very unpopular. Men prefer to dwell upon the wrongs done them,
rather than cherish the memory of benefits conferred. But,
nevertheless, I go up and down the ways, preaching always."
_Barnabas_. "Why, then, I take it, your search is still unsuccessful."
_The Preacher_. "Quite! Sometimes a fear comes upon me that she may be
beyond my reach--"
_Barnabas_. "You mean--?"
_The Preacher_. "Dead, sir. At such times, things grow very black
until I remember that God is a just God, and therein lies my sure
and certain hope. But I would not trouble you with my griefs, young
sir, more especially on such a glorious morning,--hark to the
throstle yonder, he surely sings of Life and Hope. So, if you will,
pray tell me of yourself, young sir, of your hopes and ambitions."
_Barnabas_. "My ambitions, sir, are many, but first,--I would be a
_The Preacher_ (nodding). "Good! So far as it goes, the ambition is a
_Barnabas_ (staring thoughtfully at his bread and butter). "The first
difficulty is to know precisely what a gentleman should be. Pray, sir,
what is your definition?"
_The Preacher_. "A gentleman, young sir, is (I take it) one born with
the Godlike capacity to think and feel for others, irrespective of
their rank or condition."
_Barnabas_. "Hum! One who is unselfish?"
_The Preacher_. "One who possesses an ideal so lofty, a mind so
delicate, that it lifts him above all things ignoble and base, yet
strengthens his hands to raise those who are fallen--no matter how
low. This, I think, is to be truly a gentleman, and of all gentle
men Jesus of Nazareth was the first."
_Barnabas_ (shaking his head). "And yet, sir, I remember a whip of
_The Preacher_. "Truly, for Evil sometimes so deadens the soul that it
can feel only through the flesh."
_Barnabas_. "Then--a man may fight and yet be a gentleman?"
_The Preacher_. "He who can forgive, can fight."
_Barnabas_. "Sir, I am relieved to know that. But must Forgiveness
always come after?"
_The Preacher_. "If the evil is truly repented of."
_Barnabas_. "Even though the evil remain?"
_The Preacher_. "Ay, young sir, for then Forgiveness becomes truly
_The Preacher_. "But you eat nothing, young sir."
_Barnabas_. "I was thinking."
_The Preacher_. "Of what?"
_Barnabas_. "Sir, my thought embraced you."
_The Preacher_. "How, young sir?"
_Barnabas_. "I was wondering if you had ever heard of a man named
_The Preacher_ (speaking brokenly, and in a whisper). "Sir!--young
_Barnabas_ (rising). "Chichester!"
_The Preacher_ (coming to his knees). "Sir,--oh, sir,--this
man--Chichester is he who stole away--my daughter,--who blasted her
honor and my life,--who--"
_The Preacher_ (covering his face). "Yes,--yes! God help me, it's true!
But in her shame I love her still, oh, my pride is dead long ago. I
remember only that I am her father, with all a father's loving pity,
and that she--"
_Barnabas_. "And that she is the stainless maid she always was--"
"Sir," cried the Preacher, "oh, sir,--what do you mean?" and
Barnabas saw the thin hands clasp and wring themselves, even as he
remembered Clemency's had done.
"I mean," answered Barnabas, "that she fled from pollution, and
found refuge among honest folk. I mean that she is alive and well,
that she lives but to bless your arms and feel a father's kiss of
forgiveness. If you would find her, go to the 'Spotted Cow,' near
Frittenden, and ask for 'Clemency'!"
"Clemency!" repeated the Preacher, "Clemency means mercy. And she
called herself--Clemency!" Then, with a sudden, rapturous gesture,
he lifted his thin hands, and with his eyes upturned to the blue
"Oh, God!" he cried, "Oh, Father of Mercy, I thank Thee!" And so he
arose from his knees, and turning about, set off through the golden
morning towards Frittenden, and Clemency.
IN WHICH THE BO'SUN DISCOURSES ON LOVE AND ITS SYMPTOMS
Oho! for the warmth and splendor of the mid-day sun; for the dance
and flurry of leafy shadows on the sward; for stilly wayside pools
whose waters, deep and dark in the shade of overhanging boughs, are
yet dappled here and there with glory; for merry brooks leaping
and laughing along their stony beds; for darkling copse and sunny
upland,--oho! for youth and life and the joy of it.
To the eyes of Barnabas, the beauty of the world about him served
only to remind him of the beauty of her who was compounded of all
things beautiful,--the One and Only Woman, whose hair was yellow
like the ripening corn, whose eyes were deep and blue as the infinite
heaven, whose lips were red as the poppies that bloomed beside the
way, and whose body was warm with youth, and soft and white as the
billowy clouds above.
Thus on galloped Barnabas with the dust behind and the white road
before, and with never a thought of London, or its wonders, or the
It was well past noon when he beheld a certain lonely church where
many a green mound and mossy headstone marked the resting-place of
those that sleep awhile. And here, beside the weather-worn porch,
were the stocks, that "place of thought" where Viscount Devenham had
sat in solitary, though dignified meditation. A glance, a smile, and
Barnabas was past, and galloping down the hill towards where the
village nestled in the valley. Before the inn he dismounted, and,
having seen Four-legs well bestowed, and given various directions to
a certain sleepy-voiced ostler, he entered the inn, and calling for
dinner, ate it with huge relish. Now, when he had done, came the
landlord to smoke a pipe with him,--a red-faced man, vast of paunch
and garrulous of tongue.
"Fine doin's there be up at t' great 'ouse, sir," he began.
"You mean Annersley House?"
"Ay, sir. All the quality is there,--my son's a groom there an' 'e
told me, so 'e did. Theer ain't nobody as ain't either a Markus or a
Earl or a Vi'count, and as for Barry-nets, they're as thick as flies,
they are,--an' all to meet a little, old 'ooman as don't come up to
my shoulder! But then--she's a Duchess, an' that makes all the
"Yes, of course," said Barnabas.
"A little old 'ooman wi' curls, as don't come no-wise near so 'igh
as my shoulder! Druv up to that theer very door as you see theer, in
'er great coach an' four, she did,--orders the steps to be lowered,
--comes tapping into this 'ere very room with 'er little cane, she do,
--sits down in that theer very chair as you're a-sittin' in, she do,
fannin' 'erself with a little fan--an' calls for--now, what d' ye
"I haven't the least idea."
"She calls, sir,--though you won't believe me, it aren't to be
expected,--no, not on my affer-daver,--she being a Duchess, ye see--"
"Well, what did she call for?" inquired Barnabas, rising.
"Sir, she called for--on my solemn oath it's true--though I don't ax
ye to believe me, mind,--she sat in that theer identical chair,--an'
mark me, 'er a Duchess,--she sat in that cheer, a-fannin' 'erself
with 'er little fan, an' calls for a 'arf of Kentish ale--'Westerham
brew,' says she; an' 'er a Duchess! In a tankard! But I know as you
won't believe me,--nor I don't ax any man to,--no, not if I went
down on my bended marrer-bones--"
"But I do believe you," said Barnabas.
"What--you do?" cried the landlord, almost reproachfully.
"Certainly! A Duchess is, sometimes, almost human."
"But you--actooally--believe me?"
"Well--you surprise me, sir! Ale! A Duchess! In a tankard! No, it
aren't nat'ral. Never would I ha' believed as any one would ha'
believed such a--"
But here Barnabas laughed, and taking up his hat, sallied out into
He went by field paths that led him past woods in whose green
twilight thrushes and blackbirds piped, by sunny meadows where larks
mounted heavenward in an ecstasy of song, and so, eventually he
found himself in a road where stood a weather-beaten finger-post,
with its two arms wide-spread and pointing:
TO LONDON. TO HAWKHURST
Here Barnabas paused a while, and bared his head as one who stands
on hallowed ground. And looking upon the weather-worn finger-post,
he smiled very tenderly, as one might who meets an old friend. Then
he went on again until he came to a pair of tall iron gates,
hospitable gates that stood open as though inviting him to enter.
Therefore he went on, and thus presently espied a low, rambling
house of many gables, about which were trim lawns and stately trees.
Now as he stood looking at this house, he heard a voice near by, a
deep, rolling bass upraised in song, and the words of it were these:
"What shall we do with the drunken sailor,
Heave, my lads, yo-ho!
Why, put him in the boat and roll him over,
Put him in the boat till he gets sober,
Put him in the boat and roll him over,
With a heave, my lads, yo-ho!"
Following the direction of this voice, Barnabas came to a lawn
screened from the house by hedges of clipped yew. At the further end
of this lawn was a small building which had been made to look as
much as possible like the after-cabin of a ship. It had a door midway,
with a row of small, square windows on either side, and was flanked
at each end by a flight of wooden steps, with elaborately carved
hand-rails, that led up to the quarterdeck above, which was
protected by more carved posts and rails. Here a stout pole had been
erected and rigged with block and fall, and from this, a flag
stirred lazily in the gentle wind.
