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Title: The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans
Author: William Gosse Hay (1875-1945)
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Language:   English
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The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans
(And the mystery of M. Daunt).
A Romance of Tasmania
by William Gosse Hay (1875-1945)

in Memory of our ascent of Mount Arthur, Port Arthur, and discovery in
the undergrowth of the iron arms
arms of the Semaphore, whose wooden flag-poles, when lifted from the
ground, fell back to earth in
dusty fragments



IX.    A P.P.C. CARD





* * * * * * *




When Sir William Heans first reached Hobarton, Tasmania, he was placed in
the Government Architect's office on the strength of having erected
additions to the family home in Ireland. Thus he spent a good deal of
time designing penitentiaries, riding, reporting himself at the prison,
"punting," and visiting among a few friends to whom he had brought
letters. Indeed, when he first reached the island, on the strength of his
family connections, he walked for a fine and chequered summer in quite
exalted society. And it is of this prolific year--prolific of so much
terror and good--that we have first to tell.

A great deal had occurred before he met his friend Mr. Jarvis Carnt, also
a prisoner. Not that he would have looked down on Mr. Carnt, if he had
met him then; he always had a fine eye for a male acquaintance; but he
was living a somewhat protected life for a gentleman prisoner (or
"long-coater") at that time, and being careful not to compromise his
friends by frequenting the lower clubs, he had not come across Mr. Carnt.

It is strange how the world will give a man a second chance--especially
if he be a good-looking one. This perennial instance of man's patience is
no more evident in our male clubs and criminal courts than in the
cabinets of the women. Sir William Heans' crime--his sin--which we shall
touch on most briefly hereafter, and the committing of which had pushed
him from the places that he loved into exile and boredom in a wild island
at the bottom of the world--his sin seemed like to have been forgiven him
by certain of his new acquaintances, one of whom, in particular, was a
woman. This had not arisen from a rumour which had arrived with him--it
is said, his own opinion somewhat too freely expressed--that he had been
as much the sinned upon as the sinner, nor yet altogether from the far
more potent argument of his good health and handsome face.

Captain Hyde-Shaxton and his wife, Matilda, had received him from the
first with kindness, and even with warmth. The Captain, a man of
forty-six, had some four years previous left a regiment and a young wife
in India for a trip to Sydney, then in its first fashionable prime [Note
1. after this para.]; and afterwards, to his lasting glory, had voyaged
thence to Hobarton, in the now famous BEAGLE, with Captain Fitzroy and
Charles Darwin--whom he ever after elected to bring into his chuckling
conversation as "young skins and bones." Unlike Darwin, who could say
even of Mount Wellington that it had "little picturesque beauty," he fell
in love with the island, and returned northward only to resign his
commission and return with the young wife to Tasmania. Here, taking up
land in the ranges near Flat Top Tier, the scenery and solitude had
palled on both, and both had been glad when the restless busband had been
given a small staff appointment in Hobarton, and moved into a secluded
red brick house, facing down the bay over the shingles of the town.

[Note 1.--'Sydney' in 1836.--"Early in the morning a light air carried us
towards the entrance of Port Jackson. Instead of beholding a verdant
country, interspersed with fine houses, a straight line of yellowish
cliff brought to our minds the coast of Patagonia. A solitary lighthouse,
built of white stone, alone told us that we were near a great and
populous city. Having entered the harbour, it appears fine and spacious,
with cliff-formed shores of horizontally stratified sandstone. The nearly
level country is covered with thin scrubby trees bespeaking the curse of
sterility. Proceeding further inland, the country improves: beautiful
villas and nice cottages are here and there scattered along the beach. In
the distance stone houses, two or three stories high, and windmills
standing on the edge of a bank, pointed out to us the neighbourhood of
the capital of Australia.

"At last we anchored within Sydney Cove. We found the little basin
occupied by many large ships, and surrounded by warehouses. In the
evening I walked through the town, and returned full of admiration at the
whole scene. It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the
British nation. Here, in a less promising country, scores of years have
done many times more than an equal number of centuries have effected in
South America. My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was
born an Englishman. Upon seeing more of the town afterwards, perhaps my
admiration fell a little; but yet it is a fine town. The streets are
regular, broad, clean, and kept in excellent order; the houses are of a
good size, and the shops well furnished. It may be faithfully compared to
the large suburbs which stretch out from London and a few other great
towns in England; but not even near London or Birmingham is there an
appearance of such rapid growth. The number of large houses and other
buildings just finished was truly surprising; nevertheless, every one
complained of the high rents and difficulty in procuring a house. Coming
from South America, where in the towns every man of property is known, no
one thing surprised me more than not being able to ascertain at once to
whom this or that carriage belonged."

CHARLES DARWIN, Voyage of Beagle, pp. 431--432.]

The influence of an aspiring woman for good and peace is incalculable.
(What men rare Queen Elizabeth made, giving them something they could not
but revere!) Not only in her casual acquaintances did she inspire trust,
but even (as a certain Mr. Daunt put it) in her husband, he, in his large
way, entrusting her with the financing of both their large
establishments--a matter she carried out with her fine financial head,
with only the rarest and most hugely forgiven of blunders. This woman
with the dreadful name and the Bedouin husband--a man always with his
mind's eye over the next mountain--this by no means extraordinary woman,
by achieving something every once in a while without a tinge of self in
it, drew soon a circle of hard-eyed people about her, whose smiling
faces, if they did not become more natural, went away as determined as
they came. It seemed her desire to steal rather than to aid, teach, or
pass judgment. Her sweet face seldom smiled. It was high, small, bright,
and shyly serious. She seemed taller than she was; would have been active
if she had not been delicate; and was straight as a needle. You would see
her talking with someone in her drawing-room, near a chandelier, with
that fine antagonistic eye of hers wild and full of a strained yearning.

Incidentally she was a beautiful woman--if not for exhibition purposes.
She seemed to put it away from her as she talked, much as she would
thrust back her hair--so golden. She admitted it, but it was not the fact
apparently which she most wished to urge upon you. Even had it been it
would have bothered but little the kind of women and men who sought her.
They went there in homage--most of them--for some clever, invisible
unselfishness in which they had caught her, and into which they could
argue (clever as they were at scenting them) no slight to themselves or
anyone else except herself and her private interests. The prisoner Carnt
called her, in his wild, amusing way, "the carpet serpent." We don't know
whether he was referring to her selfless subtleties or what. It seems the
convict never forgave her for once distinctly bowing to him from a
fly--when walking with Sir William Heans--though, with what he curiously
described as the remnants of compunction, he had not bowed in return.
Carnt, by the way, was not at all a bad fellow. He had been a steward or
land-agent in England. He drank seldom, but when he drank heavily, it is
said he became a devil of selfish treachery and calculation.

Heans, with his high black collarless stock, matchless claw-hammer, plaid
breeks and hunting air, had received slight after slight on landing, and
came at last, pale, proud, yet still on his dignity, to the Shaxtons'
door. His health had really suffered on ship-board, and he had obtained a
Government Pass to ride beyond the town bounds in four directions: the
village of New Town, and five miles towards the ferry; Sandy Bay, but not
more than two miles towards the Probation Station; and a gallop up the
Storm Mountain track towards the Springs. On pain of the withdrawal of
the pass, he was to call at no ale or dwellinghouse besides that known as
"Muster-Master-Mason's Place" above the Cascades Prison: this being
within sight of the courtyards.

As Captain Shaxton's house was a mile outside the Boundary he had, of
necessity, applied for a fresh pass giving permission, for one day, to
leave the Mountain Road and break his ride at Pitt's Villa. He had
obtained this on producing a familiar letter of introduction from an
aunt, showing he was distantly related to this family, with the proviso
that he would be within boundary before dusk.

In the drawing-room, Daunt, of the foot police, was sitting with Mrs.
Shaxton. He was a dark man, quick and neat, in a high-shouldered,
kerseymere frock-coat, and duck breeches strapped over Wellingtons. He
had slighted Heans (or Heans had fancied that he had) once already on the
Hulk, and when the latter came in, having recovered himself, grey and
quiet, he recognised him instantly, and entreated something of Mrs.
Shaxton in a low voice near the mantel-piece. It sounded like "MAUVAIS
SUJET." She rose, however, with her shy, staring, antagonistic look. It
was hot and the drawing-room had been darkened: one of those dusky,
dreamy interiors of the summer antipodes generally filled with dreamy
women. Heans' face and head were in the line of the one raised blind, and
he stood gravely before her, fine, pale, and wonderfully dignified. She
withdrew her staring eyes in a strange way, and gave him her hand warmly.
She was an earnest woman. Her welcome was unmistakably sweet, and kind;
but she did not look at him again, searching about her, even while he
bowed over her hand, for a chair on which he might sit. She introduced
him to Daunt, who had risen. Daunt said darkly that they had met, but
Heans, with some appearance of good-humour, begged his pardon for a
"devilish bad memory for faces."

"Ah," said Daunt, "I've a good one." And he made his little hearty,
silent laugh. He was a very witty man in another way. It was he who had
given vent to the clever saying: "He did not admire the gossiping ladies:
their lips were too red."

Matilda said into her embroidery, that, "we heard about you, Sir William
Heans, from the Gairdeners. Your Aunt wrote one of her wonderful

"She said she would write," said Heans.

"She must be eighty-three. She wished to know what had become of Mr.
Macaulay, the young orator. He was in Calcutta when I came out to my
husband, and people were saying great things of him. I myself heard him
say at a dinner-party, in a voice that rang with feeling, that he 'would
not give one fallen pillar of Rome for all the marvellous Colonades of

They all laughed at her way of saying it.

"Ah," said Heans, with some patience. "Macaulay has been her hero ever
since the death of old Sir Walter. I protest, she would meet Scott
wherever she went according to her own account, though, as she would say,
'he has lately written such dreadful things about us women!' 'The great
poet,' she would say, 'was there with Lady Buccleugh: I knew him by his
DESHABILLE and faithful eyes.'"

Matilda glanced at the speaker with her own strange orbs. A soft look lay
at the root of their strained stare. She let her chin drop into her
needle-hand, and looked into the distance.

"Ah," she said, in a soft voice, "it is a pleasure to answer Miss
Gairdener's letters. Anything will interest her with a great or good wish
in it. You can begin a despatch with Mr. Macaulay and end it with a
receipt for plum chutney. She tells me she has been reading Pope's Homer,
and that she finds Mr. Crabbe's poems so rousing. She begged us to look
out for you, Sir William, and see that you took care of your health."

"Ah," put in Daunt, with decency, "the old lady will be glad then to hear
safe news of you."

"She has a great heart, sir," said Sir William, in a fine even voice. He
leant a little back in his chair, put a tortoise-shell eyeglass into his
eye, and glared at Daunt through it.

Daunt laughed again hissingly. "Great heart, great anxiety," he said, not
so pleasantly. He turned in his neat, brisk way to Matilda. "When you
write, don't make us out such bugbears, Mrs. Shaxton. You are inclined to
think us severe, but you would be surprised how politeness begets
politeness, and contentment a return of tolerance and help, here in

Mrs. Shaxton frowned and shook her bent head.

"Contentment under suffering--yes, that is what you are always
demanding," she said, into her embroidery, and rather fiercely. "Mr.
Daunt, you approach every one with a list of rules and a club--isn't that
the weapon? Shouldn't suffering be approached with shame--shame and
pity," (A sort of quiver in her breath stopped her.) "I have no
experience, but it numbs them I think."

"Oh, the club's only to save one's head," said Daunt, with his hissing
laugh. "The shame's there, but experience has taught us to take a stick
in with it."

"You're always rappin' 'em," said Sir William, oh very fine and pale!
"Isn't that what Mrs. Shaxton means?"

"I agree," said Daunt, with a sharp grin. "But what can you do with
assurance? Where would you be with pity in one hand, and shame in the
other, with a fellow that has none?"

"With the great--and Mr. Robinson," [Note 2. Pacificator of Blacks, and
visitor at prisons.] said Matilda, steadily.

"With the Chaplains, Mrs. Shaxton, and the unleavened dough they leave
for our baking. I'm an advocate, I fear, for less mauling and more
discipline. The law or some local rule invariably stops you just as you
have your hand upon some old offender. Egad, I'm anything but a convert
of Paul Shaxton's! I cannot endure this silent-cell miasma."

Matilda turned towards Heans, dropping her work, her eyes at first on the
window. "You must forgive us," she said, feelingly. "We have got into a
too common Hobarton groove. With the best of intentions we cannot prevent
our conversation from tottering back towards the improvement of the
prisons. So many here are connected with, or interested in, them." (Heans
felt suddenly easier.) "My husband has just invented a scheme for dealing
with the desperado: silent confinement. To me it is hideous beyond
words." (He found her steadily staring at him, her face glowing with
excitement.) "He has made plans for a prison in which a man may live for
weeks with open air exercise, and yet see no human face, and hear no
sound, but that of a slippered warder and clergyman for a few moments in
the week." (Her voice quivered. She seemed entirely unaware, or to have
forgotten in her intense interest in the subject, the barrier she was
erecting between her husband and herself in Sir William's mind.) "Mr.
Daunt," she added, "if you do not agree with Captain Shaxton, why do you
not prevent him?"

"It's of no use," said Daunt, with his sharp laugh; "they are all wild
about it. Government wants to experiment at Port Arthur [Note 3.
Second-sentence prison.]. The Commandants want to try it on the confirmed
absconder. The doctors are ardent upon it for the malingerer and the
sham. Every warder's grabbing at it as a new handle for discipline--I
declare it is marvellous clever the way Captain Shaxton gets the light
and air into so many massive walls. I really believe Hobart Town has, at
least, one architect to be proud of!" Daunt's shrugging smile and averted
eye seemed to emphasize that she was anything but proud of the others.
Sir William Heans flushed a little. He was vain of his architectural
re-birth, and with a slight tightening of his eyelids towards Daunt, took
a masterly triumph.

"Surely it was Captain Shaxton's plan which I was asked to elevate this
morning," he said, with an elegant quietude, "though possibly, being a
prisoner, I was given only one half of the prison." (He lightly brushed
his grey plaid trousers with his left hand which clasped, and on which
remained, a mourning glove of lavender.) "The passages, all radiating
apparently from a central hall, struck me as especially economical. One
man might stand in the centre of the building and see any one of the iron
signals move at those icy doors." He sat forward in his chair and slowly
removed his eyeglass from his eye. A maidservant had set some tea beside
Matilda, and she was pouring it into the large green cups with a dazed
grey face. As he lounged there, he glanced at her with a covert look of
regret, seeing doubtless that he had troubled her by his plunge into
tragedy, and wishing that he might unsay it for so kind a woman. "Oh, you
got that," said Daunt, deliberately. "I hope you are giving them
sufficient light."

"Seven inches by three," said Sir William, with a steady glare at him,
"crossed by two iron bars." "Glass, I suppose?"

"Ribbed, opaque glass, half-an-inch thick."

"Egad!" ejaculated Daunt, with a shake; "glad I'm not responsible for it!
Thank you," he said, as he took a cup of tea from Mrs. Shaxton, adding
very gently, "Why, your hand's shaking, Mrs. Shaxton! This beastly
subject's worrying you."

There was an uproar in the hall at that moment, and the drawing-room door
opened with a clatter and a swish. A man with bushy little whiskers, a
depressed moustache, and a jocular little voice, whirled into the room.
He bundled heartily to the window and lugged the blind half-down, saying
"Too much light for this climate." Then, with a laugh, he turned and
approached the others. "Ah, Daunt," he bowed, "how are you?" Then to the
other, "Sir William Heans, isn't it? I heard you were here. I've seen you
in the street. We heard from your aunt. I'm glad to have the honour of
making your acquaintance."

"Thank you--thank you," said Sir William, in his grey, grand way. The
other, who never seemed to see anyone out of his curious little eyes,
rolled nautically to a chair in his military uniform, dragged it nearer
to the tea-table, and squatted on it.

"Everlasting smash," he said, seizing his tea-cup, "down at the
cantonments. Billy Bannister" (he swallowed his tea and gave a great
bushy laugh) "brought a woman to a rout in the--oh, this'll be too strong
for you, Matty! You fellows--presently! Bannister" (still laughing)--"the
new cadet--has arrived with the idea that there's no Mrs. Grundy in this
small starched town. You know the way they talk about the place at home.
When old Neames gently remonstrated, young Sawyer replies: 'It wasn't a
woman, sir, it was a female prisoner.'" He chuckled so much that a crumb
stuck in his throat, and Daunt had to smack him on the back. Meanwhile he
was holding out his cup for more, and Heans, who handed it to his wife,
saw in the instant that his eye touched her face that she was flushed and
cowed. Daunt had resumed his seat and cup of tea. "Sir William Heans has
been telling us, Shaxton," he said, "how he's been told to put your plans
in order. He thinks them wonderfully clever."

Shaxton looked a little green. "You thought it good, Heans, did you?" (He
nodded over his cup after a sharpish glance.) "Keep the expense in as
much as possible. They're growling over all those cut edges. He!" (he
began to chuckle again), "you'll have a booby old time with the round

"That was in the right rear court-yard," said Sir William calmly. "I have
a scheme for that. I'm bothered if I know what to do for the middle
lighting. What was the suggestion?"

"I'd put the old ship's skylight on it," said the other, all agog with
his subject. "Why--the old three-decker skylight Governor Philip brought
with him; had a flat roof where the skipper put his spy-glass--unless,
indeed, we need a lantern."

He began to explain volubly his scheme to Heans.

Daunt drew his chair nearer to Matilda and began to talk to her in a
rapid and courteous undertone. He seemed to have a great deal to say.
Heans seemed ill-at-ease under the discussion of the prison, and looked
once or twice towards his hostess as though, though interested, he could
not forget her distaste for it. Shaxton seemed conscious of his
stiffening manner, and was trying to pierce it with good-natured jesting.
Perhaps Daunt's cold movement towards his wife had brought, for the first
time, to his comprehension the peculiarity of the situation for the
prisoner. His manner grew warmer. "Why, Matilda," he cried, laughing,
"hang it, you've been pitching into Sir William Heans about my prison!
He's frightened to say a thing. I can't get a word out of him."

She gave a little, blind look at Heans.

"You know how agitating it is to me," she said, in a low voice. She
seemed to stoop, and her hand fingered among the tea-cups. "Could you not
take Sir William Heans to the study?"

"Why yes, come," Daunt cried, springing up with chivalric impatience.
"The ladies don't want the thing in their very drawing-rooms!"

"Indeed, I must be taking my departure," said Heans. He gave a grey look
under the blind where the fire of the day was dying stubbornly among the
leaves. The three others knew instantly from his tone what was in his

"Nonsense!" cried Hyde-Shaxton. "Daunt will manage that for us. What's
it? Must be past the Boundary before five, Mr. Daunt?"

Daunt left a black silence for a full minute. "No, I'll see him past
Boundary," he said, with a look of steady, careful courtesy towards

"Come, Daunt," cried Shaxton, "you'll get him a pass to break his rides
at Pitt's Villa?"

Daunt gave a sharp, good-natured laugh, saying: "We'll see--we'll see."
Then he added, "Now, Captain Shaxton, what is this that you wish to do
with Sir William Heans?"

The Captain was chuckling. Heans' grave dignity was perfect. "Ah," cries
the former, "Daunt's one of these dangerous men! I'll have to have you
for my turnkey, Daunt--ha! ha! Why, Matty--have you told Sir William
about our chapel? I protest, if ever my plans are used, we'll get a
dispensation and put you in the wooden pulpit!"

"Does Mrs. Shaxton, then, think even the malingerer a subject for
sentiment?" asked Sir William, with a lame lightness. "I declare I'd
throw up the work if----"

"Oh, please, no," cried Mrs. Shaxton, with a flashing look at Daunt.
"Don't do that, Sir William Heans." She gave him her staring glance in
which was something of a proud beseechment.

"Ah," said Daunt, "we won't require that of you!"

"Ho-ho! it's the 'poor' malingerer, the 'poor' absconder, to Matty!"
chuckled Shaxton, not without signs of pride in his remarkable
possession. "She's so soft-hearted, everything's sentiment to Matilda.
Don't let her proselytise on you, Heans. She's a dangerous woman. She'll
have you buildin' St. Marys and St. Judes all over Tasmania--ho-ho! It
was Matty prevailed upon me to put in the chapel. I had to go and invent
stalls for it so that the poor fellows couldn't see anyone but the
parson. Did they give that to you?"

"Half of it--wasn't it?" said Daunt.

"I have the chapel," said Sir William. "It will be rather an unpleasing

"Well, that's an outcome of Mrs. Shaxton's sentiment," cried Shaxton.
"There was another one when she had old Thomas Thou to experiment on the
grog--I mean the garden. You can't shake her faith. It's all sentiment to
Matilda--sentiment and self-discipline. She won't have you disciplining
anyone else." He gave a great bushy laugh, and whisked out of the room,
beckoning the men after him. They went out. His chuckling voice was heard
subsiding down the hall. "That reminds me, I've got a laugh for you
fellows over old Clisby, the corn contractor. It seems that old Miss
Milly Shadwell, the old maid" (even this appeared to be a fact of some
amusement), "wouldn't marry him because she said he looked too
goody-goody. Ho-ho ho!"



Heans and Shaxton became rather thick on architecture during this and
the next month. The "Silent Prison" was still a castle-in-the-air,
however; though two sites--one near the Cascades Women's Prison and
another on the opposite side of the Derwent at Kangaroo Point--had been
discussed and gone over. Suddenly the whole matter had been shelved--and
art and Sir William with it into obscurity--for one more important in
the eyes of the officers, the gallant explorer Governor, Hobarton
society, and even of Hyde-Shaxton himself: the arrival of the bombships
EREBUS and TERROR in the Derwent, under the intrepid captains James Ross
and Crozier, to refit for a hair-raising thrust into the ice of the
pole. The Captain and his wife had been summoned by Sir John Franklin to
an explorers' dinner at Government House, and all the winter months the
former was on and off the EREBUS, or chuckling among the prisons and
waterfalls with her officers.

The Captain would come home and chuckle over the day with his wife--and
Daunt and Sir William Heans, who were sometimes with her--over Sir John
Franklin's "family prayers" before the quailshoot, or "old-lady" sermons
to the prisoners. "How those men listen to him without exploding," he
would say, "I don't know! I give you my word, I can't! Yesterday he was
up with the women in the Cascades. There they were ranged up in one of
the yards in their aprons and white bonnets, lounging and smirking and
bobbing at the sailor-boys as gay as paroquets. Says he, taking off his
hat to them and stepping forward in his uniform, with his funny old black
tragedy eyes blazing with good intentions, 'Now, women,' says he, 'any
little goodness or kindness will do for your Governor. Just take that to
heart. God Almighty's looking down on you in His mercy. He sees your
troubles. Take a reef in, there's good girls; and see and shape a kinder
course.' All the while there was young Willie Bannister nudging my arm,
and asking who the woman was in the black shawl, with the brown hair: 'A
stunning girl, Shaxton,' says he. Entre nous, Daunt," cries the Captain,
turning on that officer, who, with Sir William Heans, was calling that
afternoon on Mrs. Shaxton, "who is the convict in black? Everybody's
asking about her. If she's a common prisoner, why don't they clothe her
like the others?"

"That would be the woman known as 'Madame Ruth'," pondered Daunt; "a
long, thin, lofty face, had she?"

"You couldn't see her eyes," said Shaxton; "she held them down, much to
Bannister's annoyance. She stood with another woman at the back near a
wall, a bit apart from the line, with a black shawl on her hair. A
regular Juno! I heard old Franklin ask Leete, the Governor, about her.
Leete starts nodding in his short, angry way . . . such stunning,
beautiful hair! My heaven, what hair!"

"That was who it was," said Daunt, as one speaks who is about to thrust
aside the subject. "You must ask Leete about her. She's of good birth, or
pretends to be. I suppress the details."

"Go along with you!" laughed Shaxton. "I knew you wouldn't be open . . .
I'd like to hear that woman's story--if only for Franklin's stare of

"He is not made for this work," said Daunt, whose subsequent quarrel with
Sir John is history. "Whensoever he is brought into touch with the
prisoners--which is as little as convenient--he asks for plain dealing
and bother the elaborations of experience. He thinks he can
ye-ho-heave-ho at them as if they are unruly sailors. After he's gone,
they're off their balance and quite unmanageable."

"Mr. Daunt," said Matilda, who looked soft pink and white to-day, and
whose eyes blazed almost eerily, "I don't think you understand Sir John
Franklin, any more than he does your convicts. He is always trying to put
heart into them, when they are all too full of spirit already. And you
are always expecting him to understand that these men he condemns you for
condemning are untiring and would wear down an angel. Surely it is better
to have somebody like this here for a few years. It is giving you a lot
of trouble, but it is making us all better. You say yourself they're
all--oh so tired of cold, level-headed punishment." (She shook her
serious head with a frown and a shiver.)

"Come, Mrs. Shaxton," said Daunt, grimly, "what would you do with a
prisoner with the energy and temper of a fiend, who won't control either
of them--turn Sir John on him with that passionate note of his and a
little scripture?"

The three men laughed. Matilda, though daunted, glared on in her blazing
way through the Frenchwindows. "Give him a week's 'solitary' and
silence," cried Hyde-Shaxton, "and let him try his energy and temper on
our three-foot walls. Eh, Heans--they'll come crawling to me for my
snuff-box yet? Some man'll drive 'em mad with his talking and 'For
Heaven's sake, Shaxton,' they'll say, 'put it up and give us some peace.'

"Yes?" said Sir William, leaning on his knees, and swinging the ribbon of
his glass with veiled eyes. (He looked very pale, gentle, and handsome
that day.) "And what shall it be called--a motto for your lintel, Captain

He gave a quiet look at Matilda Shaxton, and her eyes dropped.

The Captain put up his hand for peace, and with his head down, racked his
brains. "Ut prosim," ["That I may do good."] he presently hauled forth,
with a somewhat laboured solemnity.

"LEX TALIONIS," ["The law of retaliation."] hissed Daunt, in his dark way.

Mrs. Shaxton had risen-with a jerk and taken her SOUVENIR from the
what-not behind her chair. "I have my motto too," she said. "Paul knows
it well enough." Before her husband could speak, she read out, as she
stood, with her sweet face pale and half-turned from the window: "HOMO
nothing human alien to me."]"



For the first two months of his acquaintance with the Shaxtons, Heans
had seen very little of Matilda. Once and again he had taken tea with
her--when the weekly meeting in the study had finished late--but more
than once he had himself been responsible for a curtailment of the
discussion between himself, Shaxton, and two or three "silent-treatment"
enthusiasts, that he might, as he said, "get the alterations worked in
that evening."

He had not much to which to return.

At that time he was allowed a phantom salary from "the Crown," and rented
a "registered lodging," under the shingles, from an old prisoner-landlady
in a two-storied brick tenement in ---- Street. Several causes (one of
which we shall soon learn) had reduced him to this room. It was a long,
low attic, but quite sumptuous in its way.

Dotted about a ripped and faded amber carpet were some little chairs of
sun-blistered marquetry, roughly mended with pine, and against the walls,
quite a sumptuosity of stowed-away, old-time furniture--heavy, fan-backed
arm-chairs, bursten and threadbare, their legs straight and
uncompromising; Grecian sofas, black, with faded terra-cotta cushions,
such as we see in David's portraits, and since become so universal an
object in our Colonial huts and homesteads; also dolphinarmed and even
gilt chairs, and others yet with corkscrew legs and remnants of tasselled

There they were along the walls: little but the patched wood left of
their travelled pride: the seats of some of them mere webs or nests of
cloth, whose ends hung to the floor in curious and amazing festoons. His
landlady, Mrs. Quaid, after a week of sordid, sulky exteriors, had
solemnly apologised for the torn cushions and rickety legs, but Sir
William had politely admired the wood-work.

Against the left-hand wall was a tall, red rosewood bookcase, with bars
instead of glass, inhabited by a drunken row of casuals in one shelf:--a
tattered novel called LOCHANDU, a tome entitled LITERARY GEMS, described
as "from grave to gay, from lively to severe," THE WOLF OF BADENOCH, some
odd remnants of Gibbon's DECLINE AND FALL, a stray from THE HOBART TOWN
MAGAZINE, and six greenmarbled volumes of Langhorne's PLUTARCH, the last
named having been purchased in Mrs. Quaid's past from "a distressed
soldier--a bad un'--who'd never read them"; the others during Sir
William's tenure for some dark reason connected with "cultured manners,"
and carried up with some kindling wood (like so many cabbages or roses)
for the "cheerfuller appearance" of the prison. At the moment, Sir
William had omitted to examine the titles, but had passed the "Ancients"
through his fingers, remarking how pleasantly their key-patterned backs
reminded him of his schooldays.

On the other side of the room, near the chimney, was a row of brown
samplers in frames, to the verses of which Sir William gave, through his
eyeglass, some pondering contemplation. We may suppose that he gained,
like the cynical ladies who worked them in with their cotton, some
consolation from that dry passage from Aurelius:--

Thou seest how few the things are the which if a man lays
hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet.

Of a tonic sadness from this little poem:--


The world's a stage; and players know full well
That they must part, when rings the caller's bell.
Yea, they must part and mourn their faithful loves;
The cote is silent; sundered all the doves!

To the right of the samplers, in the dark corner, was a large, dim
painting in a gilt frame, with indistinct boats and a muddy blue sky
punctured by three holes, such as might have been made by a musket
bullet. The landlady, with a sort of mourning air, for something which
was peculiar, and couldn't help it, said she had been told by a certain
Mr. Six, a prisoner, and "a gentleman with learning," that it had been
painted by "a mad artist," with a "kind of gambler's name" like "TOTEM."
There was yet another picture to the left of the chimney, hardly
decipherable under a covering of soot and age. An ash-coloured sea
spread back to a gleam of cliffs. A little to the right, a jumble of old
vessels fought in mist and smoke. Yet further to the right, gummed, as
it were, upon the sea, as from a child's transfer-paper, stood line upon
line of stiff regiments of soldiers--mitres and cornered hats spreading
back to giant pennants and heads of barred steel. It was not very well
done. The artist's name had been obliterated; nor was there any title to
the old piece; but Sir William, in a homesick moment, had christened it
"England--and the English!"

It was Sir William's habit to sit at the fire in a low, walnut-wood
chair, having a seat of vari-coloured patterns, while he took his meals
off a tiny gilt-legged table, propped for security in the corner of the
whitewashed chimney. It was here that he, subsequently, made his study of
the jailed volumes, having, in a jaundiced mood, freed one of the
PLUTARCHS of its bars, and been spurred to further reading by this highly
interesting discursion: "Speaking of the power of women, he said, 'All
men naturally govern the women, we govern all men, and our wives govern
us.' But this might be taken from the Apophthegms of Themistocles. For
his son directing in most things through his mother, he said, 'The
Athenians govern the Greeks, I govern the Athenians, you, wife, govern
me, and your son governs you; let him then use that power with
moderation, which, child as he is, sets him above all the Greeks.'"

What more he found in these remarkable volumes we have presently to tell.

For writing or drawing out his plans, Heans used the desk of a little
travelling escritoire, yellow, brasshandled, and covered with
voyage-marks. Near this, for the convenience of writing, he had drawn up
a great armless, 'cello-backed chair, having in its back a carved Greek
vase, and from which the green brocade had rotted and the gimp hung in

His landlady, a little, old, pinched woman with long grey ringlets and
large, passionate black eyes, gradually changed the expression of tragic
hostility, with which she had received him into her house, to one of
tragic anxiety. She would watch him go from her door, up the street, with
her seamed hand on the post. (She was very fond of opening doors and
looking out.) Thence she would ascend to his room, and desultorily dust.
Afterwards she would go down to her kitchen and cook for him. To Heans,
she was a funny, passionate, asperse, tragic, kindly, uncordial, evasive,
cheerful, smiling, grim old womam; and if he had been asked, he would
doubtless have said that he had "conceived quite an attachment for her."

The first floor was rented by a Mr. Boxley, grocer, retired, who paled
when he met "the notorious Sir William Heans" in the passage. The front
ground room was haunted by a young man named Pelican, with whom, for some
reason mysterious to his landlady, Sir William was at pains to perpetuate
a precarious bowing acquaintance.

On his arrival at Pitt's Villa, by appointment, one afternoon at the end
of January, Heans was told of the Captain's wild departure an hour
previous, and taken by a distressed Matilda to the hanging garden, from
which she was shown the bomb-ships EREBUS and TERROR, motionless upon the
mountain sea, their pennons flying in honour of Governor Franklin.

They stood listening to the "o-o-m" of distant guns, and talking--Matilda
a trace hectically--of the grim men who were to force those blunt-bowed
ships, past roaring beaches, into the unhumaned ice. "How inspiring," she
cried, pointing down among the cots and buildings of the slopes, "to all
these humdrum people, steadily living and dying, that a man should
attempt this--this outrageous thing in his life!" Sir William, in his
beautiful shepherd's-plaid trousers, towering stock, and short nankeen

Sir William, sad of face to day for something that he had missed--agreed,
and spoke of "the seasoned look of the hulls--brown like a good cheroot
and of the flat bow like a scutcheon." The leading vessel would be the
EREBUS--James Ross's ship. How would Sir John let them go out without

"How fast they fold the sails against the varnished yards!" said Matilda
breathlessly. "It is just as if they vanish!"

"Line of battle style," said Sir William. He struggled up his eyeglass
and put it into a grey, excited eye.

"Good God, Mrs. Shaxton," he said, "do you think they'd give a fellow a
berth in them?"

He was staring out in his fine way, and if his grey face chimed with his
tragic question, he did not move, even when Matilda turned to him her
fearful and shy face.

"You have been suffering, Sir William Heans," she said, breathless, yet
eager. "I am afraid you are finding--finding the life difficult." Sir
William did not answer for a moment. He dropped his head and tapped his
cane upon the wooden rail.

"These men are voracious against misfortune--against a sentence--in one
of my standing," he said, in a quiet voice. He went on to tell how
Head-warder Rowkes or Captain Jones, who have raised themselves, and from
whom temper and selfishness have barred the goal of their ambition,
oppressed him with a secret and careful resentment. In the strangest way
did the most successful, commanding-looking men disclose some private
disappointment by a severity or a grim snub which they knew he was
powerless to return. "The resentment of the prisoners in the Hulk, when I
go to report myself, against my clothes" (he looked upon his gauds with a
sighing laugh) "is kinder than the hate of these deluded men."

