This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 1913
Buy it on Amazon Listen via Audible FREE Audible 30 days

‘I hope so,’ he answered.

‘Why, Roger, I’m married–of a truth am I!’ she cried.

‘Shame upon ‘ee, if true! If not true, worse. Master Stocker was an honest man, and ye should have respected his memory longer. Where is thy husband?’

‘He comes often. I thought it was he now. Our marriage has to be kept secret for a while–it was done privily for certain reasons; but we was married at church like honest folk–afore God we were, Roger, six months after poor Stocker’s death.’

”Twas too soon,’ said Roger.

‘I was living in a house alone; I had nowhere to go to. You were far over sea in the New Found Land, and John took me and brought me here.’

‘How often doth he come?’ says Roger again.

‘Once or twice weekly,’ says she.

‘I wish th’ ‘dst waited till I returned, dear Edy,’ he said. ‘It mid be you are a wife–I hope so. But, if so, why this mystery? Why this mean and cramped lodging in this lonely copse-circled town? Of what standing is your husband, and of where?’

‘He is of gentle breeding–his name is John. I am not free to tell his family-name. He is said to be of London, for safety’ sake; but he really lives in the county next adjoining this.’

‘Where in the next county?’

‘I do not know. He has preferred not to tell me, that I may not have the secret forced from me, to his and my hurt, by bringing the marriage to the ears of his kinsfolk and friends.’

Her brother’s face flushed. ‘Our people have been honest townsmen, well-reputed for long; why should you readily take such humbling from a sojourner of whom th’ ‘st know nothing?’

They remained in constrained converse till her quick ear caught a sound, for which she might have been waiting–a horse’s footfall. ‘It is John!’ said she. ‘This is his night–Saturday.’

‘Don’t be frightened lest he should find me here!’ said Roger. ‘I am on the point of leaving. I wish not to be a third party. Say nothing at all about my visit, if it will incommode you so to do. I will see thee before I go afloat again.’

Speaking thus he left the room, and descending the staircase let himself out by the front door, thinking he might obtain a glimpse of the approaching horseman. But that traveller had in the meantime gone stealthily round to the back of the homestead, and peering along the pinion-end of the house Roger discerned him unbridling and haltering his horse with his own hands in the shed there.

Roger retired to the neighbouring inn called the Black Lamb, and meditated. This mysterious method of approach determined him, after all, not to leave the place till he had ascertained more definite facts of his sister’s position–whether she were the deluded victim of the stranger or the wife she obviously believed herself to be. Having eaten some supper, he left the inn, it being now about eleven o’clock. He first looked into the shed, and, finding the horse still standing there, waited irresolutely near the door of his sister’s lodging. Half an hour elapsed, and, while thinking he would climb into a loft hard by for a night’s rest, there seemed to be a movement within the shutters of the sitting-room that his sister occupied. Roger hid himself behind a faggot-stack near the back door, rightly divining that his sister’s visitor would emerge by the way he had entered. The door opened, and the candle she held in her hand lighted for a moment the stranger’s form, showing it to be that of a tall and handsome personage, about forty years of age, and apparently of a superior position in life. Edith was assisting him to cloak himself, which being done he took leave of her with a kiss and left the house. From the door she watched him bridle and saddle his horse, and having mounted and waved an adieu to her as she stood candle in hand, he turned out of the yard and rode away.

The horse which bore him was, or seemed to be, a little lame, and Roger fancied from this that the rider’s journey was not likely to be a long one. Being light of foot he followed apace, having no great difficulty on such a still night in keeping within earshot some few miles, the horseman pausing more than once. In this pursuit Roger discovered the rider to choose bridle-tracks and open commons in preference to any high road. The distance soon began to prove a more trying one than he had bargained for; and when out of breath and in some despair of being able to ascertain the man’s identity, he perceived an ass standing in the starlight under a hayrick, from which the animal was helping itself to periodic mouthfuls.

The story goes that Roger caught the ass, mounted, and again resumed the trail of the unconscious horseman, which feat may have been possible to a nautical young fellow, though one can hardly understand how a sailor would ride such an animal without bridle or saddle, and strange to his hands, unless the creature were extraordinarily docile. This question, however, is immaterial. Suffice it to say that at dawn the following morning Roger beheld his sister’s lover or husband entering the gates of a large and well-timbered park on the south-western verge of the White Hart Forest (as it was then called), now known to everybody as the Vale of Blackmoor. Thereupon the sailor discarded his steed, and finding for himself an obscurer entrance to the same park a little further on, he crossed the grass to reconnoitre.

He presently perceived amid the trees before him a mansion which, new to himself, was one of the best known in the county at that time. Of this fine manorial residence hardly a trace now remains; but a manuscript dated some years later than the events we are regarding describes it in terms from which the imagination may construct a singularly clear and vivid picture. This record presents it as consisting of ‘a faire yellow freestone building, partly two and partly three storeys; a faire halle and parlour, both waynscotted; a faire dyning roome and withdrawing roome, and many good lodgings; a kitchen adjoyninge backwarde to one end of the dwelling-house, with a faire passage from it into the halle, parlour, and dyninge roome, and sellars adjoyninge.

‘In the front of the house a square greene court, and a curious gatehouse with lodgings in it, standing with the front of the house to the south; in a large outer court three stables, a coach-house, a large barne, and a stable for oxen and kyne, and all houses necessary.

‘Without the gatehouse, paled in, a large square greene, in which standeth a faire chappell; of the south-east side of the greene court, towards the river, a large garden.

‘Of the south-west side of the greene court is a large bowling greene, with fower mounted walks about it, all walled about with a batteled wall, and sett with all sorts of fruit; and out of it into the feildes there are large walks under many tall elmes orderly planted.’

Then follows a description of the orchards and gardens; the servants’ offices, brewhouse, bakehouse, dairy, pigeon-houses, and corn-mill; the river and its abundance of fish; the warren, the coppices, the walks; ending thus –

‘And all the country north of the house, open champaign, sandy feildes, very dry and pleasant for all kindes of recreation, huntinge, and hawkinge, and profitble for tillage . . . The house hath a large prospect east, south, and west, over a very large and pleasant vale . . . is seated from the good markett towns of Sherton Abbas three miles, and Ivel a mile, that plentifully yield all manner of provision; and within twelve miles of the south sea.’

It was on the grass before this seductive and picturesque structure that the sailor stood at gaze under the elms in the dim dawn of Sunday morning, and saw to his surprise his sister’s lover and horse vanish within the court of the building.

Perplexed and weary, Roger slowly retreated, more than ever convinced that something was wrong in his sister’s position. He crossed the bowling green to the avenue of elms, and, bent on further research, was about to climb into one of these, when, looking below, he saw a heap of hay apparently for horses or deer. Into this he crept, and, having eaten a crust of bread which he had hastily thrust into his pocket at the inn, he curled up and fell asleep, the hay forming a comfortable bed, and quite covering him over.

He slept soundly and long, and was awakened by the sound of a bell. On peering from the hay he found the time had advanced to full day; the sun was shining brightly. The bell was that of the ‘faire chappell’ on the green outside the gatehouse, and it was calling to matins. Presently the priest crossed the green to a little side-door in the chancel, and then from the gateway of the mansion emerged the household, the tall man whom Roger had seen with his sister on the previous night, on his arm being a portly dame, and, running beside the pair, two little girls and a boy. These all entered the chapel, and the bell having ceased and the environs become clear, the sailor crept out from his hiding.

He sauntered towards the chapel, the opening words of the service being audible within. While standing by the porch he saw a belated servitor approaching from the kitchen-court to attend the service also. Roger carelessly accosted him, and asked, as an idle wanderer, the name of the family he had just seen cross over from the mansion.

‘Od zounds! if ye modden be a stranger here in very truth, goodman. That wer Sir John and his dame, and his children Elizabeth, Mary, and John.’

‘I be from foreign parts. Sir John what d’ye call’n?’

‘Master John Horseleigh, Knight, who had a’most as much lond by inheritance of his mother as ‘a had by his father, and likewise some by his wife. Why, bain’t his arms dree goolden horses’ heads, and idden his lady the daughter of Master Richard Phelipson, of Montislope, in Nether Wessex, known to us all?’

‘It mid be so, and yet it mid not. However, th’ ‘lt miss thy prayers for such an honest knight’s welfare, and I have to traipse seaward many miles.’

He went onward, and as he walked continued saying to himself, ‘Now to that poor wronged fool Edy. The fond thing! I thought it; ’twas too quick–she was ever amorous. What’s to become of her! God wot! How be I going to face her with the news, and how be I to hold it from her? To bring this disgrace on my father’s honoured name, a double- tongued knave!’ He turned and shook his fist at the chapel and all in it, and resumed his way.

Perhaps it was owing to the perplexity of his mind that, instead of returning by the direct road towards his sister’s obscure lodging in the next county, he followed the highway to Casterbridge, some fifteen miles off, where he remained drinking hard all that afternoon and evening, and where he lay that and two or three succeeding nights, wandering thence along the Anglebury road to some village that way, and lying the Friday night after at his native place of Havenpool. The sight of the familiar objects there seems to have stirred him anew to action, and the next morning he was observed pursuing the way to Oozewood that he had followed on the Saturday previous, reckoning, no doubt, that Saturday night would, as before, be a time for finding Sir John with his sister again.

He delayed to reach the place till just before sunset. His sister was walking in the meadows at the foot of the garden, with a nursemaid who carried the baby, and she looked up pensively when he approached. Anxiety as to her position had already told upon her once rosy cheeks and lucid eyes. But concern for herself and child was displaced for the moment by her regard of Roger’s worn and haggard face.

‘Why–you are sick, Roger–you are tired! Where have you been these many days? Why not keep me company a bit–my husband is much away? And we have hardly spoke at all of dear father and of your voyage to the New Land. Why did you go away so suddenly? There is a spare chamber at my lodging.’

