Part 5 out of 5
snarled something about an old fellow in his dotage. This much enlivened
the quarrel, and they parted in some exhaustion, but still raging.
The night brought counsel. Sunderland might tell himself and believe that
Marlborough had become only the shadow of a great name. But the great
name, he knew very well, was valuable to himself and his party, and he
had no notion of throwing it away for the sake of his injured dignity. In
his way, Colonel Boyce was quite as necessary to my lord. The fellow knew
too much to be discarded. Moreover, he would still be valuable. His
talents for intrigue and even that weakness of his, his fertility in
multiplying intrigue, much appealed to Sunderland. So before noon on the
next day, Colonel Boyce was reading a civil letter from my lord. He
sneered over it, but it was welcome enough. He did not want to be idle,
and could rely on Sunderland to find him agreeable occupation. He walked
out to wait on my lord, and they made it up, which was perhaps
unfortunate for Mr. Waverton.
Later in the day my lord heard that a gentleman was asking to speak with
him, a gentleman who professed to have information about the Pretender
which he could give only to my lord's private ear. Thereupon my lord
received a large and imposing young gentleman, who said: "My Lord
Sunderland? My lord, I am Geoffrey Waverton of Tetherdown, a gentleman of
family (as you may know) and sufficient estate. This is to advise you
that I am in need of no private advantage and desire none, but only to do
my duty against traitors."
"You are benevolent, sir, but I am busy."
"I believe you will be glad to postpone your business to mine, my lord,"
says Mr. Waverton haughtily. "Let me tell you at this moment of anxious
doubt," Mr. Waverton hesitated like one who forgets a bit of his prepared
eloquence,--"let me tell you the Pretender has come to these shores. He
has come to England, to London. He was in Kensington yesterday."
"You amaze me, Mr. Waverton."
"My lord, I can take you to the house."
"You are very obliging. Is he there now?"
"I believe not, my lord."
"And I believe not too. Mr. Waverton, the world is full of gentlemen
who know where the Pretender was the other day. You are tedious. Where
is he now?"
"My lord, I shall put in your power one who is in all his cunning
secrets: one who is the treasonous mainspring of the plot."
Sunderland, who was something of a purist, made a grimace: "A treasonous
mainspring! You may keep it, sir."
"You are pleased to be facetious, my lord. I warn you we have here no
matter for levity. I shall deliver to your hands one who is deep in the
most dangerous secrets of the Jacobites, art and part of the design
which at this moment of peril and dismay brings the Pretender down upon
"Mr. Waverton, you are as dull as a play. Who is he, this bogey of
"He calls himself Boyce," said Mr. Waverton, with an intense sneer.
"Harry Boyce, a shabby, scrubby trickster to the eye. You would take him
for a starveling usher, a decayed footman. It's a lurker in holes and
corners, indeed, a cringing, grovelling fellow. But with a heart full of
treason and all the cunning of a base, low hypocrisy. Still a youth, but
sodden in lying craft."
Sunderland picked up a pen and played with it, and through the flutter of
the feather he began to look keenly at Mr. Waverton. "Pray spare me the
rhetoric," says he. "What has he done, your friend, Harry Boyce?"
"He has this long time past been hand and glove with the Jacobites of
Sam's. I have evidence of it. Now mark you what follows. Yesterday
betimes he slunk out to Kensington, using much cunning secrecy. And there
he made his way to a certain house--I wonder if you know it, my lord? It
was close watched yesterday, and a coach that came from it was beset. I
wonder if you have been asking yourself how the Pretender evaded that
watch. I can dispel the mystery. This fellow Harry Boyce went in with
news of the guard about the house. It was in his company that the
Pretender rode away."
"Why do you stop?" said Sunderland.
"Where they went then I cannot tell you. You will please to observe, my
lord, that I am precisely honest with you and even to this knave Boyce
just. But it is certain that in the evening when Harry Boyce came back to
the low tavern where he lodges--and he came, if you please, in a handsome
coach--he was wearing the very clothes of the Pretender--aye, even to the
hat and wig. I believe I have said enough, my lord. It will be plain to
you that the fellow is very dangerous to the peace of the realm and our
good and lawful king. If you lay hands on him, which I advise you to do
swiftly, you will quench a treason which has us all in peril, and well
deserve the favour of King George. For my own part I seek neither favour
nor reward, desiring only to do my duty as a gentleman." Mr. Waverton
concluded with a large bow in the flamboyant style.
"Your name is Waverton?" Sunderland said coldly. Mr. Waverton was
stupefied. That such eloquence should not raise a man's temperature! That
he should not have made his name remembered! He remained dumb. "Pray when
did you turn your coat?"
"Turn my coat?" Mr. Waverton gasped.
"You once professed yourself Jacobite. You went to France with a certain
Colonel Boyce. You quarrelled with him because he was not Jacobite. Now
you desire to get his son into trouble. You do not gain upon me, Mr.
"I can explain, my lord--"
"Pray, spare me," says Sunderland. "You are not obscure. I see that you
have a private grudge against the family of Boyce. Settle it in private,
Mr. Waverton. It is more courageous."
Mr. Waverton stared at him and began several repartees which were
"I find you tiresome," Sunderland said. "I advise you, do not make me
think of you again," and he struck his bell. But when Mr. Waverton was
gone: "I fear he has not the spirit of a louse," my lord remarked to
himself with a shrug.
Thus Mr. Waverton's virtue was left to seek its own reward.
IN THE TAP
When Harry came back to his tavern, he was, you'll believe, not anxious
to be seen. He made one step from the coach to the door, scurried through
the tap and upstairs. But the coming of a coach, and a coach of some
splendour, to the humble "Hand of Pork" had brought folks to the windows,
and at the staircase window Harry bumped into his landlady, who gasped at
him and began a "Save your lordship--" which ended in "God help us, it's
"Cook me a steak, Meg," Harry said, and went up the stairs three
at a time.
She screamed after him "Ha' you seen your letter? There's a letter for
you in the tap."
When Harry came down in his natural clothes, his best and one remaining
suit, and shouted for his supper she was quarrelling with the potman and
searching the shelves: "Meg, you villain--Meg, where's my steak?"
"Lord love you, it's to the fire. I be looking for your letter. Ain't you
had it now? Days it's been here, I swear, and I saw it again only this
morning. By the black jar of usquebaugh it was, George, Od rot you."
"Burn the letter," says Harry. "Go, bring me that steak, you slut."
"Oh, God save you," Mrs. Meg cried in a pet, and so for Alison's letter
there was no more search. But indeed they would not have found it.
Harry, if he ever thought about it, supposed it one of the grumbling
screeds of the bookseller for whom he scribbled and was glad to be rid of
it so easily. But he was in no case to think usefully of anything. The
amazement of his deliverance left him in a queer state of excited
lassitude. His nerves were all tremulous, he must needs do everything
vehemently, and felt the while as if he were being whirled along,
passive, in the grip of some force outside himself One moment he was
dreaming himself capable of miracles, the next he was limp with weariness
and utterly impotent. And naturally, as soon as he had food inside him,
weariness won and he was overwhelmed with great waves of languor. He
hardly dragged himself up to his attic before he was asleep.
When he woke, the world was grey. He could survey himself cynically and
wonder why he had been such a fool as to be in a fluster overnight.
Faith, it was a grand exploit to dabble in conspiracies and come out with
your head still (for a while) on your shoulders. And that only by a turn
of the luck, not any wit of his. Well! Neither winners nor losers would
want more of the blundering offices of Mr. Harry Boyce. He was back again
after his conversation with royalty--and royal breeches--a hack writer
in his garret. And Alison as far away as ever. The wonderful Alison! The
beauty of her flashed into his squalor. He felt her passionate life. Be
hanged to Alison! Let the hack writer get to his writing.
All that day he strove with the fluency of Ovid, and to this hour his
labours, much flaccid verse, survive in a decent obscurity. It was late
in the afternoon before he yielded to his growing disgust with the
whinings of the Tristia and sought relief in the open air.
There was not much movement in the air of Long Acre. The day had been
warm and languorous, with heavy showers steaming up again in the sun.
Clouds were darkening across the twilight for more rain. Harry turned off
to stretch his legs and find some freer air across the fields by the
Oxford road. But he was soon tired of them. The moist heat oppressed him
still and lowering darkness across the sky threatened a storm. He had no
desire for a wetting and an evening spent in the Pretender's clothes. He
made for his tavern again by St. Martin's Lane and there came full upon
Colonel Boyce touched his hat. Harry touched his, gave him the wall
and was going by. Then the Colonel laughed and caught his son's arm.
"Well met, Harry. I was coming to seek you." (It's not known whether
that was true.)
"And I, sir--I had no notion of seeking you."
"Fie, don't be haughty. I bear no malice."
"Egad, sir, that's kind in you," Harry sneered and pushed on.