Now before this building, his blue coat laid by, his shirt sleeves
rolled up, his glazed hat on the back of his head, was the Bo'sun,
polishing away at a small, brass cannon that was mounted on a
platform, and singing lustily as he worked. So loudly did he sing,
and so engrossed was he, that he did not look up until he felt
Barnabas touch him. Then he started, turned, stared, hesitated, and,
finally, broke into a smile.
"Ah, it's you, sir,--the young gemman as bore away for Lon'on
alongside Master Horatio, his Lordship!"
"Yes," said Barnabas, extending his hand, "how are you, Bo'sun?"
"Hearty, sir, hearty, I thank ye!" Saying which he touched his
forehead, rubbed his hand upon his trousers, looked at it, rubbed it
again, and finally gave it to Barnabas, though with an air of apology.
"Been making things a bit ship-shape, sir, 'count o' this here day
being a occasion,--but I'm hearty, sir, hearty, I thank ye."
"And the Captain," said Barnabas with some hesitation. "How is the
"The Cap'n, sir," answered the Bo'sun, "the Cap'n is likewise hearty."
"And--Lady Cleone--is she well, is she happy?"
"Why, sir, she's as 'appy as can be expected--under the circumstances."
"Love!" exclaimed Barnabas, "why, Bo'sun--what do you mean?"
"I mean, sir, as she's fell in love at last--
"How do you know--who with--where is she--?"
"Well, sir, I know on account o' 'er lowness o' sperrits,--noticed
it for a week or more. Likewise I've heered 'er sigh very frequent,
and I've seen 'er sit a-staring up at the moon--ah, that I have!
Now lovers is generally low in their sperrits, I've heered tell,
and they allus stare very 'ard at the moon,--why, I don't know,
but they do,--leastways, so I've--"
"But--in love--with whom? Can I see her? Where is she? Are you sure?"
"And sartain, sir. Only t' other night, as I sat a-smoking my pipe
on the lawn, yonder,--she comes out to me, and nestles down under my
lee--like she used to years ago. 'Jerry, dear,' says she, 'er voice
all low and soft-like, 'look at the moon,--how beautiful it is!' says
she, and--she give a sigh. 'Yes, my lady,' says I. 'Oh, Jerry,' says
she, 'call me Clo, as you used to do.' 'Yes, my Lady Clo,' says I.
But she grapples me by the collar, and stamps 'er foot at me, all
in a moment. 'Leave out the 'lady,'' says she. 'Yes, Clo,' says I.
So she nestles an' sighs and stares at the moon again. 'Jerry, dear,'
says she after a bit, 'when will the moon be at the full?' 'To-morrer,
Clo,' says I. And after she's stared and sighed a bit longer--'Jerry,
dear,' says she again, 'it's sweet to think that while we are
looking up at the moon--others perhaps are looking at it too, I mean
others who are far away. It--almost seems to bring them nearer,
doesn't it? Then I knowed as 't were love, with a big L, sartin and
"Bo'sun," said Barnabas, catching him by the arm, "who is it she
"Well, sir,--I aren't quite sure, seeing as there are so many on 'em
in 'er wake, but I think,--and I 'ope, as it's 'is Lordship, Master
"Ah!" said Barnabas, his frowning brow relaxing.
"If it ain't 'im,--why then it's mutiny,--that's what it is, sir!"
"Ye see, sir," the Bo'sun went on to explain, "orders is orders, and
if she don't love Master Horatio--well, she ought to."
"Because they was made for each other. Because they was promised to
each other years ago. It were all arranged an' settled 'twixt Master
Horatio's father, the Earl, and Lady Cleone's guardian, the Cap'n."
"Ah!" said Barnabas, "and where is she--and the Captain?"
"Out, sir; an' she made him put on 'is best uniform, as he only
wears on Trafalgar Day, and such great occasions. She orders out the
fam'ly coach, and away they go, 'im the very picter o' what a
post-captain o' Lord Nelson should be (though to be sure, there's a
darn in his white silk stocking--the one to starboard, just abaft
the shoe-buckle, and, therefore, not to be noticed, and I were allus
'andy wi' my needle), and her--looking the picter o' the handsomest
lady, the loveliest, properest maid in all this 'ere world. Away
they go, wi' a fair wind to sarve 'em, an' should ha' dropped anchor
at Annersley House a full hour ago."
"At Annersley?" said Barnabas. "There is a reception there, I hear?"
"Yes, sir, all great folk from Lon'on, besides country folk o'
quality,--to meet the Duchess o' Camberhurst, and she's the greatest
of 'em all. Lord! There's enough blue blood among 'em to float a
Seventy-four. Nat'rally, the Cap'n wanted to keep a good offing to
windward of 'em. 'For look ye, Jerry,' says he, 'I'm no confounded
courtier to go bowing and scraping to a painted old woman, with a
lot of other fools, just because she happens to be a duchess,--no,
damme!' and down 'e sits on the breech o' the gun here. But, just
then, my lady heaves into sight, brings up alongside, and comes to
an anchor on his knee. 'Dear,' says she, with her round, white arm
about his neck, and her soft, smooth cheek agin his, 'dear, it's
almost time we began to dress.' 'Dress?' says he, 'what for, Clo,--I
say, what d'ye mean?' 'Why, for the reception,' says she. 'To-day is
my birthday' (which it is, sir, wherefore the flag at our peak,
yonder), 'and I know you mean to take me,' says she, 'so I told
Robert we should want the coach at three. So come along and
dress,--like a dear.' The Cap'n stared at 'er, dazed-like, give
me a look, and,--well--" the Bo'sun smiled and shook his head.
"Ye see, sir, in some ways the Cap'n 's very like a ordinary man,
HOW BARNABAS CLIMBED A WALL
Now presently, as he went, he became aware of a sound that was not
the stir of leaves, nor the twitter of birds, nor the music of
running waters, though all these were in his ears,--for this was
altogether different; a distant sound that came and went, that
swelled to a murmur, sank to a whisper, yet never wholly died away.
Little by little the sound grew plainer, more insistent, until,
mingled with the leafy stirrings, he could hear a plaintive melody,
rising and falling, faint with distance.
Hereupon Barnabas halted suddenly, his chin in hand, his brow
furrowed in thought, while over his senses stole the wailing melody
of the distant violins. A while he stood thus, then plunged into the
cool shadow of a wood, and hurried on by winding tracks, through
broad glades, until the wood was left behind, until the path became
a grassy lane; and ever the throbbing melody swelled and grew. It
was a shady lane, tortuous and narrow, but on strode Barnabas until,
rounding a bend, he beheld a wall, an ancient, mossy wall of red
brick; and with his gaze upon this, he stopped again. But the melody
called to him, louder now and more insistent, and mingled with the
throb of the violins was the sound of voices and laughter.
Then, standing on tip-toe, Barnabas set his hands to the coping of
the wall, and drawing himself up, caught a momentary vision of
smiling gardens, of green lawns where bright figures moved, of
winding walks and neat trimmed hedges, ere, swinging himself over,
he dropped down among a bed of Sir George Annersley's stocks.
Before him was a shady walk winding between clipped yews, and,
following this, Barnabas presently espied a small arbor some
distance away. Now between him and this arbor was a place where four
paths met, and where stood an ancient sun-dial with quaintly carved
seats. And here, the sun making a glory of her wondrous hair, was my
Lady Cleone, with the Marquis of Jerningham beside her. She sat with
her elbow on her knee and her dimpled chin upon her palm, and, even
from where he stood, Barnabas could see again the witchery of her
lashes that drooped dark upon the oval of her cheek.
The Marquis was talking earnestly, gesturing now and then with his
slender hand that had quite lost its habitual languor, and stooping
that he might look into the drooping beauty of her face, utterly
regardless of the havoc he thus wrought upon the artful folds of his
marvellous cravat. All at once she looked up, laughed and shook her
head, and, closing her fan, pointed with it towards the distant house,
laughing still, but imperious. Hereupon the Marquis rose, albeit
unwillingly, and bowing, hurried off to obey her behest. Then Cleone
rose also, and turning, went on slowly toward the arbor, with head
drooping as one in thought.
And now, with his gaze upon that shapely back, all youthful
loveliness from slender foot to the crowning glory of her hair,
Barnabas sighed, and felt his heart leap as he strode after her. But,
even as he followed, oblivious of all else under heaven, he beheld
another back that obtruded itself suddenly upon the scene, a broad,
graceful back in a coat of fine blue cloth,--a back that bore itself
with a masterful swing of the shoulders. And, in that instant,
Barnabas recognized Sir Mortimer Carnaby.
Cleone had reached the arbor, but on the threshold turned to meet
Sir Mortimer's sweeping bow. And now she seemed to hesitate, then
extended her hand, and Sir Mortimer followed her into the arbor. My
lady's cheeks were warm with rich color, her eyes were suddenly and
strangely bright as she sank into a chair, and Sir Mortimer,
misinterpreting this, had caught and imprisoned her hands.
"Cleone," said he, "at last!" The slender hands fluttered in his
grasp, but his grasp was strong, and, ere she could stay him, he was
down before her on his knee, and speaking quick and passionately.