‘Come indoors,’ he said. ‘We’ll talk now–talk a good deal. As for him [nodding to the child], better heave him into the river; better for him and you!’

She forced a laugh, as if she tried to see a good joke in the remark, and they went silently indoors.

‘A miserable hole!’ said Roger, looking round the room.

‘Nay, but ’tis very pretty!’

‘Not after what I’ve seen. Did he marry ‘ee at church in orderly fashion?’

‘He did sure–at our church at Havenpool.’

‘But in a privy way?’

‘Ay–because of his friends–it was at night-time.’

‘Ede, ye fond one–for all that he’s not thy husband! Th’ ‘rt not his wife; and the child is a bastard. He hath a wife and children of his own rank, and bearing his name; and that’s Sir John Horseleigh, of Clyfton Horseleigh, and not plain Jack, as you think him, and your lawful husband. The sacrament of marriage is no safeguard nowadays. The King’s new-made headship of the Church hath led men to practise these tricks lightly.’

She had turned white. ‘That’s not true, Roger!’ she said. ‘You are in liquor, my brother, and you know not what you say! Your seafaring years have taught ‘ee bad things!’

‘Edith–I’ve seen them; wife and family–all. How canst–‘

They were sitting in the gathered darkness, and at that moment steps were heard without. ‘Go out this way,’ she said. ‘It is my husband. He must not see thee in this mood. Get away till to-morrow, Roger, as you care for me.’

She pushed her brother through a door leading to the back stairs, and almost as soon as it was closed her visitor entered. Roger, however, did not retreat down the stairs; he stood and looked through the bobbin-hole. If the visitor turned out to be Sir John, he had determined to confront him.

It was the knight. She had struck a light on his entry, and he kissed the child, and took Edith tenderly by the shoulders, looking into her face.

‘Something’s gone awry wi’ my dear!’ he said. ‘What is it? What’s the matter?’

‘O, Jack!’ she cried. ‘I have heard such a fearsome rumour–what doth it mean? He who told me is my best friend. He must be deceived! But who deceived him, and why? Jack, I was just told that you had a wife living when you married me, and have her still!’

‘A wife?–H’m.’

‘Yes, and children. Say no, say no!’

‘By God! I have no lawful wife but you; and as for children, many or few, they are all bastards, save this one alone!’

‘And that you be Sir John Horseleigh of Clyfton?’

‘I mid be. I have never said so to ‘ee.’

‘But Sir John is known to have a lady, and issue of her!’

The knight looked down. ‘How did thy mind get filled with such as this?’ he asked.

‘One of my kindred came.’

‘A traitor! Why should he mar our life? Ah! you said you had a brother at sea–where is he now?’

‘Here!’ came from close behind him. And flinging open the door, Roger faced the intruder. ‘Liar!’ he said, ‘to call thyself her husband!’

Sir John fired up, and made a rush at the sailor, who seized him by the collar, and in the wrestle they both fell, Roger under. But in a few seconds he contrived to extricate his right arm, and drawing from his belt a knife which he wore attached to a cord round his neck he opened it with his teeth, and struck it into the breast of Sir John stretched above him. Edith had during these moments run into the next room to place the child in safety, and when she came back the knight was relaxing his hold on Roger’s throat. He rolled over upon his back and groaned.

The only witness of the scene save the three concerned was the nursemaid, who had brought in the child on its father’s arrival. She stated afterwards that nobody suspected Sir John had received his death wound; yet it was so, though he did not die for a long while, meaning thereby an hour or two; that Mistress Edith continually endeavoured to staunch the blood, calling her brother Roger a wretch, and ordering him to get himself gone; on which order he acted, after a gloomy pause, by opening the window, and letting himself down by the sill to the ground.

It was then that Sir John, in difficult accents, made his dying declaration to the nurse and Edith, and, later, the apothecary; which was to this purport, that the Dame Horseleigh who passed as his wife at Clyfton, and who had borne him three children, was in truth and deed, though unconsciously, the wife of another man. Sir John had married her several years before, in the face of the whole county, as the widow of one Decimus Strong, who had disappeared shortly after her union with him, having adventured to the North to join the revolt of the Nobles, and on that revolt being quelled retreated across the sea. Two years ago, having discovered this man to be still living in France, and not wishing to disturb the mind and happiness of her who believed herself his wife, yet wishing for legitimate issue, Sir John had informed the King of the facts, who had encouraged him to wed honestly, though secretly, the young merchant’s widow at Havenpool; she being, therefore, his lawful wife, and she only. That to avoid all scandal and hubbub he had purposed to let things remain as they were till fair opportunity should arise of making the true case known with least pain to all parties concerned, but that, having been thus suspected and attacked by his own brother-in-law, his zest for such schemes and for all things had died out in him, and he only wished to commend his soul to God.

That night, while the owls were hooting from the forest that encircled the sleeping townlet, and the South-Avon was gurgling through the wooden piles of the bridge, Sir John died there in the arms of his wife. She concealed nothing of the cause of her husband’s death save the subject of the quarrel, which she felt it would be premature to announce just then, and until proof of her status should be forthcoming. But before a month had passed, it happened, to her inexpressible sorrow, that the child of this clandestine union fell sick and died. From that hour all interest in the name and fame of the Horseleighs forsook the younger of the twain who called themselves wives of Sir John, and, being careless about her own fame, she took no steps to assert her claims, her legal position having, indeed, grown hateful to her in her horror at the tragedy. And Sir William Byrt, the curate who had married her to her husband, being an old man and feeble, was not disinclined to leave the embers unstirred of such a fiery matter as this, and to assist her in letting established things stand. Therefore, Edith retired with the nurse, her only companion and friend, to her native town, where she lived in absolute obscurity till her death in middle age. Her brother was never seen again in England.

A strangely corroborative sequel to the story remains to be told. Shortly after the death of Sir John Horseleigh, a soldier of fortune returned from the Continent, called on Dame Horseleigh the fictitious, living in widowed state at Clyfton Horseleigh, and, after a singularly brief courtship, married her. The tradition at Havenpool and elsewhere has ever been that this man was already her husband, Decimus Strong, who remarried her for appearance’ sake only.

The illegitimate son of this lady by Sir John succeeded to the estates and honours, and his son after him, there being nobody on the alert to investigate their pretensions. Little difference would it have made to the present generation, however, had there been such a one, for the family in all its branches, lawful and unlawful, has been extinct these many score years, the last representative but one being killed at the siege of Sherton Castle, while attacking in the service of the Parliament, and the other being outlawed later in the same century for a debt of ten pounds, and dying in the county jail. The mansion house and its appurtenances were, as I have previously stated, destroyed, excepting one small wing, which now forms part of a farmhouse, and is visible as you pass along the railway from Casterbridge to Ivel. The outline of the old bowling-green is also distinctly to be seen.

This, then, is the reason why the only lawful marriage of Sir John, as recorded in the obscure register at Havenpool, does not appear in the pedigree of the house of Horseleigh.

Spring 1893.


According to the kinsman who told me the story, Christopher Swetman’s house, on the outskirts of King’s-Hintock village, was in those days larger and better kept than when, many years later, it was sold to the lord of the manor adjoining; after having been in the Swetman family, as one may say, since the Conquest.

Some people would have it to be that the thing happened at the house opposite, belonging to one Childs, with whose family the Swetmans afterwards intermarried. But that it was at the original homestead of the Swetmans can be shown in various ways; chiefly by the unbroken traditions of the family, and indirectly by the evidence of the walls themselves, which are the only ones thereabout with windows mullioned in the Elizabethan manner, and plainly of a date anterior to the event; while those of the other house might well have been erected fifty or eighty years later, and probably were; since the choice of Swetman’s house by the fugitive was doubtless dictated by no other circumstance than its then suitable loneliness.

It was a cloudy July morning just before dawn, the hour of two having been struck by Swetman’s one-handed clock on the stairs, that is still preserved in the family. Christopher heard the strokes from his chamber, immediately at the top of the staircase, and overlooking the front of the house. He did not wonder that he was sleepless. The rumours and excitements which had latterly stirred the neighbourhood, to the effect that the rightful King of England had landed from Holland, at a port only eighteen miles to the south-west of Swetman’s house, were enough to make wakeful and anxious even a contented yeoman like him. Some of the villagers, intoxicated by the news, had thrown down their scythes, and rushed to the ranks of the invader. Christopher Swetman had weighed both sides of the question, and had remained at home.

Now as he lay thinking of these and other things he fancied that he could hear the footfall of a man on the road leading up to his house- -a byway, which led scarce anywhere else; and therefore a tread was at any time more apt to startle the inmates of the homestead than if it had stood in a thoroughfare. The footfall came opposite the gate, and stopped there. One minute, two minutes passed, and the pedestrian did not proceed. Christopher Swetman got out of bed, and opened the casement. ‘Hoi! who’s there?’ cries he.

‘A friend,’ came from the darkness.

‘And what mid ye want at this time o’ night?’ says Swetman.

‘Shelter. I’ve lost my way.’

‘What’s thy name?’

There came no answer.

‘Be ye one of King Monmouth’s men?’

‘He that asks no questions will hear no lies from me. I am a stranger; and I am spent, and hungered. Can you let me lie with you to-night?’

Swetman was generous to people in trouble, and his house was roomy. ‘Wait a bit,’ he said, ‘and I’ll come down and have a look at thee, anyhow.’

He struck a light, put on his clothes, and descended, taking his horn-lantern from a nail in the passage, and lighting it before opening the door. The rays fell on the form of a tall, dark man in cavalry accoutrements and wearing a sword. He was pale with fatigue and covered with mud, though the weather was dry.

‘Prithee take no heed of my appearance,’ said the stranger. ‘But let me in.’

