Part 2 out of 7
That same day Marya hastened back to my father's house in the country,
without even having the curiosity to see the sights of Petersburg.
I was released from captivity at the end of the year 1774, and, as it
happened, I was present in Moscow when Pugatchef was executed in the
following year. The famous robber chief recognised me as I stood in the
crowd, and bade me farewell with a silent movement of his head. A few
moments later and the executioner held up the lifeless head for all the
people to look upon.
Chvabrine I never saw again after the day I was confronted with him at
Soon after Pugatchef's death, Marya and I were married from my father's
An autograph letter from the tzarina, Catherine II., framed and glazed,
is carefully preserved. It is addressed to the father of Peter Grineff,
and contains, with the acquittal of his son, many praises of the
intelligence and good heart of the daughter of Captain Mironoff.
* * * * *
Gargantua and Pantagruel
Francois Rabelais was born at Seuille in Touraine, France,
about 1483. Brought up in a Franciscan convent, he was made a
priest in 1520. During his monastic career he conceived a deep
and lasting contempt for monkish life, and he obtained
permission from the Pope to become a secular priest. He then
studied medicine, and became a physician. After wandering
about France for many years, he was appointed parish priest of
Meudon in 1551, and he died at Paris in 1553. "The Great and
Inestimable Chronicles of the Grand and Enormous Giant
Gargantua" ("Les Grandes et Inestimables Chroniques du Grande
et Enorme Geant Gargantua"), and its sequel, "Pantagruel,"
appeared between 1533 and 1564. Had these appeared during
Rabelais' life, his career would probably have been shorter
than it was, for the work is, with all its humour, a very
bitter satire against both the Roman Church and the
Calvinistic. Rabelais is one of the very great French writers
and humourists whose work is closely connected with English
literature. But what he borrowed from Sir Thomas More, he
generously repaid to Shakespeare, Swift, and Sterne. The
famous Abbey of Thelema is inspired by More's "Utopia"; on the
other hand, Shakespeare's praise of debt is taken from the
speech of Panurge--the most humorous character in French
literature, and worthy to stand beside Falstaff.
_I.--The Very Horrific Life of the Great Gargantua_
Grangousier was a right merry fellow in his time, and he had as great a
love as any man living in the world for neat wine and salt meat. When he
came to man's estate he married Gargamelle, daughter to the king of the
Parpaillons, a jolly wench and good looking, who died in giving birth to
They had gone out with their neighbours in a hurl to Willow Grove, and
there on the thick grass they danced so gallantly that it was a heavenly
sport to see them so frolic. Then began flagons to go, gammons to trot,
goblets to fly, and glasses to rattle. "Draw, reach, fill, mix. Give it
to me--without water; so my friend. Whip me off this bowl gallantly.
Bring me some claret, a full glass running over. A truce to thirst! By
my faith, gossip, I cannot get in a drinking humour! Have you caught a
cold, gammer? Let's talk of drinking. Which was first, thirst or
drinking? Thirst, for who would have drunk without thirst in the time of
innocence? I do, as I am a sinner. I drink to prevent thirst. I drink
for the thirst to come. Let's have a song, a catch; let us sing a round.
Drink for ever, and you shall never die! When I am not drinking I am as
good as dead. Drink, or I'll--The appetite comes with eating and the
thirst goes with drinking. Nature abhors a vacuum. Swallow it down, it
is wholesome medicine!"
It was at this moment that Gargantua was born. He did not whimper as the
other babes used to do, but with a high, sturdy, and big voice, he
shouted out, "Drink, drink, drink!" The sound was so extremely great
that it rang over two counties. I am afraid that you do not thoroughly
believe in the truth of this strange nativity. Believe it or not, I do
not care. But an honest man, a man of good sense, always believes what
is told him, and what he finds written.
When the good man Grangousier, who was then merrily drinking with his
guests, heard his son roar out for drink, he said to him in French, "Que
Grand Tu As et souple le gousier!" That is to say, "How great and nimble
a throat thou hast." Hearing this, the company said that the child
verily ought to be called Gargantua, because it was the first word
uttered by his father at his birth. Which the father graciously
permitted, and to calm the child they gave him enough drink to crack his
throat, and then carried him to the font where he was christened
according to the manner of good Christians.
So great was Gargantua, even when a babe of a day old, that seventeen
thousand nine hundred and thirteen cows were required to furnish him
with milk. By the ancient records to be seen in the chamber of accounts
at Montsoreau, I find that nine thousand six hundred ells of blue velvet
were used for his gown, four hundred and six ells of crimson velvet were
taken up for his shoes, which were soled with the hides of eleven
hundred brown cows; and the rest of his costume was in proportion. By
the commandment of his father, Gargantua was brought up and instructed
in all convenient discipline, and he spent his time like the other
children of the country--that is, in drinking, eating, and sleeping; in
eating, sleeping, and drinking; and in sleeping, drinking, and eating.
In his youth he studied hard under a very learned man, called Master
Tubal Holofermes, and, after studying with him for five years and three
months, he learnt so much that he was able to say the alphabet
backwards. About this time, the king of Numidia sent out of the country
of Africa to Grangousier, the hugest and most enormous mare that was
ever seen. She was as large as six elephants, and of a burnt sorrel
colour with dapple grey spots; but, above all, she had a horrible tail.
For it was little more or less as great as the pillar of St. Mars,
which, as you know, is eighty-six feet in height.
When Grangousier saw her, he said, "Here is the very thing to carry my
son to Paris. He shall go there and learn what the study of the young
men of France is, and in time to come he shall be a great scholar!"
The next morning, after, of course, drinking, Gargantua set out on his
journey. He passed his time merrily along the highway, until he came a
little above Orleans, in which place there was a forest five-and-thirty
leagues long and seventeen wide. This forest was most horribly fertile
and abundant in gadflies and hornets, so that it was a very purgatory
for asses and horses. But Gargantua's mare handsomely avenged all the
outrages committed upon beasts of her kind. For as soon as she entered
the forest, and the hornets gave the attack, she drew out her tail and
swished it about, and swept down all the trees with as much ease as a
mower cuts grass. And since then there has been neither a forest nor a
hornet's nest in that place, for all the country was thereby reduced to
At last Gargantua came to Paris, and inquired what wine they drank
there, and what learning was to be had. Everybody in Paris looked upon
him with great admiration. For the people of this city are by nature so
sottish, idle, and good-for-nothing, that a mountebank, a pardoner come
from Rome to sell indulgences, or a fiddler in the crossways, will
attract together more of them than a good preacher of the Gospel. So
troublesome were they in pursuing Gargantua, that he was compelled to
seek a resting-place on the towers of Notre Dame. There he amused
himself by ringing the great bells, and it came into his mind that they
would serve as cowbells to hang on the neck of his mare, so he carried
them off to his lodging.
At this all the people of Paris rose up in sedition. They are, as you
know, so ready to uproars and insurrections, that foreign nations wonder
at the stupidity of the kings of France at not restraining them from
such tumultuous courses, seeing the manifold inconveniences which thence
arise from day to day. Believe for a truth, that the place where the
people gathered together was called Nesle; there, after the case was
proposed and argued, they resolved to send the oldest and most able of
their learned men unto Gargantua to explain to him the great and
horrible prejudice they sustained by the want of their bells. Thereupon
Gargantua put up the bells again in their place, and in acknowledgement
of his courtesy, the citizens offered to maintain and feed his mare as
long as he pleased. And they sent her to graze in the forest of Biere,
but I do not think she is there now.
For some years Gargantua studied at Paris under a wise and able master,
and grew expert in manly sports of all kinds, as well as in learning of
every sort. Then he was called upon to return to his country to take
part in a great and horrible war.
_II.--The Marvellous Deeds of Friar John_
The war began in this way: At the time of the vintage, the shepherds of
Grangousier's country were set to guard the vines and hinder the
starlings from eating the grapes. Seeing some cake-bakers of Lerne
passing down the highway with ten or twelve loads of cakes, the
shepherds courteously asked them to sell some of their wares at the
market price. The cake-bakers, however, were in no way inclinable to the
request of the shepherds; and, what is worse, they insulted them hugely,
calling them babblers, broken-mouths, carrot-pates, tunbellies,
fly-catchers, sneakbies, joltheads, slabberdegullion druggels, and other
defamatory epithets. And when one honest shepherd came forward with the
money to buy some of the cakes, a rude cake-baker struck him a rude lash
with a whip. Thereupon some farmers and their men, who were watching
their walnuts close by, ran up with their great poles and long staves,
and thrashed the cake-bakers as if they had been green rye.
When they were returned to Lerne, the cake-makers complained to their
king, Picrochole, saying that all the mischief was done by the shepherds
of Grangousier. Picrochole incontinently grew angry and furious, and
without making any further question, he had it cried throughout his
country that every man, under pain of hanging, should assemble in arms
at noon before his castle. Thereupon, without order or measure, his men
took the field, ravaging and wasting everything wherever they passed
through. All that they said to any man that cried them mercy, was: "We
will teach you to eat cakes!"
Having pillaged the town of Seuille, they went on with the horrible
tumult to an abbey. Finding it well barred and made fast, seven
companies of foot and two hundred lances broke down the walls of the
close, and began to lay waste the vineyard. The poor devils of monks did
not know to what saint to pray in their extremity, and they made
processions and said litanies against their foes. But in the abbey at
that time was a cloister-monk named Friar John of the Trenchermen,
young, gallant, frisky, lusty, nimble, quick, active, bold, resolute,
tall, wide-mouthed, and long-nosed; a fine mumbler of matins, a fair
runner through masses, and a great scourer of vigils--to put it short, a
true monk, if ever there was one since the monking world monked a
monkery. This monk, hearing the noise that the enemy made in the
vineyard, went to see what they were doing, and perceiving that they
were gathering the grapes out of which next year's drink of the abbey
ought to be made, he grew mighty angry. "The devil take me," he cried,
"if they have not already chopped our vines so that we shall have no
drink for years to come! Did not St. Thomas of England die for the goods
of the church? If I died in the same cause should I not be a saint
likewise? However, I shall not die for them, but make other men to do
Throwing off his monk's habit, he took up a cross made out of a sour
apple-tree, which was as long as a lance, and with it he laid on lustily
upon his enemies. He scattered the brains of some, and the legs and arms
of others. He broke their necks; he had off their heads; he smashed
their bones; he caved in their ribs; he impaled them, and he transfixed
them. Believe me, it was a most horrible spectacle that ever man saw.