Sir William stopped, drew himself up, and tapped his expanding chest with
his riding-cane. He had surprised himself in an honest moment, and--like
most of us when we let ourselves fall for a moment into the
honest--growing tragic and selfish. He simpered a little as he withdrew
his eyeglass. "Don't let my cause interfere, Mrs. Shaxton." he said,
"with these inspiring vessels. I am one of your humdrum people now. I
must be content to grow excited from the shore. I must try, Mrs. Shaxton"
(removing his grey top-hat to her with a hoarse if merry laugh), "to
imitate your wonderful feminine enthusiasm for other people's honour."

"This is national honour," she said in her strained voice, but when she
stopped quickly with her eyes on the ships, her lips twisted with
sympathy and bitterness still unspoken. She trembled suddenly and spoke.
"I am so sorry, Sir William Heans, to hear of your terrible difficulties,
but so very glad and so proud that you have spoken openly to me about
them. I knew--from what my husband has told me--and--and from what I know
of the world--that presently wicked men would make you feel your
position. But we were hoping that you would find in our house, and in the
faces of some of our friends at least, a refuge of private acquaintance.
Will you come up oftener, sir? This will always be a friendly garden. If
I am down in town, will you not come down to this seat and take tea--but
I am here nearly always, and--and--I want you to think--always steadfast
for you and for your good." Heans had kept his hat in his hand. His
handsome face, with its full hair and French moustaches, was flushed,
stern, and moved. He had dropped his grey head a little.

"I spoke foolishly, Mrs. Shaxton," he said, jerking out the words with
nervousness and difficulty. "It was the English fog in those old sails
creeping about a fellow's heart. I knew John Ross's second officer. He
may be there with his ardent face--in one of those ships. I can't
comprehend readily that I have no share in all the bravery and heartiness
of their coming in--that I'm--pardon--pardon" (he tried to simper again
and put his eyeglass heavily up). "How Englishly the flowers grow in your
garden, here, Mrs. Shaxton--those hollyhocks with their stakes."

She looked about and nodded wildly. Her grey cashmere shawl had fallen
down her heavy sleeves till it reached her hands. Sir William gazed at
her. A libertine onlooker might have asked: "What did this earnestness
with so much beauty! What did this flower with a stern and feeling soul!"
The soft white of her dress brought out her faint colour and bright gold
hair. But that struggling earnestness, with its hint of a strain, that
serious concern, peered striving through her star-like face like the head
of some angelic soldier.

Above them the sun was dipping behind Old Storm Hill, and below the
shadows of late afternoon were creeping over the ships towards the
opposite mountains. It was dark down the great channel, and seahorses
were leaping in on a rising wind. Mrs. Shaxton's hair fluttered and she
put her hand upon it. One end of her shawl flew out and hit Heans on the
mouth, and he caught it in a flurry and gave it to her quietly. They both
stood looking at the approaching storm, and the thoughts of each fled
slowly to the same thing: the coming winter.

Matilda looked pale and frightened.

"You will find the winter hard, Sir William Heans," she said, hurriedly.
"You must come up often--often--and never forget how anxious we all are
about you. It is such a--such a stern place. I am so frightened of your
being worn down--as some have been." (She turned to him, staring
earnestly at him.) "You will want to be so careful--especially as you are
not very happy. Perhaps some of them are wicked, and will watch for
discontent. It is unbelievable, but I have been told how some have played
upon it, when they were jealous of a prisoner; and one false step and
they all must harden. I am afraid you are one who will create jealousy. I
am afraid of your pride, sir, and that you will bring some annoyance upon
yourself. You will need all your tact, and all your good temper, and
patience--do, sir, try and be patient. I know--it is the disappointed man
you will have to fear--no gentleman will harm you. But some are highly
placed and very powerful. Indeed, if they once begin to hate, their good
impulses seem to go."

"Steady for a year, they say," said Heans, smiling a little through his
eyeglass. "Then a fellow has a chance. 'Pon my word, you're goodness
itself, Mrs. Shaxton! I'll come up as often as you will allow me."

"We feel very responsible for you," said Matilda, "after Miss Gairdener's
letter." And she turned and led the way across the terrace into the
drawing-room. "The storm is coming," she said, looking back out of the
window; "will you get down in time?"

"What a good thing the ships are in!" said Heans, with a glance down the
black harbour.

 * * * * *

 "Be very careful, Sir William Heans," she repeated, as she said
good-bye. "I have heard my husband speaking." She seemed almost
frightened to let him go.

He kissed her hand. The rain pattered on the shingle roof.



Matilda had seen a great deal of Sir William Heans during February.
Several times among his many calls he found her alone, and then,
suddenly, with no word of explanation, their genial tete-a-tetes had
ended, and she seemed to become absorbed with Captain Shaxton in the
hospitalities to the explorers, and such engagements. Heans, calling now
and then, was compelled to take tea alone upon the terrace in the
increasing cold.

Whether Sir William was aware of some cause for this is not clear, but
his face in these days grew somewhat blue and thin, while a certain
dark-eyed, scowling servant-maid--a convict--seemed to think his somewhat
bowed attitude anything but calling for sympathy, eyeing his back with a
dark hate as she brought him his tea.

Sir William thanked the woman with politeness.

One evening, on a lonely visit in April, Mrs. Shaxton hurried down from
the drawing-room, and greeting him palely, said how sorry she had been to
miss so many of his visits. She did not look at him intently, and Sir
William hardly seemed to see her. She spoke excitedly, as if she were
abstracted with her hurry or possibly at the aspect of his figure alone
upon the seat. He was very proud, and spoke of the happiness of being
made free of her garden, and the beauty of the ride up.

Now it was palpable that he had lost some indefinable something since she
had last seen him. His face was thinner and paler, and, worst sign of
all, his eyes, rather hollow, had a curious white glare of excitement,
strain, or desperation in them. The woman must have noticed that he was
in some way beshadowed and different--some way fallen in his pride--for,
her face breaking suddenly into an almost foolish panic, she asked him if
"all was well--and if his health was good." He said "All goes well
enough, Mrs. Shaxton," in a rapid tone, but stood as if he had not told
all. She did not seem to know how to express her anxiety. Her hand was on
the seat-back, and she moved her fingers to and fro a little, as hardly
knowing what she did. She asked suddenly, in an earnest voice: "Oh, I
hope some refreshment was brought out instantly; I shall--I shall hope to
be at home more."

"Indeed--I hope I do not inconvenience the woman," Heans brought to her
rescue. "I feel that I am something of a nuisance----"

"My maid tells me you have been later coming--half-past four instead of
three--I think. They were taken by surprise. It may have made them seem
slow in attending upon you!"

Heans interrupted with a singular thickness of speech.

"I have been later getting here only on the last three occasions," he
said, with a sort of abruptness, and the blood died slowly out of his
face until he was deadly white. He suddenly put round his hand and caught
the seat-back, sitting into it with a jerk. His grey top-hat hung loosely
from his lavender fingers, and he looked about him in a wild way like a
man clutching at a point.

"I am sorry," he said. "I feel a faintness for some reason." She remained
where she was, but slid her hand a little nearer along the seat-back, her
shawl trailing and trembling, her face in its heavy bonnet as white as
that near her hand. She said at last, with fright in her voice: "Sir
William Heans, what have you been doing?"

He raised his drawn face, and stared grimly into her eyes long that they
had time to soften with tears.

"Why, what would I do?" he said, breathlessly.

She was standing there behind him, leaning away a little--he staring up
white and sharp--when a man's voice rang metallically from the top of the
terrace: "Ah, there she is!" Both glared up towards it, and then smiled.
Grey Heans rose up with a heavy ceremonious air.

Daunt, of the Police, immaculate in his grey coat and Wellingtons, had
just emerged from the drawingroom, followed by two officers, one in naval
uniform. They made at once for the side-steps leading to the lower
terrace, and came bowing down. The sailors were brown-whiskered men in
little naval caps, great stocks enwrapping choking collars, voluminous
holland bags, tight single-breasted waistcoats and high-waisted
ill-fitting frock-coats, very high of collar and very tight of sleeve.
Daunt, very yellow in the face, ushered them energetically along. There
was a wild look beneath his heartiness.

Matilda went across, met, and welcomed them. She seemed to know them, and
bowed a little over some little complimentary jest. When she turned for
Sir William, he came forward in his fine way, and was made known by name
to the sailors, who were somewhat awed out of their jollity by his
reserve and pale, grave air.

Mrs. Shaxton took a seat by a rustic table, and Daunt, with a long
peculiar stare and stern nod at Heans (a form of greeting which seemed to
surprise the officers), drew a chair near Matilda's, and began a string
of rapid sentences. Heans was left talking with the sailors. This he did,
swinging on his legs, and tending gradually to the light and witty. His
eyeglass was up, and soon the three of them were grinning. Down in the
vast valley the ships were drying sails, but he never once looked towards
these or mentioned them.

"We met Captain Shaxton on the wharf," said Daunt, with a sudden
distinctness; "and I asked if we should find you at home. He said you
would be leaving the Hall about five. You would be busy dressing, he
thought, but Boyd and Cooke were both eager to see the view, and thought
they might get you to keep them a dance! You know what sailors are!"

(How often does it happen in life that we have a Daunt
fellow-secret-holder with us!) In a moment Heans was out of it, and the
sailors were "'hanging' the view, madame," and protesting round his
shoulders that they had made the ride solely for the honour of an
engagement. "Sir William Heans has forestalled us," cried Boyd, with an
outcry of pleasant laughter. "How many do you entreat, sir, for the
gallantry of the assault?"

Sir William laughed steadily. Before he could speak, even if he had found
anything to say, Matilda said rather wildly, "Sir William Heans does not
dance." Then, shaking her ringlets over a sudden laugh, she asked Cooke
if he thought the ride worthily recompensed with two.

Both officers, wreathed in smiles, took off their tiny naval caps and
made their gallant bows. Daunt, turning a little with them, bemoaned in a
sort of rueful monotone that he must take his chance, as there was a late
meeting at the Colonial Surgeon's.

"Mrs. Shaxton," began Sir William Heans, laughingly (and both Matilda and
Daunt looked slowly up at him), "has not even told me the name of the
ball! Is it for to-night you are in such good fortune?" "Hallo, sir!"
cried Lieutenant Boyd, staring round. "It's His Excellency's birthday,
sir! You must be a hermit!"

"Ah," said Daunt, hissing suddenly in, "Sir William Heans is too much of
a student: chained to his books--isn't that it?" But the ladies haven't
chosen a convenient night for anybody but you idle sailors.

Mrs. Shaxton, you should hear Montague and Leete on the subject. I heard
Montague say, shrugging his Norman shoulders, 'When Neptune's here, what
woman considers poor Vulcan!'"

"Why Vulcan?" cried Boyd.

"Leete's Governor of the Cascades, and Montague is our eminent Colonial

"Forgers of chains," said Matilda, "we may not consider you!"

"Fair too," said Sir William. "Who should lionize poor storm-beaten
Neptune if not the ladies! In a little while it's 'Come aboard, sir,' and
gone all the beauty and gentleness of home life but a daguerreotype
swinging on a hook--and yet," looking for the first time at the ships,
"which of us but is not deeply envious?"

"Oh, we're snug enough when the wind's favourable," said Boyd, chuckling.
"But you should come, sir." Magruder (with a cock of his eye at
Heans)--"old Magruder tells us all the supremest TON of Hobarton are
gathering to do it honour."

All the rest laughed politely, including Sir William.

"Should not even my grey hairs omit me?" said the latter. "I honour you
fellows by envying you--rancorous envy, I can assure you!" He ended with
a little brief, defensive bow.

"Sir William Heans has fallen in love with your ships," said Matilda. "I
remember his saying on the night you came in, 'They have the fog of Old
England in their sails.' We were thinking how wonderful you were, and how
you broadened life for all us humdrum people. Here we sit on these slopes
with our fixed joys and troubles, and in you sail with your stern little
ships, and lo, all is sublime and hazardous!"

Sir William did not move, but Daunt raised his eyes upon her slowly. The
flushed officers were laughing with her, and beneath their deprecating
badinage, Daunt's gaze passed from her to Heans. The latter was now
looking towards the ships, but one hand which he had placed upon the
seat-back was trembling. The police-officer's mouth seemed as if it were
laughing with the rest, but no sound came from it.

"Ah," he presently threw in, "you lucky gentlemen with your grand
adventures! May I mention it--I got a bang from an ankle chain this
morning." (He touched his knee carefully). "The anklet was intended, but
through a native sharpness I received the chain."

"Mutineer or escapee?" asked Cooke.

"The savage seditionary with a brain he fancies quicker than yours!
Nothing will do for him but proof. I am nothing if not a 'frustrator of
hopes,' Mrs. Shaxton. For Heaven's sake find us something sublime in our
humdrum bruises!"

"I have praise even for the stern frustrator of hopes," said Matilda.
"But some one has written or said: 'The sailor into the unknown sea hurts
no one with his heroism.'"

Heans alone did not turn his head.

"You stopped him?" cried the sailors again.

"Stopped him? Yes, I stopped him," echoed Daunt, "there are many ways.
See," he said, springing upright in his chair, "I have a little invention
of my own here, which, domestic article as it is, I have known stop an
assaulting prisoner."

Leaning forward, he produced a flint-steel: a little thing shaped like a
horseshoe, which (he explained) you could conceal in your hand, or fix on
your thumb or forefinger. At once, having closed his left fist, he fixed
it as if it had been a ring on his third finger, and held both up that
they might see how the "striker," not blunt, as was usual, had been filed
to a razor's edge.

"That is one way," he said. "Here is another. Permit me to take your hand
a moment, Sir William Heans."

He rose and came forward, and, as Sir William, whose back was half turned
to him, lifted his right hand, as much in instinctive amazement as
consent, from the seat-back, took it powerfully in both of his and
twisted the side of the palm up and over till, as the wrist resisted with
a twinge, the hand and arm doubled in against the baronet's back, forcing
him to bend a little over the seat in front of him. Sir William, pale
with surprise amid the laughter (Matilda was laughing), tried to
straighten himself, but met by a stubborn twinge, stooped again. In the
instanat Dunt had dropped his hand. "An old grapple," said Daunt. "Now,
sir," he said, putting out his hand and turning his back on Heans, so
palely smiling, "try it on me."

Heans made just the breath of a movement towards him, then laughed and
shook his head. A trifle haughtily he said something about being "too old
for horse-play." Boyd said, "I will," and pushed forward, half-laughing,
with the intention of seizing Daunt's hand, when the latter suddenly
subsided into his chair, saying, "No, I know you sailors." Boyd drew back
from his dark, immaculate face a trifle crestfallen. He saw amazedly that
it was stern.

"Ah, an experienced man!" he burst out, lamely. "You shouldn't have let
him do it, Sir William Heans. By Heaven, he's a slippery gentleman!"

"Quite an entertainment!" said Sir William lightly, clutching the seat;
"I am the misguided victim who lends his watch, with which the fellow
does his tricks!" (He lifted his lavender glove and shook it laughingly).

"My hand has come back to me not much the worse. Ha-ha, I leave my
revenge with you, Lieutenant Boyd! Mrs. Shaxton, I hear the mare
whinnying. Forgive me, I must get away. Gentlemen, your most humble,
obedient servant."

He advanced quickly towards Matilda, but she, as she rose to meet him,
said, "Oh, I will come up to the house with you, Sir William Heans." She
made her excuses, quick and greyly, and led the way to the steps. Heans
simpered his grey chimney-pot at this one and that. The officers waved
their preposterous little caps. Daunt, who had risen, bent his brisk back
with a kind of tragic courtesy. Slowly up the steps went Matilda and Sir
William, saying little, pale and tense.

"Can't we make him change his mind," said Boyd. "It's such a pity, a
jolly fellow like that. I'll hail him again, Daunt. If he's so set on the
old ships, he must come on board."

"You would hardly think it," said Daunt, bluntly, "but that poor fellow
is a prisoner."

"A prisoner!" They edged nearer to Daunt, tugging their whiskers, very
pale and aghast.

"Heavens, man!" cried Boyd. "Why did you do that beastly business with

Daunt was looking after them, ill now and yellow.

"A kindly feeling--well----" (He hesitated in a half-bitter manner).
"Don't ask me! This place seems to have a curse of looseness for men in
his position."

The two officers watched the two figures--now smiling a little--pass in
through the French-windows; pallor on their whiskered faces.



On the same evening, Matilda Shaxton, sitting at her toilette, was
hailed by her husband from his dressing-room with the remark: "Have you
seen Sir William Heans this week?"

Matilda answered: "Sir William was here to-day, Paul."

"Looking well?"

"Yes--pretty well."

"Daunt has got a beastly story of his being mixed up in some affray in
Tout Street, at a gambling room. He oughtn't to go there." Matilda smiled
in a wild way, and the tears pressed into her eyes. "Was Mr. Daunt stern
about it?"

"Daunt says it's a bad downward step. He protested he would come against
all sorts of undesirables there: prisoners, low ship's-officers, and
drunken soldiers. Some of the prisoners are Government constables, and
they listen to what a prisoner says when he's taken too much, and watch
whom he associates with. He'll have to be doubly careful if he haunts
those places. Daunt says Heans hadn't been inside the door a half an hour
when he was told of it. The police don't like his airs. Half of this is
Daunt's HOCUS POCUS, but it's a pity to think of its getting about. I
told Daunt to close his mouth about it. He's" (chuckling suddenly)
"not fond of Sir William Heans."

"Was he--was he gambling his money?" asked Mrs. Shaxton, putting up her
soft hair.

"Yes, and drinking more than was good for him--if all's true. He came out
with a convict named Carnt--a swindler of all people--and a shady fellow
named Stifft, who's been suspected of connivance in escape, and lost a
schooner and twenty lives off the Iron Pot. Went to his rooms. He mustn't
take up with those fellows--can't you go for him about it, Matty?"

Mrs. Shaxton's prisoner-maid was arranging her mistress's lace with
impassive face. Matilda turned her head aside and a sudden sob shook her.
"Is it too tight, madam?" said the woman, pausing and looking up, and
seeing her mistress's eyes, she bowed her head and continued.

"Mr. Daunt is so stern now," Matilda called, with a little quaver of
fear. "I don't know what is coming to him. I used to think him brave and

"Gracious G--d, bring these fellows up against a prisoner, and out come
their claws! Daunt comes up here with his police-brand in his pocket, and
he can't help testing it against Heans. But Daunt's a careful man. He
wouldn't say a thing like that if it hadn't some truth in it."

"Yes," said Matilda, "but he's very stern, and very clever. He might
exaggerate. He has not been kind in his manner to Sir William Heans. You
remember he was here when Sir William first called. He intimated to me,
when he was shown in, that he was not very desirable. Oh, I was so glad I
had Miss Gairdener's letter!"

"Egad--that's what he said, is it! What do you think he said to me on
Thursday? Ho-ho!--he said he didn't like his manners towards you--Mrs.
Providence! Yes, I laughed. 'Speaking of a nunnery,' says I, 'it must
have been virulent if Mrs. Providence passed it!'

"Ah, poor Heans!" said Shaxton, in a lower key; "he's paying heavily for
that business. Talk of dignity--people are always asking a fellow to know
who he is! Higgs of the Guiding Star was asking me only last week
(ho-ho-ho!) if it was the military commandant! There was Heans riding by
with his eyeglass. Hanged if I know what to tell them!"

"And--was he drinking--Sir William Heans?"

"I don't think he was taking much--singing a song and that. (Where are my
dancing-pumps?) Made'em all laugh the way he sang--so stiff and such a
funny little dandy voice. I'd ha' given (bah! there's no buckling this
cravat!)--I'd ha' given a quid--he-he--to have seen Heans singing."

Mrs. Shaxton threw open her jewel-case, and fingered blindly among its
contents. Her wild and determined eyes were on themselves in the glass.
Her fingers slipped through pearls and garnets, and caught upon an old
silver cross. This she drew out, and clasped by its hanger about her
neck. It seemed too heavy for that frail pillar, but not yet for those
wild eyes.

"Oh, Paul, he is in terrible danger!" she said, as she put on her long
ear-rings. "I must see Mr. Daunt and try and win him over. Sir William
Heans is very sensitive. His manner is all fineness and bravery.
Perhaps--perhaps Mr. Daunt could privately shut those places to him. It
is just their terrible temptation!"

"No--no," answered Hyde-Shaxton. "Be careful how you interfere with a
man's liberty. He's little enough of it--poor fellow, and jealous enough
of that, I suppose. Think of it, after the way he was lionized in London!
I'd put it to him yourself. He's very fond of you, Matilda. Get him up
here on Friday (I'll be up at Risdon with a surveying party). Tell him
that story about Megson and Relph, who were sent to Macquarie Harbour.
Stay a moment, you've never heard that. Wait till I get this cravat
buckled. It's bad, but it's Gospel truth. They were men of his own
station, you know. It began, as I told you, by their going to those low

Captain Shaxton here related a story which, for those interested, will be
found at the end. [Note 4. See end of this chapter.] When he had done so,
his voice dropped away, and for a while there was silence. Outside there
was a pattering sound and a low roaring of the wind.

"Poor Miss Gairdener----" said Matilda, in a trembling tone, and then
broke off. Presently her brave voice cried out: "I cannot bear to think
of Sir William Heans even touching these places!" "I can't think of the
handsome old 'Marquis' on the downward path at all," chuckled Shaxton, in
a subdued way, "though it's getting an oldish tale with him, I suppose. I
can't help seeing the joke of it, though, gracious G--d! it can be a
black business. What would he do with his eye-glass at Port Arthur--ho,
ho! It tickles me to think of it!"


"Bless you, he's too fastidious! There's no danger!"

"Oh, do not!"

"Egad, it would be like thinking of somebody who was buried in a

No answer came from Mrs. Shaxton. There was a sound as of the Captain
rising from a chair in his dressing-room.

"Beastly night, Matty! Wasn't that sleet on the windows? Ha," he cried,
"there's the carriage! Hurry up!"

Then in the distance, as he opened his door: "Be kind to the poor fellow,
Matty; he's got no decent woman but you to go to. You're not very kind to
him--are you? Short--or something! He's out here alone. You've been
treating him to some of your high moods, haven't you now?"

He seemed to wait in the passage for an answer, but none went to him. In
her room Matilda whispered, "God forbid!" as, with pale throat up, she
wound a shawl about her cheeks and side-curls.

[Note 4.--The Story of MEGSON AND RELPH (as told by Captain Shaxton).
"Why, Megson and Relph came out here, fast, hot-spirited College men, who
had embezzled their uncle's money. They expected to go free, and brought
out ponies, a caleche, and all sorts of finery. They had been implicated
in some sort of rumpus on board, and when they landed near everything was
taken from them, while they were put under strict surveillance in a
Government office under a man named Barlings, who was strict, and perhaps
inclined to bully them. This man's usage, and the fact that they were nor
well received by some people named Rose (you know--the James Roses) who
had known them in England, drove them to the gambling places, where they
won a lot of money, came out more than ever in dress, and for a while
seemed prosperous. You'd see'd 'em in their little ponychaise driving
from Cascades Road to the jetty with their gold-tasselled caps and
puddingcravats, and quarrelling--they were hot-tempered men--like a pair
of undergraduates coming in from Newmarket. It seems they had come to
some sort of compact about the ladies--a relic of some fast business at
home no doubt. Barlings deposed you would hear them talking jealously if
one or other was seen for a moment with a woman. Presently Megson falls
in love with a girl--a lady, they say, of the melancholy beautiful kind;
hides it from Relph; and a fierce quarrel and blows occurred one morning,
when, the girl being ill, he told about it. Megson was put in irons for
assaulting the others: he said under taunts from Barlings and Relph. When
Relph recovered, he lived alone, driving past Megson sometimes where he
worked in the iron-gang. He seems to have lavishly abused him when in
hospital, but seeing him in yellow and black on the orad-side, he
repented, and made a clever and careful plan for their escape. Half
starving himself, he collected a lot of ship-biscuits, which he packed in
a false bottom in the pony-trap. He got 450 packed away in various parts
of the vehicle. Suddenly drawing up beside the gang one day, he leant out
and abused Megson (at the same time telling him to run for the chaise on
the following Friday, and he would pull up for him round the corner). He
oven gave him a light blow on the face, and drove off in a fury, shaking
his fist. He was hauled up for this, but got off, with some excuses,
being a small and gentle-looking man. Megson did not get off so easily
and was punished. See how the luck hung against that man!

"Megson waited for Relph all Friday, and towards evening, seeing him
drive by and slacken round the corner, loosened his ankle-chain and ran
for it. He was shot at and hit, but he got into the caleche. Relph
galloped him up the Dalrymple Road; along the river-side; and a bit into
the bush. In the dusk they were missed. Abandoning the trap, they packed
the stuff on the pony, and on it also got Megson with his wound. He was
light, small, and delicately-made like his cousin, and they got a good
way towards Launceston, when the blacks began to dog them, and they had
to push for the road. Then Megson became feverish, and the police
discovered them from his delirious talking. Relph was holding him on the
pony and scolding at him. "The case created a good deal of sympathy.
Relph might have got off fairly easily but for his bitterness and
bad-temper. He was assigned to a clergyman at Clarence Plains, and having
challenged his master to a duel over something or other, and used
threatening language when his request was refused, was sentenced for a
month to the iron-gang, losing his civilian clothes, and putting on the
stripes and chains. Relph must have felt the ground slipping from beneath
his feet, for he was insubordinate, and therefore remained in the gang
month after month. Several people who had taken an interest in him saw
him on the roads. His light, erect little figure was easily recognisable,
but he would glare at them defiantly. All seemed enemies to him now. One
day Megson was drafted into the gang with four other insubordinates. He
also had been assigned, been insolent, and sentenced by the magistrate to
the roads. The latter worked in a stiff, unaccustomed way (he had been
coachman to a doctor and very well treated) till he saw Relph, and then,
as they say, he seemed, as he picked, to recognise something in the
other's figure, and kept looking at him covertly. At last he stood up and
called 'Relph,' and the other looked over with his brilliant smile,
crying: 'No go now, Alfred!' That was all, and on they worked, the one
smiling, the other shaken with grief.

"It is said that returning one day into Hobarton, Megson saw the girl
that he had loved with some little children in a garden, and thinking her
married, upbraided her furiously by name and was whipped for indecent
behaviour. The girl is not married. They say it is that dark Miss
R----living with her mother and sisters in Lavisham Terrace. There's some
mystery about her. When Relph heard that Megson had been punished over a
woman, he quarrelled with his overseer, assaulted him, and ran for it
over a sandbank into a fringe of bush. Though fired at with a
blunderbuss, he got away unwounded. All Hobarton was out after him.
Megson, working in the gang two days afterwards, hearing of his cousin's
escape, decided to make a run also, but they had their eye on him, for he
was shot down a few yards from his tools. Relph was taken, a month later,
on a small island in the Huon River, where a man was seen by the police
struggling with some reptile, and beating it with a stick. They captured
him there, well and hearty but terrified, with ten or eleven great snakes
dead about him. He said he had killed thirty and could not sleep at
night. The island is thick with them.

"Both Megson and Relph were sentenced to Macquarie Harbour, and a month
later the weekly cutter took them out, shivering among a huddle of
convicts, over the yellow sea. In the winter, five years ago, they
escaped inland into the mountains behind the Harbour, and no doubt joined
the many skeletons that strew that pathway back to civilization."]



One evening in the month before these happenings, Heans, returning
frozen in mind and heart from a lonely vigil upon the terrace at Pitt's
Villa, had unlocked his little cabin chest of drawers, and taken from a
pigeon-hole at the back of the desk 20 pounds in gold and notes. Hitherto,
in his precarious respectability, he had solaced his evenings with a
little wine, a tobacco-pipe, and those more congenial inhabitants of the
"jail": the green-marbled volumes of Langhorne's PLUTARCH. Of the
latter, the shrewd worldly sense, truth, and determination to be
interesting amazed him, and with a little more ease in his day-lit life,
he might have passed his evenings in this quiet way. Now his pipe and
his wine, together with a volume of PLUTARCH open at the life of
Themistocles, lay set for him on the gilt-legged table beside the bare
chimney. A silver pocket-comb lay across the page below the following
remarkable passage: "For when elected Admiral by the Athenians, he would
not despatch any business, whether public or private, singly, but put
off affairs to the day he was to embark, that having a great deal to do,
he might appear with the greater dignity and importance."

In connection with these books, Sir William had discovered a curious old
Colonial manuscript, which had given him considerable food for thought,
and for some time highly, and almost entirely, engrossed his mind. In
turning over, one evening, the second book of the set, he came upon an
MS. letter, written across the white paper which covered the inside of
the back. The caligraphy was strange and not readily decipherable--part
of it, if not all, written in agitation--the ink, or whatever the
pigment, faded to faint sepia. But if the ink was old, the passion and
agonised bereavement in which the lines were steeped were as fresh as
when written. Their sublime force, seemingly, would last as long as the
writing could be read.

It was written in a species of loose print, closely resembling the
letters we see cut on tombstones, known as Old English; and done rather
from habit, one would say, than with idea of elaboration. In that style,
therefore, we reproduce it, though giving a somewhat colder and far less
intimate impression than the grim and untrammelled original. Here
follows, then, the letter which Sir William found of such engrossing
interest, and the romantic "directions" written above it:--

Gullyhole. Nov. 23rd. Walk here 11 on 1st. Famine Assembly 5 after 10.
           Hope you not hungry.
Gullyhole. Dec. 7th. Wander by here 11th. 25 after 2.
Gullyhole. Dec. 16th. Wander here 23rd. Foot-boy J.S. sharpening eyes
           on me. Don't give him more of your coins.
Gullyhole. Dec. 30th. You sadden me. Don't forsake me. Did you give
           Spars money? Muster Roll Jan. 5th, 4.
Gullyhole. Jan. 20th. If no answer, don't hang about the hole. For answer
           I will hammer three times thrice. Alarum Assembly 5 after 4.
In the Cave. Jan. 29th.

My angel Moicrime,

I hear you are to be punished, and sent away to camp-life with the black,
Ondia. This you have never known, you so dainty reared, so much petted by
the grand folk. Oh, my darling, I can't consider of it! I am so terrible
sad. The agony this causes me, I cannot tell you! I am in Hell. My heart
is swelling with fury. You, my darling Moicrime, degraded to camp-life,
what will happen to you, what shall I do! I am to be whipped and confined
for the while--perhaps for ever--out of the garden. They have shut me in
the cave. Damnation seize them--if they put me to my chisel again, I will
do something awful! His Honour shall know of me. I will carve something
awful out of these men-stones.

Oh Moicrime, my poor, my dear Moicrime, I shall win after you or die!
Peter Naut will pass this to Joe, for Joe to put in the Gully-hole, in
case you wander by once more.

Your despairing

P.S.--When Spars reads this, if he do not put it in your hands by my
oath, he'll know of me.


Here was an interesting relic, the date and mystery of which much
occupied Sir William. A grim romance, the place, date, and meaning of
which were obscure, of the secret attachment of a prisoner artificer for
a young native girl, and its attendant tragedy, seemed clear. Sir
William, being of an elegant turn, thought of Pyramus and Thisbe: "Wall,
that vile Wall, which did these lovers sunder." "Did he escape?" he
would ask-somewhat ruefully puffing his new tobacco-pipe among the web,
hung chairs: "did he escape, or did he weep away his wild and angry
heart in his cavern?" And she, was her love equal to his (Indeed, God
forfend!), or did she soon forget the white man's petting, and find a
charm in the way of her blood and people? Such passion interested Sir
William--interested and indeed, if it did more than entertain, perhaps
enlightened him. Poor love's young dream! Those were grimmer days! Well,
well--how long may a man live in the romance of another?

At about eight o'clock Sir William drank two glasses of wine, and
descended the rickety stairs as decorously as the height of the ceiling,
his dignity, and the darkness would permit. His grey top-hat bumps
against a beam, falls, and must be groped for. With a knocking upon the
street door, the tragic landlady comes up from the nether regions with a
key in her hand. She opens the door and looks after her lodger. Her rough
hand, which rests on the post, shakes a little. Heans turned down the
street a few yards, and then hurried along a series of back lanes towards
the sea. The rain was pattering chillily, and he put up his umbrella.
Just where the waves began to lash at the bottom of the road, and a
chemist's red light was dipping, he turned to his left into a sort of
court-yard, and approached the door of an out-house built against the
hill. A man was hovering near the door, and he came in front of it with a
sweeping quietness as Heans arrived. With his hand on the handle, he
opened the door a little so that a bright light fell on Sir William's hat
and plaid neck-cloth.

Heans passed a few pence into his hand, asking if these were "Fraser's
Rooms." There was a subdued noise of nasal voices within, and a sudden
shrill laugh; a soft grating as of metal spoons, and the sharp ringing of
a little bell. The door was opened and shut behind Heans. Within there
was a smell of damp broadcloth. He found himself in a vestibule
boarded-off to the width of the building, in which some Benjamins and
cloaks were hanging upon pegs. Inside, in a long, squarish room, whose
walls were shabbily if ingeniously covered with green baize picked out
with framings of pink tape, he found many tragically grave flushed men,
sitting or standing round a green table, on which was a splash of cards,
and roughly drawn in red and yellow chalk, the compartments and four

Across from this table two others swam in the smoke, upon the nearest of
which a chalk line about the cloth edge told that Faro was in play. The
farthest had a plain wooden surface and was haunted by a grim and shabby
crew. Here was being whirled, by individuals in turn, a large wooden top,
having four corners marked T (totem), A (all), N (none), and P (pay), the
stakes being coppers, sleeve-buttons, snuff-boxes, sham seals, sham
neck-chains, and even squares of Caporal or Cavendish tobacco. There was
a bar beside the first table, where an attendant in brownish kneebreeches
and a white frock-coat was opening a bottle: the while keeping an eye on
the game. At the top of the room were two loo tables, at one of which a
silent party of five was seated. A sort of tragic and polite sternness
was the more general fashion of this place of entertainment. The dark,
shabby-grand room was a House of Hideous Risk, and the men who walked in
it had the faces, many of them, and the brave diplomacy of men besieged
in a hopeless hold. Sir William changed some money at the bar, drank a
glass of wine, and strolled over to the table. He presently took his seat
on the form nearest the "taillier," shouldering along a young wild man
with black whiskers who was sprawling on his elbow.