That his visitor was in sore distress admitted of no doubt, and the yeoman’s natural humanity assisted the other’s sad importunity and gentle voice. Swetman took him in, not without a suspicion that this man represented in some way Monmouth’s cause, to which he was not unfriendly in his secret heart. At his earnest request the new-comer was given a suit of the yeoman’s old clothes in exchange for his own, which, with his sword, were hidden in a closet in Swetman’s chamber; food was then put before him and a lodging provided for him in a room at the back.

Here he slept till quite late in the morning, which was Sunday, the sixth of July, and when he came down in the garments that he had borrowed he met the household with a melancholy smile. Besides Swetman himself, there were only his two daughters, Grace and Leonard (the latter was, oddly enough, a woman’s name here), and both had been enjoined to secrecy. They asked no questions and received no information; though the stranger regarded their fair countenances with an interest almost too deep. Having partaken of their usual breakfast of ham and cider he professed weariness and retired to the chamber whence he had come.

In a couple of hours or thereabout he came down again, the two young women having now gone off to morning service. Seeing Christopher bustling about the house without assistance, he asked if he could do anything to aid his host.

As he seemed anxious to hide all differences and appear as one of themselves, Swetman set him to get vegetables from the garden and fetch water from Buttock’s Spring in the dip near the house (though the spring was not called by that name till years after, by the way).

‘And what can I do next?’ says the stranger when these services had been performed.

His meekness and docility struck Christopher much, and won upon him. ‘Since you be minded to,’ says the latter, ‘you can take down the dishes and spread the table for dinner. Take a pewter plate for thyself, but the trenchers will do for we.’

But the other would not, and took a trencher likewise, in doing which he spoke of the two girls and remarked how comely they were.

This quietude was put an end to by a stir out of doors, which was sufficient to draw Swetman’s attention to it, and he went out. Farm hands who had gone off and joined the Duke on his arrival had begun to come in with news that a midnight battle had been fought on the moors to the north, the Duke’s men, who had attacked, being entirely worsted; the Duke himself, with one or two lords and other friends, had fled, no one knew whither.

‘There has been a battle,’ says Swetman, on coming indoors after these tidings, and looking earnestly at the stranger.

‘May the victory be to the rightful in the end, whatever the issue now,’ says the other, with a sorrowful sigh.

‘Dost really know nothing about it?’ said Christopher. ‘I could have sworn you was one from that very battle!’

‘I was here before three o’ the clock this morning; and these men have only arrived now.’

‘True,’ said the yeoman. ‘But still, I think–‘

‘Do not press your question,’ the stranger urged. ‘I am in a strait, and can refuse a helper nothing; such inquiry is, therefore, unfair.’

‘True again,’ said Swetman, and held his tongue.

The daughters of the house returned from church, where the service had been hurried by reason of the excitement. To their father’s questioning if they had spoken of him who sojourned there they replied that they had said never a word; which, indeed, was true, as events proved.

He bade them serve the dinner; and, as the visitor had withdrawn since the news of the battle, prepared to take a platter to him upstairs. But he preferred to come down and dine with the family.

During the afternoon more fugitives passed through the village, but Christopher Swetman, his visitor, and his family kept indoors. In the evening, however, Swetman came out from his gate, and, harkening in silence to these tidings and more, wondered what might be in store for him for his last night’s work.

He returned homeward by a path across the mead that skirted his own orchard. Passing here, he heard the voice of his daughter Leonard expostulating inside the hedge, her words being: ‘Don’t ye, sir; don’t! I prithee let me go!’

‘Why, sweetheart?’

‘Because I’ve a-promised another!’

Peeping through, as he could not help doing, he saw the girl struggling in the arms of the stranger, who was attempting to kiss her; but finding her resistance to be genuine, and her distress unfeigned, he reluctantly let her go.

Swetman’s face grew dark, for his girls were more to him than himself. He hastened on, meditating moodily all the way. He entered the gate, and made straight for the orchard. When he reached it his daughter had disappeared, but the stranger was still standing there.

‘Sir!’ said the yeoman, his anger having in no wise abated, ‘I’ve seen what has happened! I have taken ‘ee into my house, at some jeopardy to myself; and, whoever you be, the least I expected of ‘ee was to treat the maidens with a seemly respect. You have not done it, and I no longer trust you. I am the more watchful over them in that they are motherless; and I must ask ‘ee to go after dark this night!’

The stranger seemed dazed at discovering what his impulse had brought down upon his head, and his pale face grew paler. He did not reply for a time. When he did speak his soft voice was thick with feeling.

‘Sir,’ says he, ‘I own that I am in the wrong, if you take the matter gravely. We do not what we would but what we must. Though I have not injured your daughter as a woman, I have been treacherous to her as a hostess and friend in need. I’ll go, as you say; I can do no less. I shall doubtless find a refuge elsewhere.’

They walked towards the house in silence, where Swetman insisted that his guest should have supper before departing. By the time this was eaten it was dusk and the stranger announced that he was ready.

They went upstairs to where the garments and sword lay hidden, till the departing one said that on further thought he would ask another favour: that he should be allowed to retain the clothes he wore, and that his host would keep the others and the sword till he, the speaker, should come or send for them.

‘As you will,’ said Swetman. ‘The gain is on my side; for those clouts were but kept to dress a scarecrow next fall.’

‘They suit my case,’ said the stranger sadly. ‘However much they may misfit me, they do not misfit my sorry fortune now!’

‘Nay, then,’ said Christopher relenting, ‘I was too hasty. Sh’lt bide!’

But the other would not, saying that it was better that things should take their course. Notwithstanding that Swetman importuned him, he only added, ‘If I never come again, do with my belongings as you list. In the pocket you will find a gold snuff-box, and in the snuff-box fifty gold pieces.’

‘But keep ’em for thy use, man!’ said the yeoman.

‘No,’ says the parting guest; ‘they are foreign pieces and would harm me if I were taken. Do as I bid thee. Put away these things again and take especial charge of the sword. It belonged to my father’s father and I value it much. But something more common becomes me now.’

Saying which, he took, as he went downstairs, one of the ash sticks used by Swetman himself for walking with. The yeoman lighted him out to the garden hatch, where he disappeared through Clammers Gate by the road that crosses King’s-Hintock Park to Evershead.

Christopher returned to the upstairs chamber, and sat down on his bed reflecting. Then he examined the things left behind, and surely enough in one of the pockets the gold snuff-box was revealed, containing the fifty gold pieces as stated by the fugitive. The yeoman next looked at the sword which its owner had stated to have belonged to his grandfather. It was two-edged, so that he almost feared to handle it. On the blade was inscribed the words ‘ANDREA FERARA,’ and among the many fine chasings were a rose and crown, the plume of the Prince of Wales, and two portraits; portraits of a man and a woman, the man’s having the face of the first King Charles, and the woman’s, apparently, that of his Queen.

Swetman, much awed and surprised, returned the articles to the closet, and went downstairs pondering. Of his surmise he said nothing to his daughters, merely declaring to them that the gentleman was gone; and never revealing that he had been an eye-witness of the unpleasant scene in the orchard that was the immediate cause of the departure.

Nothing occurred in Hintock during the week that followed, beyond the fitful arrival of more decided tidings concerning the utter defeat of the Duke’s army and his own disappearance at an early stage of the battle. Then it was told that Monmouth was taken, not in his own clothes but in the disguise of a countryman. He had been sent to London, and was confined in the Tower.

The possibility that his guest had been no other than the Duke made Swetman unspeakably sorry now; his heart smote him at the thought that, acting so harshly for such a small breach of good faith, he might have been the means of forwarding the unhappy fugitive’s capture. On the girls coming up to him he said, ‘Get away with ye, wenches: I fear you have been the ruin of an unfortunate man!’

On the Tuesday night following, when the yeoman was sleeping as usual in his chamber, he was, he said, conscious of the entry of some one. Opening his eyes, he beheld by the light of the moon, which shone upon the front of his house, the figure of a man who seemed to be the stranger moving from the door towards the closet. He was dressed somewhat differently now, but the face was quite that of his late guest in its tragical pensiveness, as was also the tallness of his figure. He neared the closet; and, feeling his visitor to be within his rights, Christopher refrained from stirring. The personage turned his large haggard eyes upon the bed where Swetman lay, and then withdrew from their hiding the articles that belonged to him, again giving a hard gaze at Christopher as he went noiselessly out of the chamber with his properties on his arm. His retreat down the stairs was just audible, and also his departure by the side door, through which entrance or exit was easy to those who knew the place.

Nothing further happened, and towards morning Swetman slept. To avoid all risk he said not a word to the girls of the visit of the night, and certainly not to any one outside the house; for it was dangerous at that time to avow anything.

Among the killed in opposing the recent rising had been a younger brother of the lord of the manor, who lived at King’s-Hintock Court hard by. Seeing the latter ride past in mourning clothes next day, Swetman ventured to condole with him.

‘He’d no business there!’ answered the other. His words and manner showed the bitterness that was mingled with his regret. ‘But say no more of him. You know what has happened since, I suppose?’

‘I know that they say Monmouth is taken, Sir Thomas, but I can’t think it true,’ answered Swetman.

‘O zounds! ’tis true enough,’ cried the knight, ‘and that’s not all. The Duke was executed on Tower Hill two days ago.’

‘D’ye say it verily?’ says Swetman.

‘And a very hard death he had, worse luck for ‘n,’ said Sir Thomas. ‘Well, ’tis over for him and over for my brother. But not for the rest. There’ll be searchings and siftings down here anon; and happy is the man who has had nothing to do with this matter!’

Now Swetman had hardly heard the latter words, so much was he confounded by the strangeness of the tidings that the Duke had come to his death on the previous Tuesday. For it had been only the night before this present day of Friday that he had seen his former guest, whom he had ceased to doubt could be other than the Duke, come into his chamber and fetch away his accoutrements as he had promised.

‘It couldn’t have been a vision,’ said Christopher to himself when the knight had ridden on. ‘But I’ll go straight and see if the things be in the closet still; and thus I shall surely learn if ’twere a vision or no.’