Some died without speaking, others spoke without dying; some died while
they were speaking, others spoke while they were dying. So great was the
cry of the wounded, that the prior and all his monks came forth, and
seeing the poor wretches hurt to death, began to confess them. But when
those who had been shriven tried to depart, Friar John felled them with
a terrible blow, saying, "These men have had confession and are
repentant, so straight they go into Paradise!"
Thus by his prowess and valour were discomfited all those of the army,
under the number of thirteen thousand six hundred and twenty-two, that
entered the abbey close. Gargantua, who had come from Paris to help his
father against Picrochole, heard of the marvellous feats of Friar John,
and sought his aid, and by means of it utterly defeated the enemy. What
became of Picrochole after his defeat I cannot say with certainty, but I
was told that he is now a porter at Lyons. He always inquires of all
strangers on the coming of the Cocquecigrues, for an old woman has
prophesied that at their coming he shall be re-established in his
_III.--The Abbey of Thelema_
Gargantua was mightily pleased with Friar John, and he wanted to make
him abbot of several abbeys in his country. But the monk said he would
never take upon him the government of monks. "Give me leave," he said,
"to found an abbey after my own fancy." The notion pleased Gargantua,
who thereupon offered him all the country of Thelema by the river of
Loire. Friar John then asked Gargantua to institute his religious order
contrary to all others. At that time they placed no women into nunneries
save those who were ugly, ill-made, foolish, humpbacked, or corrupt; nor
put any men into monasteries save those that were sickly, ill-born,
simple-witted, and a burden to their family. Therefore, it was ordained
that into this abbey of Thelema should be admitted no women that were
not beautiful and of a sweet disposition, and no men that were not
handsome, well-made, and well-conditioned. And because both men and
women that are received into religious orders are constrained to stay
there all the days of their lives, it was therefore laid down that all
men and women admitted to Thelema should have leave to depart whenever
it seemed good to them. And because monks and nuns made three vows of
poverty, chastity, and obedience, it was appointed that those who
entered into the new order might be rich and honourably married and live
For the building of the abbey Gargantua gave twenty-seven hundred
thousand eight hundred and thirty-one long-wooled sheep; and for the
maintenance thereof he gave an annual fee-farm rent of twenty-three
hundred and sixty-nine thousand five hundred and fourteen rose nobles.
In the building were nine thousand three hundred and thirty-two
apartments, each furnished with an inner chamber, a cabinet, a wardrobe,
a chapel, and an opening into a great hall. The abbey also contained
fine great libraries and spacious picture galleries.
All the life of the Thelemites was laid out, not by laws and rules, but
according to their own free will and pleasure. They rose from their beds
when it seemed good to them; they drank, worked, ate, slept, when the
wish came upon them. No one constrained them in anything, for so had
Gargantua established it. Their rule consisted of this one clause:
DO WHAT THOU WILT
Because men are free, well-born, well-bred, conversant in honest
company, have by nature an instinct and a spur that always prompt them
to virtuous actions and withdraw them from vice; and this they style
honour. When the time was come that any man wished to leave the abbey,
he carried with him one of the ladies who had taken him for her faithful
servant, and they were married together; and if they had formerly lived
together in Thelema in devotion and friendship, still more did they so
continue in wedlock; insomuch that they loved one another to the end of
their lives, as on the first day of their marriage.
_IV.--Pantagruel and Panurge_
At the age of four hundred four score and forty-four years, Gargantua
had a son by his wife, Badebec, daughter of one of the kings of Utopia.
And because in the year that his son was born there was a great drought,
Gargantua gave him the name of Pantagruel; for panta in Greek is as much
as to say all, and gruel in the Arabic language has the same meaning as
thirsty. Moreover, Gargantua foresaw, in the spirit of prophesy, that
Pantagruel would one day be the ruler of the thirsty race, and that if
he lived very long he would arrive at a goodly age.
Like his father, Pantagruel went to Paris to study. There his spirit
among his books was like fire among heather, so indefatigable was it and
ardent. One day as Pantagruel was taking a walk without the city he met
a man of a comely stature and elegant in all the lineaments of his body,
but most pitifully wounded, and clad in tatters and rags.
"Who are you, my friend?" said Pantagruel. "What do you want, and what
is your name?" The man answered him in German, gibberish, Italian,
English, Basque, Lantern-language, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Hebrew,
Greek, Breton, and Latin.
"Well, well, my friend," replied Pantagruel, when the man had come to an
end, "can you speak French?"
"That I can very well, sir," he replied, "for my name is Panurge, and I
was bred and born in Touraine, which is the garden of France. I have
just come from Turkey, where I was taken prisoner, and my throat is so
parched and my stomach so empty that if you will only put a meal before
me, it will be a fine sight for you to see me walk into it."
Pantagruel had conceived a great affection for the wandering scholar,
and he took him home and set a great store of food before him. Panurge
ate right on until the evening, went to bed as soon as he finished,
slept till dinner time next day, so that he only made three steps and a
jump from bed to table. Panurge was of a middle height, and had a nose
like that of the handle of a razor. He was a very gallant and proper man
in his person, and the greatest thief, drinker, roysterer, and rake in
Paris. With all that, he was the best fellow in the world, and he was
always contriving some mischief or other. Pantagruel, being pleased with
him, gave him the castellany of Salmigondin, which was yearly worth
6,789,106,789 royals of certain rent; besides the uncertain revenue of
cockchafers and snails, amounting one year with another to the value of
2,435,768, or 2,435,769 French crowns of Berry. Sometimes it amounted to
1,234,554,321 seraphs, when it was a good season, and cockchafers and
snails in request; but that was not every year.
The new castellan conducted himself so well and prudently than in less
than fourteen days he wasted all the revenue of his castellany for three
whole years. Yet he did not throw it away in building churches and
founding monasteries, but spent it in a thousand little banquets and
joyful festivals, keeping open house for all good fellows and pretty
girls who came that way.
Pantagruel being advertised of the affair was in no wise offended. He
only took Panurge aside, and sweetly represented to him that if he
continued to live in this manner it would be difficult at any time to
make him rich.
"Rich?" answered Panurge. "Have you undertaken the impossible task to
make me rich? Be prudent, like me, and borrow money beforehand, for you
never know how things will turn out."
"But," said Pantagruel, "when will you be out of debt?"
"The Lord forbid I should ever be out of debt," replied Panurge. "Are
you indebted to somebody? He will pray night and morning that your life
may be blessed, long and prosperous. Fearing to lose his debt, he will
always speak good of you in every company; moreover, he will continually
get new creditors for you, in the hope, that, through them, you will be
able to pay him."
To this Pantagruel answering nothing. Panurge went on with his
discourse, saying: "To think that you should run full tilt at me and
twit me with my debts and creditors! In this one thing only do I esteem
myself worshipful, reverend, and formidable. I have created something
out of nothing--a line of fair and jolly creditors! Imagine how glad I
am when I see myself, every morning, surrounded by them, humble,
fawning, and full of reverence. You ask me when I will be out of debt.
May the good Saint Babolin snatch me, if I have not always held that
debt was the connection and tie between the heavens and the earth; the
only bond of union of the human race; without it the whole progeny of
Adam would soon perish. A world without debts! Everything would be in
disorder. The planets, reckoning they were not indebted to each other,
would thrust themselves out of their sphere. The sun would not lend any
light to the earth. No rain would descend on it, no wind blow there, and
there would be no summer or harvest. Faith, hope, and charity will be
quite banished from such a world; and what would happen to our bodies?
The head would not lend the sight of its eyes to guide the hands and the
feet; the feet would refuse to carry the head, and the hands would leave
off working for it. Life would go out of the body, and the chafing soul
would take its flight after my money.
"On the contrary, I shall be pleased to represent unto your fancy
another world, in which everyone lends and everyone owes. Oh, how great
will be the harmony among mankind! I lose myself in this contemplation.
There will be peace among men; love, affection, fidelity, feastings,
joy, and gladness; gold, silver, and merchandise will trot from hand to
hand. There will be no suits of law, no wars, no strife. All will be
good, all will be fair, all will be just. Believe me, it is a divine
thing to lend, and an heroic virtue to owe. Yet this is not all. We owe
something to posterity."
"What is that?" said Pantagruel.
"The task of creating it," said Panurge. "I have a mind to marry and get
"We must consult the Oracle of the Divine Bottle," exclaimed Pantagruel,
"before you enter on so dangerous an undertaking. Come, let us prepare
for the voyage."
_V.--The Divine Bottle_
Pantagruel knew that the Oracle of the Divine Bottle could only be
reached by a perilous voyage in unknown seas and strange islands. But,
undismayed by this knowledge, he fitted out a great fleet at St. Malo,
and sailed beyond the Cape of Good Hope to Lantern Land. As they were
voyaging along, beyond the desolate land of the Popefigs and the blessed
island of the Papemanes, Pantagruel heard voices in the air, and the
pilot said: "Be not afraid, my lord! We are on the confines of the
frozen sea, where there was a great fight last winter between the
Arimaspians and the Nepheliabetes. The cries of the men, the neighing of
the horses, and all the din of battle froze in the air, and now that the
warm season is come, they are melting into sound."
"Look," said Pantagruel, "here are some that are not yet thawed." And he
threw on deck great handfuls of frozen words, seeming like sugar-plums
of many colours. Panurge warmed some of them in his hands, and they
melted like snow into a barbarous gibberish. Panurge prayed Pantagruel
to give him some more, but Pantagruel told him that to give words was
the part of a lover.
"Sell me some, then," cried Panurge.
"That is the part of a lawyer," said Pantagruel. But he threw three or
four more handfuls of them on the deck, and as they melted all the
noises of the battle rang about the ship.
From this point Pantagruel sailed straight for Lantern Land, and came to
the desired island in which was the Oracle of the Bottle. On the front
of the Doric portal was engraved in fine gold the sentence: "In Wine,
Truth." The noble priestess, Bachuc, led Panurge to the fountain in the
temple, within which was placed the Divine Bottle. After he had danced
round it three Bacchic dances, she threw a magic powder into the
fountain, and its water began to boil violently and Panurge sat upon the
ground and waited for the oracle. First of all a noise like that made by
bees at their birth came from the Divine Bottle, and immediately after
this was heard the word, "Drink!"