"Have a care," the fellow growled, in a flashing mutter.

"I must have room," said Sir William, seating himself not very gently.
The other with a sour snarl gave his back to him, subsiding again a
little further down with his elbow on the table. There was an air of
character and individuality about the inmates of this gaming-room which a
general sameness of napless top-hat and shabby short frock or SURTOUT
could not wholly subdue. There seemed a predominance of charming people
with quick strong smiles and flashing teeth; so many seemed to touch, but
yet fall short of, the status of an accomplished gentleman. The bow and
the smile would be a trace too low and too wide; the air a little too
sharp. Even the most forlorn and tragic loser seemed yet to possess the
faculty of suddenly and brilliantly smiling. A fine, tall, pale man,
dark, with a handsome countenance creased by tragic worry, rose angrily
on the other side, crying: "You are surly, Jarvis; give Sir William

The other sat down again without a glance at Heans. It was Henry S----, a
well-known gentleman of Bristol, here a writer in one of the public
departments, transported for life for forgery, deserted by his wife, and
predestined to undergo the second sentence of Port Arthur and die there
in the hospital. Among others punting at the Faro table were several
officers in military cloaks and shakoes, very much the worse for liquor.
These young men kept jesting among themselves, and staking wildly. The
web was evidently yet a joke and a pleasure to them.

The dealer was a plump, dark Jew, very handsome and sleepy-looking. This
was "Fraser," the owner of the place, so drowsy, so ready to be blind
when necessary, such a manager of men. His was one of those
personalities, cited by a great statesman, in the category of "diplomats,
women and crabs," as always going when coming, always coming when going.
When he beamed, things were all over with you; when he frowned, you were
not yet his. He was one of the few people in his grim rooms whose
meteoric history had not formed the theme (and was not still) of some
wild crime or scandal. Fraser's history was mysteriously untragic.

Sir William's shepherd-plaid trousers commanded something of a sensation.
Eyes shot glances at him, and shot back to play again. There was a groan
in some of them; in others a curious birdlike interest; in some yet a
black, angry look; in others a sticky and obsequious welcome. The
"banker" made a heavy inclination towards him, and then proceeded to deal
the cards. Heans staked alternately on COULEUR and INVERSE, but lost as
persistently. The man beside him, who had been addressed as "Jarvis,"
changed his cheek for his chin as the game went on, and watched Sir
William's play with a sort of sulky and despairing cynicism. By slow
graduations his face, with its respectable little black whiskers and
die-away air, changed a little. His expression of snarling dislike
dropped gradually to a snarling blase tolerance. This did not seem
designed altogether to put Sir William off his play. Though the man was
visibly younger than the new-comer, there was a worldly fatherliness in
his cynical demeanour.

"You bore me with your play, sir," he said at last, in a hissing
undertone. "There are the red and black. Why lose with such monotony?"
Sir William pushed along to him a half-crown bit. "Put that on the red or
black, if you wish it," he said.

The other, not moving his cheek from his hand, took the coin and tossed
it on the black. Heans, meanwhile, continued staking as before. The man
named Carnt won another half-crown. Throwing the two coins on the red he
won four. Then with the four, eight. With the eight, sixteen. With
sixteen (staked with the same appearance of tolerant cynicism) 4 pounds.
He then pushed back a half-crown to Heans, who staked it, with a nod of
thanks, upon the INVERSE, and lost it.

At this moment S---- rose and asked Heans by name if he would make one
for a game of loo. Heans, with a glare through his eyeglass at S----,
bowed and began to gather up what change remained to him. S---- then
asked Carnt if he would join them, but Carnt; who was playing with his
wins on the table-edge, shook his head, stating that he had a whimsy to
start a charitable institution. At this the other stepped backward over
the form, and beckoning to a man with a fixed grim stare of enquiring
disapproval--probably a natural feature helped by art and practice--and
to a little pale fellow with a tremendous air, led the way to one of the
tables at the top of the room. The gentlemen so summoned rose and
followed with deprecatory coughs of acquiescence. Heans sat at play with
these three and another (a silent man who through the evening stared for
long periods at every one in turn with strange fixed eyes) till a late

At about eleven there was a scattering of men about Sir William's table.
The four were playing still, and there was spirit beside them. The
new-comer had been loo-ed constantly, but in the last quarter of an hour
the tide had turned and Heans was not so far from making good. About this
time there was an attempt on the part of a little clique of men behind
S---- to hustle Heans with several careful but, of course, impalpable
rudenesses. A funny fellow with a strange, unsmiling face had placed a
paper eyeglass in his eye, and was cutting a jocose caper in the shadow
of a friend. They would ponder with a burlesque heaviness when Sir
William pondered, and nearly collapse in their ecstasies of wild
anticipation when Sir William elected to play. A lank, black Jew, who was
standing at S----'s elbow, made a false signal to Sir William as to the
number of that gentleman's trumps by holding up four fingers against his
chin and slowly spreading them up his cheek. When the luck was with him
they were careful to show their tolerant acquiescence; when against him,
their sudden antagonism and unveiled contempt. Heans became conscious,
presently, that an old decrepit man was seated in a chair a little way
back and outward from his elbow. A glance at him showed high aristocratic
if dissipated features and an impressive dignity. He was too far from the
table to admit an objection to his presence, and yet near enough to make
it difficult for Heans to conceal his cards. As if to himself, Heans
heard him murmur: "Rowdyism, eh?" and presently, in an angry whisper:
"Too much intoxication here tonight." On several occasions he spoke a
critical word upon the game, but always heavily and impersonally, if with
a touch of age's privilege. A small eruption from S----'s backers screwed
from him the indignant mutter that "the place was rapidly being made
uncongenial for the older men." Unfortunately for his bona-fides, he
pronounced uncongenial as "uncongenni-al;" and this mistake rioted in
Heans' ears.

Heans was much embarassed by the presence of this friendly,
quiet-speaking, yet, he was certain, evil-intentioned man. Beyond the
flurry of an actual protest, he could, however, think of no way of
ridding himself of it. Meanwhile the unrelieved antagonism was beginning
to tell upon his play; he made several slips, though his cards were good.

Every faculty he possessed was now engaged in his play. His luck holding,
he won on the next two deals; and he was conscious of a private chuckle
in his ear, and a secret pat from the old man upon his chair-back. On the
next round--which was "unlimited" and all players playing--he lost
remarkably and of course heavily.

Earlier in the game Sir William's tranquillity had been a little steadied
by the approach of Carnt, the gambler to whom he had lent money. He had
caught his figure among the others round S----, his arms folded, his
rusty top-hat cocked over a morose eye. Now, as he played, he had a
strange vision. Once and again, in the course of that disastrous deal, he
fancied he had caught a fresh glimpse of Carnt, but with his face yellow
with anger, and standing close in to the right of the table, his eyes
bent with a curious intentness on some spot on a level with Heans'
shoulder. Sir William, fierce as was the game, several times shrugged his
right shoulder under the influence of this strange impression.

Suddenly, during a fresh deal, when Heans, being elder hand, holding back
two trumps in sequence, nine and seven (S----, sitting opposite, having
taken the first trick with the eight of trumps), and winning the second,
finessing with his seven--at that moment, there was a sharp scream like a
sheep's bleat, and his chair was violently pushed forward. Springing
round in it, with anger and promptitude, he discovered Carnt with one
hand holding the old man's hand against the chair, with its index finger
waving over Hean's back, while with the other he threatened to impale it
with an open penknife. There was an outcry of anger about the table, but
whether for the liver-coloured, chattering old man, or against him, was
not clear. Carnt's triumphant, angry, yet amused face, was calm and pale.
"You know me, Rudstone," he hissed. "Keep it still or by Heaven I'll
split it! Here S----, here's a trump, look! Egad, a big one! See it

"Who's a cheat in his liquor?" someone called from the Totem-table.

"Begad, Mr. Jarvis is the Christian when he's sober!"

"A--h--twitch away, would you!" said Carnt. "You scandalous blackguard!
Take that, then!" There was a horrid scream, and the old man, suddenly
released, hobbled out of the room, holding a maimed hand.

S---- had risen, tall and noble, beside his chair.

"I hope," he said, turning huskily on the rowdies, "that you will
understand, gentlemen, how great a service has been done to this room by
Mr. Jarvis Carnt. The treachery on our visitor, to-night, was no greater
than the detestable insult offered to me." He graciously bent forward
over the table.

"Your hand, Carnt--a very noble service, sir."

Carnt was glooming at his knife. "You know my practice, S----," said he.
"I never shake hands in this place."

Sir William, still turned in his chair, was eyeing Carnt with his rather
queer eyeglass. Slowly he drew out and proffered him a fine chequered
silk handkerchief. "Take my handkerchief," he said, "and clean your
knife." Carnt took the article; drew the knife through it; pondered over
it a moment; and then threw it under the chairs. Sir William laid down
his cards, and bowing to S----, the little important man, the
disapproving gentleman, and the man with the silent examining eyes who
was at the moment examining S---- (all of whom returned his bow not much
disturbed), gathered up his change, and rose. Carnt was moving away down
the room, and Sir William pushed after him through pale faces and
charming teeth. Fraser, standing near the bar, bowed with a sort of
deference in his grave smile.

"Mr. Carnt, it is barely the half hour," said Heans. "A word and a glass
of wine."

The back of the other's clawhammer seemed inclined to move on without
answer, but suddenly turning, disclosed a pair of dark harassed eyes and
a slow pale smile. "What's this?" he said. "Wine?"

"What have they got?" said Sir William, drawing his arm through his in
his stately way.

"All sorts," said Carnt, rubbing his blue hands over the counter.
"There's an old brandy somewhere. Fraser, here's a specially bad case!
This gentleman honours us by treading the inclined plane in our company.
Let us fittingly celebrate his first step. What about French Sally! Is
she extant?"

That giddy party known as Fraser, with a moment's stern glare at Heans,
suddenly bowed and came with a simpering ceremony into the bar, where he
procured from a back cupboard a green coloured flask. From this, with
care and mystery, he filled two glasses with a liquid the colour of
bronze--putting these before the two "gentlemen" as from one who
regretfully but finally confers. Carnt was still grey of face from what
he had done, and Sir William, with a grave if somewhat voluble tact,
discussed with him the intricacies of a certain game of "Patience," in
the moves of which the other made an effort to become engrossed. S----
brought his friends to the bar, and owing to Sir William's increasing
volubility, the conversation soon became general. Half an hour later the
bar was thronged, and a low ship'scaptain named Stifft, with a tiny mouth
and a beautiful silvery voice, was singing a French song. Sir William
Heans was (with little difficulty) induced to follow this friendly
gentleman--a luckless skipper of wrecks and suborner of absconders--with
a ballad given in a very small formal pipe. Carnt alone did not seem
happy in these amenities. He stood with his arms folded against the bar,
white and bored. At Sir William's invitation not only Carnt and Captain
Stifft, but a pawnbroker and bric-a-brac man, of the curious name of Six,
accompanied him to his room.



As they descended in the carriage, over the quiver and shriek of the
heavy break, with now a splash of sleety rain and once a boom of
thunder, a tragic idea came to Matilda, that if she could manage it, she
would speak with sympathetic Lady Franklin about Sir William Heans, and
see if some organising secretaryship or honorary post could not be
obtained for him by which he would be bound among a better set, and the
suffrages of "one side" of Hobarton society be gradually opened to him.
She put it to herself as "one side." There was another side of Hobarton
society over which she was aware the Governor's wife had less power, and
with whom a prisoner had less chance: that of the old families, led by
Mr. Montague, the Colonial Secretary, whose famous quarrel with Sir John
Franklin was already simmering above the surface. [Note 5. See end of
this para.] Matilda, though she disliked her pretty ladyship's stern and
masculine attitude, her ill advised and too forcible championing of her
husband, yet believed her at bottom a kindhearted, sensible personage,
and like many another distracted woman, determined to penetrate the
attitude and besiege the good for her purpose.

[Note 5.--As early as 1830 Lieut. Breton, R. N., writes that Hobarton
society was more exclusive than that of "an English town." "If, however,
a person can obtain one or two good letters of introduction he may get on
well enough with both the aristocracy and the merchants, though decidedly
better with the last."]

At the wharf they descended, into the EREBUS, the high pent-house awnings
of the Arctic ship glowing and tugging in the lowering night. The moon
shone for an instant on Kangaroo Point. It was all half-wild. Flying,
gauzy clouds sped across the light blue satin of the sky. The sea was
green-black, flecked with foam about the shores, and crying free. There
were a few--a few silver stars.

The quarter-deck was hung with bunting, giving a fine floor broken only
by the companion-way; while astern, a beflagged opening gave to two small
rest-rooms, where among the decorations stood the embowered wheel. The
grim, clean smell of hemp and tar exuded from the walls, upon which were
sewn great laurel wreaths of silver paper, with the motto: ANIMO ET FIDE
(misread by the jealous landsmen for "Ann and Fido"), while across from
screen to screen great ropes of monthly roses, hung by the young ladies
of Hobarton, met a fine wreath hanging from the centre.

Perhaps no decoration could have been discovered so moving to the hearts
of the men and women gathered there as this mingling of bunting and
roses--the scent of flowers and stern hemp and tar. Franklin himself must
have thought of it when, years after, he walked the deck caught in the
ice of William's Land. Everywhere were immaculate white breeches and
waistcoats; the plain beside the epauletted coat. The whiskered sailors
jested merrily in their high cravats. Little ladies looked up out of
chignons and swinging curls. The ship suddenly shook with thunder, under
which the wave of cheerful voices clattered shrill and unmoved. A band
began bumping in a corner.

In the ballroom things happened very differently from what she expected.
Her ladyship was unwell, and Miss Sophia Crackcroft, who had taken her
place beside Captain Ross, was, at their entrance, somewhat flurried by
the congratulations of another party. Swarthy, round-faced Sir John
Franklin himself, with Mr. Bedford, the Colonial Chaplain, and old Mr.
Duterreau, the artist of the natives, came forward to receive them. On
the very edge of distraction as she was, Sir John took her wild and
pretty face for a picture of enthusiasm, and gallantly jested with her as
"the presumptive belle of this occasion." "You make me," he said, "regret
my young days, madam." She curtsied and laughed, and from her mourning
heart returned some witty answer, which, echoing among the men, and in
her husband's chuckles, made a little triumph for her, at the feet of
which his gallant Excellency begged a dance, and put that still
unsilenced name upon her programme for a quadrille.

Sir John strode up the deck with round, bare, cheery face. Behind him,
among a little group of uniforms, went a thin, active man, clad in black,
and leaning on a Neapolitan cane. His brow was dark, and now and then he
gave a low, most courteous bow. It was Mr. Montague, the Colonial

Matilda Shaxton, as she danced with this or that sailor, or discoursed on
the wildness of the night with some old police-magistrate or bronzed
young settler, watched the Governor's face as he slowly talked his way
through the room, and suddenly, in the midst of a discharge of sleet
which nearly drowned the music, made up her mind to lay Sir William's
case before the tragic kindness of it. Her ears were used to ridicule
among her associates on the "softness" of Sir John's prison legislation,
and although her instinct warned her that this was the exaggeration of
harsh, experienced men, and that he was a ruler with plenty of sternness
where his just-heartedness or anger called for it, yet she was certain if
she could chance upon a subject that would help her in bringing up a
prisoner's name, she would be met with kindness. As she looked or laughed
into this or that stern or beseeching face--for wild-eyed Matilda had a
belle's triumph to-night--she quivered inwardly at each thunder-clap and
gust of wind, and saw the prison-cutter plunge out upon it with the
fallen, gale-deafened Megson and Relph--out upon a yellow sea towards the
bare, wind-blown ditch of Macquarie Harbour. How could these kindeyed
sailors, these fine old magistrates, witty Mr. Montague, satirical Mr.
Daunt, gallant Colonel Snodgrass, honest Sir John himself--these feeling
gentlemen--jig and jest, while a fellow, a man more gently reared than
themselves, tottered and struggled, so bravely and so much alone, upon
the brink of terror and ruin? She would tell that man there if she could,
the one with the round ugly face and tragic eyes (eyes which seemed yet
to harbour the glory and smoke of Trafalgar and Copenhagen)--she would
tell him what temptations and dangers were at the proud feet of this
gentleman, and how no hand troubled to stay them. In her bosom she had a
letter of Miss Gairdener's. The old woman wrote how her nephew, Sir
William Heans, had been loved and honoured by his tenants. The letter was
full of loving admiration, chattering hope, and brave proud humour, and
though it never so much as hinted at his fast life or his disgrace, was
palpably the wail of his own people for a loved and trusted figure
brought low by a sin which for some reason--some woman's reason--they
found not unforgivable. This letter, with its garrulous, well-bred
recommending of a favourite and petted nephew, its purposeful ignoring or
innocent misunderstanding of his hideous disgrace or danger, so increased
by its innocence the horror of possible catastrophe as to constitute an
argument for his succour--and such protection as a woman might need who
stood forward with his name on her lips.

Matilda, so determined and loving-hearted, was perhaps too confident in
her woman's armour of precocious experience. Her friend, the
Superintendent, Mr. Daunt, in speaking of women, has said of her wittily
that "she hardly resorted to the evasive with the accustomed
roguishness." She seemed, in a word, to have an unnatural distaste for
"practising," even where the interests of those she loved were concerned.
This is, I suspect, as much as should be expected of any good woman, just
as we may well expect something more, in like difficulty, than the lying,
stab-in-the-back methods, the treacherous use of youth's belief in her
saintship, of the ordinary wicked one. Surely life holds few contrasting
facts so confusing as its vulgar-minded woman--than which no man can be
so little or so base--and its angel, rich or poor.

Daunt arrived very late, but Matilda, though her programme was full, gave
him a little walk between two dances. He was very kind and amusing, until
quite suddenly he began to talk about Sir William Heans: "We are somewhat
bothered about Heans," he said, with his eyes on his excellent white
breeches as he walked. "I am afraid you will not thank me for dragging in
a business matter to-night, but may I ask you a question--about him?"

Matilda, who supposed, in a breath of fear, he referred to the affray her
husband had mentioned, said: "Oh, certainly. But my husband heard all he
has told me from you. What do you want?"

"Nothing more than I can almost prove, Mrs. Shaxton, I am glad to say. I
think he was up at your house, was he not, on the 27th?"

"Yes--on the 27th," she said, with a sort of shivering gladness. "I am
sorry I wasn't in. But what is the reason for proving that?"

"I have no reason yet. It is just the curse of my work that I have to go
round poking in my nose where I have no business. It was a wet afternoon,
and he arrived at your house--say--at three o'clock."

Matilda caught him looking at her with a pale, sharp deference. "No, it
was later than that--half-past four. He has usually been early." She
caught her breath and pondered a moment. Then rapidly, with precision, "I
wonder whether I am right. He has been up so often. It was possibly
half-past three--on that day. Indeed, I could discover the time from the
servants. What is it about, Mr. Daunt?"

"It is nothing. Since this business at Fraser's we have been deluged with
information about your friend. It is always the way when a prisoner takes
a foolish step of the kind, and we must sift it all. You would be
surprised at the vicious rubbish which has reached us. If you could give
Sir William a hint to be careful who he mixes with--above all to be
constant in his punctuality."

"Yes, I can tell him that."

"These men are so devilish clever at inventing the likely." There was a
look almost of pity in his dark and deferent gaze.

"We may not know then," she said, "this new rumour against Sir William

"I would not assoil your hearing with it," he said, in an indifferent
tone. "Don't think any more about it, madam. Only for a while it would
save us a world of trouble if he is careful to take his pleasure in your
direction." In the midst of music he bowed and went off, friendly,
smiling, if a little drawn and stern. Matilda, as she turned to look for
her next partner, drew a deep breath. Indeed, she could have cried out,
The strange man's rumours and warnings, the double-meanings she knew him
to employ, his kind actions, his excellent cleverness, his deferent,
polite, sharp eyes, his lawful activity, filled her with distrust. She
knew him for an alarmist; a man who, if with a sharp guard upon himself,
instinctively exaggerated While dismissing much that he said as a sort of
fussiness, her excitement for Sir William, facing unknowingly this man's
activity (this man's--was it jealousy or stern probity?) was feverishly

At that moment the great Mr. Montague, ambling by with his tremendous
coat-collars and high oldfashioned airs, bowed low to her, saying: "What
a fey night! Only we Derwenters would think of dragging out our ladies to
dance in a storm!"

There was a hoarse growl of thunder.

She bowed towards his dark, experienced, weighing eyes. "We women, sir,"
she said, "must think of it as part of the brave decorations."

"Flags and guns--good! good!" He laughed a quick, dry laugh. "The
convicts have it," he said, "that the devil has a fort of his own up on
Old Storm Hill. Listen! There they go! You'll see the smoke of 'em
hanging about his old head in tomorrow's sun." He laughed and nodded
himself away.

Immediately after the next dance, Shaxton called to Matilda
that Sir John was "exploring" for her. She at once walked more towards
the centre of the room that he might see her, her heart beating
painfully. He came towards her, his round, swarthy face rather strained
upon the short neck, but very dignified, with those splendid tragic eyes
which had seen men languish, and yet had drawn the weak body beneath them
from camps of the dead--came to her--she, Matilda Shaxton--and bent to
her that small limb of flesh and blood which was to stiffen against years
and acres of white sleet, and at last to hold fast among those howling
winds--a monument--for good.

The east wind was pulling and harshing at the awnings, the ship was
groaning at her ropes, and the thought came to her: "These wonderful

Up the room a rather severe and dignified set of notabilities were
preparing for a set of quadrilles. She recognised Mr. Montague, Captain
Crozier of the TERROR, the Colonial Surgeon, and Mr. Bichino. The fans of
several ladies fluttered upon her with some wonder, but whether at Sir
John's choice, or some visible sign of the excitement and anguish that
was in her heart, she cared little. Sir John called some jests at her in
the intervals of the music; but on whole he seemed distrait, with a
fierce eye upon his dignity.

As she danced, she learnt something of the little treacheries which
assail the great. A glance at Mr. Montague's pale face, strangely
attenuated; at his malignant smile; at his eye, which never touched Sir
John Franklin's; at his carefully pruned and deliberate dignity; above
all at his grim unreadiness, which infinitesimally kept the dance waiting
on him, reminded her of the rumours of political trouble, and (as had
been whispered by Mr. Montague himself) "of a local North-West Passage
still undiscovered by Sir John."

The rain stopped with the music, and Matilda, suddenly very pale, was led
by Sir John to a flagged-off enclosure about the wheel. There he took his
seat beside her upon a couch. Beside themselves, there were two old
ladies, with fine, remote faces, talking serenely in a corner. An
aide-de-camp came quietly to the door, looked in upon his chief in a
troubled manner, and as quietly departed.

Feverishly excited, and with only a short time in which to bring up her
plea, Matilda turned to Sir John and expressed for a second time her
regret at Lady Franklin's indisposition. She continued that she had hoped
to have spoken to Lady Franklin about a prisoner--a sort of relation of
her family--about whom the Hon. Miss Gairdener had written from England.
She had wished to ask her ladyship if she could help him a little. It was
a gentleman of good family who was likely to go under for want of a few
friends and a more congenial atmosphere. She and her husband had done
what they could, but some one in authority only could save him from his
sensitiveness to his position, by perhaps giving him some little literary
secretaryship or organising work. She took then the letter from the
breast of her gown and put it in the Governor's hands as he sat beside
her somewhat amazed.

"It is there, sir, the Hon. Miss Gairdener speaks of this gentleman," she
said, in a low violent voice, approaching tears.

Sir John took the letter and opened it. As he began to read it, he said:
"It is not easy to do anything for these men." Suddenly he let it dangle
from his fingers, and looked up and outward. "Do I not know that name?"
he said: "Heans? Pray wait a minute."

He seemed to recollect something and began slowly to fold up the letter.
His face seemed to have deepened in tragedy a shade.

Matilda must have seen this. Her head drooped a little. "We have known
Sir William Heans since his arrival here," she said, a faint trace too
desperately; "it has been dreadful to see the difficulties a man in his
position is faced with. Up to now he has bravely resisted temptation to
join the lower clubs--though he is entirely alone."

Beneath his formality, the Governor's dark face, under its auburn hair,
had taken a stunned look. He was very polite and spoke in a low voice. "I
don't know what to say, Mrs. Shaxton. This letter in my hand" (his voice
quavered) "is not the story I have heard."

The blood rushed to Matilda's face: "No," she said, "but that letter
shows how the prisoner was respected and loved in his own family. Miss
Gairdener asks our help for her nephew. I knew Miss Gairdener. She is a
dear old woman. She would not--she would not ask a favour----"

"For anyone unworthy of it?" said Sir John. He raised his hands in a
foreign sort of way. "Oh these old mothers, madam!"

Matilda was silent for a long while.

At length Sir John said kindly: "How old now is your experience of this
Sir William Heans?"

"He has been often to our house, Sir John Franklin," she answered, "being
engaged with my husband on some prison plans. And we have encouraged him
as much as we could to come to us. Lately the plans have been put aside
and engagements with the explorers have claimed a great deal of our time.
We have seen much less of Sir William Heans. Oh, I think it must
sometimes have seemed as if his only friends had forsaken him! And I fear
his loneliness has driven him to one of the halls where cards are played.
It seems such a little thing--if a man could be kept straight, and such a
terrible--terrible thing if he goes wrong--in this place."

Sir John nodded several times in a sort of tragic confirmation, but his
mind was not in it. He got up and took a quick, sedate walk past her: his
head bowed. As he came back he glanced up at the pretty, determined face
of his partner out of anxious eyes, and though the glance was still
veiled with politeness, seemed to see something that quieted them. He
re-seated himself, inclining towards her with plain kindness.

"A woman who has the courage to come to me," he said, "with a word for a
man of such a reputation shall have what aid my wife and I can give her.
As you must know, a prisoner not only needs courage, but indeed
immaculate behaviour, to even touch on the fringes of the proud little
society here. There is strong prejudice against the name. You have much
troubled me, Mrs. Shaxton, by this tremulous handwriting" (he gave her
back the letter), "and by the danger of this man. I promise you I will
see a Superintendent of Police, who is, I think, here this evening, and
if this Sir William Heans has done nothing worse than some preliminary
haunting of gambling rooms, some organising matter may be found for him."

He rose again, hesitated an instant, and passed over to the door of the
ballroom. Pausing there, he beckoned, and the young aide-de-camp
appeared. Him he dismissed with an order and returned. On the
quarter-deck, the band began suddenly blaring, and the two old ladies, as
if fascinated by the old summons, rose and tottered with smiles and
trembling yellow ringlets towards it.

"I have sent for the officer," said Sir John Franklin. "He will tell us
in two words all we want to know. Who are those two old angels, Mrs.

"It is old Mrs. Ordway, of Saltin Island, and Miss Meurice, sir," said
Matilda, who was near to weeping. "Thank you--thank you, sir, for doing
so much for our prisoner. But," she added, hastily, "if the
police-officer is Mr. Daunt, he knows Sir William Heans well and has
often met him at our house."

At that moment Daunt entered from the ballroom with the aide-de-camp, and
the Governor rose and went forward a little way to meet him. They were
out of earshot, but Matilda was reassured much by the quiet ease of
Daunt's face as he talked, and the look of helpful friendliness and
familiar acquaintance he several times threw towards her. They stood a
short time talking earnestly. Presently Sir John turned and came rather
heavily towards her. "It can be done--possibly, Mrs. Shaxton," he said.
"Mr. Daunt says he thinks the news of Sir William Heans is satisfactory,
and that he has as clean a bill of health as himself. I am glad of this."
(Yet he did not smile.) "Accept my compliments for a brave woman." He
offered her his arm, and she rose and took it. They passed Daunt as they
traversed the little enclosure, and he gave a brisk shadow of a smile and
a nice little bow. There was something so pleasant and unexacting in what
he surely had kept to himself, and how it had all been done, that a rush
of gratitude flooded Matilda's heart and she bowed to him affectionately.
She looked back as she passed into the ballroom and thought how thin and
pale he looked. Sir John Franklin said very little to her as he took her
along, erect and fine, beside the flags. His conversation had become
polite and brief. Once he said: "Mr. Daunt tells me he is your husband's
oldest friend here. According to Mr. Charles Lamb, the ladies are chary
of their husband's friends. Your happy circle seems an exception." She
laughed a little, wondering, yet thanking him once again. His
chieftain-like eyes seemed a little tired as he bade her a somewhat grave



The Captain's house was, perhaps, the highest on the left of the town. It
can be seen to-day, reared aloft on stone retaining walls, above the
golf-links; while the precipitous road leading up to it, now open to
gazers in the Reservoir Valley, was then hidden in wild scrub and trees.
Still well above the later born houses, the place lies secluded beneath
the impregnable woods of the hills, its walls starred with the crimson
blossoms of knotty old geraniums.

On an afternoon, not many days after the ball, a tall man in a pea-coat
and small, black, flat-crowned slouch, started to ascend the Pitt's Villa
Hill, stopping, however, before he reached the retaining wall across the
top. Here, in the shadow of the hanging woods, he gave up his climb, and
began to stride about among the logs and bushes by the wayside. He seemed
pale with the upward tramp from the town. His face was peaked, small,
doubting, and gaunt; and curious brown leather half-boots poked from the
broken straps of his black frieze trousers. He had a very small mouth
like a button, an immense sharp nose, and watery, uncertain eyes. His
movements were stiff--his air even stupid--and he looked about him, his
hat somewhat back upon his head, as if he had been born uncertain into
this world, and was still far from being confident of his foundation.
This dull and temporary air was not only a characteristic of his
countenance, but seemed to sit even in the hang of his still aspiring
neckwear. The man, after a little, wandered from the right to the left
hand of the road, and here stood with his foot on a recumbent tree,
looking dully down into the wood. He was there, singularly quiet, for a
matter of twenty minutes, when, a noise of galloping rising from behind
the trees, he immediately returned into the road and began to descend. He
again stopped, however, as Sir William Heans turned into the road on a
bay horse and galloped easily up the hill.

His somewhat fevered eyes were on the man from the first, and not till he
was close up under the wall did he rein in, trotting up with spurring

"Captain Stifft sir." he cried. "you will have to scuttle from here. The
police are awake to some faddle on the way. The good lady, above, wrote
yesterday. The fellow Daunt is testing the ground about me--poking into
my coming and going. Give me my news, sir. Get down by the wood and in by
the beach."

"Why," said the other, his dull eyes yellowing a little, "some
servant-woman up there must have turned on you!"

"One of the young women, you think--more possibly a mere nosing into my
business. Basset was at the Boundary and saw me as I came through. Some
of them want to take away this pass. They may take a gallop along here."

"Hang it, have you been dallying with some young woman, Sir William?"

"'Pon my word," said Heans; "it doesn't always require such strong
measures, does it! Come, Captain, I'll spare you two minutes!"

"Well, if they've got a vapour of evidence you've been meeting me," said
Stifft, dully, "they'll never take eyes off us. I'll take my hook through
the scrub. Mr. Daunt has never stood me since I dealt with Shelk. I don't
know how he found out. We landed him with the sealers on Kangaroo Island.
Daunt all but spoke to me."

Sir William began to shake his reins.

"Wait a minute," said Stifft. "I've got a piece of good news. Here, I
have a provisionary receipt for the EMERALD--yes" (he hastily held up a
paper to the rider), "that's all right now, if you've got the 400 pounds.
She's dirty and not much as to bottom planking, but she'll do the v'ige
with a red-leading and a bit of a scrape. She goes for the seal-skins
again. That's repeating my last venture with the JARGONELLE; but Dawson
and O'Neil made that reputable. It's a piece grim, my buying her myself."

Heans took the paper. His voice was high and his hand was trembling.

"And Dawson and O'Neil won't move?" he asked.

"No, they won't do it."

"What are they propping at?"

"They've been to look at her. They don't favour with the ship. But she's
well enough. She'll do Vansittart Island."

Sir William crushed the document into his waistcoat pocket. "My Heaven,
Stifft," groaned he, stretching out a lavender glove and touching the
other's shoulder, "so you've done it, have you! Why, it's too good to
believe!" (He drew away sharply, staring behind him.) "These great lanky
trees!" he said, "I can't believe I shall ever rid my eyes of them! How
shall I get those notes to you?" he finally asked. "Ought I to see you
after this?"

"No," said Stifft. "I can't come again. Better not risk it all." He
looked at Heans' face with a dazed, peculiar, shy look. "Would the
lady--Mrs. Shaxton--er--do something for us in that line? Look, sir, I'd
be at the turning into Davey Street on Tuesday after three, and she could
drop them out of the fly as she drove down."

Heans glared down the hill again with his hand on his croupe. He was
white in the face, but calmer.

"Would she do it?" hazarded Stifft, with that dull, peculiar stare.

"Yes, I am sure she would do it," said Heans.

"Well then, I'll wait under the oil-lamp at the corner. You can describe
my features," he explained, with a facile naivete, "and she'll hear me
call out 'Stifft'--so--as if I was sneezing. I needn't see you after that
for the four weeks. I'll tar her outside, get the red-lead in at once,
and pick the boy. When all's ready, I'll go to Fraser's and hang about.
Don't speak to me. I'll pass a message to you, somehow. Just give me a
nod like a respectable gentleman."

"Well, Captain," said Heans, "it will leave me--so to speak--cleaned out.
You must do with the 400 pounds, and I must give up my Burgundy. 'Pon my
soul, I'd sell my bed and take to 'pink champagne' for a chance of that
schooner!" He flushed slowly over the face and temples. "The good woman,"
he said. thinking possibly of his landlady, "she'll do that much!"

"Name of Quaid, isn't it, 25 ---- Street?" asked Stifft.

Sir William nodded, looking back and listening.