To the closet he went, which he had not looked into since the stranger’s departure. And searching behind the articles placed to conceal the things hidden, he found that, as he had never doubted, they were gone.

When the rumour spread abroad in the West that the man beheaded in the Tower was not indeed the Duke, but one of his officers taken after the battle, and that the Duke had been assisted to escape out of the country, Swetman found in it an explanation of what so deeply mystified him. That his visitor might have been a friend of the Duke’s, whom the Duke had asked to fetch the things in a last request, Swetman would never admit. His belief in the rumour that Monmouth lived, like that of thousands of others, continued to the end of his days.

Such, briefly, concluded my kinsman, is the tradition which has been handed down in Christopher Swetman’s family for the last two hundred years.



The traveller in school-books, who vouched in dryest tones for the fidelity to fact of the following narrative, used to add a ring of truth to it by opening with a nicety of criticism on the heroine’s personality. People were wrong, he declared, when they surmised that Baptista Trewthen was a young woman with scarcely emotions or character. There was nothing in her to love, and nothing to hate–so ran the general opinion. That she showed few positive qualities was true. The colours and tones which changing events paint on the faces of active womankind were looked for in vain upon hers. But still waters run deep; and no crisis had come in the years of her early maidenhood to demonstrate what lay hidden within her, like metal in a mine.

She was the daughter of a small farmer in St. Maria’s, one of the Isles of Lyonesse beyond Off-Wessex, who had spent a large sum, as there understood, on her education, by sending her to the mainland for two years. At nineteen she was entered at the Training College for Teachers, and at twenty-one nominated to a school in the country, near Tor-upon-Sea, whither she proceeded after the Christmas examination and holidays.

The months passed by from winter to spring and summer, and Baptista applied herself to her new duties as best she could, till an uneventful year had elapsed. Then an air of abstraction pervaded her bearing as she walked to and fro, twice a day, and she showed the traits of a person who had something on her mind. A widow, by name Mrs. Wace, in whose house Baptista Trewthen had been provided with a sitting-room and bedroom till the school-house should be built, noticed this change in her youthful tenant’s manner, and at last ventured to press her with a few questions.

‘It has nothing to do with the place, nor with you,’ said Miss Trewthen.

‘Then it is the salary?’

‘No, nor the salary.’

‘Then it is something you have heard from home, my dear.’

Baptista was silent for a few moments. ‘It is Mr. Heddegan,’ she murmured. ‘Him they used to call David Heddegan before he got his money.’

‘And who is the Mr. Heddegan they used to call David?’

‘An old bachelor at Giant’s Town, St. Maria’s, with no relations whatever, who lives about a stone’s throw from father’s. When I was a child he used to take me on his knee and say he’d marry me some day. Now I am a woman the jest has turned earnest, and he is anxious to do it. And father and mother says I can’t do better than have him.’

‘He’s well off?’

‘Yes–he’s the richest man we know–as a friend and neighbour.’

‘How much older did you say he was than yourself?’

‘I didn’t say. Twenty years at least.’

‘And an unpleasant man in the bargain perhaps?’

‘No–he’s not unpleasant.’

‘Well, child, all I can say is that I’d resist any such engagement if it’s not palatable to ‘ee. You are comfortable here, in my little house, I hope. All the parish like ‘ee: and I’ve never been so cheerful, since my poor husband left me to wear his wings, as I’ve been with ‘ee as my lodger.’

The schoolmistress assured her landlady that she could return the sentiment. ‘But here comes my perplexity,’ she said. ‘I don’t like keeping school. Ah, you are surprised–you didn’t suspect it. That’s because I’ve concealed my feeling. Well, I simply hate school. I don’t care for children–they are unpleasant, troublesome little things, whom nothing would delight so much as to hear that you had fallen down dead. Yet I would even put up with them if it was not for the inspector. For three months before his visit I didn’t sleep soundly. And the Committee of Council are always changing the Code, so that you don’t know what to teach, and what to leave untaught. I think father and mother are right. They say I shall never excel as a schoolmistress if I dislike the work so, and that therefore I ought to get settled by marrying Mr. Heddegan. Between us two, I like him better than school; but I don’t like him quite so much as to wish to marry him.’

These conversations, once begun, were continued from day to day; till at length the young girl’s elderly friend and landlady threw in her opinion on the side of Miss Trewthen’s parents. All things considered, she declared, the uncertainty of the school, the labour, Baptista’s natural dislike for teaching, it would be as well to take what fate offered, and make the best of matters by wedding her father’s old neighbour and prosperous friend.

The Easter holidays came round, and Baptista went to spend them as usual in her native isle, going by train into Off-Wessex and crossing by packet from Pen-zephyr. When she returned in the middle of April her face wore a more settled aspect.

‘Well?’ said the expectant Mrs. Wace.

‘I have agreed to have him as my husband,’ said Baptista, in an off- hand way. ‘Heaven knows if it will be for the best or not. But I have agreed to do it, and so the matter is settled.’

Mrs. Wace commended her; but Baptista did not care to dwell on the subject; so that allusion to it was very infrequent between them. Nevertheless, among other things, she repeated to the widow from time to time in monosyllabic remarks that the wedding was really impending; that it was arranged for the summer, and that she had given notice of leaving the school at the August holidays. Later on she announced more specifically that her marriage was to take place immediately after her return home at the beginning of the month aforesaid.

She now corresponded regularly with Mr. Heddegan. Her letters from him were seen, at least on the outside, and in part within, by Mrs. Wace. Had she read more of their interiors than the occasional sentences shown her by Baptista she would have perceived that the scratchy, rusty handwriting of Miss Trewthen’s betrothed conveyed little more matter than details of their future housekeeping, and his preparations for the same, with innumerable ‘my dears’ sprinkled in disconnectedly, to show the depth of his affection without the inconveniences of syntax.


It was the end of July–dry, too dry, even for the season, the delicate green herbs and vegetables that grew in this favoured end of the kingdom tasting rather of the watering-pot than of the pure fresh moisture from the skies. Baptista’s boxes were packed, and one Saturday morning she departed by a waggonette to the station, and thence by train to Pen-zephyr, from which port she was, as usual, to cross the water immediately to her home, and become Mr. Heddegan’s wife on the Wednesday of the week following.

She might have returned a week sooner. But though the wedding day had loomed so near, and the banns were out, she delayed her departure till this last moment, saying it was not necessary for her to be at home long beforehand. As Mr. Heddegan was older than herself, she said, she was to be married in her ordinary summer bonnet and grey silk frock, and there were no preparations to make that had not been amply made by her parents and intended husband.

In due time, after a hot and tedious journey, she reached Pen-zephyr. She here obtained some refreshment, and then went towards the pier, where she learnt to her surprise that the little steamboat plying between the town and the islands had left at eleven o’clock; the usual hour of departure in the afternoon having been forestalled in consequence of the fogs which had for a few days prevailed towards evening, making twilight navigation dangerous.

This being Saturday, there was now no other boat till Tuesday, and it became obvious that here she would have to remain for the three days, unless her friends should think fit to rig out one of the island’ sailing-boats and come to fetch her–a not very likely contingency, the sea distance being nearly forty miles.

Baptista, however, had been detained in Pen-zephyr on more than one occasion before, either on account of bad weather or some such reason as the present, and she was therefore not in any personal alarm. But, as she was to be married on the following Wednesday, the delay was certainly inconvenient to a more than ordinary degree, since it would leave less than a day’s interval between her arrival and the wedding ceremony.

Apart from this awkwardness she did not much mind the accident. It was indeed curious to see how little she minded. Perhaps it would not be too much to say that, although she was going to do the critical deed of her life quite willingly, she experienced an indefinable relief at the postponement of her meeting with Heddegan. But her manner after making discovery of the hindrance was quiet and subdued, even to passivity itself; as was instanced by her having, at the moment of receiving information that the steamer had sailed, replied ‘Oh,’ so coolly to the porter with her luggage, that he was almost disappointed at her lack of disappointment.

The question now was, should she return again to Mrs. Wace, in the village of Lower Wessex, or wait in the town at which she had arrived. She would have preferred to go back, but the distance was too great; moreover, having left the place for good, and somewhat dramatically, to become a bride, a return, even for so short a space, would have been a trifle humiliating.

Leaving, then, her boxes at the station, her next anxiety was to secure a respectable, or rather genteel, lodging in the popular seaside resort confronting her. To this end she looked about the town, in which, though she had passed through it half-a-dozen times, she was practically a stranger.

Baptista found a room to suit her over a fruiterer’s shop; where she made herself at home, and set herself in order after her journey. An early cup of tea having revived her spirits she walked out to reconnoitre.

Being a schoolmistress she avoided looking at the schools, and having a sort of trade connection with books, she avoided looking at the booksellers; but wearying of the other shops she inspected the churches; not that for her own part she cared much about ecclesiastical edifices; but tourists looked at them, and so would she–a proceeding for which no one would have credited her with any great originality, such, for instance, as that she subsequently showed herself to possess. The churches soon oppressed her. She tried the Museum, but came out because it seemed lonely and tedious.

Yet the town and the walks in this land of strawberries, these headquarters of early English flowers and fruit, were then, as always, attractive. From the more picturesque streets she went to the town gardens, and the Pier, and the Harbour, and looked at the men at work there, loading and unloading as in the time of the Phoenicians.

‘Not Baptista? Yes, Baptista it is!’

The words were uttered behind her. Turning round she gave a start, and became confused, even agitated, for a moment. Then she said in her usual undemonstrative manner, ‘O–is it really you, Charles?’

Without speaking again at once, and with a half-smile, the new-comer glanced her over. There was much criticism, and some resentment– even temper–in his eye.

‘I am going home,’ continued she. ‘But I have missed the boat.’

He scarcely seemed to take in the meaning of this explanation, in the intensity of his critical survey. ‘Teaching still? What a fine schoolmistress you make, Baptista, I warrant!’ he said with a slight flavour of sarcasm, which was not lost upon her.