The priestess then filled some small leather vessels with this fantastic
water, and gave them to Panurge and Pantagruel, saying: "If you have
observed what is written above the temple gates, you at last know that
truth is hidden in wine. Be yourselves the expounders of your
undertaking, and now go, friends, in the protection of that intellectual
sphere, the centre of which is in all places and the circumference
nowhere, which we call God. What has become of the art of calling down
from heaven, thunder and celestial fire, once invented by the wise
Prometheus? You have certainly lost it. Your philosophers who complain
that all things were written by the ancients, and that nothing is left
for them to invent, are evidently wrong. When they shall give their
labour and study to search out, with prayer to the sovereign God (whom
the Egyptians named the Hidden and Concealed, and invoking Him by that
name, besought Him to manifest and discover Himself to them), He will
grant to them, partly guided by good Lanterns, knowledge of Himself and
His creatures. For all philosophers and ancient sages have considered
two things necessary for the sure and pleasant pursuit of the way of
divine knowledge and choice of wisdom--the goodness of God, and the
company of men.
"Now go, in the name of God, and may He guide you."
* * * * *
Charles Reade made his first appearance as an author
comparatively late in life. He was the son of an English
squire, born at Ipsden on June 8, 1814, and was educated for
the Bar, being entered at Lincoln's Inn in 1843. His literary
career began as dramatist, and it is significant that it was
his own wish that the word "dramatist" should stand first in
the description of his works on his tombstone. His maiden
effort in stage literature, "The Ladies' Battle," was produced
in 1851; but it was not until November, 1852, with the
appearance of "Masks and Faces"--the story which he afterwards
adapted into prose under the title of "Peg Woffington"--that
Reade became famous as a playwright. From 1852 until his
death, which occurred on April 11, 1884, Reade's life is
mainly a catalogue of novels and dramas. Like many of Charles
Reade's works, "Hard Cash, a Matter-of-Fact Romance," is a
novel with a purpose, and was written with the object of
exposing abuses connected with the lunacy laws and the
management of private lunatic asylums. Entitled "Very Hard
Cash," it first appeared serially in the pages of "All the
Year Round," then under the editorship of Charles Dickens, and
although its success in that form was by no means
extraordinary, its popularity on its publication in book form
in 1863 was well deserved and emphatic. The appearance of
"Hard Cash," which is a sequel to a comparatively trivial
tale, "Love me Little, Love me Long," provoked much hostile
criticism from certain medical quarters--criticism to which
Reade replied with vehemence and characteristic vigour. His
activity in the campaign against the abuses of lunacy law did
not end with the publication of this story, since he conducted
personal investigations in many individual cases of false
imprisonment under pretence of lunacy.
_I.--The Dodd and Hardie Families_
In a snowy-villa, just outside the great commercial seaport, Barkington,
there lived, a few years ago, a happy family. A lady, middle-aged, but
still charming; two young friends of hers, and an occasional visitor.
The lady was Mrs. Dodd; her periodical visitor her husband, the captain
of an East Indiaman; her friends were her son Edward, aged twenty, and
her daughter, Julia, nineteen.
Mrs. Dodd was the favourite companion and bosom friend of both her
children. They were remarkably dissimilar. Edward was comely and manly,
no more; could walk up to a five-barred gate and clear it; could row all
day, and then dance all night; and could not learn his lessons to save
In his sister Julia modesty, intelligence, and, above all, enthusiasm
shone, and made her an incarnate sunbeam.
This one could learn her lessons with unreasonable rapidity, and Mrs.
Dodd educated her herself, from first to last; but Edward she sent to
Eton, where he made good progress--in aquatics and cricket.
In spite of his solemn advice--"you know, mamma, I've got no
headpiece"--he was also sent to Oxford, and soon found he could not have
carried his wares to a better market. Advancing steadily in that line of
study towards which his genius lay, he was soon as much talked about in
the university as any man in his college, except one. Singularly enough,
that one was his townsman--much Edward's senior in standing, though not
in age. Young Alfred Hardie was doge of a studious clique, and careful
to make it understood that he was a reading man who boated and cricketed
to avoid the fatigue of lounging.
To this young Apollo, crowned with variegated laurel, Edward looked up
from a distance, praised him and recorded his triumphs in all his
letters; but he, thinking nothing human worthy of reverence but
intellect, was not attracted by Edward, till at Henley he saw Julia, and
lo! true life had dawned. He passed the rest of the term in a soft
ecstasy, called often on Edward, and took a prodigious interest in him,
and counted the days till he should be for four months in the same town
as his enchantress. Within a month of his arrival in Barkington he
obtained Mrs. Dodd's permission to ask his father's consent to propose
an engagement to Julia, which was promptly refused; and inquiry,
petulance, tenderness, and logic were alike wasted on Mr. Hardie by his
son in vain. He would give no reason. But Mrs. Dodd, knowing him of old,
had little doubt, and watched her daughter day and night to find whether
love or pride was the stronger, all the mother in arms to secure her
daughter's happiness. Finding this really at stake, she explained that
she knew the nature of Mr. Hardie's objections, and they were objections
that her husband, on his return, would remove. "My darling," she said,
"pray for your father's safe return, for on him, and on him alone, your
happiness depends, as mine does."
Next day Mrs. Dodd walked two hours with Alfred, and his hopes revived
under her magic, as Julia's had. The wise woman quietly made terms. He
was not to come to the house except on her invitation, unless indeed he
had news of the Agra to communicate; but he might write once a week, and
enclose a few lines to Julia. On this he proceeded to call her his best,
dearest, loveliest friend--his mother. That touched her. Hitherto he had
been to her but a thing her daughter loved. Her eyes filled.
"My poor, warm-hearted, motherless boy," she said, "pray for my
husband's safe return."
So now two more bright eyes looked longingly seaward for the Agra,
_II.--Richard Hardie's Villainy_
Richard Hardie was at that moment the unlikeliest man in Barkington to
decline Julia Dodd, with hard cash in five figures, for his
The great banker stood, a colossus of wealth and stability to the eye,
though ready to crumble at a touch, and, indeed, self-doomed; for
bankruptcy was now his game. This was a miserable man, far more so than
his son, whose happiness he was thwarting; and of all things that gnawed
him, none was more bitter than to have borrowed L5,000 of his children's
trust money, and sunk it. His son's marriage would expose him; lawyers
would peer into trusts, etc.
When his son announced his attachment to a young lady living in a
suburban villa it was a terrible blow, but if Alfred had told him hard
cash in five figures could be settled by the bride's family on the young
couple, he would have welcomed the wedding with a secret gush of joy,
for he could then have thrown himself on Alfred's generosity, and been
released from that one corroding debt.
He had for months spent his days poring over the books, fabricating and
maturing a false balance-sheet. Suspecting that the cashier was watching
him, he one day handed him his dismissal, polite but peremptory, and
went on cooking his accounts with surpassing dignity. Rage supplying the
place of courage, the cashier let him know that he--poor, despised Noah
Skinner--had kept genuine books while he had been preparing false ones.
He was at the mercy of his servant, and bowed his pride to flatter
Skinner, and soon saw this was the way to make him a clerk of wax. He
became his accomplice, and on this his master told him everything it was
impossible to keep from him. At this moment Captain Dodd was announced.
Mr. Hardie explained to his new ally the danger that threatened him from
Miss Julia Dodd.
"And now," said he, "the women have sent the father to soften me. I
shall be told his girl will die if she can't have my boy."
But, instead of the heartbroken father he expected, in came the gallant
sailor, with a brown cheek reddened with triumph and excitement, who
held out his hand cordially, almost shouting in a jovial voice, "Well,
sir, here I am, just come ashore, and visiting you before my very wife;
what d'ye think of that?"
Hardie stared, and remained on his guard, puzzled; while David Dodd
showed his pocket-book, and in the pride of his heart, and the fever in
his blood--for there were two red spots on his cheeks all the time--told
the cold pair its adventures in a few glowing words; the Calcutta
firm--the two pirates--the hurricane--the wrecks, the land-sharks he had
saved it from. "And here it is safe, in spite of them all, and you must
be good enough to take care of it for me."
He then opened the pocket-book, and Mr. Hardie ran over the notes and
bills, and said the amount was L14,010 12s. 6d.
Dodd asked for a receipt, and while it was written poor Dodd's heart
"It's my children's fortune, you see; I don't look on a sixpence of it
as mine. It belongs to my little Julia, bless her, she's a rosebud if
ever there was one; and my boy Edward, he's the honestest young chap you
ever saw; but how could they miss either good looks or good hearts, and
her children? Here's a Simple Simon vaunting his own flesh and blood,
but you know how it is with us fathers; our hearts are so full of the
little darlings, out it must come. You can imagine how joyful I feel at
saving their fortune from land-sharks, and landing it safe in an honest
Skinner gave him the receipt.
"All right, little gentleman; now my heart is relieved of such a weight.
Good-bye, shake hands. God bless you! God bless you both!" And with this
he was out and making ardently for Albion Villa.
* * * * *
Ten minutes later the door burst open, and David Dodd stood on the
threshold, looking terrible. He seemed black and white with anger and
anxiety. Making a great effort to control his agitation, he said, "I
have changed my mind, sir; I want my money back."
Mr. Hardie said faintly, "Certainly; may I ask----"
"No matter," cried Dodd. "Come! My money! I must and will have it."
Hardie drew himself up majestically; and Dodd said, "Well, I beg your
pardon, but I can't help it!"
The banker's mind went into a whirl. It was death to part with this
money and get nothing by it. He made excuses. Dodd eyed him sternly, and
said quietly, "So you can't give me my money because your cashier has
carried it away. It is not in this room, then?"
"What, not in that safe there?"
"Certainly not," said Hardie stoutly.
"My money! My money!" cried David fiercely. "No more words. I know you
now. I _saw_ you put it in that safe. You want to steal my children's
money. My money, ye pirate, or I'll strangle you!"
While Hardie unlocked the safe with trembling hands, Dodd stood like a
man petrified; the next moment his teeth gnashed loudly together, and he
fell headlong on the floor in a fit. So the L14,000 remained with the
Not many days after this a crowd stood in front of the old bank, looking
at the shutters, and a piece of paper announcing a suspension, only for
a month or so.
Many things now came to Alfred Hardie's knowledge till he began to
shudder at his own father, and was troubled with dark, mysterious
surmises, and wandered alone, or sat brooding and dejected. Richard
Hardie's anxiety to know whether David Dodd was to live or die
increased. He was now resolved to fly to the United States with his
booty, and cheat his son with the rest. On his putting a smooth inquiry
to Alfred, his face flushed with shame or anger, and he gave a very
short, obscure reply. So he invited the doctor to dinner, and elicited
the information that David's life indeed was saved, but he was a maniac;
and his sister, a sensible, resolute woman, had signed the certificate,
and he was now in a private asylum.
