Part 4 out of 6
Jones had hardly set out, which he did with feelings of agony and
despair, before Sophia Western decided that only in flight could she be
saved from marriage with the detested Blifil.
Mr. Western, in spite of tremendous love for his daughter, thought her
inclinations of as little consequence as Blifil himself conceived them
to be; and Mr. Allworthy, who said "he would on no account be accessory
to forcing a young lady into a marriage contrary to her own will," was
satisfied by his nephew's disingenuous statement that the young lady's
behaviour to him was full as forward as he wished it.
Sophia, having appointed her maid to meet her at a certain place not far
from the house, exactly at the ghostly and dreadful hour of twelve,
began to prepare for her own departure.
But first she was obliged to give a painful audience to her father, and
he treated her in so violent and outrageous a manner that he frightened
her into an affected compliance with his will, which so highly pleased
the good squire that he at once changed his frowns into smiles, and his
menaces into promises.
He vowed his whole soul was wrapped in hers, that her consent had made
him the happiest of mankind.
He then gave her a large bank-bill to dispose of in any trinkets she
pleased, and kissed and embraced her in the fondest manner.
Sophia reverenced her father piously and loved him passionately, but the
thoughts of her beloved Jones quickly destroyed all the regretful
promptings of filial love.
_IV.--Tom Jones's Restoration_
After many adventures on the road Mr. Jones reached London; and as he
had often heard Mr. Allworthy mention the gentlewoman at whose house in
Bond Street he used to lodge when he was in town, he sought the house,
and was soon provided with a room there on the second floor. Mrs.
Miller, the person who let these lodgings, was the widow of a clergyman,
and Mr. Allworthy had settled an annuity of L50 a year on her, "in
consideration of always having her first floor when he was in town."
Tom Jones's fortunes were now very soon at the lowest. Having been
forced into a quarrel in the streets with an acquaintance named
Fitzpatrick, and having wounded him with his sword, a number of fellows
rushed in and carried Jones off to the civil magistrate, who, being
informed that the wound appeared to be mortal, straightway committed the
prisoner to the Gatehouse.
Sophia Western was also in London at the house of her aunt; and soon
afterwards Mr. Western, Mr. Allworthy, and Blifil all reached the city.
It was just at this time that Mr. Allworthy, consenting to his nephew
once more offering himself to Sophia, came with Blifil to his accustomed
lodgings in Bond Street. Mrs. Miller, to whom Jones had showed many
kindnesses, at once put in a good word for the unfortunate young man;
and, on Blifil exulting over the manslaughter Jones was alleged to have
committed, declared that the wounded man, whoever he was, was in fault.
This, indeed, was shortly afterwards corroborated by Fitzpatrick
himself, who acknowledged his mistake.
But it was not till Mr. Allworthy discovered that Blifil had been
arranging with a lawyer to get the men who had arrested Jones to bear
false witness, and learnt further that Tom Jones was his sister
Bridget's child, and that on her death-bed Mrs. Blifil's message to her
brother confessing the fact had been suppressed by her son, that his old
feelings of affection for Tom Jones returned. Before setting out to
visit Jones in the prison Mr. Allworthy called on Sophia to inform her
that he regretted Blifil had ever been encouraged to give her annoyance,
and that Mr. Jones was his nephew and his heir.
Men over-violent in their dispositions are, for the most part, as
changeable in them. No sooner was Western informed of Mr. Allworthy's
intention to make Jones his heir than he joined heartily with the uncle
in every commendation of the nephew, and became as eager for his
daughter's marriage with Jones as he had before been to couple her to
Fitzpatrick being recovered of his wound, and admitting the aggression,
Jones was released from custody and returned to his lodgings to meet Mr.
It is impossible to conceive a more tender or moving scene than this
meeting between the uncle and nephew. Allworthy received Jones into his
arms. "O my child!" he cried, "how have I been to blame! How have I
injured you! What amends can I ever make you for those unkind
suspicions which I have entertained, and for all the sufferings they
have occasioned you?"
"Am I not now made amends?" cried Jones. "Would not my sufferings, had
they been ten times greater, have been now richly repaid?"
Here the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Western, who
could no longer be kept away even by the authority of Allworthy himself.
Western immediately went up to Jones, crying out, "My old friend Tom, I
am glad to see thee, with all my heart. All past must be forgotten. Come
along with me; I'll carry thee to thy mistress this moment."
Here Allworthy interposed; and the squire was obliged to consent to
delay introducing Jones to Sophia till the afternoon.
Blifil, now thoroughly exposed in his treachery, was at first sullen and
silent, balancing in his mind whether he should yet deny all; but
finding at last the evidence too strong against him, betook himself to
confession, and was now as remarkably mean as he had been before
remarkably wicked. Mr. Allworthy subsequently settled L200 a year upon
him, to which Jones hath privately added a third. Upon this income
Blifil lives in one of the northern counties. He is also lately turned
Methodist, in hopes of marrying a very rich widow of that sect. Sophia
would not at first permit any promise of an immediate engagement with
Jones because of certain stories of his inconstancy, but Mr. Western
refused to hear of any delay.
"To-morrow or next day?" says Western, bursting into the room where
Sophia and Jones were alone.
"Indeed, sir," says she, "I have no such intention."
"But I can tell thee," replied he, "why hast not; only because thou dost
love to be disobedient, and to plague and vex thy father. When I forbid
her, then it was all nothing but sighing and whining, and languishing
and writing; now I am for thee--(this to Jones)--she is against thee.
All the spirit of contrary, that's all. She is above being guided and
governed by her father, that is the whole truth on't. It is only to
disoblige and contradict me."
"What would my papa have me do?" cries Sophia.
"What would I ha' thee do?" says he, "why gee un thy hand this moment."
"Well, sir," said Sophia, "I will obey you. There is my hand, Mr.
"Well, and will you consent to ha' un to-morrow morning?" says Western.
"I will be obedient to you, sir," cries she.
"Why, then, to-morrow morning be the day," cries he.
"Why, then, to-morrow morning shall be the day, papa, since you will
have it so," said Sophia. Jones then fell upon his knees and kissed her
hand in an agony of joy, while Western began to caper and dance about
the room, presently crying out, "Where the devil is Allworthy?" He then
sallied out in quest of him, and very opportunely left the lovers to
enjoy a few tender minutes alone.
But he soon returned with Allworthy, saying, "If you won't believe me,
you may ask her yourself. Hast not gin thy consent, Sophy, to be married
"Such are your commands, sir," cries Sophia, "and I dare not be guilty
"I hope there is not the least constraint," cries Allworthy.
"Why, there," cried Western, "you may bid her unsay all again if you
will. Dost repent heartily of thy promise, dost not, Sophy?"
"Indeed, papa," cried she. "I do not repent, nor do I believe I ever
shall, of any promise in favour of Mr. Jones."
"Then, nephew," cries Allworthy, "I felicitate you most heartily, for I
think you are the happiest of men."
Mr. Allworthy, Mr. Western, and Mrs. Miller were the only persons
present at the wedding, and within two days of that event Mr. Jones and
Sophia attended Mr. Western and Mr. Allworthy into the country.
There is not a neighbour or a servant, who doth not most gratefully
bless the day when Mr. Jones was married to Sophia.
* * * * *
Camille Flammarion is one of the most remarkable of modern
French scientists. Born on February 25, 1842, he was
apprenticed at an early age to an engraver, but, attracted by
astronomy, he studied so well that, when a lad of sixteen, he
was admitted as a pupil to the Paris Observatory. There is no
doubt that the great French mathematician, Le Verrier,
regarded Flammarion with a certain disdain as more of a poet
than an astronomer; but he soon vindicated, by several
important discoveries, his title to be regarded as a man of
science. "Urania," which appeared in 1889, is an excellent
example of his ability as a thinker, and of his charm as a
writer. The work is hardly a novel, though it is far more
popular than many books of fiction. It is really an essay in
philosophy dealing with the question of the immortality of the
soul; and it has an especial interest for English readers
owing to the fact that much in it that seems to be pure
fantasy is based on researches undertaken by the British
Society for Psychical Research. The plot and the characters
are of secondary importance; they are only used for the
purpose of illustrating certain ideas.
_I.--The Muse of Astronomy_
I was seventeen years old when I fell in love with Urania. Was she a
fair, young, blue-eyed daughter of Eve? No; she was an exquisite statue
of the Muse of Astronomy, chiselled by Pradier in the days of the
Empire. She stood on the mantelpiece in the study of the famous
mathematician, Le Verrier, who directed the Paris Observatory, where I
was working. At four o'clock in the afternoon my illustrious chief used
to depart, and I would then steal into his room and sit down before
Urania and dream of lovelier worlds than ours, hidden in the infinite
spaces of the starry sky. Sometimes my friend and companion in studies,
Georges Spero, would come and sit beside me; and, inspired by the
immortal beauty of Urania, we would let our young and ardent
imaginations play over the glories and wonders of the heavens.
"You will be too late for Jupiter," said Le Verrier, entering
unexpectedly one evening, and catching me in an attitude of adoration
before Urania. "I am afraid you are more of a poet than an astronomer."
The great man of science himself certainly did not love beauty as much
as he loved wisdom, for the next day he sold the lovely image of Urania
in order to buy an old Chinese astronomical clock. I was almost
heartbroken when I entered his room and found that Urania had
disappeared. With her had gone the vivifying power of imagination which
had transmuted the abstruse calculations on which I was engaged into
glimpses of heavenly visions of infinite life. With what wild joy then
did I see, when I returned home, Urania shining in all her loveliness on
my own mantelpiece. Knowing my love for the beautiful figure of the
muse, Georges Spero had bought it back from the watchmaker to whom Le
Verrier had sent it, and placed it in my room as a gift.
It was an extraordinary mark of friendship, for Georges loved Urania
even more passionately than I did. To him she was the personification of
everything in life that lifted man above the level of the brute.
Possessing a nobler and finer intellect than mine, he had thrown himself
into the study of the problems of the soul with a fury of passion and a
concentration of thought that almost killed him. Are our souls immortal,
or do they perish with our bodies? This was the question that tormented
him to madness. One night I found him sitting in his room in the Place
du Pantheon with a glass of poison in his hand.
"This is the quickest road to the knowledge I want," he said, with a
smile. "I shall soon know if the soul is immortal."
He had been dissecting a skull; and by his side was a microscope with
which he had been studying the grey matter of the brain. Convinced at
last of the uncertainty of the positive sciences, he had fallen into
violent despair. But Urania was at hand to comfort him, and his mind
became calmer and clearer when we ceased to talk about earthly things,
and ascended into high regions of philosophic speculation over which the
muse of heaven presides.