‘I know I am nothing to brag of,’ she replied. ‘That’s why I have given up.’

‘O–given up? You astonish me.’

‘I hate the profession.’

‘Perhaps that’s because I am in it.’

‘O no, it isn’t. But I am going to enter on another life altogether. I am going to be married next week to Mr. David Heddegan.’

The young man–fortified as he was by a natural cynical pride and passionateness–winced at this unexpected reply, notwithstanding.

‘Who is Mr. David Heddegan?’ he asked, as indifferently as lay in his power.

She informed him the bearer of the name was a general merchant of Giant’s Town, St. Maria’s island–her father’s nearest neighbour and oldest friend.

‘Then we shan’t see anything more of you on the mainland?’ inquired the schoolmaster.

‘O, I don’t know about that,’ said Miss Trewthen.

‘Here endeth the career of the belle of the boarding-school your father was foolish enough to send you to. A “general merchant’s” wife in the Lyonesse Isles. Will you sell pounds of soap and pennyworths of tin tacks, or whole bars of saponaceous matter, and great tenpenny nails?’

‘He’s not in such a small way as that!’ she almost pleaded. ‘He owns ships, though they are rather little ones!’

‘O, well, it is much the same. Come, let us walk on; it is tedious to stand still. I thought you would be a failure in education,’ he continued, when she obeyed him and strolled ahead. ‘You never showed power that way. You remind me much of some of those women who think they are sure to be great actresses if they go on the stage, because they have a pretty face, and forget that what we require is acting. But you found your mistake, didn’t you?’

‘Don’t taunt me, Charles.’ It was noticeable that the young schoolmaster’s tone caused her no anger or retaliatory passion; far otherwise: there was a tear in her eye. ‘How is it you are at Pen- zephyr?’ she inquired.

‘I don’t taunt you. I speak the truth, purely in a friendly way, as I should to any one I wished well. Though for that matter I might have some excuse even for taunting you. Such a terrible hurry as you’ve been in. I hate a woman who is in such a hurry.’

‘How do you mean that?’

‘Why–to be somebody’s wife or other–anything’s wife rather than nobody’s. You couldn’t wait for me, O, no. Well, thank God, I’m cured of all that!’

‘How merciless you are!’ she said bitterly. ‘Wait for you? What does that mean, Charley? You never showed–anything to wait for– anything special towards me.’

‘O come, Baptista dear; come!’

‘What I mean is, nothing definite,’ she expostulated. ‘I suppose you liked me a little; but it seemed to me to be only a pastime on your part, and that you never meant to make an honourable engagement of it.’

‘There, that’s just it! You girls expect a man to mean business at the first look. No man when he first becomes interested in a woman has any definite scheme of engagement to marry her in his mind, unless he is meaning a vulgar mercenary marriage. However, I DID at last mean an honourable engagement, as you call it, come to that.’

‘But you never said so, and an indefinite courtship soon injures a woman’s position and credit, sooner than you think.’

‘Baptista, I solemnly declare that in six months I should have asked you to marry me.’

She walked along in silence, looking on the ground, and appearing very uncomfortable. Presently he said, ‘Would you have waited for me if you had known?’ To this she whispered in a sorrowful whisper, ‘Yes!’

They went still farther in silence–passing along one of the beautiful walks on the outskirts of the town, yet not observant of scene or situation. Her shoulder and his were close together, and he clasped his fingers round the small of her arm–quite lightly, and without any attempt at impetus; yet the act seemed to say, ‘Now I hold you, and my will must be yours.’

Recurring to a previous question of hers he said, ‘I have merely run down here for a day or two from school near Trufal, before going off to the north for the rest of my holiday. I have seen my relations at Redrutin quite lately, so I am not going there this time. How little I thought of meeting you! How very different the circumstances would have been if, instead of parting again as we must in half-an-hour or so, possibly for ever, you had been now just going off with me, as my wife, on our honeymoon trip. Ha–ha–well–so humorous is life!’

She stopped suddenly. ‘I must go back now–this is altogether too painful, Charley! It is not at all a kind mood you are in to-day.’

‘I don’t want to pain you–you know I do not,’ he said more gently. ‘Only it just exasperates me–this you are going to do. I wish you would not.’


‘Marry him. There, now I have showed you my true sentiments.’

‘I must do it now,’ said she.

‘Why?’ he asked, dropping the off-hand masterful tone he had hitherto spoken in, and becoming earnest; still holding her arm, however, as if she were his chattel to be taken up or put down at will. ‘It is never too late to break off a marriage that’s distasteful to you. Now I’ll say one thing; and it is truth: I wish you would marry me instead of him, even now, at the last moment, though you have served me so badly.’

‘O, it is not possible to think of that!’ she answered hastily, shaking her head. ‘When I get home all will be prepared–it is ready even now–the things for the party, the furniture, Mr. Heddegan’s new suit, and everything. I should require the courage of a tropical lion to go home there and say I wouldn’t carry out my promise!’

‘Then go, in Heaven’s name! But there would be no necessity for you to go home and face them in that way. If we were to marry, it would have to be at once, instantly; or not at all. I should think your affection not worth the having unless you agreed to come back with me to Trufal this evening, where we could be married by licence on Monday morning. And then no Mr. David Heddegan or anybody else could get you away from me.’

‘I must go home by the Tuesday boat,’ she faltered. ‘What would they think if I did not come?’

‘You could go home by that boat just the same. All the difference would be that I should go with you. You could leave me on the quay, where I’d have a smoke, while you went and saw your father and mother privately; you could then tell them what you had done, and that I was waiting not far off; that I was a school-master in a fairly good position, and a young man you had known when you were at the Training College. Then I would come boldly forward; and they would see that it could not be altered, and so you wouldn’t suffer a lifelong misery by being the wife of a wretched old gaffer you don’t like at all. Now, honestly; you do like me best, don’t you, Baptista?’


‘Then we will do as I say.’

She did not pronounce a clear affirmative. But that she consented to the novel proposition at some moment or other of that walk was apparent by what occurred a little later.


An enterprise of such pith required, indeed, less talking than consideration. The first thing they did in carrying it out was to return to the railway station, where Baptista took from her luggage a small trunk of immediate necessaries which she would in any case have required after missing the boat. That same afternoon they travelled up the line to Trufal.

Charles Stow (as his name was), despite his disdainful indifference to things, was very careful of appearances, and made the journey independently of her though in the same train. He told her where she could get board and lodgings in the city; and with merely a distant nod to her of a provisional kind, went off to his own quarters, and to see about the licence.

On Sunday she saw him in the morning across the nave of the pro- cathedral. In the afternoon they walked together in the fields, where he told her that the licence would be ready next day, and would be available the day after, when the ceremony could be performed as early after eight o’clock as they should choose.

His courtship, thus renewed after an interval of two years, was as impetuous, violent even, as it was short. The next day came and passed, and the final arrangements were made. Their agreement was to get the ceremony over as soon as they possibly could the next morning, so as to go on to Pen-zephyr at once, and reach that place in time for the boat’s departure the same day. It was in obedience to Baptista’s earnest request that Stow consented thus to make the whole journey to Lyonesse by land and water at one heat, and not break it at Pen-zephyr; she seemed to be oppressed with a dread of lingering anywhere, this great first act of disobedience to her parents once accomplished, with the weight on her mind that her home had to be convulsed by the disclosure of it. To face her difficulties over the water immediately she had created them was, however, a course more desired by Baptista than by her lover; though for once he gave way.

The next morning was bright and warm as those which had preceded it. By six o’clock it seemed nearly noon, as is often the case in that part of England in the summer season. By nine they were husband and wife. They packed up and departed by the earliest train after the service; and on the way discussed at length what she should say on meeting her parents, Charley dictating the turn of each phrase. In her anxiety they had travelled so early that when they reached Pen- zephyr they found there were nearly two hours on their hands before the steamer’s time of sailing.

Baptista was extremely reluctant to be seen promenading the streets of the watering-place with her husband till, as above stated, the household at Giant’s Town should know the unexpected course of events from her own lips; and it was just possible, if not likely, that some Lyonessian might be prowling about there, or even have come across the sea to look for her. To meet any one to whom she was known, and to have to reply to awkward questions about the strange young man at her side before her well-framed announcement had been delivered at proper time and place, was a thing she could not contemplate with equanimity. So, instead of looking at the shops and harbour, they went along the coast a little way.

The heat of the morning was by this time intense. They clambered up on some cliffs, and while sitting there, looking around at St. Michael’s Mount and other objects, Charles said to her that he thought he would run down to the beach at their feet, and take just one plunge into the sea.

Baptista did not much like the idea of being left alone; it was gloomy, she said. But he assured her he would not be gone more than a quarter of an hour at the outside, and she passively assented.

Down he went, disappeared, appeared again, and looked back. Then he again proceeded, and vanished, till, as a small waxen object, she saw him emerge from the nook that had screened him, cross the white fringe of foam, and walk into the undulating mass of blue. Once in the water he seemed less inclined to hurry than before; he remained a long time; and, unable either to appreciate his skill or criticize his want of it at that distance, she withdrew her eyes from the spot, and gazed at the still outline of St. Michael’s–now beautifully toned in grey.

Her anxiety for the hour of departure, and to cope at once with the approaching incidents that she would have to manipulate as best she could, sent her into a reverie. It was now Tuesday; she would reach home in the evening–a very late time they would say; but, as the delay was a pure accident, they would deem her marriage to Mr. Heddegan to-morrow still practicable. Then Charles would have to be produced from the background. It was a terrible undertaking to think of, and she almost regretted her temerity in wedding so hastily that morning. The rage of her father would be so crushing; the reproaches of her mother so bitter; and perhaps Charles would answer hotly, and perhaps cause estrangement till death. There had obviously been no alarm about her at St. Maria’s, or somebody would have sailed across to inquire for her. She had, in a letter written at the beginning of the week, spoken of the hour at which she intended to leave her country schoolhouse; and from this her friends had probably perceived that by such timing she would run a risk of losing the Saturday boat. She had missed it, and as a consequence sat here on the shore as Mrs. Charles Stow.