Mr. Hardie smiled, and sipped his tea luxuriously; he would not have to
go to a foreign land after all. Who would believe a lunatic? He said, "I
presume, Alfred, you are not so far gone as to insist on propagating
insanity by a marriage with Captain Dodd's daughter now?"
Alfred ground his teeth, and replied that his father should be the last
man to congratulate himself on the affliction that had fallen on that
family he aspired to enter, all the more now they had calamities for him
"More fool you," put in Mr. Hardie calmly.
"For I much fear you are the cause of that calamity."
"I really don't know what you allude to."
The son fixed his eyes on his father, and said, "The fourteen thousand
One unguarded look confirmed Alfred's suspicions; he could not bear to
go on exposing his father, and wandered out, sore perplexed and nobly
wretched, into the night.
_III.--Alfred in Confinement_
At last Alfred decided that justice _must_ be done, and confided his
suspicions to the Dodds. Edward's good commonsense at once settled that,
as the man who married Julia would be the greatest sufferer by Hardie
senior's fraud, Hardie junior should settle his own L10,000 on her, and
marry her as soon as he came of age. Alfred joyfully agreed, privately
arranging that the money should be settled on Julia's parents, and
preparations went on apace.
But on the wedding-day the bridal party waited in vain for the
bridegroom, and Edward ran to his lodgings to fetch him.
He came back alone, white with wrath, hurried the insulted bride and her
mother into the carriage, and they went home as if from a funeral. Aye,
and a funeral it was; for the sweetest girl in England buried her hopes,
her laugh, her May of youth that day.
As soon as possible this heartbroken trio removed to London, where Mrs.
Dodd became a dressmaker, and Edward a fireman.
It was true Alfred _had_ received a letter in a female hand, but it was
from a discharged servant of his father's, offering information about
the L14,000 if he would come to a house about ten miles off the next
morning. He calculated he could do so, and still be in the church in
time, and drove there with all his luggage, only to find himself shut up
in a lunatic asylum.
He made a desperate resistance, but was soon overpowered and left
handcuffed, hobbled, and strapped down, more helpless than a swaddled
infant. He lay mute as death in his gloomy cell; deeper horror grew and
grew, gusts of rage swept over him, gusts of despair. What would his
Julia think? He shouted, he screamed, he prayed. He saw her, lovelier
than ever, all in white, waiting for him, with sweet concern in her
peerless face. Half-past ten struck. He struggled, he writhed, he made
the very room shake, and lacerated his flesh, but that was all. No
answer, no help, no hope.
By-and-by his good wit told him his only chance was calmness; they could
not long confine him as a madman, being sane. But all his efforts to
convince his keepers that he was sane were useless; his letters seemed
to go, but he got no answers; his appeals to visiting justices were in
vain. The responsibility rested with the people who signed the
certificates, and he could not even find out who they were. After months
of softening hearts and buying consciences, he was on the point of
escape, when he was moved to another asylum. Here there was no
brutality, but constant watchfulness; and he had almost prevailed on the
doctor to declare him cured when he was again moved to a still more
brutal place, if possible, than the first.
One day he found himself locked in his room. This was unusual, for
though they called him a lunatic in words, they called him sane by all
their acts. He thought the commissioners must be in the house; had he
known who really was in the house he would have beaten himself to pieces
against the door.
At dinner there was a new patient, very mild and silent, with a
beautiful mild brown eye like some gentle animal's. Alfred contrived to
say some kind word to him; and the newcomer handled his forelock, and
announced himself as William Thompson, adding, with simple pride, "Able
seaman, just come aboard, your honour."
At night Alfred dreamed he heard Julia's sweet, mellow voice speaking to
him; and lo, it was the able seaman. He slept no more, but lay sighing.
The matron told him this was David Dodd, Alfred redoubled his efforts to
escape, and at last one of the keepers consented to help him off. He was
sitting on his bed full dressed, full of hope, his money in his pocket,
waiting for his liberator. Every moment he expected to hear the key in
Then came a smell of burning, and feet ran up and down. "Fire!" rang
from men's voices. Fire cracked above his head; he sprang up at the
window, and dashed his hand through it, and fell back. He sprang again,
and caught the woodwork; it gave way, and he fell back, nearly stunning
himself. The flames roared fearfully now, and David, thinking it was a
tempest, shouted appropriate orders. Alfred implored him, and got him to
kneel down with him, and prayed. He gave up all hope, and prepared to
Crash! As if discharged from a cannon, came bursting through the window
a helmeted figure, rope in hand, and alighted erect and commanding on
the floor. All three faces came together, and Edward recognised his
father and Alfred Hardie. Edward clawed his rope to the bed, and hauled
up a rope ladder, crying, "Now, men, quick for your lives!" But poor
David called that deserting the ship, and demurred, till Alfred assured
him the captain had ordered it. He then touched his forelock to Edward,
and went down the ladder. Alfred followed.
They were at once overpowered with curiosity and sympathy, and had to
shake a hundred hands.
"Gently, good friends; don't part us," said Alfred.
"He's the keeper," said one of the crowd, and all helped them to the
Alfred ran off across country for bare life. To his horror, David
followed him, shouting cheerily, "Go ahead, messmate, I smell blue
"Come on, then!" cried Alfred, half mad himself; and the pair ran
furiously the livelong night. Free!
_IV.--Into Smooth Waters_
Exhilarated by freedom, Alfred began to nurse aspiring projects; he
would indict his own father and the doctor, and wipe off the stigma they
had cast on him. Meantime, he would cure David and restore him to his
family. They bowled along towards blue water with a perfect sense of
security. But at Folkestone, David disappeared, and Alfred, hearing as
he ran wildly all over the place that there was "another party on the
same lay"--the mad gentleman's wife--took the first train to London,
dispirited and mortified. David was in good hands, however, and Alfred
had glorious work on hand--love and justice.
He at once put his affairs into a lawyer's hands, and thought of love
alone. After a violent encounter with his late keepers and a narrow
escape from capture, in the midst of Elysium with Julia, her mother
returned in despair. David had completely disappeared. Again these
lovers were separated, and again Edward's commonsense came to the
rescue. Alfred went back to Oxford to read for his first class, and
Julia to her district visiting, while the terrible delays of the law
went on. Alfred had begun to believe trial by jury would never be
allowed him, and when at last, after many postponements, the trial did
come on, he was being examined in the schools, and refused to come till
his counsel had actually opened the case. Mr. Thomas Hardie, Alfred's
uncle, was the defendant, for it was proved he had authorised Alfred's
A detective had been employed to find Mr. Barkington, a little man in
Julia's district, whom the lawyers suspected might be useful; and when
the trial was half over, he led them all in great excitement to the back
slums of Westminster. Mr. Barkington, _alias_ Noah Skinner, was wanted
by another client of his.
The room was full of an acrid vapour, and a mummified figure sat at the
table, dead this many a day of charcoal fumes; in his hand a banker's
receipt to David Dodd, Esq., for L14,000. The lawyer was handing it to
Julia, having just found a will bequeathing all Skinner had in the world
to her, with his blessing, when a solemn voice said: "No; it is mine."
A keen cry from Julia's heart, and in an instant she was clinging round
her father's neck. Edward could only get at his hand. Instinct told them
Heaven had given them back their father, mind and all.
Alfred Hardie slipped out, and ran like a deer to tell Mrs. Dodd.
Husband and wife met alone in Mrs. Dodd's room. No eyes ventured to
witness a scene so strange, so sacred.
They all thought in their innocence that Hardie _v_. Hardie was now at
an end, with Captain Dodd ready to prove Alfred's sanity; but the lawyer
advised them not to put the captain to the agitation of the witness-box.
Mr. Thomas Hardie, the defendant, won the case for Alfred by admitting
in the witness-box that his brother Richard had declared that "if you
don't put Alfred in a madhouse, I will put you in one."
The jury found for the plaintiff, Alfred Hardie, and gave the damages at
L3,000. The verdict was received with acclamation by the people, and in
the midst of this Alfred's lawyer announced that the plaintiff had just
gained his first class at Oxford.
Mr. Richard Hardie restored the L14,000, and a few years later died a
monomaniac, believing himself penniless when he possessed L60,000.
Alfred married Julia, and, with the consent of his wife, took his father
to live with them. Then Alfred determined to pay in full all who had
been ruined by the bank failure, and in time the old bank was reopened
with Edward Dodd as managing partner. In the end, no creditor of Richard
Hardie was left unpaid. Alfred went in for politics and became an M.P.
for Barkington; whence to dislodge him I pity anyone who tries.
* * * * *
It Is Never Too Late to Mend
"It is Never Too Late to Mend, a Matter-of-Fact Romance,"
published in 1856, is, like "Hard Cash," a story with a
purpose, the object in this instance being to illustrate the
abuses of prison discipline in England and Australia. Many of
the passages describing Australian life are exceptionally
vivid and imaginative, and exhibit Charles Reade, if not in
the front rank of novelists of his day, at least occupying a
George Fielding, assisted by his brother William, tilled The Grove--as
nasty a little farm as any in Berkshire. It was four hundred acres, all
arable, and most of it poor, sour land. A bad bargain, and the farmer
being sober, intelligent, proud, sensitive, and unlucky, is the more to
Susanna Merton was beautiful and good; George Fielding and she were
acknowledged lovers, but latterly old Merton had seemed cool whenever
his daughter mentioned the young man's name.
William Fielding, George's brother, was in love with his brother's
sweetheart, but he never looked at her except by stealth; he knew he had
no business to love her.
While George Fielding had been going steadily down-hill, till even the
bank declined to give him credit, Mr. Meadows, who had been a carter,
was, at forty years of age, a rich corn-factor and land surveyor.
This John Meadows was not a common man. He had a cool head, and an iron
will; and he had the soul of business--method.
Meadows was generally respected; by none more than by old Merton. In
fact, it seemed to Merton that John Meadows would make a better
son-in-law than George Fielding.
The day came when a distress was issued against Fielding's farm for the
rent, and as it happened on that very day Susan and her father had come
to dinner at The Grove. Old Merton, knowing how things stood, spoke his
mind to George.
"You are too much of a man, I hope, to eat a woman's bread; and if you
are not, I am man enough to keep the girl from it. If Susan marries you
she will have to keep you instead of you her."
"Is this from Susanna, as well as you?" said George, with a trembling
"Susan is an obedient daughter. What I say she'll stand to."