"Ah, Camille," he exclaimed, "the Uranian way is the best. It is only by
studying the heavens that we shall be able to understand this little
earth of ours, and the part we play in it. Look at the midnight sky,
streaming with the light of infinite suns, and filled with an unending
procession of worlds in which the spirit of life clothes itself in an
unimaginable variety of forms. This clot of dust on which we live will
grow cold, and break and scatter in the abysses of space. But it is not
our home; we are only passengers, and when our journey here is done,
fairer mansions are waiting for us in the depths of the sky. If I die
before you, I will return and convince you of this truth."
Returning to the study of astronomy, Spero built up a system of
philosophy which made him, at the age of twenty-five, one of the most
famous men in France.
_II.--Love and Death_
By way of relief from his severer work, Georges Spero resolved to go to
Norway and study the wild and beautiful phenomena of the Aurora
Borealis, and I went with him. One morning, as we were standing on a
mountain looking at a magnificent sunrise, I saw a girl climbing a
neighbouring peak. She did not perceive us; but when she reached the
summit the image of Spero was thrown on a cloud in front of her, by one
of those curious plays of sunlight and mist which sometimes occur in
hazy, mountainous regions. His fine, austere features and graceful
figure were enlarged into a vast, god-like apparition, with a halo of
bright colours shining like a glory around his head, and a fainter
circle of rainbow hues framing his whole form. It was the first anthelia
that the lovely girl had seen, and it filled her with wonder and awe.
Theirs was a strange courtship--Spero's and Iclea's. The lovely young
Norwegian lady had recently lost her mother, and being, like many of the
cultivated women of Northern Europe, somewhat dubious of the dogmas of
religion, she had found death a terrible mystery when it was thus
brought sharply home to her. She was wandering in the dreadful labyrinth
of modern doubt, vainly seeking to forget her trouble in the excitements
of mountaineering, when she saw the unearthly apparition of the young
French philosopher. A study of his works heightened the feeling of awe
with which she already regarded him. At first there was no room for love
in the passionate desire after knowledge which drew her to him. She was
merely a disciple sitting at the feet of the great master. Accompanied
by her father, she continued her studies under him when he returned to
Paris, and for three months they were bound together wholly by
intellectual interest. For several hours every day they studied side by
side, and much of Iclea's time was spent in translating papers in
foreign languages, bearing on subjects in which Georges was interested.
One morning he arrived earlier than usual, his eyes shining with joy.
"I have settled the problem," he cried, leaning against the mantelpiece.
"At least," he added, with his usual modesty, "I have settled it to my
Striding up and down the room, he rapidly sketched out a system of
philosophy in which the ultimate truths of modern science were
transformed into the bases of religion. Iclea listened to him in silence
as he went on to explain the spiritual forces still dormant in the human
"We are still in our spiritual infancy," he said. "It is scarcely four
thousand years since mankind began to manifest its higher powers. Our
greatest conquests over nature are all of recent date, and they are the
work of a few noble souls who have erected themselves above the animal
conditions of life. The reign of brute force is over, and I am certain
that as soon as we learn to exercise the powers of our soul we shall
acquire transcendental faculties that will enable us to transport
ourselves from one world to another."
"That, too, is my belief," said Iclea.
Georges bent over her and gazed into her eyes of heavenly blue through
which her very soul was speaking. There was a strange silence, and then
their lips met.
* * * * *
For some months I lost sight of my two friends. In the ecstasy of their
love they forgot for a while the problems of philosophy which had
brought them together. The joys of intellectual communion were submerged
and almost lost in the new, strange feeling which crowned and glorified
their lives. Hand in hand the lovers wandered about Paris, which had now
become to them a city in fairyland. Meeting them one evening on the
banks of the Seine, I learned that they were returning to Norway with
Iclea's father, and that they were to be married at Christiania on the
anniversary of the mysterious apparition on the mountain which had
brought them together. Georges was about to resume his interrupted
studies of the Aurora Borealis, which he wished to trace to its source
by means of a balloon ascent, and Iclea intended to accompany him in his
voyage through the air.
To my great regret I was unable to go with them to Norway, as my duties
as an astronomer kept me in Paris. I anxiously awaited that
extraordinary agitation of the magnetic needle which announces the
existence of an Aurora Borealis in Northern Europe. When at last the
magnetic perturbation occurred in the observatory, I rejoiced to think
that Spero and his bride were floating high, feasting their eyes on the
most gorgeous of spectacles.
But suddenly an indefinable feeling of uneasiness came over me, which
grew into a dreadful presentiment of disaster. Long before the telegram
arrived from Christiania I knew what had happened. Georges and Iclea
Every reader of the newspapers next morning knew as much as I did. An
escape of gas which could not be stopped sent the balloon hurtling to
the earth. Spero threw everything movable out of the car in a vain
attempt to lighten it and break the force of the descent. The balloon
still kept falling; then Iclea, with a wild courage born of love, saved
Georges' life by leaping out of the car. Relieved of her weight, the
balloon rose up, but Spero had now no wish to live. He jumped out with a
wild cry, and his body crashed on the edge of the lake into which Iclea
had fallen. There the mortal remains of the two lovers now lie, covered
by a single stone. But where were their souls?
One night Georges Spero remembered his promise to me, and returned to
_III.--A Soul from Mars_
Sitting alone on the top of the ancient castle of Montlhery, I was
conducting an experiment in optics by means of electrical communications
with two assistants at Paris and Juvisy. I was trying to find out if the
rays of different colours in the spectrum travel at the same rate. It
was just on midnight before I brought the experiment to a successful
conclusion. As I covered up my instruments, some one said, "You would
not have brought that off, Camille, if it had not been for me. I gave
you the idea of comparing the violet vibrations with the red."
I turned round with a cry of fear. Georges Spero was sitting in the
moonlight on the parapet, looking at me with a smile.
"Are you afraid of me, Camille?" he said.
"You, Georges! You!" I stammered. "Is it really you? Keep still, and let
me touch you."
I put my hands on his face, and stroked his hair, and felt his body. I
could no longer doubt that I had him before me in the actual flesh, but
he read my thoughts.
"You are mistaken, Camille," he said. "My real body is asleep on Mars."
"So you still live?" I exclaimed. "You have solved the great problem.
"Let us sit here and talk," he replied. "There are many things I want to
My fears had vanished, and I sat by my beloved friend.
"It seemed to me," said Georges, "that my fall from the balloon knocked
me senseless. When I came to, I was lying in the darkness with the
ripple of lake-water breaking on my ear. What amazed me was a strange
sense of lightness that made me feel I could rise up and float away if I
wanted to. Thinking this was a disorder of the mind, I did not attempt
to move, but watched with wondering eyes the sky above me. It was
lighted by two strange moons. When the day broke, and showed around me a
world of unimaginable splendour, I knew the meaning of the two moons and
of my strange feeling of lightness. I was a disembodied spirit that had
been transported to Mars.
"Do you know, Camille, that the soul is able to choose its mortal
covering? This is, at least, the case on Mars. For some time I wandered
about in an invisible form, studying the conditions of life there.
Animal strength, I found, counted for nothing. The Martians are an
aerial race, with exquisite senses, which respond in a way unknown on
earth to spiritual influences. Do you remember I read your thoughts when
we first met, and answered them before you spoke? That is one of the
Martians' gifts. Finding that these wonderful faculties were better
developed in the women of Mars than in the men, I chose the feminine
form for my reincarnation."
"And Iclea?" I said.
"Iclea," said Spero, "was re-born in a masculine shape. It was partly
because of the mystic attraction that I felt for her that I chose the
other form. Neither of us remembered our earthly existence, but a vague
yet deep sentiment of our spiritual relationship made me seek her out
and unite myself to her. It was your beloved muse Uriana," he added,
"who revealed the ties that bound us in our former lives.
"Owing to their superior faculties, the Martians have carried every
science to a perfection undreamt of on this earth. In astronomical
observations, for instance, they employ a system of telephotography. For
thousands of years their instruments have been photographing, on an
unending roll of paper, the wild spectacle of terrestrial life.
"One day, as Iclea and I were examining recent photographs, we saw a
picture of Paris during the Great Exhibition. Seizing a microscope, we
looked at the figures, and recognised ourselves among them. Strange
memories stirred within us, and we stared at each other in silent
amazement. Suddenly I remembered the sacred words I learnt at my
mother's knee. Yes, there were many mansions in our Father's house! The
blood-stained planet from which we had escaped was neither the cradle
nor the grave of His children.
"Then we wept as we thought of the cruelty, ignorance, misery, and
grossness of existence on earth. It was, dear Camille, with no joy that
I recollected the promise I had made to you. But, you see, I have
carried it out. I wish to convince you, and, through you, all the rest
of mankind, that the soul is immortal, and that the earth is only a
temporary stage of existence in a spiritual progress in which the whole
universe is included."
"But how is it possible for you, Georges," I interrupted, "to appear to
me in the body you wore on earth?"
"All this," said Spero, touching his body, "is an illusion. Do you not
recollect my saying that only invisible things are real? You do not see
me with your eyes, or feel me with your hands, as you think you do. The
impression which you have of my presence is born of the influence which
my mind is exerting in an invisible way on your mind. Can't you
understand? It is a kind of hypnotism. At the present moment, as I have
said, I am lying asleep on Mars, but my spirit is in direct
communication with yours. The form you see sitting beside you on this
parapet is only an illusion of your senses. My soul is speaking to your
"But could you not," I said, "give me some description of life on Mars?"
"A dream," he replied, "would be more vivid than a mere description,
though it would only be a shadow of the reality. For since you have not,
my dear friend, our exquisite faculties of knowledge, your mind could
not clearly mirror our life. Hark! Iclea is awake, and calling me. I
cannot stay any longer. Shut your eyes, and I will send you a dream."
I turned to say good-bye, but Spero had vanished. A deep drowsiness fell
upon me, and just as I got off the parapet and found a safer position I
_IV.--The Eternal Progress_
I was sitting under a strange tree covered with gigantic red flowers. In
the sky above me were two moons that shed a dim brightness on the lovely
and fantastic scenery. A multitude of radiant shapes fluttered and
darted through the air. They were Martians--exquisite, aerial, and
divinely beautiful figures glowing with luminous tints. Airy gondolas,
which seemed to be fashioned from phosphorescent flowers, passed above
my head, and one of them floated down to the tree under which I was
lying. In it were Iclea and Georges, but etherealised beyond the reach
of human imagination.
They took me in their flying chariot as day was breaking, and we
coursed, with a strange silent interchange of thoughts, over the
orange-coloured land of Mars. I could not understand everything which
was communicated to me, now by Iclea and now by Georges; but I perceived
that all manual labour on the planet was done by means of machines
directed by animals whose intelligence was on a level with my own. The
Martians themselves lived only for the things of the mind; they had
twelve senses instead of five, and their bodies, in which electricity
played the part that blood does in our systems, were so finely and yet
so strongly organised that they possessed an extraordinary power over
the forces of nature. Everything on their world, seas, mountains and
rivers were like their wonderful canals, works of art and science.
