Part 8 out of 13
Your unfortunate brother,
Now, as he finished reading, Barnabas frowned, tore the letter
across in sudden fury, and looked up to find Cleone frowning also:
"You have torn my letter!"
"Abominable!" said Barnabas fiercely.
"How dared you?"
"It is the letter of a coward and weakling!"
"My brother, sir!"
"And you insult him!"
"He would sell you to a--" Barnabas choked.
"Mr. Chichester is my brother's friend."
"And poor Ronald is sick--"
"Oh--not that!" she cried sharply, "not that!"
"Didn't you know?"
"I only--dreaded it. His father--died of it. Oh, sir--oh, Barnabas!
there is no one else who will help him--save him from--that! You
will try, won't you?"
"Yes," said Barnabas, setting his jaw, "no one can help a man
against his will, but I'll try. And I ask you to remember that if I
succeed or not, I shall never expect any recompense from you, never!"
"Unless, Barnabas--" said Cleone, softly.
"Unless--oh, Cleone, unless you should--some day learn to--love
me--just a little, Cleone?"
"Would--just a little, satisfy you?"
"No," said Barnabas, "no, I want you all--all--all. Oh, Cleone, will
you marry me?"
"You are very persistent, sir, and I must go."
"Not yet,--pray not yet."
"Please, Barnabas. I would not care to see Mr. Chichester--to-night."
"No," sighed Barnabas, "you must go. But first,--will you--?"
"Not again, Barnabas!" And she gave him her two hands. So he stopped
and kissed them instead. Then she turned and left him standing
bareheaded under the finger-post. But when she had gone but a little
way she paused and spoke to him over her shoulder:
"Will you--write to me--sometimes?"
"Please, Barnabas,--to tell me of--my brother."
"And when can I see you again?"
"Ah! who can tell?" she answered. And so, smiling a little, blushing
a little, she hastened away.
Now, when she was gone, Barnabas stooped, very reverently, and
pressed his lips to the ancient finger-post, on that spot where her
head had rested, and sighed, and turned towards his great, black
But, even as he did so, he heard again that soft sound that was like
the faint jingle of spurs, the leaves of the hedge rustled, and out
into the moonlight stepped a tall figure, wild of aspect, bareheaded
and bare of foot; one who wore his coat wrong side out, and who,
laying his hand upon his bosom, bowed in stately fashion, once to
the moon and once to him.
"Oh, Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright,
The moon's awake, and shines all night!"
"Do you remember, Barnaby Bright, how I foretold we should meet
again--under an orbed moon? Was I not right? She's fair, Barnaby,
and passing fair, and very proud,--but all good, beautiful women are
proud, and hard in the winning,--oh, I know! Billy Button knows! My
buttons jingled, so I turned my coat, though I'm no turn-coat; once
a friend, always a friend. So I followed you, Barnaby Bright, I came
to warn you of the shadow,--it grows blacker every day,--back there
in the great city, waiting for you, Barnaby Bright, to smother
you--to quench hope, and light, and life itself. But I shall be there,
--and She. Aha! She shall forget all things then--even her pride.
Shadows have their uses, Barnaby, even the blackest. I came a long
way--oh, I followed you. But poor Billy is never weary, the Wise
Ones bear him up in their arms sometimes. So I followed you--and
another, also, though he didn't know it. Oho! would you see me
conjure you a spirit from the leaves yonder,--ah! but an evil spirit,
this! Shall I? Watch now! See, thus I set my feet! Thus I lift my
arms to the moon!"
So saying, the speaker flung up his long arms, and with his gaze
fixed upon a certain part of the hedge, lifted his voice and spoke:
"Oho, lurking spirit among the shadows! Ho! come forth, I summon ye.
The dew is thick amid the leaves, and dew is an evil thing for
purple and fine linen. Oho, stand forth, I bid ye."
There followed a moment's utter silence, then--another rustle amid
the leaves, and Mr. Chichester stepped out from the shadows.
"Ah, sir," said Barnabas, consulting his watch, "you are just
twenty-three minutes before your time. Nevertheless you are, I think,
Mr. Chichester glanced at Barnabas from head to foot, and, observing
his smile, Barnabas clenched his fists.
"Too late, sir?" repeated Mr. Chichester softly, shaking his head,
"no,--indeed I think not. Howbeit there are times and occasions when
solitude appeals to me; this is one. Pray, therefore, be good enough
to--go, and--ah--take your barefooted friend with you."
"First, sir," said Barnabas, bowing with aggressive politeness,
"first, I humbly beg leave to speak with you, to--"
"Sir," said Mr. Chichester, gently tapping a nettle out of existence
with his cane, "sir, I have no desire for your speeches, they, like
yourself, I find a little trying, and vastly uninteresting. I prefer
to stay here and meditate a while. I bid you good night, sir, a
"None the less, sir," said Barnabas, beginning to smile, "I fear I
must inflict myself upon you a moment longer, to warn you that I--"
"To warn me? Again? Oh, sir, I grow weary of your warnings, I do
indeed! Pray go away and warn somebody else. Pray go, and let me
stare upon the moon and twiddle my thumbs until--"
"If it is the Lady Cleone you wait for, she is gone!" said Youth,
quick and impetuous.
"Ah!" sighed Mr. Chichester, viewing Barnabas through narrowed eyes,
"gone, you say? But then, young sir," here he gently poked a
dock-leaf into ruin, "but then, Cleone is one of your tempting, warm,
delicious creatures! Cleone is a skilled coquette to whom all men
are--men. To-night it is--you, to-morrow--" Mr. Chichester's right
hand vanished into his bosom as Barnabas strode forward, but, on the
instant, Billy Button was between them.
"Stay, my Lord!" he cried, "look upon this face,--'t is the face of
my friend Barnaby Bright, but, my Lord, it is also the face of
Joan's son. You've heard tell of Joan, poor Joan who was unhappy,
and ran away, and got lost,--you'll mind Joan Beverley?" Now, in the
pause that followed, as Mr. Chichester gazed at Barnabas, his
narrowed eyes opened, little by little, his compressed lips grew
slowly loose, and the tasselled cane slipped from his fingers, and
lay all neglected.
"Sir," said Barnabas at last, "this is what I would have told you. I
am the lawful son of Joan Beverley, whose maiden name I took for--a
purpose. I have but to prove my claim and I can dispossess you of
the inheritance you hold, which is mine by right. But, sir, I have
enough for my needs, and I am, therefore, prepared to forego my just
claim--on a condition."
Mr. Chichester neither moved nor spoke.
"My condition," Barnabas continued, "is this. That, from this hour,
you loose whatever hold you have upon Ronald Barrymaine,--that you
have no further communication with him, either by word or letter.
Failing this, I institute proceedings at once, and will dispossess
you as soon as may be. Sir, you have heard my condition, it is for
you to answer."
But, as he ended, Billy Button pointed a shaking finger downwards at
the grass midway between them, and spoke:
"Look!" he whispered, "look! Do you not see it--bubbling so dark,
--down there among the grass? Ah! it reaches your feet, Barnaby
Bright. But--look yonder! it rises to his heart,--look!" and with a
sudden, wild gesture, he pointed to Chichester's rigid figure.
"Blood!" he cried, "blood!--cover it up! Oh, hide it--hide it!" Then,
turning about, he sped away, his muffled buttons jingling faintly as
he went, and so was presently gone.
Then Barnabas loosed his horse and mounted, and, with never a glance
nor word to the silent figure beneath the finger-post, galloped away
Now, had it been possible for a worn and decrepit finger-post to be
endued with the faculty of motion (which, in itself, is a ridiculous
thought, of course), it is probable that this particular one would
have torn itself up bodily, and hastened desperately after Barnabas
to point him away--away, east or west, or north or south,--anywhere,
so long as it was far enough from him who stood so very still, and
who stared with such eyes so long upon the moon, with his right hand
still hidden in his breast, while the vivid mark glowed, and glowed
upon the pallor of his cheek.
IN WHICH BARNABAS MAKES A BET, AND RECEIVES A WARNING
The fifteenth of July was approaching, and the Polite World, the
World of Fashion, was stirred to its politest depths. In the clubs
speculation was rife, the hourly condition of horses and riders was
discussed gravely and at length, while betting-books fluttered
everywhere. In crowded drawing-rooms and dainty boudoirs, love and
horse-flesh went together, and everywhere was a pleasurable
uncertainty, since there were known to be at least four competitors
whose chances were practically equal. Therefore the Polite World,
gravely busied with its cards or embroidery, and at the same time
striving mentally to compute the exact percentage of these chances,
was occasionally known to revoke, or prick its dainty finger.
Even that other and greater world, which is neither fashionable nor
polite,--being too busy gaining the wherewithal to exist,--even in
fetid lanes and teeming streets, in dingy offices and dingier places
still, the same excitement prevailed; busy men forgot their business
awhile; crouching clerks straightened their stooping backs, became
for the nonce fabulously rich, and airily bet each other vast sums
that Carnaby's "Clasher" would do it in a canter, that Viscount
Devenham's "Moonraker" would have it in a walk-over, that the
Marquis of Jerningham's "Clinker" would leave the field nowhere, and
that Captain Slingsby's "Rascal" would run away with it.
Yes, indeed, all the world was agog, rich and poor, high and low.
