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The Certain Hour by James Branch Cabell

Part 3 out of 4

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pastorelle is simplicity's self: a gentleman, which I
may fairly claim to be, in some fair rural scene--such
as this--comes suddenly upon a rustic maiden of sur-
passing beauty. He naturally falls in love with her,
and they say all manner of fine things to each other."
She considered him for a while before speaking. It
thrilled him to see the odd tenderness that was in her
face. "You always think of saying and writing fine
things, do you not, sir?"
"My dear," he answered, gravely, "I believe that I
was undoubtedly guilty of such folly until you came. I
wish I could make you understand how your coming has
changed everything."
"You can tell me some other time," the girl gaily
declared, and was about to leave him.
His hand detained her very gently. "Faith, but I
fear not, for already my old hallucinations seem to me
incredible. Why, yesterday I thought it the most
desirable of human lots to be a great poet"--the gen-
tleman laughed in self-mockery. "I positively did. I
labored every day toward becoming one. I lived among
books, esteemed that I was doing something of genuine
importance as I gravely tinkered with alliteration and
metaphor and antithesis and judicious paraphrases of
the ancients. I put up with life solely because it
afforded material for versification; and, in reality,
believed the destruction of Troy was providentially
ordained lest Homer lack subject matter for an epic.
And as for loving, I thought people fell in love in
order to exchange witty rhymes."
His hand detained her, very gently. . . . Indeed,
it seemed to him he could never tire of noting her
excellencies. Perhaps it was that splendid light poise
of her head he chiefly loved; he thought so at least,
just now. Or was it the wonder of her walk, which made
all other women he had ever known appear to mince and
hobble, like rusty toys? Something there was assuredly
about this slim brown girl which recalled an untamed
and harmless woodland creature; and it was that, he
knew, which most poignantly moved him, even though he
could not name it. Perhaps it was her bright kind
eyes, which seemed to mirror the tranquillity of
forests. . . .
"You gentry are always talking of love," she mar-
"Oh," he said, with acerbity, "oh, I don't doubt
that any number of beef-gorging squires and leering,
long-legged Oxford dandies----" He broke off here, and
laughed contemptuously. "Well, you are beautiful, and
they have eyes as keen as mine. And I do not blame
you, my dear, for believing my designs to be no more
commendable than theirs--no, not at all."
But his mood was spoiled, and his tetchy vanity
hurt, by the thought of stout well-set fellows having
wooed this girl; and he permitted her to go without
Yet he sat alone for a while upon the fallen tree--

trunk, humming a contented little tune. Never in his
life had he been happier. He did not venture to
suppose that any creature so adorable could love such a
sickly hunchback, such a gargoyle of a man, as he was;
but that Sarah was fond of him, he knew. There would
be no trouble in arranging with her father for their
marriage, most certainly; and he meant to attend to
that matter this very morning, and within ten minutes.
So Mr. Alexander Pope was meanwhile arranging in his
mind a suitable wording for his declaration of marital
Thus John Gay found him presently and roused him
from phrase-spinning. "And what shall we do this
morning, Alexander?" Gay was always demanding, like a
spoiled child, to be amused.
Pope told him what his own plans were,
speaking quite simply, but with his countenance
radiant. Gay took off his hat and wiped his forehead,
for the day was warm. He did not say anything at all.
"Well----?" Mr. Pope asked, after a pause.
Mr. Gay was dubious. "I had never thought that you
would marry," he said. "And--why, hang it, Alexander!
to grow enamored of a milkmaid is well enough for the
hero of a poem, but in a poet it hints at injudicious
Mr. Pope gesticulated with thin hands and seemed
upon the verge of eloquence. Then he spoke unan-
swerably. "But I love her," he said.
John Gay's reply was a subdued whistle. He, in
common with the other guests of Lord Harcourt, at
Nuneham Courtney, had wondered what would be the
outcome of Mr. Alexander Pope's intimacy with Sarah
Drew. A month earlier the poet had sprained his ankle
upon Amshot Heath, and this young woman had found him
lying there, entirely helpless, as she returned from
her evening milking. Being hale of person, she had
managed to get the little hunchback to her home
unaided. And since then Pope had often been seen with
This much was common knowledge. That Mr. Pope
proposed to marry the heroine of his misadventure
afforded a fair mark for raillery, no doubt, but Gay,
in common with the run of educated England in 1718, did
not aspire to be facetious at Pope's expense. The
luxury was too costly. Offend the dwarf in any
fashion, and were you the proudest duke at Court
or the most inconsiderable rhymester in Petticoat Lane,
it made no difference; there was no crime too heinous
for "the great Mr. Pope's" next verses to charge you
with, and, worst of all, there was no misdoing so out
of character that his adroit malignancy could not make
it seem plausible.
Now, after another pause, Pope said, "I must be
going now. Will you not wish me luck?"
"Why, Alexander--why, hang it!" was Mr. Gay's
observation, "I believe that you are human after all,
and not just a book in breeches."

He thereby voiced a commentary patently uncalled-
for, as Mr. Pope afterward reflected. Mr. Pope was
then treading toward the home of old Frederick Drew.
It was a gray morning in late July.
"I love her," Pope had said. The fact was unde-

niable; yet an expression of it necessarily halts.
Pope knew, as every man must do who dares conserve his
energies to annotate the drama of life rather than play
a part in it, the nature of that loneliness which this
conservation breeds. Such persons may hope to win a
posthumous esteem in the library, but it is at the
bleak cost of making life a wistful transaction with
foreigners. In such enforced aloofness Sarah Drew had
come to him--strong, beautiful, young, good and vital,
all that he was not--and had serenely befriended "the
great Mr. Pope," whom she viewed as a queer decrepit
little gentleman of whom within a week she was
unfeignedly fond.
"I love her," Pope had said. Eh, yes, no doubt;
and what, he fiercely demanded of himself, was he--a
crippled scribbler, a bungling artisan of phrases--that
he should dare to love this splendid and deep-bosomed
goddess? Something of youth awoke, possessing him--
something of that high ardor which, as he cloudily
remembered now, had once controlled a boy who dreamed
in Windsor Forest and with the lightest of hearts
planned to achieve the impossible. For what is more
difficult of attainment than to achieve the perfected
phrase, so worded that to alter a syllable of its
wording would be little short of sacrilege?
"What whimwhams!" decreed the great Mr. Pope,
aloud. "Verse-making is at best only the affair of
idle men who write in their closets and of idle men who
read there. And as for him who polishes phrases,
whatever be his fate in poetry, it is ten to one but he
must give up all the reasonable aims of life for it."
No, he would have no more of loneliness. Hence-
forward Alexander Pope would be human--like the others.
To write perfectly was much; but it was not everything.
Living was capable of furnishing even more than the raw
material of a couplet. It might, for instance, yield
For instance, if you loved, and married, and begot,
and died, with the seriousness of a person who believes
he is performing an action of real importance, and
conceded that the perfection of any art, whether it be
that of verse-making or of rope-dancing, is at best a
by-product of life's conduct; at worst, you
probably would not be lonely. No; you would be at
one with all other fat-witted people, and there was no
greater blessing conceivable.
Pope muttered, and produced his notebook, and wrote
Wrote Mr. Pope:

The bliss of man (could pride that blessing
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No powers of body or of soul to share
But what his nature and his state can bear.

"His state!" yes, undeniably, two sibilants
collided here. "His wit?"--no, that would be flat-
footed awkwardness in the management of your vowel-
sounds; the lengthened "a" was almost requisite. . . .
Pope was fretting over the imbroglio when he absent-
mindedly glanced up to perceive that his Sarah, not
irrevocably offended, was being embraced by a certain
John Hughes--who was a stalwart, florid personable
individual, no doubt, but, after all, only an
unlettered farmer.
The dwarf gave a hard, wringing motion of his
hands. The diamond-Lord Bolingbroke's gift--which
ornamented Pope's left hand cut into the flesh of his
little finger, so cruel was the gesture; and this
little finger was bleeding as Pope tripped forward,
smiling. A gentleman does not incommode the public by
obtruding the ugliness of a personal wound.
"Do I intrude?" he queried. "Ah, well! I
also have dwelt in Arcadia." It was bitter to
comprehend that he had never done so.
The lovers were visibly annoyed; yet, if an
interruption of their pleasant commerce was decreed to
be, it could not possibly have sprung, as they soon
found, from a more sympathetic source.
These were not subtle persons. Pope had the truth
from them within ten minutes. They loved each other;
but John Hughes was penniless, and old Frederick Drew
was, in consequence, obdurate.
"And, besides, he thinks you mean to marry her!"
said John Hughes.
"My dear man, he pardonably forgets that the utmost
reach of my designs in common reason would be to have
her as my kept mistress for a month or two," drawled
Mr. Pope. "As concerns yourself, my good fellow, the
case is somewhat different. Why, it is a veritable
romance--an affair of Daphne and Corydon--although, to
be unpardonably candid, the plot of your romance, my
young Arcadians, is not the most original conceivable.
I think that the denouement need not baffle our
The dwarf went toward Sarah Drew. The chary
sunlight had found the gold in her hair, and its glint
was brightly visible to him. "My dear--" he said. His
thin long fingers touched her capable hand. It was a
sort of caress--half-timid. "My dear, I owe my life to
you. My body is at most a flimsy abortion such as a
night's exposure would have made more tranquil than it
is just now. Yes, it was you who found a
caricature of the sort of man that Mr. Hughes here is,
disabled, helpless, and--for reasons which doubtless
seemed to you sufficient--contrived that this unsightly
parody continue in existence. I am not lovable, my
dear. I am only a hunchback, as you can see. My
aspirations and my sickly imaginings merit only the
derision of a candid clean-souled being such as you
are." His finger-tips touched the back of her hand
again. "I think there was never a maker of enduring
verse who did not at one period or another long to
exchange an assured immortality for a sturdier pair of
shoulders. I think--I think that I am prone to speak
at random," Pope said, with his half-drowsy smile.
"Yet, none the less, an honest man, as our kinsmen in
Adam average, is bound to pay his equitable debts."
She said, "I do not understand."
"I have perpetrated certain jingles," Pope
returned. "I had not comprehended until to-day they
are the only children I shall leave behind me. Eh, and
what would you make of them, my dear, could ingenuity
contrive a torture dire enough to force you into read-
ing them! . . . Misguided people have paid me for
contriving these jingles. So that I have money enough
to buy you from your father just as I would purchase
one of his heifers. Yes, at the very least I have
money, and I have earned it. I will send your big-
thewed adorer--I believe that Hughes is the name?--L500
of it this afternoon. That sum, I gather, will be
sufficient to remove your father's objection to your
marriage with Mr. Hughes."
Pope could not but admire himself tremendously.
Moreover, in such matters no woman is blind. Tears
came into Sarah's huge brown eyes. This tenderhearted
girl was not thinking of John Hughes now. Pope noted
the fact with the pettiest exultation. "Oh, you--you
are good." Sarah Drew spoke as with difficulty.
"No adjective, my dear, was ever applied with less
discrimination. It is merely that you have rendered no
inconsiderable service to posterity, and merit a
"Oh, and indeed, indeed, I was always fond of
you----" The girl sobbed this.
She would have added more, no doubt, since com-