Nature was completely plastic in their hands. There was no poverty and
no crime. Deriving their food from the air which they breathe, the
Martians were liberated from material cares and immersed in the joys of
"You now see, Camille," said Spero, resorting at last to language which
I could clearly understand, "that life on Mars has developed as
peacefully and nobly as it began. There is no break between our
vegetable kingdom and our animal kingdom. We are nourished, like your
plants, trees, and herbs, by the air which we breathe. Ten million years
ago your world was also a scene of innocence and tranquil felicity. The
land was overgrown with a wildly beautiful vegetation that fed on the
gentle winds of heaven, and primitive forms of animal life had spread
from the depths of the sea along the shallow shores, and were there
learning to extract from the air a nourishment similar to that which
they obtained from the water. But by a woeful chance, one of your
primitive animals--a deaf, blind, sexless clot of jelly--then had its
body pierced by a drop of sea-water thicker than usual, and it found
that this way of feeding was quicker than simple respiration. Such was
the origin of the first digestive tube, which has exercised so baleful
an influence on the course of terrestrial life, and turned the earth
into a vast slaughterhouse."
"Is there no hope for us?" I said.
"No," he replied; "the earth is a shipwrecked planet. None of the higher
organisms there will ever rise to our level. How can they alter the
structure of their bodies, and empty their veins of blood, and fill them
with the subtle electricity which serves us as a life force? And the
grossness of their blood-fed senses! How can all the fine powers of the
immortal soul ever develop along with such degraded instruments of
"But even if our earth is a shipwrecked planet," I exclaimed, "there is
at least some means of escaping from it. You and Iclea, for instance----"
"Yes, there is a way of escape," said Spero, "the Uranian way. By
soaring aloft into the serene region of spiritual ideas, a terrestrial
soul can still free itself from its animality. Some save themselves by
their high moral qualities, others are purified and uplifted by their
imagination and intellect. Virtue and science are the wings that enable
earth-born spirits to mount the skies. The destiny of a soul is
determined by its works and aspirations. Lovers of knowledge sojourn
awhile on Mars, which is only the first stage in the eternal progress.
Spirits animated by divine feelings rise at once into high regions of
starry splendour. The Uranian way is open to all, and the day will
arrive when every inhabitant of your wild, dark planet will recognise
that he, too, is a citizen of heaven. Then Urania will at last inspire
and direct him, and point out the path by which he can ascend from the
blood-stained earth to the fairer mansions prepared for him in the
As he was speaking our aerial chariot floated down to a fairy palace by
the shore of an enchanted sea. I alighted; and a radiant, flower-like
maiden, who was standing by the portal, unfolded her rainbow wings and
shadowed me with them, and murmured, "Do you wish to return to earth?"
"No," I cried, running up to clasp her in my arms.
I awoke with a sudden shock. I was lying on the top of the tower of
Montlhery; the sun was rising, and the vast circle of country below me
shone clear and distinct in the morning light.
"Was it a dream?" I said to myself. "Surely not. The earth is not the
only home of life in the universe. Urania, the celestial muse, is now
unfolding before our astonished eyes the panoramas of infinity, and we
know at last that we are not the children of the earth, but citizens of
* * * * *
DE LA MOTTE FOUQUE
Friedrich Heinrich Karl Fouque, Baron de la Motte, was born at
Brandenburg, in Prussia, Feb. 12, 1777, and died in Berlin
January 23, 1843. The mixed nationality indicated by his name
is accounted for by his descent from a French Huguenot family.
He served as a Prussian cavalryman in the two campaigns
against Napoleon of 1792 and 1813, but during the long
interval between devoted himself actively to intellectual
culture and literary pursuits. He began his career as an
author by translating the "Numancia" of Cervantes, but his
admiration of the ancient Norse sagas and the old German
legends led him into the composition of exquisitely beautiful
and tender, though exceedingly fantastic, romances which
speedily gained immense popularity. In these productions fairy
and magical elements predominate. His masterpiece is "Undine,"
published in 1814, the other best-known works being "Sintram,"
"Aslauga's Knight," and "The Two Captains." In all Fouque's
stories the marks of genius appear in his brilliant
imagination and pure and fascinating diction.
_I.--The Water Sprite_
About a century ago an aged fisherman sat mending his nets by his
cottage door, in front of a lovely lake. Behind his dwelling stretched a
sombre forest, reputed to be haunted by goblin creatures. Through this
gloomy solitude the pious old fisherman frequently passed, religiously
dispelling all terrors by singing hymns as he went with his fish to a
town near the border of the forest.
One evening he heard the sound of a horse's hoofs, and presently
appeared a knight riding on a splendid steed, and clad in resplendent
armour. The stranger stopped, and besought shelter for the night, and
the good old fisherman accorded him a most cheery welcome, taking him
into the cottage, where sat his aged wife by a scanty fire. Soon the
three were freely conversing. The knight told of his travels and
revealed that he was Sir Huldbrand of Ringstetten, where he had a castle
by the Rhine.
A splash against the window surprising the guest he was informed by his
host, with some little show of vexation, that little tricks were often
played by a foster-child of the old couple, named Undine, a girl of
The door flew open, and a lovely girl glided, laughing, into the room.
Without the slightest token of shyness she gazed at the knight for a few
moments, then asked why he had come to the poor cottage.
"Have you come through the wild forest?"
He confessed that he had, and she instantly demanded a recital of his
adventures. With a slight shudder at his own recollections of the
strange creatures he had encountered, Huldbrand consented, but a reproof
from the fisherman at her obtrusiveness angered Undine. The girl sprang
up and rushed forth into the night, exclaiming, "Sleep alone in your
smoky old hut!"
In great alarm, the fisherman and Huldbrand rose to follow the girl, but
she had vanished in the darkness. Remarking that she had acted so
before, the old fisherman invited Huldbrand to sit by the fire and talk
awhile, and began to relate how Undine had come to live with them.
The couple had lost their only child, a wonderfully beautiful little
girl. At the age of three, when sitting in her mother's lap at the edge
of the lake, she seemed to be attracted by some lovely apparition in the
water, for, suddenly stretching out her hands and laughing, she had in a
moment sprung into the lake. No trace of the child could ever be found.
But the same evening a lovely little girl, three or four years old, with
water streaming from her golden tresses, suddenly entered the cottage,
smiling sweetly at the fisherman and his wife. They hastily undressed
the little stranger and put her to bed. She uttered not a word, but
simply smiled. In the morning she talked a little, confusedly telling
how she had been in a boat on the lake with her mother, and had fallen
in, and could recollect nothing more. She could say nothing as to who
she was or whence she came. But she talked often of golden castles and
While the fisherman was talking thus to the knight, he was suddenly
interrupted by the noise of rushing water. Floods seemed to be bursting
forth, and he and his guest, going hastily to the door, saw by the
moonlight that the brook which issued from the forest was surging in a
wild torrent over its margin, while a roaring wind was lashing the lake.
In great alarm both shouted, "Undine! Undine!" But there was no
response, and the two ran off in different directions in search of the
It was Huldbrand who discovered the girl. Clambering down some rocks at
the edge of the stream, thinking Undine might have fallen there, he was
hailed by the sweet voice of the girl herself.
"Venture not," she cried. "The old man of the stream is full of tricks."
Looking across at a tiny isle in the stream, the knight saw her nestling
in the grass, smiling, and in an instant he had crossed.
"The fisherman is distressed at your absence," said he. "Let us go
Looking at him with her beautiful blue eyes, the girl replied. "If you
think so, well; whatever you think is right to me."
Taking Undine in his arms, Huldbrand bore her over the stream to the
cottage, where she was received with joy. Dawn was breaking, and
breakfast was prepared under the trees. Undine flung herself on the
grass at Huldbrand's feet, and at her renewed request the knight told
the story of his forest adventures.
"It is now about eight days since I rode into the city on the other side
of the forest to join in a great tournament. In one of the intervals
between the jousts I noticed a lovely lady among the spectators. I
learned that she was Bertalda, foster-daughter of a great duke, and each
evening I became her partner in the dances.
"This Bertalda was a wayward girl, and each day pleased me less and
less; but I continued in her company, and asked her jestingly to give me
a glove. She said she would do so if I would explore alone the haunted
forest. As an honourable knight I could not decline the challenge, and
yesterday I set out on the enterprise. Before I had penetrated very far
within the glades, I saw what looked like a bear in the branches of an
oak; but the creature, in a harsh, human voice, growled that it was
getting branches with which to roast me at night. My horse was scared at
this, and other grim apparitions, but at last I emerged from the forest,
and saw the lake and this cottage."
When he had finished, the fisherman spoke of the best way by which the
visitor could return to the city; but, with sly laughter, Undine
declared that the knight could not depart, for if he attempted now to
cross the deluged wood, he would be overwhelmed.
_II.--"I Have No Soul!"_
Huldbrand, detained at the cottage by the increasing overflow of the
stream, enjoyed the most perfect satisfaction with his sojourn.
The old folks with pleasure regarded the two young people as being
betrothed, and Huldbrand assumed that he was accepted by the girl, whom
he had come to look upon as not being in reality one of this poor
household, but one of some illustrious family, and when, one evening, an
aged priest appeared at the cottage, driven in by the storm, Huldbrand
addressed to him a request that he should on the spot at once unite him
and the maiden, as they were pledged to each other. A discussion arose,
but matters were at length settled, and the old wife produced two
consecrated tapers. Lighting these, the priest, with brief, solemn
ceremony, celebrated the nuptials.
Undine had been quiet and grave during these proceedings, but a singular
change took place in her demeanour as soon as the rite had been
performed. She began at intervals to indulge in wild freaks, teasing the
priest, and indulging in a variety of silly tricks. At length the priest
gently expostulated with Undine, exhorting her so to attune her soul
that it might always be in concord with that of her husband.
Her reply amazed the listeners, for she said, "If one has no soul, as I
have none, what is there to harmonise?" Then she burst into a fit of
passionate weeping, to the consternation of all the little company. As
she again and again wept, the priest, fearing that she was possessed by
some evil spirit, sought to exorcise it. The priest turned to the
bridegroom with the assurance that he could discover nothing evil in the
bride, mysterious though her behaviour was, and he commended him to be
loving and true to her.
The next morning Undine, when she and her husband made their appearance,
responded gracefully to the paternal greeting of the priest, beseeching
his pardon for her folly of the previous evening, and begging him to
pray for the good of her soul. Through the whole day Undine behaved
angelically. She was kind, quiet, and gentle. At eventide she led her
husband out to the edge of the stream, which, to the wonder of
Huldbrand, had subsided into gentle, rippling waves.
She whispered, "Carry me across to that little isle, and we will decide
Wondering, he carried her across, and, laying her on the turf, listened
as she began.
"My loved one, know that there are strange beings which, though seeming
almost mortals, are rarely visible to human eyes--salamanders in the
flames, gnomes down in the earth, spirits in the air. And in the water
are myriads of spirits dwelling in crystal domes, in the coral-trees,
and in the lovely shells. These are far more beautiful than the fairest
of human beings, and sometimes a fisherman has seen a tender mermaid,
and has listened to her song. Such wonderful creatures are called
Undines, and one of these you see now before you!