Any barefooted young rascal scampering along the kennel could have
named you the four likely winners in a breath, and would willingly
have bet his ragged shirt upon his choice, had there been any takers.
Thus, then, the perspicacious waiter at the "George" who, it will be
remembered, on his own avowal usually kept his eyes and ears open,
and could, therefore, see as far through a brick wall as most, knew
at once that the tall young gentleman in the violet coat with silver
buttons, the buckled hat and glossy Hessians, whose sprigged
waistcoat and tortuous cravat were wonders among their kind, was
none other than a certain Mr. Beverley, who had succeeded in
entering his horse at the last possible moment, and who, though an
outsider with not the remotest chance of winning, was, nevertheless,
something of a buck and dandy, the friend of a Marquis and Viscount,
and hence worthy of all respect. Therefore the perspicacious waiter
at the "George" viewed Barnabas with the eye of reverence, his back
was subservient, and his napkin eloquent of eager service, also he
bowed as frequently and humbly as such expensive and elegant attire
merited; for the waiter at the "George" had as just and reverent a
regard for fine clothes as any fine gentleman in the Fashionable
"A chair, sir!" Here a flick of the officious napkin. "Now shall we
say a chop, sir?" Here a smiling obeisance. "Or shall we make it a
steak, sir--cut thick, sir--medium done, and with--"
"No, thank you," said Barnabas, laying aside hat and cane.
"No, sir? Very good, sir! Certainly not, sir! A cut o' b'iled beef
might suit, p'raps,--with carrots? or shall we say--"
"Neither, thank you, but you can bring me a bottle of Burgundy and
"Burgundy, sir--Gazette? Certainly, sir--"
"And--I'm expecting a gentleman here of the name of Smivvle--"
"Certainly, sir! Burgundy, Gazette, Gent name of Sniffle, yessir!
Hanythink else, sir?"
"Yes, I should like pens and ink and paper."
"Yessir--himmediately, sir." Hereupon, and with many and divers bows
and flicks of the napkin, the waiter proceeded to set out the
articles in question, which done, he flicked himself out of the room.
But he was back again almost immediately, and had uncorked the
bottle and filled the glass with a flourish, a dexterity, a
promptness, accorded only to garments of the very best and most
ultra-fashionable cut. Then, with a bow that took in bestarched
cravat, betasselled Hessians, and all garments between, the waiter
fluttered away. So, in a while, Barnabas took pen and paper, and
began the following letter:
* * * * *
MY DEAR FATHER AND NATTY BELL,--Since writing
my last letter to you, I have bought a house near St.
James's, and set up an establishment second to none. I
will confess that I find myself like to be overawed by my
retinue of servants, and their grave and decorous politeness;
I also admit that dinner is an ordeal of courses,--
each of which, I find, requires a different method of attack;
for indeed, in the Polite World, it seems that eating is
cherished as one of its most important functions, hence,
dining is an art whereof the proper manipulation of the
necessary tools is an exact science. However, by treating
my servants with a dignified disregard, and by dint of
using my eyes while at table, I have committed no great
solecism so far, I trust, and am rapidly gaining in knowledge
I am happy to tell you that I have the good fortune
to be entered for the Gentlemen's Steeplechase, a most
exclusive affair, which is to be brought off at Eltham on
the fifteenth of next month. From all accounts it will
be a punishing Race, with plenty of rough going,--
plough, fallow, hedge and ditch, walls, stake-fences and
water. The walls and water-jump are, I hear, the worst.
Now, although I shall be riding against some of the
best horsemen in England, still I venture to think I
can win, and this for three reasons. First, because I intend
to try to the uttermost--with hand and heel and head.
Secondly, because I have bought a horse--such a horse
as I have only dreamed of ever possessing,--all fire and
courage, with a long powerful action--Oh, Natty Bell,
if you could but see him! Rising six, he is, with tushes
well through,--even your keen eye could find no flaw in
him, though he is, perhaps, a shade long in the cannon.
And, thirdly, I am hopeful to win because I was taught
horse-craft by that best, wisest of riders, Natty Bell.
Very often, I remember, you have told me, Natty Bell,
that races are won more by judgment of the rider than by
the speed of the horse, nor shall I forget this. Thus
then, sure of my horse, sure of myself, and that kind
Destiny which has brought me successfully thus far, I
shall ride light-hearted and confident.
Yet, my dears, should I win or lose, I would have you
remember me always as
Your dutiful, loving
* * * * *
Now, as Barnabas laid down his pen, he became aware of voices and
loud laughter from the adjacent coffee-room, and was proceeding to
fold and seal his letter when he started and raised his head, roused
by the mention of his own name spoken in soft, deliberate tones that
he instantly recognized:
"Ah, so you have met this Mr. Beverley?"
"Yes," drawled another, deeper voice, "the Duchess introduced him to
me. Who the deuce is he, Chichester?"
"My dear Carnaby, pray ask Devenham, or Jerningham, he's their
"Sir," broke in the Viscount's voice, speaking at its very iciest,--
"Mr. Beverley is--my friend!"
"And mine also, I trust!" thus the Marquis.
"Exactly!" rejoined Mr. Chichester's smooth tones, "and, consequently,
despite his mysterious origin, he is permitted to ride in the
Steeplechase among the very Úlite of the sporting world--"
"And why not, b'gad?" Captain Slingsby's voice sounded louder and
gruffer than usual, "I'll warrant him a true-blue,--sportsman every
inch, and damme! one of the right sort too,--sit a horse with any
man,--bird at a fence, and ready to give or take odds on his chances,
"Now really," Mr. Chichester's tone was softer than ever, "he would
seem to be a general favorite here. Still, it would, at least,
be--interesting to know exactly who and what he is."
"Yes," Sir Mortimer's voice chimed in, "and only right in justice to
ourselves. Seems to me, now I come to think of it, I've seen him
somewhere or other, before we were introduced,--be shot if I know
"In the--country, perhaps?" the Viscount suggested.
"Like as not," returned Sir Mortimer carelessly. "But, as Chichester
says, it _is_ devilish irregular to allow any Tom, Dick, or Harry to
enter for such a race as this. If, as Sling suggests, the fellow is
willing to back himself, it would, at least, be well to know that he
could cover his bets."
"Sir Mortimer!" the Viscount's tone was colder and sharper than
before, "you will permit me, in the first place, to tell you that
his name is neither Tom, nor Dick, nor Harry. And in the second place,
I would remind you that the gentleman honors me with his friendship.
And in the third place, that I suffer no one to cast discredit upon
my friends. D'you take me, Sir Mortimer?"
There followed a moment of utter stillness, then the sudden scrape
and shuffle of feet, and thereafter Carnaby's voice, a little raised
and wholly incredulous:
"What, Viscount,--d'you mean to take this fellow's part--against me?"
"Most certainly, if need be."
But here, before Sir Mortimer could reply, all five started and
turned as the door opened and Barnabas appeared on the threshold.
"Viscount," said he, "for that I thank you most sincerely, most
deeply. But, indeed, it will not be necessary, seeing I am here to
do it for myself, and to answer such questions as I think--proper."
"Ah, Mr.--Beverley!" drawled Sir Mortimer, seating himself on the
tale and crossing his legs, "you come pat, and since you are here, I
desire a word with you."
"As many as you wish, sir," answered Barnabas, and he looked very
youthful as he bowed his curly head.
"It would seem, Mr. Beverley, that you are something of a mystery,
and I, for one, don't like mysteries. Then it has been suggested
that you and I have met before our introduction, and, egad! now I
come to look at you more attentively, your face does seem familiar,
and I am curious to know who you may happen to be?"
"Sir," said Barnabas, looking more youthful than ever, "such rare
condescension, such lively interest in my concerns, touches
me--touches me deeply," and he bowed, lower than before.
"Suppose, sir," retorted Sir Mortimer, his cheek flushing a little,
"suppose you answer my question, and tell me plainly who and what
you are?" and he stared at Barnabas, swinging his leg to and fro as
he awaited his reply.
"Sir," said Barnabas, "I humbly beg leave to remark, that as to who
I am can concern only my--friends. As to what I am concerns only my
Maker and myself--"
"Oh, vastly fine," nodded Sir Mortimer, "but that's no answer."
"And yet I greatly fear it must suffice--for you, sir," sighed
Barnabas. Sir Mortimer's swinging foot grew still, and he frowned
"Now look you, sir," said he slowly, and with a menace in his eyes,
"when I trouble to ask a question, I expect an answer--"
"Alas, sir,--even your expectations may occasionally be disappointed,"
said Barnabas, beginning to smile aggressively. "But, as to my
resources, I do not lack for money, and am ready, here and now, to
lay you, or any one else, a thousand guineas that I shall be one of
the first three to pass the winning-post on the fifteenth."
Sir Mortimer's frown grew more ominous, the flush deepened in his
cheeks, and his powerful right hand clenched itself, then he laughed.
"Egad! you have plenty of assurance, sir. It is just possible that
you may have ridden--now and then?"
"Sufficiently to know one end of a horse from the other, sir,"
retorted Barnabas, his smile rather grim.
"And you are willing to bet a thousand guineas that you ride third
among all the best riders in the three kingdoms, are you?"
"No, sir," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "the bet was a rash one,
--I humbly beg leave to withdraw it. Instead, I will bet five
thousand guineas that I pass the winning-post before you do, Sir
Carnaby's smile vanished, and he stared up at calm-eyed Barnabas in
"You're not mad, are you?" he demanded at last, his red under-lip
"Sir," said Barnabas, taking out his memorandum, "it is now your
turn to answer. Do you take my bet?"