Colonel Boyce linked arms with him. "Why, what's the matter? You
went off with the honours. Od's heart, you left us like a pair of
"You've to thank yourself for that, sir. Not me."
"No, zounds, you did very well. I profess I was proud of you, Harry."
"Then I have to envy you."
Colonel Boyce laughed. "You play that game well, you know. But sure, you
need not play it all the time. No, but I never knew you could put on such
an air, Harry. You carried it off _à merveille_. My lord was a
whipper-snapper to you. I allow you were a thought too free of your wit.
It's a young man's fault. But in the main you were admirable."
"You make me uneasy," Harry said. "I hoped that I had quarrelled
"Oh Lud, Harry, why be so bitter? You have won, and sure you can afford
to be civil. You have beat me and broken as pretty a plot as ever I knew.
Why the devil should you snarl at me?"
They were now turning into Long Acre and the coming storm had already
brought darkness. Harry stopped and freed himself from his father's arm.
"If you please, we'll have no more of this. I've no will to make an enemy
of you. But if you seek to be friends, enemies we must be."
"Why then? Harry, you are not so mad as to declare Jacobite now? It's a
lost cause, boy. There's not a thing in it but noble hole-and-corner work
and not a guinea for your pains. You--"
"Aye, now we have it!" Harry laughed. "You want to be in my
secrets. Sir, I'm obliged to you, and by your leave I'll
discontinue your company."
"I swear I wish you nothing but well," his father cried.
"Dear sir, it's your good wishes that I dread. Pray cut me off without a
blessing." He waved his hand to his father and strode off.
For a moment Colonel Boyce looked after him--shrugged--went his way.
So Harry walked alone upon his danger. He was near the tavern, he was
passing the end of a court. From the blackness there men rushed upon him.
They managed it well. He was almost borne down by the first onset, but
hearing something in time, seeing a glimmer of steel, he swung aside and
staggered back into the kennel slashing at them with his stick. They were
borne past him by their vehemence, but he carried no sword and their
swords were all about him. There was no hope. Two blades seared through
his body and he fell.
Colonel Boyce heard the clatter of ash and steel and turned at his
leisure to look. It was a moment before he made out Harry in the midst
of the mêlée. Then he shouted of help and threats and ran on with
He came too late. Harry was down and the dripping blades again at his
body. Colonel Boyce had one fellow pinked before they were aware. The
others bore upon him furiously and he was hard beset. He made a good
fight--it's the best thing in his life--he understood the sword, and they
were but hackers and hewers, they were in a mad hurry to finish him and
he had a perfect calm. But he was hampered and overborne. He would not
give ground for fear of more thrusts into the body at his feet, and they
closed upon him and he could not break them.
But now doors were opening and heads out of windows. From Harry's tavern
a man came at a run. As Colonel Boyce reeled back with a point caught in
his shoulder, gripping at the blade and thrusting at empty air, another
sword shot into the fight. One man went down upon Harry's body. The other
three broke off and bolted down the court by which they had come.
"_Canaille_," says the deliverer mildly, and plucked at the cloak of the
man he had overthrown to wipe his sword. "Is that a friend of yours
"Egad, they have tickled me," quoth Colonel Boyce, feeling at his
shoulder. "Pray, lend me your hand, sir."
The deliverer looked him over without much sympathy: "And, egad, it's the
ancient Boyce," he said. "Oh, you'll survive, _mon vieux_. Who is this in
the mud?" He rolled his own victim, who groaned effusively, off Harry's
body. "It's the boy, _mordieu_!" he cried.
"In effect, Captain McBean, it's the boy," says Colonel Boyce, who was
trying to fix a pad of handkerchief on his own wound.
McBean was down on his knees beside Harry, handling him gently. "Twice
through the body, by God," says he. "What does this mean, Boyce? Damme,
did you set your fellows on him?"
"I am not an imbecile," Colonel Boyce said fiercely, stared at McBean
and laughed his contempt. Then with another manner, he turned to the
little crowd which was mustered: "Bring me a shutter, good lads. We've a
gentleman here much hurt. And some of you call the watch."
McBean rose with bloody hands. "He has it I believe," he muttered.
"Hark in your ear, Boyce. If this is your work, I'll see you dead, by
God, I will."
"Oh, damn your folly," says Colonel Boyce. "I struck in to help him. I
know nothing who the knaves were. Your own tail, maybe."
"Aye, aye," McBean looked at him queerly. "You would say that. Well,
maybe this rogue can speak. He groans loud enough." Down he dropped again
by his victim to cry out "Ben! You filthy rogue! Ben! Who a plague set
you to this business?"
"Oh, you've found a friend, then?" Colonel Boyce sneered.
The man who groaned was Harry's old friend, Ben the fat highwayman of the
North Road. He rolled his eyes and made hoarse, grievous noises.
"Captain! Lord love you, captain, I didn't know you was in it. Oh, gad,
and you ha' been the death o' me,'
"I shall be if you lie," quoth McBean. "You rogue, who set you on
"How would I know he was a friend of yours? 'Twas a squire out of
Hornsey. Squire Waverton of Tetherdown. Paying handsome to have him
downed. Oh, gad, captain, don't be hard. I ha' had no luck since you
turned me off."
Now the constables came running up and Colonel Boyce turned to them:
"Secure that fellow. He and some others which have escaped stabbed my
son who lies there. I am Colonel Boyce at the Blue House in St.
The wretched Ben was haled off, groaning.
Harry, lifeless still and bleeding, for all McBean's work, they lifted
and carried away to his father's lodging.
"What's your Waverton in this, sir?" says McBean.
"The silly gentleman wanted Harry's wife. Egad, I never thought he had so
much gall in him."
"I believe I'll be letting some of it out," says McBean.
"You'll be pleased to leave that to me," quoth Colonel Boyce.
McBean looked up at him oddly. "_Ventrebleu_, I wonder if I'll make you
my apologies. Have you bowels after all, sir?"
"If you like." McBean cocked a wicked eye at him.
"You concern yourself with the affairs of my family. I resent it,
"I believe you, _mon vieux_."
"You have done me a notable service to-night and I am ready to forget
the older injuries, your ill offices with my son. Let us call quits and
"It won't do," said McBean with a grin.
"What now, sir?"
"I must know how Harry does and make sure that he has the best there is
for him. Surgery and friends--he will need both, sound and sure."
"Be satisfied. I shall well provide him."
Captain McBean shook his head.
"Damn your infernal impudence." Colonel Boyce's temper gave way. "Od's
life, sir, this is infamous. You put upon me that I would mishandle my
own son as he lies wounded and near death! I shall murder him, I
suppose. You had that against me before. Shall I rob him too, or
torture him maybe? This is raving. Carry it where you will, I'll none
of it. You may go."
"Fie, what a heat!" says McBean placidly.
They were now come to Colonel Boyce's lodging and he bade the bearers
take Harry up to his own room.
"I sent a brisk lad for Rolfe," says McBean. "I could but stop the blood.
He'll be here soon enough. It's but a step to Chancery Lane. He knows
more of wounds than any man in the town."
Colonel Boyce was for a moment speechless. "I shall send for Dr.
Radcliffe and Sir Samuel Garth," says he majestically. "I wish you good
"I believe they have sense enough to do no harm," said McBean. "And now,
Boyce, a word with you. Not in the street."
"I don't desire it, sir," which McBean answered by passing in front of
him into the house. Colonel Boyce came after, fuming. "Egad, sir, you
presume upon my wound," he cried. "You--"
"Not I. Patch yourself up and I'll meet you at your convenience. There's
more urgent matter. When the boy comes to himself--if ever he comes to
himself--I must have speech of him."
Colonel Boyce, who now completely commanded himself, had grown very pale.
"You have gone too far, Captain McBean. I desired to forget that I have
you in my power. You force me to use it. If you thrust yourself upon me I
shall have you arrested as a traitor."
McBean flushed. "Odso, then there is some villainy of yours in the
affair! Devil take you, I have a mind to finish you now, a wounded man as
you are." He had his hand on his sword.
"Will you go, sir?"
"Not I. If you ha' murdered him, you"--he slapped his sword home
again--"no, _mordieu_, I can't touch you so. And you may meddle with me
if you dare."
"Oh, you have a great devotion to the boy," Colonel Boyce sneered with
pallid lips. "You would have him deeper dipped in your mad treasons? I
think you have done him harm enough." He struck his bell.
"Harm?" McBean cried. "Is it harm? You that begat him for the heir to
your damned infamy? You that soured him with your husk of a soul and your
cold cunning? You that made a dirt-heap of his life to suit your muddling
But Colonel Boyce swayed in his seat and fell sideways fainting.
