Part 3 out of 6
There was nothing to wait for. Captain Clubbe was not the man to prolong
a farewell or waste his words in wishes for the future, knowing how vain
such must always be. Loo was dazed still by the crash of the storm and
the tension of the effort to bring his boat safely through it.
The rest had not fully penetrated to his inmost mind yet. There had been
only time to act, and none to think, and when the necessity to act was
past, when he found himself crouching down under the weather gunwale of
the French fishing-boat without even the necessity of laying hand on
sheet or tiller, when, at last, he had time to think, he found that the
ability to do so was no longer his. For Fortune, when she lifts up or
casts down, usually numbs the understanding at the first turn of her
wheel, sending her victim staggering on his way a mere machine,
astonishingly alive to the necessity of the immediate moment, careful of
the next step, but capable of looking neither forward nor backward with
an understanding eye.
The waning moon came up at last, behind a distant line of trees on the
Charente side, lighting up with a silver lining the towering clouds of
the storm, which was still travelling eastward, leaving in its wake
battered vines and ruined crops, searing the face of the land as with a
hot iron. Loo lifted his head and looked round him. The owner of the boat
was at the tiller, while his assistant sat amidships, his elbows on his
knees, looking ahead with dreamy eyes. Close to Barebone, crouching from
the wind which blew cold from the Atlantic, was Dormer Colville, affably
silent. If Loo turned to glance at him he looked away, but when his back
was turned Loo was conscious of watching eyes, full of sympathy, almost
uncomfortably quick to perceive the inward working of another's mind, and
suit his own thereto.
Thus the boat plunged out toward the sea and the flickering lights that
mark the channel, tacking right across to that spit of land lying between
the Gironde and the broad Atlantic, where grows a wine without match in
all the world. Thus Loo Barebone turned his back on the ship which had
been his home so long and set out into a new world; a new and unknown
life, with the Marquis de Gemosac's ringing words buzzing in his brain
yet; with the warm touch of Juliette's lips burning still upon his hand.
"You are the grandson of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette! You are the Last
Hope of France!"
And he remembered the lights and shadows on Juliette's hair as he looked
down upon her bent head.
Colville was talking to the "patron" now. He knew the coast, it seemed,
and, somewhere or other, had learnt enough of such matters of local
seafaring interest as to set the fisherman at his ease and make him talk.
They were arranging where to land, and Colville was describing the exact
whereabouts of a little jetty used for bathing purposes, which ran out
from the sandy shore, quite near to Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence's house, in
the pine-trees, two miles south of Royan. It was no easy matter to find
this spot by the dim light of a waning moon, and, half-mechanically, Loo
joined in the search, and presently, when the jetty was reached, helped
to make fast in a choppy sea.
They left the luggage on the jetty and walked across the silent sand side
"There," said Colville, pointing forward. "It is through that opening in
the pine-trees. A matter of five minutes and we shall be at my cousin's
"It is very kind of Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence," answered Barebone,
"to--well, to take me up. I suppose that is the best way to look at it."
Colville laughed quietly.
"Yes--put it thus, if you like," he said. They walked on in silence for a
few yards, and then Dormer Colville slipped his hand within his
companion's arm, as was the fashion among men even in England in those
more expansive days.
"I think I know how you feel," he said, suiting his step to Barebone's.
"You must feel like a man who is set down to a table to play a game of
which he knows nothing, and on taking up his cards finds that he holds a
hand all courtcards and trumps--and he doesn't know how to play them."
Barebone made no answer. He had yet to unlearn Captain Clubbe's
unconscious teaching that a man's feelings are his own concern and no
other has any interest or right to share in them, except one woman, and
even she must guess the larger half.
"But as the game progresses," went on Colville, reassuringly, "you will
find out how it is played. You will even find that you are a skilled
player, and then the gambler's spirit will fire your blood and arouse
your energies. You will discover what a damned good game it is. The great
game--Barebone--the great game! And France is the country to play it in."
He stamped his foot on the soil of France as he spoke.
"The moment I saw you I knew that you would do. No man better fitted to
play the game than yourself; for you have wit and quickness," went on
this friend and mentor, with a little pressure on his companion's arm.
"But--you will have to put your back into it, you know."
"What do you mean?"
"Well--I noticed at Farlingford a certain reluctance to begin. It is in
the blood, I suppose. There is, you know, in the Bourbon blood a certain
strain of--well, let us say of reluctance to begin. Others call it by a
different name. One is not a Bourbon for nothing, I suppose. And
everything--even if it be a vice--that serves to emphasise identity is to
be cultivated. But, as I say, you will have to put your back into it
later on. At present there will be less to do. You will have to play
close and hold your hand, and follow any lead that is given you by de
Gemosac, or by my humble self. You will find that easy enough, I know.
For you have all a Frenchman's quickness to understand. And I suppose--to
put it plainly as between men of the world--now that you have had time to
think it over--you are not afraid, Barebone?"
"Oh no!" laughed Barebone. "I am not afraid."
"One is not a Barebone--or a Bourbon--for nothing," observed Colville, in
an aside to himself. "Gad! I wish I could say that I should not be afraid
myself under similar circumstances. My heart was in my mouth, I can tell
you, in that cabin when de Gemosac blurted it all out. It came suddenly
at the end, and--well!--it rather hit one in the wind. And, as I say, one
is not a Bourbon for nothing. You come into a heritage, eight hundred
years old, of likes and dislikes, of genius and incapacity, of an
astounding cleverness, and a preposterous foolishness without compare in
the history of dynasties. But that doesn't matter nowadays. This is a
progressive age, you know; even the Bourbons cannot hold back the advance
of the times."
"I come into a heritage of friends and of enemies," said Barebone,
gaily--"all ready made. That seems to me more important."
"Gad! you are right," exclaimed Colville. "I said you would do the moment
I saw you step ashore at Farlingford. You have gone right to the heart of
the question at the first bound. It is your friends and your enemies that
will give you trouble."
"More especially my friends," suggested Loo, with a light laugh.
"Right again," answered Colville, glancing at him sideways beneath the
brim of his hat. And there was a little pause before he spoke again.
"You have probably learnt how to deal with your enemies at sea," he said
thoughtfully at length. "Have you ever noticed how an English ship comes
into a foreign harbour and takes her berth at her moorings? There is
nothing more characteristic of the nation. And one captain is like
another. No doubt you have seen Clubbe do it a hundred times. He comes
in, all sail set, and steers straight for the berth he has chosen. And
there are always half a dozen men in half a dozen small boats who go out
to meet him. They stand up and wave their arms, and point this way and
that. They ask a hundred questions, and with their hands round their
faces, shout their advice. And in answer to one and the other the Captain
looks over the side and says, 'You be damned.' That will be the way to
deal with some of your friends and all your enemies alike, Barebone, if
you mean to get on in France. You will have to look over the side at the
people in small boats who are shouting and say, 'You be damned.'"
They were at the gate of a house now, set down in a clearing amid the
"This is my cousin's house," said Dormer Colville. "It is to be your home
for the present. And you need not scruple, as she will tell you, to
consider it so. It is not a time to think of obligations, you understand,
or to consider that you are running into any one's debt. You may remember
that afterward, perhaps, but that is as may be. For the present there is
no question of obligations. We are all in the same boat--all playing the
And he laughed below his breath as he closed the gate with caution; for
it was late and the house seemed to hold none but sleepers.
"As for my cousin herself," he continued, as they went toward the door,
"you will find her easy to get on with--a clever woman, and a
good-looking one. _Du reste_--it is not in that direction that your
difficulties will lie. You will find it easy enough to get on with the
women of the party, I fancy--from what I have observed."
And again he seemed to be amused.
In a sense, politics must always represent the game that is most
attractive to the careful gambler. For one may play at it without having
anything to lose. It is one of the few games within the reach of the
adventurous, where no stake need be cast upon the table. The gambler who
takes up a political career plays to win or not to win. He may jump up
from the gutter and shout that he is the man of the moment, without
offering any proof of his assertion beyond the loudness of a strident
voice. And if no one listens to him he loses nothing but his breath.
And in France the man who shouts loudest is almost certain to have the
largest following. In England the same does not yet hold good, but the
day seems to be approaching when it will.
In France, ever since the great Revolution, men have leapt up from the
gutter to grasp the reins of power. Some, indeed, have sprung from the
gutter of a palace, which is no more wholesome, it would appear, than the
drain of any street, or a ditch that carries off the refuse of a cheap
There are certain rooms in the north wing of the Louvre, in Paris, rooms
having windows facing across the Rue de Rivoli toward the Palais Royal,
where men must have sat in the comfortable leather-covered chair of the
High Official and laughed at the astounding simplicity of the French
people. But he laughs best who laughs last, and the People will
assuredly be amused in a few months, or a few years, at the very sudden
and very humiliating discomfiture of a gentleman falling face-foremost
into the street or hanging forlornly from a lamp-post at the corner of
it. For some have quitted these comfortable chairs, in these quiet
double-windowed rooms overlooking the Rue de Rivoli, for no better fate.
It was in the August of 1850 that a stout gentleman, seated in one of
these comfortable chairs, succumbed so far to the warmth of the palace
corridors as to fall asleep. He was not in the room of a high official,
but in the waiting-room attached to it.
He knew, moreover, that the High Official himself was scarcely likely to
dismiss a previous visitor or a present occupation any the earlier for
being importuned; for he was aware of the official's antecedents, and
knew that a Jack-in-office, who has shouted himself into office, is
nearly always careful to be deaf to other voices than his own.
Moreover, Mr. John Turner was never pressed for time.
"Yes," he had been known to say, "I was in Paris in '48. Never missed a
Whereas others, with much less at stake than this great banker, had
omitted not only meals, but their night's rest--night after night--in
those stirring times.