"Take it!" cried Sir Mortimer fiercely, "yes! I'll double it--make
it ten thousand guineas, sir!"
"Fifteen if you wish," said Barnabas, his pencil poised.
"No, by God! but I'll add another five and make it an even twenty
"May I suggest you double instead, and make it thirty?" inquired
"Ha!--may I venture to ask how much higher you are prepared to go?"
"Why, sir," said Barnabas thoughtfully, "I have some odd six hundred
thousand pounds, and I am prepared to risk--a half."
"Vastly fine, sir!" laughed Sir Mortimer, "why not put it at a round
million and have done with it. No, egad! I want something more than
"You might inquire of my bankers," Barnabas suggested.
"Twenty thousand will suit me very well, sir!" nodded Sir Mortimer.
"Then you take me at that figure, Sir Mortimer?"
"Yes, I bet you twenty thousand guineas that you do not pass the
winning-post ahead of me! And what's more,--non-starters to forfeit
their money! Oh, egad,--I'll take you!"
"And I also," said Mr. Chichester, opening his betting-book. "Gentlemen,
you are all witnesses of the bet. Come, Viscount,--Slingsby,--here's
good money going a-begging--why not gather it in--eh, Marquis?" But
the trio sat very silent, so that the scratch of Sir Mortimer's pencil
could be plainly heard as he duly registered his bet, which done,
he turned his attention to Barnabas again, looking him up and down
with his bold, black eyes.
"Hum!" said he musingly, "it sticks in my mind that I have seen
you--somewhere or other, before we met at Sir George Annersley's.
Perhaps you will tell me where?"
"With pleasure, sir," answered Barnabas, putting away his memorandum
book, "it was in Annersley Wood, rather early in the morning. And
"Annersley--Wood!" Sir Mortimer's careless, lounging air vanished,
and he stared at Barnabas with dilating eyes.
"And you wore, I remember, a bottle-green coat, which I had the
misfortune to tear, sir."
And here there fell a silence, once more, but ominous now, and full
of menace; a pregnant stillness, wherein the Viscount sat leaned
forward, his hands clutching his chair-arms, his gaze fixed upon
Barnabas; as for the Marquis, he had taken out his snuff-box and, in
his preoccupation, came very near inhaling a pinch; while Captain
Slingsby sat open-mouthed. Then, all at once, Sir Mortimer was on
his feet and had caught up a heavy riding-whip, and thus he and
Barnabas fronted each other, eye to eye,--each utterly still, yet
very much on the alert.
But now upon this tense silence came the soft, smooth tones of
"Pray, Mr. Beverley, may I speak a word with you--in private?"
"If the company will excuse us," Barnabas replied; whereupon
Mr. Chichester rose and led the way into the adjoining room,
and, closing the door, took a folded letter from his pocket.
"Sir," said he, "I would remind you that the last time we met,
you warned me,--indeed you have a weakness for warning people, it
seems,--you also threatened me that unless I agreed to--certain
conditions, you would dispossess me of my inheritance--"
"And I repeat it," said Barnabas.
"Oh, sir, save your breath and listen," smiled Mr. Chichester,
"for let me tell you, threats beget threats, and warnings, warnings!
Here is one, which I think--yes, which I venture to think you will
heed!" So saying, he unfolded the letter and laid it upon the table.
Barnabas glanced at it, hesitated, then stooping, read as follows:
DEAR LADY CLEONE,--I write this to warn you that the person calling
himself Mr. Beverley, and posing as a gentleman of wealth and
breeding, is, in reality, nothing better than a rich vulgarian, one
Barnabas Barty, son of a country inn-keeper. The truth of which
shall be proved to your complete satisfaction whenever you will, by:
Yours always humbly to command,
Now when he had finished reading, Barnabas sank down into a chair,
and, leaning his elbows upon the table, hid his face between his
hands; seeing which, Mr. Chichester laughed softly, and taking up
the letter, turned to the door. "Sir," said he, "as I mentioned
before, threats beget threats. Now,--you move, and I move. I tell you,
if you presume to interfere with me again in any way,--or with my
future plans in any way, then, in that same hour, Cleone shall know
you for the impudent impostor you are!" So Mr. Chichcster laughed
again, and laid his hand upon the latch of the door. But Barnabas
sat rigid, and did not move or lift his heavy head even when the
door opened and closed, and he knew he was alone.
Very still lie sat there, crouched above the table, his face hidden
in his hands, until he was roused by a cough, the most perfectly
discreet and gentleman-like cough in the world, such a cough, indeed,
as only a born waiter could emit.
"Sir," inquired the waiter, his napkin in a greater flutter than ever,
as Barnabas looked up, "sir,--is there hanythink you're wanting, sir?"
"Yes," said Barnabas, heavily, "you can--give me--my hat!"
OF THE TRIBULATIONS OF THE LEGS OF THE GENTLEMAN-IN-POWDER
The Gentleman-in-Powder, aware of a knocking, yawned, laid aside the
"Gazette," and getting upon his legs (which, like all things truly
dignified, were never given to hurry), they, in due season, brought
him to the door, albeit they shook with indignant quiverings at the
increasing thunder of each repeated summons. Therefore the
Gentleman-in-Powder, with his hand upon the latch, having paused
long enough to vindicate and compose his legs, proceeded to open the
portal of Number Five, St. James's Square; but, observing the person
of the importunate knocker, with that classifying and discriminating
eye peculiar to footmen, immediately frowned and shook his head:
"The hother door, me man,--marked 'tradesmen,'" said he, the angle
of his nose a little more supercilious than usual, "and ring only,
_if_ you please." Having said which, he shut the door again; that
is to say,--very nearly, for strive as he might, his efforts were
unavailing, by reason of a round and somewhat battered object which,
from its general conformation, he took to be the end of a formidable
bludgeon or staff. But, applying his eye to the aperture, he saw
that this very obtrusive object was nothing more or less than a leg
(that is to say, a wooden one), which was attached to the person of
a burly, broad-shouldered, fiercely bewhiskered man in clothes of
navy-blue, a man whose hairy, good-natured visage was appropriately
shaded by a very shiny glazed hat.
"Avast there!" said this personage in deep, albeit jovial tones,
"ease away there, my lad,--stand by and let old Timbertoes come
But the Gentleman-in-Powder was not to be cajoled. He sniffed.
"The hother door, me good feller!" he repeated, relentless but
dignified, "and ring only, _if_ you pl--"
The word was frozen upon his horrified lip, for Timbertoes had
actually set his blue-clad shoulder to the door, and now, bending
his brawny back, positively began to heave at it with might and main,
cheering and encouraging himself meanwhile with sundry nautical
"yo ho's." And all this in broad daylight! In St. James's Square!
Whereupon ensued the following colloquy:
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (pushing from within. Shocked and amazed).
"Wot's this? Stop it! Get out now, d'ye hear!"
_Timbertoes_ (pushing from without. In high good humor). "With a ho,
my hearties, and a merrily heave O!"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (struggling almost manfully, though legs
highly agitated). "I--I'll give you in c-charge! I'll--"
_Timbertoes_ (encouraging an imaginary crew). "Cheerily! Cheerily!
heave yo ho!"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (losing ground rapidly. Condition of legs
indescribable). "I never--see nothing--like this here! I'll--"
_Timbertoes_ (all shoulders, whiskers and pig-tail). "With a heave and
a ho, and up she rises O!"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (extricating his ruffled dignity from
between wall and door). "Oh, very good,--I'll give you in charge for
this, you--you feller! Look at me coat! I'll send for a constable.
_Timbertoes_. "Belay, my lad! This here's Number Five, ain't it?"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (glancing down apprehensively at his
quivering legs). "Yes,--and I'll--"
_Timbertoes_. "Cap'n Beverley's craft, ain't it?"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (re-adjusting his ruffled finery). "_Mister_
Beverley occipies this here res-eye-dence!"
_Timbertoes_ (_nodding_). "Mister Beverley,--oh, ah, for sure. Well,
is 'e aboard?"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (with lofty sarcasm). "No, 'e ain't! Nor a
stick, nor a stock, nor yet a chair, nor a table. And, wot's more,
'e ain't one to trouble about the likes o' you, neether."
_Timbertoes_. "Belay, my lad, and listen. I'm Jerry Tucker, late
Bo'sun in 'is Britannic Majesty's navy,--'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four.
D'ye get that? Well, now listen again. According to orders I hove
anchor and bore up for London very early this morning, but being
strange to these 'ere waters, was obleeged to haul my wind and stand
off and on till I fell in with a pilot, d'ye see. But, though late,
here I am all ship-shape and a-taunto, and with despatches safe and
sound. Watch, now!" Hereupon the Bo'sun removed the glazed hat, held
it to his hairy ear, shook it, nodded, and from somewhere in its
interior took out and held up three letters.
"D'ye see those, my lad?" he inquired.
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (haughtily). "I ain't blind!"
_Timbertoes_. "Why then--you'll know what they are, p'raps?"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (witheringly). "Nor I ain't a fool, neether."
_Timbertoes_ (dubiously). "Ain't you, though?"
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (legs again noticeably agitated). "No, I
ain't. I've got all _my_ faculties about _me_."