A moment McBean surveyed him as if he thought this too a trick. Then,
"_Ventrebleu_" says he, "here's Providence takes a hand," and he
whistled, and it is not to be denied that he looked covetously at the
cabinet which held Colonel Boyce's papers. "The poor old devil," he said
with a shrug. "He grows old, in fact. I suppose there's more blood in his
shirt now than his damned body," and he knelt down and began to feel
about the wound.
He was at that when a woman announced the surgeon. "Mr. Rolfe? Never more
welcome. Here's old Colonel Boyce with a hole in his shoulder, and young
Mr. Boyce with two holes through and through. A street brawl. Pray go up,
sir, the lad's in bad case."
"Faith, it's Captain McBean," says Rolfe, a brisk, big man, as they shook
hands. "What have you to do with Noll Boyce?"
"A friend of the family," says McBean. "Away with you to the lad;" and he
knelt again and ministered to the unconscious Colonel. "A friend of the
family, old gentleman," says he with a grin.
So all this while Alison lacked an answer to her letter. She fretted at
the delay, she grew angry soon, but it does not appear that she allowed
herself any new pique against Harry. She was angry with circumstance,
with herself, and something much more than angry with Mr. Waverton. It
was detestable of Geoffrey to dare spy and plot against Harry,
intolerable in him to suppose that she would favour the villainy. But she
had been a fool and worse to give him any chance of insulting her so. And
yet she might have hoped that her letter--sure, she had been humble
enough in it--that her letter would bring Harry back in a hurry. It was
maddening that some trick of circumstance should have kept it from him or
him from her. For she had no notion that he would read the letter and
toss it aside or delay to come. There was nothing petty about Mr. Harry,
no spite. Nothing of the woman in him, thank God.
What had happened that he gave her no answer? For certain the letter had
gone safely to the tavern. She could be sure of her servant. Harry was
living at the tavern. The people there gave assurance of that. It was
strange that he made no sign. The servant, indeed, had waited for an
answer late into the night and seen nothing of him. Perhaps he had
discovered Geoffrey's spies and gone into hiding. It would be like
Geoffrey to devise some mighty cunning villainy and so manage it that it
was futile. Perhaps Harry really was at some secret politics, captured
again by his father and sent off to France, or too deep in some matter of
danger to show himself. Perhaps--perhaps a thousand things, so that she
made no doubt of Harry. He would not deny her when she came seeking him.
She had no fear either. Her nature could not imagine perils or disasters.
There was too proud a force in her life for her to admit a dread of being
defeated. Her man must live and be safe, because she needed him. Harry
could not fail her. But she was desperately impatient. She wanted him
every instant, and even more she wanted to stand before him and accuse
herself, confess herself. For the truth is that Geoffrey Waverton had
profoundly affected her. When she found Geoffrey daubing her with
patronizing congratulations, when he dared to claim her as ally in mean
tricks against her husband, she discovered that she must be miserably in
the wrong. Approved by Geoffrey, annexed, used by Geoffrey--faith, she
must have sunk very low before he could dare venture so with her. She
received illumination. She saw herself in the wrong first and last, the
sole sufficient cause of their catastrophe, a petty mean creature,
snarling and spiteful and passionate for trivialities--just like
Geoffrey, just such a creature as she hated most. Pride and honour
instantly demanded that she must seek Harry, indict herself and read her
recantation. She needed that, longed for it, and to satisfy herself, not
him. It is possible that she then began to love.
So monsieur must be found instantly, instantly. When she thought of all
her tale of sins, she must needs think also of Mrs. Weston. Poor Weston
had enough against her too--Weston--his mother. It still seemed almost
incredible that poor, grey, puritan Weston should be mother to Harry. But
if she was indeed, she might know something of him. At least, it would be
good to make peace with her again; it was necessary. And so on the day
that Harry fell, Mrs. Alison marched off to the little cottage behind the
It was a room that opened straight from the path, and it seemed very
full. Susan was sitting there, who was now Susan Hadley. Her fair
placidity admitted no surprise. She smiled and said, "Alison!"
Mrs. Weston stood up in a queer frozen fluster. "What do you need,
ma'am?" says she.
"Oh, Weston, dear, don't take me so," Alison cried, and she edged her way
between the little table and the stiff chairs, holding out her hands.
Mrs. Weston flushed. "Your servant, ma'am," says she with a curtsy, but
she ignored the hands.
Then Susan stood up. "I must go, I believe," she smiled, and bent to
offer one fair cheek to Mrs. Weston. The other was then given to Alison.
She smiled upon them both benignly and made for the door.
"Susan! You'll dine with me to-morrow," Alison put in.
"Oh. Mr. Hadley will be at home."
"But of course you bring him."
"Thank you then." The door shut behind her, and the room was larger.
"I can't tell why you have come," says Mrs. Weston tremulously.
"To say I was wrong and I'm sorry. Oh, Weston, dear, to say I have been a
peevish wicked fool."
Mrs. Weston sat down again. "Where is Harry?" she said.
"I have writ to him to beg him come back to me."
"I am asking you to come back to us."
"Where is he?"
"Ah, you don't know then?"
"I have not seen him since he left your house."
"He has been living at a tavern in the Long Acre. I have made sure of
that, and I wrote to him there. But he has not answered me. He does not
answer me. I can't tell if he has gone away."
"Where is his father?" Mrs. Weston asked quickly.
"His father? Colonel Boyce? Oh, Weston! Colonel Boyce is his
"Did you come to pry?" Mrs. Weston flushed.
"I do not deserve that," Alison said, and then very gently, "Oh, my dear,
but I have been cruel enough to you."
"It's very well," Mrs. Weston said faintly. "Where is Colonel Boyce?"
"I know nothing. Does it matter, Weston, dear? He cannot help us
"I am afraid of him. Oh, it's all wrong maybe. I am so weak and stupid.
But I am afraid what he may do with Harry."
"Indeed, I think Mr. Harry can keep his head even against Colonel Boyce,"
"His head?" Mrs. Weston looked puzzled. "I don't mean that, I believe. I
am afraid he may win Harry to be like himself. He is so clever and
dazzling, and he is full of wickedness. He cares for nothing but his own
will and to have power. When I saw him so friendly with Harry I thought I
should have died."
"My poor Weston," Alison said gently. "But I am not afraid of that. Mr.
Harry won't be dazzled."
"You dazzled him."
"Oh, and am I full of wickedness too?" Alison laughed. "Dear,
"No, but you are strong and hard as his father was."
Alison drew in her breath. "I shall teach you not to call me that,
Weston," she said. "And Harry--well, Harry shall find me for him."
There was silence for a while, and Alison watched with new emotions the
tired, wistful face. "Weston, dear, I want you to come back to me. I want
Mr. Harry to find you with me when he comes home."
Mrs. Weston cried out, "He does not know who I am!" in anxious fear, and
clutched at Alison's hand.
"No, indeed. But he loves you already, I think."
"But I do not want him to know," Mrs. Weston cried. "I--I was not married
to Colonel Boyce."
"Weston, dear," Alison pressed the hand.
"I lived at Kingston. My father reared us strictly. He was harsh. I think
that was because my mother died so young. Mr. Boyce--he was a gentleman
in the Blues then, and very fine, much gayer than Harry and more
handsome. He used to ride out to Hampton Court to an old cousin of his,
who had a charge at the Palace. He met me one day by the river. I don't
know why he set himself upon me. I was never much to his taste, I think.
But I thought him the most wonderful man in the world. I let him do what
he would with me. I don't blame him for that. He never promised me
anything. In a while he grew tired. Then Harry came. My father could not
forgive me. Afterwards they said that I had killed him. Harry was born. I
lay very ill and they believed that I should die. I never knew whether it
was my father or my brother sent for Mr. Boyce. My brother boasted
afterwards that it was he made him relieve them of the baby. And I--I did
not die, you know. When I began to be well again my baby was gone. My
father lay dying then. He would not see me. My brother was the head of
the family, and he--I could not stay there. I tried to find Mr. Boyce,
but he had left the regiment. He had gone to Holland, they said, after
the Duke of Monmouth. I could do nothing. And my brother had told me that
Mr. Boyce would soon find a way to be rid of my baby. I--I believed that
he had. I never saw Harry again till--you know. I never saw his father
till that day at Lady Waverton's. He told me afterwards that they had
said to him I was dying, and he supposed me dead. I believe that is
true. He would not have troubled himself with the child else."
"Oh, Weston, dear," Alison murmured, and caressed her.
Mrs. Weston pushed back the hair from her wrinkled brow. "Mr. Boyce
promised me that Harry need know nothing of me now. I do not know if he
has kept his word about that."
"There's nothing about Harry that is not safe with me," Alison said. "Oh,
my dear, now I know where Harry has his strength from and his
Mrs. Weston looked at her in a puzzled fashion. "I wonder what he is
doing now?" she said wearily. "I think I have told you everything,
Alison. Oh! Your father. Your father was very kind to me. When I did not
know what to do--I had no money left--they gave me five pounds--I went to
him. He used to come to my father's house, you know, when he had business
in Kingston. He used to go all over the country about his trading. My
father said he was a godless man, but he was always kind to me. I told
him everything. He took me into his house, and indeed I did not know
where to go for food. I was your mother's servant while she lived, but I
think she doubted me. Your father never told her anything, and she--but
she let me be."