passion is garrulous, had not Pope's scratched hand
dismissed a display of emotion as not entirely in con-
sonance with the rules of the game.
"My dear, therein you have signally honored me.
There remains only to offer you my appreciation of your
benevolence toward a sickly monster, and to entreat for
my late intrusion--however unintentional--that
forgiveness which you would not deny, I think, to any
other impertinent insect."
"Oh, but we have no words to thank you, sir----!"
Thus Hughes began.
"Then don't attempt it, my good fellow. For
phrase-spinning, as I can assure you, is the most
profitless of all pursuits." Whereupon Pope bowed
low, wheeled, walked away. Yes, he was wounded past
sufferance; it seemed to him he must die of it. Life
was a farce, and Destiny an overseer who hiccoughed
mandates. Well, all that even Destiny could find to
gloat over, he reflected, was the tranquil figure of a
smallish gentleman switching at the grass-blades with
his cane as he sauntered under darkening skies.
For a storm was coming on, and the first big drops
of it were splattering the terrace when Mr. Pope en-
tered Lord Harcourt's mansion.

Pope went straight to his own rooms. As he came in
there was a vivid flash of lightning, followed
instantaneously by a crashing, splitting noise, like
that of universes ripped asunder. He did not honor the
high uproar with attention. This dwarf was not afraid
of anything except the commission of an error in taste.
Then, too, there were letters for him, laid ready
on the writing-table. Nothing of much importance he
found there.--Here, though, was a rather diverting
letter from Eustace Budgell, that poor fool, abjectly
thanking Mr. Pope for his advice concerning how best to
answer the atrocious calumnies on Budgell then
appearing in The Grub-Street Journal,--and reposing,
drolly enough, next the proof-sheets of an anonymous
letter Pope had prepared for the forthcoming issue of
that publication, wherein he sprightlily told how
Budgell had poisoned Dr. Tindal, after forging his
will. For even if Budgell had not in point of
fact been guilty of these particular peccadilloes, he
had quite certainly committed the crime of speaking
lightly of Mr. Pope, as "a little envious animal," some
seven years ago; and it was for this grave indiscretion
that Pope was dexterously goading the man into
insanity, and eventually drove him to suicide. . . .
The storm made the room dark and reading difficult.
Still, this was an even more amusing letter, from the
all-powerful Duchess of Marlborough. In as civil terms
as her sick rage could muster, the frightened woman
offered Mr. Pope L1,000 to suppress his verbal portrait
of her, in the character of Atossa, from his Moral
Essays; and Pope straightway decided to accept the
bribe, and afterward to print his verses unchanged.
For the hag, as he reflected, very greatly needed to be
taught that in this world there was at least one person
who did not quail before her tantrums. There would be,
moreover, even an elementary justice in thus robbing
her who had robbed England at large. And, besides, her
name was Sarah. . . .
Pope lighted four candles and set them before the
long French mirror. He stood appraising his many
curious deformities while the storm raged. He stood
sidelong, peering over his left shoulder, in order to
see the outline of his crooked back. Nowhere in
England, he reflected, was there a person more pitiable
and more repellent outwardly.
"And, oh, it would be droll," Pope said, aloud, "if
our exteriors were ever altogether parodies. But
time keeps a diary in our faces, and writes a
monstrously plain hand. Now, if you take the first
letter of Mr. Alexander Pope's Christian name, and the
first and last letters of his surname, you have A. P.
E.," Pope quoted, genially. "I begin to think that
Dennis was right. What conceivable woman would not
prefer a well-set man of five-and-twenty to such a
withered abortion? And what does it matter, after all,
that a hunchback has dared to desire a shapely brown-
haired woman?"
Pope came more near to the mirror. "Make answer,
you who have dared to imagine that a goddess was ever
drawn to descend into womanhood except by kisses, brawn
and a clean heart."
Another peal of thunder bellowed. The storm was
growing furious. "Yet I have had a marvelous dream.
Now I awaken. I must go on in the old round. As long
as my wits preserve their agility I must be able to
amuse, to flatter and, at need, to intimidate the
patrons of that ape in the mirror, so that they will
not dare refuse me the market-value of my antics. And
Sarah Drew has declined an alliance such as this in
favor of a fresh-colored complexion and a pair of
straight shoulders!"
Pope thought a while. "And a clean heart! She
bargained royally, giving love for nothing less than
love. The man is rustic, illiterate; he never heard of
Aristotle, he would be at a loss to distinguish between
a trochee and a Titian, and if you mentioned Boileau to
him would probably imagine you were talking of
cookery. But he loves her. He would forfeit eternity
to save her a toothache. And, chief of all, she can
make this robust baby happy, and she alone can make him
happy. And so, she gives, gives royally--she gives,
God bless her!"
Rain, sullen rain, was battering the window. "And
you--you hunchback in the mirror, you maker of neat
rhymes--pray, what had you to offer? A coach-and-six,
of course, and pin-money and furbelows and in the end a
mausoleum with unimpeachable Latin on it! And--pate
sur pate--an unswerving devotion which she would share
on almost equal terms with the Collected Works of
Alexander Pope. And so she chose--chose brawn and a
clean heart."
The dwarf turned, staggered, fell upon his bed.
"God, make a man of me, make me a good brave man. I
loved her--oh, such as I am, You know that I loved her!
You know that I desire her happiness above all things.
Ah, no, for You know that I do not at bottom. I want
to hurt, to wound all living creatures, because they
know how to be happy, and I do not know how. Ah, God,
and why did You decree that I should never be an obtuse
and comely animal such as this John Hughes is? I am so
tired of being `the great Mr. Pope,' and I want only
the common joys of life."
The hunchback wept. It would be too curious to
anatomize the writhings of his proud little spirit.

Now some one tapped upon the door. It was
John Gay. He was bidden to enter, and, complying,
found Mr. Pope yawning over the latest of Tonson's
Gay's face was singularly portentous. "My friend,"
Gay blurted out, "I bring news which will horrify you.
Believe me, I would never have mustered the pluck to
bring it did I not love you. I cannot let you hear it
first in public and unprepared, as, otherwise, you
would have to do."
"Do I not know you have the kindest heart in all
the world? Why, so outrageous are your amiable defects
that they would be the public derision of your enemies
if you had any," Pope returned.
The other poet evinced an awkward comminglement of
consternation and pity. "It appears that when this
storm arose--why, Mistress Drew was with a young man of
the neighborhood--a John Hewet------" Gay was speaking
with unaccustomed rapidity.
"Hughes, I think," Pope interrupted, equably.
"Perhaps--I am not sure. They sought shelter under
a haycock. You will remember that first crash of
thunder, as if the heavens were in demolishment? My
friend, the reapers who had been laboring in the
fields--who had been driven to such protection as the
trees or hedges afforded----"
"Get on!" a shrill voice cried; "for God's love,
man, get on!" Mr. Pope had risen. This pallid shaken
wisp was not in appearance the great Mr. Pope
whose ingenuity had enabled Homeric warriors to
excel in the genteel.
"They first saw a little smoke. . . . They found
this Hughes with one arm about the neck of Mistress
Drew, and the other held over her face, as if to screen
her from the lightning. They were both"--and here Gay
hesitated. "They were both dead," he amended.
Pope turned abruptly. Nakedness is of necessity
uncouth, he held, whether it be the body or the soul
that is unveiled. Mr. Pope went toward a window which
he opened, and he stood thus looking out for a brief
"So she is dead," he said. "It is very strange.
So many rare felicities of curve and color, so much of
purity and kindliness and valor and mirth, extinguished
as one snuffs a candle! Well! I am sorry she is dead,
for the child had a talent for living and got such joy
out of it. . . . Hers was a lovely happy life, but it
was sterile. Already nothing remains of her but dead
flesh which must be huddled out of sight. I shall not
perish thus entirely, I believe. Men will remember me.
Truly a mighty foundation for pride! when the utmost I
can hope for is but to be read in one island, and to be
thrown aside at the end of one age. Indeed, I am not
even sure of that much. I print, and print, and print.
And when I collect my verses into books, I am
altogether uncertain whether to took upon myself as a
man building a monument, or burying the dead. It
sometimes seems to me that each publication is but a
solemn funeral of many wasted years. For I have
given all to the verse-making. Granted that the
sacrifice avails to rescue my name from oblivion, what
will it profit me when I am dead and care no more for
men's opinions than Sarah Drew cares now for what I say
of her? But then she never cared. She loved John
Hughes. And she was right."
He made an end of speaking, still peering out of
the window with considerate narrowed eyes.
The storm was over. In the beech-tree opposite a
wren was raising optimistic outcry. The sun had won
his way through a black-bellied shred of cloud; upon
the terrace below, a dripping Venus and a Perseus were
glistening as with white fire. Past these, drenched
gardens, the natural wildness of which was judiciously
restrained with walks, ponds, grottoes, statuary and
other rural elegancies, displayed the intermingled
brilliancies of diamonds and emeralds, and glittered as
with pearls and rubies where tempest-battered roses
were reviving in assertiveness.
"I think the storm is over," Mr. Pope remarked.
"It is strange how violent are these convulsions of
nature. . . . But nature is a treacherous blowsy jade,
who respects nobody. A gentleman can but shrug under
her onslaughts, and henceforward civilly avoid them.
It is a consolation to reflect that they pass quickly."
He turned as in defiance. "Yes, yes! It hurts.
But I envy them. Yes, even I, that ugly spiteful
hornet of a man! `the great Mr. Pope,' who will be
dining with the proudest people in England within
the hour and gloating over their deference! For they
presume to make a little free with God occasionally,
John, but never with me. And _I_ envy these dead young
fools. . . . You see, they loved each other, John. I
left them, not an hour ago, the happiest of living
creatures. I looked back once. I pretended to have
dropped my handkerchief. I imagine they were talking
of their wedding-clothes, for this broad-shouldered
Hughes was matching poppies and field-flowers to her
complexion. It was a scene out of Theocritus. I think
Heaven was so well pleased by the tableau that Heaven
hastily resumed possession of its enactors in order to
prevent any after-happenings from belittling that
perfect instant."
"Egad, and matrimony might easily have proved an
anti-climax," Gay considered.
"Yes; oh, it is only Love that is blind, and not
the lover necessarily. I know. I suppose I always
knew at the bottom of my heart. This hamadryad was
destined in the outcome to dwindle into a village
housewife, she would have taken a lively interest in
the number of eggs the hens were laying, she would even
have assured her children, precisely in the way her
father spoke of John Hughes, that young people
ordinarily have foolish fancies which their rational
elders agree to disregard. But as it is, no Eastern
queen--not Semele herself--left earth more nobly--"
Pope broke off short. He produced his notebook,
which he never went without, and wrote frowningly,
with many erasures. "H'm, yes," he said; and he read