_Timbertoes_ (shaking head incredulously). "Ah! but where do you stow
_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (legs convulsed). "And--wot's more, I've got
my proper amount o' limbs too!"
_Timbertoes_. "Limbs? If it's legs you're meaning, I should say as
you'd got more nor your fair share,--you're all legs, you are! Why,
Lord! you're grow'd to legs so surprising, as I wonder they don't
walk off with you, one o'these here dark nights, and--lose you!"
But at this juncture came Peterby, sedate, grave, soft of voice as
became a major-domo and the pink of a gentleman's gentleman, before
whose quick bright eye the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder grew, as
it were, suddenly abashed, and to whom the Bo'sun, having made a leg,
forthwith addressed himself.
"Sarvent, sir--name o' Jerry Tucker, late Bo'sun, 'Bully-Sawyer,'
Seventy-four; come aboard with despatches from his Honor Cap'n
Chumly and my Lady Cleone Meredith. To see Mr. Barnabas Beverley,
Esquire. To give these here despatches into Mr. Beverley Esquire's
own 'and. Them's my orders, sir."
"Certainly, Bo'sun," said Peterby; and, to the Gentleman-in-Powder,
his bow was impressive; "pray step this way."
So the Bo'sun, treading as softly as his wooden leg would allow,
stumped after him upstairs and along a thickly carpeted corridor, to
a certain curtained door upon which Peterby gently knocked, and
thereafter opening, motioned the Bo'sun to enter.
It was a small and exquisitely furnished, yet comfortable room,
whose luxurious appointments,--the rich hangings, the rugs upon the
floor, the pictures adorning the walls,--one and all bore evidence
to the rare taste, the fine judgment of this one-time poacher of
rabbits, this quiet-voiced man with the quick, bright eyes, and the
subtly humorous mouth. But, just now, John Peterby was utterly
serious as he glanced across to where, bowed down across the
writing-table, his head pillowed upon his arms, his whole attitude
one of weary, hopeless dejection, sat Barnabas Beverley, Esquire. A
pen was in his lax fingers, while upon the table and littering the
floor were many sheets of paper, some half covered with close writing,
some crumpled and torn, some again bearing little more than a name;
but in each and every case the name was always the same. Thus, John
Peterby, seeing this drooping, youthful figure, sighed and shook his
head, and went out, closing the door behind him.
"Is that you, John?" inquired Barnabas, with bowed head.
"No, sir, axing your pardon, it be only me, Jerry Tucker, Bo'sun,
"Bo'sun!" With the word Barnabas was upon his feet. "Why, Bo'sun,"
he cried, wringing the sailor's hand, "how glad I am to see you!"
"Mr. Beverley, sir," began the Bo'sun, red-faced and diffident by
reason of the warmth of his reception, "I've come aboard with
despatches, sir. I bring you a letter from his Honor the Cap'n, from
'er Grace the Duchess, and from Lady Cleone, God bless her!"
"A letter from--her!" Then taking the letters in hands that were
strangely unsteady, Barnabas crossed to the window, and breaking the
seal of a certain one, read this:
DEAR MR. BARNABAS (the 'Beverley' crossed out),--Her Grace, my dear
god-mother, having bullied my poor Tyrant out of the house, and
quarrelled with me until she is tired, has now fixed her mind upon
you. She therefore orders her dutiful god-daughter to write you these,
hoping that thereby you may be induced to yield yourself a willing
slave to her caprices and come down here for a few days. Though the
very dearest and best of women, my god-mother, as you may remember,
possesses a tongue, therefore--be warned, sir! My Tyrant at this
precise moment sits in the 'round house,' whither he has retreated
to solace his ruffled feelings with tobacco. So, I repeat, sir, be
warned! And yet, though indeed, 't is strange, and passing strange,
she speaks of you often, and seems to hold you in her kind regard.
But, for all that, do not be misled, sir; for the Duchess is always
the Duchess,--even to poor me. A while ago, she insisted on playing a
game of chess; as I write the pieces lie scattered on the floor.
_I_ shan't pick them up,--why should I? So you see her Grace is
quite herself to-day. Nevertheless, should you determine to run the
risk, you will, I think, find a welcome awaiting you from,
Yours, dear sir,
P.S.--The Bo'sun assures me the moon will last another week.
This Postscript Master Barnabas must needs read three times over,
and then, quick and furtive, press the letter to his lips ere he
thrust it into his bosom, and opened and read the Captain's:
Written in the Round-house,
June 29, 18--.
MY DEAR BEVERLEIGH,--How is Fashion and the
Modish World? as trivial as usual, I'll warrant me. The
latest sensation, I believe, is Cossack Trousers,--have
you tried 'em yet? But to come to my mutton, as the
The Duchess of Camberhurst, having honored my
house with her presence--and consequently set it in an
uproar, I am constantly running foul of her, though
more often she is falling aboard of me. To put it plainly,
what with cross-currents, head-seas, and shifting winds
that come down suddenly and blow great guns from every
point of the compass, I am continually finding myself
taken all a-back, as it were, and since it is quite
impossible to bring to and ride it out, am consequently
forced to go about and run for it, and continually pooped,
even then,--for a woman's tongue is, I'm sure, worse
than any following sea.
Hence, my sweet Clo, with her unfailing solicitude
for me, having observed me flying signals of distress, has
contrived to put it into my head that your presence might
have a calming effect. Therefore, my dear boy, if you
can manage to cast off the grapples of the Polite World
for a few days, to run down here and shelter a battered
old hulk under your lee, I shall be proud to have you as
Yours faithfully to serve,
P.S.--Pray bring your valet; you will need him, her
Grace insists on dressing for dinner. Likewise my Trafalgar
coat begins to need skilled patching, here and there;
it is getting beyond the Bo'sun.
Here again Barnabas must needs pause to read over certain of the
Captain's scrawling characters, and a new light was in his eyes as
he broke the seal of her Grace's epistle.
MY DEAR MR. BEVERLEY,--The country down here,
though delightfully Arcadian and quite idyllic (hayricks
are so romantic, and I always adored cows--in pictures),
is dreadfully quiet, and I freely confess that I generally
prefer a man to a hop-pole (though I do wear a wig), and
the voice of a man to the babble of brooks, or the trill of
a skylark,--though I protest, I wouldn't be without
them (I mean the larks) for the world,--they make me
long for London so.
Then again, the Captain (though a truly dear soul,
and the most gallant of hosts) treats me very much as
though I were a ship, and, beside, he is so dreadfully
As for Cleone, dear bird, she yawns until my own
eyes water (though, indeed, she has very pretty teeth),
and, on the whole, is very dutiful and quarrels with me
whenever I wish. 'T is quite true she cannot play chess;
she also, constantly, revokes at Whist, and is quite as
bad-tempered over it as I am. Cards, I fear, are altogether
beyond her at present,--she is young. Of course time may
change this, but I have grave doubts. In this deplorable
situation I turn to you, dear Mr. Beverley (Cleone knew
your address, it seems), and write these hasty lines to
ntreat,--nay, to command you to come and cheer our solitude.
Cleone has a new gown she is dying to wear, and I have
much that you must patiently listen to, so that I may
truly subscribe myself'
Your grateful friend,
P.S.--I have seen the finger-post on the London Road.
And now, having made an end of reading, Barnabas sighed and smiled,
and squared his stooping shoulders, and threw up his curly head, and
turning, found the Bo'sun still standing, hat in fist, lost in
contemplation of the gilded ceiling. Hereupon Barnabas caught his
hand, and shook it again, and laughed for very happiness.
"Bo'sun, how can I thank you!" said he, "these letters have given me
new hope--new life! and--and here I leave you to stand, dolt that I
am! And with nothing to drink, careless fool that I am. Sit down, man,
sit down--what will you take, wine? brandy?"
"Mr. Beverley, sir," replied the Bo'sun diffidently, accepting the
chair that Barnabas dragged forward, "you're very kind, sir, but if
I might make so bold,--a glass of ale, sir--?"
"Ale!" cried Barnabas. "A barrel if you wish!" and he tugged at the
bell, at whose imperious summons the Gentleman-in-Powder appearing
with leg-quivering promptitude, Barnabas forthwith demanded
"Ale,--the best, and plenty of it! And pray ask Mr. Peterby to come
here at once!" he added.
"Sir," said the Bo'sun as the door closed, "you'll be for steering a
course for Hawkhurst, p'r'aps?"
"We shall start almost immediately," said Barnabas, busily
collecting those scattered sheets of paper that littered floor and
table; thus he was wholly unaware of the look that clouded the
sailor's honest visage.
"Sir," said the Bo'sun, pegging thoughtfully at a rose in the carpet
with his wooden leg, "by your good leave, I'd like to ax 'ee a
"Certainly, Bo'sun, what is it?" inquired Barnabas, looking up from
the destruction of the many attempts of his first letter to Cleone.
"Mr. Beverley, sir," said the Bo'sun, pegging away at the carpet as
he spoke, "is it--meaning no offence, and axing your pardon,--but
are you hauling your wind and standing away for Hawkhurst so prompt
on 'account o' my Lady Cleone?"
"Yes, Bo'sun, on account of our Lady Cleone."
"Why, then, sir," said the Bo'sun, fixing his eyes on the ceiling
again, "by your leave--but,--why, sir?"