This brought her to the present, and she turned from the outline of St. Michael’s Mount to look about for her husband’s form. He was, as far as she could discover, no longer in the sea. Then he was dressing. By moving a few steps she could see where his clothes lay. But Charles was not beside them.

Baptista looked back again at the water in bewilderment, as if her senses were the victim of some sleight of hand. Not a speck or spot resembling a man’s head or face showed anywhere. By this time she was alarmed, and her alarm intensified when she perceived a little beyond the scene of her husband’s bathing a small area of water, the quality of whose surface differed from that of the surrounding expanse as the coarse vegetation of some foul patch in a mead differs from the fine green of the remainder. Elsewhere it looked flexuous, here it looked vermiculated and lumpy, and her marine experiences suggested to her in a moment that two currents met and caused a turmoil at this place.

She descended as hastily as her trembling limbs would allow. The way down was terribly long, and before reaching the heap of clothes it occurred to her that, after all, it would be best to run first for help. Hastening along in a lateral direction she proceeded inland till she met a man, and soon afterwards two others. To them she exclaimed, ‘I think a gentleman who was bathing is in some danger. I cannot see him as I could. Will you please run and help him, at once, if you will be so kind?’

She did not think of turning to show them the exact spot, indicating it vaguely by the direction of her hand, and still going on her way with the idea of gaining more assistance. When she deemed, in her faintness, that she had carried the alarm far enough, she faced about and dragged herself back again. Before reaching the now dreaded spot she met one of the men.

‘We can see nothing at all, Miss,’ he declared.

Having gained the beach, she found the tide in, and no sign of Charley’s clothes. The other men whom she had besought to come had disappeared, it must have been in some other direction, for she had not met them going away. They, finding nothing, had probably thought her alarm a mere conjecture, and given up the quest.

Baptista sank down upon the stones near at hand. Where Charley had undressed was now sea. There could not be the least doubt that he was drowned, and his body sucked under by the current; while his clothes, lying within high-water mark, had probably been carried away by the rising tide.

She remained in a stupor for some minutes, till a strange sensation succeeded the aforesaid perceptions, mystifying her intelligence, and leaving her physically almost inert. With his personal disappearance, the last three days of her life with him seemed to be swallowed up, also his image, in her mind’s eye, waned curiously, receded far away, grew stranger and stranger, less and less real. Their meeting and marriage had been so sudden, unpremeditated, adventurous, that she could hardly believe that she had played her part in such a reckless drama. Of all the few hours of her life with Charles, the portion that most insisted in coming back to memory was their fortuitous encounter on the previous Saturday, and those bitter reprimands with which he had begun the attack, as it might be called, which had piqued her to an unexpected consummation.

A sort of cruelty, an imperiousness, even in his warmth, had characterized Charles Stow. As a lover he had ever been a bit of a tyrant; and it might pretty truly have been said that he had stung her into marriage with him at last. Still more alien from her life did these reflections operate to make him; and then they would be chased away by an interval of passionate weeping and mad regret. Finally, there returned upon the confused mind of the young wife the recollection that she was on her way homeward, and that the packet would sail in three-quarters of an hour.

Except the parasol in her hand, all she possessed was at the station awaiting her onward journey.

She looked in that direction; and, entering one of those undemonstrative phases so common with her, walked quietly on.

At first she made straight for the railway; but suddenly turning she went to a shop and wrote an anonymous line announcing his death by drowning to the only person she had ever heard Charles mention as a relative. Posting this stealthily, and with a fearful look around her, she seemed to acquire a terror of the late events, pursuing her way to the station as if followed by a spectre.

When she got to the office she asked for the luggage that she had left there on the Saturday as well as the trunk left on the morning just lapsed. All were put in the boat, and she herself followed. Quickly as these things had been done, the whole proceeding, nevertheless, had been almost automatic on Baptista’s part, ere she had come to any definite conclusion on her course.

Just before the bell rang she heard a conversation on the pier, which removed the last shade of doubt from her mind, if any had existed, that she was Charles Stow’s widow. The sentences were but fragmentary, but she could easily piece them out.

‘A man drowned–swam out too far–was a stranger to the place–people in boat–saw him go down–couldn’t get there in time.’

The news was little more definite than this as yet; though it may as well be stated once for all that the statement was true. Charley, with the over-confidence of his nature, had ventured out too far for his strength, and succumbed in the absence of assistance, his lifeless body being at that moment suspended in the transparent mid- depths of the bay. His clothes, however, had merely been gently lifted by the rising tide, and floated into a nook hard by, where they lay out of sight of the passers-by till a day or two after.


In ten minutes they were steaming out of the harbour for their voyage of four or five hours, at whose ending she would have to tell her strange story.

As Pen-zephyr and all its environing scenes disappeared behind Mousehole and St. Clement’s Isle, Baptista’s ephemeral, meteor-like husband impressed her yet more as a fantasy. She was still in such a trance-like state that she had been an hour on the little packet-boat before she became aware of the agitating fact that Mr. Heddegan was on board with her. Involuntarily she slipped from her left hand the symbol of her wifehood.

‘Hee-hee! Well, the truth is, I wouldn’t interrupt ‘ee. “I reckon she don’t see me, or won’t see me,” I said, “and what’s the hurry? She’ll see enough o’ me soon!” I hope ye be well, mee deer?’

He was a hale, well-conditioned man of about five and fifty, of the complexion common to those whose lives are passed on the bluffs and beaches of an ocean isle. He extended the four quarters of his face in a genial smile, and his hand for a grasp of the same magnitude. She gave her own in surprised docility, and he continued: ‘I couldn’t help coming across to meet ‘ee. What an unfortunate thing you missing the boat and not coming Saturday! They meant to have warned ‘ee that the time was changed, but forgot it at the last moment. The truth is that I should have informed ‘ee myself; but I was that busy finishing up a job last week, so as to have this week free, that I trusted to your father for attending to these little things. However, so plain and quiet as it is all to be, it really do not matter so much as it might otherwise have done, and I hope ye haven’t been greatly put out. Now, if you’d sooner that I should not be seen talking to ‘ee–if ‘ee feel shy at all before strangers–just say. I’ll leave ‘ee to yourself till we get home.’

‘Thank you much. I am indeed a little tired, Mr. Heddegan.’

He nodded urbane acquiescence, strolled away immediately, and minutely inspected the surface of the funnel, till some female passengers of Giant’s Town tittered at what they must have thought a rebuff–for the approaching wedding was known to many on St. Maria’s Island, though to nobody elsewhere. Baptista coloured at their satire, and called him back, and forced herself to commune with him in at least a mechanically friendly manner.

The opening event had been thus different from her expectation, and she had adumbrated no act to meet it. Taken aback she passively allowed circumstances to pilot her along; and so the voyage was made.

It was near dusk when they touched the pier of Giant’s Town, where several friends and neighbours stood awaiting them. Her father had a lantern in his hand. Her mother, too, was there, reproachfully glad that the delay had at last ended so simply. Mrs. Trewthen and her daughter went together along the Giant’s Walk, or promenade, to the house, rather in advance of her husband and Mr. Heddegan, who talked in loud tones which reached the women over their shoulders.

Some would have called Mrs. Trewthen a good mother; but though well meaning she was maladroit, and her intentions missed their mark. This might have been partly attributable to the slight deafness from which she suffered. Now, as usual, the chief utterances came from her lips.

‘Ah, yes, I’m so glad, my child, that you’ve got over safe. It is all ready, and everything so well arranged, that nothing but misfortune could hinder you settling as, with God’s grace, becomes ‘ee. Close to your mother’s door a’most, ’twill be a great blessing, I’m sure; and I was very glad to find from your letters that you’d held your word sacred. That’s right–make your word your bond always. Mrs. Wace seems to be a sensible woman. I hope the Lord will do for her as he’s doing for you no long time hence. And how did ‘ee get over the terrible journey from Tor-upon-Sea to Pen- zephyr? Once you’d done with the railway, of course, you seemed quite at home. Well, Baptista, conduct yourself seemly, and all will be well.’

Thus admonished, Baptista entered the house, her father and Mr. Heddegan immediately at her back. Her mother had been so didactic that she had felt herself absolutely unable to broach the subjects in the centre of her mind.

The familiar room, with the dark ceiling, the well-spread table, the old chairs, had never before spoken so eloquently of the times ere she knew or had heard of Charley Stow. She went upstairs to take off her things, her mother remaining below to complete the disposition of the supper, and attend to the preparation of to-morrow’s meal, altogether composing such an array of pies, from pies of fish to pies of turnips, as was never heard of outside the Western Duchy. Baptista, once alone, sat down and did nothing; and was called before she had taken off her bonnet.

‘I’m coming,’ she cried, jumping up, and speedily disapparelling herself, brushed her hair with a few touches and went down.

Two or three of Mr. Heddegan’s and her father’s friends had dropped in, and expressed their sympathy for the delay she had been subjected to. The meal was a most merry one except to Baptista. She had desired privacy, and there was none; and to break the news was already a greater difficulty than it had been at first. Everything around her, animate and inanimate, great and small, insisted that she had come home to be married; and she could not get a chance to say nay.

One or two people sang songs, as overtures to the melody of the morrow, till at length bedtime came, and they all withdrew, her mother having retired a little earlier. When Baptista found herself again alone in her bedroom the case stood as before: she had come home with much to say, and she had said nothing.

It was now growing clear even to herself that Charles being dead, she had not determination sufficient within her to break tidings which, had he been alive, would have imperatively announced themselves. And thus with the stroke of midnight came the turning of the scale; her story should remain untold. It was not that upon the whole she thought it best not to attempt to tell it; but that she could not undertake so explosive a matter. To stop the wedding now would cause a convulsion in Giant’s Town little short of volcanic. Weakened, tired, and terrified as she had been by the day’s adventures, she could not make herself the author of such a catastrophe. But how refuse Heddegan without telling? It really seemed to her as if her marriage with Mr. Heddegan were about to take place as if nothing had intervened.