"We should be far superior to other beings--for we consider ourselves
human--but for one defect. We have no souls, and nothing remains of us
after this mortal life is over. Yet every being aspires to rise higher,
and so my father, who is a great water prince in the Mediterranean Sea,
desired that his only daughter should become possessed of a soul. But
this can only come to pass with loving union with one of your race. Now,
O my dearly beloved, I have to thank you that I am gifted with a soul,
and it will be due to you should all my life be made wretched. For what
will become of me if you forsake me? If you would do so, do it now! Then
I will plunge into the stream--which is my uncle--and as he brought me
here, so will he take me back to my parents, a loving, suffering woman
with a soul."
Undine would have said yet more, but Huldbrand, astonishing though the
recital was, with tears and kisses vowed he would never leave his lovely
wife; and with her leaning in loving trustfulness on his arm, they
returned to the hut.
The next day, at Undine's strange urgency, farewell was said with bitter
tears and lamentations.
Undine was placed on the beautiful horse, and Huldbrand and the priest
walked on either side as the three passed through the solemn glades of
the wood. A fourth soon joined them. He was dressed in a white robe,
like that of the priest, and presently attempted to speak to Undine. But
she shrank from him, declaring she wished to have nothing to do with
"Oh, oh!" cried the stranger, with a laugh. "What kind of a marriage is
this you have made, that you must not speak to your relative? Do you not
know I am your uncle Kuehleborn, who brought you to this region, and that
I am here to protect you from goblins and sprites? So let me quietly
"We are near the end of the forest, and shall not need you further," was
her rejoinder. But he grinned at her so frightfully that she shrieked
for help, and the knight aimed at his head a blow from his sword.
Instantly Kuehleborn was transformed into a gushing waterfall, foaming
over them from a rock near by and drenching all three.
The sudden disappearance of the young knight had caused a sensation in
the city, for the duke and duchess, and the friends and servants of
Huldbrand, feared he had perished in the forest during the terrible
tempest When he suddenly reappeared, all rejoiced except Bertalda, who
was profoundly vexed at seeing with him a beautiful bride. She so far
reconciled herself to the conditions that a warm friendship sprang up
between Undine and herself.
It was agreed that Bertalda should accompany the wedded pair to
Ringstetten, and with the consent of the noble foster-parents of
Bertalda the three appointed a day for departure. One beautiful evening,
as they walked about the market-place round the great fountain, suddenly
a tall man emerged from among the people and stopped in front of Undine.
He quickly whispered something in her ear, and though at first she
seemed vexed at the intrusion, presently she clapped her hands and
laughed joyously. Then the stranger mysteriously vanished, and seemed to
disappear in the fountain.
Huldbrand had suspected that he had seen the man before, and now felt
assured that he was Kuehleborn. Undine admitted the fact, and said that
her uncle had told her a secret, which she was to reveal on the third
day afterwards, which would be the anniversary of Bertalda's nameday.
The anniversary came, and strange incidents happened. After the banquet
given by the duke and duchess, Undine suddenly gave a signal, and from
among the retainers at the door came forth the old fisherman and his
wife, and Undine declared that in these Bertalda saw her real parents.
The proud maiden instantly flew into a violent rage, weeping
passionately, and utterly refused to acknowledge the old couple as her
father and mother. She declared that Undine was an enchantress and a
witch, sustaining intercourse with evil spirits.
Undine, with great dignity, indignantly denied the accusation, while
Bertalda's violent conduct created a feeling of disgust in the minds of
all in the assembly. The matter was settled in a simple manner, for the
duke commanded Bertalda to withdraw to a private apartment with the
duchess and the two old folks from the hut, that an investigation might
be made. It was soon over, for the noble lady was able presently to
inform the company that Undine's story was absolutely true. The guests
silently departed, and Undine sank sobbing into her husband's arms.
Next day Bertalda, humbled by these events, sought pardon of Undine for
her evil behaviour, and was instantly welcomed with loving assurances of
forgiveness, moreover, she was cordially invited to go with the pair to
"We will share all things there as sisters," said Undine.
The three journeyed to the distant castle, and took up their abode
together. Soon Kuehleborn appeared on the scene, but Undine at once
repulsed him. Next, when her husband was one day hunting, she ordered
the great well in the courtyard to be covered with a big stone, on which
she cut some curious characters.
Bertalda waywardly complained that this proceeding deprived her of water
that was good for her complexion, but Undine privately explained to
Huldbrand that she had caused the servants to seal up this spring
because only by that way of access could her uncle Kuehleborn come to
disturb their peace.
As time passed on, Huldbrand gradually cooled toward his wife and turned
affectionately towards Bertalda. Undine bore patiently and silently the
sorrow thus inflicted on her. But when her husband was impatient and
angry she would plead with him never to speak to her in accents of
unkindness when they happened to be on the water, for the water spirits
had her completely in their power on their element, and would seek to
protect her, and even seize her and take her down for ever to dwell in
the crystal castles of the deep.
After some estrangements, Undine and Bertalda had again become loving
friends, and Huldbrand's affection for his wife had revived with its old
and welcome warmth, while the attachment between him and Bertalda seemed
One day the three were enjoying a delightful excursion on the glorious
Danube. Bertalda had taken off a beautiful coral necklace which
Huldbrand had given her. She leaned over and drew the coral beads across
the surface, enjoying the glitter thus caused, when suddenly a great
hand from beneath seized the necklace and snatched it down. The maiden's
scream of terror was answered by mocking laughter from the water.
In an outburst of passion, Huldbrand started up and poured forth curses
on the river and its denizens, whether spirits or sirens. With tears in
her eyes, Undine besought him softly not to scold her there, and she
took from her neck a beautiful necklace and offered it to Bertalda as a
But the angry knight snatched it away, and hurled it into the river,
exclaiming, "Are you still connected with them? In the name of all the
witches, remain among them with your presents, and leave us mortals in
peace, you sorceress!"
Bitterly weeping and crying, "Woe! Woe!" she vanished over the side of
the vessel. Her last words were, "Remain true! Woe! Woe!" Huldbrand lay
swooning on the deck, and little waves seemed to be sobbing on the
surface of the Danube, "Woe! Woe! Remain true!"
_IV.--The White Stranger_
For a time deep sorrow fell on the lord of Ringstetten and Bertalda.
They lived long in the castle quietly, often weeping for Undine,
tenderly cherishing her memory. Undine often visited Huldbrand in his
dreams, caressing him and weeping silently so that his cheeks were wet
when he awoke. But these visions grew less frequent, and the knight's
grief diminished by degrees. At length he and Bertalda were married, but
it was in spite of a grave warning from Father Heilmann, who declared
that Undine had appeared to him in visions, beseeching him to warn
Huldbrand and Bertalda to leave each other. They were too infatuated to
heed the admonition, and a priest from a neighbouring monastery promised
to perform the ceremony in a few days.
Meantime, when lying between sleeping and waking, the knight seemed
fanned by the wings of a swan, and, as he fell asleep, seemed borne
along on the wings of swans which sang their sweetest music. All at once
he seemed to be hovering over the Mediterranean Sea. Its waters were so
crystalline that he could see through them to the bottom, and there,
under a crystal arch, sat Undine, weeping bitterly. She seemed not to
perceive him. Kuehleborn approached her, and told her that Huldbrand was
to be wedded again, and that it would be her duty, from which nothing
could release her, to end his life.
"That I cannot do," said she. "I have sealed up the fountain against my
Huldbrand felt as if he were soaring back again over the sea, and at
length he seemed to reach his castle. He awoke on his couch, but he
could not bring himself to break off the arrangements that had been
The marriage feast at Ringstetten was not as bright and happy as such
occasions usually are, for a veil of gloom seemed to rest over the
company. Even the bride affected a happy and thoughtless demeanour which
she did not really feel. The company dispersed early, Bertalda retiring
with her maidens, and Huldbrand with his attendants.
In her apartment Bertalda, with a sigh, noticed how freckled was her
neck, and a remark she made to her maidens as she gazed in the mirror
excited the eager attention of one of them. She heard her fair mistress
say, "Oh, that I had a flask of the purifying water from the closed
fountain!" Presently the officious waiting-woman was seen leading men to
the fountain. With levers they quickly lifted the stone, for some
mysterious force within seemed to aid them.
Then from the fountain solemnly rose a white column of water. It was
presently perceived that it was a pale female figure, veiled in white.
She was weeping bitterly as she walked slowly to the building, while
Bertalda and her attendants, pale with terror, watched from the window.
The figure passed on, and at the door of Huldbrand's room, where the
knight was partly undressed, was heard a gentle tap. The white figure
slowly entered. It was Undine, who softly said, "They have opened the
spring, and now I am here and you must die." Said the knight, "It must
be so! But let me die in your embrace."
"Most gladly, my loved one," said she, throwing back her veil and
disclosing her face divinely smiling. Imprinting on his lips a sacred
kiss, Undine clasped the knight in her arms, weeping as if she would
weep her very soul away. Huldbrand fell softly back on the pillows of
his couch, a corpse.
At the funeral of Huldbrand the veiled figure appeared when the
procession formed a circle round the grave. All knelt in mute devotion
at a signal from Father Heilmann. When they rose again the white
stranger had vanished, and on the spot where she had knelt a silvery
little fountain gushed forth, which almost encircled the grave and then
ran on till it reached a lake near by. And to this day the inhabitants
cherish the tradition that thus the poor rejected Undine still lovingly
embraces her husband.
* * * * *
"File No. 113"
Emile Gaboriau, one of the best-known exponents of the "police
story," was born at Saujon, in France, on November 9, 1833. He
began life in a lawyer's office, became a volunteer in a
cavalry regiment, and, later, secretary to Paul Feval, the
novelist and dramatist. In the meantime, Gaboriau had
contributed a number of sketches dealing with military and
fashionable life to various minor Parisian journals, but it
was not until 1866, with the publication of "L'Affaire
Lerouge," that he suddenly sprang into fame. From that time
until his death, on September 28, 1873, story after story
appeared rapidly from his pen. "File No. 113" ("Le Dossier
113") was published in 1867, and was the first of a remarkable
series of detective tales introducing the figure of Lecoq.
"File No. 113" is perhaps the most characteristic specimen of
his work, exhibiting as it does a careful study of the Paris
police system, and a thorough acquaintance with all phases of
_I.--The Robbery and a Clue_
The first mention of the celebrated robbery which took place at M.
Fauvel's bank in Paris--the _dossier_ of the case is numbered 113 in the
police files--appeared in the evening papers, February 28, 1866.
On the previous day a certain Count Louis de Clameran sent word to M.
Fauvel that he wished to withdraw the following morning at ten o'clock
the sum of L12,000 which had been deposited in the bank by his brother,
an ironmaster from the south of France who had recently died.