"Ah, faithful soul!" he sighed, settling his reins. "Thanks, Stifft. I'll
get away up--I'll get her--madam--to do that, and," he put his hand again
on the other's shoulder, gazing at him sternly, "help a poor devil out of

Stifft eyed him darkly, with his dazed, disappointed eye. "I don't know
whether to warn you for or against the blessed women," he cried, in a
sudden high panic. "In my knowledge, they've saved men, and they've
brought men to the roads, for a lark as I see it. Spitfire
beldams--beauteous, kindly natures--you can trust this one, ye can nurse
that one, ye can pray to the one yonder, ye can take and dub that one in
the rivulet and be in your rights. Yes, and this will go over to the
enemy of its father, while that'll sit with its mother's son all its
life. Oh, mercy upon us, I leave it to you gentlemen, Sir William
Heans--to your gentleman's honour and cunning, if that'll tell you!"

The man snatched his hand from Sir William's saddle, and with a cry of
warning, sprang away across the road, and down the embankment into the
broken logs and wattle of the lower wood. Sir William did not pause to
listen, but, to cover Stifft, slashed down his cane and shot his horse to
a gallop. In a few terrible jerks he was round in the shelter of the
retaining wall.

* * * * *

On this same Wednesday following the Sailors' Ball, Matilda had gone out
into the front to gather some white valerian for a child's burial, and
was tragically picking among the blowing bushes, when she heard the
distant thumping of a horse in the wood. In some alarm because of the
pace, she listened with the valerian in her hand, while it thundered
nearer, till--suddenly bellowing into a gallop below the garden--the
horseman appeared flashing up along the sea-wall towards the gate. This
was near the house-door, and some twenty yards to her right, and through
its slats could be seen the greygreen channel flecked with storm-waves.
Next instant the rider dismounted between sea and gate, and Sir William
Heans came in, with his face much flushed, hurrying behind him his
frightened horse. He swiftly latched the gate without looking about him.
He then urged his horse along the walk across the house front. The quiet
and trembling Matilda he did not see. Pausing beside a hitching-post in
some uncertainty, he eventually came to a decision, and continued along
the drive to the stables, through the high wooden gate of which he led
the animal. He was out again almost as soon as he had entered, but,
still blind to Mrs. Shaxton's tearful figure among the flowers, returned
at a swift pace to the front. In a few seconds the lowering maid opened
the door and let him in.

He had no sooner gone than Mrs. Shaxton ran to the stable gates, pushed
the great prison-bolt to, locked the staple and removed the key. Then,
still clinging to the flowers, she fluttered after Heans to the front,
where she was met by the servant-maid, who held aside the door.

Not five minutes afterwards, a fresh guest appeared behind the sea gate.
It was actually. Daunt of the foot police himself. He entered in a
leisurely way, though his brown cob glistened with sweat; and with a
glance of some intentness about the garden, took the animal to the
hitching-post.' Buckling it securely, he did not approach the door, but
strode on as if to stretch his legs, past the stable, the entrance to
which he stared at, but did not closely approach. The next instant, he
took a running leap at the gate, pulled himself up with splendid and
finished agility, and sprang over. A few minutes after, he appeared again
on the gate, wiping his hands with his handkerchief, and jumped into the
garden. Returning along the drive, he seemed hardly flustered by his
exertions, but his alert face was stern as death. The same maid--a large
brown woman with a sinewy step--let him in. She greeted him with a
little, hissing, serene smile--a sort of half-angry familiarity--as if
she half-expected he would ask her more than the whereabouts of Mrs.

* * * * *

Matilda came into the drawing-room with the valerian, and greeting Sir
William, told him of the child for whom she had been picking it. Sir
William touched the flowers in her hands with his lavender glove, and,
remembering death, was dumb. She looked up at him with her staring eyes.
Presently she went to a table, on which were some vases of cut green,
and a buckram shape in the form of an anchor. Here she sat down and
began to cut and plait the leaves. The man--hot and flushed--took a
chair, and watched her through his eyeglass.

"You're making new moorings for the little ship?" he said.

"Yes--that's for hope," said Matilda Shaxton.

The channel wind howled up and shook the windows.

"Ah, there's the wind!" said Sir William; "I'm sorry the little child's

"She was like my own," said Matilda, dropping her face a little nearer
the flowers. "She would come here in the morning, and I used to tell her
what I could of the world--and there--she's not to be troubled!"

"You too--not in love with life!" said Heans. "The dead child has missed
nothing--you think?"

"Missed!" said Matilda, reaching slowly among the green. "She might have
been beautiful for a little while; used it for good--she was a good
little girl--she might have married; yes; might have helped and aided by
her patience. Men's and women's patience--it's wonderful. Don't you
think" (suddenly staring at him) "it's wonderful!"

"Yes," said Sir William, dropping eyes and head floorward; "somehow the
grave shows us where we sit. There are only one or two things."

"We sit here in this room," she said, "a little way behind the child."

"Soon we're gone," agreed Sir William, looking hungrily at her lit hair.
"And the room's empty of us."

"Yes--all go," she said chokingly, breathlessly. "She's gone a little
sooner. But she knew affection and kindness. She'd seen the beauty of the
world. She'd enjoyed and--and helped. There wasn't much she'd missed. I
think, with her, love meant help."

"Help!" cried Heans. "But the child might have been loved for her

"Oh----" (looking away at the grey window), "she might have loved."

"She might have loved passionately," whispered Sir William Heans. "Would
not her silent chamber be the warmer for that?"

"But there's the wind goes by the window, sir," she said, wildly, "crying
'What were they all wearying for; what was it all about? They're gone
now--gone--gone, and at peace!'" Suddenly she was weeping as she looked

He had risen to his feet. "And here's the silent room," he said, in a
shaken whisper, "and yourself gone, and the flowers, and none to treasure
your beauty or your kindness----"

A sudden thumping of hoofs came up the passage and Sir William stiffened.
Pale Matilda seemed to hold her breath, and suddenly dragged her eyes
from the window, and rose. She stopped, however, as she was sidling past
him, shrinking away with a grave face. "I will leave the anchor," she
said, in a wraith of a voice, putting it upon the table, "and go from
here, Sir William Heans. You speak of my beauty, sir," (in a voice almost
baleful) "as if it were of value. I tell you it is the least part of me:
a poor, ephemeral summer's garment. Here stand I among my bones--Matilda
Shaxton. Am I not your friend? They will bury my bones, like those of the
little body here" (she pointed down at the wreath), "and I will still be

He turned and would have stayed her--he with his heated, pallid face,
shame, shrinking, recklessness of imminent danger, and all--but she had
slipped to the door with her dark dress and her fair head.

 Sir William went to the window, and putting his foot upon a chair, leant
upon his elbow looking out. There was a gleam of sun on the lashing
channel and the opposite hills. The trees heaved and the house sang. He
was there still--but little calmer--when the door opened and Daunt was
shown in by the woman: he dapper and smiling, she white-eyed, with
significant mouth-corners.

Daunt's eye dwelt for a second on the cut flowers, and flashed about at
Heans, who turned at that moment with a proud face, moved and pale.

"You here, Daunt?" he said, clearing his throat.

"Mrs. Shaxton has just gone away. There is to be a funeral."

"So the maid tells me," said Daunt, somewhat curtly, in spite of his
amiable expression. His eyes, as he spoke, passed curiously from Hean's
face to his coat, and from his coat to his trousers. "You rode?" he
asked. "I did not see your horse in the garden?"

"I put it in the stable out of the plaguey wind," said Heans, sitting
down and throwing his head up. "What a place it is for wind!"

Daunt also sat down upon a chair by the table.

"Has Mrs. Shaxton been long gone?" he asked, swiftly.

"Just gone," said Heans. "I must explain. Er--it was a little child--a
neighbour's child. Mrs. Shaxton is sad about it."

"Heavens! it must be little Emily Meurice!" said Daunt, with a dark
flush. His amiable manner suddenly left him, and he became sharp and
bitter. "You can tell me," he hissed, "If the Captain is about to-day?"

"I do not know, sir," said Heans, stiffening.

"What! You don't know!" (He gave his hearty little laugh.) "You haven't
quarrelled with him, come now! He'd have been in, if he was at home?"

"I don't think he would have much to gain, sir!" said Sir William,
forcing out a jerky laugh. "I tell you what it is" (with a glaring
hauteur, if still laughing), "you do talk damnable rubbish!"

Daunt darted a look at him, "Indeed--indeed!" said he, holding himself
calmly. "Indeed, who would quarrel with a man like that! An easy-going,
unsuspicious, joking, hospitable gentleman! Heans, you have my sympathy
about the neglected prison. I suppose, sir, you hang about here in hopes
of your colleague's return?"

"I hang about here!" said Heans. He dropped his glass, and swinging it,
said in a hoarse voice: "We must remember where we are!"

"Oh, very well--I merely understood you'd been about here all day. I
agree with you, it is a thankless task waiting upon these restless
fellows--these witty gentlemen so much in demand!" Daunt had his mouth in
his cupped hands, and he was speaking into them as one might into a

Sir William suddenly rose to his feet, saying, with a fierce reserve:
"Whom have I the honour to discuss with you? Is it our hostess, Captain
Shaxton, or myself--a prisoner at a disadvantage with you? This woman has
by her kindness--her companionship----"

"This woman!" slashed back the other, with an upward glance. "This is a
lady, sir--one whom I have known and revered dearly for these three
years--years of honourable friendship and close intercourse."

Each eyed the other in a fierce silence for a moment.

"Mrs. Shaxton has, I say," continued Heans, "made my life bearable

"Yes, and for comfort's sake, she may connect her name with

"What!" "I say, connect her name with yours--your name."

"My name? My----name!"

Sir William stood there daunted for a moment. Suddenly he burst out: "She
has made my life more tolerable, I say--a mode of existence, you appear
to think, needs the addition of your flippancy and approbation!"

"My flippancy, you singed butterfly!" (Daunt rose with eyes balefully
fixed.) "I put it to you, you'd find a flower to trifle with in the
Garden of Eden."

Sir William had been standing there, his hand in his velvet waistcoat,
and scorn on his pale face. A great relief suddenly overcharged this, and
possibly to hide a change he was aware of, he bowed his head with
elaborate courtesy, stepping backward. Daunt whipped a glance behind him.
Just inside the door, Mrs. Shaxton was standing, with her hand still on
the handle. Her long forehead-curls vibrated about a face of tense anger.
She pointed her hand at Sir William Heans.

"You are to blame, sir," she said, in a strained, broken voice, "for"
(and her voice suddenly broke altogether) "this behaviour in a house
where you know that there is mourning. Stand back, sir--and you, Mr.
Daunt, if Sir William Heans can so easily forget a friend's grief, you
need not have forgotten the many days of friendship this room has
seen--its record of goodwill which you have broken. Ah, Sir William
Heans, is this a gambling-house that you should dare to speak as you
choose in it? It is my home, to which I made you welcome. Mr. Daunt, you
are an old friend here----"

"Always your servant, madam," interrupted Daunt, with his frowning face
hung towards her.

"Give it to me, then, with less show of sternness."

"I serve you, madam, with such means as I am allowed; as an old friend I
serve you."

"A friend too eager--too eager--too bitter after fault, Mr. Daunt--too
ready to punish--too doubting----"

"To a lady so fine-hearted--to an old friend?"

"Have I a fine heart, Mr. Daunt? Thank you--thank you! It's a heart
helpful or hating, as its friends choose to make it. This has been a
terrible day! Emily dead--ah, threats and anger in the house whose blinds
are drawn for her! You had better go--my--my comforting friends--what
have you for a bitter woman?" She turned back through the door, her hand
still on the handle, yet again confronting them, as though she could not
let them go with such sour words. Daunt stood among the chairs between
her and Heans, and faced her with head slightly lowered, yet stern eyes
lifted, as if he would probe her soul. Heans, glass in hand, with a sort
of homage, yet with his pale, handsome face tense and unutterably
dignified in its withheld anger, seemed patiently to wait until he might
go. Yet the hand which held the eyeglass had dulled it, and the fingers
quivered over some regret.

"Go now, please, Mr. Daunt," whispered Matilda, "and please come back
again when you can, and we are happier, and help me to forget the anger
and dreadful words which have been spoken here." She held out her hand,
and he suddenly sprang forward and bent his head over it. He was going
out, and Sir William Heans would have passed her without a word, when she
touched him--speaking rather appealingly.

"Sir William Heans, here is the key of the yard gate." (Daunt did not
turn his head.) "We have locked your horse in. He is restive and the
latch is loose. We were frightened that he would break his bridle and get
into the garden."

He started, almost snatching the key. "Thank you, thank you," he said
gratingly. "I am sorry he has given you this trouble. The confounded
wind--it maddens him."

It must have suddenly flashed upon him why she had done it, and why she
had just been so hostile to him. Bending away, he gave a blind look into
her face, repeating, "Thank you." As Daunt passed down the four steps to
the lower hall, he looked up and saw the tears falling from the woman's
proud eyes as she stood against the door.



What a poor thing--this woman--at which the ages rail! Pray let us
fashion a better and more miraculous gift from God and the spirit; from
darkness, gloom, and dust! Empty the world of her airs, and her hair,
and her loving, ironic, slightly wearied eye! Take her away, with her
music, her wit, her strangeness, her frail body and her pain, her brave
little feet walking beside us. Give us--the road without her! What a
gimcrack companion for the grim road! Is it Galatea? Is it the draggled
figure of Patience, come down from her monument, and defending us with
arms meant for loving? Heavens! we scientists could fashion something
with a less unexpected voice! What is it? What is it, with its head
decked with gew-gaws, its dragging feet, its jewelled voice, its black
and silver pearls? Is it a statue from the Pyramids? Is it Peron's Oura
Oura from the Tasmanian forests? Take away her tragic face, grown thin
with love: what does she mean by this for us! Cross those little arms?
Away with the fair young head; it's been weeping! How strange! How
unfortunate! Heaven and earth, evolve us something different!

When Sir William rode up on Saturday to Pitt's Villa, he found a little
party at tea on the terrace. It was a close, breathless day. An unearthly
sun flamed in the garden and woods. But the channel and hills were

An old Mrs. Testwood; a minister, with a bitter mouth; and a young woman,
with long copper-coloured ringlets, addressed as Henrietta, were sitting
with Matilda before the windows. Sir William had fastened his horse at
the door, and was shown in by the dour maid, who contrived in the short
distance between front and drawing-room doors to convey a singular
impression of familiarity and faithlessness. Matilda Shaxton, who looked
exceedingly sad and pale, received him with a sort of gladness and took
him to a chair between her own and that of old Mrs. Testwood. The latter
only ceased her rapid, harmonious chatter when Matilda muttered Sir
William's name, when, bowing elaborately if languidly, she resumed it
without the faintest increase of emphasis. Old Craye, the clergyman, had
ducked out of the mist of talk with a sort of daunted gleam. While the
pretty girl with the copper-coloured ringlets pulled her shawl about her
with a shrivelling timidity, and did not bow at all.

"Now would Miss Lecale be of use to you?" Mrs. Testwood was asking of the
old clergyman. "She treads on everybody's toes, but, her tread being
unintentional, leaves no bad impression. She is one of the most uncourtly
ladies of my acquaintance, but for some reason the Hobarton world permits
her tongue a licence for which it would ostracize another's. She is brave
also. Nine years ago, when the Blacks were threatening the country
between Hobart and Launceston, she brought all the girls home from
school, at Ellenborough Hall, going herself in the fly-coach with the
cavalry. Henrietta"--turning with a rustle of fringed shawl to the young
woman--"you were one of the distressed Rebeccas!"

"Oh, indeed," said Henrietta, flushing, "I shall never forget the terror
of it. Some of the girls had pistols given them. She was just like a
man--so brave and collected. The men were very reassuring. The most
distressed of them were cracking jokes as they rode beside the

The whole party was for a moment lost in reverie.

"I have already seen Miss Bullinger Lecale," said the clergyman, in a
gentle, acid voice. "She has somewhat lost her faith in subscriptions and
indeed in the whole scheme. 'The poor wretched creatures,' she said, 'do
not want money or its equivalent. They are dying of home-sickness.' The
Bishop, she considers, should petition Government for their removal

"Bishop Nixon has been Fidus Achates to the natives," chattered on the
old woman, "but he is stricken down with marsh fever. He has been a
champion of Flinders Island. [Note 6. The place of exile of the Tasmanian
Blacks.] But since he has been ill, the Blacks have sunk from people's

"If he be disheartened, what faith may we place in any one man's care of
men?" said the clergyman. "Our health fails and our love sours for an
instant. In that instant the devil of sternness or indolence is put in
charge and some hideous wrong is done. Charity seems to demand machines
of health--not men."

"We are weak vessels," smiled the old woman, with her crinkled lavender
hands clasping her toy parasol. "Homer nods! Even that devoted 'Father
Clark' of Flinders tells me how, one day, when not quite himself, he lost
his temper with, and chastised, some women. Afterwards, he said, he went
along the shore, trying to forget their piteous appeals. 'They knew that
I loved them, ma'am,' he said."

Sir William had become somewhat haggard and pale, as he sat by Mrs.
Shaxton. He pushed his chair a little behind those of the two ladies.

Matilda's eager face was very small, and seemed almost lost in her hair.

"They--the natives," she said, leaning forward, her neck rather sadly
drooping, "have to rely on our mercy."

"God has put them in our hands," said Craye, "for some reason."

"How can we deal with home-sickness?" said the old woman.

"We--we could lighten it," said Matilda.

"Indeed--it might be lightened," echoed the rather hoarse voice of Sir
William Heans.

"Miss Lecale always said," the sharp old woman muttered on over all
obstructions, "that the 'wretches would die out of some gentle ailment,
just to aggravate us for calling them savages.' I'm sure, from what I
have seen, many of them are gentlefolk. I remember my mother reading to
me from the Post, fifty-four years ago, when I was a girl of seventeen,
how that they had won the hearts of D'Entrecasteaux and his
Reign-of-Terror Frenchmen, by holding aside the bushes for them as they
guided them into the Island. Was it not civil in them?"

(Sir William Heans had turned to Mrs. Shaxton, and was murmuring under
the talk: "Grief in your voice--as I can't forget it--might have kept me
away, madam. A grave reason has brought me up--or it seemed grave, before
I sat here with these happy people."

"Is there anything amiss?" asked Matilda, in a kind of crushed way.

"Amiss--oh no!" said Sir William, almost lightly. "Look--what a fantastic
sea--what a sad sea--what a grim sea! I have never seen it look so
strange. What would you do, Mrs. Shaxton, if you were situated as I am,
and some one came and told you you could get out?"

She seemed to touch the tea-cups blindly. But her face was turned away
from him. She seemed to ruminate, but he could not see what she did for
her ringlets.)

Sly little Henrietta was saying, she did not think it would do to be lost
among them, meaning the natives.

Mrs. Testwood answered, that she had been told by old Mrs. Mountgarret
herself, how she had strayed as a girl from the Camp, in 1804, and been
directed back from the forests by some natives. "It is these little
refinements," she continued "these humane doings, more than the terror of
their stand, which made us women weep in the streets, when Monpeleata and
the blacks of Frenchman's Cap walked in behind Mr. Robertson--eight
Januarys ago."

"Ah," nodded the old clergyman, who sat with his back to the sea, "who
will forget it, who saw it? I recollect some noble lines by 'Hobartia,'

They came like straggling leaves together blown,
The last memorial of the foliage past. . . ."

("Would you bravely do this?" Heans leant towards Matilda on his plaid
knees, and seemed to murmur, as if lost in his subject. "I cannot buy the
schooner--The EMERALD--Mrs. Shaxton. Captain Stifft must do it. My
skipper--Captain Stifft--has narrowly escaped prison for some affairs of
this kind, and, with heavy suspicion upon him--and these sharp fellows on
me--our chance lies in not meeting. For me to be seen again with him is
precarious. Fraser's Club, a mutual rendezvous, is full of convicts--many
of them constables; registered rooms are not for secret meetings. Should
he buy a ship, after he has again been seen with me--even if they do not
see the money pass between us--I may be watched too closely. I fear I
shall hardly trot my nag to Spring Bay."

"Am I to give it--to him?" breathed Matilda.

"Can you?"

"Here--at this house?"

"No--not here," said Heans, with a slight flush. "Some runner fellow may
follow him.")

They listened a moment to old Mr. Craye, who was reciting in a fine
indignant sing-song: "The wounded were brained; the infant cast into the
fire; the musket was driven into the quivering flesh; and the social
fire, around which the natives gathered to slumber, became, before
morning, their funeral pile----" But Miss Henrietta, who had espoused the
side of the Colonists with unexpected fire, returned upon him pluckily
with the tale of old Ibbens, who, having his wife and little children
killed in his absence from home, followed the Eastern tribe, creeping
upon them at dusk with his musket, till he had avenged their deaths.

("There is danger after Mr. Daunt's inquiries?" Matilda said, half

"Yes, with a fellow of poor Stifft's fame," nodded Sir William Heans. "We
met that day in the wood below your gate. We have been meeting there on
my pass. We heard the sound of Daunt's horse and ran for it. Stifft hid
in the wood. But for your letter, Daunt would have discovered the Captain
and me in conversation. I am not certain whither Daunt's motives may be
leading him. He may trace delay, but anything more, he does not!
Latterly, Stifft and myself have had no open communication. We have been
subtle as the grave. Yet--permit me--though a lady would not lightly be
suspected of dropping a purse from her carriage to help an absconder; if
a man like Captain Stifft came within touch of the house servants, there
might be some after-clap." He presently asked her if she would drop the
notes from her carriage.

"From my carriage?" with a slight look of straining. "Do I understand

"Yes, if you can and will. Time is limited. To be of any service it must
be on the afternoon of next Tuesday. I have taken the liberty of writing
down directions, and when and where Captain Stifft will wait."

"On Tuesday?"

"Yes--on Tuesday--after three o'clock."

"Someone, who saw him pick it up, might arrest him for stealing it."

"I have explained that. He will run after the carriage with it, if he is
seen. He will stand under an oil-lamp half-way up a lane ascending from
Macquarie Road. You will face him as you turn into Davey Street.")

"Ah, give them their due, ladies," said the indignant old man. "They were
treated shamefully. I was reading only yesterday in a back number of THE
ALMANAC: 'Let them have enough of red coats and bullet-fare. For every
man they murder, hunt them down and shoot ten of them. That is our
specific--try it.' . . ."

"Oh, but Mr. Craye," cried Henrietta; "the little babies they speared!
There was the child, brave Dolly Dalrymple, couldn't get through the door
into shelter, because of the spear----"

("Presently, if you will permit me, I will get up and go," muttered Sir
William Heans. "Where I pass through the drawing-room window, there is a
small box on a fringed table. It has a picture in coloured woods. Is it
not Tunbridge ware? I will put the money in that--if you will allow me?"

"Pray put it there," she answered, at the same time smiling a little
sadly at something Henrietta said. "I must think . . . I think I will
help you."

He too laughed; a kind of ironical laugh, for his face had grown pallid.

"How quietly, madam, you said those words!" he murmured. "When I'm a
dying man, it will be there."

"The danger--the danger!" she muttered. She had taken up her embroidery
again, but her head seemed to tremble as she bent over it.)

"It is a sad fact," said the inexorable Mr. Craye, "that the Blacks
killed many of their own little children, during the war, that they might
march the quicker."

"Ah, Mr. Craye, there was pain on both sides!" said Matilda, possibly
with an eye to Henrietta's heightened colour.

"I have always heard," said old Mrs. Testwood, flowing in on the ebb,
"that one of the causes of the estrangement was an incident which
happened in the Government Paddock, where many tribes of Blacks, invited
in by Governor Sorrell, were manoeuvring before the whites. It seems a
young native beauty, who had been much petted, suddenly threw a spear at
Captain Hamilton--the aide-decamp and a man of great dignity--narrowly
missing him. When he complained to the Governor, for he was very angry,
his Honour--as he was then, you know--sent the whole of the natives away.
They retired, brandishing their weapons, furious at the discourtesy which
they considered had been done them. . . . The native tribes never again
accepted an invitation from Government, until, eighteen years after, Mr.
Robinson brought in the dreaded enemy. . ."

("How the voice haunts," said Sir William Heans quietly.

"Didn't you know it, sir?" said the bowed woman, sadly.

"No, I did not know it," he said.

"Whither are you going, Sir William Heans?"

"Oh, we are going--how shall I tell it! Should the schooner be
sound--some high-toned Chilian port, Santiago, Valparaiso! If she's
leaky, as we fear, Gun-carriage Island, or the Babel Isles in the
Sealer's Group, there to catch a seal-ship!"

"Did you know someone had spoken to Sir John Franklin about you----?"

"No, I did not. 'Pon my honour, I'm most thankful to them!"

"Stay--you had best consider of it--the life--here--before taking so
terrible a risk. It is likely that her Ladyship or Miss Crackcroft will
be requiring your services--in the Aborigines Society--or the new
Circulating Library. Indeed, your surroundings would be happier----"

"No--no! I'm too old--too old. I'm grown--forgive me--beaten and
close. . . . If Heaven will not let me choose--then nothing!"

"Ah--but what shall we do . . . if they----!"

"Don't say it"--looking downward with a harsh flush. "Say, 'Friend, go in

"Then--then," she whispered, seeking the table with her fingers, "my hand
must help you--Oh, God, pray Heaven, 'in peace'!")

The young lady with the brown ringlets, named Henrietta, warmly shifting
her Indian shawl, was saying that when she was at school at Ellenthorpe
Hall, a circular reached Mr. and Mrs. Clark recommending all owners of
dwelling-houses to create trap-doors in the ceiling, by which the women
might escape to the roof.

Sir William had risen, regretting with a somewhat drawn gallantry, and in
a voice a little too excited, that he must interrupt so alarming a
reminiscence. "Might he be permitted," he said, "to give his casting vote
to that young lady," indicating Henrietta. He was certain that his friend
in holy-orders stood in a false position--on the trap-door. There was a
little reluctant clatter of laughter, and old Mrs. Testwood turned and
looked at him out of her feathered poke, her glance strained and fetched
from far, but intent, voluminous, and on the whole charitable. The
Reverend Mr. Craye, rising ceremoniously, eyed him with a bitter little
gleam; while the girl known as Henrietta blushed a little and smiled, but
did not look towards him.

Matilda did not move from her place, but, when she had risen, and he had
kisssed her hand, she said, quietly and gravely, "Am I to tell my husband
the drawing is finished?"

Heans paused an instant, looking down over the terrace and sea as if he
would reassure himself. "Pray tell Captain Shaxton," he smiled, "that my
drawing is concluded, even to his motto over the main door."

The blue of mountain and sea had darkened, and the sun shone in patches
on the descending landscape of the nearer slope like a light at night.
Heans left Matilda, straining after him, dark-faced, if standing a little
bowed, with her hands clasped upon her heart.

Striding towards the windows of the drawing-room, he stumbled upon the
flag-stones, dropping his grey hat as he regained his balance. From
within the glass, as he stooped, came subdued male voices. A step nearer
and there was the red of a uniform, and Hyde-Saxton's broad, round face.
His companion was Garion, of the mounted police.

Shaxton's mouth had a little melancholy drag at one corner, unusual to
it, but he began laughing as Heans entered. "Ho-ho!" he said, "it's you,
Heans! Here, Garion--Sir William Heans. Where's the drawing? Have you
finished the drawing, Sir William?"

"Finished it! Yes, I've finished it," said Heans, a little angrily. He
had acknowledged the Lieutenant's somewhat steely obeisance. "When will
you see it?"

"Oh, come, you're losing patience with me! You're giving me pepper! Has
Matilda got tea there? Yes--I'll come into the office some day next week.
Mark that. You must be sick of me. It really is highly civil of you. I'm
nothing but a consummate puppy when I get going with those hero fellows.
Now--you're a perfect pattern, Heans--aren't you--got all the possible
virtues! I suppose you call it frittering away my time! Oh, now--you must
have patience--like the woman in the tale--ho-ho!--who asked her husband
what she ought to do when the men flattered her: 'Give them time, my
dear,' he said; 'it's only a freak of the moment!'"

He laughed, but there was something weak-winged in his bubbling
merriment. His chuckle never entirely exorcised the hovering droop. He
joked, but half-crossly, and in a subdued way, not quite like himself.
There was a tinge of the puzzled pettish in it.

Matilda was heard calling from the terrace, "Wouldn't they join them at
some tea?" Sir William, at that instant, said he must go, and bowing
ceremoniously to both gentlemen, made through the chairs towards the
door. Captain Shaxton, loudly laughing, ushered his friend through the
French-window on to the terrace.

Sir William turned near the door, and crept back, yellow as death, to the
red table. He fumbled some papers into the hand that held his hat, and as
he drew back the lid of the pretty box and thrust in the papers, he
glanced up. The terrace was gleaming with a wild light, and Matilda was
receiving the two men with her sad face lit.



When Heans reached his attic that night, he found Mrs. Quaid waiting,
wild and tragical, among the classic furniture. She handed him a letter
which she said had been left two hours previous by what she described as
"a garringson gentleman in a cloak." "Bad news or good," she said, "I
would not let him past the door, especially as he seemed undecided in his
purposes. He spoke amiable however. Presently he asked if he might sit a
bit 'in Sir William's room,' and I showed him into Mr. Boxley's
sittingroom, where I left him staring at the ancient ALMANACS. At last he
summoned me and said he was afraid he could not wait, but left a message
that he would be in the Private Secketry's Office at Government House on
Monday morning, if Sir William Heans would be pleased to call."

Heans approached the hooded windows with the letter. Mrs. Quaid removed
her doubting old face through the doorway. The gusts were huddling past
the dormers, and an old prisoner in grey hobbled across the street below,
with his head bowed to meet them. A dull evening was closing in. There
was a remote noise of hoofs, and a stout man in a caped overcoat, with a
singularly rough, sly face and a small chimney-pot on his head, rode down
the street, slopping forward in his saddle, and staring about him at the
houses with wide, short-sighted eyes. Sir William, as he opened the
letter in his hand, saw this fellow twitch his heavy horse about and come
slowly back up the street.

The letter was headed Government House, May 4th, 1840. It said kindly
that "Lady Franklin, hearing from Mrs. Hyde-Shaxton that he was a
relation of old Miss Gairdener, whom she knew for a famous old blue,
wished to know whether Sir William Heans were interested sufficiently in
poetry and literature to aid them in the noble task of forming a
Circulating Library for the industrial classes. Our humble friends," she
went on, "have so little chance of reading the nobler forms of
literature, and so few suitable places in which to gratify the pastime,
that several gentlemen and ladies have banded together to erect a reading
room, and have already prevailed on mutual friends in the Old Country to
provide suitable volumes. Half the funds for the building and sixty books
are already at our disposal. Lady  Franklin would be glad to know whether
Sir William Heans, if proposed and elected, would accept the position of
Secretary to the project and Treasurer of the funds. She wishes to be
informed at an early date."

A somewhat satirical look passed over Heans' pale face, and, as he stood
by the attic window, he let the letter flutter from his hand to the
floor. He saw the rough fellow stop in the drab street beneath him and
dismount, with his capes flapping about his head. Heans snatched away his
eyes. Far down through a vista of roofs the grey water slopped about a
black pier.

He dropped an eyeglass from a pallid eye.

Then lifting the pale blue letter, with its lavender writing, from the
boards, with his first and middle finger, he seated himself at the chest
of drawers which did him for an escritoire, and 'nibbing' a quill, began
to flourish off an epistle with the graceful elaboration of the beautiful
hand of the day.

"Sir William Heans with his duty to Lady Franklin, and begs to reply that
he will be pleased to offer his services for the position of Secretary if
Her Excellency wishes it and those interested elect him. He thanks Lady
Franklin for her kindness, and is prepared to further the project with
such address and energy as he possesses." (Gently swinging his eyeglass
by its gold chain, Sir William looked away. His fire ducked under a gust
and puffed smoke into the room. The fastenings of the blistered windows
smacked taut and held. The rafters rattled above his head. His face
slowly fell to a deep despair.) "Sir William Heans," he suddenly
flourished on, "will be very pleased to wait upon the Society."

Again he stopped, and slowly erased a sentence. He rose, and there was a
look in his white, tired eyes almost of panic. His fine face seemed to
have crumbled. He drew a deep breath and put his eyeglass carefully back
in his eye. Perhaps he thought he was growing too servile under the
Hobarton weather--too eager in his attic--too hopeless in his great hope.
Or was he possibly lying too well for his erection of a gentleman----?

Hurrying steps creaked on the stairs outside his door, and Mrs. Quaid
knocked and put her head in. Her eyes were grim and dark. "A bearded
gentleman," she said, "is asking for you, sir. I can't make him out. He
says he can offer Sir William Heans a service, if he will see him. But
there's something about his face, sir, that I remember seeing. Do you
know, sir, I don't think he's----"

"What is this?" said Sir William, with his face but half turned to the

"Why, sir, I've seen the man in uglier clothes than black--I'm certain
about that."

"Is this--tut--tut--is the man a prison-incorrigible?"

"No, sir. But the airs of the person. He's dressed up like a long-coater,
but gives himself too many airs."

"Is it one of the policemen----?"

"No, sir, I've seen him once in a prison uniform."

"You've seen him in the prison uniform! Aren't you mistaken?"

"No, sir. It's his short-sight I go by and his legs: a dangerous sort of

"That would be some time back?"

"Fifteen years--perhaps. He must have made money. Oho dear!"

"He doesn't know you?"

"No," she said, and cracked out wanly: "he doesn't know me no longer!"

"You had better show him up," said Sir William. "Say 'Sir William Heans
will see you.'" (He returned and took his seat with a certain ceremonious
abstraction at the chest of drawers, lifting and reperusing the letter of
debate.) "This is highly extraordinary," he muttered.

Mrs. Quaid disappeared, and presently there was a sound of heavy
breathing on the stairs. A small, stout man in oiled jack-boots and
Benjamin overcoat, with a thin growth of black-brown beard about a broad
chin, hobbled into the room, his legs bowed as with too much riding. He
held a whip and a small chimneypot before him on his stomach (it was a
large, ornate whip, covered with much silver), and looked about with sly,
blindish eyes. Detecting Sir William near the escritoire, he stopped, and
said in a shrill voice, "I've found you, have I? S'cat, what a world!
Aha" (looking about him as he shook his coat from his arm)--"so this is
where Sir William Heans--lives."