John Turner was still asleep when the door leading to the Minister's room
was cautiously opened, showing an inner darkness such as prevails in an
alcove between double doors. The door opened a little wider. No doubt the
peeping eye had made sure that the occupant of the waiting-room was
asleep. On the threshold stood a man of middle height, who carried
himself with a certain grace and quiet dignity. He was pale almost to
sallowness, a broad face with a kind mouth and melancholy eyes, without
any light in them. The melancholy must have been expressed rather by the
lines of the brows than by the eye itself, for this was without life or
expression--the eye of a man who is either very short-sighted or is
engaged in looking through that which he actually sees, to something he
fancies he perceives beyond it.
His lips smiled, but the smile died beneath a neatly waxed moustache and
reached no higher on the mask-like face. Then he disappeared in the outer
darkness between the two doors, and the handle made no noise in turning.
In a few minutes an attendant, in a gay uniform, came in by the same
door, without seeking to suppress the clatter of his boots on the oak
"Hola! monsieur," he said, in a loud voice. And Mr. John Turner crossed
his legs and leant farther back in the chair, preparatory to opening his
eyes, which he did directly on the new-comer's face, without any of that
vague flitting hither and thither of glance which usually denotes the
The eyes were of a clear blue, and Mr. Turner looked five years younger
with them open than with them shut. But he was immensely stout.
"Well, my friend," he said, soothingly; for the Minister's attendant had
a truculent ministerial manner. "Why so much noise?"
"The Minister will see you."
John Turner yawned and reached for his hat.
"The Minister is pressed for time."
"So was I," replied the Englishman, who spoke perfect French, "when I
first sat down here, half an hour ago. But even haste will pass in time."
He rose, and followed the servant into the inner room, where he returned
the bow of a little white-bearded gentleman seated at a huge desk.
"Well, sir," said this gentleman, with the abrupt manner which has come
to be considered Napoleonic on the stage or in the political world
to-day. "Your business?"
The servant had withdrawn, closing the door behind him with an emphasis
of the self-accusatory sort.
"I am a banker," replied John Turner, looking with an obese deliberation
toward one of the deep windows, where, half-concealed by the heavy
curtain, a third person stood gazing down into the street.
The Minister smiled involuntarily, forgetting his dignity of a two-years'
"Oh, you may speak before Monsieur," he said.
"But I am behind him," was the immediate reply.
The gentleman leaning against the window-breast did not accept this
somewhat obvious invitation to show his face. He must have heard it,
however, despite an absorption which was probably chronic; for he made a
movement to follow with his glance the passage of some object of interest
in the street below. And the movement seemed to supply John Turner with
the information he desired.
"Yes, I am a banker," he said, more genially.
The Minister gave a short laugh.
"Monsieur," he said, "every one in Europe knows that. Proceed."
"And I only meddle in politics when I see the possibility of making an
"Already made--that honest penny--if one may believe the gossip--of
Europe," said the Minister. "So many pence that it is whispered that you
do not know what to do with them."
"It is unfortunate," admitted Turner, "that one can only dine once a
The little gentleman in office had more than once invited his visitor to
be seated, indicating by a gesture the chair placed ready for him. After
a slow inspection of its legs, Mr. John Turner now seated himself. It
would seem that he, at the same time, tacitly accepted the invitation to
ignore the presence of a third person.
"Since you seem to know all about me," he said, "I will not waste any
more of your time, or mine, by trying to make you believe that I am
eminently respectable. The business that brought me here, however, is of
a political nature. A plain man, like myself, only touches politics when
he sees his gain clearly. There are others who enter that field from
purer motives, I am told. I have not met them."
The Minister smiled on one side of his face, and all of it went white. He
glanced uncomfortably at that third person, whom he had suggested
"And yet," went on John Turner, very dense or greatly daring, "I have
lived many years in France, Monsieur le Ministre."
The Minister frowned at him, and made a quick gesture of one hand toward
"So long," pursued the Englishman, placidly, "as the trains start
punctually, and there is not actually grape-shot in the streets, and one
may count upon one's dinner at the hour, one form of government in this
country seems to me to be as good as another, Monsieur le Ministre. A
Bourbon Monarchy or an Orleans Monarchy, or a Republic, or--well, an
Empire, Monsieur le Ministre."
"_Mon Dieu!_ have you come here to tell me this?" cried the Minister,
impatiently, glancing over his shoulder toward the window, and with one
hand already stretched out toward the little bell standing on his desk.
"Yes," answered Turner, leaning forward to draw the bell out of reach. He
nodded his head with a friendly smile, and his fat cheeks shook. "Yes,
and other things as well. Some of those other matters are perhaps even
more worthy of your earnest attention. It is worth your while to listen.
More especially, as you are paid for it--by the hour."
He laughed inside himself, with a hollow sound, and placidly crossed his
"Yes; I came to tell you, firstly, that the present form of government,
and, er--any other form which may evolve from it--"
"Oh!--proceed, monsieur!" exclaimed the Minister, hastily, while the man
in the recess of the window turned and looked over his shoulder at John
Turner's profile with a smile, not unkind, on his sphinx-like face.
"--has the inestimable advantage of my passive approval. That is why I am
here, in fact. I should be sorry to see it upset."
He broke off, and turned laboriously in his chair to look toward the
window, as if the gaze of the expressionless eyes there had tickled the
back of his neck like a fly. But by the time the heavy banker had got
round, the curtain had fallen again in its original folds.
"--by a serious Royalist plot," concluded Turner, in his thick,
"So, assuredly, would any patriot or any true friend of France," said the
Minister, in his best declamatory manner.
"Um--m. That is out of my depth," returned the Englishman, bluntly. "I
paddle about in the shallow water at the edge and pick up what I can, you
understand. I am too fat for a _voyant_ bathing-costume, and the deep
waters beyond, Monsieur le Ministre."
The Minister drummed impatiently on his desk with his five fingers, and
looked at Turner sideways beneath his brows.
"Royalist plots are common enough," he said, tentatively, after a pause.
"Not a Royalist plot with money in it," was the retort. "I dare say an
honest politician, like yourself, is aware that in France it is always
safe to ignore the conspirator who has no money, and always dangerous to
treat with contempt him who jingles a purse. There is only a certain
amount of money in the world, Monsieur le Ministre, and we bankers
usually know where it is. I do not mean the money that the world pours
into its own stomach. That is always afloat--changing hands daily. I mean
the Great Reserves. We watch those, you understand. And if one of the
Great Reserves, or even one of the smaller reserves, moves, we wonder why
it is being moved and we nearly always find out."
"One supposes," said the Minister, hazarding an opinion for the first
time, and he gave it with a sidelong glance toward the window, "that it
is passing from the hands of a financier possessing money into those of
one who has none."
"Precisely. And if a financier possessing money is persuaded to part with
it in such a quarter as you suggest, one may conclude that he has good
reason to anticipate a substantial return for the loan. You, who are a
brilliant collaborateur in the present government, should know that, if
any one does, Monsieur le Ministre."
The Minister glanced toward the window, and then gave a good-natured and
encouraging laugh, quite unexpectedly, just as if he had been told to do
so by the silent man looking down into the street, who may, indeed, have
had time to make a gesture.
"And," pursued the banker, "if a financier possessing money parts with
it--or, to state the case more particularly, if a financier possessing no
money, to my certain knowledge, suddenly raises it from nowhere definite,
for the purposes of a Royalist conspiracy, the natural conclusion is that
the Royalists have got hold of something good."
John Turner leant back in his chair and suppressed a yawn.
"This room is very warm," he said, producing a pocket-handkerchief. Which
was tantamount to a refusal to say more.
The Minister twisted the end of his moustache in reflection. It was at
this time the fashion in France to wear the moustache waxed. Indeed, men
displayed thus their political bias to all whom it might concern.
"There remains nothing," said the official at length, with a gracious
smile, "but to ask your terms."
For he who was afterward Napoleon the Third had introduced into French
political and social life a plain-spoken cynicism which characterises
both to this day.
"Easy," replied Turner. "You will find them easy. Firstly, I would ask
that your stupid secret police keeps its fingers out; secondly, that
leniency be assured to one person, a client of mine--the woman who
supplies the money--who is under the influence--well, that influence
which makes women do nobler and more foolish things, monsieur, than men
are capable of."
He rose as he spoke, collected his hat and stick, and walked slowly to
the door. With his hand on the handle, he paused.
"You can think about it," he said, "and let me know at your leisure. By
the way, there is one more point, Monsieur le Ministre. I would ask you
to let this matter remain a secret, known only to our two selves and--the
And John Turner went out, without so much as a glance toward the window.
ON THE PONT ROYAL
It would appear that John Turner had business south of the Seine, though
his clients were few in the Faubourg St. Germain. For this placid British
banker was known to be a good hater. His father before him, it was said,
had had dealings with the Bourbons, while many a great family of the
Emigration would have lost more than the esteem of their fellows in their
panic-stricken flight, had it not been that one cool-headed and calm man
of business stayed at his post through the topsy-turvy days of the
Terror, and did his duty by the clients whom he despised.
On quitting the Louvre, by the door facing the Palais Royal, Turner moved
to the left. To say that he walked would be to overstate the action of
his little stout legs, which took so short a stride that his progress
suggested wheels and some one pushing behind. He turned to the left
again, and ambled under the great arch, to take the path passing behind
His stoutness was, in a sense, a safeguard in streets where the
travelling Englishman, easily recognised, has not always found a welcome.
His clothes and his walk were studiously French. Indeed, no one, passing
by with a casual glance, would have turned to look a second time at a
figure so typical of the Paris streets.
Mr. Turner quitted the enclosure of the Tuileries gardens and crossed the
quay toward the Pont Royal. But he stopped short under the trees by the
river wall, with a low whistle of surprise. Crossing the bridge, toward
him, and carrying a carpet-bag of early Victorian design, was Mr.