This was blow number two for George Fielding. The third stroke on that
day was the arrest of Mr. Robinson who had been staying at The Grove as
a lodger. Mr. Robinson dressed well, too well, perhaps, but somehow the
rustics wouldn't accept him for a gentleman. George had taken a great
liking to his lodger, and Mr. Robinson was equally sincere in his
friendship for Fielding. And now it turned out that the fools who had
disparaged Robinson were right, and he, George Fielding, wrong. Before
his eyes, and amidst the grins of a score of gaping yokels, Thomas
Robinson, alias Scott, a professional thief, was handcuffed and carried
off to the county gaol.
This finished George. An invitation to go out to Australia with the
younger son of a neighbouring landowner, hitherto disregarded, was now
Old Merton approved the decision, and when his daughter implored him not
to let George go, he replied plainly, to both of them:
"Susan! Mayhap the lad thinks me his enemy, but I'm not. My daughter
shall not marry a bankrupt farmer, but you bring home a thousand
pounds--just one thousand pounds--to show me you are not a fool, and you
shall have my daughter, and she shall have my blessing." And the old
farmer gave George his hand upon it.
Meadows exulted, thinking, with George in Australia, he could secure his
own way with Susan and old Merton. He had forgotten one man; old Isaac
Levi, of whom he had made an implacable enemy, by insisting on his
turning out of the house where he lived. Meadows, having bought the
house, intended to live in it himself, and treated the prayers and
entreaties of the old Jew with contempt. Only the interference of George
Fielding, on the day of his own ruin, had saved old Levi from personal
violence at the hands of Meadows; and so while George was sinking under
the blows of fortune, he had made a friend in Isaac Levi.
Before George sailed William promised that he would think no more of
Susan as a sweetheart.
"She's my sister from this hour--no more, no less," he declared. "And
may the red blight fall on my arm and my heart if I or any man takes her
from you--any man! Sooner than a hundred men should take her from you
while I am here I'd die at their feet a hundred times."
William kept his eye on Meadows, but Meadows soon had William in his
clutches. For John Meadows lent money upon ricks, waggons, leases, and
such things, to farmers in difficulties, employing as his agent in these
transactions a middle-aged, disreputable lawyer named Peter Crawley--a
cunning fool and a sot.
First William Fielding, and then old Merton were heavy debtors to Peter
Crawley, that is to John Meadows; for Merton, a solid enough farmer, was
beguiled into rash and ruinous speculations by a friend of Meadows'.
And now George Fielding is gone to Australia to make a thousand pounds
by farming and cattle-feeding, so that he may marry Susan. Susan, at
home, is often pensive and always anxious, but not despondent. Meadows
is falling deeper and deeper in love, but keeping it jealously secret;
on his guard against Isaac Levi, and on his guard against William;
hoping everything from time and accidents, and from George's incapacity
to make money; and watching with keen eye and working with subtle
threads to draw everybody into his power who could assist or thwart him
in his object. William Fielding is going down the hill, Meadows was
mounting; getting the better of his passion, and gradually substituting
a brother-in-law's regard. Within eighteen months William was happily
married to another farmer's daughter in the neighbourhood.
Under Governor Hawes the separate and silent system flourished in ----
gaol, and the local justices entirely approved the system. In the view
of Hawes and the justices severe punishment of mind and body was the
essential object of a gaol.
Now Tom Robinson had not been in gaol these four years, and though he
had heard much of the changes in gaol treatment, they had not yet come
home to him. When, therefore, instead of being greeted with the
boisterous acclamations of other spirits as bad as himself, he was
ushered into a cell white as driven snow, and his duties explained to
him, the heavy penalty he was under should a speck of dirt ever be
discovered on the walls or floor, Thomas looked blank and had a
misgiving. To his dismay he found that the silent cellular system was
even carried out in the chapel, where each prisoner had a sort of
sentry-box to himself, and that the hour's promenade for exercise
conversation was equally impossible.
The turnkeys were surly and forbidding, and the hours dragged wearily to
this active-minded prisoner. Robinson was driven to appeal to the
governor to put him on hard labour.
"We'll choose the time for that," said the governor, with a knowing
smile. "You'll be worse before you are better, my man."
On the tenth day Robinson tried to exchange a word with a prisoner in
chapel, and for this he was taken to the black-hole.
Now Robinson was a man of rare capacity, full of talent and the courage
and energy that show in action, but not rich in the fortitude that bears
much. When they took him out of the black-hole, after six hours'
confinement, he was observed to be white as a sheet, and to tremble
violently all over.
The day after this the doctor reported No. 19--this was Robinson--to be
sinking, and on this Hawes put him to garden work. The man's life and
reason were saved by that little bit of labour. Then for a day or two he
was employed in washing the corridors, and in making brushes; after
that, came the crank. This was a machine consisting of a vertical post
with an iron handle, and it was worked as villagers draw a bucket up
from a well.
"Eighteen hundred revolutions per hour, and two hours before dinner,"
was the order given to No. 19, a touch of fever a few days later made it
impossible for him to get through his task, and Hawes brutally had the
unfortunate prisoner placed in the jacket.
This horrible form of torture consisted of a stout waistcoat, with a
rough-edged collar. Robinson knew resistance was useless. He was jammed
in the jacket, pinned tight to the collar, and throttled in the collar.
Weakened by fever, he succumbed sooner than the torturers had calculated
upon, and a few minutes later No. 19 would have been a corpse if he had
not been released.
Water was dashed over him, and then Hawes shouted: "I never was beat by
a prisoner yet, and I never will be," and had him put back again. Every
time he fainted, water was thrown over him.
The plan pursued by the governor with Robinson was to keep him low so
that he failed at the crank, and then torture him in the jacket. "He
will break out before long," said Hawes to himself, "and then--"
Robinson saw the game, and a deep hatred of his enemy fought on the side
of his prudence. This bitter struggle in the thief's heart harmed his
soul more than all the years of burglary and petty larceny. All the
vices of the old gaol system were nothing compared with the diabolical
effect of solitude on a heart smarting with daily wrongs. He made a
desperate appeal to the chaplain: "We have no friends here, sir, but
you--not one. Have pity on us."
But Mr. Jones, the chaplain, was a weak man--unequal to the task of
standing between the prisoners and their torturers, the justices and
governor, and he held out no hope to No. 19.
Robinson now became a far worse man. He hated the human race, and said
to himself, "From this hour I speak no more to any of these beasts!"
It was then that Mr. Jones, unequal to his task, resigned his office,
and a new chaplain, the Rev. Francis Eden, took his place.
Mr. Eden, having ascertained the effects of both the black-hole and the
punishment jacket, at once began a strenuous battle for the prisoners,
and in the end triumphed handsomely. Hawes, in the face of an official
inquiry by the Home Office, threw up the governorship, and a more humane
regime was instituted in the gaol.
For a time Robinson resisted all the advances of the new chaplain, but
when Mr. Eden came to him in the black-hole, and cheered him through the
darkness and solitude by talking to him, not only was Robinson's sanity
preserved,--the man's heart was touched, and from that hour he was sworn
Then came the time for Robinson to be transported to Australia, with the
promise of an early ticket-of-leave. Mr. Eden, anxious for the man's
future, thought of George Fielding. Taking Sunday duty in the parish
where Merton and his neighbours lived, Mr. Eden had become acquainted
with Susan, and had learnt her story. He now wrote to her: "Thomas
Robinson goes to Australia next week; he will get a ticket-of-leave
almost immediately. I have thought of George Fielding, and am sure that
poor Robinson with such a companion would be as honest as the day, and a
useful friend, for he is full of resources. So I want you to do a
Christian act, and write a note to Mr. Fielding, and let this poor
fellow take it to him."
Susan's letter came by return of post. Robinson sailed in the convict
ship for Australia, and in due time was released. He found George
Fielding at Bathurst recovering from fever, and the letter from Susan,
and his own readiness to help, soon revived the old good feeling between
the two men.
_III.--Between Australia and Berkshire_
Meadows, having the postmaster at Farnborough under his thumb, read all
George's letters to Susan before they were delivered. As long as George
was in difficulties--and the thousand pounds seemed as far off as ever
until Tom Robinson struck gold and shared the luck with his partner--the
letters gave Meadows no uneasiness. With the discovery of gold he
decided Susan must hear no more from her lover, and that Fielding must
not return. By this time, old Merton was heavily in debt to Meadows, and
saw escape from bankruptcy only in Meadows becoming his son-in-law,
while Susan was kindly disposed to Meadows because he said nothing of
love, and was willing to talk about Australia.
Meadows confided his plan to Peter Crawley.
"My plan has two hands; I must be one, you the other. _I_ work thus: I
stop all letters from him to her. Presently comes a letter from
Australia telling how George Fielding has made his fortune and married a
girl out there. She won't believe it at first, perhaps, but when she
gets no more letters from him she will. Of course, I shall never mention
his name, but I make one of my tools hang gaol over old Merton. Susan
thinks George married. I strike upon her pique and her father's
distress. I ask him for his daughter; offer to pay my father-in-law's
debts and start him afresh. Susan likes me already. She will say no,
perhaps, three or four times, but the fifth she will say yes. Crawley,
the day that John and Susan Meadows walk out of church man and wife I
put a thousand pounds into your hand and set you up in any business you
like; in any honest business, that is. But suppose, Crawley, while I am
working, this George Fielding were to come home with money in both
"He would kick it all down in a moment."
"Crawley, George Fielding must not come back this year with a thousand
pounds. That paper will prevent him; it is a paper of instructions. My
very brains lie in that paper; put it in your pocket. You are going a
journey, and you will draw on me for one hundred pounds per month."
"When am I to start, sir? Where am I to go to?"
"To-morrow morning. To Australia."
A dead silence on both sides followed these words, as the two colourless
faces looked into one another's eyes across the table.
To Australia Peter Crawley went, and with half-a-dozen of the most
villainous ruffians on earth in his pay, it seemed impossible for
Fielding and Robinson to escape. But here the ex-thief's alertness came
to George Fielding's aid, and the two men managed to get the better of
all the robbers and assassins who attacked their tent. Robinson, in
fact, not only saved his own and his partner's lives, by common consent
he was elected captain at the gold-diggings, and by his authority some
sort of law and order were established throughout the camp, and all
thefts were heavily punished.
The finding of a large nugget by Robinson ended gold-digging for these
two men. The nugget was taken to Sydney and fetched L3,800, and when
Crawley, who had pursued them from the camp, reached the city, he found
they had already sailed for England.
George Fielding went to Australia to make L1,000, and by industry,
sobriety, and cattle, he did not make L1,000; but, with the help of a
converted thief, he did by gold-digging, industry, and sobriety, make
several thousand pounds, and take them safe away home, spite of many
wicked devices and wicked men.