"When Eastern lovers feed the funeral fire,
On the same pile the faithful fair expire;
Here pitying heaven that virtue mutual found,
And blasted both that it might neither wound.
Hearts so sincere the Almighty saw well
Sent His own lightning and the victims

Then Pope made a grimace. "No; the analogy is trim
enough, but the lines lack fervor. It is deplorable
how much easier it is to express any emotion other than
that of which one is actually conscious." Pope had
torn the paper half-through before he reflected that it
would help to fill a printed page. He put it in his
pocket. "But, come now, I am writing to Lady Mary this
afternoon. You know how she loves oddities. Between
us--with prose as the medium, of course, since verse
should, after all, confine itself to the commemoration
of heroes and royal persons--I believe we might make of
this occurrence a neat and moving pastorelle--I
should say, pastoral, of course, but my wits are wool-
Mr. Gay had the kindest heart in the universe. Yet
he, also, had dreamed of the perfected phrase, so
worded that to alter a syllable of its wording would be
little short of sacrilege. Eyes kindling, he took up a
pen. "Yes, yes, I understand. Egad, it is an
admirable subject. But, then, I don't believe I ever
saw these lovers----?"
"John was a well-set man of about five-and-twenty,"
replied Mr. Pope; "and Sarah was a brown woman of
eighteen years, three months and fourteen days."
Then these two dipped their pens and set about a
moving composition, which has to-day its proper rating
among Mr. Pope's Complete Works.


"But that sense of negation, of theoretic
insecurity, which was in the air, conspiring with what
was of like tendency in himself, made of Lord UFFORD
a central type of disillusion. . . . He had been
amiable because the general betise of humanity did not
in his opinion greatly matter, after all; and in
reading these `SATIRES' it is well-nigh painful to
witness the blind and naked forces of nature and
circumstance surprising him in the uncontrollable
movements of his own so carefully guarded heart."

Why is a handsome wife adored
By every coxcomb but her lord?

From yonder puppet-man inquire
Who wisely hides his wood and wire;
Shows Sheba's queen completely dress'd
And Solomon in royal vest;

But view them litter'd on the floor,
Or strung on pegs behind the door,
Punch is exactly of a piece
With Lorrain's duke, and prince of Greece.

to the Duke of Ormskirk.


In the early winter of 1761 the Earl of Bute, then
Secretary of State, gave vent to an outburst of
unaccustomed profanity. Mr. Robert Calverley, who
represented England at the Court of St. Petersburg, had
resigned his office without prelude or any word of
explanation. This infuriated Bute, since his pet
scheme was to make peace with Russia and thereby end
the Continental War. Now all was to do again; the
minister raged, shrugged, furnished a new emissary with
credentials, and marked Calverley's name for
As much, indeed, was written to Calverley by Lord
Ufford, the poet, diarist, musician and virtuoso:

Our Scottish Mortimer, it appears, is unwilling to
have the map of Europe altered because Mr. Robert
Calverley has taken a whim to go into Italy. He is
angrier than I have ever known him to be. He swears
that with a pen's flourish you have imperiled the well-
being of England, and raves in the same breath of the
preferment he had designed for you. Beware of him.
For my own part, I shrug and acquiesce, because I
am familiar with your pranks. I merely venture to
counsel that you do not crown the Pelion of abuse,
which our statesmen are heaping upon you, with the Ossa
of physical as well as political suicide. Hasten on
your Italian jaunt, for Umfraville, who is now with me
at Carberry Hill, has publicly declared that if you
dare re-appear in England he will have you horsewhipped
by his footmen. In consequence, I would most earnestly