"Cleone!--hear me! nay, I will speak! All the afternoon I have tried
to get a word with you, and now you must hear me--you shall. And
yet you know what I would say. You know I love you, and have done
from the first hour I saw you. And from that hour I've hungered for
your, Cleone, do you hear? Ah, tell me you love me!"
But my lady sat wide-eyed, staring at the face amid the leaves
beyond the open window,--a face so handsome, yet so distorted; saw
the gleam of clenched teeth, the frowning brows, the menacing gray
Sir Mortimer, all unconscious, had caught her listless hands to his
lips, and was speaking again between his kisses.
"Speak, Cleone! You know how long I have loved you,--speak and bid
me hope! What, silent still? Why, then--give me that rose from your
bosom,--let it be hope's messenger, and speak for you."
But still my lady sat dumb, staring up at the face amid the leaves,
the face of Man Primeval, aglow with all the primitive passions;
beheld the drawn lips and quivering nostrils, the tense jaw savage
and masterful, and the glowing eyes that threatened her. And, in
that moment, she threw tip her head rebellious, and sighed, and
smiled,--a woman's smile, proud, defiant; and, uttering no word,
gave Sir Mortimer the rose. Then, even as she did so, sprang to her
feet, and laughed, a little tremulously, and bade Sir Mortimer Go! Go!
Go! Wherefore, Sir Mortimer, seeing her thus, and being wise in the
ways of women, pressed the flower to his lips, and so turned and
strode off down the path. And when his step had died away Cleone
sank down in the chair, and spoke.
"Come out--spy!" she called. And Barnabas stepped out from the leaves.
Then, because she knew what look was in his eyes, she kept her own
averted; and because she was a woman young, and very proud, she
lashed him with her tongue.
"So much for your watching and listening!" said she.
"But--he has your rose!" said Barnabas.
"And what of that?"
"And he has your promise!"
"I never spoke--"
"But the rose did!"
"The rose will fade and wither--"
"But it bears your promise--"
"I gave no promise, and--and--oh, why did you--look at me!"
"Look at you?"
"Why did you frown at me?"
"Why did you give him the rose?"
"Because it was so my pleasure. Why did you frown at me with eyes
like--like a devil's?"
"I wanted to kill him--then!"
"Now, I wish him well of his bargain, and my thanks are due to him."
"Because, without knowing it, he has taught me what women are."
"What do you mean?"
"I--loved you, Cleone. To me you were one apart--holy, immaculate--"
"Yes?" said Cleone very softly.
"And I find you--"
"Only a--woman, sir,--who will not be watched, and frowned at, and
"--a heartless coquette--" said Barnabas.
"--who despises eavesdroppers, and will not be spied upon, or
"I did not spy upon you," cried Barnabas, stung at last, "or if I did,
God knows it was well intended."
"I remembered the last time we three were together,--in Annersley
Wood." Here my lady shivered and hid her face. "And now, you gave
him the rose! Do you want the love of this man, Cleone?"
"There is only one man in all the world I despise more, and his name
is--Barnabas," said she, without looking up.
"So you--despise me, Cleone?"
"And I came here to tell you that I--loved you--to ask you to be my
"And looked at me with Devil's eyes--"
"Because you were mine, and because he--"
"Yours, Barnabas? I never said so."
"Because I loved you--worshipped you, and because--"
"Because you were--jealous, Barnabas!"
"Because I would have my wife immaculate--"
"But I am not your--wife."
"No," said Barnabas, frowning, "she must be immaculate."
Now when he said this he heard her draw a long, quivering sigh, and
with the sigh she rose to her feet and faced him, and her eyes were
wide and very bright, and the fan she held snapped suddenly across
in her white fingers.
"Sir," she said, very softly, "I whipped you once, if I had a whip
now, your cheek should burn again."
"But I should not ask you to kiss it,--this time!" said Barnabas.
"Yes," she said, in the same soft voice, "I despise you--for
a creeping spy, a fool, a coward--a maligner of women. Oh,
go away,--pray go. Leave me, lest I stifle."
But now, seeing the flaming scorn of him in her eyes, in the
passionate quiver of her hands, he grew afraid, cowed by her very
"Indeed," he stammered, "you are unjust. I--I did not mean--"
"Go!" said she, cold as ice, "get back over the wall. Oh! I saw you
climb over like a--thief! Go away, before I call for help--before I
call the grooms and stable-boys to whip you out into the road where
you belong--go, I say!" And frowning now, she stamped her foot, and
pointed to the wall. Then Barnabas laughed softty, savagely, and,
reaching out, caught her up in his long arms and crushed her to him.
"Call if you will, Cleone," said he, "but listen first! I said to
you that my wife should come to me immaculate--fortune's spoiled
darling though she be,--petted, wooed, pampered though she is,--and,
by God, so you shall! For I love you, Cleone, and if I live, I will
some day call you 'wife,'--in spite of all your lovers, and all the
roses that ever bloomed. Now, Cleone,--call them if you will." So
saying he set her down and freed her from his embrace. But my
lady, leaning breathless in the doorway, only looked at him
once,--frowning a little, panting a little,--a long wondering look
beneath her lashes, and, turning, was gone among the leaves. Then
Barnabas picked up the broken fan, very tenderly, and put it into
his bosom, and so sank down into the chair, his chin propped upon
his fist, frowning blackly at the glory of the afternoon.
IN WHICH THE PATIENT READER IS INTRODUCED TO AN ALMOST HUMAN DUCHESS
"Very dramatic, sir! Though, indeed, you missed an opportunity,
and--gracious heaven, how he frowns!" A woman's voice, sharp,
Barnabas started, and glancing up, beheld an ancient lady, very
small and very upright; her cheeks were suspiciously pink, her curls
suspiciously dark and luxuriant, but her eyes were wonderfully young
and handsome; one slender mittened hand rested upon the ivory head
of a stick, and in the other she carried a small fan.
"Now, he stares!" she exclaimed, as she met his look. "Lud, how he
stares! As if I were a ghost, or a goblin, instead of only an old
woman with raddled cheeks and a wig. Oh, yes! I wear a wig, sir, and
very hideous I look without it! But even I was young once upon a
time--many, many years ago, and quite as beautiful as She, indeed,
rather more so, I think,--and I should have treated you exactly as
She did--only more so,--I mean Cleone. Your blonde women are either
too cold or overpassionate,--I know, for my hair was as yellow as
Cleone's, hundreds of years ago, and I think, more abundant. To-day,
being only a dyed brunette, I am neither too cold nor over-passionate,
and I tell you, sir, you deserved it, every word."
Here Barnabas rose, and, finding nothing to say, bowed.
"But," continued the ancient lady, sweeping him with a quick,
approving gaze, "I like your face, and y-e-s, you have a very good
leg. You also possess a tongue, perhaps, and can speak?"
"Given the occasion, madam," said Barnabas, smiling.
"Ha, sir! do I talk so much then? Well, perhaps I do, for when a
woman ceases to talk she's dead, and I'm very much alive indeed. So
you may give me your arm, sir, and listen to me, and drop an
occasional remark while I take breath,--your arm, sir!" And here the
small, ancient lady held out a small, imperious hand, while her
handsome young eyes smiled up into his.
"Madam, you honor me!"
"But I am only an old woman,--with a wig!"
"Age is always honorable, madam."
"Now that is very prettily said, indeed you improve, sir. Do you
know who I am?"
"No, madam; but I can guess."
"Ah, well,--you shall talk to me. Now, sir,--begin. Talk to me of
"Madam--I had rather not."
"Eh, sir,--you won't?"
"Why, then, I will!" Here the ancient lady glanced up at Barnabas
with a malicious little smile. "Let me see, now--what were her words?
'Spy,' I think. Ah, yes--'a creeping spy,' 'a fool' and 'a coward.'
Really, I don't think I could have bettered that--even in my best
days,--especially the 'creeping spy.'"
"Madam," said Barnabas in frowning surprise, "you were listening?"
"At the back of the arbor," she nodded, "with my ear to the panelling,
--I am sometimes a little deaf, you see."
"You mean that you were--actually prying--?"
"And I enjoyed it all very much, especially your 'immaculate' speech,
which was very heroic, but perfectly ridiculous, of course. Indeed,
you are a dreadfully young, young sir, I fear. In future, I warn you
not to tell a woman, too often, how much you respect her, or she'll
begin to think you don't love her at all. To be over-respectful
doesn't sit well on a lover, and 'tis most unfair and very trying to
the lady, poor soul!"
"To hearken to a private conversation doesn't sit well on a lady,
madam, or an honorable woman."
"No, indeed, young sir. But then, you see, I'm neither. I'm only a
Duchess, and a very old one at that, and I think I told you I wore a
wig? But 'all the world loves a lover,' and so do I. As soon as ever
I saw you I knew you for a lover of the 'everything-or-nothing' type.