"Thank you," said Heans, looking up rather testily, "it is. I did not
catch the name."

"Oughtryn--Charles Oughtryn--d--n it, honour, can't I put my hat down?"
He went searching about for a chair. He seemed half blind.

Heans came forward, took the curious article, and deposited it with
ceremony upon the escritoire. The other unbuttoned his cloak, disclosing
a fine, over-long frock-coat, many-buttoned and tight-sleeved. He sat
down slowly and somewhat carefully on a dilapidated sofa.

"Gentlefolk--gentlefolk! in such conditions!" he shrilled. "Well--well! I
remember when I would have thought this a penny heaven. But see what
uprightness has brought me to. I can sneer at you, Sir William Heans."

"Can you?" said Heans, nodding at his letter. "Well?"

"Well, honour--I know all about you--but you don't know about me. I say
that with all the satisfaction of the vengeful devil I am. Ha, what a
mess your blood has brought you to--I suppose you say it's your blood!"

Sir William stared at him for a while. "By Heaven," he said, laughing a
little, "you are a rude creature! Have you brought me some better news
from the--Penitentiary?"

"Uh, the old scold told you that! A vulgar passionate person--I remember
her in mutch and duffle. I see through her. I've a daughter now--but no
wife. Look, honour" (with a shrill heave), "I've seen you at Fraser's,
and on your pleasure-horse. I know all about you. You're ginned. You
haven't got a chance. I've been waiting till you reached low enough for
me to offer you a service."

Sir William grunted just audibly. He was rather white and frowned a

"A singularly modest nature!" he said. "You're quite certain that it
is--the moment?"

"If any one wants, he'd better move soon."

"Even--the man known as Charles Oughtryn--you put it that way?"

"Yes--I want a gentleman for my business."

"Devil take you, fellow!" burst out the other, breathlessly. "Get up!
Take your gross figure from this room."

The man rose from the box with a shrill cry.

"No, wait a moment," he cried, stretching out a blind hand, "I'm before
my time, perhaps. If you listen to me I'll be respectful. I have a farm
at Bagdad, and a fine stone house in Macquarie Street. Money and sneers!
I'm here about this child. She's a thin, young child, plain to look at,
and it's my whim to see her brought up to ride and that in the company of
a gentleman. She won't look at a horse yet, and is clumsy and blind. I
want her made to take an interest. Now, need I explain to you, honour,
any more what I came here to--to--offer you?"

There was a tense silence for a few moments while Sir William raised his
despatch before him and continued to stare upon it. Presently he said
with calmness, "No, you need not explain. I do not wish to hear anything
further about you or your daughter."

"Trust you!" said the man. "I know you gentlemen. You must have your
feelings touched--the girl's as unpleasing as I am; it's no favour I'm
asking. It's a sacrifice, dammee! Fancy a man asking that for his young

Heans' face had softened a little. Before him was the letter to the
Governor's lady, and he had taken up his pen and dipped it carefully in
the ink, as if about to continue it. Indeed, his eye was half-consciously
re-reading as the man spoke: "Sir William Heans with his duty to Lady

"They used to call me 'Belial,'" said the convict, "so I call her

Heans began a kind of polite laughing.

"You make me very curious, Mr. Oughtryn," with a sort of merciful irony,
"as to the arrangements you may have formed for the acquiring of a luxury
like myself. Forgive me for laughing." (He suddenly bowed his head.) "I
have so few jokes. I am at present in great demand. It is rather
overwhelming. Let me initiate you into this letter on my desk here. I am
asked by a lady, the wife of a high official, to become the organiser of
a society charity. I am just now accepting this responsibility. This was
gained for me by the efforts of an angelic soul, Mr. Oughtryn, a lady of
great beauty and goodness. Had this not been done--and but for a private
matter--I am not certain but that I would have accepted the care and
instruction of your daughter."

The man's beard trembled and he put up his hand and pulled at the yellow
handkerchief which did duty for a neck-cloth. His eyes glared into Heans'

"Ah," he cried, with an oath, "it's hopeless, is it? The child must go
begging for her gentleman! I'll never get such another chance; you're
ginned, for all your great ladies; and she--poor ignorant person--she'll
remain the shrinkable chit she is." He rose, and waddling forward to the
escritoire, took the hat Sir William held towards him. The former rose
kindly from his chair, with his quill in his fingers. The other turned
and walked towards the door without saying anything. At the door he
turned and looked back. "When the notables has done with you," he said,
in a small bitter voice, "and you go back to Fraser's, Charles Oughtryn
will keep his sneering eyes to himself."

The door banged upon him as if it would thrust him out, and his tread
went heavily down. Again the sea-gusts huddled against the dormers. Sir
William, with a somewhat ironical smile, returned to his escritoire. Even
while the man was yet upon the stairs, he took up his letter of reply and
slowly tore it into small pieces. He then began an answer in the
negative. Presently Mrs. Quaid appeared, her anxious face lit by the soft
beams of two home-made candles.



One morning some weeks on, Heans was waked by a loud rapping upon his
door. He was instantly conscious of Mrs. Quaid's voice telling him from
the stair that the constables had just called and informed her that 2749
(the exalted number of her listener) was to report himself at the
guard-room at the jetty-head at ten o'clock. Heans had no word yet of
the EMERALD or his money. He had drunk rather heavily of some cheap wine
before retiring (for economical reasons he had resigned his Burgundy),
and as he rose and called tragically for his breakfast, his brain surged
with fears for Stifft and a wrecking of his hopes. Habit, rather than
will, dressed him with leisurely detail. When he had fitted his breeches
over his devotedly varnished boots, "mounted" his satin stock, assumed
his black-velvet waistcoat, his chains, seals, and wonderful spotless
clawhammer; combed his French moustaches, arranged with exquisite
neatness his slightly-curled grey hair, he came less shakily up the few
steps into his sitting-room. A wan sunlight was on the windows, and his
egg, toast, and favourite jelly lay on the precarious table by the
chimney. He was about to breakfast, all standing, when Mrs. Quaid
appeared with the grey earthenware coffee-pot. Instantly he grew his
ceremonious self, and she, from a somewhat agonised entry, stiffened to
a grumbling defence.

"The police have gone?" he asked, settling himself in his chair and
opening a handkerchief over his trousers.

"Oho yes, they're gone," she sighed out. (She had a trembling stealth
about her.) "What have you been doing, fetching the constables to my poor
house, Sir William 'Eans?"

"You're certain they have gone?" he said, as he carefully cut his egg.

"There's not a soul in the lane--that I know," she informed him, placing
the coffee before the fire and moving covertly here and there. "That's
why your egg's hard. Young Bertram's gone up the street. When he comes
back he's to whistle--hark, sir!" She put up her trembling hand.

"Whistle if the road's clear?"

"Yes, sir." (She had gone back to the door, and was listening.) "I can't
bear them constables coming here, sir. I must speak plain. Oho dear! I
hope there's nothing wrong. No lodgers 'll stop where there's police.
I'll lose all my figure--I will. They know where I've been." (She was
listening as hardly knowing what she said.) "Mr. Boxley 'ardly sees you,
sir, without threatening me under the table-cloth to Mrs. Boxley, though
he do copy your honour's cravats and--hark, sir!--waistcoats. There's
whistling now, sir. That's my boy Bertram. There's no one about." Her
seared old face, as she looked into the room, and her numb lifted hand
were grim with gratitude.

Inwardly Sir William was easier. He rearranged his handkerchief upon his
knees and began to approach his egg. Possibly he had witnessed the arrest
of an absconder. The stubborn inexorability of that operation in no sense
resembled this mere visitation--this tainting touch and light
evanishment. He was also familiar with the bottomless strategy of the
police--their preference for arrest in the open, and pains to accomplish
it--yet was calmed by the conviction that neither his own nor his
landlady's defences (nor even consideration for the eclectic cravats of
Mr. Boxley) invited to any such refinement of method. The face of his
prisoner-landlady would alone have confirmed him that he--the plotter
Heans--was safe yet with such vague usage.

Mrs. Quaid waited a moment on the second stair, the door at her shoulder.

"Mr. Daunt 'as a room at the jetty," she stated. "He's severe on some of

"At the jetty--yes--yes--so he has. He's severe, is he?"

"Oho, dear, a fair gentleman, but severe on some. I hope he'll get no
down on my house! He's quick to detect good--and kind to improvement,
I'll say that. He's been very kind to me. (Yes, Bertram, we 'eard you.)
'You're past the Rubicon, Mrs. Quaid,' he says; 'keep this up, and you've
nothing to fear from me.' Oho, dear, it was a great day for me when I saw
Mr. Boxley walk out of my door with his high collars. If you could
consider Mr. Boxley a bit, sir, and give him a bow now and then? It's not
only my respectability I'm serving."

"We will put it down to your conscience, dear Mrs. Quaid."

"Well, sir, I get into such a fright. It's anxiety! If gentlemen come
here and make mistakes I can't be blamed----You're looking pale this
morning, sir." This was said with a trace of sympathy.

"In mourning for my Burgundy, madam. I'm better already for your
enchanting Mocha."

She stared steadily, yet not quite at him, her ringlets dangling about
her scarred ember of a face.

"I'd ha' given up my horse, Sir William, I would," she said, "sooner than
take in that stuff of Braxley's."

"Come, Mrs. Quaid, what is your quarrel with old Suffolk? I can't give
him up?" (He seemed moved.)

"Wait--I shall want him this morning. Pray, tell Master Bertram to fetch

"What time, sir?"

"About ten."

"They said ten."

"Did they indeed . . . well--well, you will give him my order. I will
ride from here at ten."

"Ah, them constables . . . I've no right to speak with a gentleman of
experience! They never moves, Sir William, I'll warn you, never without

"Why, Mrs. Quaid, I have been fretted abominably by these fellows: pulled
up for nothing here, reported for less there. I am acquainted with Mr.
Daunt--I know their arrogant, abusive methods. This is my 'circulating
library' affair, in which more than likely Mr. Daunt has thrust his
altruistic oar. Ha--ha!" (he began to walk rather wickedly)--"our careful
Mr. Daunt! Quick to detect anything and kind to improvement--well--well!
It would never do, dear Mrs. Quaid, if I improved myself quite out of
touch with these constables--now would it?"

"I get in a fright when I think of you, sir," she cried, "so
innocent-like among these men." (For the instant her face looked among
its ringlets as full of memories as that of an old galley-witch.) "That's
Mr. Boxley calling for his shaving-dish! Coming, to your honour's
pleasure--coming! Oh, for the love of Heaven, sir, be obedient! That's an
officer who's an influential man, sir! I'll never listen to a word
against Daunt in this house. I've lived in Hobarton too long not to know
my rock and defence, and the good advice and remembering I've 'ad from
him. There--that's what he's done for a prison-woman! I'd swear to that
gentleman's conscience afore a court of law!"

Sir William rose and irritably shook his kerchief napkin into the fire.
He then carefully dusted his shepherd's-plaid legs with it. His face was
somewhat sad and angry. "You will not, Mrs. Quaid," he said, "forget
about my horse?"

She had pushed the door before her till the little stair was disclosed,
and, five steps down, Sir William's bedroom, and the dark tea scented
mouth of the well.

"Your honour, Mr. Boxley's pleasure, sir," she shrilled; then threw her
ringlets up with a glare of anger. "Ah, I'll order your horse," she said,
in a trembling voice, "and you'll ride down the town with it. I wish you
a brave journey--a brave journey--and may God keep the crumbs off your
honour's fine pantaloons!"

The door banged behind her, and Sir William, flashing round, put a hand
tremblingly towards the logs. Suddenly he swung back to his "escritoire"
and seizing a sheet, began a letter with the words, "My dear Stifft,"
only to pause with a wide eye, and presently pitch it carefully on the
fire. With his eyeglass in, he now took his seat again, and ceremoniously
opened his PLUTARCH. He began reading at the eighth page of the life of
Cato the Censor. "This contrast was found, not only in his manners, but
in his style, which was eloquent, facetious, and familiar, and at the
same time grave, nervous, and sententious. Thus Plato tells us, 'The
outside of Socrates was that of a satyr and buffoon, but his soul was all
virtue; and from within him came such divine and pathetic things as
pierced the heart and drew tears from his hearers.'" (Here Sir William
heard a slow foot mounting his stairs, looked up, paled, stilled his
shaking hands, and read sternly on.) "One day, when the Romans clamoured
violently and unreasonably for a distribution of corn, to dissuade them
from it, he thus began his address: 'It is a difficult task, my
fellow-citizens, to speak to the belly, because it has no ears----'"

There was a summons upon the door, and it was drawn back. A shabby man,
with a handsome dieaway air, stood in the gloom of the stair. He had
little dyed whiskers and a seared top-hat worn awry. Successful--in
better heart and better dress--he might have been a sardonic young
doctor; now, black clawhammer, strained breeches, boots, and even his
harrassed, tragic, petulant, unshaven face, seemed one and all
infinitesimally in decay.

He stood in the dark, smiling and swinging his cane, until Sir William,
breaking off his reading, gave him a glassy if ceremonious stare.

"Well?" called Heans, in a faint, sharp tone.

"Carnt," said the visitor, with a sort of sharp laugh. "Can I see you?"
He was staring in openly and darkly.

"Heavens, come in, Carnt!" said Sir William, struggling slowly up. "How
is your Piccadilly influenza?"

"Catching--plaguey catching," said Carnt. (He came up; threw his hat and
cane upon a battered ottoman which was producing some promising iron-grey
beards, and with his hands on his high hips, stood gazing at Heans.)
"Cornered by Mrs. Quaid in the passage," he continued, "who seemed afraid
of me--a grim sensation. She is in my catalogue as the angelically rudest
woman I beard."

"And you with your lively ladies," said Heans (for Carnt was then clerk
to the women's prison at the Cascades), "should have experience. I
suppose, sir, you get soured?"

"I do," said Carnt. "Yet the lowest of them flaunts one high moment in
her face if you could but tap it."

"Why, Jarvis," cried Heans, with a light laugh, "still digging after
marsh-lights in that miasma!"

"Jack-o'-lanterns!" laughed Mr. Carnt.

"Light-o'-loves," laughed Sir William Heans, and then turned deadly pale.

Carnt was silent, swinging a little.

"Bromley was at the prison last night," he began, "togged up for some
state dinner. I was hauled out of the office into the gateway, and
questioned as to my goings to and fro. I was asked when I had last seen
S----, then Henry Six, then Weighton, Starkey, Dalgleish, and you." (He
stared for a moment rather sheepishly at the other.) "They wanted to know
whom you played with, and whether I was one. I said I had seen you
playing with Six and, I thought, Starkey, but not with Weighton or
Captain Stifft. I told them you were rather a duffer at cards, but were
very careful whom you played with after I pinked Rudstone. I said,
moreover, that I seldom played with you because your play bored me----"

"Rather untruthful of you," said Sir William, greyly testy, "seeing that
I beat you against the cards three consecutive nights in Six's shop."

"Pooh--pooh--'a game of chance in the nursery,' as old Rudstone says when
they catch him cheating. Moreover--d--n it!--you had all the aces! They
know me better than you do. I think I was believed, a peculiar sensation
from Bromley. Careful as he was to hide it, I gathered Daunt has a secret
contempt for you--a golden asset I did not corrode with heroics; though
not clever, that man has a sort of feminine intuition. How have you
deceived him?"

"Heavens, the feminine intuition is not always right!" said Sir William,
rising and dropping out his glass with a puff of relief. "The fellow is a
hazing booby. I am, believe me, favoured with a visit from constables
this morning. My presence is required at the quay office at ten o'clock.
(Oh, don't be alarmed--yes, they're gone, sir!) Through Shaxton, and his
generous lady, I am offered a secretaryship among the literary people
which I have refused. I am--hang it!--possibly to be inquired into for

"Singular!" said Carnt. (His thin lips were twisted in his high-coloured
face, and he seemed inclined to shadow some sardonic morality at the
other through a startled look.) "Deuced singular! But stoopid--heavenly
stoopid! Heave the anchor! All hands to the sails! Ah--and all your
friends--and the lady, Mrs. Shaxton--with what a romantic interest you
will remember the old prison station, Heans!"

Sir William Heans grew haggard as he stood eyeing the speaker. Carnt
slowly dropped his eyes, and began to draw from the tight sleeve of his
coat a small uneven packet, which he handed to Heans with a somewhat sour
irony. Sir William took the enclosure in a short wild way, with a face
half ecstatic, half touched with amazement and confusion. Perhaps the
smell of tar upon it had reached his nostrils with a hint of open sea.

Carnt turned away to the window, swinging with wide eyes and hands on
hips. "There was another row," said he, "last night at Fraser's. Silk and
Goddesden fought like cats over a story about Silk's murder case. Stifft
moved up while the row was on, and passed this into my hand with the debt
of a quid owing. He said, 'Pass that in to Sir William. He'll give you
five pounds for that.' Singular way he talks. We then had some words
about the woman dropping the money from her fly----"

"Did he--was he so little of a gentleman----?"

"As to mention names--yes, he was! Stifft is too talkative. I think
you're a fool to trust a man with such a little mouth."

"Faithful," mumbled Sir William, terribly moved.

Carnt, in his light way, swore before G--d he was lucky.

They were silent for a while. Carnt seemed to grow harassed and tragic as
he looked through the little windows over the brick walls and black
shingle roofs to the dipping green waves, on which a tarred skiff with a
long stack and great paddles was heaving her way slowly across from the
Point. Her whistle went dimly. There was a far-off noise as of heavy logs
falling on iron: an organ note. He went to the window and put his hand
upon it. Presently he spoke from there. "Pray give me my money and let me
be off," said he.

"Certainly," said Sir William, "I have it here--I would it were fifty.
One moment--don't go yet--let us see what he says."

He reached for the comb in the PLUTARCH, and slit the package. Unfolding
this with a slight increase of colour, he eyed the few words: "Money to
hand. Secured boys. EMERALD near dry. Launch next Saturday. Sail on
Wednesday morning, August 22nd. Hang off Spring Bay on Thursday, where
boat will wait near mouth of creek after dusk."

"Listen, Carnt----" he began hoarsely.

Carnt flashed round, "Stop," he said. "D--n you, I mustn't hear it! I
can't listen to you!"

The other looked at him with a flash of grey amazement in his face.

"I am still a prisoner here," said Carnt, with maddened dignity. "You
knew I was dangerous."

"And a d--n fine fellow, Carnt," Heans said gravely; "ah, I'm grateful to
you, sir; this is for my friends to hear!" But he dropped his head, for
he remembered once having seen this sentimental, worldly brother under
the transformation of wine, eloquent, convincing--an accomplished
cheat--giving away a friend's soul-secrets in a malignant rattle of

"The poison of asps was under the lips" of poor Carnt when he had been

He moved slowly round, and pulling open his writing drawer, took from a
pigeon-hole a green netted purse, in which were some fifteen sovereigns.
From this, screening the action with his person, he worked out ten coins
upon the desk lid. Then sweeping them into the drawer, he rose and
advanced towards Carnt.

"Accept this purse," he said, "it is valueless, but done with devoted

Carnt held it up, dangling it cynically in the window light.

"Feminine, I suppose!" said he.

"You refer to the women with some bitterness, Mr. Carnt!"

"Oh, I haven't your method for referring to them lightly!"

Sir William turned away. "No," he said.

"I would to G--d you could leave me your remainder in another of them!"
Sir William was grey as ashes. Carnt was still in the window. "D--d if
you couldn't take your wide free skies, and me these bonds with her."

"And how would you have won her?" asked Sir William quietly.

"I'd obtain a promise from her to drop a purse to a drunken skipper--and
all the rest of it. Then when I went to say 'farewell,' I'd----"

"What?" in a somewhat brokenvoice.

Carnt was looking at the dipping green water and the life-empty hills of
a thousand trees.

"G--d--I'd go," he said, hoarsely; "yes, I'd cut myself of man and place!
I'd fall, like you, and be my petty master. I'd leave the lady--and the
others--leave 'em to bleach, blast 'em, and never think of them again!"

He turned with his sardonic face sad and dark, and put the purse
carefully into the lapel of his breeches.

"You speak hardly, sir," said Heans.

"Away with you," said the other; "away with you, Sir William, like Flora
in her car. But, by Heaven, don't get grabbed! Possibly you wouldn't
bleach so prettily as me."

"Let us end it, then, in this familiar strain," said Sir William, acidly.

"Let us enumerate our pleasures together," hoarsed Carnt, throwing his
body up.

"Why should that word touch me?" cried Sir William.

"Heaven knows--excuse me! I'm in love with some of the women!" said the
other; and both were silent.

Drip--drip--drip! a rainy mist had begun to patter from the gables on the
sills of the little windows. Carnt had been swinging in the centre of the
room, his hands in his lapels, his gay head down. Suddenly he threw it up
and laughed gently. "Ha-ha-ha!" And he began to walk, a trace ruefully,
towards the stair.

"Why, Carnt," said Sir William, from his desk, "I shall go a sad man for
life, with these words upon us, Carnt. I'm getting freedom, but losing
people I desire to speak with, in life--the irony of it. The little world
won't give them back--no. And I--I am not such a God-forsaken egotist I
can speak words of anger and go out--anything but shamed and cut to the
heart. From my own, I know how cruel and bitter is the life I'm
leaving--made bitter by small men and our pride--eh, our pride. I wish I
had the strength--I'd be better no doubt--to wait it out with you."

Carnt turned near the door, laughing gently.

"You wouldn't," he said, shaking his head. "You mistake me. I have
business--cards--wine--dominoes--totem--and 'lively ladies of the
Cask-Hades,' ever new, changeable as an April day. What more will you
have in Dieppe? I'm even something of a poet, Sir William, and can find
considerable pleasure in our 'exquisite surroundings.' It is so large to
us English--eh! Yet under the mountains there's many a little hill and
trickling water. Now, now, here's a hand--indifferent clean, Sir William!
Stifft keeping his button shut, you'll get now out of it, thank Heaven!"

He strolled back and the two men locked hands. Carnt turned, strolled out
of the door, and went humming down the dark stair.

Now, the reader may be interested to read how curiously the irony of Fate
played with the relations of these two men.



Sir William, in a graceful variant of that over-clawhammer known as a
spencer, and a tall straightbrimmed hat, arrived in a drizzle at the
pier-head. To the right, running out of sight along the stone
shore-wall, was a line of massive brick buildings, closely alike,
many-windowed, low and shingleroofed. At a door in the blind wall of the
nearest--over which hung an oil lamp--stood a triangular sentry-box, and
by it a soldier, with a waterproof covering on his shako (from which his
long neck-hair draggled in the wet) and a cape half-covering the white
bandoliers and double breast of his coat. On the glass of the lamp were
the printed letters: "Sub-inspector." To his left, and behind him, rose
an abrupt knoll of small-dwellinged streets. There were few people
about. A squad of constables in clawhammers and leather top-hats (and
carrying short, heavy guns) tramped sullenly up into the town. Two
stiff-linened old men clad in frock-coats, very high-waisted and
full-shouldered, walked across with their hands stuck in their breasts
and their old precise heads nodding together. A few carts, with names of
river stations upon them, were drawing or drawn up at a bar behind the
offices watched by convicts in grey, with black straw hats, and grim
mouths cropped of hair. Over the water to the left, piles were being
driven to support a new pier, and an army of prisoners-for-life, in
yellow uniforms, with flaps of their leather caps drawn down over their
ears, were raising, by a pulley, on wooden shears, a great mass of iron,
which fell every few minutes on the iron-capped pile with varying notes.

The EREBUS lay against the side of the pier, a red-coat pacing her
quarter-deck, her masts moving solitary against the hills. Nearer the
shore-end, two ship's officers and a gentleman in a short soldier's cloak
stood waiting above a boat which swung a little on the waves, its
whiskered, black-hatted crew sitting with vertical oars. Some ships were
lying out, pulling heavily at their chains, while, splashing the water
like a lame duck, one heavy steamboat with a machicolated funnel was
paddling slowly into the channel, while another, with a tarred body, was
dwindling slowly out of the opposite trees.

As Heans dismounted on the wet flags, a gipsy-like convict, incongruously
devil-may-care with his felt jacket and shaven face, approached,
brilliantly smiling, and made proffers for his horse. The man professed
to admire the animal: qualifying his praise, however, with the wager that
"the beautiful gentleman's honourable legs had straddled a neater
barrel." Behind his volatile flattery, he was significantly, if
half-sneeringly hostile: a form of approach familiar to Heans from the
prisoners. It was as if the convict--unable to help forcing the fact that
he knew him, as did many in the town--would have given this man his
championing as a fellow prisoner, and one, moreover, who carried it off
so cleverly, could he only have resisted the chance Heans' situation gave
him of making one of the "swellmob" feel his position. The temptation
seemed tragically irresistible.

Pale Sir William, who had gained in confidence after his unmolested ride,
tossed the man his bridle, asking his name with an admirable kindness.
The man's eyes returned him a black look, answering abruptly:

"Jack Marback."

"Indeed--well, Jack, keep him walking," he directed, "while I take my
honourable legs into yonder door. I shall be gone but a few minutes."

"The Honourable John Franklin himself has just arrived," said the man,
with a covert enthusiasm, as he took the horse. "He went in that very
door like a hadmiral. There's the gig there, with the jacks in her,
holding up their oars to dry 'em."

"They'll wet their brave laps," said Sir William, as he hopped off.

The door of the office was now open, and in it stood a colossal constable
in a top-hat, muttering and flipping his fingers at Heans. Sir William
was engaged in avoiding the puddles between the flags. The sentry was
grinning from his box. Heans glanced a polite glass at the warder as the
latter said, vibrant with cold anger, "Late, No. 2749. Pass in--pass in!"

"Ah--ah!" said Heans; "most sorry, most sorry."

The door gave on a great bare hall, the size of the entire front of the
building. It was full of waiting police with guns: some like him at the
door; others with black blouses, belted, and heavy peaked caps strapped
about their whiskered cheeks; others yet, in the grey uniform of the
prisoner, with muskets and single shoulder-belts, the latter divided into
two compartments, or canvass bottles, with nozzles hanging in
finger-reach on right hip. Sir William, as he strode through them at the
order and beckoning of a second constable of a horse-power integrity,
endeavoured to forget the smiles and slights--the herding of dissipated,
wondering-eyed men--the lining up--the silencing--in that very room on
the day of landing.

A Heep-like man who was taking down names at a table at a far window
ostentatiously leant back in his chair and contemplated the new-comer
with the tips of his long fingers touching. Further down the room, two
officers, in full uniform, stood in the channel windows, talking with
their cloaks on their arms. As Heans was led towards a great stair in the
wall at the right end, one of these gentlemen turned and put his hand to
his cocked hat. It was Daunt. But he did not come forward--the other did
not turn his head. Sir William's glass whipped out as he ascended the
boards of the deadly shoe beaten stair. With him this was evidence of a
brain very heavily taxed.

"Some inspection?" he inquired, as he turned the corner and ascended
towards two great doors that opened against the walls.

"Inspection--country-wards," smacked that brisk and weary self-sufficient
in a steam-power voice somewhat restrained.

"I did not see His Excellency?"

"H'Excellency in the ward-room." He pointed up.

"By whose orders am I here?"

"Order last night through Government Offices for No. 2078, No. 160, No.
2749, No. 270, and No. 1350 to attend guard-room before ten. No. 160 and
2078 prompt to time--now attending His Excellency in ward-room. No. 2749
late. Message from Excellency wishing Sir William Heans to honour him
with attendance on arrival."

A stern old man at the stair-head called out: "Pass up--pass up." He was
all covert keenness and discipline, like a knife in a sheath. It was as
if he had drawn himself just so much as to give a glint of the steel.

Sir William put up his eyeglass as he came into the upper room. "How
d----d unkind!" he muttered, apropos of some inward thought. Near the
door stood a little group of civilian gentlemen: one of which--a stout,
little, short-necked man with whiskers and a tortoise-shell
glass--glinted up at Heans and then quickly away. They were at the moment
silent. None spoke. The room was long, bare, and narrow, with two windows
on the street. A line of seven policemen, claw-hammered, white breeched,
and top-hatted, armed with cutlasses and guns, stood at attention by a
closed door in a wooden wall across the upper end; behind them a
corporal's guard of red-coats. Two young constables held a prisoner in
yellow in the first window. His face had been made grim by cropped hair
and shaven lip, but his eyes were wild, angry, heroic,
nothing-contenting, entirely-unappeasable eyes of those unfortunates of
life born without the seventh sense of values. At Heans' entrance, this
man pulled his guards round towards the window, with a deep, hysterical
protest. They permitted him to stay in that position.

"Ruddy's got Port Arthur, I see, sir," said Heans' conductor to an old,
fine man, very hook-nosed and high-stocked, in white breeches and police

"Ah," said the other, "Ruddy says 'he'll get himself hung!'"

The speaker strode over to the door in the partition, knocked upon it,
and presently entered and closed it. A shy murmur--three quarters rattle,
one quarter boom--had been filtering through the wood. Again the door
opened, and a sergeant in a red coat with a white breast came out
followed by two soldiers. Behind them lurched out two chained prisoners
in black and yellow: one a giant figure of a man, with a covert, cunning
countenance; the other a little, gay old fellow, with a keen malignant
face, and the erect athletic body of a child--indeed, it was difficult to
judge if he were old or a mere boy. They were marched away to the window,
and after them came a couple of constables. Reached there, the sergeant
in a loud voice halted them, and began to look about him, pulling at his
whiskers; his eyes then falling tentatively on Heans' guide, he
shouldered his weapon and made over to him.

Sir William could not prevent himself from looking exceedingly pale. Many
apprehensions must have occurred to him, as, some way inward from the
gentlemen at the door, he stood looking through his glass about him; one
immaculate, plaid leg a little in advance of the other on the coarse
boards; his cane swinging gently from his canary fingers. On the one side
he saw the chained "second-sentencer" condemned to Port Arthur; on the
other, the little band of gentlemen; in the midst, himself, a convict,
summoned seemingly on a matter of "literature." While a certain
benevolence of acceptance, since he had passed into the upper room, might
have assured him of safety--nay, even of support--yet there was something
in the manner in which he had been summoned to the Governor's presence,
in company with a man sentenced to Port Arthur, which may well have sent
a shudder of apprehension through him. Again, all this display of ordered
force: what an unkind turn of fate which had thrown into it a secret
absconder! "How d----d unkind," he said, as he rose into the room. Last,
Daunt's show of friendliness! What did the forgiveness of a man like
Daunt mean? He might well have asked: "Did Daunt credit him with the
weakness of being confused by compliment? Was Daunt at the old game of
stripping a foe's heart of armour for the next man's sword to play upon?
Had Daunt, at sight of him forcing his way through that sea of police,
been startled into one of his half-friendly moments? Or, more likely, had
the man's mistrust been allayed by the sight of his (Heans') reply to
Lady Franklin?"

(Devil or philanthropist, which was Daunt?)

The sergeant approached Heans. "His Excellency will receive 2749," he
said in a loud voice. Sir William stepped forward, and followed the man
across the room to the partition door. There, while they waited an answer
to their knock, he examined, with some curiosity, the side-arms of the
sardonic line of police.

The Government Surgeon, a brisk, white-whiskered gentleman opened the
door, and the sergeant, stepping aside, sharply beckoned Heans to enter.
The old, fine man in the top-hat and police buttons, made way for Sir
William as he came in, and departed with the doctor, who shut the door
behind them. The small room was barish, with a window hung with heavy red
curtains looking on the street. A dark, athletic-looking man, in a
captain's uniform, was sitting back against a table, with his fine hairy
hands resting on the edge. The sensitive lips gave the bald head and
bull-dog face a halfsardonic air, belied somewhat by the quick and
saddened concern of the wide bold eyes. There was no one else in the

It was an age of stiff and laudable pedantry; when Adolphus and Achilles
were christian names of the vulgar; when man, in a fine endeavour to
ornament his speech, to elevate his person, to "exalt his Maker," often
dropped to mere, cold precisionism--even hypocrisy; when common women
read Scott, and spread his poems by the heart. We can afford to laugh--we
who, in our own time, with our wild equalizing of human temperaments, are
threatened with a drab end of formlessness! Franklin was one of these
men, his precisionist air softened by a great and feeling heart; his
religious, Dominie-Sampson face in strange contrast to the free, athletic
grace of his person; the whole softened by that slightly sardonic,
sensitive, dangertautened mouth. These were lips, whose love of man was
such that they were incapable of forming the word "beast."

Sir William remained just inside the door. He had removed his hat and
stood fiddling at the buttons of his black spencer, somewhat constrained,
his grey head bent. Franklin sat there a full minute, staring at him;
then he said, softly and quickly, "Do me the honour to listen to me, Sir
William Heans. I want to beg you to earnestly--to earnestly" (his voice
was hoarse and he cleared it) "reconsider your position. A lady has
interceded with me for you--a gentlewoman--and I am inclined to grant her
request. You have had some visible token of what--with help from you and
God's help--we may endeavour to bring about. Your refusal was a formal
one. Tell me--is it your actual wish to" (hoarsely)--"to refuse to make
this effort?"

Sir William took his eyeglass out, and fingering it a little
pedantically, looked gravely into the street, where the carters stood
staring up under their black hats.

"It was my regret, sir," he said, pushing forth his words one by one, "it
was my regret to answer the letter received in the negative. I could wish
to accept the position perhaps, had I the power to--the power to keep my
patience." He flushed slowly as he fingered his glass and stared out of
the window.

"I think--courage is all that is necessary," said Sir John, with a
compunction almost familiar in his voice, "courage and forbearance. . . .
Wait! perhaps you had better think a little before you decide. I, at
least, have felt it my duty to tell you so."

"I cannot think so," said Sir William Heans, after a little.