M. Fauvel made it a rule never to keep any large sums of money on the
premises, but to deposit all such amounts in the keeping of the Bank of
France. As this sum, however, had to be paid the first thing in the
morning, the chief cashier, M. Prosper Bertomy, thought he was justified
in obtaining the amount from the Bank of France on the evening of the
27th, and in locking it up in the bank safe against the morning.
The safe was a formidable-looking affair constructed entirely of wrought
iron of treble thickness. An ingenious device regulated its opening. On
the massive door were five movable steel buttons engraved with the
letters of the alphabet. Before the key could be inserted in the lock,
these buttons had to be manipulated in the same order in which they had
been used when the safe was last shut. The buttons were arranged so that
the letters on them formed some word, which was changed from time to
time. This word was known only to M. Fauvel and his cashier, each of
whom possessed a key of the safe.
As soon as the bank opened on the morning of February 28, the count put
in an appearance, and Prosper Bertomy went to the safe to obtain the
money. When, a second later, he reappeared, his face was ashy pale, and
his steps tottered as he walked. The L12,000 had disappeared from within
the safe. What made the affair all the more mysterious was that the safe
was locked just as the cashier had left it the night before.
The room in which the safe was situated communicated with the bank by
another room in which every night a tried servant of the establishment
slept. By a second door admittance was obtained to the private
apartments of M. and Madame Fauvel and their niece Madeline.
As soon as M. Fauvel had heard the startling news, he first obtained the
necessary money from the Bank of France, settled the business with the
count, and then turned his attention to the elucidation of the robbery.
He summoned the cashier to his presence.
Bertomy was a young man of thirty to whom M. Fauvel had shown great
kindness, advancing his interests wherever possible until, though very
young for the position, he was his most important and most confidential
employee. Besides the paternal affection with which the bank manager
regarded his cashier, another tie tended to make their relations all the
stronger and more personal. Bertomy loved M. Fauvel's niece Madeline,
and though a curious estrangement had sprung up between them during the
previous nine or ten months, the banker always regarded their marriage
as practically arranged.
The interview between the two men was a curious one. To each it appeared
that the other must be the thief. They alone had the keys of the safe;
they alone knew the magic word which could open the massive door. The
banker urged Bertomy to confess, promising him forgiveness; the other
haughtily rejected the suggestion, and hinted that his employer had
converted the L12,000 to his own use. In the end M. Fauvel lost his
temper, sent for the police, and before twenty-four hours were up,
Prosper Bertomy, who but the day before had held one of the most
important and envied positions in the financial world of Paris, was
charged before a magistrate as being a common thief.
Investigation of the case was at first entrusted to a detective named
Fanferlot, nicknamed by his comrades the "Squirrel." Fanferlot's
examination of the premises resulted in little. All he discovered was a
scratch upon the door of the safe, but certain words that passed between
M. Fauvel and his niece, which seemed to indicate that the former was
secretly opposed to the marriage of Madeline with Bertomy, caused him to
jump to the conclusion that the banker had robbed his own safe in order
to bring disgrace upon his cashier. He connived, however, at the arrest
of Bertomy, hoping that later on he might obtain great kudos for himself
by unmasking the banker. What might have been the result of his improper
and unofficial methods will never be known, but in all probability great
inconvenience would have been caused to a number of innocent persons and
the whole course of justice thwarted had it not been for the
intervention of the great and famous M. Lecoq.
M. Lecoq's interest in the bank robbery case was largely a personal one.
Even detectives have hearts, and M. Lecoq had loved with heart and soul
a charming young girl named Nina Gipsy. Under the name of Caldas in one
of his innumerable disguises, he had wooed her for many months. When he
thought at last that he had won her affections, she had fled to the
protection of no less a person than Prosper Bertomy himself. The cashier
cared nothing for her, but embittered by an estrangement that had sprung
up between Madeline and himself, he had sought forgetfulness in her
society. Bertomy's arrest gave Lecoq an opportunity for a noble revenge.
He determined to prove to the woman he loved his superiority over his
rival by saving the cashier from disgrace.
Though the case looked black against Bertomy, for it was shown that he
was heavily in debt, and living far beyond his means, Lecoq was
satisfied that he had not committed the crime. When Fanferlot,
hopelessly befogged, called for his advice at his house in the Rue
Montmartre, the great detective deigned to explain the preliminary data
and the deductions from the data he had made.
The scratch on the safe door, slight and minute as it was, was his
starting-point. How had it been made? He had found by experiment that it
was impossible to make such a scratch upon the varnish without the
exercise of considerable force. It was clear, therefore, that the
scratch by the keyhole could not have been made by the thief in his
trembling anxiety to get the business he had undertaken accomplished.
But why was such force used?
For a long time Lecoq puzzled over this problem. Then, with Fanferlot,
he tried an experiment. In his room was an iron box varnished like the
safe. Taking the key of this box from his pocket, he ordered Fanferlot
to seize his arm just as he put it near the lock. The key slipped,
pulled away from the lock, and sliding along the surface of the door,
left upon it a diagonal scratch, almost an exact reproduction of the one
on the safe.
From this simple experiment Lecoq deduced that two people were present
when the safe was robbed; one wanted to take the money, the other wanted
to prevent it being taken. This was the basis of the case which he set
out to draw up against some person or persons unknown. He argued, with
his usual clear logic, that neither Fauvel nor Bertomy could have robbed
the safe. Both of them had keys; both of them knew the secret word and
could have robbed the safe whenever they pleased. Therefore, neither of
them would have committed the theft in the presence of somebody else.
_II.--A Mysterious Journey_
Lecoq's first steps after establishing these preliminary deductions was
to secure the release of Bertomy on the grounds of insufficient
On the very morning of his release, Bertomy had received a mysterious
letter composed of printed words cut out letter by letter from a book
and pasted on paper.
"My dear Prosper," so the epistle ran, "a friend who knows the horror of
your situation sends you this help. There is one heart at least which
feels for you. Leave France; you are yourself. The future is before you.
Go, and may this money be of use."
Enclosed with this note were banknotes for L400. Lecoq, disguised as a
M. Verduret, a country merchant, a friend of Bertomy's father, secured
this epistle and studied it carefully. His knowledge of the various
types used by the printers in Paris showed him that the letters had been
taken from a book printed by a well-known firm who published volumes of
devotion. The correctness of this conclusion was established by the
discovery on the back of one of the small cuttings the word "Deus." The
words had been cut from a Catholic prayer-book. To find that prayer-book
was his next business.
In another disguise he sought out Nina Gipsy, and, by asking her
assistance to clear Prosper, induced her to take up the position of
lady's-maid in the Fauvel family, for it was there, he conceived, the
mutilated book of devotion would be found. Again his wonderful instinct
proved right. In a few days Nina brought him the very book--a prayer-
book, belonging to Madeline, which had been given her by Bertomy.
Why had Madeline sent the cashier this elaborately disguised letter? Why
had she wished him to leave France, confident as she was, so she told
him, of his innocence?
To find an answer to these important queries, Lecoq closely questioned
Bertomy. He learnt that the night before the robbery the cashier had
dined with his friend Raoul de Lagors, the wealthy, dissolute young
nephew of M. Fauvel's wife. This Lagors was the friend of Count Louis de
Clameran, whose demand for the L12,000 left him by his dead brother had
resulted in the discovery of the mysterious robbery.
Bertomy had nothing but the highest praise for Lagors, but, on the other
hand, spoke most disparagingly of the count. The count, it appeared, had
proposed for the hand of Madeline, and had pressed his suit with great
determination. And Madeline--and this was what provided a new problem
for Lecoq's consideration--had tacitly accepted his attention.
Through Nina, Lecoq had arranged a meeting between Bertomy and Madeline,
and satisfied himself that the girl was whole-heartedly and devotedly
attached to her uncle's cashier. Then why was she favouring the suit of
the count? Lecoq at once made it his business to inquire into the
He was the second son of an old and noble family. His elder brother,
Gaston, having to fly the country in consequence of causing the death of
several men, he had inherited the property. A life of dissolute
pleasures had soon exhausted his patrimony and he was reduced to living
by his wits. Some weeks before the robbery, he had discovered that his
brother Gaston was alive and was living on a large estate in the south
of France, which he had purchased with the wealth he had accumulated in
business. Six weeks after the two brothers met again, the elder died and
the younger inherited his vast fortune.
Raoul de Lagors was the next character in the drama whose past the
detective made it his business to expose. Lagors, it has been said, was
the nephew of Madame Fauvel. To his surprise, Lecoq discovered, by
inquiries in her native place, that the banker's wife had never had any
brothers or sisters. Lagors, therefore, was not her nephew.
Fanferlot, acting on instructions, had kept a strict watch on the
movements of Madeline, and by this means Lecoq received timely warning
of a mysterious excursion which the girl made one night. He followed her
to a lonely house on the outskirts of the city. When she had gained
admittance, the appearance of a light in one of the windows on the first
floor seemed to indicate the room to which she had been taken. By the
aid of a ladder, Lecoq was able to watch what was going on within
through the shutters.
He saw Madeline standing opposite Lagors, evidently, from her attitude,
pleading with him. For some time he listened to her, with a cynical
smile upon his face, but after an hour he seemed to decide, with evident
reluctance, to comply with her request. Going to a cabinet, he took out
a bundle of pawn tickets and flung them on the table. Hastily going
through the collection, she selected three, and concealing them in her
dress, left the house.
By following her to a pawnshop, Lecoq discovered that she had redeemed
certain valuable articles of jewelry belonging to Madame Fauvel. Lecoq
knew, through Nina Gipsy, who still filled the part of lady's-maid in
the Fauvel family, that M. Fauvel had insisted on his wife accompanying
him on the following evening to a great fancy-dress ball which was to be
given by one of the wealthiest families in the capital. Obviously, then,
the jewelry that Madeline had redeemed was required by Madame Fauvel for
the occasion. Why had she pawned it for Lagors?
A theory had half formed itself in Lecoq's brain. He determined to prove
its truth. Disguised as a clown, he attended the fancy-dress ball, and
in the character of a mountebank collected a group of ladies and
gentlemen around him while he related with the inimitable skill of a
buffoon a romantic narrative. To most of the people present it was
simply an amusing story, but to the count and Lagors and Madame Fauvel,
who were among the listeners, it seemed something much more, for Lecoq
dressed out his theory of the robbery in the trappings of romance. Just
as he reached the climax of the story there was a cry, and Madame Fauvel
almost fell fainting on the floor. The count and Lagors rushed up
furiously to Lecoq.
"Master Clown," said Lagors, "your tongue is too long."
"Perhaps, my pretty boy," retorted Lecoq, "perhaps it is. But it is, I
can assure you, not so long as my arm."
"Who are you, M. le Clown?" the count exclaimed angrily.