Morning came. The events of the previous days were cut off from her present existence by scene and sentiment more completely than ever. Charles Stow had grown to be a special being of whom, owing to his character, she entertained rather fearful than loving memory. Baptista could hear when she awoke that her parents were already moving about downstairs. But she did not rise till her mother’s rather rough voice resounded up the staircase as it had done on the preceding evening.

‘Baptista! Come, time to be stirring! The man will be here, by heaven’s blessing, in three-quarters of an hour. He has looked in already for a minute or two–and says he’s going to the church to see if things be well forward.’

Baptista arose, looked out of the window, and took the easy course. When she emerged from the regions above she was arrayed in her new silk frock and best stockings, wearing a linen jacket over the former for breakfasting, and her common slippers over the latter, not to spoil the new ones on the rough precincts of the dwelling.

It is unnecessary to dwell at any great length on this part of the morning’s proceedings. She revealed nothing; and married Heddegan, as she had given her word to do, on that appointed August day.


Mr. Heddegan forgave the coldness of his bride’s manner during and after the wedding ceremony, full well aware that there had been considerable reluctance on her part to acquiesce in this neighbourly arrangement, and, as a philosopher of long standing, holding that whatever Baptista’s attitude now, the conditions would probably be much the same six months hence as those which ruled among other married couples.

An absolutely unexpected shock was given to Baptista’s listless mind about an hour after the wedding service. They had nearly finished the mid-day dinner when the now husband said to her father, ‘We think of starting about two. And the breeze being so fair we shall bring up inside Pen-zephyr new pier about six at least.’

‘What–are we going to Pen-zephyr?’ said Baptista. ‘I don’t know anything of it.’

‘Didn’t you tell her?’ asked her father of Heddegan.

It transpired that, owing to the delay in her arrival, this proposal too, among other things, had in the hurry not been mentioned to her, except some time ago as a general suggestion that they would go somewhere. Heddegan had imagined that any trip would be pleasant, and one to the mainland the pleasantest of all.

She looked so distressed at the announcement that her husband willingly offered to give it up, though he had not had a holiday off the island for a whole year. Then she pondered on the inconvenience of staying at Giant’s Town, where all the inhabitants were bonded, by the circumstances of their situation, into a sort of family party, which permitted and encouraged on such occasions as these oral criticism that was apt to disturb the equanimity of newly married girls, and would especially worry Baptista in her strange situation. Hence, unexpectedly, she agreed not to disorganize her husband’s plans for the wedding jaunt, and it was settled that, as originally intended, they should proceed in a neighbour’s sailing boat to the metropolis of the district.

In this way they arrived at Pen-zephyr without difficulty or mishap. Bidding adieu to Jenkin and his man, who had sailed them over, they strolled arm in arm off the pier, Baptista silent, cold, and obedient. Heddegan had arranged to take her as far as Plymouth before their return, but to go no further than where they had landed that day. Their first business was to find an inn; and in this they had unexpected difficulty, since for some reason or other–possibly the fine weather–many of the nearest at hand were full of tourists and commercial travellers. He led her on till he reached a tavern which, though comparatively unpretending, stood in as attractive a spot as any in the town; and this, somewhat to their surprise after their previous experience, they found apparently empty. The considerate old man, thinking that Baptista was educated to artistic notions, though he himself was deficient in them, had decided that it was most desirable to have, on such an occasion as the present, an apartment with ‘a good view’ (the expression being one he had often heard in use among tourists); and he therefore asked for a favourite room on the first floor, from which a bow-window protruded, for the express purpose of affording such an outlook.

The landlady, after some hesitation, said she was sorry that particular apartment was engaged; the next one, however, or any other in the house, was unoccupied.

‘The gentleman who has the best one will give it up to-morrow, and then you can change into it,’ she added, as Mr. Heddegan hesitated about taking the adjoining and less commanding one.

‘We shall be gone to-morrow, and shan’t want it,’ he said.

Wishing not to lose customers, the landlady earnestly continued that since he was bent on having the best room, perhaps the other gentleman would not object to move at once into the one they despised, since, though nothing could be seen from the window, the room was equally large.

‘Well, if he doesn’t care for a view,’ said Mr. Heddegan, with the air of a highly artistic man who did.

‘O no–I am sure he doesn’t,’ she said. ‘I can promise that you shall have the room you want. If you would not object to go for a walk for half an hour, I could have it ready, and your things in it, and a nice tea laid in the bow-window by the time you come back?’

This proposal was deemed satisfactory by the fussy old tradesman, and they went out. Baptista nervously conducted him in an opposite direction to her walk of the former day in other company, showing on her wan face, had he observed it, how much she was beginning to regret her sacrificial step for mending matters that morning.

She took advantage of a moment when her husband’s back was turned to inquire casually in a shop if anything had been heard of the gentleman who was sucked down in the eddy while bathing.

The shopman said, ‘Yes, his body has been washed ashore,’ and had just handed Baptista a newspaper on which she discerned the heading, ‘A Schoolmaster drowned while bathing,’ when her husband turned to join her. She might have pursued the subject without raising suspicion; but it was more than flesh and blood could do, and completing a small purchase almost ran out of the shop.

‘What is your terrible hurry, mee deer?’ said Heddegan, hastening after.

‘I don’t know–I don’t want to stay in shops,’ she gasped.

‘And we won’t,’ he said. ‘They are suffocating this weather. Let’s go back and have some tay!’

They found the much desired apartment awaiting their entry. It was a sort of combination bed and sitting-room, and the table was prettily spread with high tea in the bow-window, a bunch of flowers in the midst, and a best-parlour chair on each side. Here they shared the meal by the ruddy light of the vanishing sun. But though the view had been engaged, regardless of expense, exclusively for Baptista’s pleasure, she did not direct any keen attention out of the window. Her gaze as often fell on the floor and walls of the room as elsewhere, and on the table as much as on either, beholding nothing at all.

But there was a change. Opposite her seat was the door, upon which her eyes presently became riveted like those of a little bird upon a snake. For, on a peg at the back of the door, there hung a hat; such a hat–surely, from its peculiar make, the actual hat–that had been worn by Charles. Conviction grew to certainty when she saw a railway ticket sticking up from the band. Charles had put the ticket there– she had noticed the act.

Her teeth almost chattered; she murmured something incoherent. Her husband jumped up and said, ‘You are not well! What is it? What shall I get ‘ee?’

‘Smelling salts!’ she said, quickly and desperately; ‘at that chemist’s shop you were in just now.’

He jumped up like the anxious old man that he was, caught up his own hat from a back table, and without observing the other hastened out and downstairs.

Left alone she gazed and gazed at the back of the door, then spasmodically rang the bell. An honest-looking country maid-servant appeared in response.

‘A hat!’ murmured Baptista, pointing with her finger. ‘It does not belong to us.’

‘O yes, I’ll take it away,’ said the young woman with some hurry. ‘It belongs to the other gentleman.’

She spoke with a certain awkwardness, and took the hat out of the room. Baptista had recovered her outward composure. ‘The other gentleman?’ she said. ‘Where is the other gentleman?’

‘He’s in the next room, ma’am. He removed out of this to oblige ‘ee.’

‘How can you say so? I should hear him if he were there,’ said Baptista, sufficiently recovered to argue down an apparent untruth.

‘He’s there,’ said the girl, hardily.

‘Then it is strange that he makes no noise,’ said Mrs. Heddegan, convicting the girl of falsity by a look.

‘He makes no noise; but it is not strange,’ said the servant.

All at once a dread took possession of the bride’s heart, like a cold hand laid thereon; for it flashed upon her that there was a possibility of reconciling the girl’s statement with her own knowledge of facts.

‘Why does he make no noise?’ she weakly said.

The waiting-maid was silent, and looked at her questioner. ‘If I tell you, ma’am, you won’t tell missis?’ she whispered.

Baptista promised.

‘Because he’s a-lying dead!’ said the girl. ‘He’s the schoolmaster that was drownded yesterday.’

‘O!’ said the bride, covering her eyes. ‘Then he was in this room till just now?’

‘Yes,’ said the maid, thinking the young lady’s agitation natural enough. ‘And I told missis that I thought she oughtn’t to have done it, because I don’t hold it right to keep visitors so much in the dark where death’s concerned; but she said the gentleman didn’t die of anything infectious; she was a poor, honest, innkeeper’s wife, she says, who had to get her living by making hay while the sun sheened. And owing to the drownded gentleman being brought here, she said, it kept so many people away that we were empty, though all the other houses were full. So when your good man set his mind upon the room, and she would have lost good paying folk if he’d not had it, it wasn’t to be supposed, she said, that she’d let anything stand in the way. Ye won’t say that I’ve told ye, please, m’m? All the linen has been changed, and as the inquest won’t be till to-morrow, after you are gone, she thought you wouldn’t know a word of it, being strangers here.’

The returning footsteps of her husband broke off further narration. Baptista waved her hand, for she could not speak. The waiting-maid quickly withdrew, and Mr. Heddegan entered with the smelling salts and other nostrums.

‘Any better?’ he questioned.

‘I don’t like the hotel,’ she exclaimed, almost simultaneously. ‘I can’t bear it–it doesn’t suit me!’

‘Is that all that’s the matter?’ he returned pettishly (this being the first time of his showing such a mood). ‘Upon my heart and life such trifling is trying to any man’s temper, Baptista! Sending me about from here to yond, and then when I come back saying ‘ee don’t like the place that I have sunk so much money and words to get for ‘ee. ‘Od dang it all, ’tis enough to–But I won’t say any more at present, mee deer, though it is just too much to expect to turn out of the house now. We shan’t get another quiet place at this time of the evening–every other inn in the town is bustling with rackety folk of one sort and t’other, while here ’tis as quiet as the grave– the country, I would say. So bide still, d’ye hear, and to-morrow we shall be out of the town altogether–as early as you like.’