"Oh, Weston, Weston," Alison said. "And you have spent all your life
caring for me."
"There was nothing else to do. But I was glad to do that." She looked
at the girl with strange, puzzled, wistful eyes and saw Alison's eyes
full of tears. She put out her hand shyly, awkwardly, and touched
Alison smiled, laughed with a sob in her voice. "It is a long while since
I cried," she said, and put her arms round Mrs. West on and laid her head
on Mrs. Weston's bosom and cried indeed.
Mrs. Weston held her close. "Alison! But this isn't like you."
"Indeed it is," Alison sobbed.
EMOTIONS BY MR. WAVERTON
You behold Mr. Waverton exhibiting a high impatience. He was alone in the
best room of the "Peacock" at Islington, a well-looking place after its
severe old oak fashion. Disordered food upon the table showed that Mr.
Waverton had been trying to eat with little success. Mr. Waverton's hat
upon one chair, his whip upon another, and his cloak tumbled inelegantly
over a third proved that he was not himself. For he was born to treat his
clothes with respect. Mr. Waverton would be jumping up to look out of the
window, flounce down again in his chair to drink wine and stare with
profound meaning at the table, start up and stride to the hearth and
glower down at its emptiness--and repeat the motions in a different
order. He must be theatrical even without an audience.
But he had some excuse for his uneasiness. It was the evening of his
conversation with my Lord Sunderland, and that fiasco had stimulated him,
you know, to a grand exploit. He was waiting for news of it.
The twilight darkened early. Mr. Waverton pushed the window open wider,
and leaned out only to come in again in a hurry as if he were afraid of
being seen. The room was close, and he wiped his large brow and flung
himself down and drank. There was a dull sound of thunder rolling far
away. In a little while came the beat of rain--slow, big drops. That was
soon over. Then lightning stabbed into the room, and the storm broke.
Candles were brought to Mr. Waverton's petulant appeal, and an excited
maid-servant bustled and blundered over clearing his table with pious
invocations at each thunder-clap. She fretted Mr. Waverton, who
admonished her and made her worse.
Upon him and her there came a man cloaked from heel to eye, streaming
rain from every angle. He shook a shower from his hat. "Hell! What a
night," says he, breathless. "Save you, squire!"
"Begone, girl! Begone, I say. Od's life, leave us, do you hear?" says Mr.
Waverton, in much agitation.
"Bring us a noggin of rum, Sukey, darling," says the wet gentleman,
dragging himself out of his sodden cloak. He flung it upon Mr.
"Run, girl!" says Mr. Waverton, in a terrible voice. "Go, you fool." He
advanced upon her, and she stopped gaping, and got herself out with a
great clatter of crockery.
"Od burn and blast it! I want it," says the wet gentleman, and collapsed
into a chair. "I believe you, squire. I want it."
"What is the news with you?" Mr. Waverton said.
"Od's bones, ha' you got the megs? The megs, I say. Oh, rot you, the
ready, the hundred guineas?"
"Is it done then?" Mr. Waverton's voice dropped.
"Out with the cole, burn you."
Mr. Waverton put a bag of money down on the table. The man snatched at
it, tore it open, and began to count. "Is it done, Ned, I say?" Mr.
Ned showed some broken teeth. "I believe you, by God. He has it. He's
dead meat. Two irons through and through his guts."
Mr. Waverton flung back in his chair. "How then?" he said, in a low
voice. "Ned--was it in fight? You brought him into a fight?" Ned went
on counting the guineas, and sometimes tried one in his yellow teeth.
"Oh, have done with that!" Mr. Waverton cried. "They come straight
from my goldsmith, man. Tell me--you said you would force a fight on
him. Did he--"
"Lay your life!" Ned grinned. "There was a fight, sure. Old Ben knows
that, by God. Aye, aye, you're fond of fighting ain't you, squire?"
"I fight with gentlemen, sirrah," says Mr. Waverton. "For such base
rogues as this fellow, I must provide otherwise."
"Provide my breeches!" says Ned coarsely, and swept up his money.
"Where's that damned rum?"
"You may take it in the tap." Mr. Waverton rose. "Nay, she'll bring it.
Nay, but, Ned--how did he take it?"
"Rot you, how would you take an iron in your gizzard?"
"He said nothing?"
"Now, stap me, do you think we waited for him to say his prayers?"
"Prayers!" says Mr. Waverton grandly, "They would little avail him."
"Well now, burn me, you're a saint yourself, ain't you?"
The rum arrived, and the servant, with frightened eyes upon the
bedraggled Ned, went stumbling out of the room again. "You are
impertinent, sirrah," says Mr. Waverton. "The fellow well deserved his
end. I may tell you that I was advised to deal with him thus privately by
a noble lord in high place."
"Then it's worth more than a hundred megs."
"You have your pay, I believe. I am satisfied with you."
"Damn your airs," says Ned, but something awed by this parade. "Well, I
"It is better," Mr. Waverton agreed.
"Oh! There was a letter for my gentleman at his tavern. We pouched that
while we were waiting for him. D'ye care for it? It's a pretty, tender
thing. I reckon it's cheap for another five pieces."
"You are a scoundrel," said Mr. Waverton, and tossed another guinea on
"Pot to you," says Ned, but slapped down the letter. "Well, I'll march.
Maybe you'll have some more in my way. I won't forget you, squire," and
out he went.
Mr. Waverton, left alone, fingered the letter contemptuously. His great
mind was indeed possessed by thoughts of victory. He had hated Harry
rarely with the chief count in his enmity that Harry was a low fellow,
hireling, menial. He could have borne defeat with some grace, he might
even have sought no revenge for being made ridiculous, if the offender
had been of a higher station than his own. But such insolence from a
pauper! The fellow must needs be crushed like an insect. Only such
ignominious extinction could satisfy Mr. Waverton's dignity. He inclined
to despise himself for a shadow of human concern about the manner of
Harry's death. Faith, it was an extravagance of chivalry to desire that
the rogue should have had a chance to fight--that generous chivalry which
had ever been his bane. He felt nothing but exultation at the issue. The
wretched creature had been properly punished--stamped out by knaves of
his own class in a vulgar street brawl--a dirty hole-and-corner end.
Egad, my lord was very right. These petty, shabby knaves should be dealt
with privately. Mr. Waverton found revenge very sweet.
So Mr. Harry Boyce had gone to his account, and Alison was happily
delivered. Dear child! Mr. Waverton felt a pleasant warmth of heroism
steal over him, felt himself a knight-errant rescuing his lady from the
powers of darkness. Dear Alison! She was free now. To be sure, she need
not be told the manner of the deliverance. That would be an outrage on
her delicacy. Enough for her that the cunning wretch who had cozened her
was dead, and she a happy widow. She had but to show a pretty penitence,
and Mr. Waverton proposed to be magnanimous. The prospect much pleased
him. He saw himself grandly accepting her; permitting her to be very
tender; wittily, but with a touch of magnificence, restraining her from
too much humility....
He came out of this golden dream in the end, and was conscious again of
the letter, and sneered at it. A nasty, infected thing, to be sure,
damp and filthy from Ned's handling. What was it the fellow said? A
tender composition? Pah, some blowsy paramour of the knave Boyce. But,
perhaps it would be well that Alison should know the fellow had
paramours in his own class. She ought to be made to feel how low she
had sunk by yielding to him.
Mr. Waverton opened the letter and saw Alison's writing:
"MR. BOYCE,--I desire that you would come to me at Highgate. I have
to-day heard from Geoffrey Waverton what you must instantly know. And the
truth is, I cannot be content till I speak with you. But I would not have
you come for this my asking. Pray, believe it is urgent for us both that
we meet, and I do require it of you, not desiring of you what you may
have no mind to, but to be honest with you, and lest that should befall
which I hope you would not have me bear.
Mr. Waverton read with swelling eyes.
It was a little while before the meaning came home to him. He was never
quick. Then (a sin to which he was not prone) he used oaths. The
treacherous, besotted woman! She was still craving for her shabby lover,
then. She offered a fair face to her too generous, too faithful Mr.
Waverton, only to obtain his confidence and betray him again. Egad, she
was too base. Rotten at the very heart of her. Why, some women must lust
after a low, common fellow, as dogs after dirt. So she would have saved
her Boyce from his master's punishment? Mr. Waverton laughed. She would
have had him back in her arms again? Mr. Waverton continued to laugh.