"I am," replied Lecoq, "the best friend your brother Gaston had. I was
his counsellor. I am the confidant of his last wishes."
Though the solution of the problem seemed so tantalisingly near, there
were still some threads in the tangle which required sorting out before
Lecoq could say that the case was complete. Among other matters he
inquired of Bertomy the word which had been used to lock the safe on,
the night of the robbery. The word had been "gipsy." Bertomy was
confident that he had not mentioned it to anybody, but Nina Gipsy was
able to throw light on this part of the problem. She recollected a
chance remark of Bertomy's while sitting at dinner with herself and
Lagors on the night of the robbery. She had reproached Bertomy with
"It's too bad for you to reproach me," cried the cashier, "for it is
your name which at this very moment guards the safe of M. Fauvel."
Lagors, therefore, had known the password. What did this new discovery
imply? How did it fit in with the rest of the data which Lecoq had so
After his custom, he marshalled once more in his mind all the facts at
his disposal, but they were like so many loose links in a chain. They
required the connecting link to make the chain complete. To find that
link Lecoq spent a month in visiting the old home of the De Clamerans,
the estate formerly occupied by Gaston de Clameron, who had died a few
days before the robbery, and also in a trip to England. When he returned
to Paris, _dossier_ No. 113 was complete.
In her extreme youth, Madame Fauvel had been secretly loved by Gaston de
Clameron. It was a result of certain contemptuous words spoken of the
girl he loved that Gaston had committed those deeds which had compelled
him to fly the country. Shortly after his flight, the girl, finding that
she was about to give birth to a child, imparted the secret to her
mother. Fearing a scandal, the mother, accompanied by a faithful nurse,
took her daughter over to England. There, near London, a child was born,
who was immediately handed over to some simple country people to adopt.
The unhappy girl returned to France, and shortly after married M.
Fauvel, the banker.
Years after, the Count Louis de Clameron, who had inherited and ruined
the estates of which his brother Gaston had been deprived, discovered
this secret from the nurse, and finding on inquiries in London that the
child had died, persuaded a young ne'er-do-well Englishman to play the
_role_ of his brother's son. He secretly introduced him to Madame
Fauvel, and through this means obtained what money he required from the
unhappy woman, who feared the discovery of her past secret by her
husband. The situation was complicated by the count falling in love with
Madeline and the sudden appearance of Gaston de Clameron, who was
thought to be dead.
The count poisoned his brother, and then, finding that Madeline refused
to give up Bertomy, determined to accomplish the cashier's ruin, and at
the same time obtain an amount of money large enough to buy off his
fellow-conspirator Lagors. Lagors, having learnt by chance the password
that guarded the safe, was sent to Madame Fauvel late at night with a
request for money.
At this time Madame Fauvel was at the end of her resources. Lagors
suggested taking the money from the safe. Tom between a desire to help
her supposed son and the risk of discovery, she at last consented.
Taking M. Fauvel's key, they descended silently to the safe-room. At the
last moment, just as the key was in the lock, Madame Fauvel attempted to
deter Lagors from his purpose. In the struggle that scratch was made on
the door which formed the basis of Lecoq's inquiries and enabled the
great detective to unravel the mystery.
Madeline, who all the while half guessed at the truth, and perceived
without being told that Madame Fauvel was at the mercy of the count, had
been prepared to sacrifice her future happiness in order to prevent the
scandal being made public.
M. Lecoq, armed with these facts, sought out Lagors. He arrived only in
time to prevent a tragedy. Warned by an anonymous letter that his wife
had pawned her diamonds for the benefit of Lagors, the banker came upon
them when they were together in Lagor's rooms. Imagining the young man
was his wife's lover, the banker drew a revolver and fired four times.
Fortunately, none of the shots took effect, and before he could fire
again Lecoq had rushed into the room and torn the weapon from his grasp.
It was the moment of the great detective's triumph. With the dramatic
skill of which he was a master, he laid bare the whole story and
disclosed the true identity of Raoul Lagors. Before he left he compelled
Lagors to refund the L12,000 he had stolen, and in order to avoid a
scandal allowed the young man to go free. Then, that nothing should be
wanting to his triumph, he obtained the consent of the banker to
Bertomy's marriage with Madeline.
Hurrying from the banker's house, Lecoq hastened to effect the arrest of
the count. He arrived too late. Realising that he was hopelessly in the
toils, the count was bereft of his senses and become a hopeless maniac.
Four days later M. Lecoq, the official M. Lecoq, awaited the arrival of
Nina Gipsy and Prosper Bertomy. They declared that they had come to meet
M. Verduret, who had saved Prosper Bertomy. The detective retired,
promising to summon the man they had come to see. A quarter of an hour
later M. Verduret entered the room. Facing them, he told them how a
friend of his named Caldas had fallen in love with a girl, and how that
girl had been won from him by a man who cared nothing for her.
"Caldas determined to revenge himself in his own way. It was his hand
that saved the man on the very verge of disgrace. I see you know that
you, Nina, are the woman, and you, Prosper, the man; while Caldas
With a quick gesture he removed his wig and whiskers, and the true Lecoq
"Caldas!" cried Nina.
"No, not Caldas, not Verduret, but Lecoq, the detective."
After the moments of amazement had passed, Lecoq turned to leave the
room, but Nina barred the way.
"Caldas," she cried, "have you not punished me enough? Caldas...."
Prosper went from the office alone.
* * * * *
Annals of the Parish
John Gait, poet, dramatist, historian, and novelist, was born
at Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland, on May 2, 1779. He was trained
for a commercial career in the Greenock Custom House, and in
the office of a merchant in that seaport. Removing to London,
Gait engaged in business and afterwards travelled extensively
to forward mercantile enterprises in all the countries
bordering on the Mediterranean and the Near East, where he
repeatedly met Lord Byron. His first work of fiction was a
Sicilian story, published in 1816, but it was not until 1820
that he found his true literary expression, when the "Ayrshire
Legatees" appeared in "Blackwood's Magazine." The success of
this tale was so great that Gait finished the "Annals of the
Parish; or the Chronicle of Dalmailing, during the Ministry of
the Rev. Micah Balwhidder," which he had really begun in 1813,
and they were published in 1821. The "Annals" contain a lively
and humorous picture of Scottish character, manners, and
feeling during the era described. In the latter part of his
life Gait wrote several novels, a life of Byron, an
autobiography, and his "Literary Life and Miscellanies." He
died on April 11, 1838.
_I.--The Placing of Mr. Balwhidder_
The year A.D. 1760 was remarkable for three things in the parish of
Dalmailing. First and foremost, there was my placing, then the coming of
Mrs. Malcolm with her five children to settle among us, and next my
marriage with my own cousin, Miss Betty Lanshaw. The placing was a great
affair, for I was put in by the patron, and the people knew nothing of
me whatsoever. They were really mad and vicious, insomuch that there was
obliged to be a guard of soldiers to protect the presbytery. Dirt was
flung upon us as we passed, and the finger of scorn held out to me. But
I endured it with a resigned spirit, compassionating their wilfulness
The kirk door was nailed up and we were obligated to go in by the
window, making the Lord's house like an inn on a fair-day with their
grievous yelly hooing. Thomas Thorl, the weaver, a pious zealot, got up
at the time of the induction and protested, and said, "Verily, verily, I
say unto you, he that entereth not by the door of the sheepfold, but
climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."
When the laying on of the hands upon me was adoing, Mr. Given, minister
of Lugton, a jocose man, who could not get near, stretched out his staff
and touched my head, saying, to the great diversion of the rest, "This
will do well enough--timber to timber."
After the ceremony we went to the manse, and there had an excellent
dinner. Although my people received me in this unruly manner, I was
resolved to cultivate civility among them; and next morning I began a
round of visitations. But, oh! it was a steep brae to climb. The doors
in some places were barred against me; in others the bairns ran crying
to their mothers, "Here's the feckless Mess-John." But Thomas Thorl
received me kindly, and said that this early visitation was a symptom of
grace, and that not to condemn me without trial he and some neighbours
would be at the kirk at the next Lord's day, so that I would not have to
preach just to the bare walls and the laird's family.
As to Mrs. Malcolm, she was the widow of a Clyde shipmaster that was
lost at sea with his vessel. A genty body, she never changed her widow's
weeds, and span frae morning tae nicht to keep her bairns and herself.
When her daughter Effie was ill, I called on her in a sympathising way,
and offered her some assistance frae the Session, but she refused help
out of the poor's-box, as it might be hereafter cast up to her bairns.
It was in the year 1761 that the great smuggling trade corrupted the
west coast. Tea was going like chaff, and brandy like well-water. There
was nothing minded but the riding of cadgers by day and excisemen by
night, and battles between the smugglers and the king's men, both by sea
and land; continual drunkenness and debauchery, and our Session had an
awful time o't.
I did all that was in my power to keep my people from the contagion. I
preached sixteen times from the text, "Render to Caesar the things that
are Caesar's." I visited, exhorted, warned, and prophesied, but the evil
got in among us. The third year of my ministry was long held in
remembrance. The small-pox came in among the poor bits o' weans of the
parish, and the smashing it made among them was woeful. When the
pestilence was raging, I preached a sermon about Rachel weeping for her
children, which Thomas Thorl, a great judge of good preaching, said,
"was a monument of divinity whilk searched the heart of many a parent
that day"--a thing I was well pleased to hear, and was minded to make
him an elder the next vacancy. But, worthy man, it was not permitted him
to arrive at that honour; for that fall it pleased Him that alone can
give and take to pluck him from this life.
In this year Charlie Malcolm, Mrs. Malcolm's eldest son, was sent to sea
in a tobacco-trader that sailed between Port Glasgow and Virginia.
Tea-drinking was beginning to spread more openly, in so much that by the
advice of the first Mrs. Balwhidder, Mrs. Malcolm took in tea to sell to
eke out something to the small profits of her wheel. I lost some of my
dislike to the tea after that, and we had it for breakfast at the manse
as well as in the afternoon. But what I thought most of it for was that
it did no harm to the head of the drinkers, which was not always the
case with the possets in fashion before, when I remember decent ladies
coming home with red faces from a posset-masking. So I refrained from
preaching against tea henceforth, but I never lifted the weight of my
displeasure from off the smuggling trade, until it was utterly put down
by the strong hand of government.
_II.--The Minister's Second Marriage_
A memorable year, both in public and private, was 1763. The king granted
peace to the French. Lady Macadam, widow of General Macadam, who lived
in her jointure-house, took Kate Malcolm to live with her as companion,
and she took pleasure in teaching Kate all her accomplishments and how
to behave herself like a lady. The lint-mill on Lugton Water was burned
to the ground, with not a little of the year's crop of lint in our
parish. The first Mrs. Balwhidder lost upwards of twelve stone, which
was intended for sarking to ourselves and sheets and napery. A great
loss indeed it was, and the vexation thereof had a visible effect on her
health, which from the spring had been in a dwining way. But for it, I
think she might have wrestled through the winter. However, it was
ordered otherwise, and she was removed from mine to Abraham's bosom on
Christmas Day, and buried on Hogmanay, for it was thought uncanny to
have a dead corpse in the house on the New Year's Day.