Mr. Calverley read no further, but came straightway
into England. He had not been in England since his
elopement, three years before that spring, with the
Marquis of Umfraville's betrothed, Lord Radnor's
daughter, whom Calverley had married at Calais. Mr.
Calverley and his wife were presently at Carberry Hill,
Lord Ufford's home, where, arriving about moon-rise,
they found a ball in progress.
Their advent caused a momentary check to merriment.
The fiddlers ceased, because Lord Ufford had signaled
them. The fine guests paused in their stately dance.
Lord Ufford, in a richly figured suit, came hastily to
Lady Honoria Calverley, his high heels tapping audibly
upon the floor, and with gallantry lifted her hand
toward his lips. Her husband he embraced, and the two
men kissed each other, as was the custom of the age.
Chatter and laughter rose on every side as pert and
merry as the noises of a brook in springtime.
"I fear that as Lord Umfraville's host," young
Calverley at once began, "you cannot with decorum
convey to the ignoramus my opinion as to his ability to
conjugate the verb TO DARE."
"Why, but no! you naturally demand a duel," the
poet-earl returned. "It is very like you. I lament
your decision, but I will attempt to arrange the
meeting for to-morrow morning."
Lord Ufford smiled and nodded to the musicians. He
finished the dance to admiration, as this lean dan-
dified young man did everything--"assiduous to win each
fool's applause," as his own verses scornfully phrase
it. Then Ufford went about his errand of death and
conversed for a long while with Umfraville.
Afterward Lord Ufford beckoned to Calverley, who
shrugged and returned Mr. Erwyn's snuff-box, which
Calverley had been admiring. He followed the earl into
a side-room opening upon the Venetian Chamber wherein
the fete was. Ufford closed the door. You saw that he
had put away the exterior of mirth that hospitality
demanded of him, and perturbation showed in the lean
countenance which was by ordinary so proud and so
amiably peevish.
"Robin, you have performed many mad actions in your
life!" he said; "but this return into the three
kingdoms out-Herods all! Did I not warn you against
"Why, certainly you did," returned Mr. Calverley.
"You informed me--which was your duty as a friend--of
this curmudgeon's boast that he would have me
horsewhipped if I dared venture into England. You
will readily conceive that any gentleman of self-
respect cannot permit such farcical utterances to be
delivered without appending a gladiatorial epilogue.
Well! what are the conditions of this duel?"
"Oh, fool that I have been!" cried Ufford, who was
enabled now by virtue of their seclusion to manifest
his emotion. "I, who have known you all your
He paced the room. Pleading music tinged the
silence almost insensibly.
"Heh, Fate has an imperial taste in humor!" the
poet said. "Robin, we have been more than brothers.
And it is I, I, of all persons living, who have drawn
you into this imbroglio!"
"My danger is not very apparent as yet," said Cal-
verley, "if Umfraville controls his sword no better
than his tongue."
My lord of Ufford went on: "There is no question
of a duel. It is as well to spare you what Lord Um-
fraville replied to my challenge. Let it suffice that
we do not get sugar from the snake. Besides, the man
has his grievance. Robin, have you forgot that neck-
lace you and Pevensey took from Umfraville some three
years ago--before you went into Russia?"
Calverley laughed. The question recalled an old
hot-headed time when, exalted to a frolicsome zone by
the discovery of Lady Honoria Pomfret's love for him,
he planned the famous jest which he and the mad Earl of
Pevensey perpetrated upon Umfraville. This masquerade
won quick applause. Persons of ton guffawed
like ploughboys over the discomfiture of an old hunks
thus divertingly stripped of his bride, all his
betrothal gifts, and of the very clothes he wore. An
anonymous scribbler had detected in the occurrence a
denouement suited to the stage and had constructed a
comedy around it, which, when produced by the Duke's
company, had won acclaim from hilarious auditors.
So Calverley laughed heartily. "Gad, what a jest
that was! This Umfraville comes to marry Honoria. And
highwaymen attack his coach! I would give L50 to have
witnessed this usurer's arrival at Denton Honor in his
underclothes! and to have seen his monkey-like grimaces
when he learned that Honoria and I were already across
the Channel!"
"You robbed him, though----"
"Indeed, for beginners at peculation we did not do
so badly. We robbed him and his valet of everything in
the coach, including their breeches. You do not mean
that Pevensey has detained the poor man's wedding
trousers? If so, it is unfortunate, because this loud-
mouthed miser has need of them in order that he may be
handsomely interred."
"Lord Umfraville's wedding-suit was stuffed with
straw, hung on a pole and paraded through London by
Pevensey, March, Selwyn and some dozen other madcaps,
while six musicians marched before them. The clothes
were thus conveyed to Umfraville's house. I think none
of us would have relished a joke like that were he the
butt of it."
Now the poet's lean countenance was turned upon
young Calverley, and as always, Ufford evoked that
nobility in Calverley which follies veiled but had not
ever killed.
"Egad," said Robert Calverley; "I grant you that
all this was infamously done. I never authorized it.
I shall kill Pevensey. Indeed, I will do more," he
added, with a flourish. "For I will apologize to
Umfraville, and this very night."
But Ufford was not disposed to levity. "Let us
come to the point," he sadly said. "Pevensey returned
everything except the necklace which Umfraville had
intended to be his bridal gift. Pevensey conceded the
jest, in fine; and denied all knowledge of any
It was an age of accommodating morality. Calverley
sketched a whistle, and showed no other trace of
"I see. The fool confided in the spendthrift. My
dear, I understand. In nature Pevensey gave the gems
to some nymph of Sadler's Wells or Covent Garden. For
I was out of England. And so he capped his knavery
with insolence. It is an additional reason why
Pevensey should not live to scratch a gray head. It
is, however, an affront to me that Umfraville should
have believed him. I doubt if I may overlook that,
"I question if he did believe. But, then, what
help had he? This Pevensey is an earl. His person as
a peer of England is inviolable. No statute touches
him directly, because he may not be confined
except by the King's personal order. And it is
tolerably notorious that Pevensey is in Lord Bute's
pay, and that our Scottish Mortimer, to do him justice,
does not permit his spies to be injured."
Now Mr. Calverley took snuff. The music without
was now more audible, and it had shifted to a merrier
"I think I comprehend. Pevensey and I--whatever
were our motives--have committed a robbery. Pevensey,
as the law runs, is safe. I, too, was safe as long as
I kept out of England. As matters stand, Lord
Umfraville intends to press a charge of theft against
me. And I am in disgrace with Bute, who is quite
content to beat offenders with a crooked stick. This
confluence of two-penny accidents is annoying."
"It is worse than you know," my lord of Ufford
returned. He opened the door which led to the Venetian
Chamber. A surge of music, of laughter, and of many
lights invaded the room wherein they stood. "D'ye see
those persons, just past Umfraville, so inadequately
disguised as gentlemen? They are from Bow Street.
Lord Umfraville intends to apprehend you here to-
"He has an eye for the picturesque," drawled Cal-
verley. "My tragedy, to do him justice, could not be
staged more strikingly. Those additional alcoves have
improved the room beyond belief. I must apologize for
not having rendered my compliments a trifle
Internally he outstormed Termagaunt. It was in-
famous enough, in all conscience, to be arrested, but
to have half the world of fashion as witnessess of ones
discomfiture was perfectly intolerable. He recognized
the excellent chance he had of being the most prominent
figure upon some scaffold before long, but that
contingency did not greatly trouble Calverley, as set
against the certainty of being made ridiculous within
the next five minutes.
In consequence, he frowned and rearranged the fall
of his shirt-frill a whit the more becomingly.
"Yes, for hate sharpens every faculty," the earl
went on. "Even Umfraville understands that you do not
fear death. So he means to have you tried like any
common thief while all your quondam friends sit and
snigger. And you will be convicted----"
"Why, necessarily, since I am not as Pevensey. Of
course, I must confess I took the necklace."
"And Pevensey must stick to the tale that he knows
nothing of any necklace. Dear Robin, this means
Newgate. Accident deals very hardly with us, Robin,
for this means Tyburn Hill."
"Yes; I suppose it means my death," young Calverley
assented. "Well! I have feasted with the world and
found its viands excellent. The banquet ended, I must
not grumble with my host because I find his choice of
cordials not altogether to my liking." Thus speaking,
he was aware of nothing save that the fiddlers were now
about an air to which he had often danced with his dear
"I have a trick yet left to save our honor,----"
Lord Ufford turned to a table where wine and glasses
were set ready. "I propose a toast. Let us drink--for
the last time--to the honor of the Calverleys."
"It is an invitation I may not decorously refuse.
And yet--it may be that I do not understand you?"
My lord of Ufford poured wine into two glasses.
These glasses were from among the curios he collected
so industriously--tall, fragile things, of seventeenth
century make, very intricately cut with roses and
thistles, and in the bottom of each glass a three-penny
piece was embedded. Lord Ufford took a tiny vial from
his pocket and emptied its contents into the glass
which stood the nearer to Mr. Calverley.
"This is Florence water. We dabblers in science
are experimenting with it at Gresham College. A taste
of it means death--a painless, quick and honorable
death. You will have died of a heart seizure. Come,
Robin, let us drink to the honor of the Calverleys."
The poet-earl paused for a little while. Now he
was like some seer of supernal things.
"For look you," said Lord Ufford, "we come of
honorable blood. We two are gentlemen. We have our
code, and we may not infringe upon it. Our code does
not invariably square with reason, and I doubt if
Scripture would afford a dependable foundation. So be
it! We have our code and we may not infringe upon it.
There have been many Calverleys who did not fear their
God, but there was never any one of them who did
not fear dishonor. I am the head of no less proud a
house. As such, I counsel you to drink and die within
the moment. It is not possible a Calverley survive
dishonor. Oh, God!" the poet cried, and his voice
broke; "and what is honor to this clamor within me!
Robin, I love you better than I do this talk of honor!
For, Robin, I have loved you long! so long that what we
do to-night will always make life hideous to me!"
Calverley was not unmoved, but he replied in the
tone of daily intercourse. "It is undoubtedly absurd
to perish here, like some unreasonable adversary of the
Borgias. Your device is rather outrageously horrific,
Horace, like a bit out of your own romance--yes, egad,
it is pre-eminently worthy of the author of The Vassal
of Spalatro. Still I can understand that it is
preferable to having fat and greasy fellows squander a
shilling for the privilege of perching upon a box while
I am being hanged. And I think I shall accept your
"You will be avenged," Ufford said, simply.
"My dear, as if I ever questioned that! Of course,
you will kill Pevensey first and Umfraville afterward.
Only I want to live. For I was meant to play a joyous
role wholeheartedly in the big comedy of life. So many
people find the world a dreary residence," Mr.
Calverley sighed, "that it is really a pity some one of
these long-faced stolidities cannot die now instead of
me. For I have found life wonderful throughout."
The brows of Ufford knit. "Would you consent
to live as a transported felon? I have much money. I
need not tell you the last penny is at your disposal.
It might be possible to bribe. Indeed, Lord Bute is
all-powerful to-day and he would perhaps procure a
pardon for you at my entreaty. He is so kind as to
admire my scribblings. . . Or you might live among
your fellow-convicts somewhere over sea for a while
longer. I had not thought that such would be your
choice----" Here Ufford shrugged, restrained by
courtesy. "Besides, Lord Bute is greatly angered with
you, because you have endangered his Russian alliance.
However, if you wish it, I will try----"
"Oh, for that matter, I do not much fear Lord Bute,
because I bring him the most welcome news he has had in
many a day. I may tell you since it will be public to-
morrow. The Tzaritza Elizabeth, our implacable enemy,
died very suddenly three weeks ago. Peter of Holstein-
Gottrop reigns to-day in Russia, and I have made terms
with him. I came to tell Lord Bute the Cossack troops
have been recalled from Prussia. The war is at an
end." Young Calverley meditated and gave his customary
boyish smile. "Yes, I discharged my Russian mission
after all--even after I had formally relinquished it--
because I was so opportunely aided by the accident of
the Tzaritza's death. And Bute cares only for results.
So I would explain to him that I resigned my mission
simply because in Russia my wife could not have lived
out another year----"
The earl exclaimed, "Then Honoria is ill!"
Mr. Calverley did not attend, but stood looking
out into the Venetian Chamber.
"See, Horace, she is dancing with Anchester while I
wait here so near to death. She dances well. But
Honoria does everything adorably. I cannot tell you--
oh, not even you!--how happy these three years have
been with her. Eh, well! the gods are jealous of such
happiness. You will remember how her mother died? It
appears that Honoria is threatened with a slow
consumption, and a death such as her mother's was. She
does not know. There was no need to frighten her. For
although the rigors of another Russian winter, as all
physicians tell me, would inevitably prove fatal to
her, there is no reason why my dearest dear should not
continue to laugh just as she always does--for a long,
bright and happy while in some warm climate such as
Italy's. In nature I resigned my appointment. I did
not consider England, or my own trivial future, or
anything of that sort. I considered only Honoria."
He gazed for many moments upon the woman whom he
loved. His speech took on an odd simplicity.
"Oh, yes, I think that in the end Bute would pro-

cure a pardon for me. But not even Bute can override
the laws of England. I would have to be tried first,
and have ballads made concerning me, and be condemned,
and so on. That would detain Honoria in England,
because she is sufficiently misguided to love me. I
could never persuade her to leave me with my life
in peril. She could not possibly survive an English
winter." Here Calverley evinced unbridled mirth. "The
irony of events is magnificent. There is probably no
question of hanging or even of transportation. It is
merely certain that if I venture from this room I bring
about Honoria's death as incontestably as if I
strangled her with these two hands. So I choose my own
death in preference. It will grieve Honoria----" His
voice was not completely steady. "But she is young.
She will forget me, for she forgets easily, and she
will be happy. I look to you to see--even before you
have killed Pevensey--that Honoria goes into Italy.
For she admires and loves you, almost as much as I do,
Horace, and she will readily be guided by you----"
He cried my lord of Ufford's given name some two or
three times, for young Calverley had turned, and he had
seen Ufford's face.
The earl moistened his lips. "You are a fool," he
said, with a thin voice. "Why do you trouble me by
being better than I? Or do you only posture for my
benefit? Do you deal honestly with me, Robert Cal-

verley?--then swear it----" He laughed here, very
horribly. "Ah, no, when did you ever lie! You do not
lie--not you!"
He waited for a while. "But I am otherwise. I
dare to lie when the occasion promises. I have desired
Honoria since the first moment wherein I saw her. I
may tell you now. I think that you do not remember.
We gathered cherries. I ate two of them
which had just lain upon her knee----"
His hands had clenched each other, and his lips
were drawn back so that you saw his exquisite teeth,
which were ground together. He stood thus for a
little, silent.
Then Ufford began again: "I planned all this. I
plotted this with Umfraville. I wrote you such a let-