"Because, Bo'sun, you and I have this in common, that we both--love
Here the Bo'sun dropped his glazed hat, and picking it up, sat
turning it this way and that, in his big, brown fingers.
"Why, then, sir," said he, looking up at Barnabas suddenly,
"what of Master Horatio, his Lordship?"
"Why, Bo'sun, I told him about it weeks ago. I had to. You see, he
honors me with his friendship."
The Bo'sun nodded, and broke into his slow smile:
"Ah, that alters things, sir," said he. "As for loving my lady--why?
who could help it?"
"Who, indeed, Bo'sun!"
"Though I'd beg to remind you, sir, as orders _is_ orders, and
consequently she's bound to marry 'is Lordship--some day--"
"Or--become a mutineer!" said Barnabas, as the door opened to admit
Peterby, who (to the horror of the Gentleman-in-Powder, and despite
his mutely protesting legs), actually brought in the ale himself; yet,
as he set it before the Bo'sun, his sharp eyes were quick to notice
his young master's changed air, and brightened as if in sympathy.
"I want you, John, to know my good friend Bo'sun Jerry," said
Barnabas, "a Trafalgar man--"
"'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four!" added the Bo'sun, rising and
extending his huge hand.
"We are all going to Hawkhurst, at once, John," continued Barnabas,
"so pack up whatever you think necessary--a couple of valises will
do, and tell Martin I'll have the phaeton,--it's roomier; and I'll
drive the bays. And hurry things, will you, John?"
So John Peterby bowed, solemn and sedate as ever, and went upon his
errand. But it is to be remarked that as he hastened downstairs, his
lips had taken on their humorous curve, and the twinkle was back in
his eyes; also he nodded his head, as who would say:
"I thought so! The Lady Cleone Meredith, eh? Well,--the sooner the
Thus the Bo'sun had barely finished his ale, when the
Gentleman-in-Powder appeared to say the phaeton was at the door.
And a fine, dashing turn-out it was, too, with its yellow wheels,
its gleaming harness, and the handsome thorough-breds pawing
Then, the Bo'sun having duly ensconced himself, with Peterby in the
rumble as calm and expressionless as the three leather valises under
the seat, Barnabas sprang in, caught up the reins, nodded to Martin
the gray-haired head groom, and giving the bays their heads, they
were off and away for Hawkhurst and the Lady Cleone Meredith,
whirling round corners and threading their way through traffic at a
speed that caused the Bo'sun to clutch the seat with one hand, and
the glazed hat with the other, and to remark in his diffident way
"These here wheeled craft might suit some, but for comfort and
safety give me an eight-oared galley!"
HOW BARNABAS SOUGHT COUNSEL OF THE DUCHESS "BO'SUN?"
"Do you know the Duchess of Camberhurst well?"
"Know her, sir?" repeated the Bo'sun, giving a dubious pull at his
starboard whisker; "why, Mr. Beverley, sir, there's two things as I
knows on, as no man never did know on, nor never will know on,--and
one on 'em's a ship and t' other's a woman."
"But do you know her well enough to like and--trust?"
"Why, Mr. Beverley, sir, since you ax me, I'll tell you--plain and
to the p'int. We'll take 'er Grace the Duchess and say, clap her
helm a-lee to tack up ag'in a beam wind, a wind, mind you, as ain't
strong enough to lift her pennant,--and yet she'll fall off and miss
her stays, d'ye see, or get took a-back and yaw to port or starboard,
though, if you ax me why or wherefore, I'll tell you as how,--her
being a woman and me only a man,--I don't know. Then, again, on the
contrary, let it blow up foul--a roaring hurricane say, wi' the seas
running high, ah! wi' the scud flying over her top-s'l yard, and she'll
rise to it like a bird, answer to a spoke, and come up into the
wind as sweet as ever you see. The Duchess ain't no fair-weather
craft, I'll allow, but in 'owling, raging tempest she's staunch, sir,
--ah, that she is,--from truck to keelson! And there y'are, Mr. Beverley,
"Do you mean," inquired Barnabas, puzzled of look, "that she is to
be depended on--in an emergency?"
"Ay, sir--that she is!"
"Ah!" said Barnabas, nodding, "I'm glad to know that, Bo'sun,--very
glad." And here he became thoughtful all at once. Yet after a while
he spoke again, this time to Peterby.
"You are very silent, John."
"I am--your valet, sir!"
"Then, oh! man," exclaimed Barnabas, touching up the galloping bays
quite unnecessarily, "oh, man--forget it a while! Here we sit--three
men together, with London miles behind us, and the Fashionable World
further still. Here we sit, three men, with no difference between us,
except that the Bo'sun has fought and bled for this England of ours,
you have travelled and seen much of the world, and I, being the
youngest, have done neither the one nor the other, and very little
else--as yet. So, John,--be yourself; talk, John, talk!"
Now hereupon John Peterby's grave dignity relaxed, a twinkle dawned
in his eyes, and his lips took on their old-time, humorous curve.
And lo! the valet became merged and lost in the cosmopolitan, the
dweller in many cities, who had done and seen much, and could tell
of such things so wittily and well that the miles passed unheeded,
while the gallant bays whirled the light phaeton up hill and down
dale, contemptuous of fatigue.
It needs not here to describe more fully this journey whose tedium
was unnoticed by reason of good-fellowship. Nor of the meal they ate
at the "Chequers" Inn at Tonbridge, and how they drank (at the
Bo'sun's somewhat diffident suggestion) a health "to his Honor the
Cap'n, and the poor old 'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four."
And thus Barnabas, clad in purple and fine linen and driving his own
blood horses, talked and laughed with a one-legged mariner, and
sought the companionship of his own valet; which irregularity must
be excused by his youth and inexperience, and the lamentable fact
that, despite his purple and fine linen, he was, as yet, only a man,
Thus, then, as evening fell, behold them spinning along that winding
road where stood a certain ancient finger-post pointing the wayfarer:
TO LONDON. TO HAWKHURST
At sight of which weather-worn piece of timber. Barnabas must needs
smile, though very tenderly, and thereafter fall a-sighing. But all
at once he checked his sighs to stare in amazement, for there,
demurely seated beneath the finger-post, and completely engrossed in
her needlework, was a small, lonely figure, at sight of which
Barnabas pulled up the bays in mid-career.
"Why--Duchess!" he exclaimed, and, giving Peterby the reins, stepped
out of the phaeton.
"Ah! is that you, Mr. Beverley?" sighed the Duchess, looking up from
her embroidery, which, like herself, was very elaborate, very dainty,
and very small. "You find me here, sitting by the wayside,--and a
very desolate figure I must look, I'm sure,--you find me here because
I have been driven away by the tantrums of an undutiful god-daughter,
and the barbarity of a bloodthirsty buccaneer. I mean the Captain,
of course. And all because I had the forethought to tell Cleone her
nose was red,--which it was,--sunburn you know, and because I
remarked that the Captain was growing as rotund as a Frenchman,
which he is,--I mean fat, of course. All Frenchmen are fat--at least
some are. And then he will wear such a shabby old coat! So here I am,
Mr. Beverley, very lonely and very sad, but industrious you see,
quite as busy as Penelope, who used to spin webs all day long,--which
sounds as though she were a spider instead of a classical lady who
used to undo them again at night,--I mean the webs, not the spiders.
But, indeed, you're very silent, Mr. Beverley, though I'm glad to
see you are here so well to time."
"To time, madam?"
"Because, you see, I 've won my bet. Oh yes, indeed, I bet about
everything nowadays,--oh, feverishly, sir, and shall do, until the
race is over, I suppose."
"Yes. I bet Cleone an Indian shawl against a pair of beaded mittens
that you would be here, to-day, before ten o'clock. So you see, you
are hours before your time, and the mittens are mine. Talking of
Cleone, sir, she's in the orchard. She's also in a shocking
temper--indeed quite cattish, so you'd better stay here and talk to
me. But then--she's alone, and looking vastly handsome, I'll admit,
so, of course, you're dying to be gone--now aren't you?"
"No," Barnabas replied, and turning, bade Peterby drive on to the
"Then you ought to be!" retorted the Duchess, shaking an admonitory
finger at him, yet smiling also as the carriage rolled away.
"Youth can never prefer to listen to a chattering old woman--in a wig!"
"But you see, madam, I need your help, your advice," said Barnabas
"Ah, now I love giving people advice! It's so pleasant and--easy!"
"I wish to confide in you,--if I may."
"Confidences are always interesting--especially in the country!"
"Duchess, I--I--have a confession to make."
"A confession, sir? Then I needn't pretend to work any
longer--besides, I always prick myself. There!" And rolling the very
small piece of embroidery into a ball, she gave it to Barnabas.
"Pray sir, hide the odious thing in your pocket. Will you sit beside
me? No? Very well--now, begin, sir!"
"Why, then, madam, in the first place, I--"
"I--that is to say,--you--must understand that--in the first place--"
"You've said 'first place' twice!" nodded the Duchess as he paused.
"Yes--Oh!--Did I? Indeed I--I fear it is going to be even harder to
speak of than I thought, and I have been nerving myself to tell you
ever since I started from London."
"To tell me what?"
"That which may provoke your scorn of me, which may earn me Cleone's
"Why then, sir--don't say another word about it--"
"Ah, but I must--indeed I must! For I know now that to balk at it,
to--to keep silent any longer would be dishonorable--and the act of
"Oh dear me!" sighed the Duchess, "I fear you are going to be
dreadfully heroic about something!"