The Governor was now very moved, and spoke quickly in his hoarse, quiet

"Sir William Heans, I have seen men in the North-West sink to degradation
and death under too adverse circumstances. The slow degradation of a
gentleman is a torturing sight, for his very pride and heroism. I have
seen a man's hands tied to prevent him injuring himself, and yet he would
crawl about on his knees sooner than trouble a weaker brother with his
wants. I have seen pride and I know its value, and how trivial is the
worth of life when it is gone, but I do not care--like that good young
lady, your friend, and I cannot stand--if an effort can prevent it--that
we shall have to think of you with utter ruin upon you. This is a stern
place; man's inconstant heart cannot manage man without iron laws. If
once you stoop beneath a certain level, we are powerless; the law is
written in iron that will deal with you. When the ship's loose of her
anchor she must sail or drift. They tell me, Sir William Heans, you stand
in a serious risk of drifting--aye, drifting deeper and deeper into the
pack, till your sails rag on the mast. These are men who think they know
my charge better than me."

The Governor's daunted face; the firm, small, trembling mouth; the
feeling, danger-deadened, carenothing eyes, waited on the prisoner's--it
seemed almost world-indifferent--for an answer. Heans stood looking out
of the window, but he said nothing.

"You will not move your proud foot thus far," said the Governor, "in
pursuit of an honoured life!"

"Your Excellency said 'honoured life,'" said Heans, dropping his glass,
with a wild, little bow. "Is there such a thing? And will you find it,
sir--great traveller as you are--for a convict in this town? I put little
value on existence. My dignity and honour none of your laws can touch. If
I lose them, I shall cry out to no one. When they are gone, the more
vulgar officials can use no more worse methods against me than have been
used hitherto. Do not fear for me, kind sir. I am grown too old and grim"
(with a bow) "with the grey side of difficulty to play with the young
ladies. The worth of a man's life--what is it? I pray you credit me with
a certain happiness in my own way of it."

The Governor had risen, and was looking at him, one arm akimbo on the
lace of his clawhammer, the other fingering the hilt-tassel of his
grounded sword. Utter dismay, sadly withheld, was in his face. He spoke
after a little--at first with difficulty. "Possibly I do not value life,
sir," he said, "any more than do you. But I believe in an honoured life,
or a life deserving of it. We have to fight for our very sacrifices in
this world. Not only that, but, when sacrificed, they may be written down
as errors. That is what many a prisoner here runs foul of. He thinks his
quarrel is against man. It is Life he is in engagement with. It is of
Life he is asking justice. And Life often reserves its justice. . . ."
(He stopped suddenly, as though conscious that his feelings had bolted
with him.) "You talk of honour. Hush!" he went on, deeply moved; "I will
give you my idea of it in a man. It is that he should not wound his
friends by his falling. If a man have bravery and not compunction, he is
no gentleman. What to him becomes mere life, must be to his friends a
perpetual tragedy. If you must go your own way, Sir William Heans, see
that you wound as little as need be that gentle woman who has tended you
in your distress--by some unthinking bravery."

Something of the sternness of Heans' position was echoed in Franklin's
face. He stood looking at the other with a sort of mute invitation. Sir
William Heans took up his glass, as he stood staring out (at the
grey-clad prisoners in their black hats, at the wet town, and vastly
above, the splendid frown of Old Storm Mountain, from whose forested
bosom had come the shingles of the snuggling roofs), and put it carefully
in his eye. Then he turned and bowed quickly and gravely.

Franklin swung round to the table, and, fingering for a second among some
papers, lifted his hand towards a brass touch-bell. "I am waiting for
your word to ring, sir," he said.

Sir William Heans said, after a moment's hesitation, "Pray be good enough
to ring, your Excellency."

The bell clanged, and the door opened. The doctor entered, and saluting
the Governor with a bright inquiry, stood quietly upon one side. The
sergeant put his KEPI round the door and nodded. Through the opening, the
chimney-pots of the line of police bobbed oddly, as the men lowered
bronzed or pallid faces.

Heans made a bow, which the Governor answered with a nod jerked sadly out
of his high cravat. Then Sir William went again into the outer room,
across which he followed the sergeant, not to the window where the other
convicts were standing with their warders, but towards the incurious
gentlemen at the stair-head (old Mr. Magruder, the magistrate; Mr.
Duterreau, the famous artist of the Blacks; Dr. Jeanerret, the new
Governor of Flinders Island; the volatile Mr. O'Crone, the travelling
SAVANT, a small, handsome, fair-whiskered, excited, intellectual
personage, young, if rather oldfashioned as to costume, with a stoop, a
shirt-frill (of all things!) and tasselled Wellingtons, just arrived in
his pleasure yacht, the QUENOSABIA, from England, and very interested in
prison-life; Major Leete, of the Women's Prison, stiff, handsome, grey,
but somewhat falling to pieces; the famous Mr. Robinson, short,
red-haired, wearing trousers without straps and a balloon crowned
travelling cap, whose freckled face, so peculiarly gentle and commanding,
had faced, with incredible courage, tribe after tribe of murdering
Blacks, and, unarmed, brought in 450 in one year to lay down their arms
in Hobarton; dangerous Mr. Montague, the Colonial Secretary, deep in
conversation with old Mr. Gellibrande, the attorney)--through these
incurious gentlemen at the outer door went Sir William, down those
abominable stairs into the thronged hall, where Daunt, in animated
conversation with his brotherofficer, looked up, laughing very heartily,
till his eye touched Heans, when it lost something of its jollity.

The Heep-like man at the table again relinquished his work, leaned back,
and stared rigidly at Heans as he passed across the room. The door was
crowded, and the sergeant had to push a path through surly shoulders. A
prisoner was being brought in. He was a little, grey-bearded man,
dreadfully quickglancing and amiable, but deadly pale. His irons and his
black and yellow dress were covered with wet sand. The constables were
carrying him in with a kind of cynical compunction.

Heans passed close beside them, and reached the door as pale as he. Had
the man's pride-stripped face troubled him?

Outside, the sun was shining on the wet flags, and the place echoed with
the "splash--splash" of the paddle-skiff rounding into the pier. Sir
William Heans paused beside the sentry and beckoned for his horse, which
was brought up at a sort of prancing run.

Along the shining pier, the officers, above the swinging boat, watched
him rise upon his horse.

"Has the beautiful gentleman caught a wigging?" asked the carter, peering
up at him as he buttoned his spencer and straightened his hat.

"I should think I had," said Sir William. "Here's your shilling, Jack

"Lag's luck to your honour! I'll wet it with a mug of bull." [Note 7.
Spirit.] Heans smacked his whip down suddenly, and caracoled off towards
the rise, his graceful tails slapping the back of his saddle.



On the 19th there was a banquet to the officers of the bomb-ships at
"Hodgson's celebrated Macquarie Hotel," and Captain Hyde-Shaxton and
Daunt, of the foot police, found themselves only divided at the table by
Lieutenant Cooke, a mutual acquaintance. A rich globe-trotter and SAVANT,
Homely O'Crone, who sat on Shaxton's right, claimed much of the Captain's
attention during luncheon, more especially as the former did not seem to
be in good odour with the Colonial officials about him--neither with old
Magruder, the police magistrate, who was grumbling his food in on his
right, nor yet with Daunt, who twice ignored his approaches. This
gentleman enveloped Shaxton in an excited discussion on navigation, in a
rapid, cultivated voice. In the muddle of it, Shaxton
laughed--agreeable--jolly--if, for instants at a time, lost and
abstracted. He would lean over his plate chuckling as he related some
anecdote of his BEAGLE voyage, but his gaze would float away sometimes as
though he heard "voices in the wind."

Duty took Cooke away before the speeches, and Shaxton, with a lack of
ceremony which would have been brutal if it had not been somehow a part
of his Bedouin nature, forsook his excitable friend, and slid talking
into Cooke's seat. He seemed, though once he chuckled out a tale,
mentally to lean on Daunt. He tittered gloomily.

"I'm sorry to hear that," said Daunt, frowning about him with wide eyes
and neat air. "Was she taken ill suddenly?"

"It seemed to me sudden enough," said the other. "She had a sort of
fainting-fit. Dr. Wardshaw won't say anything. We couldn't get her out of
it. She'd had people calling about the young girl's death, you see. Heans
was there. I thought him bad-tempered. He may have been losing his temper
with the women."

"Creating a scene--destroying the harmony, and that, you mean?" Daunt
leant forward half-smiling, half-indignant. His hand was clenched on the

"Ho-ho-ho--indiscreet, poor beggar! The women were purring on his raw
side possibly. But if that's it--he mustn't go up there when I'm away any
more. Matilda feels for him. She's far too delicate for these tragic

Daunt was staring stern and concerned at his plate. The other gave a
little look at his face.

"Of course your wife told you," Daunt said, at last, very deliberately,
"about my tiff with Heans in your drawing-room?"

"No," said the other, chuckling, but turning white. "What's this?

"Surely you've forgotten, Shaxton?" speaking very quietly. "She must have
said something about it?"

"No," said Shaxton, "I never heard of it."

"Well, it was nothing," said Daunt, briskly. "I'm afraid I lost my temper
with the man for being there. His--I can't say it delicately enough--the
idea of his gross behaviour--and all that, in connection with that pure
bower makes me mad whenever I meet him there. I hated--forgive me,
Shaxton--I hated to see your wife even look at him. I must remind you I'm
a constable, and am not touched by the good appearance of a prisoner. I
felt she wasn't discreet enough with him. See them as I saw them
together. Finding him there, sitting like a full dog among my old
friend's embroideries and flowers--and his languid greeting of the
privileged guest--of 'Oh Daunt--so it's you, is it?'--I say this drove me
mad that afternoon, and for a moment I--I lost control of my feelings. I
said he was there for no good. I beg your pardon. Indeed I beg your
pardon, Shaxton. Your wife interrupted us. At the sight of her face, with
signs of tears (she had been mourning her friend), I admit I was very
much ashamed of my show of feeling."

At this moment, old Magruder's growling voice rose in answer to some
rattling of O'Crone: "You should take your pleasure-boat round to Port
Macquarie, sir. There is some clever prison-building there. The scenery's
wind-blown and harsh for those fond of it, and empty of human sadness, as
you know--abandoned."

"My skipper is frightened of your Hell's Gates," said O'Crone, stooping a
little, with his fingers in his beard. "Once in, and I and my schooner
might stay among those abandoned prisons for life." He turned suddenly to
Shaxton. "Forgive me, Captain Shaxton," he said, "but did I hear you
mention a name, 'Sir William Heans?' I am acquainted with a certain Miss
Gairdener, a relation of this prisoner, and knew him a little before his
conviction. Indeed, I thought I saw him at the police muster. Has he
passed down out of all communication?"

Shaxton puffed out his pale cheeks, and stirred himself in a frowning

"Oh, he's all serene," he said. "You can meet him if you like--I can get
him up to tea at my house, if you want to meet him." He gave Daunt a
nudge with his left arm. Now, Daunt was a strange man to nudge.

"Can I--can I?" nodded O'Crone, with keen interest. "Well, I must say I'd
like to see the man. Thank you--wouldn't it be putting Mrs. Shaxton in a
curious position?"

"A curious position! Oh, bother it, no!" chuckled Shaxton. "We see a lot
of Heans. She had a letter from your Miss Gairdener about him."

"Indeed--indeed!" said the other, stooping over and feeling the table
with his hand in a somewhat harassed manner. On his little finger there
was a peculiar black ring with red hair in it. His nature seemed to be
that either of an untactful intellectual, or one to whom life had allowed
a peculiar and, perhaps, just egoism.

"I'll tell you what," said Shaxton, with a hospitality half-bright,
half-wounded; "Mrs. Shaxton's in ill health. Dr. Wardshaw orders a change
to my place on the Tier. It's a grand drive. When you've lionized the
Factory, you come up for the day with a party. Daunt, you'll bring Mr.
O'Crone up. We'll get Cooke. Perhaps Captain Crozier would come. And
Daunt" (with a drooping of the lips), "you could get Sir William Heans a
pass out. I said I'd show him the place, and he'd meet somebody he'd

Daunt poured himself out a glass of wine. His face was meditatively
knitted, but he gave a little worried nod towards O'Crone. It seemed like

"Indeed, very happy!" said O'Crone. "It might be as well, Mr. Daunt, not
to mention names. If he is the man he used to be, he might refuse to meet

"Ah, I suppose he would come, if he was told directly?" asked Shaxton,
looking palely round at Daunt; "he's a proud man."

"Do you wish him particularly to come?" said Daunt.

"Yes, I do," scrambled out Hyde-Shaxton, who looked suddenly almost

"I may say--I am not so prejudiced in this man's favour, Mr. O'Crone,"
said Daunt. "He is one of a class which--as Sir John Franklin puts
it--has no sense of compunction. Superior in manner, of course, but,
still, to me, one of that class of men."

"Ah, Mr. Daunt," cried O'Crone, in his rattling, cultivated way, "you
police are too prosaic! This is a man who was condemned on a woman's
code. In men's eyes he committed a capital crime in the meshes of a net
of intrigue and allurement. He was a man, by repute, peculiarly sought
after by women."

(N.B.--The abduction case of Sir William Heans and the Lady Charlotte
S----t hardly needs retelling even at this date: so world-wide was the
story and so much discussed and questioned the actions of both. They used
to say of the beauty, as they said of Mary Stuart, that "only one man
ever encountered her and came away uninfluenced." Sir William Heans
wanted to run away with her to the Continent. The high status and
celebrated attractions of both people; the fact that the beauty was a
married woman; and their names being so often connected (indeed too
often) in society and in public, spread the sensation widely throughout
England and over the Channel. We will not detail the story. Sir William
and the lady, having arranged to coach together to a house-party in the
country (not a novel excursion to the pair), they met at the mail office,
where Heans handed her to the wrong coach for which he had obtained both
fares. The lady must have been more innocent than her reputation if she
had not suspected he had purposely made this mistake, but were she
innocent, or a species of coquette, his sin remains indelible. The
"mistake" was not discovered till late afternoon, and when discovered
they alighted at a certain village where a hack-chaise was procured, and
they posted across a county with the object of catching a late coach on
the other route. The lady does not seem to have shown alarm at the
escapade until dark fell and the roads became difficult, when the
outrider, who was in Heans' pay, overheard an angry altercation in the
carriage. The sympathies of this man had from the first been with the
beauty, and they were not much allayed when, on his confessing he could
not make his way, she haughtily demurred to their turning into a
neighbouring property owned by a friend of the Baronet--then absent. She
was persuaded at last to drive to the door of the mansion, which for a
long while she could not be persuaded to enter. When, loudly protesting,
she at length did so, Sir William--much out of countenance--led her to an
upper drawing-room, and locked the door upon them both. An outcry was
shortly heard, and the postillion, having aroused the feelings of the
servants, they demanded the door should be opened, and when this was not
done--maddened at the continued screams--two of them entered by a ladder
through the window, when the furious woman sought their protection. Thus
the story. It is a fair comment on the case that the lady was in after
life again in the Courts.)

 "Ah, sir," returned Daunt, in a somewhat ironical tone, "you, with your
pleasure-yacht and your musical-glasses, have leisure for these
intricacies. I give you my word of honour as a gentleman, women are
given as the excuse for their downfall by every four convicts out of
seven! We police have come to regard it as a particular sign. Experience
brings us to that decision. We are interested to hear it in so far as it
tells us the kind of man we are facing."

"Upon my soul, sir," said O'Crone, with signs of anger, "you're a trifle
stern, sir! You make me damn glad, sir, I'm not a prisoner in one of your

He said this in such a significant way, and his heat was so sudden and
evident, that Magruder and others bent over the table to see who it was.

"Oh, yes," said Shaxton, chuckling out wildly. "That's Daunt--all over.
Too stern--too severe! Now, Daunt--ho-ho!--have him up! Mr. O'Crone is
interested! Matilda, too, will be glad to----

"You shall have the prisoner, Shaxton," said the Superintendent, who,
unusually for him, had lost control of himself, and seemed to speak for
O'Crone's admonishing; "he shall come up to Flat Top Tier if I have to
send a message by him to the District Constable at Jerusalem!"

"Pon my soul, you're good, Daunt! Thanks--thanks. Who's this speaking?
Why, there's Jeanerret up!"

A tall florid man was speaking, now with wit, now with a sort of bitter
indignation. He was using impassioned gesticulations and such phrases as
"Let a man put his hand to his heart and say" and "an arrearage of
justice." He seemed to be appealing for the exiled Blacks of Flinders
Island, and said they "were dying like bears." [Note 8. The small
tailless opossum, which, when captured, refuses to eat, and mopes and



* * * * *

[Ticket of leave]

21st August, 1840.

The Bearer. WILLIAM HEANS, a Prisoner holding a Ticket of Leave, has
permission to pass this day to the house of Captain Shaxton at Flat Top
Tier, and return on or before ten p.m. of the 22nd day of August, to this

To whom it may concern. JAS. MANWOOD.

* * * * *


It was a still, oppressive night, and very cold. Sir William had with
difficulty settled himself to his PLUTARCH and his tobacco-pipe. The
ragged, amber room, if outwardly the same, from being a permanent place
of residence to which the chilled mind had endeavoured to yield itself,
had become a dangerous and precarious lodging for three days--a restless
place of harassment--a mutter with a half-a-dozen chiding ghosts. One of
them more than muttered; it moaned incessantly, like the old clock of
the poet, "Never--forever"; it had a bitter, beautiful image; it wept.
Liberty! What was liberty? It was life! What was life? A little while!
Oh, fair young head! Oh, kind heart! Oh, lost affection! Oh, voice with
your: "Didn't you know it, sir?" Yes.

He thrust his book and pipe on the rheumaticky table, and took a stroll
to the cold windows. Over the wet shingles, he could see a ship's light
moving on the frosty water. A cart jingled across the top of the street,
with a tilt and some rolling oxen. Heans looked a wild relief as he
turned and strolled back, but, near the fire, the samplers drew him

The world's a stage; and players know full well
That they must part when rings the caller's bell.
Yea, they must part and mourn their faithful loves;
The cote is silent; sundered all the doves.

There he stood, Sir William Heans; his irksome and tainting bars all
crumbling about him; now excited and oppressed by the dark pall of
danger; now exalted and cheered by the warm clasp of liberty, stayed
yet--pained yet--by something of which a heaviness in his heart told him
he would never again touch the like. His heavy-lidded eyes saddened as
he stood. How curious! Had the dagger of her beauty gone so deep in the
earth of his being? Was it bemoaning so great a bereavement? Crying
after a woman: frail creature of ephemeral moods? Could earth weep for
earth, grieve for earth? Could earth find an agony in good things
spoken, in help given, in the things of simple intercourse? Be still,
inward moan! Frail human cry--for the good of her--be still! He
cherished a vision of Matilda Shaxton, with her eyes strained, and her
brows drawn, beautiful, serious, eager, with that indefinable warring in
her--that look of Galatea, elevated by life. "Heaven deal with me, if
ever I trouble her!" he said, and went to the windows with his hands
over his face.

For something like an hour he walked up and down the garret, past and
past the ragged chairs, his handsome face pinched and small. At last he
sat down, lit his pipe, and took his PLUTARCH. He elevated the latter
towards the candle in a short-sighted way, and his expression seemed aged
and pedantic. Slowly and with great pains he began to read aloud from the
Life of Cato, the Censor: "He adds . . . that he never gave more for a
slave than fifteen hundred DRACHMAS, as not requiring in his servants
delicate shapes and fine faces, but strength and ability to labour, that
they might be fit to be employed in his stable, about his cattle, or
such-like business; and these he thought proper to sell again when they
grew old, that he might have no useless persons to maintain. In a word,
he thought nothing cheap that was superfluous; that what a man has no
need of is dear even at a penny. . . ." He was so concentrated in his
book that he did not hear his landlady's knock, nor her rather heavy
entrance as she came in, clasping a large blue haversack, and a letter.
She looked perfectly calm, but her eyes were significant and mistrusting.
She said nothing till she reached the escritoire, when something whistled
from her lips, as she put down the haversack. At the word "Soldiers"
Heans dropped his book with a great clatter, she observing him with a
flash of terror.

"Upon my word, madam," he jumped, "I didn't hear you!"

"No--it was Corporal Hares came," covered she. "Did you think it was

"Aha, that sycophantic fellow! He has left these, has he? Was the man
rude to you?"

"Oh no, sir! Not rude. People know better in my house."

"You look frightened yourself!"

"Oho dear, I've a clean hand whatever happens! Registered rooms is
registered rooms! But it's a worry with lodgers! You gets your
constitution touched!"

"Ah, poor human conscience, madam!" (as he took the letter), "how it
discredits our discreetest precautions!"

"I know you, if I don't know your talk, sir. But I'm anxious for my own,
and the boy there; a woman can't do more. And my own's the lodgers, while
they're in my house, and behaves theirselves. I gets taken up with them
I'm working for, and feels uncomfortable-like if calamity threatens.
'Respectable's' my motto, and a 'good name's' my policy. But if my trial
comes, I can't trust myself. Mr. Daunt, he says, 'You're not hard-hearted
enough, Mrs. Quaid. Keep shell-fish,' he says, 'and you'll keep a
reputation.' Ah, I'd do anything for Mr. Daunt--I say that where none can
hear. Yes, in spite of feeling for all, I leaves 'em to their own keep,
and holds my counsel. So I'm a sad woman."

"What--never rejoice with your lodgers, Mrs. Quaid!"

"Well, as I was apologizing for my vapours, Mr. Daunt said, 'Never mind
looking down in the mouth, Mrs. Quaid. It's a sure sign of health in a

"Well--you've one, here, sad enough, madam!"

"Now I see you, sir, you're looking sadder--I hope for good!" And she
began to hobble out through the chairs, looking however as she did when
she came in.

Sir William rose suddenly, with his eyes in his letter, and felt with his
hand, as if for support, along the whitewashed chimney., "Heaven help
us," he hissed out, wildly, "all's against me!" His face grew livid and
then flushed dark. With a swift oath he turned and snatched up the
haversack, weighing it in his hand by the straps. He then drew it close
to his eyes and examined the fastenings, both of which were sealed.

The old woman stopped in the doorway with a stern and tragic air, as if
she would have uttered some word of sympathy--before she stepped down and
let it fall.

The letter was headed:

August 21st. 1840.
To William Heans, Ship, Juliana.


Captain Shaxton has asked me to convey to you, as arranged previous,
a request for the honour of your company, with that of several ladies and
gentlemen, to meet Captain Crozier of the TERROR, at his estate, at
Flat-Top Tier, near Jerusalem, on Wednesday, the 22nd. inst. The Police
Office encloses, herewith, haversack of papers, to be carried by you on
that date to the District Constable at Richmond. With said packet is
Ticket-of-leave, permitting you to pass with same, and break journey at
the cottage of Captain Shaxton. I have the honour to remain,

Sir, Your obedient servant,
Chief Dist. Const.


Heans swayed over to the cold windows. He saw again the ship's light, and
followed it with his eyes, as it pitched slowly out into the dark.



"Bingo is shy. We must give him a little line."


Oh very fine and grey, Sir William entered the large central room at
Flat Top Tier! There must have been over forty guests. The morning had
been clear and frosty: the day was sunny. Many of the men stood in their
cord gaiters, and a few even of the women wore their riding-habits and
male waistcoats of satin. Some lounged on the veranda--high over a
plunge of forests; others simpered within over their tea, or Tokay,
their spirited eyes laughing unseeingly through the four double
casements of ambercoloured cedar, shipped by Shaxton from Singapore.

Sir William in a pair of exquisite duck breeches, with white leather
straps, a high-shouldered clawhammer, and a "pudding cravat" of blue
satin, held his grey hat and cane by the door. A few women placed pale
eyes on him; a few looked coldly; a few stared evilly. How shocking is
evil in a woman! The men--benevolent, courtly, diplomatic, grizzled,
grave, jocose--treated the appearance of the newcomer after their several
ways: some--of those that knew him--simulating surprise; others
concealing discomfort; one or two speaking suddenly to him, as they
passed, of the weather, this or that. His eyeglassed eye passed slowly
round. Daunt was not present--yes--there on the veranda edge in his
Wellington grey--hatless, efficient, and rather wan--with a proud
top-hatted young lady. Where was--no--no--no--pretty women, but no
Matilda Shaxton! Just outside one of the windows, stood the Captain, his
jolly, pale face half towards Heans, with a fine old lady in a poke and
sable shawl. With them was a little man in a peaked tasselled cap, with a
tight face and whiskers. That man was Crozier. Sir William saw and
possibly envied the dapper, little gentleman. We see one doomed to
achieve a series of singular heroisms--a burial of Sir John Franklin--a
last letter from that starving army in the snow--an agonizing
spectre-march through sleet--tracked--shadowed--swallowed--by half-told

Here and there were grim heads, poised like decapitated John the
Baptists, on chargers of satin cravat, and offered up to some epicure
Herodias in a wreathing of social smiles, which Heans had seen in
situations less gentle. The transmigration, if convincing, did not seem
to reassure the absconder, whose eyes, if indifferent, had a chilled look
when resting on them. By the chimney, however, to the right of the cedar
mantelpiece, there was a figure which had a much stranger effect on him.
It was that of a small, aquiline-faced man, somewhat archaically dressed,
with a white cravat loosely knotted up in a bow, showing a small frill,
in wellingtons with tassels. He held a grey chimneypot and a little
tasselled rattan, and stood alone, rather shouldered out of a group of
which he made one and yet did not make one. His eyes--his restless
eyes--were on Sir William in a wild concentration, when the latter's,
catching upon them, blazed to a grey dismay. Instantly--and very
sharply--the other depressed significant brows, and a faint amazement
flushed in on the pallor of Sir William's stately face.

At that moment someone touched his arm, and looking down out of his
astonishment, he found Matilda, very haggard and unlike herself, passing
out with the Colonial Chaplain in gaiters. She stopped and welcomed him;
that old hero, who had reformed the wilder elements of old Hobart, bowing
beside her. Matilda looked feverish and tremulous, and her forehead was
shrunken in its fair ringlets. Her strained eyes, softening on him as he
stood bowing, were steadfast, if not quite guiltless of fear. How
proudly, how conventionally, in what pain of precarious change, with what
burden of doubt and risk--did these two meet--for the snapping of their
erring love. Matilda would have been better had she valued less the
attachment of such a man. Sir William would have been better had he loved
the woman just so little more that he could have seen no reason to regret
leaving her.

"You have not been well!" said Sir William, with a slight hoarseness of
sympathy. "I hope, madam, your health is better?"

"Thank you, sir. Have you met your friend, Sir William?"

He laughed a little. "Do you mean Mr. Daunt? I have seen him."

"Yes, Mr. Daunt is here----" (She let her eyes wheel quickly round.)

"There is Mr. Daunt on the veranda. See, he is looking at us!"

"Yes. He is looking fine. I hardly recognised him."

"Indeed, he is looking wonderful--But I mean Mr. O'Crone. He has come
specially up in the hope of seeing you, Sir William Heans."

"Mr. O'Crone--I don't know Mr. O'Crone."

"It is an English traveller who says he has met you: a Mr. Homely
O'Crone: a very learned little man."

"Would you be kind enough to point him out?"

"Mr. O'Crone," said old Mr. Bedford, "is standing alone to the left of
the mantelpiece."

There is an alarm of movement, chuckling, and chatter, and Shaxton comes
pushing through towards them. His moustaches fall in a good-humoured,
hospitable grin, but he looks restless and out of place. "Matilda,"
called he, "they are starting for the Waterfall. Ah! Heans! You've got
up. Good of you. I asked Cooke and Garion if they'd seen you behind. Our
party made a regular troop. Sheriff Fereday said it brought to mind the
Bllack String days. Lacy told him he wasn't swell enough in his old
cabbage-tree for The Line. [Note 9. See end of this para.] ''Pon my word,
sir,' says he, 'you look more like a Five Pounds Catcher. [Note 10. See
end of this para.] Ho--ho--ho!"

[Note 9.--The Line (or 'Black String') of 3000 soldiers, settlers,
police, and prisoners stretched in 1830 about Central Tasmania and the
East Coast, in an attempt to corner the murderous tribes in Tasman's
Peninsula.] [Note 10.--Men who made a profession of catching the blacks
at 5 pounds a head.]

"Ah," grinned the old Chaplain, "Lacy was one of the Elegant Extracts.
[Note 11. See end of this para.] He was pitching into the Sheriff, who
was chaffing the Battery Guard."

[Note 11.--Nickname given to the 2nd (and Beaux) Division of the Town
Guard, instituted for the protection of Hobart during the "Line."]

"We're all King's Own [Note 12. Nickname, 1st Division.] to-day,"
chuckled Shaxton. "You're very late, Heans! Matilda, you'll look after
your cousin! See that he gets some of that Indian sherry. Bedford,
they're asking for you! Come along! Sir William Heans, you'll look after
my wife. No, she's not to come. She's been unwell. Hang it, yes--very!
Don't let her take you down the garden! Too restless--too restless!"

Matilda had moved aside to whisper to the young lady named Henrietta,
whose copper-coloured ringlets were tucked away under her ears in
imitation of pretty Queen Victoria. Old Mr. Bedford lumbered obediently
towards the windows, and Shaxton butted after him, rousing this group and
that with hospitable bursts of humour. Preoccupied group after group rose
and stirred. People were departing on the veranda.

Natty Daunt of the foot-police, looking as depressed as if he'd been
getting a wigging, gallanted out with an active old lady in gigot sleeves
and buckles. As they talked their way by, he darted up a bow at Sir
William, saying with a flash of surprise, "Why, Sir William Heans! What a
giant you are, sir! A foot taller, 'pon my soul!"

In the general movement for the windows, "Sir William--Sir William
Heans," muttered a rapid, rattling voice, and Heans, drawing white eyes
from Daunt's back, found beside him the solitary gentleman from the
mantelpiece. The proud, agitated, aquiline face, with now a narrow,
Jewish glare, and now a gleam of wonderful goodness, gave a strange
impression of one not quite honest, aspiring after moral good. "I
remember you, Sir William Heans," he said, "if you have forgotten me."

Heans was staring at him now with a courteous intentness.

"Ah, I remember you--your face--well sir," he said, bowing twice, and
speaking as with a great effort.

"Do you come with us up the valley?" asked the other, looking towards the
windows where the people were departing. "The ladies and gentlemen are
carrying tea and bushman cakes to the Waterfalls--quite A LA CHAMPETRE!"

"'Pon my word, I hardly know! I am, I think, to take some refreshment

"You are late arrived! May I make the remark that as you entered you
struck me as looking very fatigued? Your health keeps well, I hope?"

"My health! It's well--I was delayed over some despatches for the

"I am to have the honour of gallanting my Lady Grumpus up the valley. I
should be happy to have had a few words with you."

 "You honour me, indeed--sir," said Heans.

He was standing with white legs apart and hands behind back; and he
looked away through the windows, his eyeglass up and a very faint smile
on a sallow face somewhat wildly sad in the eye. The room was near
emptied, though a few people still darkened the windows and veranda.

"Ha," cried O'Crone, clutching up his cane, "Captain Shaxton calls me! I
must go! Sir William, I shall discover from Shaxton where I may call on
you. All the way to the Waterfall, Sir William, as I stumble over your
mountainous trees, and thread your twenty-feet ferns, I shall be
discussing the musical glasses, and endeavouring honestly to explain my
presence in Hobarton. THE ALMANAC, it seems, has been vague about me. Ah,
sir, these funny human worms! They do not believe in nature--poetry! They
cannot--will not--believe a sane being capable of keeping a yacht full of
idle sailors from a love of nature!"

He seemed sensible of the agony in Sir William's pale, proud,
preoccupied, yet would-be attentive face. Sir William, on his part,
seemed to have discovered a hidden agony in what he said.

"Could you not persuade the lady," said the latter, somewhat balefully,
"to abate her curiosity over a poetical lingering, with which she cannot

"No. Let me reply in the words of Miss Fanny Burney: 'Her character, and
the violence of her disposition, intimidate me from making the attempt;
she is too ignorant for instruction, too obstinate for entreaty, and too
weak for reason.' God forgive me, talking so of the women! This lady will
ask me, grim enough, if I grow tired of Hobarton----" (Suddenly he
dropped his voice). "What should I say, Sir William Heans, if I wished to
confuse her?"

"Hardly a possible contingency, sir," answered the other, with a slight
hoarseness; "and one more tragic than I looked for as I rode up through
those clear valleys" (he waved outward with his glass), "that you, so
distinguished and high-hearted, as I remember you, should find a vital
necessity for confusing any impudent woman!"

O'Crone stared steadily at him.

"And are you then so unchanged, sir!" he said, half-ironically. "Has
adversity left your spirit unimpaired? Indeed, how little can the world
change us! It has no respect for difficulty; but with a gentleman's heart
it can do little. Hush, here's a lady approaching! (In a hearty voice) "I
hope I find you of a calm mind, Sir William; with plenty of optimism.
Congenial male companionship; the more kind sex, indeed, as your Aunt
Miss Gairdener would say, not being accountable--ha-ha----! I hope I find
you happier than--than we all might be?"

"You put calamity as the chance of all," said Sir William, quietly.
"Strange indeed, sir, if you had come upon it!" His voice
trembled--either at some pleasanter recollection of his little
acquaintance, or from the nearer presence of Mrs. Shaxton, who passed at
the instant through the door.

"Now, now, sir," laughed the other, "do I look like one struggling in a
web of affliction!" (A voice shouted "Mr. Homely O'Crone" from the
emptying veranda. He made to go off, waving his hat; but as suddenly
returned.) "Look! I laugh, do I not, quite nicely! I discuss with acumen!
I am courteous with the ladies! I sing--I am in good voice at the
forte-piano. And yet, you, who hardly know me, hint that I am harassed."
He stared at him suddenly, with great sadness, in the face.

"Egad, sir," said Heans, "it was your name that stung me!"

O'Crone--the last but Heans in the room--turned and went to the windows,
a curious figure with his nervous and agitated face, his bent shoulders,
and his tasselled boots. As he put on his hat in the veranda, he was
greeted by an impatient summons. At the same instant Shaxton's voice
called: "Mr. Daunt, will you bring a rug for the ladies!" O'Crone
vanished past the windows with a nervous step. But for Sir William, the
large room with its chairs littered with shawls, cloaks, pelisses,
SURTOUTS, paletots, and pea-jackets, was now empty. He stood for a few
minutes where O'Crone had left him, his eyes looking across the room into
the lit plunge of forests.

Matilda Shaxton came quickly in with tears in her eyes, and said--though
she could barely speak--"I'll say good-bye now, sir. I think--I believe
this is the last time I shall see you."