But faith, she went too far when she tried to trick Mr. Waverton a second
time. Much she had gained by her treachery. Her fine husband was out of
her reach now. It would be a pleasure to advise her of his death. Nay,
faith, a duty. The miserable creature had been saved from herself. She
must be shown that--oh delicately, with something of a cold grandeur, a
touch of irony maybe, but always in a lofty manner as became one who
moved upon heights far above her grovelling soul. Mr. Waverton, for all
his high irony, rode back home through the dregs of the storm very
CAPTAIN McBEAN TAKES HORSE
Captain McBean, healthily red and brown, showed no sign of having been
out of bed all night. From cold water and a razor in his own lodgings he
came back at a round pace to St. Martin's Lane. He found his aide, Mr.
Mackenzie, taking the air on the doorstep of the Blue House, and rebuked
him. "I bade ye bide with the lad, Donald."
"The surgeon has him in hand, sir."
"_Tiens_. He's a brisk fellow, that Rolfe."
"I'm thinking Mr. Boyce will need him."
"Eh, is there anything new?"
"I would not say so. But he's sore hurt. And I'm thinking he takes it
"Aye, you're the devil of a thinker, Donald." Captain McBean grinned.
"And the Colonel, has he made a noise?"
"He's in the way of calling for liquors, but he's peaceable, the
"You'll go get your breakfast and be back again. And bring O'Connor with
you. I'll hope to need the two of you." Captain McBean relieved guard on
the doorstep till the surgeon came down. "I'm obliged to you, Mr. Rolfe.
What do you make of him?"
"Egad, Captain, you're devoted. Why, the old gentleman has put in for
some fever, but I doubt he will do well enough."
"Be sure of it. What of the young one?"
Mr. Rolfe pursed his lip. "Faith, there's no more amiss. But--but--why,
he was hard hit, I grant you--but you might take the young one for the
old one. D'ye follow me? The lad hath no vigour in him."
McBean nodded. "I'll be talking to him, by your leave."
"Od's life, I would not talk long. I don't like it, Captain, and there's
the truth. Go easy with him. I will be here again to-day."
Captain McBean went up to the room where Harry lay as white as his
pillows. A woman was feeding him out of a cup. "You made it damned salt,
your broth," says Harry, in a feeble disgust.
"'Tis what you lack, look you." Captain McBean sat himself on the bed and
took the cup and waved the woman off. "'Tis the natural, hale salinity
and the sanguineous part which you lose by a wound, and for lack of it
you are thus faint. Therefore we do ever administer great possets of salt
to the wounded, and--"
"And pickle me before I be dead," says Harry. "Be hanged to your jargon."
"You'll take another sup, my lad, if I hold your long nose to it. And you
may suck your orange after."
Harry made a wry face, swallowed a mouthful and lay back out of breath.
After a while, "You were here all night, weren't you?" he said.
"I am body physician to the family of Boyce, _mon brave_."
"Has a hole in his shoulder, praise God, and a damned paternal temper. He
will do well enough."
"How do you come into it?" McBean grinned. "Who were they?"
"I am here to talk to you, _mon cher_. You will not talk to me, for it is
disintegrating to your tissues. _Allons_, compose yourself and attend.
Now I come into it, if you please, out of gratitude. Mr. Boyce--I have it
in command from His Majesty to present you with his thanks for very
gallant and faithful service."
"Oh, the boy got off then?"
"King James is returned to France, sir," says McBean with dignity.
"Look 'e, tie up your tongue. His Majesty charged me to put this in
your hands and to advise you that he would ever have in memory your
resource and spirit and your loyalty. Which I do with a great
satisfaction, Mr. Boyce."
Harry fingered a pretty toy of a watch circled with diamonds, and wrought
with a monogram in diamonds and sapphires. "Poor lad," says he.
"It's his own piece and was his father's, I believe. _Pardieu_, sir,
there's many will envy you."
Harry's head went back on its pillows. "It's a queer taste."
"Mr. Boyce, you may count upon it that when His Majesty is established in
"He will have as bad a memory as the rest of his family. Bah, what does
it matter? You are talking of the millennium."
"You will talk, will you?" says McBean. "I'll gag you, _mordieu_, if you
answer me back again. Come, sirrah, you know the King better. It's a
noble, generous lad. So leave the Whiggish sneers to your father. So much
for that. Now, _mon ami_, you have put me under a great obligation. It
was a rare piece of work, and to be frank, I did not think you had it in
you. But I did count upon you as a gentleman of high honour, and,
_pardieu_, I count myself very fortunate I applied to you. I speak for my
party, Mr. Boyce, when I thank you and promise you any service of mine."
Harry mumbled something like, "Damn your eloquence."
But McBean was not to be put off. "You will like to know that the King
when he was quit of Marlborough--egad, the old villain hath been a
gentleman in this business--made straight for me and was instant that I
should concern myself for you. I held it my first duty to get His Majesty
out of the country. Between ourselves, I was never in love with this plan
of palace trickery and Madame Anne. But the thing was offered us, and we
could not show the white feather. _Bien_, His Majesty took assurance from
Marlborough of your safety, so I had no great alarm for you. I could not
be aware of your private feuds. But now, _mordieu_, I make them my own. I
promise you, it touches me nearly that you should be hacked down, and
egad, before my eyes."
Harry tried to raise himself and said eagerly, "Who was in it? Who
Captain McBean responded with some more of the salt broth. "Now I'll
confess that I had some doubts of your father. As soon as I was back in
London I made haste to find you. I was waiting at that tavern of yours
when I heard the scuffle. You were down before I could reach you, and
there was your father fighting across you most heroical. Faith, I did not
know the old gentleman had it in him. He had pinked one, I believe, but
he is slow, and they were too many for him. He took it badly in the
shoulder as I came. But they were not workmen. I put one out at the first
thrust, and the rogues would not stand. I tickled one in the ham as he
ran, but missed the sinew in his fat. So it ended. Now I'll confess I did
the old gentleman a wrong. I guessed the business might be one of his
damned superfine plots. It would be like him to have you finished while
he made a brag of fighting for you. But I was wrong. _Mordieu_, I believe
he has a kindness for you, Harry."
"What?" says Harry, startled by the name.
"Oh, _mon ami_, you must let me be kindly too. Egad, you command my
emotions, sir. No, the old gentleman hath his humanity. He would have
died for you, Harry, and faith he is so rheumatic he nearly did. No, it
was not he played this damned game. Who d'ye think it was that I put on
his back? That rascal Ben--you remember Ben of the North Road? I put the
villain to the question who set him on you. _Bien_ he was hired to it by
that fine fellow Waverton."
"Geoffrey!" Harry gasped.
"Even so. Now, Harry, what has Master Geoffrey Waverton against you? If
he wanted to murder your father I could understand it. That affair at
Pontoise is matter enough for a life or two. Though he should take it
gentlemanly. But why must he murder you?"
"I am not dead yet," said Harry, and his mouth set.
Captain McBean laughed. "Not by fifty year:" and he contemplated Harry's
pale drawn face with benign approval. "But why does Mr. Waverton want you
"That's my affair," said Harry.
"_Enfin_." Captain McBean shrugged, with a twist of the lip and a cock
of the eye.
"Is there more of that broth?" says Harry.
Captain McBean administered it. "I go get another cup, Harry." He nodded
and went out.
His two aides, Mackenzie and O'Connor, were waiting below. "Donald, go
up. The same orders. None but Rolfe is to come to him without you
stand by. And shorten your damned long face, if you can. Patrick, we
PERPLEXITIES OF CAPTAIN McBEAN
Captain McBean and Mr. O'Connor halted steaming horses before the door of
Tetherdown. The butler announced that Mr. Waverton had gone out, and then
impressed by the evidence of haste and the martial elegance of McBean,
suggested that my lady might receive the gentleman.
"How? The animal has a mother?" says Me Bean in French, and shrugged and
beckoned the butler closer. "Now, my friend, could you make a guess where
I should look for Mr. Waverton?" and money passed.
"Sir, Mr. Waverton rides over sometimes to the Hall at Highgate. Miss
Lam--Mrs. Boyce's house;" the butler looked knowing.
"Mrs. Boyce? Eh, is that Colonel Boyce's lady?"
The butler smiled discreetly. "No, sir, to be sure. Young Boyce--young
Mr. Boyce, sir."
Captain McBean wheeled round in such a hurry that the butler was almost
overthrown. They clattered off.
It was not till they were riding through the wood that McBean spoke:
"Patrick, my man, would you say that Harry Boyce is the man to marry
wisely and well?"
"Faith, I believe he would not be doing anything wisely. That same is
"_Tiens_, it begins now to be ugly. Why must the boy be married at all,
"It will be in his nature," says O'Connor. "And likely to a shrew."
"If that were all! Ah, bah, they shall have no satisfaction in it. But no
more will I..."