"Let us say--truthful, madam!"
"But, sir,--surely Truthfulness, after all, is merely the last
resource of the hopelessly incompetent! Anyhow it must be very
uncomfortable, I'm sure," said the Duchess, nodding her head. Yet
she was quick to notice the distress in his voice, and the gleam of
moisture among the curls at his temple, hence her tone was more
encouraging as she continued. "Still, sir, speak on if you wish,
for even a Duchess may appreciate honor and truth--in another,
of course,--though she does wear a wig!"
"Believe me," sighed Barnabas, beginning to stride restlessly to and
fro, "the full significance of my conduct never occurred to me
until it was forced on my notice by--by another, and then--" he
paused and brushed the damp curls from his brow. "To-day I tried to
write to Cleone--to tell her everything, but I--couldn't."
"So you decided to come and tell me first, which was very nice of you,"
nodded the Duchess, "oh, very right and proper! Well, sir, I'm
"First, then," said Barnabas, coming to a halt, and looking down at
her steadfast-eyed, "you must know that my real name is--Barty."
"Barty?" repeated the Duchess, raising her brows. "Mm! I like
Beverley much better."
"Beverley was my mother's name. She was Joan Beverley."
"Joan? Joan Beverley? Why y-e-s, I think I remember her, and the
talk there was. Joan? Ah yes, to be sure,--very handsome,
and--disappeared. No one knew why, but now,--I begin to understand.
You would suggest--"
"That she became the honorable wife of my father, John Barty, the
celebrated pugilist and ex-champion of England, now keeper of a
village inn," said Barnabas, speaking all in a breath, but
maintaining his steadfast gaze.
"Eh?" cried the Duchess, and rose to her feet with astonishing
ease for one of her years, "eh, sir, an innkeeper! And your
mother--actually married him?" and the Duchess shivered.
"Yes, madam. I am their lawful son."
"Dreadful!" cried the Duchess, "handsome Joan Beverley--married to
an--inn-keeper! Horrible! She'd much better have died--say, in a
ditch--so much more respectable!"
"My father is an honorable man!" said Barnabas, with upflung head.
"Your father is--an inn-keeper!"
"And--my father, madam!"
"The wretch!" exclaimed the Duchess. "Oh, frightful!" and she
"And his son--loves Cleone!"
"Dreadful! Frightful" cried the Duchess. "An inn-keeper's son! Beer
and skittles and clay pipes! Oh, shocking!" And here, shuddering for
the third time as only a great lady might, she turned her back on him.
"Ah," cried Barnabas, "so you scorn me--already?"
"For being--an inn-keeper's son?"
"For--telling of it!"
"And yet," said Barnabas, "I think Barnabas Barty is a better man
than Barnabas Beverley, and a more worthy lover; indeed I know he is.
And, as Barnabas Barty, I bid your Grace good-by!"
"Where are you going?"
"To the village inn, madam, my proper place, it seems.
But--to-morrow morning, unless you have told Cleone, I shall. And now,
if your Grace will have the kindness to send my servant to me--"
"But--why tell Cleone?" inquired the Duchess over her shoulder;
"there is one alternative left to you."
"Then, madam, in heaven's name,--tell it me!" cried Barnabas eagerly.
"A ridiculously simple one, sir."
"Oh, madam--what can I do--pray tell me."
"You must--disown this inn-keeping wretch, of course. You must cast
him off--now, at once, and forever!"
"Disown him--my father!"
Barnabas stared wide-eyed. Then he laughed, and uncovering his head,
"Madam," said he, "I have the honor to bid your Grace good-by!"
"You--will tell Cleone then?"
"Because I love her. Because I, therefore, hate deceit, and because
"And because Mr. Chichester knows already."
"Ah! You mean that he has forced your hand, sir, and now you would
make the best of it--"
"I mean that he has opened my eyes, madam."
"And to-morrow you will tell Cleone?"
"And, of course, she will scorn you for an impudent impostor?"
Now at this Barnabas flinched, for these were Chichester's own words,
and they bore a double sting.
"And yet--I must tell her!" he groaned.
"And afterwards, where shall you go?"
"Anywhere," he sighed, with a hopeless gesture.
"Will be run without me."
"And your friends--the Marquis, Viscount Devenham, and the rest?"
"Will, I expect, turn their gentlemanly backs upon me--as you
yourself have done. So, madam, I thank you for your past kindness,
and bid you--good-by"
"Of what avail, madam?" sighed Barnabas, turning away.
"Come back--I command you!"
"I am beneath your Grace's commands, henceforth," said Barnabas, and
plodded on down the road.
"Then I--beg of you!"
"Why?" he inquired, pausing.
"Because--oh, because you are running off with my precious needlework,
of course. In your pocket, sir,--the left one!" So, perforce,
Barnabas came back, and standing again beneath the finger-post, gave
the Duchess her very small piece of embroidery. But, behold! his hand
was caught and held between two others, which, though very fragile,
were very imperious.
"Barnabas," said the Duchess very softly, "oh, dear me, I'm glad you
told me, oh very! I hoped you would!"
"Hoped? Why--why, madam, you--then you knew?"
"All about it, of course! Oh, you needn't stare--it wasn't witchcraft,
it was this letter--read it." And taking a letter from her reticule,
she gave it to Barnabas, and watched him while he read:
TO HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF CAMBERHURST.
MADAM,--In justice to yourself I take occasion to
warn your Grace against the person calling himself Barnabas
Beverley. He is, in reality, an impudent impostor of
humble birth and mean extraction. His real name and
condition I will prove absolutely to your Grace at another
Your Grace's most humble obedt.
"So you see I'm not a witch, sir,--oh no, I'm only an old woman, with,
among many other useful gifts, a very sharp eye for faces, a
remarkable genius for asking questions, and the feminine capacity
for adding two and two together and making them--eight. So, upon
reading this letter, I made inquiries on my own account with the
result that yesterday I drove over to a certain inn called the
'Coursing Hound,' and talked with your father. Very handsome he is
too--as he always was, and I saw him in the hey-day of his fame,
remember. Well, I sipped his ale,--very good ale I found it, and
while I sipped, we talked. He is very proud of his son, it seems,
and he even showed me a letter this son had written him from the
'George' inn at Southwark. Ha! Joan Beverley was to have married an
ugly old wretch of a marquis, and John Barty is handsome still. But
an inn-keeper, hum!"
"So--that was why my mother ran away, madam?"
"And Wilfred Chichester knows of this, and will tell Cleone, of
"I think not--at least not yet," answered Barnabas thoughtfully,--
"you see, he is using this knowledge as a weapon against me."
"I promised to help Ronald Barrymaine--"
"That wretched boy! Well?"
"And the only way to do so was to remove him from Chichester's
influence altogether. So I warned Mr. Chichester that unless he
forswore Barrymaine's society, I would, as Joan Beverley's son and
heir to the Beverley heritage, prove my claim and dispossess him."
"You actually threatened Wilfred Chichester with this, and forgot
that in finding you your mother's son, he would prove you to be your
"Yes, I--I only remembered my promise."
"The one you gave Cleone, which she had no right to exact--as I told
"Oh, she confessed to me all about it, and how you had tried to pay
Ronald's debts for him out of your own pocket,--which was very
magnificent but quite absurd."
"Yes," sighed Barnabas, "so now I am determined to free him from
"By dispossessing Chichester?"
"But--can't you see, if you force him to expose you it will mean
your social ruin?"
"But then I gave--Her--my promise."
"Oh, Barnabas," said the Duchess, looking up at him with her young,
beautiful eyes that were so like Cleone's, "what a superb fool you
are! And your father _is_ only a village inn-keeper!"
"No, madam,--he was champion of all England as well."
"Oh!" sighed the Duchess, shaking her head, "that poor Sir Mortimer
Carnaby! But, as for you, sir, you 're a fool, either a very clumsy,
or a very--unselfish one,--anyhow, you're a fool, you know!"
"Yes," sighed Barnabas, his head hanging, "I fear I am."
"Oh yes,--you're quite a fool--not a doubt of it!" said the Duchess
with a nod of finality. "And yet, oh, dear me! I think it may be
because I'm seventy-one and growing younger every day, or perhaps
because I'm so old that I have to wear a wig, but my tastes are so
peculiar that there are some fools I could almost--love. So you may
give me your arm,--Barnabas."
He obeyed mechanically, and they went on down the road together in
silence until they came to a pair of tall, hospitable gates, and
here Barnabas paused, and spoke wonderingly:
"Madam, you--you surely forget I am the son of--"
"A champion of all England, Barnabas. But, though you can thrash Sir
Mortimer Carnaby, Wilfred Chichester is the kind of creature that
only a truly clever woman can hope to deal with, so you may leave him
"But, madam, I--"
"Barnabas, quite so. But Wilfred Chichester always makes me shudder,
and I love to shudder--now and then, especially in the hot weather.
And then everything bores me lately--Cleone, myself,--even Whist, so
I'll try my hand at another game--with Wilfred Chichester as an
"But, Duchess, indeed I--"
"Very true, Barnabas! but the matter is quite settled. And now, you
are still determined to--confess your father to Cleone, I suppose?"