The obstinacy of age had, in short, overmastered its complaisance, and the young woman said no more. The simple course of telling him that in the adjoining room lay a corpse which had lately occupied their own might, it would have seemed, have been an effectual one without further disclosure, but to allude to that subject, however it was disguised, was more than Heddegan’s young wife had strength for. Horror broke her down. In the contingency one thing only presented itself to her paralyzed regard–that here she was doomed to abide, in a hideous contiguity to the dead husband and the living, and her conjecture did, in fact, bear itself out. That night she lay between the two men she had married–Heddegan on the one hand, and on the other through the partition against which the bed stood, Charles Stow.


Kindly time had withdrawn the foregoing event three days from the present of Baptista Heddegan. It was ten o’clock in the morning; she had been ill, not in an ordinary or definite sense, but in a state of cold stupefaction, from which it was difficult to arouse her so much as to say a few sentences. When questioned she had replied that she was pretty well.

Their trip, as such, had been something of a failure. They had gone on as far as Falmouth, but here he had given way to her entreaties to return home. This they could not very well do without repassing through Pen-zephyr, at which place they had now again arrived.

In the train she had seen a weekly local paper, and read there a paragraph detailing the inquest on Charles. It was added that the funeral was to take place at his native town of Redrutin on Friday.

After reading this she had shown no reluctance to enter the fatal neighbourhood of the tragedy, only stipulating that they should take their rest at a different lodging from the first; and now comparatively braced up and calm–indeed a cooler creature altogether than when last in the town, she said to David that she wanted to walk out for a while, as they had plenty of time on their hands.

‘To a shop as usual, I suppose, mee deer?’

‘Partly for shopping,’ she said. ‘And it will be best for you, dear, to stay in after trotting about so much, and have a good rest while I am gone.’

He assented; and Baptista sallied forth. As she had stated, her first visit was made to a shop, a draper’s. Without the exercise of much choice she purchased a black bonnet and veil, also a black stuff gown; a black mantle she already wore. These articles were made up into a parcel which, in spite of the saleswoman’s offers, her customer said she would take with her. Bearing it on her arm she turned to the railway, and at the station got a ticket for Redrutin.

Thus it appeared that, on her recovery from the paralyzed mood of the former day, while she had resolved not to blast utterly the happiness of her present husband by revealing the history of the departed one, she had also determined to indulge a certain odd, inconsequent, feminine sentiment of decency, to the small extent to which it could do no harm to any person. At Redrutin she emerged from the railway carriage in the black attire purchased at the shop, having during the transit made the change in the empty compartment she had chosen. The other clothes were now in the bandbox and parcel. Leaving these at the cloak-room she proceeded onward, and after a wary survey reached the side of a hill whence a view of the burial ground could be obtained.

It was now a little before two o’clock. While Baptista waited a funeral procession ascended the road. Baptista hastened across, and by the time the procession entered the cemetery gates she had unobtrusively joined it.

In addition to the schoolmaster’s own relatives (not a few), the paragraph in the newspapers of his death by drowning had drawn together many neighbours, acquaintances, and onlookers. Among them she passed unnoticed, and with a quiet step pursued the winding path to the chapel, and afterwards thence to the grave. When all was over, and the relatives and idlers had withdrawn, she stepped to the edge of the chasm. From beneath her mantle she drew a little bunch of forget-me-nots, and dropped them in upon the coffin. In a few minutes she also turned and went away from the cemetery. By five o’clock she was again in Pen-zephyr.

‘You have been a mortal long time!’ said her husband, crossly. ‘I allowed you an hour at most, mee deer.’

‘It occupied me longer,’ said she.

‘Well–I reckon it is wasting words to complain. Hang it, ye look so tired and wisht that I can’t find heart to say what I would!’

‘I am–weary and wisht, David; I am. We can get home to-morrow for certain, I hope?’

‘We can. And please God we will!’ said Mr. Heddegan heartily, as if he too were weary of his brief honeymoon. ‘I must be into business again on Monday morning at latest.’

They left by the next morning steamer, and in the afternoon took up their residence in their own house at Giant’s Town.

The hour that she reached the island it was as if a material weight had been removed from Baptista’s shoulders. Her husband attributed the change to the influence of the local breezes after the hot-house atmosphere of the mainland. However that might be, settled here, a few doors from her mother’s dwelling, she recovered in no very long time much of her customary bearing, which was never very demonstrative. She accepted her position calmly, and faintly smiled when her neighbours learned to call her Mrs. Heddegan, and said she seemed likely to become the leader of fashion in Giant’s Town.

Her husband was a man who had made considerably more money by trade than her father had done: and perhaps the greater profusion of surroundings at her command than she had heretofore been mistress of, was not without an effect upon her. One week, two weeks, three weeks passed; and, being pre-eminently a young woman who allowed things to drift, she did nothing whatever either to disclose or conceal traces of her first marriage; or to learn if there existed possibilities– which there undoubtedly did–by which that hasty contract might become revealed to those about her at any unexpected moment.

While yet within the first month of her marriage, and on an evening just before sunset, Baptista was standing within her garden adjoining the house, when she saw passing along the road a personage clad in a greasy black coat and battered tall hat, which, common enough in the slums of a city, had an odd appearance in St. Maria’s. The tramp, as he seemed to be, marked her at once–bonnetless and unwrapped as she was her features were plainly recognizable–and with an air of friendly surprise came and leant over the wall.

‘What! don’t you know me?’ said he.

She had some dim recollection of his face, but said that she was not acquainted with him.

‘Why, your witness to be sure, ma’am. Don’t you mind the man that was mending the church-window when you and your intended husband walked up to be made one; and the clerk called me down from the ladder, and I came and did my part by writing my name and occupation?’

Baptista glanced quickly around; her husband was out of earshot. That would have been of less importance but for the fact that the wedding witnessed by this personage had not been the wedding with Mr. Heddegan, but the one on the day previous.

‘I’ve had a misfortune since then, that’s pulled me under,’ continued her friend. ‘But don’t let me damp yer wedded joy by naming the particulars. Yes, I’ve seen changes since; though ’tis but a short time ago–let me see, only a month next week, I think; for ’twere the first or second day in August.’

‘Yes–that’s when it was,’ said another man, a sailor, who had come up with a pipe in his mouth, and felt it necessary to join in (Baptista having receded to escape further speech). ‘For that was the first time I set foot in Giant’s Town; and her husband took her to him the same day.’

A dialogue then proceeded between the two men outside the wall, which Baptista could not help hearing.

‘Ay, I signed the book that made her one flesh,’ repeated the decayed glazier. ‘Where’s her goodman?’

‘About the premises somewhere; but you don’t see ’em together much,’ replied the sailor in an undertone. ‘You see, he’s older than she.’

‘Older? I should never have thought it from my own observation,’ said the glazier. ‘He was a remarkably handsome man.’

‘Handsome? Well, there he is–we can see for ourselves.’

David Heddegan had, indeed, just shown himself at the upper end of the garden; and the glazier, looking in bewilderment from the husband to the wife, saw the latter turn pale.

Now that decayed glazier was a far-seeing and cunning man–too far- seeing and cunning to allow himself to thrive by simple and straightforward means–and he held his peace, till he could read more plainly the meaning of this riddle, merely adding carelessly, ‘Well– marriage do alter a man, ’tis true. I should never ha’ knowed him!’

He then stared oddly at the disconcerted Baptista, and moving on to where he could again address her, asked her to do him a good turn, since he once had done the same for her. Understanding that he meant money, she handed him some, at which he thanked her, and instantly went away.


She had escaped exposure on this occasion; but the incident had been an awkward one, and should have suggested to Baptista that sooner or later the secret must leak out. As it was, she suspected that at any rate she had not heard the last of the glazier.

In a day or two, when her husband had gone to the old town on the other side of the island, there came a gentle tap at the door, and the worthy witness of her first marriage made his appearance a second time.

‘It took me hours to get to the bottom of the mystery–hours!’ he said with a gaze of deep confederacy which offended her pride very deeply. ‘But thanks to a good intellect I’ve done it. Now, ma’am, I’m not a man to tell tales, even when a tale would be so good as this. But I’m going back to the mainland again, and a little assistance would be as rain on thirsty ground.’

‘I helped you two days ago,’ began Baptista.

‘Yes–but what was that, my good lady? Not enough to pay my passage to Pen-zephyr. I came over on your account, for I thought there was a mystery somewhere. Now I must go back on my own. Mind this– ‘twould be very awkward for you if your old man were to know. He’s a queer temper, though he may be fond.’

She knew as well as her visitor how awkward it would be; and the hush-money she paid was heavy that day. She had, however, the satisfaction of watching the man to the steamer, and seeing him diminish out of sight. But Baptista perceived that the system into which she had been led of purchasing silence thus was one fatal to her peace of mind, particularly if it had to be continued.

Hearing no more from the glazier she hoped the difficulty was past. But another week only had gone by, when, as she was pacing the Giant’s Walk (the name given to the promenade), she met the same personage in the company of a fat woman carrying a bundle.

‘This is the lady, my dear,’ he said to his companion. ‘This, ma’am, is my wife. We’ve come to settle in the town for a time, if so be we can find room.’

‘That you won’t do,’ said she. ‘Nobody can live here who is not privileged.’

‘I am privileged,’ said the glazier, ‘by my trade.’

Baptista went on, but in the afternoon she received a visit from the man’s wife. This honest woman began to depict, in forcible colours, the necessity for keeping up the concealment.

‘I will intercede with my husband, ma’am,’ she said. ‘He’s a true man if rightly managed; and I’ll beg him to consider your position. ‘Tis a very nice house you’ve got here,’ she added, glancing round, ‘and well worth a little sacrifice to keep it.’