ter as would inevitably draw you to your death. I
wished your death. For Honoria would then be freed of
you. I would condole with her. She is readily
comforted, impatient of sorrow, incapable of it, I dare
say. She would have married me. . . . Why must I tell
you this? Oh, I am Fate's buffoon! For I have won, I
have won! and there is that in me which will not accept
the stake I cheated for."
"And you," said Calverley--"this thing is you!"
"A helpless reptile now," said Ufford. "I have not
the power to check Lord Umfraville in his vengeance.
You must be publicly disgraced, and must, I think, be
hanged even now when it will not benefit me at all. It
may be I shall weep for that some day! Or else Honoria
must die, because an archangel could not persuade her
to desert you in your peril. For she loves you--loves
you to the full extent of her merry and shallow nature.
Oh, I know that, as you will never know it. I shall
have killed Honoria! I shall not weep when Honoria
dies. Harkee, Robin! they are dancing yonder. It is
odd to think that I shall never dance again."
"Horace--!" the younger man said, like a person of
two minds. He seemed to choke. He gave a frantic
gesture. "Oh, I have loved you. I have loved nothing
as I have loved you."
"And yet you chatter of your passion for Honoria!"
Lord Ufford returned, with a snarl. "I ask what proof
is there of this?--Why, that you have surrendered your
well-being in this world through love of her. But I
gave what is vital. I was an honorable gentleman
without any act in all my life for which I had need to
blush. I loved you as I loved no other being in the
universe." He spread his hands, which now twitched
horribly. "You will never understand. It does not
matter. I desired Honoria. To-day through my desire
of her, I am that monstrous thing which you alone know
me to be. I think I gave up much. Pro honoria!" he
chuckled. "The Latin halts, but, none the less, the
jest is excellent."
"You have given more than I would dare to give,"
said Calverley. He shuddered.
"And to no end!" cried Ufford. "Ah, fate, the
devil and that code I mocked are all in league to cheat
Said Calverley: "The man whom I loved most is
dead. Oh, had the world been searched between the
sunrise and the sunsetting there had not been found his
equal. And now, poor fool, I know that there was never
any man like this!"
"Nay, there was such a man," the poet said, "in an
old time which I almost forget. To-day he is
quite dead. There is only a poor wretch who has been
faithless in all things, who has not even served the
devil faithfully."
"Why, then, you lackey with a lackey's soul, attend
to what I say. Can you make any terms with
"I can do nothing," Ufford replied. "You have
robbed him--as me--of what he most desired. You have
made him the laughing-stock of England. He does not
pardon any more than I would pardon."
"And as God lives and reigns, I do not greatly
blame him," said young Calverley. "This man at least
was wronged. Concerning you I do not speak, because of
a false dream I had once very long ago. Yet Umfraville
was treated infamously. I dare concede what I could
not permit another man to say and live, now that I
drink a toast which I must drink alone. For I drink to
the honor of the Calverleys. I have not ever lied to
any person in this world, and so I may not drink with
"Oh, but you drink because you know your death to
be the one event which can insure her happiness," cried
Ufford. "We are not much unlike. And I dare say it is
only an imaginary Honoria we love, after all. Yet,
look, my fellow-Ixion! for to the eye at least is she
not perfect?"
The two men gazed for a long while. Amid that
coterie of exquisites, wherein allusion to whatever
might he ugly in the world was tacitly allowed to be
unmentionable, Lady Honoria glitteringly went
about the moment's mirthful business with lovely
ardor. You saw now unmistakably that "Light Queen of
Elfdom, dead Titania's heir" of whom Ufford writes in
the fourth Satire. Honoria's prettiness, rouged,
frail, and modishly enhanced, allured the eye from all
less elfin brilliancies; and as she laughed among so
many other relishers of life her charms became the more
instant, just as a painting quickens in every tint when
set in an appropriate frame.
"There is no other way," her husband said. He
drank and toasted what was dearest in the world,
smiling to think how death came to him in that wine's
familiar taste. "I drink to the most lovely of created
ladies! and to her happiness!"
He snapped the stem of the glass and tossed it joy-
ously aside.
"Assuredly, there is no other way," said Ufford.
"And armored by that knowledge, even I may drink as
honorable people do. Pro honoria!" Then this man
also broke his emptied glass.
"How long have I to live?" said Calverley, and took
"Why, thirty years, I think, unless you duel too
immoderately," replied Lord Ufford,--"since while you
looked at Honoria I changed our glasses. No! no! a
thing done has an end. Besides, it is not unworthy of
me. So go boldly to the Earl of Bute and tell him all.
You are my cousin and my successor. Yes, very soon
you, too, will be a peer of England and as safe from
molestation as is Lord Pevensey. I am the first
to tender my congratulations. Now I make certain that
they are not premature."
The poet laughed at this moment as a man may laugh
in hell. He reeled. His lean face momentarily
contorted, and afterward the poet died.
"I am Lord Ufford," said Calverley aloud. "The
person of a peer is inviolable----" He presently
looked downward from rapt gazing at his wife.
Fresh from this horrible half-hour, he faced a fu-
ture so alluring as by its beauty to intimidate him.
Youth, love, long years of happiness, and (by this
capricious turn) now even opulence, were the in-
gredients of a captivating vista. And yet he needs
must pause a while to think of the dear comrade he had
lost--of that loved boy, his pattern in the time of
their common youthfulness which gleamed in memory as
bright and misty as a legend, and of the perfect
chevalier who had been like a touchstone to Robert Cal-
verley a bare half-hour ago. He knelt, touched lightly
the fallen jaw, and lightly kissed the cheek of this
poor wreckage; and was aware that the caress was given
with more tenderness than Robert Calverley had shown in
the same act a bare half-hour ago.
Meanwhile the music of a country dance urged the
new Earl of Ufford to come and frolic where every one
was laughing; and to partake with gusto of the benefits
which chance had provided; and to be forthwith as merry
as was decorous in a peer of England.


"But after SHERIDAN had risen to a commanding
position in the gay life of London, he rather disliked
to be known as a playwright or a poet, and preferred to
be regarded as a statesman and a man of fashion who
`set the pace' in all pastimes of the opulent and idle.
Yet, whatever he really thought of his own writings,
and whether or not he did them, as Stevenson used to
say, `just for fun,' the fact remains that he was
easily the most distinguished and brilliant dramatist
of an age which produced in SHERIDAN'S solemn
vagaries one of its most characteristic products."

Look on this form,--where humor, quaint and
Dimples the cheek, and points the beaming eye;
Where gay invention seems to boast its wiles
In amorous hint, and half-triumphant smiles.

Look on her well--does she seem form'd to
Should you expect to hear this lady preach?
Is gray experience suited to her youth?
Do solemn sentiments become that mouth?

Bid her be grave, those lips should rebel prove
To every theme that slanders mirth or love.

Prologue to The Rivals.


The devotion of Mr. Sheridan to the Dean of
Winchester's daughter, Miss Esther Jane Ogle--or "the
irresistible Ogle," as she was toasted at the Kit-cat--
was now a circumstance to be assumed in the polite
world of London. As a result, when the parliamentarian
followed her into Scotland, in the spring of 1795,
people only shrugged.
"Because it proves that misery loves company," was
Mr. Fox's observation at Wattier's, hard upon two in
the morning. "Poor Sherry, as an inconsolable widower,
must naturally have some one to share his grief. He
perfectly comprehends that no one will lament the death
of his wife more fervently than her successor."

In London Mr. Fox thus worded his interpretation of
the matter; and spoke, oddly enough, at the very moment
that in Edinburgh Mr. Sheridan returned to his lodgings
in Abercromby Place, deep in the reminiscences of a
fortunate evening at cards. In consequence, Mr.
Sheridan entered the room so quietly that the young man
who was employed in turning over the contents of
the top bureau-drawer was taken unprepared.
But in the marauder's nature, as far as resolution
went, was little lacking. "Silence!" he ordered, and
with the mandate a pistol was leveled upon the rep-