Mr. Meadows flung out Peter Crawley, his left hand, into Australia to
keep George from coming back to Susan with L1,000, and his left hand
failed, and failed completely. But his right hand?
_IV.--George Fielding's Return_
One market day a whisper passed through Farnborough that George Fielding
had met with wonderful luck. That he had made his fortune by gold, and
was going to marry a young lady out in Australia. Farmer Merton brought
the whisper home; Meadows was sure he would.
When eight months had elapsed without a letter from George, Susan could
no longer deceive herself with hopes. George was either false to her or
dead. She said as much to Meadows, and this inspired him with the idea
of setting about a report that George was dead. Susan's mind had long
been prepared for bitter tidings, and when old Merton tried in a clumsy
way to prepare her for sad news, she fixed her eyes on him, and said,
"Father, George is dead."
Old Merton hung his head, and made no reply. Susan crept from the room
pale as ashes.
Then Meadows contradicted this report, and showed a letter he had
received, saying that "George Fielding was married yesterday to one of
the prettiest girls in Sydney. I met them walking in the street to-day."
"He is alive!" Susan said. "Thank God he is alive. I will not cry for
another woman's husband."
It was not pique that made Susan accept John Meadows, it was to save her
father from ruin. She said plainly that she could not pretend affection,
and that it was only her indifference that made her consent. She tried
to give happiness, and to avoid giving pain, but her heart of hearts was
The return of Crawley with the news that Fielding and Robinson were at
hand, drove Meadows to persuade Susan to hasten the marriage. The
following Monday had been fixed, Susan agreed to let it take place the
The next thing was Meadows himself recognised Fielding and Robinson;
they were staying the night at the King's Head, in Farnborough, where
Meadows was taking a glass of ale. He promptly decided on his game. The
travellers called for hot brandy-and-water, and while the waiter left it
for a moment, Meadows dropped the contents of a certain white paper into
the liquor. In the dead of night he left his bedroom, and crept to the
room where Robinson slept. The drug had done its work. Meadows found
L7,000 under the sleeper's pillow, and carried the notes off undetected.
He returned in the early morning to his own house, he explained to
Crawley why he had done this. "Don't you see that I have made George
Fielding penniless, and that now old Merton won't let him have his
daughter. He can't marry her at all now, and when the writ is served on
old Merton he will be as strong as fire for me and against George
Fielding. I am not a thief, and the day I marry Susan L7,000 will be put
in George Fielding's hand; he won't know by whom, but you and I shall
know. I am a sinner, but not a villain."
He lit a candle and placed it in the grate. "Come now," Meadows said
coolly, "burn them; then they will tell no tale."
Crawley shrieked: "No, no, sir! Don't think of it, give them to me, and
in twelve hours I will be in France!"
Meadows hesitated, and then agreed to give him the notes on condition
Crawley went to France that very day.
Crawley kept faith. He hugged his treasure to his bosom, and sat down at
the railway-station waiting for the train.
Old Isaac Levi was there, and a police officer whom Crawley knew.
"You have L7,000 about you, Mr. Crawley," whispered Isaac in his ear.
"Stolen! Give it up to the police officer. Stolen by him, received by
you. Give it up unless you prefer a public search. Here is a search
warrant from the mayor."
"I won't without Mr. Meadows' authority. Send for Mr. Meadows, if you
"Well, we will take you to Mr. Meadows. Keep the money till you see him,
but we must secure you. Let us go in a carriage."
Meantime, Mr. Meadows had gone to the bank, and had made over the sum of
L7,000 to George Fielding and Thomas Robinson. Then he hastened to the
church, for it was his wedding-day, and every delay was dangerous.
The parson was late, and while Meadows stood waiting outside the church,
along with old Merton and his daughter, and a crowd of neighbours,
George Fielding and Robinson came up.
"Susan!" cried a well-known voice behind her. The bride turned, and
forgot everything at the sight of George's handsome, honest face, and
threw herself into his arms. George kissed the bride.
"What have you done?" cried Susan. "You are false to me! You never wrote
me a letter for twelve months, and you are married to a lady in
Bathurst! Oh, George!"
"Who has been telling her I have ever had a thought of any girl but
her?" said George sternly. "Here is the ring you gave me, Susan."
"Miss Merton and I are to be married to-day," said Meadows.
"I was there before you, Mr. Meadows, but I won't stand upon that, and I
wouldn't give a snap of the finger to have her if her will was toward
another. So please yourself, Susan, my lass; only this must end. Choose
between John Meadows and George Fielding."
Susan looked up in astonishment.
"What choice can there be? The moment I saw your face I forgot there was
a John Meadows in the world!" With that she bolted off home.
George turned to old Merton.
"I crossed the seas on the faith of your promise, and I have brought
back the thousand pounds."
"John," said old Merton, "I must stand to my word, and I will--it is
It was then that Robinson, producing his pocket-book, found they had
been robbed. Despair fell upon George. But Meadows was promptly hindered
from pursuing any advantage by the arrival of Isaac Levi, with a
magistrate and police officers. Presently Crawley was produced. The game
was up. Levi had overheard all that had passed between Meadows and
Crawley. Crawley turned upon Meadows, and the magistrate had no choice
but to commit Meadows for trial, while the notes were returned to their
A month later George and Susan were married, and Farmer Merton's debts
Robinson wisely went back to Australia, and more wisely married an
honest serving-maid. He is respected for his intelligence and good
nature, and is industrious and punctilious in business.
When the assizes came on neither Robinson nor George was present to
prosecute, and their recognisances were forfeited. Meadows and Crawley
were released, and Meadows went to Australia. His mother, who hated her
son's sins, left her native land at seventy to comfort him and win him
"Even now his heart is softening," she said to herself. "Three times he
has said to me 'That George Fielding is a better man than I am.' He will
repent; he bears no malice, he blames none but himself. It is never too
late to mend."
* * * * *
The Cloister and the Hearth
"The Cloister and the Hearth" a Tale of the Middle Ages, is by
common consent the greatest of all Charles Reade's stories. A
portion of it originally appeared in 1859 in "Once a Week,"
under the title of "A Good Fight," and such was its success in
this guise that it increased the circulation of that
periodical by twenty thousand. During the next two years
Reade, recognising its romantic possibilities, expanded it to
its present length. As a picture of the manners and customs of
the times it is almost unsurpassable; yet pervading the whole
is the strong, clear atmosphere of romantic drama never
allowing the somewhat ample descriptions to predominate the
thrilling interest with which the story is charged. Sir Walter
Besant regarded it as the "greatest historical novel in the
language." Swinburne remarked of it that "a story better
conceived, better constructed, or better related, it would be
difficult to find anywhere."
_I.--Gerard Falls in Love_
It was past the middle of the fifteenth century when our tale begins.
Elias, and Catherine his wife, lived in the little town of Tergon in
Holland. He traded, wholesale and retail, in cloth and curried leather,
and the couple were well to do. Nine children were born to them; four of
these were set up in trade, one, Giles, was a dwarf, another, little
Catherine, was a cripple. Cornelis, the eldest, and Sybrandt, the
youngest, lived at home, too lazy to work, waiting for dead men's shoes.
There remained young Gerard, a son apart and distinct, destined for the
Church. The monks taught him penmanship, and continued to teach him,
until one day, in the middle of a lesson, they discovered he was
teaching them. Then Gerard took to illuminating on vellum, and in this
he was helped by an old lady, Margaret Van Eyck, sister of the famous
brothers Van Eyck, who had come to end her days near Tergon. When Philip
the Good, Count of Flanders, for the encouragement of the arts, offered
prizes for the best specimens of painting on glass and illumination on
vellum, Gerard decided to compete. He sent in his specimens, and his
mother furnished him with a crown to go to Rotterdam and see the work of
his competitors and the prize distribution. Gerard would soon be a
priest, she argued; it seemed hard if he might not enjoy the world a
little before separating himself from it for life.
It was on the road to Rotterdam, within a league of the city, that
Gerard found an old man sitting by the roadside quite worn out, and a
comely young woman holding his hand. The old man wore a gown, and a fur
tippet, and a velvet cap--sure signs of dignity; but the gown was rusty,
and the fur old--sure signs of poverty. The young woman was dressed in
plain russet cloth, yet snow-white lawn covered her neck.
"Father, I fear you are tired," said Gerard bashfully.
"Indeed, my son, I am," replied the old man; "and faint for lack of
The girl whispered, "Father, a stranger--a young man!" But Gerard, with
simplicity, and as a matter of course, was already gathering sticks for
a fire. This done, he took down his wallet, and brought his tinder-box
and an iron flask his careful mother had put in.
Ghysbrecht Van Swikten, the burgomaster of Tergon, an old man redolent
of wealth, came riding by while Gerard was preparing a meal of soup and
bread by the roadside. He reined in his steed and spoke uneasily: "Why,
Peter--Margaret--what mummery is this?" Then, seeing Gerard, he cast a
look of suspicion on Margaret, and rode on. The wayfarers did not know
that more than half the wealth of the burgomaster belonged to old Peter
Brandt, now dependent on Gerard for his soup; but Ghysbrecht knew it,
and carried it in his heart, a scorpion of remorse that was not
From that hour Gerard was in love with Margaret, and now began a pretty
trouble. For at Rotterdam, thanks to a letter from Margaret Van Eyck,
Gerard won the favour of the Princess Marie, who, hearing that he was to
be a priest, promised him a benefice. And yet no sooner was Gerard
returned home to Tergon than he must needs go seeking Margaret, who
lived alone with her father, old Peter Brandt, at Sevenbergen.
Ghysbrecht's one fear was that if Gerard married Margaret the youth
would sooner or later get to hear about certain documents in the
burgomaster's possession, documents which established Brandt's right to
lands held by the burgomaster, and which old Peter had long forgotten.
So Ghysbrecht went to Eli and Catherine and showed them a picture Gerard
had made of Margaret Brandt, and said that if Eli ordered it his son
should be locked up until he came to his senses. Henceforth there was no
longer any peace in the little house at Tergon, and at last Eli declared
before the whole family that he had ordered the burgomaster to imprison
his son Gerard in the Stadthouse rather than let him marry Margaret.
Gerard turned pale at this, and his father went on to say, "and a priest
you shall be before this year is out, willy-nilly."
"Is it so?" cried Gerard. "Then hear me all. By God and St. Bavon, I
swear I will never be a priest while Margaret lives. Since force is to
decide it, and not love and duty, try force, father. And the day I see
the burgomaster come for me I leave Tergon for ever, and Holland too,
and my father's house, where it seems I am valued only for what is to be
got out of me."