"Yes, I dare not speak to her otherwise, how could I, knowing myself
"Impudent impostor, sir? Quite so and fiddlesticks! Heigho! you are
so abominably high-minded and heroic, Barnabas,--it's quite
depressing. Cleone is only a human woman, who powders her nose when
it's red, and quite right too--I mean the powder of course, not the
redness. Oh! indeed she's very human, and after all, your mother was
a Beverley, and I know you are rich and--ah! there she is--on the
terrace with the Captain, and I'm sure she has seen you, Barnabas,
because she's so vastly unconscious. Observe the pose of her
head,--she has a perfect neck and shoulders, and she knows it. There!
see her kissing the Captain,--that's all for my benefit, the yellow
minx! just because I happened to call him a 'hunks,' and so he is--though
I don't know what I meant,--because he refused to change that dreadful
old service coat. There! now she's patting his cheek--the golden jade!
Now--watch her surprise when she pretends to catch sight of us!"
Hereupon, as they advanced over the smooth turf, the Duchess raised
"My bird!" she called in dulcet tones, "Clo dear, Cleone my lamb,
here is Barnabas, I found him--under the finger-post, my dove!"
My lady turned, gave the least little start in the world, was
surprised, glad, demure, all in the self-same minute, and taking the
arm of her Tyrant, who had already begun a truly nautical greeting,
led him, forthwith, down the terrace steps, the shining curls at her
temple brushing his shabby coat-sleeve as they came.
"Ha!" cried the Captain, "my dear fellow, we're glad--I say we're
all of us glad to see you. Welcome to 'The Gables,'--eh, Clo?"
And Cleone? With what gracious ease she greeted him! With what clear
eyes she looked at him! With what demure dignity she gave him her
white hand to kiss! As though--for all the world as though she could
ever hope to deceive anything so old and so very knowing as the
ancient finger-post upon the London road!
"Clo dear," said the Duchess, "they're going to talk horses and
racing, and bets and things,--I know they are,--your arm, my love.
Now,--lead on, gentlemen. And now, my dear," she continued, speaking
in Cleone's ear as Barnabas and the Captain moved on, "he
"Really, God-mother--how clever of you!" said Cleone, her eyes brim
full of merriment, "how wonderful you are!"
"Yes, my lady Pert,--he worships you and, consequently, is deceiving
you with every breath he draws!"
"With every moment he lives!"
"Cleone,--he is not what he seems!"
"His very name is false!"
"What do you mean? Ah no, no--I'm sure he would not, and yet--oh,
"Because--hush, Cleone--he's immensely rich, one of the wealthiest
young men in London, and--hush! He would be--loved for himself alone.
So, Cleone,--listen,--he may perhaps come to you with some wonderful
story of poverty and humble birth. He may tell you his father was
only a--a farmer, or a tinker, or a--an inn-keeper. Oh dear me,--so
delightfully romantic! Therefore, loving him as you do--"
"With every one of your yellow hairs--"
"From the sole of your foot--"
"To the crown of your wilful head,--oh, Youth, Youth!--you may let
your heart answer as it would. Oh Fire! Passion! Romance! (yes, yes,
Jack,--we're coming!) Your heart, I say, Cleone, may have its way,
because with all his wealth he has a father who--hush!--at one time
was the greatest man in all England,--a powerful man, Clo,--a famous
man, indeed a man of the most--striking capabilities. So, when your
heart--(dear me, how impatient Jack is!) Oh, supper? Excellent, for,
child, now I come to think of it, I'm positively swooning with hunger!"
WHICH CONCERNS ITSELF WITH SMALL THINGS IN GENERAL, AND A PEBBLE IN
To those who, standing apart from the rush and flurry of life, look
upon the world with a seeing eye, it is, surely, interesting to
observe on what small and apparently insignificant things great
matters depend. To the student History abounds with examples, and to
the philosopher they are to be met with everywhere.
But how should Barnabas (being neither a student nor a philosopher)
know, or even guess, that all his fine ideas and intentions were to
be frustrated, and his whole future entirely changed by nothing more
nor less than--a pebble, an ordinary, smooth, round pebble, as
innocent-seeming as any of its kind, yet (like young David's)
singled out by destiny to be one of these "smaller things"?
They were sitting on the terrace, the Duchess, Cleone, Barnabas, and
the Captain, and they were very silent,--the Duchess, perhaps,
because she had supped adequately, the Captain because of his long,
clay pipe, Cleone because she happened to be lost in contemplation
of the moon, and Barnabas, because he was utterly absorbed in
contemplation of Cleone.
The night was very warm and very still, and upon the quietude stole
a sound--softer, yet more insistent than the whisper of wind among
leaves,--a soothing, murmurous sound that seemed to make the
pervading quiet but the more complete.
"How cool the brook sounds!" sighed the Duchess at last, "and the
perfume of the roses,--oh dear me, how delicious! Indeed I think the
scent of roses always seems more intoxicating after one has supped
well, for, after all, one must be well-fed to be really romantic,--eh,
"Romantic, mam!" snorted the Captain, "romantic,--I say bosh, mam! I
"And then--the moon, Jack!"
"Moon? And what of it, mam,--I say--"
"Roses always smell sweeter by moonlight, Jack, and are far more
inclined to--go to the head--"
"Roses!" snorted the Captain, louder than before, "you must be
thinking of rum, mam, rum--"
"Then, Jack, to the perfume of roses, add the trill of a
"And of all rums, mam, give me real old Jamaica--"
"And to the trill of a nightingale, add again the murmur of an
unseen brook, Jack--"
"Eh, mam, eh? Nightingales, brooks? I say--oh, Gad, mam!" and the
Captain relapsed into tobacco-puffing indignation.
"What more could youth and beauty ask? Ah, Jack, Jack!" sighed the
Duchess, "had you paid more attention to brooks and nightingales,
and stared at the moon in your youth, you might have been a green
young grandfather to-night, instead of a hoary old bachelor in a
shabby coat--sucking consolation from a clay pipe!"
"Consolation, mam! For what--I say, I demand to know for what?"
"Eh, Duchess,--what, mam? Haven't I got my dear Clo, and the Bo'sun,
"The Bo'sun, yes,--he smokes a pipe, but Cleone can't, so she looks
at the moon instead,--don't you dear?"
"The moon, God-mother?" exclaimed Cleone, bringing her gaze
earthwards on the instant. "Why I,--I--the moon, indeed!"
"And she listens to the brook, Jack,--don't you, my dove?"
"Why, God-mother, I--the brook? Of course not!" said Cleone.
"And, consequently, Jack, you mustn't expect to keep her much
"Eh!" cried the bewildered Captain, "what's all this, Duchess,--I say,
what d'ye mean, mam?"
"Some women," sighed the Duchess, "some women never know they're in
love until they've married the wrong man, and then it's too late,
poor things. But our sweet Clo, on the contrary--"
"Love!" snorted the Captain louder than ever, "now sink me, mam,--I
say, sink and scuttle me; but what's love got to do with Clo, eh, mam?"
"More than you think, Jack--ask her!"
But lo! my lady had risen, and was already descending the terrace
steps, a little hurriedly perhaps, yet in most stately fashion.
Whereupon Barnabas, feeling her Grace's impelling hand upon his
arm, obeyed the imperious command and rising, also descended the
steps,--though in fashion not at all stately,--and strode after
my lady, and being come beside her, walked on--yet found nothing
to say, abashed by her very dignity. But, after they had gone thus
some distance, venturing to glance at her averted face, Barnabas
espied the dimple beside her mouth.
"Cleone," said he suddenly, "what _has_ love to do with you?"
Now, for a moment, she looked up at him, then her lashes drooped,
and she turned away.
"Oh, sir," she answered, "lift up your eyes and look upon the moon!"
"Cleone, has love--come to you--at last? Tell me!" But my lady
walked on for a distance with head again averted, and--with never a
word. "Speak!" said Barnabas, and caught her hand (unresisting now),
and held it to his lips. "Oh, Cleone,--answer me!"
Then Cleone obeyed and spoke, though her voice was tremulous and low.
"Ah, sir," said she, "listen to the brook!"
Now it so chanced they had drawn very near this talkative stream,
whose voice reached them--now in hoarse whisperings, now in throaty
chucklings, and whose ripples were bright with the reflected glory
of the moon. Just where they stood, a path led down to these
shimmering waters,--a narrow and very steep path screened by bending
willows; and, moved by Fate, or Chance, or Destiny, Barnabas
descended this path, and turning, reached up his hands to Cleone.
"Come!" he said. And thus, for a moment, while he looked up into her
eyes, she looked down into his, and sighed, and moved towards him,
and--set her foot upon the pebble.
And thus, behold the pebble had achieved its purpose, for, next
moment Cleone was lying in his arms, and for neither of them was
life or the world to be ever the same thereafter.
Yes, indeed, the perfume of the roses was full of intoxication
to-night; the murmurous brook whispered of things scarce dreamed of;
and the waning moon was bright enough to show the look in her eyes
and the quiver of her mouth as Barnabas stooped above her.
"Cleone!" he whispered, "Cleone--can you--do you--love me? Oh, my
white lady,--my woman that I love,--do you love me?"
She did not speak, but her eyes answered him; and, in that moment
Barnabas stooped and kissed her, and held her close, and closer,
until she sighed and stirred in his embrace.
Then, all at once, he groaned and set her down, and stood before her
with bent head.