Septimus Marvin, rector of Farlingford, in Suffolk.
After a moment's thought, John Turner went toward the bridge, and
stationed himself on the pavement at the corner. The pavement is narrow,
and Turner was wide. In order to pass him, Septimus Marvin would need to
step into the road. This he did, without resentment; with, indeed, a
courtly and vague inclination of the head toward the human obstruction.
"Look here, Sep," said Turner, "you are not going to pass an old
schoolfellow like that."
Septimus Marvin lurched onward one or two steps, with long loose strides.
Then he clutched his carpet-bag with both hands and looked back at his
interlocutor, with the scared eyes of a detected criminal. This gave
place to the habitual gentle smile when, at last, the recognition was
"What have you got there?" asked Turner, pointing with his stick at the
carpet-bag. "A kitten?"
"No--no," replied Marvin, looking this way and that, to make sure that
none could overhear.
"A Nanteuil--engraved from his own drawing, Jack--a real Nanteuil. I have
just been to a man I know--the print-shop opposite the statue on the Quai
Voltaire--to have my own opinion verified. I was sure of it. He says that
I am undoubtedly right. It is a genuine Nanteuil--a proof before
"Ah! And you have just picked it up cheap? Picked it up, eh?"
"No, no, quite the contrary," Marvin replied, in a confidential whisper.
"Stolen--dear, dear! I am sorry to hear that, Septimus."
And Septimus Marvin broke into the jerky, spasmodic laugh of one who has
not laughed for long--perhaps for years.
"Ah, Jack," he said; "you are still up to a joke."
"Well, I should hope so. We are quite close to my club. Come, and have
luncheon, and tell me all about it."
So the Social and Sporting Club, renowned at that day for its matchless
cuisine and for nothing else of good repute at all, entertained an angel
unawares, and was much amused at Septimus Marvin's appearance, although
the amusement was not apparent. The members, it would appear, were
gentlemen of that good school of old France which, like many good things
both French and English, is fast disappearing. And with all those faults,
which we are so ready to perceive in any Frenchman, there is none on
earth who will conceal from you so effectually the fact that in his heart
he is vastly amused.
It was with some difficulty that Septimus was persuaded to consign his
carpet-bag to the custody of the hall-porter.
"If it wasn't a Nanteuil," he explained in a whisper to his friend, "I
should have no hesitation; for I am sure the man is honest and in every
way to be relied upon. But a Nanteuil--_ad vivum_--Jack. There are none
like him. It is priceless."
"You used not to be a miser," said Turner, panting on the stairs, when at
last the bag was concealed in a safe place. "What matter what the value
may be, so long as you like it?"
"Oh! but the value is of great importance," answered Septimus, rather
"Then you have changed a good deal since you and I were at Ipswich school
together. There, sit down at this table. I suppose you are hungry. I hope
you are. Try and think--there's a good fellow--and remember that they
have the best cook in Paris here. Their morals ain't of the first water,
but their cook is without match. Yes, you have changed a good deal, if
you think of money."
Septimus Marvin had changed colour, at all events, in the last few
"I have to, Jack, I have to. That is the truth of it. I have come to
Paris to sell that Nanteuil. To realise, I suppose you would call it in
the financial world. _Pro aris et focis_, old friend. I want money for
the altar and the hearth. It has come to that. I cannot ask them in
Farlingford for more money, for I know they have none. And the church is
falling about our ears. The house wants painting. It is going the way of
the church, indeed."
"Ah!" said Turner, glancing at him over the bill of fare. "So you have to
sell an engraving. It goes to the heart, I suppose?"
Marvin laughed and rubbed his spare hands together, with an assumption of
cheerfulness in which some one less stout and well-to-do than his
companion might have perceived that dim minor note of pathos, which
always rings somewhere in a forced laugh.
"One has to face it," he replied. "_Ne cedas malis_, you know. I suddenly
found it was necessary. It was forced upon me, in fact. I found that my
niece was secretly helping to make both ends meet. A generous action,
made doubly generous by the manner in which it was performed."
"Miriam?" put in John Turner, who appeared to be absorbed in the
all-important document before him.
"Yes, Miriam. Do you know her? Ah! I forgot. You are her guardian and
trustee. I sometimes think my memory is failing. I found her out quite by
accident. It must have been going on for quite a long time. Heaven will
reward her, Turner! One cannot doubt it."
He absent-mindedly seized two pieces of bread from the basket offered to
him by a waiter, and began to eat as if famished.
"Steady, man, steady," exclaimed Turner, leaning forward with a
horror-stricken face to restrain him. "Don't spoil a grand appetite on
bread. Gad! I wish I could fall on my food like that. You seem to be
"I think I forgot to have any breakfast," said Marvin, apologetically.
"I dare say you did!" was the angry retort. "You always were a bit of an
ass, you know, Sep. But I have ordered a tiptop luncheon, and I'll
trouble you not to wolf like that."
"Well--well, I'm sorry," said the other, who, even in the far-off days at
Ipswich school, had always been in the clouds, while John Turner moved
essentially on the earth.
"And do not sell that Nanteuil to the first bidder," went on Turner, with
a glance, of which the keenness was entirely disarmed by the good-natured
roundness of his huge cheeks. "I know a man who will buy it--at a good
price, too. Where did you get it?"
"Ah! that is a long story," replied Marvin, looking dreamily out of the
window. "I bought it, years ago, at Farlingford. But it is a long story."
"Then tell it, slowly. While I eat this _sole a la Normande_. I see
you've nearly finished yours, and I have scarcely begun."
It was a vague and disjointed enough story, as related by Septimus
Marvin. And it was the story of Loo Barebone's father. As it progressed
John Turner grew redder and redder in the face, while he drank glass
after glass of Burgundy.
"A queer story," he ejaculated, breathlessly. "Go on. And you bought this
engraving from the man himself, before he died? Did he tell you where he
got it? It is the portrait of a woman, you say."
"Portrait of a woman--yes, yes. But he did not know who she was. And I do
not know whether I gave him enough for it. Do you think I did, Jack?"
"I do not know how much you gave him, but I have no doubt that it was too
much. Where did he get it?"
"He thinks it was brought from France by his mother, or the woman who was
supposed in Farlingford to be his mother--together with other papers,
which he burnt, I believe."
"And then he died?"
"Yes--yes. He died--but he left a son."
"The devil he did! Why did you not mention that before? Where is the son?
Tell me all about him, while I see how they've served this _langue
fourree_, which should be eaten slowly; though it is too late to remind
you of that now. Go on. Tell me all about the son."
And before the story of Loo Barebone was half told, John Turner laid
aside his knife and fork and turned his attention to the dissection of
this ill-told tale. As the story neared its end, he glanced round the
room, to make sure that none was listening to their conversation.
"Dormer Colville," he repeated. "Does he come into it?"
"He came to Farlingford with the Marquis de Gemosac, out of pure
good-nature--because the Marquis could speak but little English. He is a
charming man. So unselfish and disinterested."
"Who? The Marquis?"
"No; Dormer Colville."
"Oh yes!" said John Turner, returning to the cold tongue. "Yes; a
And he glanced again at his friend, with a queer smile. When luncheon was
finished, Turner led the way to a small smoking-room, where they would be
alone, and sent a messenger to fetch Septimus Marvin's bag from
"We will have a look at your precious engraving," he said, "while we
smoke a cigar. It is, I suppose, a relic of the Great Monarchy, and I may
tell you that there is rather a small demand just now for relics of that
period. It would be wiser not to take it into the open market. I think my
client would give you as good a price as any; and I suppose you want to
get as much as you can for it now that you have made up your mind to the
Marvin suppressed a sigh, and rubbed his hands together with that forced
jocularity which had made his companion turn grave once before.
"Oh, I mean to drive a hard bargain, I can tell you!" was the reply, with
an assumption of worldly wisdom on a countenance little calculated to
wear that expression naturally.
"What did your friend in the print-shop on the Quai Voltaire mention as a
probable price?" asked Turner, carelessly.
"Well, he said he might be able to sell it for me at four thousand
francs. I would not hear of his running any risk in the matter, however.
Such a good fellow, he is. So honest."
"Yes, he is likely to be that," said Turner, with his broad smile. He was
a little sleepy after a heavy luncheon, and sipped his coffee with a
feeling of charity toward his fellow-men. "You would find lots of honest
men in the Quai Voltaire, Sep. I will tell you what I will do. Give me
the print, and I will do my best for you. Would ten thousand francs help
you out of your difficulties?"
"I do not remember saying that I was in difficulties," objected the
Reverend Septimus, with heightened colour.
"Don't you? Memory _is_ bad, is it not? Would ten thousand francs paint
the rectory, then?"
"It would ease my mind and sweeten my sleep at night to have half that
sum, my friend. With two hundred pounds I could face the world _aequo
"I will see what I can do. This is the print, is it? I don't know much
about such things myself, but I should put the price down at ten thousand
"But the man in the Quai Voltaire?"
"Precisely. I know little about prints, but a lot about the Quai
Voltaire. Who is the lady? I presume it is a portrait?"
"It is a portrait, but I cannot identify the original. To an expert of
that period it should not be impossible, however." Septimus Marvin was
all awake now, with flushed cheeks and eyes brightened by enthusiasm. "Do
you know why? Because her hair is dressed in a peculiar way--_poufs de
sentiment_, these curls are called. They were only worn for a brief
period. In those days the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau had a certain
vogue among the idle classes. The women showed their sentiments in the
dressing of their hair. Very curious--very curious. And here, in the
hair, half-concealed, is an imitation dove's nest."
"The deuce there is!" ejaculated Turner, pulling at his cigar.
"A fashion which ruled for a still briefer period."