And he flung out of the room white with anger and desperation.
"There!" cried Catherine. "That comes of driving young folk too hard.
Now, heaven forbid he should ever leave us, married or single."
Gerard went to his good friend Margaret Van Eyck, who advised him to go
to Italy, where painters were honoured like princes, and to take the
girl he loved with him. Ten golden angels she gave him besides to take
him to Rome.
Gerard decided to marry Margaret Brandt at once, and a day or two later
they stood before the altar of Sevenbergen Church. But the ceremony was
never concluded, although Gerard got a certificate from the priest, for
Ghysbrecht getting wind of what was afoot, sent his servants, who
stopped the marriage, and carried Gerard off to the burgomaster's
prison. In the room where he was confined were very various documents,
which the prisoner got hold of.
Gerard escaped from the prison, and vowing he had done with Tergon, bade
farewell to Margaret, and set off for Italy. Once across the frontier in
Germany he was safe from Ghysbrecht's malice. He also had in his keeping
the piece of parchment which gave certain lands to Peter Brandt, and
which Ghysbrecht had hitherto held.
It is likely Gerard would never have reached Rome but for his faithful
comrade Denys, a soldier making his way home to Burgundy, whom he met
early on the road. Gerard, at first, was for going on alone, but his
companion would not be refused.
"You will find me a dull companion, for my heart is very heavy," said
"I'll cheer you, mon gars."
"I think you would," said Gerard sweetly; "and sore need have I of a
kindly voice in mine ear this day."
"Oh, no soul is sad alongside me. I lift up their poor little hearts
with my consigne; 'Courage, tout le monde, le diable est mort.' Ha! Ha!"
"So be it, then," said Gerard. "We will go together as far as Rhine, and
God go with us both!"
"Amen!" said Denys, and lifted up his cap.
The pair trudged manfully on, and Denys enlivened the weary way. He
chattered about battles and sieges, and things which were new to Gerard;
and he was one of those who _make_ little incidents wherever they go. He
passed nobody without addressing him. "They don't understand it, but it
wakes them up," said he. But, whenever they fell in with a monk or
priest, he pulled a long face and sought the reverend father's blessing,
and fearlessly poured out on him floods of German words in such order as
not to produce a single German sentence. He doffed his cap to every
woman, high or low, he caught sight of, and complimented her in his
native tongue, well adapted to such matters; and at each carrion crow or
magpie down came his crossbow, and he would go a furlong off the road to
circumvent it; and indeed he did shoot one old crow with laudable
neatness, and carried it to the nearest hen-roost, and there slipped in
and sat it upon a nest. "The good-wife will say, 'Alack, here is
Beelzebub a hatching of my eggs.'"
But the time came for parting and Denys, with a letter from Gerard to
Margaret Brandt, reached Tergon, and found Eli and Catherine and gave
them news of their son. "Many a weary league we trode together," said
Denys. "Never were truer comrades; never will be while earth shall last.
First I left my route a bit to be with him, then he his to be with me.
We talked of Sevenbergen and Tergon a thousand times, and of all in this
house. We had our troubles on the road, but battling them together made
them light. I saved his life from a bear, he mine in the Rhine; for he
swims like a duck, and I like a hod o' bricks; and we saved one
another's lives at an inn in Burgundy, where we two held a room for a
good hour against seven cut-throats, and crippled one and slew two; and
your son met the stoutest champion I ever countered, and spitted him
like a sucking-pig, else I had not been here. And at our sad parting,
soldier though I be, these eyes did rain salt, scalding tears, and so
did his, poor soul. His last word to me was: 'Go, comfort Margaret!' So
here I be. Mine to him was: 'Think no more of Rome. Make for Rhine, and
down stream home.'"
Margaret Brandt had removed to Rotterdam, and there was no love lost
between her and Catherine; but Gerard's letter drew them to a
reconciliation, and from that day Catherine treated Margaret as her own
daughter, and made much of Gerard's child when it was born. Eli and his
son Richart, now a wealthy merchant, decided that Gerard must be bidden
return home on the instant, for they longed to see him, and since he was
married to Margaret, it was useless for any further strife on the
But Ghysbrecht, the burgomaster, knew by this time that Gerard had
obtained the parchment relating to Peter Brandt's lands, and was anxious
that Gerard should not return. Cornelis and Sybrandt were also against
their brother, and willing to aid the burgomaster in any diabolical
adventure. So a letter was concocted and Margaret Van Eyck's signature
forged to it, and in this letter it was said that Margaret Brandt was
In the meantime, Gerard had reached Rome. The ship he sailed in was
wrecked off the coast between Naples and Rome, and here Gerard was
nearly drowned. He and a Dominican friar clung to a mast when the ship
It was a terrible situation; one moment they saw nothing, and seemed
down in a mere basin of watery hills; the next they caught glimpses of
the shore speckled bright with people, who kept throwing up their arms
to encourage them.
When they had tumbled along thus a long time, suddenly the friar said
quietly: "I touched the ground."
"Impossible, father," said Gerard. "We are more than a hundred yards
from shore. Prythee, leave not our faithful mast."
"My son," said the friar, "you speak prudently. But know that I have
business of Holy Church on hand, and may not waste time floating, when I
can walk in her service. There, I felt it with my toes again! Thy
stature is less than mine; keep to the mast; I walk." He left the mast
accordingly, and extending his powerful arms, rushed through the water.
Gerard soon followed him. At each overpowering wave the monk stood like
a tower, and, closing his mouth, threw his head back to encounter it,
then emerged and ploughed lustily on. At last they came close to the
shore, and then the natives sent stout fishermen into the sea, holding
by long spears, and so dragged them ashore.
The friar shook himself, bestowed a short paternal benediction on the
natives, and went on to Rome, without pausing.
Gerard grasped every hand upon the beach. They brought him to an
enormous fire, left him to dry himself, and fetched clothes for him to
Next day, towards afternoon, Gerard--twice as old as last year, thrice
as learned in human ways, a boy no more, but a man who had shed blood in
self-defence, and grazed the grave by land and sea--reached the Eternal
Gerard stayed in Rome, worked hard, and got money for his illuminations.
He put by money of all he earned, and Margaret seemed nearer and nearer.
Then came the day when the forged letter reached him. "Know that
Margaret Brandt died in these arms on Thursday night last. The last
words on her lips was 'Gerard!' She said: 'Tell him I prayed for him at
my last hour, and bid him pray for me.'" The letter was signed with
Margaret Van Eyck's signature, sure enough.
Gerard staggered against the window sill and groaned when he read this.
His senses failed him; he ran furiously about the streets for hours.
On the second day he was raving with fever on the brain, and on his
recovery from the fever a dark cloud fell on Gerard's noble mind.
His friend Fra Jerome, the same Dominican friar who had escaped from the
wreck with him, exhorted him to turn and consecrate his gifts to the
"Malediction on the Church!" cried Gerard. "But for the Church I should
not lie broken here, and she lie cold in Holland." Fra Jerome left him
Gerard's pure and unrivalled love for Margaret had been his polar star.
It was quenched, and he drifted on the gloomy sea of no hope. He rushed
fiercely into pleasure, and in those days, more than now, pleasure was
vice. The large sums he had put by for Margaret gave him ample means for
debauchery, and he sought for a moment's oblivion in the excitements of
the hour. "Ghysbrecht lives; Margaret dies!" he would try out. "Curse
life, curse death, and whosoever made them what they are!"
His heart deteriorated along with his morals, and he no longer had
patience for his art, as the habits of pleasure grew on him.
Then life itself became intolerable to Gerard, and one night, in
resolute despair, he flung himself into the river. But he was not
allowed to drown, and was carried, all unconscious, to the Dominican
convent. Gerard awoke to find Father Jerome by his bedside.
"Good Father Jerome, how came I hither?" he inquired.
"By the hand of Heaven! You flung away God's gift. He bestowed it on you
again. Think of it! Hast tried the world and found its gall. Now try the
Church! The Church is peace. Pax vobiscum!"
Gerard learnt that the man who had saved him from drowning was a
Saved from death by an assassin!
Was not this the finger of Heaven--of that Heaven he had insulted,
cursed, and defied?
He shuddered at his blasphemies. He tried to pray, but found he could
only utter prayers, and could not pray.
"I am doomed eternally!" he cried. "Doomed, doomed!" Then rose the
voices of the choir chanting a full service. Among them was one that
seemed to hover above the others--a sweet boy's voice, full, pure,
He closed his eyes and listened. The days of his own boyhood flowed back
"Ay," he sighed, "the Church is peace of mind. Till I left her bosom I
ne'er knew sorrow, nor sin."
And the poor torn, worn creature wept; and soon was at the knees of a
kind old friar, confessing his every sin with sighs and groans of
And, lo! Gerard could pray now, and he prayed with all his heart.
He turned with terror and aversion from the world, and begged
passionately to remain in the convent. To him, convent nurtured, it was
like a bird returning wounded, wearied, to its gentle nest.
He passed his novitiate in prayer and mortification and pious reading
And Gerard, carried from the Tiber into that convent a suicide, now
passed for a young saint within its walls.
Upon a shorter probation than usual, he was admitted to priests' orders,
and soon after took the monastic vows, and became a friar of St.
Dying to the world, the monk parted with the very name by which he had
lived in it, and so broke the last link of association with earthly
feelings. Here Gerard ended, and Brother Clement began.
The zeal and accomplishments of Clement, especially his rare mastery of
language, soon transpired, and he was destined to travel and preach in
England, corresponding with the Roman centre.
It was rather more than twelve months later when Clement and Jerome set
out for England. They reached Rotterdam, and here Jerome, impatient
because his companion lingered on the way, took ship alone, and advised
Clement to stop awhile and preach to his own countrymen.
Clement was shocked and mortified at this contemptuous desertion. He
promised to sleep at the convent and preach whenever the prior should
appoint, and then withdrew abruptly. Shipwrecked with Jerome, and saved
on the same fragment of the wreck; his pupil, and for four hundred miles
his fellow traveller in Christ; and to be shaken off like dirt, the
first opportunity. "Why, worldly hearts are no colder nor less trusty
than this," said he. "The only one that ever really loved me lies in a
grave hard by at Sevenbergen, and I will go and pray over it."
_IV.--Cloister and Hearth_
Friar Clement, preaching in Rotterdam, saw Margaret in the church and
recognised her. Within a day or two he learnt from the sexton, who had
been in the burgomaster's service, the story of the trick that had been
played upon him by his brothers, in league with Ghysbrecht.