Oh, yes, all lovers are of different types, sir, and I think I know
'em all. You see, when I was young and beautiful--ages ago--lovers
were a hobby of mine,--I studied them, sir. And, of 'em all, I
preferred the 'everything-or-nothing, fire-and-ice, kiss-me-or-kill-me'
type. That was why I followed you, that was why I watched and listened,
and, I grieve to say, I didn't find you as deliciously brutal as I
"Brutal, madam? Indeed, I--"
"Of course! When you snatched her up in your arms,--and I'll admit
you did it very well,--when you had her there, you should have
covered her with burning kisses, and with an oath after each. Girls
like Cleone need a little brutality and--Ah! there's the Countess!
And smiling at me quite lovingly, I declare! Now I wonder what rod
she has in pickle for me? Dear me, sir, how dusty your coat is! And
spurred boots and buckskins are scarcely the mode for a garden fête.
Still, they're distinctive, and show off your leg to advantage,
better than those abominable Cossack things,--and I doat upon a good
leg--" But here she broke off and turned to greet the Countess,--a
large, imposing, bony lady in a turban, with the eye and the beak of
"My dearest Letitia!"
"My dear Duchess,--my darling Fanny, you 're younger than ever,
positively you are,--I'd never have believed it!" cried the Countess,
more hawk-like than ever. "I heard you were failing fast, but now I
look at you, dearest Fanny, I vow you don't look a day older than
"And I'm seventy-one, alas!" sighed the Duchess, her eyes young with
mischief. "And you, my sweetest creature,--how well you look! Who
would ever imagine that we were at school together, Letitia!"
"But indeed I was--quite an infant, Fanny."
"Quite, my love, and used to do my sums for me. But let me present
to you a young friend of mine, Mr.--Mr.--dear, dear! I quite
forget--my memory is going, you see, Letitia! Mr.--"
"Beverley, madam," said Barnabas.
"Thank you,--Beverley, of course! Mr. Beverley--the Countess of Orme."
Hereupon Barnabas bowed low before the haughty stare of the keen,
"And now, my sweet Letty," continued the Duchess, "you are always so
delightfully gossipy--have you any news,--any stories to laugh over?"
"No, dear Fanny, neither the one nor the other--only--"
"'Only,' my love?"
"Only--but you've heard it already, of course,--you would be the
very first to know of it!"
"Letitia, my dear--I always hated conundrums, you'll remember."
"I mean, every one is talking of it, already."
"Heigho! How warm the sun is!"
"Of course it may be only gossip, but they do say Cleone Meredith
has refused the hand of your grandnephew."
"Jerningham, oh yes," added the Duchess, "on the whole, it's just as
"But I thought--" the hawk-eyes were very piercing indeed. "I feared
it would be quite a blow to you--"
The Duchess shook her head, with a little ripple of laughter.
"I had formed other plans for him weeks ago,--they were quite
unsuited to each other, my love."
"I'm delighted you take it so well, my own Fanny," said the Countess,
looking the reverse. "We leave almost immediately,--but when you
pass through Sevenoaks, you must positively stay with me for a day
or two. Goodby, my sweet Fanny!" So the two ancient ladies gravely
curtsied to each other, pecked each other on either cheek, and, with
a bow to Barnabas, the Countess swept away with an imposing rustle
of her voluminous skirts.
"Cat!" exclaimed the Duchess, shaking her fan at the receding figure;
"the creature hates me fervently, and consequently, kisses me--on
both cheeks. Oh, yes, indeed, sir, she detests me--and quite
naturally. You see, we were girls together,--she's six months my
junior, and has never let me forget it,--and the Duke--God rest
him--admired us both, and, well,--I married him. And so Cleone has
actually refused poor Jerningham,--the yellow-maned minx!"
"Why, then--you didn't know of it?" inquired Barnabas.
"Oh, Innocent! of course I didn't. I'm not omniscient, and I only
ordered him to propose an hour ago. The golden hussy! the proud jade!
Refuse my grand-nephew indeed! Well, there's one of your rivals
disposed of, it seems,--count that to your advantage, sir!"
"But," said Barnabas, frowning and shaking his head, "Sir Mortimer
Carnaby has her promise!"
"She gave him the rose!" said Barnabas, between set teeth. The
"Dear heart! how tragic you are!" she sighed. "Suppose she did,--what
then? And besides--hum! This time it is young D'Arcy, it seems,--callow,
pink, and quite harmless."
"Madam?" said Barnabas, wondering.
"Over there--behind the marble faun,--quite harmless, and very pink,
you'll notice. I mean young D'Arcy--not the faun. Clever minx! Now I
mean Cleone, of course--there she is!" Following the direction of the
Duchess's pointing fan, Barnabas saw Cleone, sure enough. Her eyes
were drooped demurely before the ardent gaze of the handsome,
pink-cheeked young soldier who stood before her, and in her white
fingers she held--a single red rose. Now, all at once, (and as
though utterly unconscious of the burning, watchful eyes of Barnabas)
she lifted the rose to her lips, and, smiling, gave it into the
young soldier's eager hand. Then they strolled away, his epaulette
very near the gleaming curls at her temple.
"Lud, young sir!" exclaimed the Duchess, catching Barnabas by the
coat, "how dreadfully sudden you are in your movements--"
"Madam, pray loose me!"
"I'm going--I cannot bear--any more!"
"I mean that--she has--"
"A very remarkable head, she is as resourceful as I was--almost."
"Resourceful!" exclaimed Barnabas, "she is--"
"An extremely clever girl--"
"Madam, pray let me go."
"No, sir! my finger is twisted in your buttonhole,--if you pull
yourself away I expect you'll break it, so pray don't pull; naturally,
I detest pain. And I have much to talk about."
"As you will, madam," said Barnabas, frowning.
"First, tell me--you're quite handsome when you frown,--first, sir,
why weren't you formally presented to me with the other guests?"
"Because I'm not a guest, madam."
"I mean that I came--over the wall, madam."
"The wall! Climbed over?"
"Dear heaven! The monstrous audacity of the man! You came to see
Cleone, of course?"
"Ah, very right,--very proper! I remember I had a lover--in the
remote ages, of course,--who used to climb--ah, well,--no matter!
Though his wall was much higher than yours yonder." Here the Duchess
sighed tenderly. "Well, you came to see Cleone, you found her,--and
nicely you behaved to each other when you met! Youth is always so
dreadfully tragic! But then what would love be without a little
tragedy? And oh--dear heaven!--how you must adore each other! Oh,
Youth! Youth!--and there's Sir George Annersley--!"
"Then, madam, you must excuse me!" said Barnabas, glancing furtively
from the approaching figures to the adjacent wall.
"Oh dear, no. Sir George is with Jerningharn and Major Piper, a
heavy dragoon--the heaviest in all the world, I'm sure. You must
"Sir," said the Duchess, buttonholing him again, "I insist! Oh, Sir
George--gentlemen!" she called. Hereupon three lounging figures
turned simultaneously, and came hurrying towards them.
"Why, Duchess!" exclaimed Sir George, a large, mottled gentleman in
an uncomfortable cravat, "we have all been wondering what had become
of your Grace, and--" Here Sir George's sharp eye became fixed upon
Barnabas, upon his spurred boots, his buckskins, his dusty coat; and
Sir George's mouth opened, and he gave a tug at his cravat.
"Deuce take me--it's Beverley!" exclaimed the Marquis, and held out
"What--you know each other?" the Duchess inquired.
"Mr. Beverley is riding in the steeplechase on the fifteenth," the
Marquis answered. Hereupon Sir George stared harder than ever, and
gave another tug at his high cravat, while Major Piper, who had been
looking very hard at nothing in particular, glanced at Barnabas with
a gleam of interest and said "Haw!"
As for the Duchess, she clapped her hands.
"And he never told me a word of it!" she exclaimed. "Of course all
my money is on Jerningham,--though 'Moonraker' carries the odds, but
I must have a hundred or two on Mr. Beverley for--friendship's sake."
"Friendship!" exclaimed the Marquis, "oh, begad!" Here he took out
his snuff-box, tapped it, and put it in his pocket again.
"Yes, gentlemen," smiled the Duchess, "this is a friend of mine
who--dropped in upon me, as it were, quite unexpectedly--over the
wall, in fact."
"Wall!" exclaimed Sir George.
"The deuce you did, Beverley!" said the Marquis.
As for Major Piper, he hitched his dolman round, and merely said:
"Yes," said Barnabas, glancing from one to the other, "I am a
trespasser here, and, Sir George, I fear I damaged some of your
"Flowers!" repeated Sir George, staring from Barnabas to the Duchess
and back again, "Oh!"
"And now--pray let me introduce you," said the Duchess. "My friend
Mr. Beverley--Sir George Annersley. Mr. Beverley--Major Piper."
"A friend of her Grace is always welcome here, sir," said Sir George,
extending a mottled hand.
"Delighted!" smiled the Major, saluting him in turn. "Haw!"
"But what in the world brings you here, Beverley?" inquired the
"I do," returned his great-aunt. "Many a man has climbed a wall on
my account before to-day, Marquis, and remember I'm only
just--seventy-one, and growing younger every hour,--now am I not,
"Haw!--Precisely! Not a doubt, y' Grace. Soul and honor! Haw!"