"My dear," said he, "oh, my dear!"
"Forgive me,--I should have spoken,--indeed, I meant to,--but I
couldn't think,--it was so sudden,--forgive me! I didn't mean to
even touch your hand until I had confessed my deceit. Oh, my dear,
--I am not--not the fine gentleman you think me. I am only a very
--humble fellow. The son of a village--inn-keeper. Your eyes
were--kind to me just now, but, oh Cleone, if so humble a fellow
is--unworthy, as I fear,--I--I will try to--forget."
Very still she stood, looking upon his bent head, saw the quiver of
his lips, and the griping of his strong hands. Now, when she spoke,
her voice was very tender.
"Can you--ever forget?"
"Then--oh, Barnabas, don't! Because I--think I could--love
this--humble fellow, Barnabas."
The moon, of course, has looked on many a happy lover, yet where
find one, before or since, more radiant than young Barnabas; and the
brook, even in its softest, most tender murmurs, could never hope to
catch the faintest echo of Cleone's voice or the indescribable thrill
And as for the pebble that was so round, so smooth and
innocent-seeming, whether its part had been that of beneficent sprite,
or malevolent demon, he who troubles to read on may learn.
HOW BARNABAS FOUND HIS MANHOOD
"Oh--hif you please, sir!"
Barnabas started, and looking about, presently espied a figure in
the shadow of the osiers; a very small figure, upon whose diminutive
jacket were numerous buttons that glittered under the moon.
"Why--it's Milo of Crotona!" said Cleone.
"Yes, my lady--hif you please, it are," answered Milo of Crotona,
touching the peak of his leather cap.
"But--what are you doing here? How did you know where to find us?"
"'Cause as I came up the drive, m'lady, I jest 'appened to see you
a-walking together,--so I followed you, I did, m'lady."
"Followed us?" repeated Cleone rather faintly. "Oh!"
"And then--when I seen you slip, m'lady, I thought as 'ow I'd
better--wait a bit. So I waited, I did." And here, again, Milo
of Crotona touched the peak of his cap, and looked from Barnabas
to Cleone's flushing loveliness with eyes wide and profoundly
innocent,--a very cherub in top-boots, only his buttons (Ah, his
buttons!) seemed to leer and wink one to another, as much as to say:
"Oh yes! Of course! to--be--sure?"
"And what brings you so far from London?" inquired Barnabas, rather
"Coach, sir,--box seat, sir!"
"And you brought your master with you, of course,--is the Viscount
"No, m'lady. I 'ad to leave 'im be'ind 'count of 'im being unfit to
"Is he ill?"
"Oh, no, not hill, m'lady,--only shot, 'e is."
"Shot!" exclaimed Barnabas, "how--where?"
"In the harm, sir,--all on 'count of 'is 'oss,--'Moonraker' sir."
"Yessir. 'S arternoon it were. Ye see, for a long time I ain't been
easy in me mind about them stables where 'im and you keeps your
'osses, sir, 'count of it not being safe enough,--worritted I 'ave,
sir. So 's arternoon, as we was passing the end o' the street, I
sez to m'lud, I sez, 'Won't your Ludship jest pop your nob round the
corner and squint your peepers at the 'osses?' I sez. So 'e laughs,
easy like, and in we pops. And the first thing we see was your 'ead
groom, Mr. Martin, wiv blood on 'is mug and one peeper in mourning
a-wrastling wiv two coves, and our 'ead groom, Standish, wiv another
of 'em. Jest as we run up, down goes Mr. Martin, but--afore they
could maul 'im wiv their trotters, there's m'lud wiv 'is fists an'
me wiv a pitchfork as 'appened to lie 'andy. And very lively it were,
sir, for a minute or two. Then off goes a barker and off go the coves,
and there's m'lud 'olding onto 'is harm and swearing 'eavens 'ard.
And that's all, sir."
"And these men were--trying to get at the horses?"
"Ah! Meant to nobble 'Moonraker,' they did,--'im bein' one o' the
favorites, d' ye see, sir, and it looked to me as if they meant to
do for your 'oss, 'The Terror', as well."
"And is the Viscount much hurt?"
"Why no, sir. And it were only 'is whip-arm. 'Urts a bit o' course,
but 'e managed to write you a letter, 'e did; an' 'ere it is."
So Barnabas took the letter, and holding it in the moonlight where
Cleone could see it, they, together, made out these words:
MY DEAR BEV,--There is durty work afoot. Some Raskells have tried
to lame 'Moonraker,' but thanks to my Imp and your man Martin, quite
unsuccessfully. How-beit your man Martin--regular game for all his
years--has a broken nob and one ogle closed up, and I a ball through
my arm, but nothing to matter. But I am greatly pirtirbed for the
safety of 'Moonraker' and mean to get him into safer quarters and
advise you to do likewise. Also, though your horse 'The Terror,' as
the stable-boys call him, is not even in the betting, it almost seems,
from what I can gather, that they meant to nobble him also.
Therefore I think you were wiser to return at once, and I am anxious
to see you on another matter as well. Your bets with Carnaby and
Chichester have somehow got about and are the talk of the town, and
from what I hear, much to your disparagement, I fear.
A pity to shorten your stay in the country, but under the
circumstances, most advisable.
Yours ever, etc.,
P.S. My love and service to the Duchess, Cleone and the Capt.
Now here Barnabas looked at Cleone, and sighed, and Cleone sighing
also, nodded her head:
"You must go," said she, very softly, and sighed again.
"Yes, I must go, and yet--it is so very soon, Cleone!"
"Yes, it is dreadfully soon, Barnabas. But what does he mean by
saying that people are talking of you to your disparagement? How
dare they? Why should they?"
"I think because I, a rank outsider, ventured to lay a wager against
Sir Mortimer Carnaby."
"Do you mean you bet him that you would win the race, Barnabas?"
"No,--only that I would beat Sir Mortimer Carnaby."
"But, oh Barnabas,--he _is_ the race! Surely you know he and the
Viscount are favorites?"
"Then you do think you can win?"
"I mean to try--very hard!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown a
"And I begin to think," said Cleone, struck by his resolute eyes and
indomitable mouth, "oh, Barnabas--I begin to think you--almost may."
"And if I did?"
"Then I should be very--proud of you."
"And if I lost?"
"Then you would be--"
"My, Barnabas! Ah, no, no!" she whispered suddenly, "you are
crushing me--dreadfully, and besides, that boy has terribly sharp
eyes!" and Cleone nodded to where Master Milo stood, some distance
away, with his innocent orbs lifted pensively towards the heavens,
more like a cherub than ever.
"But he's not looking, and oh, Cleone,--how can I bear to leave you
so soon? You are more to me than anything else in the world. You are
my life, my soul,--my honor,--oh my dear!"
"Do you--love me so very much, Barnabas?" said she, with a sudden
catch in her voice.
"And always must! Oh my dear, my dear,--don't you know? But indeed,
words are so small and my love is so great that I fear you can never
quite guess, or I tell it all."
"Then, Barnabas,--you will go?"
"Must I, Cleone? It will be so very hard to lose you--so soon."
"But a man always chooses the harder course, doesn't he, Barnabas?
And, dear, you cannot lose me,--and so you will go, won't you?"
"Yes, I'll go--because I love you!"
Then Cleone drew him deeper into the shade of the willows, and with
a sudden, swift gesture, reached up her hands and set them about his
"Oh my dear," she murmured, "oh Barnabas dear, I think I can
guess--now. And I'm sure--the boy--can't see us--here!"
No, surely, neither this particular brook nor any other water-brook,
stream or freshet, that ever sang, or sighed, or murmured among the
reeds, could ever hope to catch all the thrilling tenderness of the
sweet soft tones of Cleone's voice.
A brook indeed? Ridiculous!
Therefore this brook must needs give up attempting the impossible,
and betake itself to offensive chuckles and spiteful whisperings,
and would have babbled tales to the Duchess had that remarkable,
ancient lady been versed in the language of brooks. As it was, she
came full upon Master Milo still intent upon the heavens, it is true,
but in such a posture that his buttons stared point-blank and quite
unblushingly towards a certain clump of willows.
"Oh Lud!" exclaimed the Duchess, starting back, "dear me, what a
strange little boy! What do you want here, little man?"
Milo of Crotona turned and--looked at her. And though his face was
as cherubic as ever, there was haughty reproof in every button.
"Who are you?" demanded the Duchess; "oh, gracious me, what a pretty
Surely no cherub--especially one in such knowing top-boots--could be
reasonably expected to put up with this! Master Milo's innocent brow
clouded suddenly, and the expression of his glittering buttons grew
"I'm Viscount Devenham's con-fee-dential groom, mam, I am!" said he
coldly, and with his most superb air.
"Groom?" said the Duchess, staring, "what a very small one, to be
"It ain't inches as counts wiv 'osses, mam,--or hany-think else, mam,
--it's nerves as counts, it is."
"Why, yes, you seem to have plenty of nerve!"
"Well, mam, there ain't much as I trembles at, there ain't,--and
when I do, I don't show it, I don't."
"And such a pretty child, too!" sighed the Duchess.
"Child, mam? I ain't no child, I'm a groom, I am. Child yourself, mam!"
"Lud! I do believe he's even paying me compliments! How old are you,
"A lot more 'n you think, and hoceans more 'n I look, mam."
"And what's your name?"