Just by way of diversion in my heavy sorrow, I got a well-shapen
headstone made for her; but a headstone without a epitaph being no
better than a body without the breath of life in't, I made a poesy for
the monument, not in the Latin tongue, which Mrs. Balwhidder, worthy
woman as she was, did not understand, but in sedate language, which was
greatly thought of at the time. My servant lassies, having no eye of a
mistress over them, wasted everything at such a rate that, long before
the end of the year, the year's stipend was all spent, and I did not
know what to do. At lang and length I sent for Mr. Auld, a douce and
discreet elder, and told him how I was situated. He advised me, for my
own sake, to look out for another wife, as soon as decency would allow.
In the following spring I placed my affections, with due consideration,
on Miss Lizzy Kibbock, the well-brought-up daughter of Mr. Joseph
Kibbock, of the Gorbyholm, farmer; and we were married on the 29th day
of April, on account of the dread we had of being married in May, for it
is said, "Of the marriages in May, the bairns die of a decay." The
second Mrs. Balwhidder had a genius for management, and started a dairy,
and set the servant lassies to spin wool for making blankets and lint
for sheets and napery. She sent the butter on market days to Irville,
her cheese and huxtry to Glasgow. We were just coining money, in so much
that, after the first year, we had the whole tot of stipend to put into
The opening of coal-pits in Douray Moor brought great prosperity to the
parish, but the coal-carts cut up the roads, especially the Vennel, a
narrow and crooked street in the clachan. Lord Eglesham came down from
London in the spring of 1767 to see the new lands he had bought in our
parish. His coach couped in the Vennel, and his lordship was thrown head
foremost into the mud. He swore like a trooper, and said he would get an
act of parliament to put down the nuisance. His lordship came to the
manse, and, being in a woeful plight, he got the loan of my best suit of
clothes. This made him wonderful jocose both with Mrs. Balwhidder and
me, for he was a portly man, and I but a thin body, and it was really
droll to see his lordship clad in my garments. Out of this accident grew
a sort of neighbourliness between Lord Eglesham and me.
_III.--A Runaway Match_
About Christmas, Lady Macadam's son, having been perfected in the art of
war at a school in France, had, with the help of his mother's friends
and his father's fame, got a stand of colours in the Royal Scots
Regiment. He came to show himself in his regimentals to his lady mother,
and during the visit he fell in love and entered into correspondence
with Kate Malcolm. A while after, her ladyship's flunkey came to the
manse and begged me to go to her. So I went; and there she was, with
gum-flowers on her head, sitting on a settee, for she was lame, and in
her hand she held a letter.
"Sir," she said, as I came into the room, "I want you to go instantly to
your clerk," meaning Mr. Lorimore, the schoolmaster, "and tell him I
will give him a couple of hundred pounds to marry Miss Malcolm without
"Softly, my lady; you must first tell me the meaning of all this haste
of kindness," said I, in my calm, methodical manner. At which she began
to sob, and bewail her ruin and the dishonour of her family. I was
confounded, but at length it came out that she had accidentally opened a
letter that had come from London for Kate, that she had read it, by
which she came to know that Kate and her darling son were trysted, and
that this was not the first love-letter which had passed between them.
Mr. Lorimore promptly declined her ladyship's proposal, as he was
engaged to be married to his present worthy helpmate. Although her
ladyship was so overcome with passion, she would not part with Kate, nor
allow her to quit the house.
Three years later the young Laird Macadam, being ordered with his
regiment for America, got leave from the king to come and see his lady
mother before his departure. But it was not to see her only. He arrived
at a late hour unwarned, lest his mother would send Kate out of the way;
but no sooner did her ladyship behold his face than she kindled upon
both him and Kate, and ordered them out of her sight and house. The
young folk had discretion. Kate went home to her mother, and the laird
came to the manse and begged us to take him in.
He asked me to perform the ceremony, as he was resolved to marry Kate.
We stepped over to Mrs. Malcolm's house, where we found the saintly
woman with Kate and Erne and Willie, preparing to read their Bible for
the night. After speaking to Mrs. Malcolm for a time, she consented to
the marriage. It was sanctified by me before we left Mrs. Malcolm's, the
young couple setting off in the laird's chaise to Glasgow, and
authorising me to break the matter to Lady Macadam. I was spared this
performance, for the servants jealoused what had been done, and told her
ladyship. When I entered the room she was like a mad woman in Bedlam.
She sent her coachman on horseback to overtake them, which he did at
Kilmarnock, and they returned in the morning, when her ladyship was as
cagey and meikle taken up with them as if they had gotten her full
consent and privilege from the first. Captain Macadam afterwards bought
a house at the Braehead, and gave it, with a judicious income, to Mrs.
Malcolm, telling her it was not becoming that she should any longer be
dependent upon her own industry. For this the young man got a name like
a sweet odour in all the country-side.
It will be remembered that Charlie Malcolm went a-sailing in a
tobacco-trader to America. When his ship was lying in the harbour of
Virginia, a press-gang, that was in need of men for the Avenger,
man-of-war, came on board and pressed poor Charles. I wrote to Lord
Eglesham anent the matter, and his lordship's brother being connected
with the Admiralty, the captain of the man-of-war was instructed to make
a midshipman of Charles. This was done, and Mrs. Malcolm heard from time
to time from her son, saying that he had found a friend in the captain,
that was just a father to him.
In the latter end of 1776, the man-of-war, with Charles Malcolm in her,
came to the Tail of the Bank at Greenock, and Charles got leave from his
captain to come and see his mother. He brought with him Mr. Howard,
another midshipman, the son of a great Parliament man in London. They
were dressed in their fine gold-laced garbs. When Charles had seen his
mother and his sister, Effie, he came with his friend to see me at the
manse, and got Mrs. Balwhidder to ask his friend to sleep there. In
short, we had a ploy the whole two days they stayed with us, Lady
Macadam made for them at a ball, and it was a delight to see how old and
young of all degrees made much of Charles.
_IV.--Years of Lamentation_
I was named in the year 1779 for the General Assembly, and Mrs.
Balwhidder, by her continual thrift, having made our purse able to stand
a shake against the wind, we resolved to go into Edinburgh in a
creditable manner. We put up at Widow M'Vicar's, a relation to my first
wife, a gawsy, furthy woman, taking great pleasure in hospitality. In
short, everybody in Edinburgh was in a manner wearisome kind.
I was delighted and surprised to find Lord Eglesham at the levee, and he
introduced me to his grace the Commissioner, who required me to preach
before him. Fain would I have eschewed the honour that was thus thrust
upon me; but both my wife and Mrs. M'Vicar were just lifted out of
themselves at the thought. After the sermon the Commissioner
complimented me on my apostolic earnestness, and Mrs. M'Vicar said I had
surprised everybody; but I was fearful there was something of jocularity
at the bottom of all this.
The year 1781 was one of dolour and tribulation, for Lord Eglesham was
shot dead by a poaching exciseman, and Lady Macadam died of paralysis;
but the year after was one of greater lamentation. Three brave young
fellows belonging to the clachan, who had gone as soldiers in America,
were killed in battle with the rebels, for which there was great grief.
Shortly after this the news came of a victory over the French fleet, and
by the same post I got a letter from Mr. Howard, the midshipman, telling
me that poor Charles had been mortally wounded in the action, and had
afterwards died of his wounds.
Mrs. Malcolm heard the news of the victory through the steeple hell
being set a-ringing, and she came over to the manse in great anxiety.
When I saw her I could not speak, but looked at her in pity, and, the
tears fleeing into my eyes, she guessed what had happened. After giving
a deep and sore sigh, she inquired, "How did he behave? I hope well, for
he was aye a gallant laddie!" And then she wept very bitterly. I gave
her the letter, which she begged me to give to her to keep, saying,
"It's all that I have left now of my pretty boy; but it is mair precious
to me than the wealth of the Indies!"
_V.--Death of the Second Mrs. Balwhidder_
Some time after this a Mr. Cayenne, a man of crusty temper but good
heart, and his family, American loyalists, settled among us. In the year
1788, a proposal came from Glasgow to build a cotton mill on the banks
of the Brawl burn, a rapid stream which ran through the parish. Mr.
Cayenne took a part in the profit or loss of the concern, and the cotton
mill and a new town was built, and the whole called Cayenneville.
Weavers of muslin were brought to the mill, and women to teach the
lassie bairns in our old clachan tambouring instead of hand-spinning.
Prosperity of fortune is like the golden hue of the evening cloud that
delighteth the spirit and passeth away. In the month of February 1796,
my second wife was gathered to the Lord. Her death was to me a great
sorrow, for she was a most excellent wife, industrious to a degree. With
her I had grown richer than any other minister in the presbytery.
I laid her by the side of my first love, Betty Lanshaw, and I inscribed
her name upon the same headstone. Time had drained my poetical vein, and
I have not yet been able to indite an epithet on her merits and virtues,
for she had an eminent share of both. Above all, she was the mother of
my children. She was not long deposited in her place of rest until
things fell into amazing confusion, and I saw it would be necessary, as
soon as decency would allow, for me to take another wife, both for a
helpmate, and to tend me in my approaching infirmities.
I saw it would not do for me to look out for an overly young woman, nor
yet would it do for one of my way to take an elderly maiden, ladies of
that sort being liable to possess strong-set particularities. I
therefore resolved that my choice should lie among widows of a discreet
age, and I fixed my purpose on Mrs. Nugent, the relict of a professor in
the University of Glasgow, both because she was a well-bred woman
without any children, and because she was held in great estimation as a
lady of Christian principle. And so we were married as soon as a
twelve-month and a day had passed from the death of the second Mrs.
Balwhidder; and neither of us have had occasion to rue the bargain.
_VI.--The Last Sermon_
Two things made 1799 a memorable year; the marriage of my daughter Janet
with the Rev. Dr. Kittleword of Swappington, a match in every way
commendable; and the death of Mrs. Malcolm. If ever there was a saint on
earth she was surely one. She bore adversity with an honest pride; she
toiled in the day of penury and affliction with thankfulness for her
The year 1803 saw tempestuous times. Bonaparte gathered his host fornent
the English coast, and the government at London were in terror of their
lives for an invasion. All in the country saw that there was danger, and
I was not backward in sounding the trumpet to battle. I delivered on
Lord's Day a religious and political exhortation on the present posture
of public affairs before a vast congregation of all ranks. The week
following there were meetings of weavers and others, and volunteers were
enrolled in defence of king and country.
In the course of the next four or five years many changes took place in
the parish. The weavers and cotton-mill folk and seceders from my own
kirk built a meeting-house in Cayenneville, where there had been for a
while great suffering on account of the failure of the cotton-mill
company. In the year 1809 the elders came in a body to the manse, and
said that, seeing that I was now growing old, they thought they could
not testify their respect for me in a better manner than by agreeing to
get me a helper; and the next year several young ministers spared me
from the necessity of preaching.