"I should hope so. Well, roll the thing up, and I will do my best for
you. I'm less likely to be taken in than you are, perhaps. If I sell it,
I will send you a cheque this evening. It is a beautiful face."
"Yes," agreed Septimus Marvin, with, a sharp sigh. "It is a beautiful
And he slowly rolled up his most treasured possession, which John Turner
tucked under his arm. On the Pont Royal they parted company.
"By the way," said John Turner, after they had shaken hands, "You never
told me what sort of a man this young fellow is--this Loo Barebone?"
"The dearest fellow in the world," answered Marvin, with eyes aglow
behind his spectacles. "To me he has been as a son--an elder brother, as
it were, to little Sep. I was already an elderly man, you know, when Sep
was born. Too old, perhaps. Who knows? Heaven's way is not always marked
He nodded vaguely and went away a few paces. Then he remembered something
and came back.
"I don't know if I ought to speak of such a thing. But I quite hoped, at
one time, that Miriam might one day recognise his goodness of heart."
"What?" interrupted Turner. "The mate of a coasting schooner!"
"He is more than that, my friend," answered Septimus Marvin, nodding his
head slowly, so that the sun flashed on his spectacles in such a manner
as to make Turner blink. Then he turned away again and crossed the
bridge, leaving the English banker at the corner of it, still blinking.
THE CITY THAT SOON FORGETS
There are in humble life some families which settle their domestic
differences on the doorstep, while the neighbours, gathered hastily by
the commotion, tiptoe behind each other to watch the fun. In the European
congerie France represents this loud-voiced household, and Paris--Paris,
the city that soon forgets--is the doorstep whereon they wrangle.
The bones of contention may be pitched far and wide by the chances and
changes of exile, but the contending dogs bark and yap in Paris. At this
time there lived, sometimes in Italy, sometimes at Frohsdorf, a jovial
young gentleman, fond of sport and society, cultivating the tastes and
enjoying the easy existence of a country-gentleman of princely rank--the
Comte de Chambord. Son of that Duchesse de Berri who tried to play a
great part and failed, he was married to an Italian princess and had no
children. He was, therefore, the last of the Bourbons, and passed in
Europe as such. But he did not care. Perhaps his was the philosophy of
the indolent which saith that some one must be last and why not I?
Nevertheless, there ran in his veins some energetic blood. On his
father's side he was descended from sixty-six kings of France. From his
mother he inherited a relationship to many makers of history. For the
Duchesse de Berri's grandmother was the sister of Marie Antoinette. Her
mother was aunt to that Empress of the French, Marie Louise, who was a
notable exception to the rule that "Bon sang ne peut mentir." Her father
was a king of Sicily and Naples. She was a Bourbon married to a Bourbon.
When she was nineteen she gave birth to a daughter, who died next day. In
a year she had a son who died in twenty hours. Two years later her
husband died in her arms, assassinated, in a back room of the Opera House
Seven months after her husband's death she gave birth to the Comte de
Chambord, the last of the old Bourbons. She was active, energetic and of
boundless courage. She made a famous journey through La Vendee on
horseback to rally the Royalists. She urged her father-in-law, Charles X,
to resist the revolution. She was the best Royalist of them all. And her
son was the Comte de Chambord, who could have been a king if he had not
been a philosopher, or a coward.
He was waiting till France called him with one voice. As if France had
ever called for anything with one voice!
Amid the babel there rang out not a few voices for the younger branch of
the Royal line--the Orleans. Louis Philippe--king for eighteen years--was
still alive, living in exile at Claremont. Two years earlier, in the rush
of the revolution of 1848, he had effected his escape to Newhaven. The
Orleans always seek a refuge in England, and always turn and abuse that
country when they can go elsewhere in safety. And England is not one
penny the worse for their abuse, and no man or country was ever yet one
penny the better for their friendship.
Louis Philippe had been called to the throne by the people of France. His
reign of eighteen years was marked by one great deed. He threw open the
Palace of Versailles--which was not his--to the public. And then the
people who called him in, hooted him out. His life had been attempted
many times. All the other kings hated him and refused to let their
daughters marry his sons. He and his sons were waiting at Claremont while
the talkers in Paris talked their loudest.
There was a third bone of contention--the Imperial line. At this time the
champions of this morsel were at the summit; for a Bonaparte was riding
on the top of the revolutionary scrimmage.
By the death of the great Napoleon's only child, the second son of his
third brother became the recognised claimant to the Imperial crown.
For France has long ceased to look to the eldest son as the rightful
heir. There is, in fact, a curse on the first-born of France. Napoleon's
son, the King of Rome, died in exile, an Austrian. The Duc de Bordeaux,
born eight years after him, never wore the crown, and died in exile,
childless. The Comte de Paris, born also at the Tuileries, was exiled
when he was ten years old, and died in England. All these, of one
generation. And of the next, the Prince Imperial, hurried out of France
in 1870, perished on the Veldt. The King of Rome lies in his tomb at
Vienna, the Duc de Bordeaux at Goeritz, the Comte de Paris at Weybridge,
the Prince Imperial at Farnborough. These are the heirs of France, born
in the palace of the Tuileries. How are they cast upon the waters of the
world! And where the palace of the Tuileries once stood the pigeons now
call to each other beneath the trees, while, near at hand, lolls on the
public seat he whom France has always with her, the _vaurien_--the
So passes the glory of the world. It is not a good thing to be born in a
palace, nor to live in one.
It was in the Rue Lafayette that John Turner had his office, and when he
emerged from it into that long street on the evening of the 25th of
August, 1850, he ran against, or he was rather run against by, the
newsboy who shrieked as he pattered along in lamentable boots and waved a
sheet in the face of the passer: "The King is dead! The King is dead!"
And Paris--the city that soon forgets--smiled and asked what King?
Louis Philippe was dead in England, at the age of seventy-seven, the
bad son of a bad father, another of those adventurers whose happy
hunting-ground always has been, always will be, France.
John Turner, like many who are slow in movement, was quick in thought. He
perceived at once that the death of Louis Philippe left the field open to
the next adventurer; for he left behind him no son of his own mettle.
Turner went back to his office, where the pen with which he had signed a
cheque for four hundred pounds, payable to the Reverend Septimus Marvin,
was still wet; where, at the bottom of the largest safe, the portrait of
an unknown lady of the period of Louis XVI lay concealed. He wrote out a
telegram to Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, addressed to her at her villa near
Royan, and then proceeded to his dinner with the grave face of the
The next morning he received the answer, at his breakfast-table, in the
apartment he had long occupied in the Avenue d'Antin. But he did not open
the envelope. He had telegraphed to Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, asking if
it would be convenient for her to put him up for a few days. And he
suspected that it would not.
"When I am gone," he said to his well-trained servant, "put that into an
envelope and send it after me to the Villa Cordouan, Royan. Pack my
portmanteau for a week."
Thus John Turner set out southward to join a party of those Royalists
whom his father before him had learnt to despise. And in a manner he was
pre-armed; for he knew that he would not be welcome. It was in those days
a long journey, for the railway was laid no farther than Tours, from
whence the traveller must needs post to La Rochelle, and there take a
boat to Royan--that shallow harbour at the mouth of the Gironde.
"Must have a change--of cooking," he explained to Mrs. St. Pierre
Lawrence. "Doctor says I am getting too stout."
He shook her deliberately by the hand without appearing to notice her
"So I came south and shall finish up at Biarritz, which they say is going
to be fashionable. I hope it is not inconvenient for you to give me a
bed--a solid one--for a night or two."
"Oh no!" answered Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, who had charming manners, and
was one of those fortunate persons who are never at a loss. "Did you not
receive my telegram?"
"Telling me you were counting the hours till my arrival?"
"Well," admitted Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, wisely reflecting that he
would ultimately see the telegram, "hardly so fervent as that--"
"Good Lord!" interrupted Turner, looking behind her toward the veranda,
which was cool and shady, where two men were seated near a table bearing
coffee-cups. "Who is that?"
"Which?" asked Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence, without turning to follow the
direction of his glance. "Oh! one is Dormer Colville, I see that. But the
"Why do you say gad?" asked the lady, with surprise.
"Where did he get that face from?" was the reply.
Turner took off his hat and mopped his brow; for it was very hot and the
August sun was setting over a copper sea.
"Where we all get our faces from, I suppose!" answered Mrs. St. Pierre
Lawrence, with her easy laugh. She was always mistress of the situation.
"The heavenly warehouse, one supposes. His name is Barebone. He is a
friend of Dormer's."
"Any friend of Dormer Colville's commands my interest."
Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence glanced quickly at her companion beneath the
shade of her lace-trimmed parasol.
"What do you mean by that?" she asked, in a voice suddenly hard and
"That he chooses his friends well," returned the banker, with his
guileless smile. His face was bovine, and in the heat of summer apt to be
shiny. No one would attribute an inner meaning to a stout person thus
outwardly brilliant. Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence appeared to be mollified,
and turned toward the house with a gesture inviting him to walk with her.
"I will be frank with you," she said. "I telegraphed to tell you that the
Villa Cordouan is for the moment unfortunately filled with guests."
"What matter? I will go to the hotel. In fact, I told the driver of my
carriage to wait for further orders. I half feared that at this time of
year, you know, house would be full. I'll just shake hands with Colville
and then be off. You will let me come in after dinner, perhaps. You and I
must have a talk about money, you will remember."
There was no time to answer; for Dormer Colville, perceiving their
approach, was already hurrying down the steps of the veranda to meet
them. He laughed as he came, for John Turner's bulk made him a laughing
matter in the eyes of most men, and his good humour seemed to invite them
to frank amusement.
The greeting was, therefore, jovial enough on both sides, and after being
introduced to Loo Barebone, Mr. Turner took his leave without farther
defining his intentions for the evening.
"I do not think it matters much," Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence said to her
two guests, when he had left. "And he may not come, after all."