There were at the Hall two women who had almost become calm by mingling
their distress and their tears. It's believed that they slept in each
other's arms, and slept well enough. In the morning another messenger was
sent off to the Long Acre tavern. If he came back with no news it was
agreed they should move into town. They said no more of their fears. Each
had some fancy that she was putting on a brave face for the other's sake.
There is no doubt that they found the stress easier to bear for
consciousness of each other's endurance.
So Mr. Hadley and his Susan were received by an atmosphere of gentle
peace. Much to Mr. Hadley's surprise, who would complain that venture
into Alison's house was much like a post over against the Irish Brigade;
for a man never knew how she would break out upon him, but could count
upon it that she would be harassing.
"We are so glad," says Susan.
"She loves to march her prisoner through the town. It's a simple,
"Oh. I am so, I believe," says Susan, and contemplated Mr. Hadley with
"She is too honest for you, Mr. Hadley," Alison said.
"Oh Lud, yes, ma'am. The mass of her overwhelms me, and it's all plain
virtue--a heavy, solemn thing. Look you, Susan, you embarrass madame with
"It is curious. He is always ill at ease when I am with him."
"Because you make me tedious, child."
"That's your vanity, Mr. Hadley." Alison tried to keep in tune with them.
"Look you, Susan, I am cashiered by marriage. Once I was Charles. Now I
am without honour."
"Mr. Geoffrey Waverton," quoth the butler.
Alison's hand went to her breast and she was white.
"Dear Geoffrey!" Mr. Hadley murmured. "I do not know when last I saw dear
Geoffrey," and he turned a sardonic face to the door.
Susan leaned forward. "Alison, dear--if you choose--" she began in
"Sit still," Alison muttered. "Stay, stay."
Mr. Waverton came in with measured pomp, stopped short and surveyed the
company and at last made his bow. "Madame, your most obedient. I fear
that I come untimely."
Alison could not find her voice, so it was Mr. Hadley who answered, "Lud,
Geoffrey dear, you're never out of season: like mutton."
"I give Mrs. Hadley joy," says Geoffrey. "Such wit must be rare company."
Alison was staring at him. "You have something to say to me? You may
speak out. There are no secrets here."
"Is it so, faith? Egad, what friendship! But you have always been
fortunate. And in fact I bring you news of more fortune. You are free
of your Mr. Boyce, ma'am. You are done with him. He has been picked up
dead." He smiled at Alison, Alison white and still and dumb. Mrs.
Weston gave a cry and fell back in her chair and her fingers plucked at
Mr. Hadley strode across and stood very close to Geoffrey. "Take care,"
says he in a low voice.
"Well. Tell all your story," Alison said.
"They found him lying in the kennel in Long Acre," Geoffrey smiled. "Oh,
there was some brawl, it seems. He was set upon by his tavern cronies in
a quarrel about a wench he had. A very proper end."
"Geoffrey, you are a cur," says Mr. Hadley in his ear.
"You are lying," Alison cried.
Mr. Waverton laughed and waved his hand. "Oh, ma'am, you are a chameleon.
The other day you desired nothing better than monsieur's demise. Now at
the news of it you grow venomous. I vow I cannot keep pace with your
changes. I must withdraw from your intimacy. 'Tis too exacting for my
poor vigour. Madame, your most humble."
"Not yet," Alison cried.
"Let him go, ma'am," Mr. Hadley broke in sharply. "Go home, sirrah.
You'll not wait long before you hear from me."
"From which hand?" Geoffrey flicked at the empty sleeve. "Nay, faith, it
suits madame well, the left-handed champion."
Mr. Hadley turned on his heel. "Pray, ma'am, leave us. This is become
"I have not done with him yet," Alison said.
But the door was opened for the servant to say: "Captain Hector McBean,
Mr. Patrick O'Connor," and with a clank of spurs and something of a
military swagger the little man and the long man marched in.
Captain McBean swept a glance round the room.
"So," says he with satisfaction and made a right guess at Alison. "Mrs.
Boyce, I am necessitated to present myself. Captain McBean."
"What, more champions!" Geoffrey laughed. "Oh, ma'am, you have too
general a charity. My sympathy is in your way," and he made his bow and
was going off.
"_Mordieu_, you relieve me marvellously," says McBean, and O'Connor put
his back against the door.
Mr. Waverton waved O'Connor aside.
"You'll be Mr. Waverton?" said O'Connor.
"Od's life, sir, stand out of my way." But O'Connor laughed and McBean
tapped the magnificent shoulder. Mr. Waverton swung round.
"Hark in your ear," says McBean. "You're a lewd, cowardly scoundrel, Mr.
Mr. Waverton glared at him, stepped back and turned on Alison. "Pray,
ma'am, control your bullies. I desire to leave your house!"
"Let him be, sir," Alison stood up. "Leave us, if you please, I have to
speak with him."
"You have not," McBean frowned. "The affair is out of your hands. Come,
sir, march. There's a pretty piece of turf beyond the gates. Your friend
there may serve you."
"Not I, sir," Mr. Hadley put in. "I have myself a meeting to require of
"So? I like the air here better and better, _pardieu_. Well, Mr.
Waverton, we'll e'en walk out alone."
"Your bluster won't serve you, sirrah. If you be a gentleman, which you
make incredible, you may proceed in order and I'll consider if I may do
you the honour to meet you."
"Gentleman? Bah, I am Hector McBean, Captain in Bouffiers' regiment.
Come, sir, now are you warmer?" He struck Mr. Waverton across the eyes.
Mr. Waverton, drawing back, turned again upon Alison: "My God, did you
bring your bullies here to murder me?"
"I did not bid you here," Alison said.
"_Lâche_," says Mr. O'Connor with a shrug.
"_En effet_," says McBean and sat down. "Observe, Waverton: I have given
you the chance to take a clean death. You have not the courage for it.
_Tant mieux_. You may now hang."
Mr. Waverton again made a move for the door, but Mr. O'Connor stood
solidly in the way. "Attention, Waverton. You have bungled your business,
as usual. Your fellow Ned Boon hath been taken and lies in Newgate. He
has confessed that he and his gang were hired for this murder by a
certain Geoffrey Waverton."
"It is a lie!"
"Waverton--I have a whip as well as a sword."
"I do not concern myself with you, sir," says Mr. Waverton with
dignity. "You are repeating a lesson, I see. But I advise you, I shall
not permit myself to be slandered. This fellow Ned Bone--Boon--what is
his vulgar name? I know nothing of him. If he pretends to any knowledge
of me, he lies."
"You told me that you had hired men to spy upon Mr. Boyce," Alison said.
Mr. Waverton laughed. "Oh, ma'am, I thank you for a flash of honesty.
Here's the truth then. In madame's interest, I had arranged with her that
a party of fellows should watch her scurvy husband. She suspected him of
various villainies, infidelity, what you will. And, egad, I dare to say
she was right. But I have no more concern in it. So you may his back to
your employers, Captain Mac what's your name, and advise them that I am
not to be bullied. I shall know how to defend myself."
Alison came nearer Captain McBean. "Sir, this is a confection of lies. It
is true the man told me he was planning a watch on Mr. Boyce. But not of
my will. And when I knew I did instantly give Mr. Boyce warning."
"I shall deal with you in good time," McBean frowned. "_Dieu de dieu!_ I
do not excuse you. Attention, Waverton! You lie stupidly. Your bullies,
_mordieu_, blunder in your own style. It would not content them to murder
Mr. Boyce. They must have his father too. They could not do their
business quietly nor finish it. The rogue Ben was caught and the Colonel
has only a hole in his shoulder. You may know that he is not the man to
forgive you for it. So, Waverton. You have suborned murder and furnished
evidence to hang you for it. You must meddle with Colonel Boyce to make
sure that his Whiggish party who hold the government shall not spare you.
You set every Jacobite against you when you struck at Harry. However
things go now there'll be those in power urgent to hang you. Go home and
wait till the runners take you off to Newgate. March!"
Mr. O'Connor opened the door with alacrity.
"I am not afraid of you," Waverton cried. "And you, madame, you, the
widow--be sure if I am attacked, your loose treachery shall not win you
off. What I have done--you know well it was done for you and in commerce
with you." Mr. O'Connor took him by the arm. "Don't presume to touch me!"
he called out, trembling with rage. Mr. O'Connor propelled him out.
"I believe Patrick will cut the coat off his back," said McBean pensively
and then laughed a little. He brushed his hand over his face and stood up
and marched on Alison. "Now for you," he said. "I beg leave of the
company." He made them a bow and waved them out of the room.
"Sir, Mr. Boyce?" Mrs. Weston said faintly.
"Madame, Mr. Boyce is not dead. He lies wounded. I make no apology,
_pardieu_! It is imperative to frighten the Waverton out of the
country--since he would not stand up to be killed. You, madame," he
turned frowning upon Alison, "you must have him no more in your
Alison bent her head. Mr. Hadley came forward. "Captain McBean, you take
too much upon yourself."