resentative for the borough of Stafford. "One cry for
help, and you perish like a dog. I warn you that I am
a desperate man."
"Now, even at a hazard of discourtesy, I must make
bold to question your statement," said Mr. Sheridan,
"although, indeed, it is not so much the recklessness
as the masculinity which I dare call into dispute."
He continued, in his best parliamentary manner, a
happy blending of reproach, omniscience and pardon.
"Only two months ago," said Mr. Sheridan, "I was so
fortunate as to encounter a lady who, alike through the
attractions of her person and the sprightliness of her
conversation, convinced me I was on the road to fall in
love after the high fashion of a popular romance. I
accordingly make her a declaration. I am rejected. I
besiege her with the customary artillery of sonnets,
bouquets, serenades, bonbons, theater-tickets and
threats of suicide. In fine, I contract the habit of
proposing to Miss Ogle on every Wednesday; and so
strong is my infatuation that I follow her as far into
the north as Edinburgh in order to secure my eleventh
rejection at half-past ten last evening."
"I fail to understand," remarked the burglar, "how
all this prolix account of your amours can possibly
concern me."
"You are at least somewhat involved in the deplor-
able climax," Mr. Sheridan returned. "For behold! at
two in the morning I discover the object of my
adoration and the daughter of an estimable prelate,
most calumniously clad and busily employed in rumpling
my supply of cravats. If ever any lover was thrust
into a more ambiguous position, madam, historians have
touched on his dilemma with marked reticence."
He saw--and he admired--the flush which mounted to
his visitor's brow. And then, "I must concede that
appearances are against me, Mr, Sheridan," the beau-
tiful intruder said. "And I hasten to protest that my
presence in your apartments at this hour is prompted by
no unworthy motive. I merely came to steal the famous
diamond which you brought from London--the Honor of
"Incomparable Esther Jane," ran Mr. Sheridan's
answer, "that stone is now part of a brooch which was
this afternoon returned to my cousin's, the Earl of
Eiran's, hunting-lodge near Melrose. He intends the
gem which you are vainly seeking among my haberdashery
to be the adornment of his promised bride in the
ensuing June. I confess to no overwhelming admiration
as concerns this raucous if meritorious young person;
and will even concede that the thought of her becoming
my kinswoman rouses in me an inevitable distaste, no
less attributable to the discord of her features than
to the source of her eligibility to disfigure the
peerage--that being her father's lucrative
transactions in Pork, which I find indigestible in any
"A truce to paltering!" Miss Ogle cried. "That
jewel was stolen from the temple at Moorshedabad, by
the Earl of Eiran's grandfather, during the confusion
necessarily attendant on the glorious battle of
Plassy." She laid down the pistol, and resumed in
milder tones: "From an age-long existence as the left
eye of Ganesh it was thus converted into the loot of an
invader. To restore this diamond to its lawful,
although no doubt polygamous and inefficiently-attired
proprietors is at this date impossible. But, oh! what
claim have you to its possession?"
"Why, none whatever," said the parliamentarian;
"and to contend as much would be the apex of unreason.
For this diamond belongs, of course, to my cousin the
Earl of Eiran----"
"As a thief's legacy!" She spoke with signs of
"Eh, eh, you go too fast! Eiran, to do him
justice, is not a graduate in peculation. At worst, he
is only the sort of fool one's cousins ordinarily are."
The trousered lady walked to and fro for a while,
with the impatience of a caged lioness. "I perceive I
must go more deeply into matters," Miss Ogle remarked,
and, with that habitual gesture which he fondly
recognized, brushed back a straying lock of hair. "In
any event," she continued, "you cannot with reason deny
that the world's wealth is inequitably
"Madam," Mr. Sheridan returned, "as a member of
Parliament, I have necessarily made it a rule never to
understand political economy. It is as apt as not to
prove you are selling your vote to the wrong side of
the House, and that hurts one's conscience."
"Ah, that is because you are a man. Men are not
practical. None of you has ever dared to insist on his
opinion about anything until he had secured the
cowardly corroboration of a fact or so to endorse him.
It is a pity. Yet, since through no fault of yours
your sex is invariably misled by its hallucinations as
to the importance of being rational, I will refrain
from logic and statistics. In a word, I simply inform
you that I am a member of the League of Philanthropic
"I had not previously heard of this organization,"
said Mr. Sheridan, and not without suspecting his
response to be a masterpiece in the inadequate.
"Our object is the benefit of society at large,"
Miss Ogle explained; "and our obstacles so far have
been, in chief, the fetish of proprietary rights and
the ubiquity of the police."
And with that she seated herself and told him of
the league's inception by a handful of reflective
persons, admirers of Rousseau and converts to his
tenets, who were resolved to better the circumstances
of the indigent. With amiable ardor Miss Ogle
explained how from the petit larcenies of charity-balls
and personally solicited subscriptions the league had
mounted to an ampler field of depredation; and through
what means it now took toll from every form of
wealth unrighteously acquired. Divertingly she
described her personal experiences in the separation of
usurers, thieves, financiers, hereditary noblemen,
popular authors, and other social parasites, from the
ill-got profits of their disreputable vocations. And
her account of how, on the preceding Tuesday, she,
single-handed, had robbed Sir Alexander McRae--who then
enjoyed a fortune and an enviable reputation for
philanthropy, thanks to the combination of glucose,
vitriol and other chemicals which he prepared under the
humorous pretext of manufacturing beer--wrung high
encomiums from Mr. Sheridan.
"The proceeds of these endeavors," Miss Ogle added,
"are conscientiously devoted to ameliorating the
condition of meritorious paupers. I would be happy to
submit to you our annual report. Then you may judge
for yourself how many families we have snatched from
the depths of poverty and habitual intoxication to the
comparative comfort of a vine-embowered cottage."
Mr. Sheridan replied: "I have not ever known of
any case where adoration needed an affidavit for
foundation. Oh, no, incomparable Esther Jane! I am
not in a position to be solaced by the reports of a
corresponding secretary. I gave my heart long since;
to-night I fling my confidence into the bargain; and am
resolved to serve wholeheartedly the cause to which you
are devoted. In consequence, I venture to propose
my name for membership in the enterprise you advocate
and indescribably adorn."
Miss Ogle was all one blush, such was the fervor of
his utterance. "But first you must win your spurs, Mr.
Sheridan. I confess you are not abhorrent to me," she
hurried on, "for you are the most fascinatingly hideous
man I have ever seen; and it was always the
apprehension that you might look on burglary as an
unmaidenly avocation which has compelled me to
discourage your addresses. Now all is plain; and
should you happen to distinguish yourself in robbery of
the criminally opulent, you will have, I believe, no
reason to complain of a twelfth refusal. I cannot
modestly say more."
He laughed. "It is a bargain. We will agree that
I bereave some person of either stolen or unearned
property, say, to the value of L10,000----" And with
his usual carefulness in such matters, Mr. Sheridan
entered the wager in his notebook.
She yielded him her hand in token of assent. And
he, depend upon it, kissed that velvet trifle fondly.
"And now," said Mr. Sheridan, "to-morrow we will
visit Bemerside and obtain possession of that crystal
which is in train to render me the happiest of men.
The task will be an easy one, as Eiran is now in
England, and his servants for the most part are my
"I agree to your proposal," she answered. "But
this diamond is my allotted quarry; and any assistance
you may render me in procuring it will not, of
course, affect in any way our bargain. On this
point"--she spoke with a break of laughter--"I am as
headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile."
"To quote an author to his face," lamented Mr.
Sheridan, "is bribery as gross as it is efficacious. I
must unwillingly consent to your exorbitant demands,
for you are, as always, the irresistible Ogle."
Miss Ogle bowed her gratitude; and, declining Mr.
Sheridan's escort, for fear of arousing gossip by being
seen upon the street with him at this late hour, pre-
ferred to avoid any appearance of indecorum by climbing
down the kitchen roof.

When she had gone, Mr. Sheridan very gallantly
attempted a set of verses. But the Muse was not to be
wooed to-night, and stayed obstinately coy.
Mr. Sheridan reflected, rather forlornly, that he
wrote nothing nowadays. There was, of course, his
great comedy, Affectation, his masterpiece which he
meant to finish at one time or another; yet, at the
bottom of his heart, he knew that he would never finish
it. But, then, deuce take posterity! for to have
written the best comedy, the best farce, and the best
burlesque as well, that England had ever known, was a
very prodigal wiping-out of every obligation toward
posterity. Boys thought a deal about posterity, as he
remembered; but a sensible man would bear in mind that
all this world's delicacies--its merry diversions, its
venison and old wines, its handsomely-bound books and
fiery-hearted jewels and sumptuous clothings, all
its lovely things that can be touched and handled, and
more especially its ear-tickling applause--were to be
won, if ever, from one's contemporaries. And people
were generous toward social, rather than literary,
talents for the sensible reason that they derived more
pleasure from an agreeable companion at dinner than
from having a rainy afternoon rendered endurable by
some book or another.
So the parliamentarian sensibly went to bed.

Miss, Ogle during this Scottish trip was accom-
panied by her father, the venerable Dean of Winchester.
The Dean, although in all things worthy of implicit
confidence, was not next day informed of the intended
expedition, in deference to public opinion, which, as
Miss Ogle pointed out, regards a clergyman's
participation in a technical felony with disapproval.
Miss Ogle, therefore, radiant in a becoming gown of
pink lute-string, left Edinburgh the following morning
under cover of a subterfuge, and with Mr. Sheridan as
her only escort. He was at pains to adorn this role
with so many happy touches of courtesy and amiability
that their confinement in the postchaise appeared to
both of incredible brevity.
When they had reached Melrose another chaise was
ordered to convey them to Bemerside; and pending its
forthcoming Mr. Sheridan and Miss Ogle strolled among
the famous ruins of Melrose Abbey. The parliamentarian
had caused his hair to be exuberantly curled that
morning, and figured to advantage in a plum-colored
coat and a saffron waistcoat sprigged with forget-me-
nots. He chatted entertainingly concerning the Second
Pointed style of architecture; translated many of the
epitaphs; and was abundant in interesting information
as to Robert Bruce, and Michael Scott, and the
rencounter of Chevy Chase.
"Oh, but observe," said Mr. Sheridan, more lately,
"our only covering is the dome of heaven. Yet in their
time these aisles were populous, and here a score of
generations have besought what earth does not afford--
now where the banners of crusaders waved the ivy
flutters, and there is no incense in this consecrated
house except the breath of the wild rose."
"The moral is an old one," she returned. "Mummy is
become merchandise, Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaoh
is sold for balsams."
"You are a reader, madam?" he observed, with some
surprise; and he continued: "Indeed, my thoughts were
on another trail. I was considering that the
demolishers of this place--those English armies, those
followers of John Knox--were actuated by the highest
and most laudable of motives. As a result we find the
house of Heaven converted into a dustheap."

"I believe you attempt an apologue," she said,
indignantly. "Upon my word, I think you would in-
sinuate that philanthropy, when forced to manifest
itself through embezzlement, is a less womanly em-
ployment than the darning of stockings!"
"Whom the cap fits----" he answered, with a bow.
"Indeed, incomparable Esther Jane, I had said nothing
whatever touching hosiery; and it was equally remote
from my intentions to set up as a milliner."