Her self-confidence sufficiently convinced Loo, who was always ready to
leave something to chance. But Colville shook his head.
It thus came about that sundry persons of title and importance who had
been invited to come to the Villa Cordouan after dinner for a little
music found the English banker complacently installed in the largest
chair, with a shirt-front evading the constraint of an abnormal
waistcoat, and a sleepy chin drooping surreptitiously toward it.
"He is my banker from Paris," whispered Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence to one
and another. "He knows nothing, and so far as I am aware, is no
politician--merely a banker, you understand. Leave him alone and he will
go to sleep."
During the three weeks which Loo Barebone had spent very pleasantly at
the Villa Cordouan, Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence had provided music and light
refreshment for her friends on several occasions. And each evening the
drawing-room, which was not a small one, had been filled to overflowing.
Friends brought their friends and introduced them to the hostess, who in
turn presented them to Barebone. Some came from a distance, driving
from Saintes or La Rochelle or Pons. Others had taken houses for the
bathing-season at Royan itself.
"He never makes a mistake," said the hostess to Dormer Colville, behind
her fan, a hundred times, following with her shrewd eyes the gay and easy
movements of Loo, who seemed to be taught by some instinct to suit his
manner to his interlocutor.
To-night there was more music and less conversation.
"Play him to sleep," Dormer Colville had said to his cousin. And at
length Turner succumbed to the soft effect of a sonata. He even snored in
the shade of a palm, and the gaiety of the proceedings in no way
It was only Colville who seemed uneasy and always urged any who were
talking earnestly to keep out of earshot of the sleeping Englishman. Once
or twice he took Barebone by the arm and led him to the other end of the
room, for he was always the centre of the liveliest group and led the
"Oh! but he is charming, my dear," more than one guest whispered to Mrs.
St. Pierre Lawrence, as they took their departure.
"He will do--he will do," the men said with a new light of hope in their
Nearly all had gone when John Turner at length woke up. Indeed, Colville
threw a book upon the floor to disturb his placid sleep.
"I will come round to-morrow," he said, bidding his hostess good night.
"I have some papers for you to sign since you are determined to sell your
_rentes_ and leave the money idle at your bank."
"Yes. I am quite determined," she answered, gaily, for she was before her
time inasmuch as she was what is known in these days of degenerate speech
And when John Turner, carrying a bundle of papers, presented himself at
the Villa Cordouan next morning he found Mrs. St. Pierre Lawrence sitting
alone in the veranda.
"Dormer and his friend have left me to my own devices. They have gone
away," she mentioned, casually, in the course of conversation.
"Oh no," she answered, carelessly, and wrote her name in a clear firm
hand on the document before her. And John Turner looked dense.
IN THE BREACH
The Marquis de Gemosac was sitting at the open window of the little
drawing-room in the only habitable part of the chateau. From his
position he looked across the courtyard toward the garden where stiff
cypress-trees stood sentry among the mignonette and the roses, now in the
full glory of their autumn bloom.
Beyond the garden, the rough outline of the walls cut a straight line
across the distant plains, which melted away into the haze of the
marsh-lands by the banks of the Gironde far to the westward.
The Marquis had dined. They dined early in those days in France, and
coffee was still served after the evening meal.
The sun was declining toward the sea in a clear copper-coloured sky, but
a fresh breeze was blowing in from the estuary to temper the heat of the
The Marquis was beating time with one finger, and within the room, to an
impromptu accompaniment invented by Juliette, Barebone was singing:
C'est le Hasard,
Qui, tot ou tard,
Ici-bas nous seconde;
D'un bout du monde
A l'autre bout,
Le Hasard seul fait tout.
He broke off with a laugh in which Juliette's low voice joined.
"That is splendid, mademoiselle," he cried, and the Marquis clapped his
thin hands together.
Un tel qu'on vantait
Par hasard etait
D'origine assez mince;
Par hasard il plut,
Par hasard il fut
Baron, ministre et prince:
C'est le Hasard,
Qui, tot ou tard,
Ici bas nous seconde;
D'un bout du monde
A l'autre bout,
Le Hasard seul fait tout.
"There--that is all I know. It is the only song I sing."
"But there are other verses," said Juliette, resting her hands on the
keys of the wheezy spinet which must have been a hundred years old. "What
are they about?"
"I do not know, mademoiselle," he answered, looking down at her. "I think
it is a love-song."
She had pinned some mignonette, strong scented as autumn mignonette is,
in the front of her muslin dress, and the heavy heads had dragged the
stems to one side. She put the flowers in order, slowly, and then bent
her head to enjoy the scent of them.
"It scarcely sounds like one," she said, in a low and inquiring voice.
The Marquis was a little deaf. "Is it all chance then?"
"Oh yes," he answered, and as he spoke without lowering his voice she
played softly on the old piano the simple melody of his song. "It is all
chance, mademoiselle. Did they not teach you that at the school at
But she was not in a humour to join in his ready laughter. The room was
rosy with the glow of the setting sun, she breathed the scent of the
mignonette at every breath, the air which she had picked out on the
spinet in unison with his clear and sympathetic voice had those minor
tones and slow slurring from note to note which are characteristic of the
gay and tearful songs of southern France and all Spain. None of which
things are conducive to gaiety when one is young.
She glanced at him with one quick turn of the head and made no answer.
But she played the air over again--the girls sing it to this day over
their household work at Farlingford to other words--with her foot on the
soft pedal. The Marquis hummed it between his teeth at the other end of
"This room is hot," she exclaimed, suddenly, and rose from her seat
without troubling to finish the melody. "And that window will not open,
mademoiselle; for I have tried it," added Barebone, watching her
"Then I am going into the garden," she said, with a sharp sigh and a
wilful toss of the head. It was not his fault that the setting sun,
against which, as many have discovered, men shut their doors, should
happen to be burning hot or that the window would not open. But Juliette
seemed to blame him for it or for something else, perhaps. One never
knows. Barebone did not follow her at once, but stood by the window
talking to the Marquis, who was in a reminiscent humour. The old man
interrupted his own narrative, however.
"There," he cried, "is Juliette on that wall overhanging the river. It is
where the English effected a breach long ago, my friend--you need not
smile, for you are no Englishman--and the chateau has only been taken
twice through all the centuries of fighting. There! She ventures still
farther. I have told her a hundred times that the wall is unsafe."
"Shall I go and warn her the hundred-and-first time?" asked Loo, willing
"Yes, my friend, do. And speak to her severely. She is only a child,
"Yes--I will remember that."
Juliette did not seem to hear his approach across the turf where the
goats fed now, but stood with her back toward him, a few feet below him,
actually in that breach effected long ago by those pestilential English.
They must have prized out the great stones with crowbars and torn them
down with their bare hands.
Juliette was looking over the vineyards toward the river, which gleamed
across the horizon. She was humming to herself the last lines of the
D'un bout du monde
A l'autre bout,
Le Hasard seul fait tout.
She turned with a pretty swing of her skirts to gather them in her hand.
"You must go no farther, mademoiselle," said Loo.
She stopped, half bending to take her skirt, but did not look back. Then
she took two steps downward from stone to stone. The blocks were half
embedded in the turf and looked ready to fall under the smallest
"It is not I who say so, but your father who sent me," explained the
admonisher from above.
"Since it is all chance--" she said, looking downward.
She turned suddenly and looked up at him with that impatience which gives
way in later life to a philosophy infinitely to be dreaded when it comes;
for its real name is Indifference.
Her movements were spasmodic and quick as if something angered her, she
knew not what; as if she wanted something, she knew not what.
"I suppose," she said, "that it was chance that saved our lives that
night two months ago, out there."
And she stood with one hand stretched out behind her pointing toward the
estuary, which was quiet enough now, looking up at him with that strange
anger or new disquietude--it was hard to tell which--glowing in her eyes.
The wind fluttered her hair, which was tied low down with a ribbon in the
mode named "a la diable" by some French wit with a sore heart in an old
man's breast. For none other could have so aptly described it.
"All chance, mademoiselle," he answered, looking over her head toward the
"And it would have been the same had it been only Marie or Marie and Jean
in the boat with you?"
"The boat would have been as solid and the ropes as strong."
"And you?" asked the girl, with a glance from her persistent eyes.
"Oh no!" he answered, with a laugh. "I should not have been the same. But
you must not continue to stand there, mademoiselle; the wall is unsafe."
She shrugged her shoulders and stood with half-averted face, looking down
at the vineyards which stretched away to the dunes by the river. Her
cheeks were oddly flushed.
"Your father sent me to say so," continued Loo, "and if he sees that you
take no heed he will come himself to learn why."
Juliette gave a curt laugh and climbed the declivity toward him. The
argument was, it seemed, a sound one. When she reached his level he made
a step or two along the path that ran round the enceinte--not toward the
house, however--but away from it. She accepted the tacit suggestion, not
"Shall we not go and tell papa we have returned without mishap?" she
amended, with a light laugh.
"No, mademoiselle," he answered. It was his turn to be grave now and she
glanced at him with a gleam of satisfaction beneath her lids. She was not
content with that, however, but wished to make him angry. So she laughed
again and they would have quarrelled if he had not kept his lips firmly
closed and looked straight in front of him.
They passed between the unfinished ruin known as the Italian house and
the rampart. The Italian house screened them from the windows of that
portion of the ancient stabling which the Marquis had made habitable when
he bought back the chateau of Gemosac from the descendant of an
adventurous republican to whom the estate had been awarded in the days of
the Terror. A walk of lime-trees bordered that part of the garden which
lies to the west of the Italian house, and no other part was visible from
where Juliette paused to watch the sun sink below the distant horizon.
Loo was walking a few paces behind her, and when she stopped he stopped
also. She sat down on the low wall, but he remained standing.