"Marquis--your arm, Mr. Beverley--yours! Now, Sir George, show us
the way to the marquee; I'm dying for a dish of tea, I vow I am!"
Thus, beneath the protecting wing of a Duchess was Barnabas given
his first taste of Quality and Blood. Which last, though blue beyond
all shadow of doubt, yet manifested itself in divers quite ordinary
ways as,--in complexions of cream and roses; in skins sallow and
wrinkled; in noses haughtily Roman or patricianly Greek, in noses
mottled and unclassically uplifted; in black hair, white hair, yellow,
brown, and red hair;--such combinations as he had seen many and many
a time on village greens, and at country wakes and fairs. Yes, all
was the same, and yet--how vastly different! For here voices were
softly modulated, arms and hands gracefully borne, heads carried high,
movement itself an artful science. Here eyes were raised or lowered
with studied effect; beautiful shoulders, gracefully shrugged,
became dimpled and irresistible; faces with perfect profiles were
always--in profile. Here, indeed, Age and Homeliness went clothed in
magnificence, and Youth and Beauty walked hand in hand with Elegance;
while everywhere was a graceful ease that had been learned and
studied with the Catechism. Barnabas was in a world of silks and
satins and glittering gems, of broadcloth and fine linen, where such
things are paramount and must be lived up to; a world where the
friendship of a Duchess may transform a nobody into a SOMEBODY, to
be bowed to by the most elaborate shirtfronts, curtsied to by the
haughtiest of turbans, and found worthy of the homage of bewitching
eyes, seductive dimples, and entrancing profiles.
In a word, Barnabas had attained--even unto the World of Fashion.
WHICH RELATES SUNDRY HAPPENINGS AT THE GARDEN FÊTE
"Gad, Beverley! how the deuce did y' do it?"
"Do what, Marquis?"
"Charm the Serpent! Tame the Dragon!"
"Make such a conquest of her Graceless Grace of Camberhurst, my
great-aunt? I didn't know you were even acquainted,--how long have
you known her?"
"About an hour," said Barnabas.
"Eh--an hour? But, my dear fellow, you came to see her--over the wall,
you know,--she said so, and--"
"She said so, yes, Marquis, but--"
"But? Oh, I see! Ah, to be sure! She is my great-aunt, of course,
and my great-aunt, Beverley, generally thinks, and does, and
says--exactly what she pleases. Begad! you never can tell what she'
11 be up to next,--consequently every one is afraid of her, even
those high goddesses of the beau monde, those exclusive grandes dames,
my Ladies Castlereagh, Jersey, Cowper and the rest of 'em--they're
all afraid of my small great-aunt, and no wonder! You see, she's
old--older than she looks, and--with a perfectly diabolical memory!
She knows not only all their own peccadillos, but the sins of their
great-grandmothers as well. She fears nothing on the earth, or under
the earth, and respects no one--not even me. Only about half an hour
ago she informed me that I was a--well, she told me precisely what I
was,--and she can be painfully blunt, Beverley,--just because Cleone
happens to have refused me again."
"Again?" said Barnabas inquiringly.
"Oh, yes! She does it regularly. Begad! she's refused me so often
that it's grown into a kind of formula with us now. I say, 'Cleone,
do!' and she answers, 'Bob, don't!' But even that's something,--lots
of 'em haven't got so far as that with her."
"Sir Mortimer Carnaby, for instance!" said Barnabas, biting his lip.
"Hum!" said the Marquis dubiously, deftly re-settling his cravat,
"and what of--yourself, Beverley?"
"I have asked her--only twice, I think."
"Ah, and she--refused you?"
"No," sighed Barnabas, "she told me she--despised me."
"Did she so? Give me your hand--I didn't think you were so strong in
the running. With Cleone's sort there's always hope so long as she
isn't sweet and graciously indifferent."
"Pray," said Barnabas suddenly, "pray where did you get that rose,
"This? Oh, she gave it to me."
"But--I thought she'd refused you?"
"Oh, yes--so she did; but that's just like Cleone, frowning one
moment, smiling the next--April, you know."
"And did she--kiss it first?"
"Kiss it? Why--deuce take me, now I come to think of it,--so
she did,--at least--What now, Beverley?"
"I'm--going!" said Barnabas.
"Back--over the wall!"
"Eh!--run away, is it?"
"As far," said Barnabas, scowling, "as far as possible. Good-by,
Marquis!" And so he turned and strode away, while the Marquis stared
after him, open-mouthed. But as he went, Barnabas heard a voice
calling his name, and looking round, beheld Captain Chumly coming
towards him. A gallant figure he made (despite grizzled hair and
empty sleeve), in all the bravery of his white silk stockings, and
famous Trafalgar coat, which, though a little tarnished as to
epaulettes and facings, nevertheless bore witness to the Bo'sun's
diligent care; he was, indeed, from the crown of his cocked hat down
to his broad, silver shoe-buckles, the very pattern of what a
post-captain of Lord Nelson should be.
"Eh, sir!" he exclaimed, with his hand outstretched in greeting,
"are ye blind, I say are ye blind and deaf? Didn't you hear her
Grace hailing you? Didn't ye see me signal you to 'bring to'?"
"No, sir," answered Barnabas, grasping the proffered hand.
"Oho!" said the Captain, surveying Barnabas from head to foot,
"so you've got 'em on, I see, and vastly different you look in your
fine feathers. But you can sink me,--I say you can scuttle and sink
me if I don't prefer you in your homespun! You'll be spelling your
name with as many unnecessary letters, and twirls, and flourishes as
you can clap in, nowadays, I'll warrant."
"Jack Chumly, don't bully the boy!" said a voice near by; and
looking thitherward, Barnabas beheld the Duchess seated at a small
table beneath a shady tree, and further screened by a tall hedge; a
secluded corner, far removed from the throng, albeit a most
excellent place for purposes of observation, commanding as it did a
wide view of lawns and terraces. "As for you, Mr. Beverley,"
continued the Duchess, with her most imperious air, "you may bring a
seat--here, beside me,--and help the Captain to amuse me."
"Madam," said Barnabas, his bow very solemn and very deep, "I am
about to leave, and--with your permission--I--"
"You have my permission to--sit here beside me, sir. So! A dish of
tea? No? Ah, well--we were just talking of you; the Captain was
describing how he first met you--"
"Bowing to a gate-post, mam,--on my word as a sailor and a Christian,
it was a gate-post,--I say, an accurs--a confoundedly rotten old
stick of a gate-post."
"I remember," sighed Barnabas.
"And to-day, sir," continued the Captain, "to-day you must come
clambering over a gentleman's garden wall to bow and scrape to a--"
"Don't dare to say--another stick, Jack Chumly!" cried the Duchess.
"I repeat, sir, you must come trespassing here, to bow--I say bah!
"I say tush!" interpolated the Duchess demurely.
"To an old--"
"Painted!" suggested the Duchess.
"Hum!" said the Captain, a little hipped, "I say--ha!--lady, sir--"
"With a wig!" added the Duchess.
"And with a young and handsome,--I say a handsome and roguish pair
of eyes, sir, that need no artificial aids, mam, nor ever will!"
"Three!" cried the Duchess, clapping her hands. "Oh, Jack! Jack
Chumly! you, like myself, improve with age! As a midshipman you were
too callow, as a lieutenant much too old and serious, but now that
you are a battered and wrinkled young captain, you can pay as pretty
a compliment as any other gallant youth. Actually three in one hour,
"Compliments, mam!" snorted the Captain, with an angry flap of his
empty sleeve, "Compliments, I scorn 'em! I say pish, mam,--I say bah!
I speak only the truth, mam, as well you know."
"Four!" cried the Duchess, with a gurgle of youthful laughter.
"Oh, Jack! Jack! I protest, as you sit there you are growing more
youthful every minute."
"Gad so, mam! then I'll go before I become a mewling infant--I say a
puling brat, mam."
"Stay a moment, Jack. I want you to explain your wishes to Mr. Beverley
in regard to Cleone's future."
"Certainly, your Grace--I say by all means, mam."
"Very well, then I'll begin. Listen--both of you. Captain Chumly,
being a bachelor and consequently an authority on marriage, has,
very properly, chosen whom his ward must marry; he has quite settled
and arranged it all, haven't you, Jack?"
"Quite, mam, quite."
"Thus, Cleone is saved all the bother and worry of choosing for
herself, you see, Mr. Beverley, for the Captain's choice is fixed,--
isn't it, Jack?"
"As a rock, mam--I say as an accurs--ha! an adamantine crag, mam.
My ward shall marry my nephew, Viscount Devenham, I am determined
"Consequently, Mr. Beverley, Cleone will, of course,
marry--whomsoever she pleases!"
"Eh, mam? I say, what?--I say--"
"Like the feminine creature she is, Mr. Beverley!"
"Now by Og,--I say by Og and Gog, mam! She is my ward, and so long
as I am her guardian she shall obey--"
"I say boh! Jack Chumly,--I say bah!" mocked the Duchess, nodding
her head at him. "Cleone is much too clever for you--or any other man,
and there is only one woman in this big world who is a match for her,
and that woman is--me. I've watched her growing up--day by day--year
after year into--just what I was--ages ago,--and to-day she
is--almost as beautiful,--and--very nearly as clever!"