"I'll answer for it at my leisure, sir."
"Pray go, Charles," Alison said gently. So they went out, Mrs.
Weston upon Susan's arm, and Captain McBean and Alison were left
alone, the fierce little lean man stretching every inch of him
against her rich beauty.
"You do me some wrong, sir," Alison said.
"Is it possible?" McBean's chest swelled to the sneer.
"Pray, sir, don't scold. It passes me by. Nay, I cannot answer you. I
have no defence, I believe. Be sure that you can say nothing to make my
"How long shall we go on talking about you, madame?"
Alison flushed dark, and turned away and muttered something.
"What now?" McBean said. In another moment he saw that she was crying.
Some satisfaction perhaps, no pity, softened his stare....
She turned, making no pretence to hide her tears. "I beg of you--take me
to Mr. Boyce."
"I said, madame, Mr. Boyce is not yet dead." The sharp, precise voice
spared her nothing. "I do not know whether he will live." Alison gave a
choking cry. "I do not now know whether he would desire to live."
"What do you mean?" A madness of fear, of love perhaps, distorted her
"You well know. When I rode out this morning, I had it in mind to kill
the Waverton and conduct you to Mr. Boyce. But I did not guess that
Waverton would refuse to be killed like a gentleman or that I should find
you engaged in the rogue's infamy."
"But that is his lie! Ah, you must know that it is a lie. You heard how
he turned on me, and his vileness."
"_Bien_, you have played fast and loose with him. I allow that. It does
not commend you to me, madame."
"I'll not bear it," Alison cried wildly. "Oh, sir, you have no right. Mr.
Boyce would never endure you should treat me so."
"_Dieu de dieu_! Would you trade upon Harry's gentleness now? Aye,
madame, he would not treat you so, _mordieu_. He would see nothing, know
nothing, believe nothing. And let you make a mock of him again. But if
you please, I stand between him and you."
"You have no right," Alison muttered.
"It is you who have put me there. You, madame, when you played him false
with this Waverton."
"That is a lie--a lie," she cried.
"Oh, content you. You are all chastity. I do not doubt it. But you drove
Harry away from you. You admitted your Waverton to intimacy--you let him
hope--believe--bah, what does it matter? You were in his secrets. You
knew he put bullies upon Harry. Now he has failed and you are in a fright
and want your Harry again. Permit me, madame, not to admire you."
"What do you want of me?" Alison said miserably.
"I cannot tell. I want to know what I am to do with Harry. And you--you
are another wound."
Alison shuddered. "For God's sake take me to him. I will content him."
"Yes. For how long?"
"Oh, I deserve it all. I cannot answer you. And yet you are wrong. I am
not such as you think me. I have never had anything but contempt for Mr.
Waverton. If he were not what he is, he must have known that. He came to
me after I left Harry. He told me that he was having Harry spied upon.
The moment he was gone I wrote to Harry and gave him warning and begged
him come back to me. He has never answered me. And I--oh--am I to speak
of Harry and me?"
"If you could I should not much believe you. From the first, madame, I
have believed you."
"It was I who drove him away from me. I have been miserable for it ever
since. I humbled myself."
Captain McBean held up his hand. "I still believe you. Pray, order
"Where is he?"
"He lies at his father's lodging. Observe, madame: I have said--he is
not yet dead. Whether he lives rests, I believe to God, upon what you
may be to him."
"Then he will be well enough," she sobbed as she laughed.
"Oh! I believe in your power," says McBean with a twist of a smile.
She stayed a moment by the door and flung her arms wide. "What I am--it
is all for him."
Captain McBean left alone, took snuff. "A splendid wild cat--and that
mouse of a Harry," says he.
REMORSE OF COLONEL BOYCE
Captain McBean was strutting to and fro for the benefit of his impatience
when Mr. O'Connor returned to him. "Patrick, you look morose. Had he the
legs of you?"
"He had not," says O'Connor, nursing his hand. "But he had a
beautiful nose. Sure, it was harder than you would think. And I have
sprained my thumb."
"What, did he fight?"
"He did not--saving the tongue of him. But I had broke my whip upon him,
so I broke his nose to be even. Egad, he was beautiful before and behind.
He cannot show this long while. Neither behind nor before, faith. What
will he do, d'ye think?"
"Oh Lud, he'll not face it out. He would dream of hangmen. He'll take the
waters. He'll go the grand tour. D'ye know, Patrick, there's a masterly
touch in old Boyce. To choose that oaf for his decoy at Pontoise! Who
could guess at danger in him? No wonder Charles Middleton saw no guile!
Yet, you observe, the creature's full of venom."
"He bleeds like a pig," says Mr. O'Connor. "What will we be waiting
"She goes to Harry? Oh, he's the lucky one. What a Venus it is!"
"Aye, aye. She should have married you, Patrick. You would have
"Ah now, don't destroy me with envy and desires," says Mr. O'Connor.
"But, sure, there was another, a noble fat girl. Will she be bespoke?"
"She belongs to the one-armed hero."
"Maybe she could do with another. There's enough of her for two. Oh, come
away, sir, before I danger my soul."
They heard the wheels of the coach and marched out. Alison was coming
downstairs with Mrs. Weston. "What now?" says McBean glowering. "Do you
need a duenna to watch you with your husband?"
"Madame is Harry's mother, sir," Alison said.
For once Captain McBean was disconcerted. "A thousand pardons," says he,
and with much ceremony put Mrs. Weston into the coach.
As they rode after it, "You fight too fast, sir," says O'Connor with a
grin. "I have remarked it before."
Captain McBean 'was still something out of countenance. "Who would have
thought he had a mother here?" he growled.
"Oh, faith, you did not suppose the old Colonel brought him forth--like
Jove plucking Minerva out of his swollen head."
"I did not, Patrick, you loon. But I did not guess his mother would be
here with this gorgeous madame wife."
"Fie now, is it the Lord God don't advise you of everything? 'Tis an
Captain Me Bean swore at him in a friendly way, and they jogged on
through the Islington lanes....
So after a while it happened that Colonel Boyce, raising a hot and angry
head at the creature who dared open his bedroom door, found himself
looking at Mrs. Weston. "Ods my life! Kate! What a pox do you want
here?" says he.
"You are hurt. I thought you would want nursing."
"I do not want nursing, damme. How did you hear of the business?"
"That Scotch captain rode out to tell us."
"Od burn the fellow! Humph. No. Maybe he is no fool, neither. Us? Who is
us, Kate? Mrs. Alison?"
"She is gone up to Harry now."
Colonel Boyce whistled. "Come up and we will show you a thing, eh? That
is Scripture, Kate. You used to have your mouth full of Scripture."
"You put me out of favour with that."
"Let it be, can't you? What, they will make it up, then?"
"Does that hurt you? Indeed, they would never have quarrelled but for
"Oh, aye, blame it on me. I am the devil, faith. Come, ma'am, what have I
done to the pretty dears? She's a warm piece and Harry's a milksop, and
that's the whole of it."
"With your tricks you made her think Harry was such as you are. And that
wife you married came to Alison and told her that Harry was base-born."
"Rot the shrew! She must meddle must she? Egad, she was always a blunder,
Madame Rachel." He swore at her fully. "Bah, what though? Why should
jolly Alison heed her?"
"Alison knows everything now. I told her."
"Egad, you go beyond me, Kate. You that made me swear none should ever
know the boy was yours. You go and blab it out! Damn you for a woman."
The woman looked at him strangely. "You have done that indeed," she said.
"No, that's too bad. I vow it is." For once Colonel Boyce was stung. He
fell silent and fidgeted, and made a long arm for the herb water by his
bed. Mrs. Weston gave it him. "Let be, can't you?" he cried, and drank
all the same. "Eh, Kate that came over my guard.... She has made you
suffer, the shrew. Egad, I could whip her through the town for it."
"Yes. Whip her."
"Oh, what would you have?" Colonel Boyce shifted under a rueful air,
strange in him. "I am what I am. I have had no luck in women. She was a
blunder. And you--you have paid to say of me what you will. Egad, you
have the chance now."
"Are you in pain?"
"Be hanged to pain! Don't gloat, Kate. That's not like you, at least."
"Oh, I am sorry. I am sorry."
"No, nor that neither. Damme, what should I be with you pitying me? Let
it be. Come, you want something of me, I suppose. Something for your
Harry, eh? What is it?"
"I want nothing but that he should live. He has no need of you or me."
"Oh Lud, he will live. But you were always full of fears."
"Yes. You used to say that long ago."
Colonel Boyce winced again. "Eh, you get in your thrusts, Kate, I swear I
did what I could to save him."
"I could not have borne to come to you else."
"Humph. I see no good in your coming. There's little comfort for you or
me in seeing each other. I suppose it's your damned duty."
"I don't know."