He was pale also. He took from her the decanter and sandwiches she
carried, and put them on a table. Then he said, "May a fellow have--those

She gave her hands to him, staring. Tears pressed out and dropped. She
was not graceful in her love--no, she seemed an awkward woman. Neither
was Heans his fine, grey self. He dropped on his knee, and put them
against his forehead.

"Ah, friend, friend," he said, "this is for life! Am I to yield up this?
I'm a worldly fellow. No, madam, I am not a man to believe in love!
What's this--what's this that begs God not to take you from me? What is
it that would speak with you: that would not lose your face? My God," he
said, "I think there's faithful love!"

"Oh, yes . . . very faithful, sir."

"I go to-morrow. The schooner is now off Spring Bay."

"To-morrow--how dreadful!"

"Would you tell me--not to go?"

Her whole figure shivered. "Why, I shall lose you, sir,"

"Well . . . I'm going . . ." He raised his head, and his eyes stared on
hers. "There's just one thing. Look away," he cried, "those staring eyes
won't let me speak."

"Nay, Sir William. I'll not look away." She did not move her trembling

"How true they are! How brave! How proud! .. for whom are they

"Why--when a friend goes----?"

"Turn them away, Matilda . . . This is the crying of a man's soul--I tell
you--as he rides up those deep valleys. See, the sun leaves them! What a
grey return!"

They both stared out in silence.

The faces of both were haggard and sad.

"As I came up, my escape to-morrow seemed a romance. With the schooner
gone, and all my risk an afternoon's canter a few miles beyond my pass--I
began to long for happiness--because freedom seemed so simple. Your
guests passed me on the road, and I thought of them returning in the dusk
to Hobart Town. I reflected that you would be returning with them, and
that I might ride behind the coach, and see your face and--a
stranger--hear you speak . . ."

The faces of both were haggard and sad.

"Then my heart cried, 'My God, I can't lose her!' If there is anything
true in human love, she will come with me in the EMERALD! If she knows
anything of this agony of broken affection--this bitter sense of things
snapped and finished--this longing for a face that--for all you had of
it--might be vanished--torn away like a scrip--in death----"


He stopped.

"Good-bye, Sir William Heans," she said. "Death--and, they say, a better
re-uniting--nay, even a kinder affection--are not so far from us
all . . . No--no--no, the other is not for me--no--nor you."

He stared up and cried out: "Ah, you'll not come with me?"

She glared down . . . and he let her hands go, and groaning turned away.
She was gone from the room when he rose to his feet. Stooping, very old,
he walked over to the left of the Frenchwindows, emerging presently on
the veranda. Standing there, his nostrils were assailed by a strong odour
of bruised rosemary.

* * * * *

Three minutes previous, a man had been sitting in the veranda on a low
chair by this window. That he might shelter himself from the wind, he had
sought guard behind the backs of some armchairs, and the view over that
end of the veranda was hidden from him. Over to the left, however, he
could observe Nature at her wildest; unimpeded by aught but a few English

At first he sits far back, and very erect. Afterwards he leans a little
forward. His hair is dark and neat. He wears a high-waisted,
grey-frock-coat, a white cravat, and his cord trousers are stretched over
wellingtons. There are flat surfaces in his face, which make it slightly
too solid for his costume; for though thin to refinement, it is thickly
boned, and gives promise, at some future day, of a heavy, aldermanic

His expression is at first so stern that it seems--as he sits there--as
if it is set in bands of black iron. Perhaps his very stillness increases
its sullen energy. It is one of those faces which look as though they
have been hardened with human hands, or like some species of rock have
become indurated with exposure. Though a latent and almost malignant
self-sufficiency invites opposition, you are forewarned it is already

He is not long in this resolution of mind. The demeanour of our doomsman
gives way to something tragic, dark, and moved. Stay--has the brass
armour of the punisher crumpled a little before some deeper reality--has
the riveted ceremonial of justice backed aghast before unexpected pleas!
Ho for our code dealing with the shocks of human contact--our police-book
on the human heart--our learned inken precedent touching these documents
in blood. Our justicer has some troublesome affection of the bowels,
which still a tone too high can irritate--a breath too quick can
inconveniently disturb. He would grace the bench better with a still
tougher stomach.

See--he seeks to recall himself--to look his stern conviction. Nay, he
cannot. Nay, a jaundiced judge. See him as he leans on his chair-arm,
with his hand on his chin; a sharp, keen-edged efficient, yet momentarily
at throat-grapples with frenzy. Order conquers! His small, delicate hand
flings away. A dark stain is on his determined face. He springs more
erect. See him, the reliable, the patient hearer, the man of feeling
power--his mind is settled. He is right with himself. O just judge! It is
the pillar of order, the hearth-protector, the experienced in violence,
wickedness and bounce, with whom the scarifying of social "growths" is
duty. He must work--stern orderer--even if his ears be assailed with
sadness. Ah, the fortitude! It is a Daniel come to judgment, with arms
custom-bound! See him push in, e'en though he have no stomach for it.

Hush! It is a kindly day! How prettily the near hollyhocks shine out
against the mountains. The orderer's stony eyes look out upon these
harmonies of Art and Nature. How far is he from seeing them! He draws
from his pocket a revolving-pistol, and fixes the paper of caps under the
hammer! This is ready on his left knee. Half out of his breast comes an
iron gyve.

Tragic--dark--moved! Bah! a fine business if your Honour cannot go
through with it better! A more even air--pray A less mercurial
countenance. For very dignity, contemn. Scorn them, justice! Silence in
this court! See, where his Honour crouches forward. He is about to
admonish--nay, to cry us a mercy--nay, to grant time--nay, to cry
"Death." Grim execratory, if you must condemn, condemn less implacably.
If pardon, come not so hardly at an admitting--finger not at credence
with so cynical a touch. O drab judge--O shaken Judge--O dark, dispirited
orderer, what tone unthought of, what inhuman plea has shivered those
tense bands, and frenzied those hard eyes with hope unwelcome!

Pallid sentencer, what tickle of compunction stills thee! Stern man of
order, what delays the march of proved, smooth precedent. Haste, dark
efficient--haste, honest hand of retribution--veteran hound of the
state--hungry fang for right! To your feet, reluctant minister! Oh,
strange! Crouch not there halfrisen--hands clenched to strike--eyes
glazed outward on the sun-blessed gullies! Action--action! Strike, bloody
lash! Snake whose venom is for right, dart in your stinged tooth and
anguish out another good! Press in your stiletto, right's assassin! What
hinders thee! Tried punisher, what tickle of compunction still delays
thee! Ah, yellow Hamlet--what do you among the headsmen!

Hold! There is yet another doomsman upon the bench today! No judge, this;
yet one singularly interested in the case. Is he one of those onlookers,
who half in sympathy, half curiosity, attend these tragic functions--one
of those strange beings who, with their feet in the quicksands, find a
pleasure in contemplating the sinking of others? Is he there by some
accident of eminence on a holiday; or for some selfish or some malicious
interest? There he listens.

With the grate of the new-comer's footsteps, Daunt shrinks back. It is as
well for his Honour's privacy that he has taken shelter from the breeze.
For as the other lowers a basket to the veranda, he glances along among
the cloak-hung chairs. Is he so certain of its emptiness? He does not
give it another glance. Some thought or sound stops him in the very act,
for he remains turned inward, his head down, and the basket-handle tense
in his hand.

The new-comer's breeches and waistcoat incline to the mode, and like his
broadcloth coat--so tight of sleeve and waist--seem over-nicely fitted
for the stoutish face. On his head is a hat of rice-straw, cocked
forward. His face is broad and sad. Who is it? Bah, what a pother over
some old police magistrate or clipper-commodore! Some joking ancient (say
you) and pet of the young ladies--some retired notable, with wit
undaunted if legs surrendering. He seeks quietness. His soul--like his
jocular face--has become grave. He would rest, and look at life grimly.
We cannot all be joking with the children. . . .

Nay, he is restless! He turns away, and swings back again! Has he got a
fright or something! Bah! no peace in the quicksands, even for your
detached student of 'em! Yet what in Nature could be so fascinating and
yet so aging! He turns purple, then white! God Almighty--the poor
gossip's mouth hangs like a dead man's! Ah, listening Tom--listening
Tom--here's treasure-trove of a fearful kind--here's grave
gossip--here's a common crying in the court that spreads like a chill
about the heart!

Hark, your Honours both, is it the prisoner speaking? Nay, it is an
interruption from the prisoner's accomplice. Weigh it carefully. A grave
fine voice: yet judging by your Honours' four white eyes, an unjust one,
hardly tolerable! The eyelids of the doomsman behind the chairs are thin,
however. He seems bitterly to mutter, "Duty and I will bear with this
much!" But our contemplating clipper-commodore looks fighting-white. His
fallen mouth whimpers: "God, I cannot bear with it!"

"Turn them away, Matilda. This is the crying of a man's soul--I tell
you--as he rides up through those deep valleys. See, the sun leaves them!
What a grey return!"

"As I came up, my escape to-morrow. . . ."

"Then my heart cried out, I can't lose her. . . ."

"This longing for a face that--for all you had of it--might be
vanished--torn away like a scrip--in death--"


Would your Honours tell us who spoke at the end? Will your Honours have
the sound investigated? Fetch the policebook, constable! It was like the
cry of a point of granite in the ebb of the sea, or a woman's voice in
travail. Of what? Of a soul, an't please your brooding lordships--of a
fine soul--a soul, in verity, larger than life, oh sour incredulous! An
anomaly in human regulations! Have it catalogued! A disconcerting sound
in the grim routine of prisons! We have blundered into this! What, you
sway forward! Shall the court rise?

Aye, and you too, an't pleasure your straw-hatted excellency--of a little
soul! Think you, the lady does as well as can be expected? A healthy
woman--ready we think to tend another at pleasure! Your hatbrim nods
against the wall, and your strong fingers loose the basket till it
trembles on the ground! Greedy sib! These fine births, though rare for
the gossip, smack something tragically upon the holiday palate!

"Good-bye, Sir William Heans. . . . Death--and, they say, a better
re-uniting--nay, even a kinder affection--are not so far from us
all. . . No--no--no, the other is not for me--or you."

Ah, old commodore, there you stand in the wind, with your face towards
the wall! We might be reading into that cold stone and plaster--what?
Hope--amazement--grief--despair--ruth--remorse! He sighs. Sick of courts,
your worship! Let us spend our holiday with nature! Ho, for the
waterfalls! He gathers up his basket with both hands, and, as he does so,
stares round at the view. My God, what sunken eyes! What eyes! There! He
turns away! He's gone! The path flings back his jerking footsteps!

And you--dark judge--have risen too! Those eyes show a glare of
agitation. What is it that you would aid--what is it that you would
spare? Nay, God defend us from that ugly brow: if it is not sparing, is
it serving? Thou to serve--thou veteran punisher, what dost thou serve?
An aroma of rectitude? A smell of honesty? Some small, smug tinkle of
inner comfort? Indeed, where would we be, my lord, these wraiths

Gyve and pistol slap slickly away. Risen, and holding to a chair-back, he
glances this way and that. To the right, the long veranda, raised on a
four-feet parapet, stretches before three drawing-room casements; to the
left, a shorter and higher span runs to a lofty corner, past the fourth
and another. Cautiously pushing aside an armchair, he creeps stooping to
the parapet, and drops into the garden. There, crouching on his haunches,
he creeps through mignonette and "ragged Robin" to the corner. His
wellingtons bruise the rosemary, and its sickly smell rises about him.
The thorn of a white lady slits his coat sleeve. The sun yet dabbles the
far hillsides.

At the corner he rises, hurrying rearwards past woodbined windows, past
kitchen and through stables, past coaches and diffident grooms--till,
circling the house, he runs--runs--heavy-footed and fearful, sinister of
face, to join the ladies at the Waterfall. Nay, it is a holiday, Mr.
Daunt, for us lovers of Nature! Let to-morrow do for the treadmill of
stern work again: "let tomorrow take thought for the things of itself."

* * * * *

Above the lash of water, where, in a stepped gorge, behind the butterfly
wings of ferns, the ladies could be seen exclaiming and laughing as they
ascended, Daunt came upon his host, who had retraced his steps, it seems,
for the forgotten tea-caddy and "a couple of those Indian cheroots for
Captain Crozier." Here he was overtaking his guests with a gleaming face.

He laughed out, when, staring back, he saw Daunt. "Here are the
cheroots," he said, thrusting the box towards the Superintendent; "will
you run on and beg a hero's tolerance for the Captain?"

As Daunt received it in his efficient, steadying way, he met the other's

"You asked me, sir," he said, "to bring a rug for the ladies, but I could
find none in the drawing room or on the veranda."

"Egad," muttered Shaxton, pressing on with a bottomless stare, "you could
find none in the drawingroom or on the veranda?"

"No," answered Daunt, in a laughing voice; "but you would hardly tell me
to go back!"




At an upper window, in the first courtyard of the Cascades Prison, a
convict known as Madam Ruth sat sewing. She was making night-shirts of
the rough cloth made by the prisoners on the lovely Maria Island. Below,
in a large courtyard, surrounded by low buildings of gold
sandstone--black-barred and doored--some grey-gowned, check-aproned
women were tending vegetables under a female. Among the plants, accident
had dropped some hollyhock seed, and a red rosette fluttered on a yellow
spear. The afternoon sun hung on the transverse bars of the opposite
windows and on the shoulder of a great forest towering over the shingles
to the left.

Madam Ruth was in black, and wore a black shawl over her dark red hair.
She seemed hard. In appearance she was long-faced, young, and
intellectually noble, but looked anaemic and melancholy. The room in
which she sat was long and narrow--with the barred window at one end, and
was freshly papered in gold on a faint blue ground. Two beds of unpainted
wood touched one the north and one the west wall, and both were adorned
with coverlets of elaborate embroidery. There was a fireplace and small
fire in the corner between the beds. The rest of the appointments were
rough enough, if entirely neat. Over the window-bed, a strung shelf held
some black and brown volumes: among which were Johnson's satires, Scott's
poems, and some numbers of BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE. In the corner opposite
there were some tomes of French History piled by the wall, and, hung
above a small table, some little flower-paintings in water-colours on
cardboard, and the sketch of a ruined chapel, faultily done, with a
knight in stone lying within among the weeds, on which a little fawn was
cropping--the subject taken, perhaps, from the "White Doe of Rylstone" by
Mr. Wordsworth, a volume of whose verses, under that title, was hanging
in the shelf. On the table were some loose watercolours in a cedar box,
and a sketch, on a band-box lid, of an ancient, rough-cast house
surrounded by decrepit trees.

The woman's head was bowed over her sewing. On the near bed lay some
lint, bandages, and a pile of coarse night-dresses. Just beneath the
window--which was open--projected the mouth of the massive gate-house.
Flagged with huge flags, it plunged heavily into the court like the port
of some old hold: the houses of the end wall clinging upon it like
"Phrygian Bonnets" upon a scallop.

The wheels of the outer gates creaked upon the flags, and Madam Ruth
looked up. She was listening. The great gate was opened only for women
off the ships, occasionally helpless soldiers, visitors, and high
officials, so that the sound held something of import. The vegetable
gardeners up the court stooped over their rakes the better to look
outward through the gate. A warder in a chimney-pot looked in, from the
gatehouse, ordering some women, who were washing at a sink cut from a
single stone, to go indoors.

All, with Madam Ruth, heard the boom of a carriage coming across the
Cascades bridge upon the level before the walls. "The Governor, or
visitors, then!" Madam knew that all were hoping for "visitors." They
were often fresh from home and freedom; and the factory seemed to strike
each one so differently. She had risen. She now caught the bar of her
window and peered down. She was crying. What hard, inscrutable lines for

The chaise had stopped, and she could hear the boom of voices in the
gatehouse. Somebody seemed to be speaking with too much enthusiasm,
answered by the turnkey with a harsh, good-humoured bark. The visitors
were often nervous. . . . Madam wiped the closed casement in front of her
eyes with the night-shirt.

First Mr. Carnt, the prison writer, came out of the gate. She drew back a
little, her face graver. His tall hat was on one side, and he tugged his
dark bronze whiskers, staring consciously about in his light bored way.
When he could not be making a joke, he seemed always wild and bored. He
was a prisoner.

Slowly appeared Mr. Shaneson, the turnkey, tall, and harshly, yet
courteously, laconic. He was followed by a small, fair-whiskered
gentleman, very pale, in a tall hat, cape, and tasselled boots. He kept
pushing on his cane with both hands, and staring about with both eyes
that winced even as they stared. His face, aquiline, fine, and aspiring,
was creased and strangely drawn. He stooped much as he came slowly into
the courtyard.

Crying out, Madame Ruth ran and flung herself upon the inner bed. There
she held her mouth, and laughed, and sobbed, until she slept.



There was a party at Albuera House in Davey Street.

Hobarton was singing with a cold south wind. The house, with its brass
doorstep, iron railings, window pediments, and brown freestone, might
have been shipped holus bolus hot from Bath or Tunbridge Wells. Davey
Street sloped steeply towards the sea, and the two lit carriages, waiting
without, had their brakes down, and their wheels blocked with drags.

The prisoner, Jarvis Carnt, wandered up with his rusty chimney-pot, his
seedy great-coat with the little shoulder cape, his war-worn Malacca, and
paused on the threshold. The door was ajar and opened upon a square,
slated ante-room. Wandering in, he sat, with an assumed negligence, on
his cane: his hat--nonchalantly awry as its habit was--still upon his
falling, untidy hair. His face was thinnish, bored-looking, and harassed.
He seemed rather humorous, rather sad, rather wicked, rather
affectionate, rather sick, and rather viciously on his rickety dignity.
His buttoned shoes, round which his trousers were strapped, had lost two
buttons on the left foot, and were very old and carefully cleaned.

A man-servant--old and pompous--issued at this moment from a side-door
with some tea on a tray. He came ceremoniously towards the prisoner, but
at a closer glance, asked his business--staring grimly. Carnt, with a
forced air of condescension, collapsing rapidly to one of mere
harassment, coughed, removed his hat with a crestfallen air, replaced it
with bravado, and said, in a fine, rattling voice, "A message from Major
Leete of the Cascades Prison, for a gentleman named O'Crone--if he be
present." The other, in a deep bleat, said he would "discover," and
passed with the tray through the end door, from which came a flush of
light and women's voices. Carnt went wearily round the dim hall, sitting
on his cane and staring into print after print of Hogarth's, "Idle and
industrious apprentices." With a sudden cry of impatience he left
these--these famous prints indissolubly connected with the repellent side
of London--and returned into the middle of the hall, whence a faint and
soothing smell of wine and fruit came to him. His pale, puffy face fell,
as with some sad thought, as he stood tapping his cane on the floor
behind him.

The butler suddenly returned and announced that the gentlemen were at
their wine. "Mr. Magruder," said he, "asks you to remove your coat, and
step in with your message." For an instant Carnt hesitated, and then
began to peel off his coat. His old clawhammer was green, patched under
the elbows, and lacking in a breast button, but if PASSE, it had an
elaborate once-fashionable air. His rusty satin stock--mounted without
collar--was transfixed with two immense pins joined by a chain. His linen
was soiled and dirty, but his hands were roughly clean. The butler
flustered him by offering to remove his coat, which he relinquished
warily, clutching suddenly at it with his first free arm, and pulling it
to him that the other might not see the lacerated arm-holes.

The butler opened the first door on the left, and motioned him in with
elaborate ceremony. Carnt strode in with pale face and baffled air. There
were four men in the room, two at a mahogany and two by the fire. Wine
was on the table, and candles. The room was of a gold-black tint, with
portraits on the walls of two broad-faced men with hands in breasts--and
one of a woman trying to smile through some inner harshness. Three of the
men made no movement as the butler shut the door behind him.

A little man, with fair whiskers, and a snarling crestfallen face, perked
forward by the mantelpiece and looked from Carnt to the company. His air
was mystified. He seemed puzzled at the reception of the new-comer, and
indeed, barely certain of his own. He frowned, however, and seemed
himself about to make some advance, when an old, careful gentleman at the
table head spoke with reserve and deliberation. "Sit down, Mr. Carnt.
Will you take some wine?" (Then with a slurring and subtly sour
modulation) "This is the gentleman--Mr. O'Crone--for whom you have a
message from the women's factory. Perhaps you--er--may learn what you
desire of the life of the women from him." He bowed coldly towards the

The little man sprang hungrily from the fire-place, and advanced on Carnt
with outstretched hand. Misplaced as was his eagerness, he seemed nearly
reckless of concealing it. Perhaps the necessity had gone, and was
dragging down with it self-respect. Or was it temper had him by the neck?
So earnest was he for news or message, that he seemed unaware of Carnt's
nice and tragic attempt to accept Magruder's invitation, and his own
hand, with some measure of deliberate ease. As Carnt took a
chair--concealing, as he did so, the lapel of his coat with his
hand--O'Crone began to whisper, even as he drew another before him:
ingratiating himself, as it were, with snarling smile alone, that he
might unburden his heart, without compliment.

Magruder rose with a decanter, and, waddling along, placed it between
Carnt and O'Crone. Carnt shivered back into his chair (as the magistrate
bent over them) watching, spell-bound, his stern eyes. Motioning
hospitably at the decanter, Magruder drew back and returned. As he did
so, the man left at the fire joined him and his companion. He had
coal-black whiskers, and grinned, grim and halfindifferent, like some
keen, kind hound of death, in leash. "You conjecture right, Doctor,"
muttered Magruder, in answer to a grinning whisper; "it is the one who
conveys the assigned women from the prison. Hush, hush!" Did Carnt hear
him? His face was of a purplish grey; the same colour as that to which
the face of O'Crone was turning as he listened to his message.

"Major Leete," he said, in a low voice (it might have been remarked that
the bearing of the message was known to the somewhat disquieted trio at
the head of the table)--"Major Leete wishes me to say that he regrets he
can do nothing against special advices, and that the signature of the
Duke, which you have submitted, though still carrying some weight at
home, is not sufficient to cancel the special prison-regulation attaching
to the keep of this woman. Major Leete suggests, if Mr. O'Crone still has
the leisure, and with the signature to back him, a letter to the Home
Office might bring about some commutation of the penalty--even a
conditional pardon."

O'Crone had poured Carnt and himself a glass of Madeira, and as the
latter concluded his message, he bent over his, and hastily drank it. He
remained noticeably pale. For a while he sat in silence, with hand on
cheek, concealing his face from the three gentlemen--who muttered,
fingering their almonds, with a plausible appearance of concentration.

Now Jarvis Carnt, despite the constraint under which he laboured, began
to observe O'Crone with a sort of curiosity. It might be his own
affection for Madam Ruth was not such that he could comprehend this
earnestness--nay agony--of one who was not a prisoner; on the other hand
perhaps it was. O'Crone, like his host, was in evening dress--white
cravat, satin waistcoat, kid boots--there was nothing distinctive about
him except his face, his hastiness, a slight frill to his shirt, and a
pair of diamond sleeve-buttons. Carnt knew this traveller of distinction
by town-rumour, and by one other interview. Arriving in a wooden
steam-vessel in the Derwent, he had--like Colonel Mundy, Darwin, and M.
Domeny de Rienzi--done the usual round of the prisons and waterfalls. The
ship proving a private yacht, and himself a person of intellect and
means, though a romantic recommendation to Hobarton, hardly palliated an
insatiable curiosity and peremptory temper, which, jarring from the first
on the overworked officials and stipendiaries (sick already of the
scribbling traveller, and his subsequent horror-mongering in London),
culminated disastrously from a hostile interest in the "prison systems,"
to a too tragic curiosity in a welfare of a particular prisoner,
incarcerated in the Cascades for murder. Like a Phoenix from the flames
of the gentleman's indignation against "the system," was born a romantic
letter, demanding a personal interview with the murderess, and refused on
the excuse of a high-strung female's frail health and approaching release
(she was to be liberated on a conditional pardon in five years). Out of
this had sprung the quarrel, already public property, between the prison
officials and their persistent petitioner: the latter not improving his
position by losing his discretion, and backing an amazing demand for her
release on Ticket-of-leave with an exalted signature; indeed, only
bringing to a head the now obvious pique of his hosts. It was now that
his tragic requests began to smell of appeal, and, as in most human
cases, when one has begun with an exalted argument, and later adopted
this method, it was soon apparent that he was done. The authorities were
beginning individually, and then collectively, to avoid him as a
busybody, an offended prancer, a bewitched person, a crazy devotee,
without solid faith in his bona fides, or in a backing out-of-office, if
renowned, and but chillingly inscribed.

The female prisoner thus forced into notice had been transported for a
tragic crime, and Carnt, in his capacity of clerk to the factory, saw her
weekly, and had once even spoken with her. Madam Ruth's life-sentence had
been given her for homicide, and the history of her crime closely
resembled that of Lucy Ashton, or rather the legend on which the great
weaver, Scott, wove his saddest and most poetical tapestry. She had shot
her dissipated husband. A special interest clung to her figure in the
prison. As one of the commandant's servants, and for some reasons
connected with her state of health and nurture, prison discipline was
somewhat lightened for her. She shared a single room with a
fellow-servant; was attached to the hospital; and had the privilege of
private dress. Thus she had been seen for three years reading or drawing
at her window; hurrying with head down from hospital; or wheeling the
commandant's child in the quadrangle. She drew pictures of flowers, which
were brought to her now and then by Mr. Shaneson, the quadrangle women,
or even saved for her, in a withered state, from the table of the
Commandant. Some examples of these Mr. Shaneson had in his room off the
gate for the amusement and charity of visitors. Sir John Franklin,
himself, had accepted one of a cabbage flower. It was indeed the habit of
the generous visitor to buy one as a momento. In short, it was in this
room, with its sidelong peep-holes or curious places of espial, for
observing unseen the knocker or incomer at the gate; with its rows of
light manacles, leather tawse, and iron gags; the little pictures of
single flowers always held by a conventional pink hand with motto, that
Carnt docketed his ledgers. In the evening, as he lingered in the arch of
the gate, preparatory to exit, he would often see the woman hugging the
wall with the child's carriage, or talking with the females, few of whom
seemed to bear her malice for her privileges. Yes, he would often see the
tall and fragile figure, and sometimes a stooping woman picking up a toy
in her track. He had once fallen in love with her auburn hair and her
melancholy, but only once had dared to speak with her. He knew what it
would mean, did he accost her--while she--with her chill, hard face--was
not one who looked at men. It happened thus.

He had ascended one evening to the Major's dining-room, at the door of
which he had been bidden to wait. The soldier-servant had gone in,
leaving him in the passage. Below, on the flags, he had left a string of
good-conduct women, who had been assigned, by doctor's orders, to
domestic situations. He was often chosen to conduct the reformed women on
his way town-wards. It seemed beneath the gravity of the free
warder--unless in special cases. This was a favour that he loathed, but
dared not, or was too kind to refuse--loathed because of its indignity to
one whose pose was the swell devil-may-care. For the females, pleased at
their "fresh chance," and even, for the moment, timid, they seldom gave
him trouble. Indeed, there is no doubt, he was made use of by the prison
psychologists, because the women bowed to the easy merriness of his
character, his strange, witty way, his goodhumour, tact, and ready
tongue--even if they battened on his sensitiveness to ridicule and
affectionate indecision of will.

It was the Major's habit to descend himself into the yard, and address a
few words to the women before signing them through the gate, but that
winter, grown rheumaticky with the Cascades mists, the clerk had been
bidden up with the book and he had docketed his charges and harangued
them from the window. That night, as Carnt waited, an opposite door
opened, and a woman in black came into the passage with a kettle and tray
of medicine bottles. Seeing her bewildered, as with a service unusual,
and more at the absence of the man-servant whom she wildly looked for,
Carnt offered to give the man the tray, whereupon she spoke to him in a
low voice, saying it was Mr. Carnt, and she was afraid his life was not
congenial to him, there, any more than was her own; but, please, would he
make the best of it, and keep his heart up. Carnt saw that it was Madam
Ruth, but for heaviness could say nothing. The woman put the tray into
his hands, and with a touch on his arm, went back. He was waiting there
with the tray when the man came out, but it was some seconds before he
explained how he got it. This was Carnt's one interview with Madam Ruth.
He did, however, sometimes pass her in the laundry-courtyard on her way
to and from the hospital; but her face, though it smiled, had beseeched
him vaguely not to speak. Once only, on a day of exasperations, he had
dared whisper "Ruth" as she passed, but the fragile figure, when next he
met it, was so grandly troubled, the pale face so fearfully averted, that
he had been grateful enough, when one day she palely smiled.

Now Carnt sat and faced this accomplished traveller, so broken by a last
assurance that he would not be allowed to even look on the poor artist of
the Cascades. Short as was the time Carnt had been in the room, his
wine-driven wits, aided by rumour, had perceived admonition in the manner
of Magruder and Tresham, the two magistrates, and even of their
companion, Dr. Wardshaw, directed not only against himself. Indeed, he,
the prisoner, felt himself if anything happier than the poor gentleman,
nay--in the higher favour. He knew that the message he bore was not
friendly; more especially the second thought about the Home Office, with
its sneer at the conditional pardon. That something in the traveller's
bearing--that mixture of tragic appeal and peremptory demand--that subtle
weakness in a proud carriage--which had shaken the faith of all in him
and his backing, had chilled Leete also, whom Carnt had overheard to add,
as he took the message, that "money-bags has seen the prison, but shall
not interfere with a hysterical woman for a mere buttonholing of a great
man,"--referring of course to O'Crone, to whom Carnt himself had shown
the laundry and great hall. Leete was ill and might be forgiven some
shortness of temper. For Carnt's own feelings, he had, at that visit,
noted an excitement and compunction in O'Crone, where other
visitors--like O'Crone, not taking their guide for a prisoner--had been
grim, mildly ribald, or nervously congratulatory. At this moment he knew
something of what the man--before the pictures in the porter's room and
under the windows of the courtyards--had managed to conceal. Indeed,
Carnt might well have hated this figure with the stoop, the fair whiskers
and the heavy head, but that he had seen a head of the same reflective
cast, bent not unlike it, so often, in that upper window on the left of
the gate in Courtyard I. One of those surges of grim generosity to which
he was subject shot into his heart as he leant with an elbow on the
cloth, stiffly sipping at his wine. A tragic frown was on his sickly
face. He did not know it, but he was eyeing O'Crone with a grim distaste.
His wild heart was troubled with sympathy for the poor traveller, facing,
like himself, a black wall of authority, and burning with it for the
woman whose sad and shrinking vision he had grown to seek along the
quadrangles. He bent forward and began to talk of Madam Ruth,
unquestioned, and in a low voice: at times much moved--as it were,
sulkily harassed--at others with a wide, stiff ease, as he recollected
his position. While doing so, he consciously or unconsciously revealed
more and more of his half-official position in the factory, and in a
while, O'Crone's face rose again out of its apathy, and eyed him



It was an afternoon a year and two months after Carnt's evening at
Magruder's, and he was to meet Heans at the tavern known as
"Muster-Master-Mason's Place," at the top end of Macquarie Street, on
the right of the old place of execution. It was a roughish house,
frequented by sub-overseers, people with business in the prison, and
turnkeys, and that he might catch the late-working clerk, Heans, when he
could get it, armed himself with the after-sunset pass. Their reason for
meeting to-night was one of some excitement. As for the place, it was
handy to Mr. Carnt, and there was attention and a view! From its veranda
you saw the town and bay (forsaken now of the heroic bomb-ships), and
across the pretty rivulet, under your eyes, sat the heavy courtyards of
the prison, gold of stone and black of bars. Heans, dismounting at the
veranda, could see the women taking the air in their grey gowns and
mutches--some sad and dark, some light and lackadaisical--like figures
in a frowning box. A few were gazing up, past him, at the vast hills.

It was a close evening. Keeping the bridle in his hand, he carefully
wiped a bench with a faded handkerchief, and sat down in the veranda. Out
past the horse, his eye looked down with a glint of eagerness, a touch of
the haggard, upon the gate of the near courtyard, and the foliaged
bridge, by which Carnt would come. Sir William would show a certain
agitation--in a word his gold eyeglass would drop on his breast--when his
"acquaintance, Mr. Carnt," emerged lightly from that spy-holed port. Poor
Carnt, with his secret sentiment and hidden feeling (Sir William would
reflect) was "d----bly out-of-place" behind those gates.

Sir William's thin, ceremonious face, to-night was slightly hectic--that
is more so than its habit. It seemed that he, with difficulty, viewed the
hated prospect before him without exhilaration. Now he would fan himself
with a worn canary glove, or knock the dust artistically from his
much-brushed if divinely fitted spencer; now rise on his tight plaid
trousers--so carefully embroidered--and clink delicately to and fro in
the tether of his bridle.

There was no one but himself on the veranda, though from the passage came
a scraping of feet, eager speaking and a tapping of glass. A single elbow
in a torn black cloak projected about the doorway, as though the
accommodation of the little room were overtaxed. This lively and somewhat
mud-bespattered limb held something arresting for Sir William Heans;
twice he turned about and gave it his stare. The man, however, disclosed
no more of his identity--only once showing the point of a sharp nose, and
a hand uplifting a hair ring and a porter glass.

Heans rose and called "Islip" through the doorway. He had been reseated
for some minutes, when the landlord hurried out, followed by the prison
porter, Shaneson. The latter seemed in a hurry to be gone, not only from
the tavern, but from the company of the man in the dirty cloak whose
bearded face Heans could now see in the door, delaying him as he came.

"Mr. Carnt!" exclaimed Shaneson, rather blatantly, "yes, he'll be by now
if he's not wanted by the 'biddies.' There's a couple asking out, though
the bulk's due on Friday. I tell you a gentleman like you would never
have resisted 'em!"

There was some energetic giggling within, and Shaneson hurried down upon
the road, followed suddenly by the passage-loafer at an undignifying run.
He was holding a chimney-pot to his head and his glass dribbled over in
the other hand, while he plied Shaneson with questions--to be answered at
last, as Shaneson disappeared over the embankment, by a halt and a swart
cry of, "It's not discipline. I'll not move an inch for that--not if you
was to appeal till you was blue for it."