That same night a Dominican friar, livid with rage, burst into the room
when Eli and Catherine were collected with their family round the table
Standing in front of Cornelius and Sybrandt he cursed them by name, soul
and body, in this world and the next. Then he tore a letter out of his
bosom, and flung it down before his father.
"Read that, thou hard old man, that didst imprison thy son, read, and
see what monsters thou has brought into the world! The memory of my
wrongs, and hers dwell with you all for ever! I will meet you again at
the judgement day; on earth ye will never see me more!"
And in a moment, as he had come, so he was gone, leaving them stiff and
cold, and white as statues, round the smoking board.
Eli drove Cornelis and Sybrandt out of doors at the point of a sword
when he understood their infamy, and heavy silence reigned in his house
And where was Clement?
Lying at full length upon the floor of the convent church, with his lips
upon the lowest step of the altar, in an indescribable state of terror,
misery, penitence, and self-abasement; through all of which struggled
gleams of joy that Margaret was alive.
Then he suddenly remembered that he had committed another sin besides
intemperate rage. He had neglected a dying man. He rose instantly, and
set out to repair the omission.
The house he was called to was none other than the Stadthouse, and the
dying man was his old enemy Ghysbrecht, the burgomaster.
Clement trembled a little as he entered, and said in a low voice "Pax
vobiscum." Ghysbrecht did not recognise Gerard in the Dominican friar,
and promised in his sickness to make full restitution to Margaret Brandt
for the withholding of her property from her.
As soon as he was quite sure Margaret had her own, and was a rich woman,
Friar Clement disappeared.
The hermit of Gouda had recently died, and Clement found his cell amidst
the rocks, and appropriated it. The news that he had been made vicar of
Gouda never reached his ears to disturb him.
It was Margaret who discovered Clement's hiding-place and sought him
out, and begged him to leave the dismal hole he inhabited, and come to
the vacant vicarage.
"My beloved," said he, with a strange mixture of tenderness and dogged
resolution, "I bless thee for giving me one more sight of thy sweet
face, and may God forgive thee, and bless thee, for destroying in a
minute the holy place it hath taken six months of solitude to build. I
am a priest, a monk, and though my heart break I must be firm. My poor
Margaret, I seem cruel; yet I am kind; 'tis best we part; ay, this
But Margaret went away, and, determined to drive Clement from his
hermitage, returned again with their child, which she left in the cell
in its owner's absence. Now, Clement was fond of children, and, thinking
the infant had been deserted by some unfortunate mother, he at once set
to work to comfort it.
"Now bless thee, bless thee sweet innocent! I would not change thee for
e'en a cherub in heaven," said Clement. Soon the child was nestling in
the hermit's arms.
"I ikes oo," said the little boy. "Ot is oo? Is oo a man?"
"Ay, little heart, and a great sinner to boot"
"I ikes great tingers. Ting one a tory."
Clement chanted a child's story in a sort of recitative. The boy
listened with rapture, and presently succumbed to sleep.
Clement began to rock his new treasure in his arms, and to crone over
him a little lullaby well known in Tergon, with which his own mother had
often set him off.
He sighed deeply, and could not help thinking what might have been but
for a piece of paper with a lie in it.
The next moment the moonlight burst into his cell, and with it, and in
it, Margaret Brandt was down at his knee with a timorous hand upon his
"Gerald, you do not reject us. You cannot."
The hermit stared from the child to her in throbbing amazement.
"Us?" he gasped at last.
Margaret was surprised in her turn.
"What!" she cried. "Doth not a father know his own child? Fie, Gerard,
to pretend! 'Tis thine own flesh and blood thou holdest to thine heart."
Long they sat and talked that night, and the end of it was Clement
promised to leave his cave for the manse at Gouda. But once the new
vicar was installed Margaret kept away from the parsonage. She left
little Gerard there to complete the conquest her maternal heart ascribed
to him, and contented herself with stolen meetings with her child.
Then the new vicar of Gouda, his beard close shaved, and in a grey frock
and large felt hat, came to bring her to the vicarage.
"My sweet Margaret!" he cried. "Why is this? Why hold you aloof from
your own good deed? We have been waiting and waiting for you every day,
and no Margaret."
And Margaret went to the manse, and found Catherine, Clement's mother,
there; and next day being Sunday the two women heard the Vicar of Gouda
preach in his own church. It was crammed with persons, who came curious,
but remained. Never was Clement's gift as a preacher displayed more
powerfully. In a single sermon, which lasted two hours, and seemed to
last but twenty minutes, he declared the whole scripture.
The two women in a corner sat entranced, with streaming eyes.
As soon as they were by themselves, Margaret threw her arms round
Catherine's neck and kissed her.
"Mother, mother, I am not quite a happy woman, but oh! I am a proud
And she vowed on her knees never by word or deed to let her love come
between this young saint and heaven.
The child, who lived to become the great Erasmus, was already winning a
famous name at school, when Margaret was stricken with the plague and
died. A fortnight later and Clement left his vicarage and entered the
Dominican convent to end life as he began it. A few days later and he,
too, was dead, and the convent counted him a saint.
* * * * *
Samuel Richardson, the son of a joiner, was born at some place
not identified in Derbyshire, England, 1689. After serving an
apprenticeship to a stationer, he entered a printing office as
compositor and corrector of the press. In 1719 Richardson,
whose career throughout was that of the industrious
apprentice, took up his freedom, and began business as printer
and stationer in Salisbury Court, London. Success attended his
venture; he soon published a newspaper, and also obtained the
printing of the journals of the House of Commons. "Pamela, or
Virtue Rewarded," was written as the result of a suggestion by
two booksellers that Richardson should compose a volume of
familiar letters for illiterate country folk. It was published
towards the end of 1740, and its vogue, in an age particularly
coarse and robust, was extraordinary. Of the many who
ridiculed his performance the most noteworthy was Fielding,
who produced what Richardson and his friends regarded as the
"lewd and ungenerous engraftment of 'Joseph Andrews.'" The
story has many faults, but the portrayal of Pamela herself is
accomplished with the success of a master hand. Richardson
died July 4, 1761.
_I.--Pamela to her Parents_
MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,--I have great trouble, and some comfort, to
acquaint you with. The trouble is that my good lady died of the illness
I mention'd to you, and left us all griev'd for the loss of her; for she
was a dear good lady, and kind to all us her servants. Much I fear'd,
that as I was taken by her ladyship to wait upon her person, I should be
quite destitute again, and forc'd to return to you and my poor mother,
who have enough to do to maintain yourselves; and, as my lady's goodness
had put me to write and cast accounts, and made me a little expert at my
needle, and otherwise qualify'd above my degree, it was not every family
that could have found a place that your poor Pamela was fit for. But
God, whose graciousness to us we have so often experienc'd, put it into
my good lady's heart, on her death-bed, just an hour before she expir'd,
to recommend to my young master all her servants, one by one; and when
it came to my turn to be recommended (for I was sobbing and crying at
her pillow) she could only say, "My dear son!" and so broke off a
little; and then recovering--"remember my poor Pamela!" and those were
some of her last words! O, how my eyes overflow! Don't wonder to see the
paper so blotted!
Well, but God's will must be done, and so comes the comfort, that I
shall not be obliged to return back to be a burden to my dear parents!
For my master said, "I will take care of you all, my good maidens; and
for you, Pamela (and took me by the hand before them all), for my dear
mother's sake I will be a friend to you, and you shall take care of my
linen." God bless him! and pray with me, my dear father and mother, for
a blessing upon him, for he has given mourning and a year's wages to all
my lady's servants; and I, having no wages as yet, my lady having said
she would do for me as I deserv'd, ordered the housekeeper to give me
mourning with the rest, and gave me with his own hand four guineas and
some silver, which were in my lady's pocket when she died; and said if I
was a good girl, and faithful and diligent, he would be a friend to me,
for his mother's sake. And so I send you these four guineas for your
comfort. I send them by John, our footman, who goes your way; but he
does not know what he carries; because I seal them up in one of the
little pill-boxes which my lady had, wrapp'd close in paper, that they
may not chink, and be sure don't open it before him.
Pray for your Pamela; who will ever be--
Your dutiful Daughter.
I have been scared out of my senses, for just now, as I was folding up
this letter in my lady's dressing-room, in comes my young master! Good
sirs, how I was frightened! I went to hide the letter in my bosom, and
he, seeing me tremble, said smiling, "To whom have you been writing,
Pamela?" I said, in my confusion, "Pray your honour, forgive me! Only to
my father and mother." "Well, then, let me see what a hand you write."
He took it without saying more, and read it quite through, and then gave
it me again. He was not angry, for he took me by the hand and said, "You
are a good girl to be kind to your aged father and mother; tho' you
ought to be wary what tales you send out of a family." And then he said,
"Why, Pamela, you write a pretty hand, and _spell_ very well, too. You
may look into any of my mother's books to improve yourself, so you take
care of them."
But I am making another long letter, so will only add to it, that I
shall ever be your dutiful daughter.
_II.--Twelve Months Later_
MY DEAR MOTHER,--You and my good father may wonder you have not had a
letter from me in so many weeks; but a sad, sad scene has been the
occasion of it. But yet, don't be frightened, I am honest, and I hope
God, in his goodness, will keep me so.
O this angel of a master! this fine gentleman! this gracious benefactor
to your poor Pamela! who was to take care of me at the prayer of his
good, dying mother! This very gentleman (yes, I _must_ call him
gentleman, though he has fallen from the merit of that title) has
degraded himself to offer freedoms to his poor servant; he has now
showed himself in his true colours, and, to me, nothing appears so black
and so frightful.
I have not been idle; but had writ from time to time, how he, by sly,
mean degrees, exposed his wicked views, but somebody stole my letter,
and I know not what is become of it. I am watched very narrowly; and he
says to Mrs. Jervis, the housekeeper, "This girl is always scribbling; I
think she may be better employed." And yet I work very hard with my
needle upon his linen and the fine linen of the family; and am, besides,
about flowering him a waistcoat. But, oh, my heart's almost broken; for
what am I likely to have for any reward but shame and disgrace, or else
ill words and hard treatment!
As I can't find my letter, I'll try to recollect it all. All went well
enough in the main, for some time. But one day he came to me as I was in
the summer-house in the little garden at work with my needle, and Mrs.
Jervis was just gone from me, and I would have gone out, but he said,
"Don't go, Pamela, I have something to say to you, and you always fly me