"Oh Lud, then begone and let's have done with it all."
"I want to stay till you are well."
"Aye, faith, it's comfortable to see me on my back and helpless."
Mrs. Weston did not answer for a moment. She was busy with setting his
table in order. "I want to have some right somewhere. She is with Harry."
"By God, Kate, you're a good soul," Colonel Boyce cried.
"I am not. I am jealous of her," Mrs. Weston said with a sob.
"Does Harry know of you?"
"What does it matter? He'll not care now."
"Kate--come here, child."
"No. No. I am not crying," Mrs. Weston said.
HARRY WAKES UP
Harry lay asleep when Alison came into his room.
She made sure of that and sat herself beside him to wait. It was not, you
know, a thing which she did well. She looked down at him gravely.
Afterwards Harry would accuse her that what first she felt was how little
and miserable a man she had taken to herself.
He lay there very still and his breath hardly stirred him. Indeed, the
surgery of Mr. Rolfe had bound him up so tightly that he was in armour
from waist to neck. After a moment, she started and trembled and bent
over him and put her cheek close to his lips. She felt his breath and
rose again slowly almost as pale as he. That cheating fear had stabbed
cruelly, and still it would not let her be. His face was so thin, so
white and utterly tired. The life was drained out of him....
She sat beside him, still but for the beat of her bosom, and it seemed
that the consciousness in her was falling from a height or galloping
against the wind. She seemed to try to stop and could not.
She tried to change the fashion of her thought and had no power in that
either. It was a strange, half-angry, half-contemptuous pity that moved
in her, and a fever of impatience. He was wicked to be struck down so,
rent, impotent. Why must the wretch go plunging out into the world and
measure himself against these swashbuckling conspirators? He had no
equipment for it. He was fated to end it with disaster. Faith, it was a
cruel folly to throw himself away and drag up her life by the roots as he
fell. She needed him--needed him quick and eager, and there he lay, a
shrunken thing that could use only gentleness, help, a tedious, trivial
service like a child.
He was humiliated, a condition not to be borne in her man. As she watched
him, she saw Geoffrey Waverton rise between them, blusterous and
menacing, and his lustiness mocked at the still, helpless body. But on
that all other feeling was lost in a fever of hate of Mr. Waverton. He
was branded with every contemptible sin that she knew, she ached to have
him suffer, and (unaware of the contusions and extravasations
administered by Mr. O'Connor) tried to console herself by recalling the
ignominious condition of Geoffrey in the hands of the truculent gentlemen
at Highgate. Bah, the coward was dishonoured for ever, at least. He would
never dare show his face in town or country. How could he? Mr. Hadley
would spit him like a joint. The good Charles! She found some consolation
in the memory of Mr. Hadley's sardonic contempt. Nay, but the others,
that fire-eating little Scotsman and his lank friend, they were of the
same scornful mind about Mr. Waverton. His blusterous bullying went for
nothing with them but to call for more disdain. They had no doubt that he
cut a miserable figure, that it was he who was humiliated in the affair.
And so all men would think, indeed. It was only a fool of a woman who
could be imposed upon by his brag, only a mean, detestable woman who
could suppose Harry defeated.
Why, Harry must needs have done nobly to enlist these men on his side. He
was nothing to Captain McBean, nothing but what he had done, and yet
McBean took up his cause with a perfect devotion, cared for nothing but
to punish his enemies, and to assure his safety. Faith, the little man
would be as glad to thrash her as to overthrow Master Geoffrey. He had
come near it, indeed. She smiled a little. The absurd imagination was not
unpleasant. Monsieur was welcome to beat her if it would bring Harry any
comfort. Aye, it would be very good for her. She would be glad to show
Harry the stripes. Nay, but it was Harry who should beat her--only he
never would. And these fantastics were swept away in a wave of
Mr. Harry was not good at making others suffer. He left it to his wife,
poor lad, and she--she had done it greedily. Well. There was to be an end
of that. Pray God he might ever be strong enough to hurt her. She bent
over him in this queer mood, and her eyes were dim, and she kissed him,
and whispered to herself--to him. Yes. She must make him hurt her. She
must have pain of him to bear....
Harry slept on. She began to caress his pillow, and crooned over him like
a mother with her child, and found herself blushing and was still and
silent again. Indeed, she was detestable. To make a show of fondling
after having driven him to the edge of death! To chatter and flutter
about him when he had no more than strength enough for sleep! Why, this
was the very way for a light o' love. And, indeed, she was no better,
wanting him only for her pleasure, for what he would give, watching
greedily till he should be fit to serve her turn again. Yes, that was the
only way of love Mrs. Alison understood.
It was some satisfaction to scold herself, to make herself believe that
she was vile. For she wanted to suffer, she wanted to be humbled. Not so
much for the comfort of penance, not even for the luxury of sensation
which makes self-torture pleasure, but that she might be sure of
realizing her sins against the love which was now in command of all her
being, and go on to serve it with a clean devotion. One thing only was
worth doing, in one thing only could there be honour and joy, to make him
welcome her and have delight in her... And so she fell among dreams....
She saw something glitter on the table by the bed, and idly put out her
hand for it. She found herself looking at the diamonds of the Pretender's
watch. How did Harry come to such a gorgeous toy? J.R., the diamonds
wrote. Who was J.R.?
"Alison," Harry said.
She started, stared at him, and stood up. His eyes were open, and he
frowned a little.
"Alison? It is you?" he said, and rubbed at his eyes.
"Why have you come?"
She fell on her knees by the bed. "Oh, Harry, Harry," she murmured, and
hid her face.
"Is it true?"
"I will be true," she sobbed.
"I want to see you."
She showed him her face pale and wet with tears....
After a while, "Why have you come?" he said again.
"Harry, I knew about Geoffrey. He told me."
I wrote you warning. I begged you come back to me. Oh, Harry, Harry, you
"I had no warning. Proud? Oh, yes, I am proud. What were you with
"Harry! Oh, Harry! No, it's fair. Well. I tried to trick him for your
sake to save you."
"I am obliged for your care of me."
She cried out "Ah, God," and hid her face again. Harry lay still and
white as death.... "Oh, Harry, you torture me," she murmured. "You have
the right. No man but you has ever had a thought of me. Harry--I want to
pray you--oh, I want to lie at your feet. Only believe in me--use
me--take me again."
"I am a fool," Harry said, and she looked up and saw that he, too, was
crying. "Oh, curse the wound," he said hoarsely. "Egad, I am damned
"I love you, I love you," she sobbed, and pressed her face to his....
"Oh, Harry, I am wicked."
She raised herself. "You are hurt, and I wear you out."
"That's a brag." Harry smiled faintly, "It takes more than you can give
to kill me, ma'am."
"Stand up and let me look at you." Which she did, and made parade of her
beauty, smiling through tears. "Aye, you're a splendid woman," and his
She made him a curtsy. "It's at your will, sir." "Yes, and why? Why? What
made you come back?"
"My dear!" She held out her arms to him. "I have wanted you ever since I
lost you. And now--now I am nothing unless you want me."
"Oh, be easy. There is plenty of you, and I want it all."
"Can you say so? Ah, Harry, you have known enough bad that's me, cruel
and greedy and hard and cheating. I have always taken, and given
"Damn your humilities," Harry said.
"Oh, sir, but I want them, my new humilities. I have nothing else to
cover my nakedness."
"You look better without them, ma'am."
"Fie, I will stop your mouth." But it was a cup of herb water that she
offered him instead of a kiss.
"You are a cheat," Harry spluttered. "You presume on my infirmities."
"No. No. I have made you talk too much. You must be still and rest
"Burn your maternal care! I have hardly seen you yet a minute."
"A minute! Oh!" She looked at the jewelled watch. "Aye, sir, an hour.
And what's this pretty toy?"
Harry laughed. "Why, now I have you. Sure, ma'am, it's a love token."
"I shall go away, sir."
"Not till you come by the secret. I know you."
His ear was pinched. "J.R. Who is J.R., sir?"
"Jemima Regina. A queen of beauty, ma'am. She fell in love with my nose.
And offered me a thousand pound for it."
"Harry! I am going to say good night."
"Hear the truth, Alison. Do you remember--you told me I was born to be a
highwayman--my stand-and-deliver stare--my--"
"Oh! Don't play so. I was a fiend when I taunted you so."
"Why, child, it's nothing. Come then--J.R., it's Jacobus Rex, the poor
lad, Prince James, who will never be a king, God help him. He gave me
that for the memory of some little service I did him. McBean brought the
Alison nodded. "I will have that story from Captain McBean, sir. You tell
stories mighty ill, do you know--highwayman. Yes, Harry, you are that.
You pillage us all. Love, honour, you win it from all. And I--I am the
last to know you."
"Bah, you will never be a wife," Harry said. "You have too much
imagination. But you make a mighty fine lover, my dear."