"Clever, mam? So she is, but I'm her guardian and--she loves
me--I think, and--"
"Of course she loves you, Jack, and winds you round her finger
whenever she chooses--"
"Finger, mam! finger indeed! No, mam, I can be firm with her."
"As a candle before the fire, Jack. She can bend you to all the
points of your compass. Come now, she brought you here this
afternoon against your will,--now didn't she?"
"Ah!--hum!" said the Captain, scratching his chin.
"And coaxed you into your famous Trafalgar uniform, now didn't she?"
"Why as to that, mam, I say--"
"And petted you into staying here much longer than you intended, now
"Which reminds me that it grows late, mam," said the Captain, taking
out his watch and frowning at it. "I must find my ward. I say I will
bring Cleone to make you her adieux." So saying, he bowed and strode
away across the lawn.
"Poor Jack," smiled the Duchess, "he is such a dear, good, obedient
child, and he doesn't know it. And so your name is Beverley, hum! Of the
Beverleys of Ashleydown? Yet, no,--that branch is extinct, I know. Pray
what branch are you? Why, here comes Sir Mortimer Carnaby,--heavens,
how handsome he is! And you thrashed him, I think? Oh, I know all
about it, sir, and I know--why!"
"Then," said Barnabas, somewhat taken aback, "you'll know he
deserved it, madam."
"Mm! Have you met him since?"
"No, indeed, nor have I any desire to!"
"Oh, but you must," said the Duchess, and catching Sir Mortimer's
gaze, she smiled and beckoned him, and next moment he was bowing
before her. "My dear Sir Mortimer," said she, "I don't think you are
acquainted with my friend, Mr. Beverley?"
"No," answered Sir Mortimer with a perfunctory glance at Barnabas.
"Ah! I thought not. Mr. Beverley--Sir Mortimer Carnaby."
"Honored, sir," said Sir Mortimer, as they bowed.
"Mr. Beverley is, I believe, an opponent of yours, Sir Mortimer?"
pursued the Duchess, with her placid smile.
"An opponent! indeed, your Grace?" said he, favoring Barnabas with
another careless glance.
"I mean--in the race, of course," smiled the Duchess. "But oh, happy
man! So you have been blessed also?"
"I see you wear Cleone's favor,--you've been admitted to the Order
of the Rose, like all the others." And the Duchess tittered.
"Others, your Grace! What others?"
"Oh, sir, their name is Legion. There's Jerningham, and young Denton,
and Snelgrove, and Ensign D'Arcy, and hosts beside. Lud, Sir Mortimer,
where are your eyes? Look there! and there! and there again!" And,
with little darting movements of her fan, she indicated certain
young gentlemen, who strolled to and fro upon the lawn; now, in the
lapel of each of their coats was a single, red rose. "There's safety
in numbers, and Cleone was always cautious!" said the Duchess, and
Sir Mortimer glanced from those blooms to the flower in his own coat,
and his cheek grew darkly red, and his mouth took on a cruel look.
"Ah, Duchess," he smiled, "it seems our fair Cleone has an original
idea of humor,--very quaint, upon my soul!" And so he laughed, and
bowing, turned away.
"Now--watch!" said the Duchess, "there!" As she spoke, Sir Mortimer
paused, and with a sudden fierce gesture tore the rose from his coat
and tossed it away. "Now really," said the Duchess, leaning back and
fanning herself placidly, "I think that was vastly clever of me; you
should be grateful, sir, and so should Cleone--hush!--here she comes,
"Where?" inquired Barnabas, glancing up hastily.
"Ssh! behind us--on the other side of the hedge--clever minx!"
"Sit still, sir--hush, I say!"
"So that is the reason," said Cleone's clear voice, speaking within
a yard of them, "that is why you dislike Mr. Beverley?"
"Yes, and because of his presumption!" said a second voice, at the
sound of which Barnabas flushed and started angrily, whereupon the
Duchess instantly hooked him by the buttonhole again.
"His presumption in what, Mr. Chichester?"
"In his determined pursuit of you."
"Is he in pursuit of me?"
"Cleone--you know he is!"
"But how do you happen to know?"
"From his persecution of poor Ronald, for one thing."
"It amounted to that. He found his way to Ronald's wretched lodging,
and tempted the poor fellow with his gold,--indeed almost commanded
Ronald to allow him to pay off his debts--"
"But Ronald refused, of course?" said Cleone quickly.
"Of course! I was there, you see, and this Beverley is a stranger!"
"And yet, Cleone, when your unfortunate brother refused his
money,--this utter stranger, this Good Samaritan,--actually went
behind Ronald's back and offered to buy up his debts! Such a thing
might be done by father for son, or brother for brother, but why
should any man do so much for an utter stranger--?"
"Either because he is very base, or very--noble!" said Cleone.
"Noble! I tell you such a thing is quite impossible--unheard of! No
man would part with a fortune to benefit a stranger--unless he had a
"Well?" said Cleone softly.
"Well, Cleone, I happen to know that motive is--yourself!" Here the
Duchess, alert as usual, caught Barnabas by the cravat, and only just
"Sit still--hush!" she whispered, glancing up into his distorted
face, for Mr. Chichester was going on in his soft, deliberate voice:
"Oh, it is all very simple, Cleone, and very clumsy,--thus, see you.
In the guise of Good Samaritan this stranger buys the debts of the
brother, trusting to the gratitude of the sister. He knows your pride,
Cleone, so he would buy your brother and put you under lasting
obligation to himself. The scheme is a little coarse, and very
clumsy,--but then, he is young."
"And you say--he tried to pay these debts--without Ronald's knowledge?
Are you sure--quite sure?"
"Quite! And I know, also, that when Ronald's creditor refused, he
actually offered to double--to treble the sum! But, indeed, you
would be cheap at sixty thousand pounds, Cleone!"
"Oh--hateful!" she cried.
"Crude, yes, and very coarse, but, as I said before, he is
young--what, are you going?"
"Yes--no. Pray find my guardian and bring him to me."
"First, tell me I may see you again, Cleone, before I leave for
"Yes," said Cleone, after a momentary hesitation.
Thereafter came the tread of Mr. Chichester's feet upon the gravel,
soft and deliberate, like his voice.
Then Barnabas sighed, a long, bitter sigh, and looking up--saw
Cleone standing before him.
"Ah, dear Godmother!" said she lightly, "I hope your Grace was able
to hear well?"
"Perfectly, my dear, thank you--every word," nodded the Duchess,
"though twice Mr. Beverley nearly spoilt it all. I had to hold him
dreadfully tight,--see how I've crumpled his beautiful cravat.
Dear me, how impetuous you are, sir! As for you, Cleone, sit down,
my dear,--that's it!--positively I'm proud of you,--kiss me,--I mean
about the roses. It was vastly clever! You are myself over again."
"Your Grace honors me!" said Cleone, her eyes demure, but with a
dimple at the corner of her red mouth.
"And I congratulate you. I was a great success--in my day. Ah me!
I remember seeing you--an hour after you were born. You were very
pink, Cleone, and as bald as--as I am, without my wig. No--pray sit
still,--Mr. Beverley isn't looking at you, and he was just as bald,
once, I expect--and will be again, I hope. Even at that early age
you pouted at me, Cleone, and I liked you for it. You are pouting
now, Miss! To-day Mr. Beverley frowns at me, and I like him for
it,--besides, he's very handsome when he frowns, don't you think,
"Madam--" began Barnabas, with an angry look.
"Ah! now you're going to quarrel with me,--well there's the
Major,--I shall go. If you must quarrel with some one,--try Cleone,
she's young, and, I think, a match for you. Oh, Major! Major Piper,
pray lend your arm and protection to a poor, old, defenceless woman."
So saying, the Duchess rose, and the Major, bowing gallantly gave her
the limb she demanded, and went off with her, 'haw'-ing in his best
and most ponderous manner.
Barnabas sat, chin in hand, staring at the ground, half expecting
that Cleone would rise and leave him. But no! My lady sat leaning
back in her chair, her head carelessly averted, but watching him
from the corners of her eyes. A sly look it was, a searching,
critical look, that took close heed to all things, as--the fit and
excellence of his clothes; the unconscious grace of his attitude;
the hair that curled so crisp and dark at his temples; the woeful
droop of his lips;--a long, inquisitive look, a look wholly feminine.
Yes, he was certainly handsome, handsomer even than she had thought.
And finding him so, she frowned, and, frowning, spoke:
"So you meant to buy me, sir--as you would a horse or dog?"
"No," said Barnabas, without looking up, and speaking almost humbly.
"It would have been the same thing, sir," she continued, a little
more haughtily in consequence. "You would have put upon me an
obligation I could never, never have hoped to repay?"
"Yes, I see my error now," said Barnabas, his head sinking lower.
"I acted for the best, but I am a fool, and a clumsy one it seems. I
meant only to serve you, to fulfil the mission you gave me, and I
blundered--because I am--very ignorant. If you can forgive me, do so."