When it was known that I was to preach my last sermon on the last
sabbath of 1810, everyone, including the seceders to the meeting-house,
made it a point to be in the parish kirk, or to stand in the crowd that
made a lane of reverence for me to pass from the kirk door to the
back-yett of the manse. It was a moving discourse, and there were few
dry eyes in the kirk that day; for my bidding them farewell was as when
of old among the heathen an idol was taken away by the hand of the
enemy. Shortly after, a deputation of the seceders, with their minister
at their head, came to me and presented a server of silver in token of
their esteem of my blameless life, and the charity I had practised
towards the poor.
I am thankful that I have been spared with a sound mind to write this
book to the end, having really no more to say, saving only to wish a
blessing on all people from on high, where I soon hope to be, and to
meet there all the old and long-departed sheep of my flock, especially
the first and second Mrs. Balwhidders.
* * * * *
ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL
Mrs. Gaskell, whose maiden name was Elizabeth C. Stevenson,
was born in Chelsea, London, Sept. 29, 1810. She married a
Unitarian clergyman in Manchester. Her first literary work was
published anonymously, and met with a storm of mingled
approval and disapproval. Charles Dickens invited her to
contribute to his "Household Words," and it was in the pages
of that famous periodical, at intervals between December 13,
1851, and May 21, 1853, that her charming sketches of social
life in a little country town first appeared. In June, 1853,
they were grouped together under the title of "Cranford,"
meeting with wide approval, and have long taken rank as one of
the accepted English classics. The town which figures here as
Cranford is understood to have been Knutsford, in Cheshire,
which still retains something of that old-world feeling and
restfulness which Mrs. Gaskell embodied in the pages of her
most engaging book. "Cranford" is probably the direct
progenitor of many latter-day books of the class to which the
word "idyll" has been somewhat loosely applied. Its charm and
freshness are unfading; it remains unique and unrivalled as a
sympathetic and kindly humorous description of English
provincial life. Mrs. Gaskell died in November, 1865.
On the first visit I paid to Cranford, after I had left it as a
residence, I was astonished to find a man had settled there--a Captain
Brown. In my time Cranford was in possession of the Amazons. If a
married couple came to settle there, somehow the man always disappeared.
Either he was fairly frightened to death by being the only man at the
evening parties, or he was accounted for by being with his regiment, his
ship, or closely connected in business all the week in the great
neighbouring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on
I was naturally interested to learn what opinions Captain Brown had
managed to win for himself in Cranford. So, with all the delicacy which
the subject demanded, I made inquiries of my hostess, Miss Jenkyns. I
was surprised to learn that Captain Brown not only was respected, but
had even gained an extraordinary place of authority among the Cranford
ladies. Of course, he had been forced to overcome great difficulties.
In the first place, the ladies of Cranford had moaned over the invasion
of their territories by a man and a gentleman. Then Captain Brown had
started badly, very badly, by openly referring to his poverty. If he had
whispered it to an intimate friend, the doors and windows being
previously closed, his vulgarity--a tremendous word in Cranford--might
have been forgiven. But he had published his poverty in the public
street, in a loud military voice, alleging it as a reason for not taking
a particular house.
In Cranford, too, where it was tacitly agreed to ignore that anyone with
whom we associated on terms of equality could ever be prevented by
poverty from doing anything they wished. Where, if we walked to and from
a party, it was because the night was _so_ fine or the air _so_
refreshing, not because sedan-chairs were so expensive.
So the poor captain had been sent to Coventry. The ladies of Cranford
had frozen him out, until the day when the cow, an Alderney cow, had
broken the ice.
It happened like this. Miss Betsy Barker had an Alderney cow, which she
looked upon as a daughter. You could not pay the regulation short
quarter of an hour's call--to stay longer was a breach of
manners--without being told of the wonderful milk or wonderful
intelligence of this animal. The whole town knew and kindly regarded
Miss Betsy Barker's Alderney.
One day the cow fell into a lime-pit, and Cranford grieved over the
spectacle of the poor beast being drawn out, having lost most of her
hair, and looking naked, cold and miserable, in a bare skin. Miss Betsy
Barker absolutely cried with sorrow and dismay, and was about to prepare
a bath of oil for the sufferer, when Captain Brown called out: "Get her
a flannel waistcoat and flannel drawers, ma'am, if you wish to keep her
alive. But my advice is, 'kill the poor creature at once.'" Miss Betsy
Barker dried her eyes, and in a few hours the whole town turned out to
see the Alderney meekly going to her pasture, clad in dark-gray flannel.
Do you ever see cows dressed in gray flannel in London?
On that day was born the respect of the Cranford ladies for Captain
Soon after my arrival in Cranford, Miss Jenkyns gave a party in my
honour, and recalling the old days when we had almost persuaded
ourselves that to be a man was to be "vulgar," I was curious to see what
the ladies would do with Captain Brown.
The preparations were much as usual. Card-tables, with green baize tops,
were set out by daylight, and towards four, when the evening closed in,
we all stood dressed in our best, each with a candle-lighter in our
hand, ready to dart at the candles as soon as the first knock came. The
china was delicate egg-shell; the old-fashioned silver glittered with
polishing; but the eatables were of the slightest description. While the
trays were yet on the table, Captain Brown arrived with his two
daughters, Miss Brown and Miss Jessie, the former with a sickly, pained,
and careworn expression; the latter with a pretty, round, dimpled face,
and the look of a child which will remain with her should she live to be
I could see that the captain was a favourite with all the ladies
present. Ruffled brows were smoothed and sharp voices hushed at his
approach. He immediately and quietly assumed the man's place in the
room; attended to everyone's wants, lessened the pretty maidservant's
labour by waiting on empty cups and bread-and-butterless ladies; and yet
did it all in so easy and dignified a manner, and so much as if it were
a matter of course for the strong to attend to the weak, that he was a
true man throughout.
The party passed off very well in spite of one or two little hitches.
One was Miss Jessie Brown's unguarded admission--_a propos_ of Shetland
wool--that she had an uncle, her mother's brother, who was a shopkeeper
in Edinburgh. Miss Jenkyns tried to drown this confession by a terrible
cough, for the honourable Mrs. Jamieson was sitting at the card-table
nearest Miss Jessie, and what would she say or think if she found out
she was in the same room with a shopkeeper's niece!
Then there was a slight breeze between Miss Jenkyns and Captain Brown
over the relative merits of Dr. Johnson and the author of "Pickwick
Papers"--then being published in parts--as writers of light and
agreeable fiction. Captain Brown read an account of the "Swarry" which
Sam Weller gave at Bath. Some of us laughed very heartily. _I_ did not
dare, because I was staying in the house. At the conclusion Miss Jenkyns
said to me, with mild dignity, "Fetch me 'Rasselas,' my dear, out of the
After delivering one of the conversations between Rasselas and Imlac in
a majestic, high-pitched voice, Miss Jenkyns said, "I imagine I am now
justified in my preference for Dr. Johnson over your Mr. Boz as a writer
The captain said nothing, merely screwed his lips up and drummed on the
table; but when Miss Jenkyns returned later to the charge and
recommended the doctor's style to Captain Brown's favourite, the captain
replied, "I should be very sorry for him to exchange his style for any
such pompous writing."
Miss Jenkyns felt this as a personal affront in a way of which the
captain had not dreamed. How could he know that she and her friends
looked upon epistolary writing as their forte, and that when in a letter
they "seized the half-hour just previous to post-time to assure" their
friends of this and that, they were using the doctor as a model?
As it was Miss Jenkyns refused to be mollified by Captain Brown's
efforts later to beguile her into conversation on some more pleasing
subject. She was inexorable.
Captain Brown endeavoured to make peace after this memorable dispute by
a present to Miss Jenkyns of a wooden fire-shovel (his own making),
having heard her say how much the grating of an iron one annoyed her.
She received the present with cool gratitude and thanked him formally.
When he was gone she bade me put it in the lumber-room, feeling probably
that no present from a man who preferred Mr. Boz to Dr. Johnson could be
less jarring than an iron fire-shovel.
Such was the state of affairs at the time when I left Cranford and went
to Drumble. I had, however, several correspondents who kept me _au fait_
as to the proceedings of the inhabitants of the dear little town.
My next visit to Cranford was in the summer. There had been neither
births, deaths, nor marriages since I was there last. Everybody lived in
the same house, and wore pretty near the same well-preserved,
old-fashioned clothes. The greatest event was that the Misses Jenkyns
had purchased a new carpet for the drawing-room. Oh, the busy work Miss
Matty and I had in chasing the sunbeams as they fell in an afternoon
right down on this carpet through the blindless windows! We spread our
newspapers over the places and sat down to our book or our work; and,
lo! in a quarter of an hour the sun had moved and was blazing away in a
fresh spot; and down again we went on our knees to alter the position of
the newspapers. One whole morning, too, we spent in cutting out and
stitching together pieces of newspapers so as to form little paths to
every chair, lest the shoes of visitors should defile the purity of the
carpet. Do you make paper paths for every guest to walk upon in London?
The literary dispute between Captain Brown and Miss Jenkyns continued.
She had formed a habit of talking _at_ him. And he retaliated by
drumming his fingers, which action Miss Jenkyns felt and resented as
disparaging to Dr. Johnson.
The poor captain! I noticed on this visit that he looked older and more
worn, and his clothes were very threadbare. But he seemed as bright and
cheerful as ever, unless he was asked about his daughter's health.
One afternoon we perceived little groups in the street, all listening
with faces aghast to some tale or other. It was some time before Miss
Jenkyns took the undignified step of sending Jenny out to inquire.
Jenny came back with a white face of terror.
"Oh, ma'am! Oh, Miss Jenkyns, ma'am! Captain Brown is killed by them
nasty cruel railroads." And she burst into tears.
"How, where--where? Good God! Jenny, don't waste time in crying, but
tell us something."
Miss Matty rushed out into the street, and presently an affrighted
carter appeared in the drawing-room and told the story.
"'Tis true, mum, I seed it myself. The captain was a-readin' some book,
waitin' for the down train, when a lass as gave its sister the slip came
toddling across the line. He looked up sudden, see'd the child, darted
on the line, cotched it up, and his foot slipped and the train came over
him in no time. The child's safe. Poor captain would be glad of that,
mum, wouldn't he? God bless him!"
The great rough carter turned away to hide his tears. I turned to Miss
Jenkyns. She looked very ill, as though she were going to faint, and
signed to me to open a window.
"Matilda, bring me my bonnet. I must go to those girls. God pardon me if
ever I have spoken contemptuously to the captain."
Miss Brown did not long survive her father. Her last words were a prayer
for forgiveness for her selfishness in allowing her sister Jessie to
sacrifice herself for her all her life.