Her profile, clear-cut and delicate with its short chin and beautifully
curved lips, its slightly aquiline nose and crisp hair rising in a bold
curve from her forehead, was outlined against the sky. He could see the
gleam of the western light in her eyes, which were half averted. While
she watched the sunset, he watched her with a puzzled expression about
He remembered perhaps the Marquis's last words, that Juliette was only a
child. He knew that she could in all human calculation know nothing of
the world; that at least she could have learned nothing of it in the
convent where she had been educated. So, if she knew anything, she must
have known it before she went there, which was impossible. She knew
nothing, therefore, and yet she was not a child. As a matter of fact,
she was the most beautiful woman Loo Barebone had ever seen. He was
thinking that as she sat on the low wall, swinging one slipper half
falling from her foot, watching the sunset, while he watched her and
noted the anger slowly dying from her eyes as the light faded from the
sky. That strange anger went down, it would appear, with the sun. After
the long silence--when the low bars of red cloud lying across the western
sky were fading from pink to grey--she spoke at last in a voice which he
had never heard before, gentle and confidential.
"When are you going away?" she asked.
And he knew that the very hour of his departure was known to her already.
"And when will you come back?"
"As soon as I can," he answered, half-involuntarily. There was a turn of
the head half toward him, something expectant in the tilt at the corner
of her parted lips, which made it practically impossible to make any
"Why?" she asked, in little more than a whisper--then she broke into a
gay laugh and leapt off the wall. She walked quickly past him.
"Why?" she repeated over her shoulder as she passed him. And he was too
quick for her, for he caught her hand and touched it with his lips before
she jerked it away from him.
"Because you are here," he answered, with a laugh. But she was grave
again and looked at him with a queer searching glance before she turned
away and left him standing in the half-light--thinking of Miriam Liston.
As Juliette returned to the Gate House she encountered her father,
walking arm-in-arm with Dormer Colville. The presence of the Englishman
within the enceinte of the chateau was probably no surprise to her, for
she must have heard the clang of the bell just within the gate, which
could not be opened from outside; by which alone access was gained to any
part of the chateau.
Colville was in riding costume. It was, indeed, his habitual dress when
living in France, for he made no concealment of his partnership in a
well-known business house in Bordeaux.
"I am a sleeping partner," he would say, with that easy flow of egotistic
confidence which is the surest way of learning somewhat of your
neighbour's private affairs. "I am a sleeping partner at all times except
the vintage, when I awake and ride round among the growers, to test their
It was too early yet for these journeys, for the grapes were hardly ripe.
But any one who wished to move from place to place must needs do so in
the saddle in a country where land is so valuable that the width of a
road is grudged, and bridle-ways are deemed good enough for the passage
of the long and narrow carts that carry wine.
Ever since their somewhat precipitate departure from the Villa Cordouan
at Royan, Dormer Colville and Barebone had been in company. They had
stayed together, in one friend's house or another. Sometimes they enjoyed
the hospitality of a chateau, and at others put up with the scanty
accommodation of a priest's house or the apartment of a retired military
officer, in one of those little towns of provincial France at which the
cheap journalists of Paris are pleased to sneer without ceasing.
They avoided the large towns with extraordinary care.
"Why should we go to towns," asked Colville, jovially, "when we have
business in the country and the sun is still high in the sky?"
"Yes," he would reply to the questions of an indiscreet fellow-traveller,
at table or on the road. "Yes; I am a buyer of wine. We are buyers of
wine. We are travelling from place to place to watch the growth. For the
wine is hidden in the grape, and the grape is ripening."
And, as often as not, the chance acquaintance of an inn dejeuner would
catch the phrase and repeat it thoughtfully.
"Ah! is that so?" he would ask, with a sudden glance at Dormer Colville's
companion, who had hitherto passed unobserved as the silent subordinate
of a large buyer; learning his trade, no doubt. "The grape is ripening.
And as sure as he seemed to be struck with this statement of a
self-evident fact, he would, in the next few minutes, bring the numeral
"nineteen"--_tant bien que mal_--into his conversation.
"With nineteen days of sun, the vintage will be upon us," he would say;
or, "I have but nineteen kilometres more of road before me to-day."
Indeed, it frequently happened that the word came in very
inappropriately, as if tugged heroically to the front by a clumsy
There is no hazard of life so certain to discover sympathy or antagonism
as travel--a fact which points to the wisdom of beginning married life
with a journey. The majority of people like to know the worst at once. To
travel, however, with Dormer Colville was a liberal education in the
virtues. No man could be less selfish or less easily fatigued; which are
the two bases upon which rest all the stumbling-blocks of travel.
Up to a certain point, Barebone and Dormer Colville became fast friends
during the month that elapsed between their departure from Mrs. St.
Pierre Lawrence's house and their arrival at the inn at Gemosac. The
"White Horse," at Gemosac, was no better and no worse than any other
"White Horse" in any other small town of France. It was, however, better
than the principal inn of a town of the same size in any other habitable
part of the globe.
There were many reasons why the Marquis de Gemosac had yielded to
Colville's contention--that the time had not yet come for Loo Barebone to
be his guest at the chateau.
"He is inclined to be indolent," Colville had whispered. "One recognises,
in many traits of character, the source from whence his blood is drawn.
He will not exert himself so long as there is some one else at hand who
is prepared to take trouble. He must learn that it is necessary to act
for himself. He needs rousing. Let him travel through France, and see for
himself that of which he has as yet only learnt at second-hand. That will
And the journey through the valleys of the Garonne and the Dordogne had
Another, greater journey, was now afoot, to end at no less a centre of
political life than Paris. A start was to be made this evening, and
Dormer Colville now came to report that all was ready and the horses at
"If there were scenes such as this for all of us to linger in,
mademoiselle," he said, lifting his face to the western sky and inhaling
the scent of the flowers growing knee-deep all around him, "men would
accomplish little in their brief lifetime."
His eyes, dreamy and reflective, wandered over the scene and paused, just
for a moment in passing, on Juliette's face. She continued her way, with
no other answer than a smile.
"She grows, my dear Marquis--she grows every minute of the day and
wakes up a new woman every morning," said Colville, in a confidential
aside, and he went forward to meet Loo with his accustomed laugh of
good-fellowship. He whom the world calls a good fellow is never a wise
Barebone walked toward the gate without joining in the talk of his
companions. He was thoughtful and uneasy. He had come to say good-bye and
nothing else. He was wondering if he had really meant what he had said.
"Come," interrupted Colville's smooth voice. "We must get into the saddle
and begone. I was just telling Monsieur and Mademoiselle Juliette, that
any man might be tempted to linger at Gemosac until the active years of a
lifetime rolled by."
The Marquis made the needful reply; hoping that he might yet live to see
Gemosac--and not only Gemosac, but a hundred chateaux like it--reawakened
to their ancient glory, and thrown open to welcome the restorer of their
Colville looked from one to the other, and then, with his foot in the
stirrup, turned to look at Juliette, who had followed them to the gate.
"And mademoiselle," he said; "will she wish us good luck, also? Alas!
those times are gone when we could have asked for her ribbon to wear, and
to fight for between ourselves when we are tired and cross at the end of
a journey. Come, Barchone--into the saddle."
They waited, both looking at Juliette; for she had not spoken.
"I wish you good luck," she said, at length, patting the neck of
Colville's horse, her face wearing a little mystic smile.
Thus they departed, at sunset, on a journey of which old men will still
talk in certain parts of France. Here and there, in the Angoumois, in
Guienne, in the Vendee, and in the western parts of Brittany, the student
of forgotten history may find an old priest who will still persist in
dividing France into the ancient provinces, and will tell how Hope rode
through the Royalist country when he himself was busy at his first cure.
The journey lasted nearly two months, and before they passed north of the
Loire at Nantes and quitted the wine country, the vintage was over.
"We must say that we are cider merchants, that is all," observed Dormer
Colville, when they crossed the river, which has always been the great
divider of France.
"He is sobering down. I believe he will become serious," wrote he to the
Marquis de Gemosac. But he took care to leave Loo Barebone as free as
"I am, in a way, a compulsory pilot," he explained, airily, to his
companion. "The ship is yours, and you probably know more about the
shoals than I do. You must have felt that a hundred times when you were
at sea with that solemn old sailor, Captain Clubbe. And yet, before you
could get into port, you found yourself forced to take the compulsory
pilot on board and make him welcome with such grace as you could command,
feeling all the while that he did not want to come and you could have
done as well without him. So you must put up with my company as
gracefully as you can, remembering that you can drop me as soon as you
are in port."
And surely, none other could have occupied an uncomfortable position so
Barebone found that he had not much to do. He soon accommodated himself
to a position which required nothing more active than a ready ear and a
gracious patience. For, day by day--almost hour by hour--it was his lot
to listen to protestations of loyalty to a cause which smouldered none
the less hotly because it was hidden from the sight of the Prince
And, as Colville had predicted, Barebone sobered down. He would ride now,
hour after hour, in silence, whereas at the beginning of the journey he
had talked gaily enough, seeing a hundred humorous incidents in the
passing events of the day; laughing at the recollection of an interview
with some provincial notable who had fallen behind the times, or jesting
readily enough with such as showed a turn for joking on the road.
But now the unreality of his singular change of fortune was vanishing.
Every village priest who came after dark to take a glass of wine with
them at their inn sent it farther into the past, every provincial noble
greeting him on the step of his remote and quiet house added a note to
the drumming reality which dominated his waking moments and disturbed his
sleep at night.
Day by day they rode on, passing through two or three villages between
such halts as were needed by the horses. At every hamlet, in the large
villages, where they rested and had their food, at the remote little town
where they passed a night, there was always some one expecting them, who
came and talked of the weather and more or less skilfully brought in the
numeral nineteen. "Nineteen! Nineteen!" It was a watchword all over
Long before, on the banks of the Dordogne, Loo had asked his companion
why that word had been selected--what it meant.