Now this humility was new in him, and because of this, and because
she was a woman, she became straightway more exacting, and questioned
"But why--why did you do it?"
"You asked me to save your brother, and I could see no other way--"
"How so? Please explain."
"I meant to free him from the debt which is crushing him down and
"But--oh, don't you see--he would still be in debt--to you?"
"I had forgotten that!" sighed Barnabas.
"Forgotten it?" she repeated.
Surely no man could lie, whose eyes were so truthful and steadfast.
"And so you went and offered to--buy up his debts?"
"For three times the proper sum?"
"I would have paid whatever was asked."
"Because I promised you to help him," answered Barnabas, staring at
the ground again.
"You must be--very rich?" said Cleone, stealing another look at him.
"And--supposing you had taken over the debt, who did you think would
ever repay you?"
"It never occurred to me."
"And you would have done--all this for a--stranger?"
"No, but because of the promise I gave."
"Yes,--but, as God sees me, I would have looked for no recompense at
"Unless I--I had dreamed it possible that you--could ever
have--loved me." Barnabas was actually stammering, and he was
looking at her--pleadingly, she knew, but this time my lady kept
her face averted, of course. Wherefore Barnabas sighed, and his
head drooping, stared at the ground again. And after he had stared
thus, for perhaps a full minute, my lady spoke, but with her face
"The moon is at the full to-night, I think?"
_Barnabas_ (lifting his head suddenly). "Yes."
_Cleone_ (quite aware of his quick glance). "And--how do you like--the
_Barnabas_ (staring at the ground again). "I don't know."
_Cleone_ (with unnecessary emphasis). "Why, she is the dearest, best,
cleverest old godmother in all the world, sir!"
_Barnabas_ (humbly). "Yes."
_Cleone_ (with a side glance). "Are you riding back to London to-night?"
_Barnabas_ (nodding drearily). "Yes."
_Cleone_ (watching him more keenly). "It should be glorious to gallop
under a--full-orbed moon."
_Barnabas_ (shaking his head mournfully). "London is a great way
_Cleone_ (beginning to twist a ring on her finger nervously).
"Do you remember the madman we met--at Oakshott's Barn?"
_Barnabas_ (sighing). "Yes. I met him in London, lately."
_Cleone_ (clasping her hands together tightly). "Did he talk about--the
_Barnabas_ (still sighing, and dense), "No, it was about some shadow,
_Cleone_ (frowning at him a little). "Well--do you remember what he
prophesied--about--an 'orbed moon'--and 'Barnaby Bright'?"
_Barnabas_ (glancing up with sudden interest). "Yes,--yes, he said we
should meet again at Barnaby Bright--under an orbed moon!"
_Cleone_ (head quite averted now, and speaking over her shoulder).
"Do you remember the old finger-post--on the Hawkhurst road?"
_Barnabas_ (leaning towards her eagerly). "Yes--do you mean--Oh,
_Cleone_ (rising, and very demure). "Here comes the Duchess with my
Guardian--hush! At nine o'clock, sir."
IN WHICH BARNABAS MAKES A SURPRISING DISCOVERY, THAT MAY NOT
SURPRISE THE READER IN THE LEAST
Evening, with the promise of a glorious night later on; evening,
full of dewy scents, of lengthening shadows, of soft, unaccountable
noises, of mystery and magic; and, over all, a rising moon, big and
yellow. Thus, as he went, Barnabas kept his eyes bent thitherward,
and his step was light and his heart sang within him for gladness, it
was in the very air, and in the whole fair world was no space for
care or sorrow, for his dreams were to be realized at a certain
finger-post on the Hawkhurst road, on the stroke of nine. Therefore,
as he strode along, being only human after all, Barnabas fell a
whistling to himself under his breath. And his thoughts were all of
Cleone, of the subtle charm of her voice, of the dimple in her chin,
of her small, proud feet, and her thousand sly bewitchments; but, at
the memory of her glowing beauty, his flesh thrilled and his breath
caught. Then, upon the quietude rose a voice near by, that spoke from
where the shadows lay blackest,--a voice low and muffled, speaking
as from the ground:
"How long, oh Lord, how long?"
And, looking within the shadow, Barnabas beheld one who lay face
down upon the grass, and coming nearer, soft-footed, he saw the
gleam of silver hair, and stooping, touched the prostrate figure.
Wherefore the heavy head was raised, and the mournful voice spoke
"Is it you, young sir? You will grieve, I think, to learn that my
atonement is not complete, my pilgrimage unfinished. I must wander
the roads again, preaching Forgiveness, for, sir,--Clemency is gone,
my Beatrix is vanished. I am--a day too late! Only one day, sir, and
there lies the bitterness."
"Gone!" cried Barnabas, "gone?"
"She left the place yesterday, very early in the morning,--fled
away none knows whither,--I am too late! Sir, it is very bitter, but
God's will be done!"
Then Barnabas sat down in the shadow, and took the Preacher's hand,
seeking to comfort him:
"Sir," said he gently, "tell me of it."
"Verily, for it is soon told, sir. I found the place you mentioned,
I found there also, one--old like myself, a sailor by his look, who
sat bowed down with some grievous sorrow. And, because of my own joy,
I strove to comfort him, and trembling with eagerness, hearkening
for the step of her I had sought so long, I told him why I was there.
So I learned I was too late after all,--she had gone, and his grief
was mine also. He was very kind, he showed me her room, a tiny
chamber under the eaves, but wondrous fair and sweet with flowers,
and all things orderly, as her dear hands had left them. And so we
stayed there a while,--two old men, very silent and full of sorrow.
And in a while, though he would have me rest there the night, I left,
and walked I cared not whither, and, being weary, lay down here
wishful to die. But I may not die until my atonement be complete,
and mayhap--some day I shall find her yet. For God is a just God,
and His will be done. Amen!"
"But why--why did she go?" cried Barnabas.
"Young sir, the answer is simple, the man Chichester had discovered
her refuge. She was afraid!" Here the Apostle of Peace fell silent,
and sat with bent head and lips moving as one who prayed. When at
last he looked up, a smile was on his lips. "Sir," said he,
"it is only the weak who repine, for God is just, and I know I shall
find her before I die!" So saying he rose, though like one who is
very weary, and stood upon his feet.
"Where are you going?" Barnabas inquired.
"Sir, my trust is in God, I take to the road again."
"To search for her?"
"To preach for her. And when I have preached sufficiently, God will
bring me to her. So come, young sir, if you will, let us walk
together as far as we may." Thus, together, they left the shadow and
went on, side by side, in the soft radiance of the rising moon.
"Sir," said Barnabas after a while, seeing his companion was very
silent, and that his thin hands often griped and wrung each other,
--that gesture which was more eloquent than words,--"Sir, is there
anything I can do to lighten your sorrow?"
"Yes, young sir, heed it well, let it preach to you this great truth,
that all the woes arid ills we suffer are but the necessary outcome
of our own acts. Oh sir,--young sir, in you and me, as in all other
men, there lies a power that may help to make or mar the lives of
our fellows, a mighty power, yet little dreamed of, and we call it
Influence. For there is no man but he must, of necessity, influence,
to a more or less degree, the conduct of those he meets, whether he
will or no,--and there lies the terror of it! Thus, to some extent,
we become responsible for the actions of our neighbors, even after
we are dead, for Influence is immortal. Man is a pebble thrown into
the pool of Life,--a splash, a bubble, and he is gone! But--the
ripples of Influence he leaves behind go on widening and ever
widening until they reach the farthest bank. Oh, had I but dreamed of
this in my youth, I might have been--a happy man to-night,
and--others also. In helping others we ourselves are blessed, for a
noble thought, a kindly word, a generous deed, are never lost; such
things cannot go to waste, they are our monuments after we are dead,
and live on forever."
So, talking thus, they reached a gate, and, beyond the gate, a road,
white beneath the moon, winding away between shadowy hedges.
"You are for London, I fancy, young sir?"
"Then we part here. But before I bid you God speed, I would
know your name; mine is Darville--Ralph Darville."
"And mine, sir, is Barnabas--Beverley."
"Beverley!" said the Preacher, glancing up quickly, "of Ashleydown?"
"Sir," said Barnabas, "surely they are all dead?"
"True, true!" nodded the Preacher, "the name is extinct. That is how
the man--Chichester came into the inheritance. I knew the family well,
years ago. The brothers died abroad, Robert, the elder, with his
regiment in the Peninsula, Francis, in battle at sea, and Joan--like
my own poor Beatrix, was unhappy, and ran away, but she was never
heard of again."
"And her name was Joan?" said Barnabas slowly, "Joan--Beverley?"
"Sir, Joan Beverley was my mother! I took her name--Beverley--for a
"Your mother! Ah, I understand it now; you are greatly like her, at
times, it was the resemblance that puzzled me before. But, sir--if
Joan Beverley was your mother, why then--"
"Then, Chichester has no right to the property?"
"If you can prove your descent."
"Yes," said Barnabas, "but--to whom?"