They lunched at Bemerside, where Mr. Sheridan was
cordially received by the steward, and a well-chosen
repast was placed at their disposal.
"Fergus," Mr. Sheridan observed, as they chatted
over their dessert concerning famous gems--in which
direction talk had been adroitly steered"--Fergus,
since we are on the topic, I would like to show Miss
Ogle the Honor of Eiran."
The Honor of Eiran was accordingly produced from a
blue velvet case, and was properly admired. Then, when
the steward had been dismissed to fetch a rare liqueur,
Mr. Sheridan laughed, and tossed and caught the jewel,
as though he handled a cricket-ball. It was the size
of a pigeon's egg, and was set among eight gems of
lesser magnitude; and in transit through the sunlight
the trinket flashed and glittered with diabolical
beauty. The parliamentarian placed three bits of sugar
in the velvet case and handed the gem to his companion.
"The bulk is much the same," he observed; "and
whether the carbon be crystallized or no, is the re-
sponsibility of stratigraphic geology. Fergus, per-
haps, must go to jail. That is unfortunate. But true
philanthropy works toward the benefit of the greatest
number possible; and this resplendent pebble will
purchase you innumerable pounds of tea and a
warehouseful of blankets."
"But, Mr. Sheridan," Miss Ogle cried, in horror,
"to take this brooch would not be honest!"
"Oh, as to that----!" he shrugged.
"----because Lord Eiran purchased all these lesser
diamonds, and very possibly paid for them."
Then Mr. Sheridan reflected, stood abashed, and
said: "Incomparable Esther Jane, I confess I am only a
man. You are entirely right. To purloin any of these
little diamonds would be an abominable action, whereas
to make off with the only valuable one is simply a
stroke of retribution. I will, therefore, attempt to
prise it out with a nutpick."
Three constables came suddenly into the room. "We
hae been tauld this missy is a suspectit thieving
body," their leader cried. "Esther Jane Ogle, ye maun
gae with us i' the law's name. Ou ay, lass, ye ken
weel eneugh wha robbit auld Sir Aleexander McRae, sae
dinna ye say naething tae your ain preejudice, lest ye
hae tae account for it a'."
Mr. Sheridan rose to the occasion. "My exceedingly
good friend, Angus Howden! I am unwilling to concede
that yeomen can excel in gentlemanly accomplishments,
but it is only charity to suppose all three of you as
drunk as any duke that ever honored me with his
acquaintance." This he drawled, and appeared
magisterially to await an explanation.
"Hout, Mr. Sheridan," commenced the leading
representative of justice, "let that flee stick i' the
wa'-- ye dinna mean tae tell me, Sir, that ye are
acquaintit wi' this--ou ay, tae pleasure ye, I micht
e'en say wi' this----"
"This lady, probably?" Mr. Sheridan hazarded.
"'Tis an unco thing," the constable declared, "but
that wad be the word was amaist at my tongue's tip."
"Why, undoubtedly," Mr. Sheridan assented. "I
rejoice that, being of French extraction, and uncon-
versant with your somewhat cryptic patois, the lady in
question is the less likely to have been sickened by
your extravagances in the way of misapprehension. I
candidly confess such imbecility annoys me. What!" he
cried out, "what if I marry! is matrimony to be ranked
with arson? And what if my cousin, Eiran, affords me a
hiding-place wherein to sneak through our honeymoon
after the cowardly fashion of all modern married
couples! Am I in consequence compelled to submit to
the invasions of an intoxicated constabulary?" His
rage was terrific.
"Voila la seule devise. Ils me connaissent, ils
ont confidence dans moi. Si, taisez-vous! Si non,
vous serez arretee et mise dans la prison, comme une
caractere suspicieuse!" Mr. Sheridan exhorted Miss
Ogle to this intent with more of earnestness than
linguistic perfection; and he rejoiced to see that in-
stantly she caught at her one chance of plausibly ac-
counting for her presence at Bemerside, and of effect-
ing a rescue from this horrid situation.
"But I also spik the English," she sprightlily
announced. "I am appleed myself at to learn its
by heart. Certainly you look for a needle in a
hay bundle, my gentlemans. I am no stealer of the
grand road, but the wife of Mistaire Sheridan, and her
presence will say to you the remains."
"You see!" cried Mr. Sheridan, in modest triumph.
"In short, I am a bridegroom unwarrantably interrupted
in his first tete-a-tete, I am responsible for this
lady and all her past and its appurtenances; and, in a
phrase, for everything except the course of conduct I
will undoubtedly pursue should you be visible at the
conclusion of the next five minutes."
His emphasis was such that the police withdrew with
a concomitant of apologies.

"And now I claim my bond," said Mr. Sheridan, when
they were once again free from intrusion. "For we two
are in Scotland, where the common declaration of a man
and woman that they are married constitutes a
"Oh----!" she exclaimed, and stood encrimsoned.
"Indeed, I must confess that the day's work has
been a trick throughout. The diamond was pawned years
ago. This trinket here is a copy in paste and worth
perhaps some seven shillings sixpence. And those
fellows were not constables, but just my cousin Eiran
and two footmen in disguise. Nay, madam, you will
learn with experience that to display unfailing candor
is not without exception the price of happiness."
"But this, I think, evades our bargain, Mr.
Sheridan. For you were committed to pilfer property to
the value of L10,000----"
"And to fulfil the obligation I have stolen your
hand in marriage. What, madam! do you indeed pretend
that any person outside of Bedlam would value you at
less? Believe me, your perfections are of far more
worth. All persons recognize that save yourself,
incomparable Esther Jane; and yet, so patent is the
proof of my contention, I dare to leave the verdict to
your sense of justice."
Miss Ogle did not speak. Her lashes fell as, with
some ceremony, he led her to the long French mirror
which was in the breakfast room. "See now!" said Mr.
Sheridan. "You, who endanger life and fame in order to
provide a mendicant with gruel, tracts and blankets!
You, who deny a sop to the one hunger which is vital!
Oh, madam, I am tempted glibly to compare your eyes to
sapphires, and your hair to thin-spun gold, and the
color of your flesh to the arbutus-flower--for that, as
you can see, would be within the truth, and it would
please most women, and afterward they would not be so
obdurate. But you are not like other women," Mr.
Sheridan observed, with admirable dexterity. "And I
aspire to you, the irresistible Ogle! you, who so
great-heartedly befriend the beggar! you, who with such
industry contrive alleviation for the discomforts of
poverty. Eh, eh! what will you grant to any beggar
such as I? Will you deny a sop to the one hunger which
is vital?" He spoke with unaccustomed vigor, even
in a sort of terror, because he knew that he was
speaking with sincerity.
"To the one hunger which is vital!" he repeated.
"Ah, where lies the secret which makes one face the
dearest in the world, and entrusts to one little hand a
life's happiness as a plaything? All Aristotle's
learning could not unriddle the mystery, and Samson's
thews were impotent to break that spell. Love
vanquishes all. . . . You would remind me of some
previous skirmishings with Venus's unconquerable brat?
Nay, madam, to the contrary, the fact that I have loved
many other women is my strongest plea for toleration.
Were there nothing else, it is indisputable we perform
all actions better for having rehearsed them. No, we
do not of necessity perform them the more thoughtlessly
as well; for, indeed, I find that with experience a man
becomes increasingly difficult to please in affairs of
the heart. The woman one loves then is granted that
pre-eminence not merely by virtue of having outshone
any particular one of her predecessors; oh, no!
instead, her qualities have been compared with all the
charms of all her fair forerunners, and they have
endured that stringent testing. The winning of an
often-bartered heart is in reality the only conquest
which entitles a woman to complacency, for she has
received a real compliment; whereas to be selected as
the target of a lad's first declaration is a tribute of
no more value than a man's opinion upon vintages who
has never tasted wine."
He took a turn about the breakfast room, then came
near to her. "I love you. Were there any way to
parade the circumstance and bedeck it with pleasing
adornments of filed phrases, tropes and far-fetched
similes, I would not grudge you a deal of verbal
pageantry. But three words say all. I love you.
There is no act in my past life but appears trivial and
strange to me, and to the man who performed it I seem
no more akin than to Mark Antony or Nebuchadnezzar. I
love you. The skies are bluer since you came, the
beauty of this world we live in oppresses me with a
fearful joy, and in my heart there is always the
thought of you and such yearning as I may not word.
For I love you."
"You--but you have frightened me." Miss Ogle did
not seem so terrified as to make any effort to recede
from him; and yet he saw that she was frightened in
sober earnest. Her face showed pale, and soft, and
glad, and awed, and desirable above all things; and it
remained so near him as to engender riotous
"I love you," he said again. You would never have
suspected this man could speak, upon occasion, flu-
ently. "I think--I think that Heaven was prodigal when
Heaven made you. To think of you is as if I listened
to an exalted music; and to be with you is to
understand that all imaginable sorrows are just the
figments of a dream which I had very long ago."
She laid one hand on each of his shoulders, facing
him. "Do not let me be too much afraid! I have
not ever been afraid before. Oh, everything is in a
mist of gold, and I am afraid of you, and of the big
universe which I was born into, and I am helpless, and
I would have nothing changed! Only, I cannot believe I
am worth L10,000, and I do so want to be persuaded I
am. It is a great pity," she sighed, "that you who
convicted Warren Hastings of stealing such enormous
wealth cannot be quite as eloquent to-day as you were
in the Oudh speech, and convince me his arraigner has
been equally rapacious!"
"I mean to prove as much--with time," said Mr.
Sheridan. His breathing was yet perfunctory.
Miss Ogle murmured, "And how long would you
"Why, I intend, with your permission, to devote the
remainder of my existence to the task. Eh, I concede
that space too brief for any adequate discussion of the
topic; but I will try to be concise and very prac-
She laughed. They were content. "Try, then----"
Miss Ogle said.
She was able to get no farther in the sentence, for
reasons which to particularize would be indiscreet.


"Though--or, rather, because--VANDERHOFFEN was a
child of the French Revolution, and inherited his
social, political and religious--or, rather, anti-
religious--views from the French writers of the
eighteenth century, England was not ready for him and
the unshackled individualism for which he at first
contended. Recognizing this fact, he turned to an
order of writing begotten of the deepest popular needs
and addressed to the best intelligence of the great
middle classes of the community."

Now emperors bide their times' rebuff
I would not be a king--enough
Of woe it is to love;
The paths of power are steep and rough,
And tempests reign above.

I would not climb the imperial throne;
'Tis built on ice which fortune's sun
Thaws in the height of noon.
Then farewell, kings, that squeak `Ha' done!'
To time's full-throated tune.

and Caroline.


It is questionable if the announcement of the death of
their Crown Prince, Hilary, upon the verge of his
accession to the throne, aroused more than genteel
regret among the inhabitants of Saxe-Kesselberg. It is
indisputable that in diplomatic circles news of this
horrible occurrence was indirectly conceded in 1803 to
smack of a direct intervention of Providence. For to
consider all the havoc dead Prince Fribble--such had
been his sobriquet--would have created, Dei gratia,
through his pilotage of an important grand-duchy (with
an area of no less than eighty-nine square miles) was
less discomfortable now prediction was an academic
And so the editors of divers papers were the
victims of a decorous anguish, court-mourning was
decreed, and that wreckage which passed for the
mutilated body of Prince Hilary was buried with every
appropriate honor. Within the week most people had
forgotten him, for everybody was discussing the
execution of the Duc d'Enghein. And the aged
unvenerable Grand-Duke of Saxe-Kesselberg died too in
the same March; and afterward his other grandson,
Prince Augustus, reigned in the merry old debauchee's
Prince Hilary was vastly pleased. His scheme for
evading the tedious responsibilities of sovereignty had
been executed without a hitch; he was officially dead;
and, on the whole, standing bareheaded between a miller
and laundress, he had found his funeral ceremonies to
be unimpeachably conducted. He assumed the name of
Paul Vanderhoffen, selected at random from the novel he
was reading when his postchaise conveyed him past the
frontier of Saxe-Kesselberg. Freed, penniless, and
thoroughly content, he set about amusing himself--
having a world to frisk in--and incidentally about the
furnishing of his new friend Paul Vanderhoffen with
life's necessaries.