"It means Louis XIX," replied Dormer Colville, gravely.
And now, as they rode through a country so rural, so thinly populated and
remote that nothing like it may be found in these crowded islands, the
number seemed to follow them; or, rather, to pass on before them and
await their coming.
Often Colville would point silently with his whip to the numerals,
scrawled on a gate-post or written across a wall. At this time France was
mysteriously flooded with cheap portraits of the great Napoleon. It was
before the days of pictorial advertisement, and young ladies who wished
to make an advantageous marriage had no means of advertising the fact and
themselves in supplements to illustrated papers. The walls of inns and
shops and _diligence_ offices were therefore barer than they are to-day.
And from these bare walls stared out at this time the well-known face of
the great Napoleon. It was an innovation, and as such readily enough
At every fair, at the great fete of St. Jean, at St. Jean d'Angely and a
hundred other fetes of purely local notoriety, at least one hawker of
cheap lithographs was to be found. And if the buyer haggled, he could get
the portrait of the great Emperor for almost nothing.
"One cannot print it at such a cost," the seller assured his purchasers,
which was no less than the truth.
The fairs were, and are to this day, the link between the remoter
villages and the world; and the peasants carried home with them a
picture, for the first time, to hang on their walls. Thus the Prince
President fostered the Napoleonic legend.
Dormer Colville would walk up to these pictures, and, as often as not,
would turn and look over his shoulder at Barebone, with a short laugh.
For as often as not, the numerals were scrawled across the face in
But Barebone had ceased to laugh at the constant repetition now. Soon
Colville ceased to point out the silent witness, for he perceived that
Loo was looking for it himself, detecting its absence with a gleam of
determination in his eyes or noting its recurrence with a sharp sigh, as
of the consciousness of a great responsibility.
Thus the reality was gradually forced upon him that that into which he
had entered half in jest was no jest at all; that he was moving forward
on a road which seemed easy enough, but of which the end was not
perceptible; neither was there any turning to one side or the other.
All men who have made a mark--whether it be a guiding or warning sign to
those that follow--must at one moment of their career have perceived
their road before them, thus. Each must have realised that once set out
upon that easy path there is no turning aside and no turning back. And
many have chosen to turn back while there was yet time, leaving the mark
unmade. For most men are cowards and shun responsibility. Most men
unconsciously steer their way by proverb or catchword; and all the wise
saws of all the nations preach cowardice.
Barebone saw his road now, and Dormer Colville knew that he saw it.
When they crossed the Loire they passed the crisis, and Colville breathed
again like one who had held his breath for long. Those colder, sterner
men of Brittany, who, in later times, compared notes with the nobles of
Guienne and the Vendee, seemed to talk of a different man; for they spoke
of one who rarely laughed, and never turned aside from a chosen path
which was in no wise bordered by flowers.
NO. 8 RUELLE ST. JACOB
Between the Rue de Lille and the Boulevard St. Germain, in the narrow
streets which to this day have survived the sweeping influence of Baron
Haussmann, once Prefect of the Seine, there are many houses which
scarcely seem to have opened door or window since the great Revolution.
One of these, to be precise, is situated in the Ruelle St. Jacob,
hardly wider than a lane--a short street with a blind end against high
walls--into which any vehicle that enters must needs do so with the
knowledge of having to back out again. For there is no room to turn.
Which is an allegory. All the windows, in fact, that look forlornly at
the blank walls or peep over the high gateways into the Ruelle St. Jacob
are Royalist windows looking into a street which is blinded by a high
wall and is too narrow to allow of turning.
Many of the windows would appear to have gathered dust since those days
more than a hundred years ago when white faces peeped from them and
trembling hands unbarred the sash to listen to the roar of voices in the
Rue du Bac, in the open space by the church of St. Germain des Pres, in
the Cite, all over Paris, where the people were making history.
To this house in the Ruelle St. Jacob, Dormer Colville and Loo Barebone
made their way on foot, on their arrival in Paris at the termination of
their long journey.
It was nearly dark, for Colville had arranged to approach the city and
leave their horses at a stable at Meudon after dusk.
"It is foolish," he said, gaily, to his companion, "to flaunt a face like
yours in Paris by daylight."
They had driven from Meudon in a hired carriage to the corner of the
Champ de Mars, in those days still innocent of glass houses and
exhibition buildings, for Paris was not yet the toy-shop of the world;
and from the Champ de Mars they came on foot through the ill-paved,
feebly lighted streets. In the Ruelle St. Jacob itself there was only one
lamp, burning oil, swinging at the corner. The remainder of the lane
depended for its illumination on the windows of two small shops retailing
firewood and pickled gherkins and balls of string grey with age, as do
all the shops in the narrow streets on the wrong side of the Seine.
Dormer Colville led the way, picking his steps from side to side of the
gutter which meandered odoriferously down the middle of the street toward
the river. He stopped in front of the great gateway and looked up at the
arch of it, where the stone carving had been carefully obliterated by
some enthusiastic citizen armed with a hatchet.
"Ichabod," he said, with a short laugh; and cautiously laid bold of the
dangling bell-handle which had summoned the porter to open to a Queen in
those gay days when Marie Antoinette light-heartedly pushed a falling
monarchy down the incline.
The great gate was not opened in response, but a small side door,
deep-sunken in the thickness of the wall. On either jamb of the door was
affixed in the metal letters ordained by the municipality the number
eight. Number Eight Ruelle St. Jacob had once been known to kings as the
The man who opened earned a lantern and held the door ajar with a
grudging hand while he peered out. One could almost imagine that he had
survived the downfall and the Restoration, and a couple of republics,
behind the high walls.
The court-yard was paved with round cobble-stones no bigger than an
apple, and, even by the flickering light of the lantern, it was
perceptible that no weed had been allowed to grow between the stones or
in the seams of the wide, low steps that led to an open door.
The house appeared to be dark and deserted.
"Yes, Monsieur le Marquis--Monsieur le Marquis is at home," muttered the
man with a bronchial chuckle, and led the way across the yard. He wore a
sort of livery, which must have been put away for years. A young man had
been measured for the coat which now displayed three deep creases across
a bent back.
"Attention--attention!" he said, in a warning voice, while he scraped a
sulphur match in the hall. "There are holes in the carpets. It is easy to
trip and fall."
He lighted the candle, and after having carefully shut and bolted the
door, he led the way upstairs. At their approach, easily audible in the
empty house by reason of the hollow creaking of the oak floor, a door was
opened at the head of the stairs and a flood of light met the new-comers.
In the doorway, which was ten feet high, the little bent form of the
Marquis de Gemosac stood waiting.
"Ah! ah!" he said, with that pleasant manner of his generation, which was
refined and spirituelle and sometimes dramatic, and yet ever failed to
touch aught but the surface of life. "Ah! ah! Safely accomplished--the
great journey. Safely accomplished. You permit--"
And he embraced Barebone after the custom of his day. "From all sides,"
he said, when the door was closed, "I hear that you have done great
things. From every quarter one hears your praise."
He held him at arm's length.
"Yes," he said. "Your face is graver and--more striking in resemblance
than ever. So now you know--now you have seen."
"Yes," answered Barebone, gravely. "I have seen and I know."
The Marquis rubbed his white hands together and gave a little crackling
laugh of delight as he drew forward a chair to the fire, which was of
logs as long as a barrel. The room was a huge one, and it was lighted
from end to end with lamps, as if for a reception or a ball. The air was
damp and mouldly. There were patches of grey on the walls, which had once
been painted with garlands of roses and Cupids and pastoral scenes by a
noted artist of the Great Age.
The ceiling had fallen in places, and the woodwork of the carved
furniture gave forth a subtle scent of dry rot.
But everything was in an exquisite taste which vulgarer generations have
never yet succeeded in imitating. Nothing was concealed, but rather
displayed with a half-cynical pride. All was moth-ridden, worm-eaten,
fallen to decay--but it was of the Monarchy. Not half a dozen houses in
Paris, where already the wealth, which has to-day culminated in a
ridiculous luxury of outward show, was beginning to build new palaces,
could show room after room furnished in the days of the Great Louis. The
very air, faintly scented it would seem by some forgotten perfume,
breathed of a bygone splendour. And the last of the de Gemosacs scorned
to screen his poverty from the eyes of his equals, nor sought to hide
from them a desolation which was only symbolic of that which crushed
their hearts and bade them steal back from time to time like criminals to
"You see," he said to Colville and Barebone, "I have kept my promise, I
have thrown open this old house once more for to-night's meeting. You
will find that many friends have made the journey to Paris for the
occasion--Madame de Chantonnay and Albert, Madame de Rathe and many from
the Vendee and the West whom you have met on your journey. And to-night
one may speak without fear, for none will be present who are not vouched
for by the Almanac de Gotha. There are no Royalists _pour rire_ or _pour
vivre_ to-night. You have but time to change your clothes and dine. Your
luggage arrived yesterday. You will forgive the stupidity of old servants
who have forgotten their business. Come, I will lead the way and show you
He took a candle and did the honours of the deserted dust-ridden house in
the manner of the high calling which had been his twenty years ago when
Charles X was king. For some there lingers a certain pathos in the sight
of a belated survival, while the majority of men and women are ready to
smile at it instead. And yet the Monarchy lasted eight centuries and the
Revolution eight years. Perhaps Fate may yet exact payment for the
excesses of those eight years from a nation for which the watching world
already prepares a secondary place in the councils of empire.