"You must seek out a Mr. Gregory Dyke, of Lincoln's Inn; he is the
lawyer who administered the estate--"
"Stay," said Barnabas, "let me write it down."
"And now, young sir," said the Preacher, when he had answered all
the eager questions of Barnabas as fully as he might, "now, young sir,
you know I have small cause to love the man--Chichester, but, remember,
you are rich already, and if you take this heritage also,--he will be
"Sir," said Barnabas, frowning, "better one destitute and starving,
than that many should be wretched, surely."
The Preacher sighed and shook his head.
"Young sir, good-by," said he, "I have a feeling we may meet again,
but life is very uncertain, therefore I would beg of you to remember
this: as you are strong, be gentle; as you are rich, generous; and
as you are young, wise. But, above all, be merciful, and strive to
forgive wrongs." So they clasped hands, then, sighing, the Preacher
turned and plodded on his lonely way. But, long after he had
vanished down the moonlit road, Barnabas stood, his fists clenched,
his mouth set, until he was roused by a sound near by, a very small
sound like the jingle of distant spurs. Therefore, Barnabas lifted
his head, and glanced about him, but seeing no one, presently went
his way, slow of foot and very thoughtful.
IN WHICH SHALL BE FOUND FURTHER MENTION OF A FINGER-POST
The hands of Natty Bell's great watch were pointing to the hour of
nine, what time Barnabas dismounted at the cross-roads, and
tethering Four-legs securely, leaned his back against the ancient
finger-post to wait the coming of Cleone.
Now being old, and having looked upon many and divers men (and women)
in its day, it is to be supposed that the ancient finger-post took
more or less interest in such things as chanced in its immediate
vicinity. Thus, it is probable that it rightly defined why this
particular long-legged human sighed so often, now with his gaze upon
the broad disc of the moon, now upon a certain point of the road
ahead, and was not in the least surprised to see Barnabas start
forward, bareheaded, to meet her who came swift and light of foot;
to see her pause before him, quick-breathing, blushing, sighing,
trembling; to see how glance met glance; to see him stoop to kiss the
hand she gave him, and all--without a word. Surprised? not a bit of
it, for to a really observant finger-post all humans (both he and she)
are much alike at such times.
"I began to fear you wouldn't come," said Barnabas, finding voice at
"But to-night is--Barnaby Bright, and the prophecy must be fulfilled,
sir. And--oh, how wonderful the moon is!" Now, lifting her head to
look at it, her hood must needs take occasion to slip back upon her
shoulders, as if eager to reveal her loveliness,--the high beauty of
her face, the smooth round column of her throat, and the shining
wonder of her hair.
"Cleone--how beautiful you are!"
And here ensued another silence while Cleone gazed up at the moon,
and Barnabas at Cleone.
But the ancient finger-post (being indeed wonderfully knowing--for a
finger-post) well understood the meaning of such silences, and was
quite aware of the tremble of the strong fingers that still held hers,
and why, in the shadow of her cloak, her bosom hurried so. Oh! be
sure the finger-post knew the meaning of it all, since humans, of
every degree, are only men and women after all.
"Cleone, when will you--marry me?"
Now here my lady stole a quick glance at him, and immediately looked
up at the moon again, because the eyes that could burn so fiercely
could hold such ineffable tenderness also.
"You are very--impetuous, I think," she sighed.
"But I--love you," said Barnabas, "not only for your beauty, but
because you are Cleone, and there is no one else in the world like
you. But, because I love you so much, it--it is very hard to tell
you of it. If I could only put it into fine-sounding phrases--"
"Don't!" said my lady quickly, and laid a slender (though very
imperious) finger upon his lips.
"Why?" Barnabas inquired, very properly kissing the finger and
holding it there.
"Because I grow tired of fine phrases and empty compliments, and
"Have you forgotten that my name is Barnabas?" he demanded, kissing
the captive finger again, whereupon it struggled--though very feebly,
to be sure.
"And because, Barnabas, you would be breaking your word."
"You must only tell me--that, when 'the sun is shining, and friends
are within call,'--have you forgotten your own words so soon?"
Now, as she spoke Barnabas beheld the dimple--that most elusive
dimple, that came and went and came again, beside the scarlet lure
of her mouth; therefore he drew her nearer until he could look, for
a moment, into the depths of her eyes. But here, seeing the glowing
intensity of his gaze, becoming aware of the strong, compelling arm
about her, feeling the quiver of the hand that held her own, lo! in
that instant my lady, with her sly bewitchments, her coquettish airs
and graces, was gone, and in her place was the maid--quick-breathing,
blushing, trembling, all in a moment.
"Ah, no!" she pleaded, "Barnabas, no!" Then Barnabas sighed, and
loosed his clasp--but behold! the dimple was peeping at him again.
And in that moment he caught her close, and thus, for the first time,
their lips met.
Oh, privileged finger-post to have witnessed that first kiss! To
have seen her start away and turn; to have felt her glowing cheek
pressed to thy hoary timbers; to have felt the sweet, quick tumult
of her bosom! Oh, thrice happy finger-post! To have seen young
Barnabas, radiant-faced, and with all heaven in his eyes! Oh, most
fortunate of finger-posts to have seen and felt all this, and to
have heard the rapture thrilling in his voice:
"Oh!" she whispered, "why--why did you?"
"Because I love you!"
"No other man ever dared to--"
"Heaven be praised!"
"Upon--the mouth!" she added, her face still hidden.
"Then I have set my seal upon it."
"And now,--am I--immaculate?"
"Look at me."
"Are you angry?"
"Yes, I--think I am, Barnabas,--oh, very!"
"Forgive me!" said Barnabas again.
"First," said my lady, throwing up her head, "am I--heartless and
"No, indeed, no! Oh, Cleone, is it possible you could learn to--love
me, in time?"
"I--I don't know."
"Some day, Cleone?"
"I--I didn't come to answer--idle questions, sir," says my lady,
suddenly demure. "It must be nearly half-past nine--I must go. I
forgot to tell you--Mr. Chichester is coming to meet me to-night--"
"To meet you? Where?" demanded Barnabas, fierce-eyed all at once.
"Here, Barnabas. But don't look so--so murderous!"
"At a quarter to ten, Barnabas. That is why I must go at--half-past
nine--Barnabas, stop! Oh, Barnabas, you're crushing me! Not again,
sir,--I forbid you--please, Barnabas!"
So Barnabas loosed her, albeit regretfully, and stood watching while
she dexterously twisted, and smoothed, and patted her shining hair
into some semblance of order; and while so doing, she berated him,
on this wise:
"Indeed, sir, but you're horribly strong. And very hasty. And your
hands are very large. And I fear you have a dreadful temper. And I
know my hair is all anyhow,--isn't it?"
"It is beautiful!" sighed Barnabas.
"Mm! You told me that in Annersley Wood, sir."
"You haven't forgotten, then?"
"Oh, no," answered Cleone, shaking her head, "but I would have you
more original, you see,--so many men have told me that. Ah! now
you're frowning again, and it's nearly time for me to go, and I
haven't had a chance to mention what I came for, which, of course,
is all your fault, Barnabas. To-day, I received a letter from Ronald.
He writes that he has been ill, but is better. And yet, I fear, he
must be very weak still, for oh! it's such poor, shaky writing. Was
he very ill when you saw him?"
"No," answered Barnabas.
"Here is the letter,--will you read it? You see, I have no one who
will talk to me about poor Ronald, no one seems to have any pity for
him,--not even my dear Tyrant."
"But you will always have me, Cleone!"
So Barnabas took Ronald Barrymaine's letter, and opening it, saw
that it was indeed scrawled in characters so shaky as to be
sometimes almost illegible; but, holding it in the full light of the
moon, he read as follows:
DEAREST OF SISTERS,--I was unable to keep the appointment
I begged for in my last, owing to a sudden indisposition,
and, though better now, I am still ailing. I fear my many
misfortunes are rapidly undermining my health, and
sometimes I sigh for Death and Oblivion. But, dearest Cleone,
I forbid you to grieve for me, I am man enough, I hope,
to endure my miseries uncomplainingly, as a man and a gentleman
should. Chichester, with his unfailing kindness, has offered me
an asylum at his country place near Headcorn, where I hope to
regain something of my wonted health. But for Chichester I
tremble to think what would have been my fate long
before this. At Headcorn I shall at least be nearer you,
my best of sisters, and it is my hope that you may be
persuaded to steal away now and then, to spend an hour
with two lonely bachelors, and cheer a brother's solitude.
Ah, Cleone! Chichester's devotion to you is touching, such
patient adoration must in time meet with its reward. By
your own confession you have nothing against him but
the fact that he worships you too ardently, and this, most
women would think a virtue. And remember, he is your
luckless brother's only friend. This is the only man who
has stood by me in adversity, the only man who can help
me to retrieve the past, the only man a truly loving sister
should honor with her regard. All women are more or
less selfish. Oh, Cleone, be the exception and give my
friend the answer he seeks, the answer he has sought of
you already, the answer which to your despairing brother
means more than you can ever guess, the answer whereby
you can fulfil the promise you gave our dying mother to