It was a little more than two years later that the
good-natured Earl of Brudenel suggested to Lady John
Claridge that she could nowhere find a more eligible
tutor for her son than young Vanderhoffen.
"Hasn't a shilling, ma'am, but one of the most
popular men in London. His poetry book was subscribed
for by the Prince Regent and half the notables of the
kingdom. Capital company at a dinner-table--stutters,
begad, like a What-you-may-call-'em, and keeps
everybody in a roar--and when he's had his whack of
claret, he sings his own songs to the piano, you know,
and all that sort of thing, and has quite put Tommy
Moore's nose out of joint. Nobody knows much about
him, but that don't matter with these literary
chaps, does it now? Goes everywhere, ma'am--quite a
favorite at Carlton House--a highly agreeable, well-
informed man, I can assure you--and probably hasn't a
shilling to pay the cabman. Deuced odd, ain't it? But
Lord Lansdowne is trying to get him a place--spoke to
me about a tutorship, ma'am, in fact, just to keep
Vanderhoffen going, until some registrarship or other
falls vacant. Now, I ain't clever and that sort of
thing, but I quite agree with Lansdowne that we
practical men ought to look out for these clever
fellows--see that they don't starve in a garret, like
poor What's-his-name, don't you know?"
Lady Claridge sweetly agreed with her future son--

in-law. So it befell that shortly after this conversa-

tion Paul Vanderhoffen came to Leamington Manor, and
through an entire summer goaded young Percival
Claridge, then on the point of entering Cambridge, but
pedagogically branded as "deficient in mathematics,"
through many elaborate combinations of x and y and
cosines and hyperbolas.
Lady John Claridge, mother to the pupil, approved
of the new tutor. True, he talked much and wildishly;
but literary men had a name for eccentricity, and,
besides, Lady Claridge always dealt with the opinions
of other people as matters of illimitable unimportance.
This baronet's lady, in short, was in these days
vouchsafing to the universe at large a fine and new
benevolence, now that her daughter was safely engaged
to Lord Brudenel, who, whatever his other virtues, was
certainly a peer of England and very rich. It
seems irrelevant, and yet for the tale's sake is
noteworthy, that any room which harbored Lady John
Claridge was through this fact converted into an
absolute monarchy.
And so, by the favor of Lady Claridge and destiny,
the tutor stayed at Leamington Manor all summer.
There was nothing in either the appearance or
demeanor of the fiancee of Lord Brudenel's title and
superabundant wealth which any honest gentleman could,
hand upon his heart, describe as blatantly repulsive.
It may not be denied the tutor noted this. In
fine, he fell in love with Mildred Claridge after a
thorough-going fashion such as Prince Fribble would
have found amusing. Prince Fribble would have smiled,
shrugged, drawled, "Eh, after all, the girl is handsome
and deplorably cold-blooded!" Paul Vanderhoffen said,
"I am not fit to live in the same world with her," and
wrote many verses in the prevailing Oriental style rich
in allusions to roses, and bulbuls, and gazelles, and
peris, and minarets--which he sold rather profitably.
Meanwhile, far oversea, the reigning Duke of Saxe-
Kesselberg had been unwise enough to quarrel with his
Chancellor, Georges Desmarets, an invaluable man whose
only faults were dishonesty and a too intimate
acquaintance with the circumstances of Prince Hilary's
demise. As fruit of this indiscretion, an in-
considerable tutor at Leamington Manor--whom Lady
John Claridge regarded as a sort of upper servant-was
talking with a visitor.

The tutor, it appeared, preferred to talk with the
former Chancellor of Saxe-Kesselberg in the middle of
an open field. The time was afternoon, the season
September, and the west was vaingloriously justifying
the younger man's analogy of a gigantic Spanish
omelette. Meanwhile, the younger man declaimed in a
high-pitched pleasant voice, wherein there was, as al-
ways, the elusive suggestion of a stutter.
"I repeat to you," the tutor observed, "that no
consideration will ever make a grand-duke of me ex-
cepting over my dead body. Why don't you recommend
some not quite obsolete vocation, such as making
papyrus, or writing an interesting novel, or teaching
people how to dance a saraband? For after all, what is
a monarch nowadays--oh, even a monarch of the first
class?" he argued, with what came near being a squeak
of indignation. "The poor man is a rather pitiable and
perfectly useless relic of barbarism, now that 1789 has
opened our eyes; and his main business in life is to
ride in open carriages and bow to an applauding public
who are applauding at so much per head. He must expect
to be aspersed with calumny, and once in a while with
bullets. He may at the utmost aspire to introduce an
innovation in evening dress,--the Prince Regent, for
instance, has invented a really very creditable shoe-
buckle. Tradition obligates him to devote his
unofficial hours to sheer depravity----"
Paul Vanderhoffen paused to meditate.
"Why, there you are! another obstacle! I have in
an inquiring spirit and without prejudice sampled all
the Seven Deadly Sins, and the common increment was an
inability to enjoy my breakfast. A grand-duke I take
it, if he have any sense of the responsibilities of his
position, will piously remember the adage about the
voice of the people and hasten to be steeped in vice--
and thus conform to every popular notion concerning a
grand-duke. Why, common intelligence demands that a
grand-duke should brazenly misbehave himself upon the
more conspicuous high-places of Chemosh! and
personally, I have no talents such as would qualify me
for a life of cynical and brutal immorality. I lack
the necessary aptitude, I would not ever afford any
spicy gossip concerning the Duke of Saxe-Kesselberg,
and the editors of the society papers would unanimously
conspire to dethrone me----"
Thus he argued, with his high-pitched pleasant
voice, wherein there was, as always, the elusive sug-
gestion of a stutter. And here the other interrupted.
"There is no need of names, your highness." Georges
Desmarets was diminutive, black-haired and corpulent.
He was of dapper appearance, point-device in
everything, and he reminded you of a perky robin.
The tutor flung out an "Ouf! I must recall to
you that, thank heaven, I am not anybody's
highness any longer. I am Paul Vanderhoffen."
"He says that he is not Prince Fribble!"--the
little man addressed the zenith--"as if any other
person ever succeeded in talking a half-hour without
being betrayed into at least one sensible remark. Oh,
how do you manage without fail to be so consistently
and stupendously idiotic?"
"It is, like all other desirable traits, either
innate or else just unattainable," the other answered.
"I am so hopelessly light-minded that I cannot refrain
from being rational even in matters which concern me
personally--and this, of course, no normal being ever
thinks of doing. I really cannot help it."
The Frenchman groaned whole-heartedly.
"But we were speaking--well, of foreign countries.
Now, Paul Vanderhoffen has read that in one of these
countries there was once a prince who very narrowly
escaped figuring as a self-conscious absurdity, as an
anachronism, as a life-long prisoner of etiquette.
However, with the assistance of his cousin--who,
incidentally, was also his heir--the prince most op-

portunely died. Oh, pedant that you are! in any event
he was interred. And so, the prince was gathered to
his fathers, and his cousin Augustus reigned in his
stead. Until a certain politician who had been privy
to this pious fraud----" The tutor shrugged. "How can
I word it without seeming hypercritical?"
Georges Desmarets stretched out appealing hands.
"But, I protest, it was the narrow-mindedness of
that pernicious prig, your cousin--who firmly
believes himself to be an improved and augmented
edition of the Four Evangelists----"
"Well, in any event, the proverb was attested that
birds of a feather make strange bedfellows. There was
a dispute concerning some petit larceny--some slight
discrepancy, we will imagine, since all this is pure
romance, in the politician's accounts----"
"Now you belie me----" said the black-haired man,
and warmly.
"Oh, Desmarets, you are as vain as ever! Let us
say, then, of grand larceny. In any event, the poli-
tician was dismissed. And what, my dears, do you
suppose this bold and bad and unprincipled Machiavelli
went and did? Why, he made straight for the father of
the princess the usurping duke was going to marry, and
surprised everybody by showing that, at a pinch, even
this Guy Fawkes--who was stuffed with all manner of
guile and wickedness where youthful patriotism would
ordinarily incline to straw--was capable of telling the
truth. And so the father broke off the match. And the
enamored, if usurping, duke wept bitterly and tore his
hair to such an extent he totally destroyed his best
toupet. And privily the Guy Fawkes came into the
presence of the exiled duke and prated of a restoration
to ancestral dignities. And he was spurned by a
certain highly intelligent person who considered it
both tedious and ridiculous to play at being emperor of
a backyard. And then--I really don't recall what
happened. But there was a general and unqualified
deuce to pay with no pitch at a really satisfying
The stouter man said quietly: "It is a thrilling
tale which you narrate. Only, I do recall what hap-
pened then. The usurping duke was very much in
earnest, desirous of retaining his little kingdom, and
particularly desirous of the woman whom he loved. In
consequence, he had Monsieur the Runaway obliterated
while the latter was talking nonsense----"
The tutor's brows had mounted.
"I scorn to think it even of anybody who is con-
trolled in every action by a sense of duty," Georges
Desmarets explained, "that Duke Augustus would cause
you to be murdered in your sleep."
"A hit!" The younger man unsmilingly gesticulated
like one who has been touched in sword-play. "Behold
now, as the populace in their blunt way would phrase
it, I am squelched."
"And so the usurping duke was married and lived
happily ever afterward." Georges Desmarets continued:
"I repeat to you there is only the choice between
declaring yourself and being--we will say, removed.
Your cousin is deeply in love with the Princess Sophia,
and thanks to me, has now no chance of marrying her
until his title has been secured by your--removal. Do
not deceive yourself. High interests are involved.
You are the grain of sand between big wheels. I
iterate that the footpad who attacked you last night
was merely a prologue. I happen to know your cousin
has entrusted the affair to Heinrich Obendorf, his
foster-brother, who, as you will remember, is not
particularly squeamish."
Paul Vanderhoffen thought a while. "Desmarets," he
said at last, "it is no use. I scorn your pribbles and
your prabbles. I bargained with Augustus. I traded a
duchy for my personal liberty. Frankly, I would be
sorry to connect a sharer of my blood with the assault
of yesterday. To be unpardonably candid, I have not
ever found that your assertion of an event quite proved
it had gone through the formality of occurring. And so
I shall hold to my bargain."
"The night brings counsel," Desmarets returned.
"It hardly needs a night, I think, to demonstrate that
all I say is true."
And so they parted.

Having thus dismissed such trifles as statecraft
and the well-being of empires, Paul Vanderhoffen turned
toward consideration of the one really serious subject
in the universe, which was of course the bright, mir-

aculous and incredible perfection of Mildred Claridge.
"I wonder what you think of me? I wonder if you
ever think of me?" The thought careered like a caged

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