The larger room had been assigned to Loo. There was a subtle difference
in the Marquis's manner toward him. He made an odd bow as he quitted the
"There," said Colville, whose room communicated with this great apartment
by a dressing-room and two doors. He spoke in English, as they always did
when they were alone together. "There--you are launched. You are _lance_,
my friend. I may say you are through the shoals now and out on the high
He paused, candle in hand, and looked round the room with a reflective
smile. It was obviously the best room in the house, with a fireplace as
wide as a gate, where logs of pine burnt briskly on high iron dogs. The
bed loomed mysteriously in one corner with its baldachin of Gobelin
tapestry. Here, too, the dim scent of fallen monarchy lingered in the
atmosphere. A portrait of Louis XVI in a faded frame hung over the
"And the time will come," pursued Colville, with his melancholy,
sympathetic smile, "when you will find it necessary to drop the pilot--to
turn your face seaward and your back upon old recollections and old
associations. You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, my
"Oh yes," replied Barebone, with a brisk movement of the head, "I shall
have to forget Farlingford."
Colville had moved toward the door that led to his own room. He paused,
examining the wick of the candle he carried in his hand. Then, though
glib of speech, he decided in favour of silence, and went away without
Loo sat down in a grey old arm-chair in front of the fire. The house was
astoundingly noiseless, though situated in what had once been the heart
of Paris. It was one of the few houses left in this quarter with a large
garden. And the traffic passing in and out of the Ruelle St. Jacob went
slipshod on its own feet. The busy crackle of the wood was the only sound
to break a silence which seemed part of this vast palace of memories.
Loo had ridden far and was tired. He smiled grimly at the fire. It is to
be supposed that he was sitting down to the task he had set himself--to
There was a great reception at the Hotel Gemosac that night, and after
twenty years of brooding silence the rooms, hastily set in order, were
There was, as the Marquis had promised, no man or woman present who was
not vouched for by a noble name or by history. As the old man presented
them, their names were oddly familiar to the ear, while each face looking
at Loo seemed to be the face of a ghost looking out of a past which the
world will never forget so long as history lives.
And here, again, was the subtle difference. They no longer talked to Loo,
but stood apart and spoke among themselves in a hushed voice. Men made
their bow to him and met his smile with grave and measuring eyes. Some
made a little set speech, which might mean much or nothing. Others
embarked on such a speech and paused--faltered, and passed on gulping
something down in their throats.
Women made a deep reverence to him and glanced at him with parted lips
and white faces--no coquetry in their eyes. They saw that he was young
and good-looking; but they forgot that he might think the same of them.
Then they passed on and grouped themselves together, as women do in
moments of danger or emotion, their souls instinctively seeking the
company of other souls tuned to catch a hundred passing vibrations of the
heart-strings of which men remain in ignorance. They spoke together in
lowered voices without daring, or desiring perhaps, to turn and look at
"It only remains," some one said, "for the Duchesse d'Angouleme to
recognise his claim. A messenger has departed for Frohsdorf."
And Barebone, looking at them, knew that there was a barrier between him
and them which none could cast aside: a barrier erected in the past and
based on the sure foundations of history.
"She is an old woman," said Monsieur do Gemosac to any who spoke to him
on this subject. "She is seventy-two, and fifty-eight of those years have
been marked by greater misfortunes than ever fell to the lot of a woman.
When she came out of prison she had no tears left, my friends. We cannot
expect her to turn back willingly to the past now. But we know that in
her heart she has never been sure that her brother died in the Temple.
You know how many disappointments she has had. We must not awake her
sleeping sorrow until all is ready. I shall make the journey to
Frohsdorf--that I promise you. But to-night we have another task before
"Yes--yes," answered his listeners. "You are to open the locket. Where is
it?--show it to us."
And the locket which Captain Clubbe's wife had given to Dormer Colville
was handed from one to another. It was not of great value, but it was of
gold with stones, long since discoloured, set in silver around it. It was
crushed and misshapen.
"It has never been opened for twenty years," they told each other. "It
has been mislaid in an obscure village in England for nearly half a
"The Vicomte de Castel Aunet--who is so clever a mechanician--has
promised to bring his tools," said Monsieur de Gemosac. "He will open it
for us--even if he find it necessary to break the locket."
So the thing went round the room until it came to Loo Barebone.
"I have seen it before," he said. "I think I remember seeing it long
ago--when I was a little child."
And he handed it to the old Vicomte de Castel Aunet, whose shaking
fingers closed round it in a breathless silence. He carried it to the
table, and some one brought candles. The Viconite was very old. He had
learnt clock-making, they said, in prison during the Terror.
"_Il n'y a moyen,_" he whispered to himself. "I must break it."
With one effort he prised up the cover, but the hinge snapped, and the
lid rolled across the table into Barebone's hand.
"Ah!" he cried, in that breathless silence, "now I remember it. I
remember the red silk lining of the cover, and in the other side there is
the portrait of a lady with--"
The Vicomte paused, with his palm covering the other half of the locket
and looked across at Loo. And the eyes of all Royalist France were fixed
on the same face.
"Silence!" whispered Dormer Colville in English, crushing Barebone's foot
under the table.
DROPPING THE PILOT
"The portrait of a lady," repeated Loo, slowly. "Young and beautiful.
That much I remember."
The old nobleman had never removed his covering hand from the locket.
He had never glanced at it himself. He looked slowly round the peering
faces, two and three deep round the table. He was the oldest man
present--one of the oldest in Paris--one of the few now living who had
known Marie Antoinette.
Without uncovering the locket, he handed it to Barebone across the table
with a bow worthy of the old regime and his own historic name.
"It is right that you should be the first to see it," he said. "Since
there is no longer any doubt that the lady was your father's mother."
Loo took the locket, looked at it with strangely glittering eyes and
steady lips. He gave a sort of gasp, which all in the room heard. He was
handing it back to the Vicomte de Castel Aunet without a word of comment,
when a crashing fall on the bare floor startled every one. A lady had
"Thank God!" muttered Dormer Colville almost in Barebone's ear and swayed
against him. Barebone turned and looked into a face grey and haggard, and
shining with perspiration. Instinctively he grasped him by the arm and
supported him. In the confusion of the moment no one noticed Colville;
for all were pressing round the prostrate lady. And in a moment Colville
was himself again, though the ready smile sat oddly on such white lips.
"For God's sake be careful," he said, and turned away, handkerchief in
For the moment the portrait was forgotten until the lady was on her feet
again, smiling reassurances and rubbing her elbow.
"It is nothing," she said, "nothing. My heart--that is all."
And she staggered to a chair with the reassuring smile frozen on her
Then the portrait was passed from hand to hand in silence. It was a
miniature of Marie Antoinette, painted on ivory, which had turned yellow.
The colours were almost lost, but the face stood clearly enough. It was
the face of a young girl, long and narrow, with the hair drawn straight
up and dressed high and simply on the head without ornament.
"It is she," said one and another. "_C'est bien elle_."
"It was painted when she was newly a queen," commented the Vicomte de
Castel Aunet. "I have seen others like it, but not that one before."
Barebone stood apart and no one offered to approach him. Dormer Colville
had gone toward the great fireplace, and was standing by himself there
with his back toward the room. He was surreptitiously wiping from his
face the perspiration which had suddenly run down it, as one may see the
rain running down the face of a statue.
Things had taken an unexpected turn. The Marquis de Gemosac, himself
always on the surface, had stirred others more deeply than he had
anticipated or could now understand. France has always been the victim of
her own emotions; aroused in the first instance half in idleness, allowed
to swell with a semi-restraining laugh, and then suddenly sweeping and
overwhelming. History tells of a hundred such crises in the pilgrimage of
the French people. A few more--and historians shall write "Ichabod"
across the most favoured land in Europe.
It is customary to relate that, after a crisis, those most concerned in
it know not how they faced it or what events succeeded it. "He never
knew," we are informed, "how he got through the rest of the evening."
Loo Barebone knew and remembered every incident, every glance. He was in
full possession of every faculty, and never had each been so keenly alive
to the necessity of the moment. Never had his quick brain been so alert
as it was during the rest of the evening. And those who had come to the
Hotel Gemosac to confirm their adoption of a figure-head went away with
the startling knowledge in their hearts that they had never in the course
of an artificial life met a man less suited to play that undignified
And all the while, in the back of his mind, there lingered with a deadly
patience the desire for the moment which must inevitably come when he
should at last find himself alone, face to face, with Dormer Colville.
It was nearly midnight before this moment came. At last the latest guest
had taken his leave, quitting the house by the garden door and making his
way across that forlorn and weedy desert by the dim light reflected from
the clouds above. At last the Marquis de Gemosac had bidden them good
night, and they were left alone in the vast bedroom which a dozen
candles, in candelabras of silver blackened by damp and neglect, only
served to render more gloomy and mysterious.
In the confusion consequent on the departure of so many guests the locket
had been lost sight of, and Monsieur de Gemosac forgot to make inquiry
for it. It was in Barebone's pocket.
Colville put together with the toe of his boot the logs which were
smouldering in a glow of incandescent heat. He turned and glanced over
his shoulder toward his companion.
Barebone was taking the locket from his waistcoat pocket and approaching
the table where the candles burnt low in their sockets.
"You never really supposed you were the man, did you?" asked Colville,
with a ready smile. He was brave, at all events, for he took the only
course left to him with a sublime assurance.
Barebone looked across the candles at the face which smiled, and smiled.
"That is what I thought," he answered, with a queer laugh.
"Do not jump to any hasty decisions," urged Colville instantly, as if
warned by the laugh.
"No! I want to sift the matter carefully to the bottom. It will be
interesting to learn who are the deceived and who the deceivers."
Barebone had had time to think out a course of action. His face seemed to
puzzle Colville, who was rarely at fault in such judgments of character
as came within his understanding. But he seemed for an instant to be on
the threshold of something beyond his understanding; and yet he had
lived, almost day and night, for some months with Barebone. Since the
beginning--that far-off beginning at Farlingford--their respective
positions had been quite clearly defined. Colville, the elder by nearly