Heans had observed them quietly. Something of a student of the human
being, he might well have been excused had he failed to place the meagre
man in the cloak. Voluble in speech, and full of an insinuating disquiet,
he gave an impression of crazy strain. The whole cunning make up of him
from his beard to his coarse boots seemed made for another. While his
ingratiating talk constantly struggled back into the reserved, his
grating comradely tone shrilled with a high demand for sympathy in some
illstifled need. It looked as if he relied rather on appeal and
persuasion--even hectoring--than an attempt to rate or outwit his
fellow-man. The easy half-jocular manner of the turnkey would alone have
assured this. Observe two men, and if one address the other with the
deference due to a woman at one moment, and the next with a jocose
good-fellowship, you may be fairly certain there is disappointment
threatening one of them.

As the stranger returned, the landlord--a tall, sly man, with grey
hair--came along the veranda. "Mr. Shaneson's not the one to sweat a
thing out of," he said, in a slow, distinct voice. "Your order, Sir
William? Them turnkeys want knowing."

"Yes, indeed," said the other; "gin, Islip. I pity the man that attempts

Islip, an old sub-overseer, knew well when to chime with the well-known
"prisoner's growl."

"Gentleman interested in the factory," he gave information in a low
voice; "skipper of a private-sealer, they tell me, endeavouring to ease
the drefful life of a relative immersed in them walls. Odd gentleman! One
day he'll question Mr. Carnt or Mr. Shaneson, and next he'll pass them by
without a look!"

The man in question was again mounting the veranda. He lifted his head
and glared at Sir William Heans, but that gentleman looked away with
almost an insulting languor. To Islip Heans was nodding graciously, and
presently he asked if Mr. Carnt had sent a message.

"Will be up, if possible, at twenty to the hour," said the landlord, "and
would be up before, but the biddies' as been playing up over the new
washing regulations. A guard of redcoats went in over the bridge this
very morning."

"What! Won't the little vixens soap themselves?"

"Nay, it's the floors, your honour. They prefers to pass the water over
them as they has a grudge with, so Mr. Jarvis says. Mr. Jarvis 'as
'imself, I understand, had several buckets."

Sir William was never sympathetic about your bad women.

"The huzzies!" says he, in a quick, distinct voice. "Carnt has no luck. I
declare I would sooner be wardsman to a road-gang than cooped up in that
female bedlam. 'Pon my word, what a life Government leads us fellows! No
consideration for feelings, repute, habit! Remonstrance or complaint
unheeded! Your most courteous letter unanswered! The publicist at home
careless what befalls us!"

He leant forward, slapping his mouth with his fine canary glove, with a
throw of his eyes towards the man in the torn cloak, who, again in the
veranda, was standing somewhat heavily beside the door, kicking the
plaster with one foot. Sir William Heans, it may be mentioned, had penned
in all eight pompous, distinguished, painstaking "complaints" to the Home
Office, only one of which had gone further than the waste-basket of the
head constable--that one, indeed, grown flippant with despair,
penetrating to the desk of a police magistrate, and pulling its writer
after it into the sour gloom of the bar, where he was told to remove his
canary gloves, where his fine air barely stood him before the stern
phrase "admonished" and the term "an impudent fellow "; and whence he
escaped with the "obnoxious smell" of the dock on his delicate hands.

"Just what I says to Mr. Shaneson two years ago," fluted the soft voice
of the landlord. "What be they thinking of shutting up a gentleman among
them termagants? But--himself--he cocks his eye in 'is funny way--you
know Mr. Carnt!--and flings off one of his jokes about his 'ladies of the
Cask-hades.' All the same, Mr. Carnt's not the man he was two years past.
You'll agree, Sir William, the years are showing on him. A joke's a rare
thing now from Mr. Jarvis."

"Carnt is a very soft-hearted man, you know," said Sir William, loudly
and bitterly. "They're breaking Mr. Carnt's heart." As he spoke, the
other man came along the veranda, demanding in a sort of patter "some of
the bottled pale ale." "A moment--a moment," added he, with a singularly
dreadful pallor, "I can't help hearing you talking of Mr. Carnt. Now,
sir, is not your name Sir William Heans?"

"And yours, sir, I am informed, is Captain O'Crone." (Bowing in a
half-abstracted, gracious manner.)

"Yes, sir, but if you are Sir William Heans, I may say I know Mr. Carnt
well, and have heard him speak of you in a friendly way."

Heans' face did not respond to these overtures. It was also somewhat

"Now then, sir, you musn't bother the gentleman," laughed the landlord,
taking his glass. "Was it gin, Sir William?"

"Gin, Islip." (He tapped his canary knuckles on the form beside him.)
"You do not bother me, sir," continued he. "Sit here and talk, if it is
your wish."

Islip shot down on the speaker a sly, sour, blindish look, and passed
indoors. For Heans, he leant forward, fiddling with his bridle, a little
flushed suddenly, and knocked out of his reserve. The other, having taken
his seat on the form, sat looking down on the prison with little, blind,
pale eyes, and a small ineffectual snarl of good fellowship.

"Good heavens," drawled Sir William, bronzing somewhat, "is it really
you, sir?"

"Sir--sir, no irony!" whispered the other, in a tone of querulous
disquiet; "I cannot do it. You and Mr. Carnt would engage me and all I
hope for in a calamitous project--no, I cannot. Sir, it spells ruin! I
was friendless and hopeless when I met Mr. Carnt at Albuera House. My
God--he was sympathetic then! Now I am in a net between you and that man.
You know what you would do. Yet I look in your face, and I say you have
kindness and--and honour. I wish to appeal to you as a broken-hearted
man--as one who has been patient--one who has haunted these hills in fear
and longing."

Sir William had suddenly risen, and now, turned half-away, he bit his lip
over the prison, his arms folded, his face brooding and somewhat fallen.

"It is no use, sir," said he; "you cannot get rid of me. Carnt will not
move without his friend Sir William Heans, and I admit I have made but a
poor attempt to prejudice him against my freedom. Ah, sir, you find us
somewhat weak! I little thought a year ago that I should come to
understand the word 'desperate,' and how it preys on a fellow's courtesy
and endurance. Upon my word, sir, Carnt has had degradation on
degradation thrust upon him, culminating in the post of conductor of the
prison women, sir, from the factory to their place of service; dragging
him raw through the town, subject to silly indignity from every free cad
or vicious emancipist! I, sir--I have stood the indignities showered upon
a prisoner who" (he made a little gesture with his canary gloves down his
yet marvellous trousers), "still dresses as he would wish to be
remembered by his English friends. My status is known to be such that I
may be whipped at any time for disobedience or negligence, and the
underlings do not forget it. I am repeatedly told that I am 'dead to the
law.' I can hold nothing of my own--no particle of property. I must
obtain a pass from a reluctant source, or be within doors at sundown.
Should I go out for a game of cards, every petty official I meet halts
me, and orders out my permission."

"Sir," cried O'Crone, "I heard you were an architect."

"I am no longer employed . . . in that capacity."

They were silent as Islip came out with their refreshment and returned.

For a while O'Crone looked as if he would have asked what was his
business, but in the event elected not to. He had listened during this
bitter revelation with a glare of cynical irony. Yet a gleam of sympathy,
quite gentle and kind, glinted in the daunted and sorrowful cunning of
his face. With his head low on his shoulders, he rose and moved nearer to
Sir William Heans.

"I could almost forgive you, sir," he said, hushing his voice, "in your
bitter desire. If anything could prevail on me to risk it with you, it
would be that repeated irritation of a prey of petty power. If anything
could make palatable to me the way in which you and your friend have
netted me about, have taken advantage of my anguish and my adoration for
an erring woman, it would be this destructive suffering which you have
confided to me . . . yet" (in a low, impressive, almost gentle tone),
"have you thought well to what you--you in your weariness, jeopardy, and
impatience of spirit--nay, you as I met you at the Shaxtons' a year
ago--would risk this tender and shrinking soul?"

"Yes--yes, Captain O'Crone," said Heans, now patting his horse with an
air of quizzical weariness; "should the plan miscarry, a year perhaps
upon her sentence, if your great friends do not interfere with a
suddenness for which I give them credit; for Jarvis Carnt and myself, it
will be, at the best, that thing they call a 'chain-gang' (you have seen
them working on the roads), with Port Arthur waiting on a last skedaddle
for it." He put up his tumbler and finished its contents, the other
watching him rather sympathetically than evilly.

"My G--d, sir, not that place of dogs and black mountains!"

Heans turned with his glove still on his horse, and quizzed him a little
through his eyeglass.

"Dogs?" he said, with an ironical obtundity; "well, sir, they tell me
there are dogs that guard the isthmus--good dogs, many of them, I
daresay; and mountains--yes, there are mountains--devilish, high, black
mountains. And you go there in an old decayed cutter, sir, through a cold
yellow sea. And you pass in, they say, through giant gates of decayed
black rock. And the harbour, sir--the harbour is all o'erhung with a
blight of foliage; and choked with a blight of leathery seaweeds; and
shadowed with a blight of immeasurable forests, so that if a man cast
himself overboard, he is like to be strangled in the seaweeds; and if he
get away his voice only will be heard of; and if he be carried ashore, he
soon grows desperate in that wall of close, black hills, and in case he
should escape his sins, they bury him in a graveyard out in the sea. And
the very ships, sir, crawl in stubbornly round this dead-man's isle for
the clogging kelp about their keels. And if you ask me what they do
there, sir, I'll inform you that they spend their lives like legendary
Sisyphus with his unruly globe, shouldering trees from those unending
forests and replanting them as jetties POUR ENCOURAGER the navies of

Sir William made a little laughing noise, and straightened his handsome
shoulders. "That is what these fellows tell me, Captain O'Crone," he
added, tautening his gloves at the wrist and speaking in a somewhat
forced and social manner. "It may be a paradise for what faith I place in
their veracity!" So saying, he stepped down upon the road, and patting
his old beast upon the neck, began to hitch up his girths.

"You're going?" asked O'Crone, staring out amazement, anger and pity at
him from under grudging brows.

"The sun's going and so must I," said Sir William, "unless I wish to be
stopped by every small official in Macquarie Street in whose harried eyes
my trousers catch. My once dear friends, the Hyde-Shaxtons, used to call
it my 'evening bathe.' . . . See, Mr. O'Crone, you have angered the
turnkey, and he has delayed Carnt. I beg of you, as you hope soon to see
that woman's face--as you hope for Carnt's help--to assume some dignity
and reserve."

 You should have seen O'Crone laugh.

"Now, now, Sir William Heans, you take too much for granted!" whispered
he. "Should our connection with you add to my calmness! When first I met
Carnt, it was pure sympathy with him. He would take a given sum for
having her out on the bridge, there. I believed him, too, when he came
saying it meant certain discovery for him, and he couldn't do it. I
persuaded him to come too. He agreed. Then greed grew upon him, and
nothing would do for him but he must have the woman risked with a certain
Sir William Heans, who, they told me, had been saved hardly from the
penalties of one 'absconding' by official clemency. Is this interesting
story true? I ask you. Or is a piece of gossip more accurate which
whispers of a reputation being bound up with your forgiveness? See--I
care not which it is! They are equally threatening. Sir William, I am
explaining my wild demeanour--my somewhat desperate air. Sir William
Heans thinks it sufficient to advise a more discreet demeanour!"

Heans put one foot in the stirrup, and before answering, looked over his
saddle at the prison. "You put it," he said, "as if Sir William Heans had
counselled calmness of a drowning friend while his hands were hanging on
his shoulders. I put it that your hands are on the rocks while mine are
on the heaving seaweeds." (He got gracefully into the saddle. The valley
was already in twilight. High in a remote wood flashed the retreating
spears. Sir William drew out a black enamel watch).

"Ah, it is past six. When you see Mr. Carnt, would you be good enough to
tell him I have an engagement with a Mr. Charles Oughtryn?" (He cackled
amiably.) "He and his remarkable daughter are desirous of seeing me no
later than 6.30."

O'Crone went to the steps, and came down, still with those bereaved,
dissatisfied eyes.

"Ah, I saw you only last Friday," he said, spitefully, "with a child on
horseback. I suppose that was your Miss Oughtryn?"

"Miss Abelia Oughtryn," corrected Sir William handsomely. He was somewhat
hectically jocund as he arranged his reins. "I can assure you, sir, a
lady as uncommon as her name."

"Indeed I have heard rumours of an uncommon lady, but pictured her
somewhat older than the girl who accompanied you. This was a quite young
girl, weak-looking, with blue glasses."

Sir William's glass fell from an abstracted eye, and he stared at the
harbour. "Miss Abelia rode with me on that day," he said, grandly enough.
"We went towards the ferry to see the first heath. But there was none in

"Ah, there was romance in it!" snarled the other. "Indeed, the lady I was
with told me you had taught the young woman to ride, and that her
attachment to you was pathetic."

Heans greyed just a little more. "Sir," said he, with a light laugh, "I
fear she would have better suited herself with some one less pettily
tyrannised--than your light words suggest."

"And you desert your charge without a thought?"

"It is only a child, Mr. O'Crone," said the other, laughing a little, yet
with a groaning in his tone, "a young thing, who will forget me before my
old nag here."

"And yet you have been living in the man Oughtryn's house, sir, and
benefiting by his friendship and hospitality?--so the woman informed me,
in whose carriage I sat."

Sir William was still laughing a little. "In what capacity--tell me--did
the lady tell you I--er--used the man's house?'

"Rather as you pleased in your self-liberality--nay, forgive me--I did
not credit the rancorous woman."

"A kind woman," said Sir William.


"She knew very well--the truth."

"The truth?" cried the other, advancing nearer, a tremor of apprehension
in his ironical face . . . Heans put in his eyeglass and leant over on
his knee towards him.

"I will tell you," he said, swinging his cane slowly and speaking with a
somewhat hectic air, "since you will have me even earthier than it is
wise for me yet to believe I am. I was assigned as groom, or (let us be
definite) 'pass-holder servant-man' to this Charles Oughtryn sixteen
months ago. I had been seen in conversation with Captain Stifft, of the
schooner EMERALD, too frequently for the police, and in the end--a
humorous end of which you appear to have heard an echo--I was ordered by
the policemagistrate to be assigned out as a servant. 'White-fingered
men' were not then in demand, but some one told Oughtryn at Fraser's
Club, and Oughtryn applied for me. Some time before, he had asked me if I
would train his young miss to the saddle. What would have become of me I
don't know, but for this old fellow--himself a freed prisoner--who had
often seen me riding for my pleasure. He was jubilant at obtaining for
his own what he was pleased to describe as 'a gentleman with some
varnish.' Indeed, he seems to have a feeling that it is a perishable
article, which it is a public duty to preserve. Oughtryn has a small
property at Bagdad, and I would gladly have been altogether removed there
from Hobarton, but this, as I am under the personal guidance of Mr.
Daunt, is forbidden. Oughtryn, if rough beyond notion, has treated me
with consideration; and I have had considerable latitude for a convict

O'Crone was glaring at him with his bearded face fallen and sinister.

"And now," he said, at last, "it is cut and run at the first

"And now," echoed the other, tapping his varnished boot with his cane,
"it is cut and run--at the first opportunity."

His fingers clenched, as he spoke, upon his whip, and relaxed with the
worn, canary glove split across the knuckles. He smiled a faint, forced
smile and advanced it ruefully towards the other's face. "Answer that,
sir, if you can," he said. "My pride, under raw supervision, is wearing
bare. It has been long past the standing capacity of just anger. Look at
these darns--rotting fast, my old acquaintance, Mr. O'Crone. Human thread
will no more!"

O'Crone threw up his hand despairingly, and turned back towards the
veranda. He had gone but a few steps--his head bowed, his cane rapping on
the great stones of the fore-way--when a party of three men issued from
the door and descended helter-skelter upon him. They were sub-overseers
in grey, and as they moved aside for O'Crone, one plucked at his cloak
with a rude laugh, and pointed down upon the prison. "There's Mr. Jarvis,
now," said he, "stringing the biddies out of the gate."

O'Crone put up his elbow and snarled, but as they went joking down the
sloping bank, he turned and stared back at the bridge. A small door had
been opened in the nearest gate, and a black figure, which might have
been that of Shaneson, stood just outside. A man in a tall hat, with a
swaggering air, was accompanying three shawled women across the rivulet:
the latter arm in arm, the former sauntering a pace in the rear. One of
the women tripped in the twilight as she went for sheer lightheartedness;
the others seemed old, and did not remove their faces from the ground.
The man kept his eyes up upon the ale-house, and hardly once changed
their direction.

Sir William had started off down the inn-approach, but reined up suddenly
some twenty yards from the road. His fine voice came up in a polite hail.
"You will not be able to see him, Captain O'Crone. Here comes Carnt, now,
with his three women."

O'Crone said nothing, but stood glooming at the party with his two hands
on his cane. The thin, nice figure of Islip was clearing the glasses from
the veranda, pallid with the valley's pallor. They heard the door in the
prison-gate close, and the sudden "mingle-mangle" of a bell. Sir William
sat where he was until Carnt and the women vanished underneath the
eminence, when with a sharp farewell of O'Crone, he urged his horse
towards the road. On a sudden, there, halted before him at the bottom,
was Jarvis Carnt, and the women, and in another moment Carnt's figure,
detaching itself, came running up towards him. As the prison-writer
approached Heans (who pulled up) he laughed loudly, though his pale face
was agitated. He put a hand on Sir William's knee, muttering something,
and patting his old beast. "Oh, I'm famous, thanks," he said, and
suddenly turning, ran back. Sir William's stiff figure had hardly stirred
in his saddle, and he had said nothing at all.

O'Crone had been late to detect Carnt's approach, but had instantly
started to meet him. Carnt had broken back, however, before Captain
O'Crone reached Sir William's side, and as the other came behind him,
Heans put out his hand.

"Stay, sir," he said, "Carnt gives us terrible news. Leete is worse, and
is to have command at Port Arthur, and my Heaven, sir, they say he'll
take his servants with him!"

"What's that," cried O'Crone, "his servants! Why then, my God, they'll
take my Ruth away!"

"Yes, she will be taken! Next Monday is the day rumoured."

"Mr. Carnt will get her out on Friday! There'll be women out on Friday!"

"Else she'll go, sir, and we're left," said Sir William, trembling in his

"This may be false! You and that man----"


"You and that man----"

"It is all false--false as life itself! There's not a word of truth in
it, or in any of us, or Life, sir--in man, woman, or child. It is a lie.
You and I are a lie, sir; and that prison; and the confounded, jangling
bell. And the hills in their shadow--what a pitiful lie! Everything--hurt
or joy, or faithfulness like yours, or hope like mine, Carnt's
generosity, Islip's spying deference--all a damnable fancy! Why should I
be brave enough to hope--or you mad enough to care!"

"Hold!" snarled O'Crone, touching his arm, "I believe in your



Strange that Sir William should have been talking of the Hyde-Shaxtons,
for he was to see them both again that night!

It was near the half-hour when Mr. Oughtryn's groom arrived at the house.
It was one of a row of buildings on a hillside and was approached through
a long garden. Heans turned off the main street into a lane, and let
himself in through a double back-gate. An abrupt cliff frowned over the
back, and out of this, extensive stables--now much neglected--had been
hollowed. The yard was flagged between these and the house, which was a
long, oblong, ungabled structure, with a low shingle-roof almost hiding a
cramped second story. It was a faint, old, imperishable dwelling, with
wild bushes in unsought places, growing it seemed from the stones.

The house was harshly built, and had a dignity bred rather of the
bourgeoning of human necessity than the arts. Oughtryn, his daughter, and
a woman inhabited seven rooms in the centre portion, while Heans had two
ground chambers entered from the yard on the right. The left end,
including a large conical room or meeting hall, was uninhabited. Heans'
sitting-room was at first plainly furnished with some chairs of pink
horsehair, a beaufet, and a dining-table, while the bedroom, looking on
the yard, was simple and clean. To the former room, however, Oughtryn had
added from time to time a few "gentleman-like adornments"; such as some
prints of strangled race-horses; a large copper epergne like an
outstretched hand, asking nothing less than pumpkins; a stuffed clock in
a glass-case; and an immense piece of catacomb furniture having a strange
resemblance to a palace wardrobe. It was an old house: once inhabited, it
was said, by the officers of the garrison. It was in the large council
room--so it was told--that the first officers of the settlement burnt the
early records of the colony, and the Governor was found dead in his

[Note 13. Captain Collins: The author may be accused by some, of
confounding fiction with reality. He therefor thinks it necessary to
state that the circumstances of the death of Governor Collins as
described in the text are, as far as he knows, entirely imaginary. But it
is well known that the Governor was found dead in his chair about the
date mentioned, and how he died is still a mystery. A similar note to
this is to be found in Sir Walter Scott's "Waverley", explanatory to a
parallel historical narrative half-true, half-unknown.]

A whinny greeted Sir William's beast as, opening a great bolt in the
first of the three doors, he led it in and baited it beside a pretty gray
with a black mane and a fine, large dapple horse. The stalls were narrow
and partitioned off by walls, the place--according to rumour--having once
been the quarters of a considerable establishment of assigned servants.
It was lit by three port-holes cut in the front wall, which, like that at
the back, seemed of basalt or dark freestone, and built into the latter,
the partitions, each with its cap of wood, ran away in dim rotation into

Changing to a pair of highlows, Heans arranged his horse's bed. He was
thus engaged when a light fluttered in on the walls, and a young girl
stood in the door with a lantern. She had a hand over her eyes, which
were almost entirely shut as if blind, and blinked weakly as she peered
into the stall. She wore a gray dress with a cape, and a small black
apron. Her soft amber hair was parted flat on her head, which she carried
slightly bowed, as if with constant groping through the mist of those
poor restless windows. Her face, with its trembling lids, expressed the
words "serene music."

She put the lamp down by the door, and said it was late, and his supper
was in his room. She added that she had fed and watered "Jan and Vesta."
Her voice had a natural unquiet, yet withal a sort of echo of precision.
Sir William thanked her rather brusquely. He was brushing his animal down
with great nicety, and seemed hardly to hear what she said.

She watched him in a serene way, while he concluded his task. The lantern
threw its beams about the lengthy place, showing the stalls like walls in
a dream, and the high back rock scarred here and there with
hieroglyphics. Just above the dapple cob had been cut the bust of a man
in cocked hat and epaulettes, and further up, under a great crack
splitting the wall across, were the rude letters--


Below these, on a level with the stall walls, was the rough semblance of
a clenched fist and arm bound across with a knife, while low on the rear
of the stall in which Sir William worked was the rickety announcement:
"W's got a BLACK charmer." Cobwebs hung upon these dusty wounds,
softening the fierce injunction, mocking the ribald jest with waving
threads. Either cut as a pathetic sentiment, or for instruction in the
picklock art, was a carving in the far reaches of the stable of a massive
prison lock, with bolt shot, having three pieces of steel inserted in the
keyhole at different angles, and beside it a key with its handle broken.

The girl shifted the lantern where its light ran further into the stall
and said, as she did so:--"Sir William, Sergeant Morrissett was here this

"Morrissett! What was it this time, Miss Abelia?"

"He did not ask to go through the dwelling rooms--I don't think father
would have countenanced it."

"Oh, he might and welcome, miss!" said Heans. "Last time he purloined
only some letters, of an old relation. They were returned to me--somewhat
spilt over and scarred with cigar marks--but, after all, given back. Ah,
ah, my dear, so they've been bothering you in my absence!"

"Sir, there is no reason for anxiety." (She spoke her mind in a precise,
even, blinking way.) "If Mr. Daunt was your enemy, Sir William, for what
reason could he want the 'big room'?"

"What, they're not going to quarter police in the chamber!"

"Oh no, Sir William; on Friday there's to be a grand ball. They want to
hire the room, because of the size and the carven cornice. They have been
flattering father. Mr. Daunt when he was here in September asked what was
in that part of the house, and when father took him through the room, he
said something about its being 'made for a reception.' I heard father
say, he'd heard Governor Collins had been found dead there, and Mr. Daunt
answering, 'Nothing so famous, I'm afraid; it happened in another house
called Regent's Villa.'"

"Ah, most faithful reporter," panted Heans; "it is Daunt's very voice and
greedy heart. That would be too valuable a piece of history for your
father to possess. Daunt will have the Governor die appropriately in a
house of his own naming. How do you know, pray, it is the Superintendent
who wants it?"

"Mr. Morrissett told me so. Mr. Daunt thought the old room would be
curious to her ladyship. It is a farewell party for the Lady Franklin
herself, who is leaving with her husband to explore the swamps and
snow-mountains between here and Macquarie Harbour. The gentlemen are so
charmed with her intrepidity."

"So that was his reason, Miss Abelia?"

"Oh sir, I don't know that he is such a provoking gentleman! But he seems
to anger you, sir, and you are never so very hasty. I have noticed
certain things: for instance, he will nearly always accept an advantage
from anyone, however little it is, and however lowly they're situated. He
doesn't seem to be able to resist doing so. Then, though he seems just
and scrupulous, he is stern in his profession. I think--he likes
overlooking his prisoners. Father says his mind is on you too much--as if
you were the place of a crime he had committed."

A woman's voice called "Abelia" from the house. The girl turned and
groped back into the yard. "Oh, see, sir, there is a light now in the
great room!" said she. "There are some gentlemen in the window in

Sir William strode in his highlows out of the stall, and stood beside
her. A lit door was open on the right of the house and a woman stood
there. Some ladies and gentlemen were also visible in a pair of
windows--candle-lit--on the extreme left. Lit as the windows were, the
figures and faces stood out but softly--a number of ladies and six or
seven men. A single female sat talking with an officer near the glass,
her head a little turned aside and her hand under her chin. She was pale,
and though the wings of her bonnet hid all but her nose and cheek, Heans
recognised her, saying in a sharp voice, "By Heaven, I know the lady in
the window!"

Abelia gave him one quiet, fluttering glance. She then made across the
yard in her wavering, half-blind way. As she did so, a door opened in the
great room, and a second candle shone into the yard. Three men were
gathered dimly in it, and the voice of one harshed hollowly across the
court: "These are the stables where the lantern is--very extensive," They
stepped, as he spoke, into the yard, and advanced slowly across, their
sabres tapping the flags.

Sir William moved from the stable-door and went into a smaller cavern on
the right where he kept his brushes and accoutrements. As he went in he
heard Abelia's voice rising in answer to someone's in the yard. She said,
with a quavering distinctness: "The door where the light stands." Sir
William stepped further into the dark, and touching some bags of chaff,
sat down on one of them.

The men came into the stable, talking loudly. "How can a woman judge!"
said a high, excited voice. "It would seem they are either all mercy or
all severity."

"For every young woman willing to learn," came a downright answer, "my
dear fellow, there are fifty mad to teach--and these, as stands to
reason, the more ignorant."

"Hullo--the old fellow's got a regular mews, here!" said a third voice,
with a hoarse chuckle. "Did Daunt tell you he's been a prisoner, and
don't care who knows it? Always hauling it into the talk. Fantastical
chap. 'Oh, I'm a free man now,' says he, 'and risen, as they call it.'"

"Shist! He may have a fellow here, somewhere. Mind what you say."

"That the daughter--the girl that passed us?"


"Something about her like a child I've seen--oh, I know, riding with a
prisoner called Heans. I used to be interested in that man. He was a bit
of an architect, and quite a nice fellow for a prisoner. Got the gambling
virus, and did a wonderful escape the very day after he'd been at my
house. Daunt, there, caught him at Spring Bay, not a mile from the
schooner. Very sly, he was, keeping it dark. He's a farm servant now at
New Town--he, a capital top-sawyer of a fellow."

"Why that man, Heans, is a groom somewhere in the town--so Somers
informed me."

"No--no, Daunt said his punishment was a sinecure--got him through Sir
John or somebody interfering with the proper course of the law! You know
how Daunt goes on where Sir John is concerned."

"Well, Garion told me Daunt himself put him with an emancipist." [Note
14. Freed prisoner.]

"Eh! that's bad. I can't imagine him so diminished. No doubt Daunt's
having him watched. I like Daunt in private life--I like some of the
things I've seen him do--things for a friend--but, d--n it, I don't know
that I'd care to be in his hands! He had a hate for that man--above his
mere scepticism of the bailiff."

"Of course, Kent and I are new comers here, Shaxton, but we heard Daunt
and his prisoner fell out over some officer's wife. It's hard to see
Daunt heart-struck on a woman!"

"What--ho-ho--who spread that?"

"It's common talk. ON DIT, leaked out through a maid-servant. She caught
them at blows in the lady's drawing-room."

"Who said that?"

"Beal told me that . . . But I heard Daunt himself say, in a discussion
on women, that the woman in a certain case was so infatuated she acted as
go-between for a prisoner and a schooner captain. Yes--dropping her
husband's money from a fly in a by-street. And when Beal taxed him with
its being the same woman, he said, 'You're the very devil himself, Beal!'
Mind, I don't think Daunt's quite the thing. I mean, I think he's one of
those men who doesn't realise how much he guides himself by the letter.
He thinks he can act a man-of-honour and think a cad. Look at the things
he says. I've known him go on like a mean woman. These fellows are
dangerous, Captain Shaxton. The letter's nothing but a fine uniform when
your passions become involved. Any day they are liable to slop over into
some satanic tyranny."

"Why--d--n it! you'd make a villain of old Daunt! I never saw a man with
such an obstinate sense of right. Do you know that fellow spent a week
cross-examining a prisoner before he'd flog him--and that with Magruder
against him! There was that case of Welland. Ho, there's name!"

"Ah, you're a loyal fellow, Shaxton! I request your pardon if I've said
anything against a friend."

"A friend! Ho-ho, Daunt's a crotchety fellow! No, I don't say that. Lord,
what a devil of a lark! Now, I'll tell you--I know that woman. I've heard
of that affair with Heans. But you don't mean to say she used her
husband's money?"

"Come, Shaxton," put in the younger man, pursing his lips and wriggling
his shoulders as he turned away, "let us go back to the ladies. These
stalls will do." He stalked slowly to the door as he spoke.

"Why, Shaxton," said the other, staring at him earnestly, "I hope I
haven't offended you."

The younger man, without turning from the door, where he was now looking
out with arms folded, said easily enough: "Some one is coming across,
sir. Swords, sir. It is the Commandant of foot-police himself, I think."

Shaxton, modulating his voice a little, was simulating a kind of wild
badinage. "What--ho-ho--this is good as GALIGNANI'S! Now, Karne, did he
spread that--let that go, I mean--about the woman? I mean, did Daunt
really tell it that way? Now I want to know the truth, for a reason, yes.
I thought I knew what happened on that occasion. I may be able to correct

"Me! Shaxton, I swear, on my soul, he let the thing pass! You wouldn't
accuse me of speaking like a cad about a man. Watch him when he comes in
now, how wary--how stern and definite he will be. That was how he spoke,
touching the table nicely with his fingers. It was obvious what he meant.
Why should I, for this once, suppose he had no double meaning!"

"Tell ye what," said Shaxton, "ho-ho--have you any objection to my asking
him?" (In a fierce chuckling whisper) "I'll bet ye a fiver--here you are,
Captain Karne--a fiver it wasn't true about that girl. She'd never," he
added, SOTTO VOCE, as steps were heard, "she'd never do a trick like

Karne had his elbow on the stall wall, and was trying to laugh away his
irritation as he looked towards the door. The horses rattled up their

Steps and a sabre echoed in the yard, and a man in a cocked hat appeared
in the light, backed by two faces in gray stove-pipes. He was talking
rather drowsily, but his stout, short, flattish face was alert and grave.
His over-thick, bristly black hair was cut short like his side-whiskers,
and greying where it sprouted from his temples. He wore a white overcoat
buttoned across his uniform, the sleeves hanging empty, and carried a
sword in a small white hand. Moreover, his stern eyes were dark and

The three men turned in, chorusing in a high indifferent manner some
surprise at the fittings and features of the shadowy place. The two last
in black, a young man with a red chin-beard, and a yellow-haired, high
coloured little gentleman with a strong horse face, wore single-breasted
frockcoats of almost pea-jacket length, velvet of cuffs and collars, the
severity of which was qualified in the second instance by a buff
waistcoat, and in the first by a green cravat tied in the large new bow.

"Ha!" said the red-faced gentleman, showing his strong teeth in an
apologetic yawn, "an opportune size. Been stealing some plums, Shaxton,
for that model prison of yours?"

"I?" said Shaxton, glancing up at the cliff, yet continuing to thrust at
a hole in the stall-wall with his sword-hilt. "Ho-ho, it's you, Sturt!
No, this wouldn't do for the Port Arthur people. Give us credit for fires
and ventilation!"

"Shaxton's is a moral place--in the form of a cross," said Daunt, who had
advanced in, looking indifferently about him, but now was eyeing Shaxton
with a keen and curious expression. "With Leete of the Cascades to cut
the stone out" (he looked up at the wall, now addressing Shaxton) "and
such places as this as blundering examples, you should raise a monument
to solitude at Port Arthur."

"Yes, that's good," approved Shaxton, giving a grunting laugh, but not
turning. "And none knows better than you what we're attempting. As
Binifield said, why should we degrade ourselves by whipping these
harebrained fellers? They abscond and abscond and abscond. They are
apprehended, read encouragement in another's eye, and again endanger the
safety of the settlements with their cunning. This is an attempt to let
their own brains punish 'em."

Daunt continued to examine Shaxton. He detected, evidently an unusual
note in his tone, while the sharpish smile of Karne, swinging
wide-legged, hands behind back, against the stall-end, invested both men
with a suggestion of constraint. He suddenly turned his full steady stare
upon the latter, saying rather sharply and in a peculiar, questioning
manner, "I've seen you before, sir?" It was with him a favourite method
of human approach, invented possibly for use among the criminal. Even
among the free it was invariably taken as a statement. In the present
case the officer approached, smiled angrily, stammering, "Yes--yes, I've
had the honour of meeting you several times. My name's Karne."

At that moment the red-faced gentleman drew attention to the
hieroglyphics on the wall, announcing that some "old-timer had been
emphasizing his sentiments in the stone." "Slash," says he, buttonholing
his companion, "read it, Slash. Is that first letter a B or a W?"

"I make two letters of it," said the man with the red beard. "Stone him
to death," he spelt out, in a tone fallen rather hoarse.

"Ah," says the red-faced gentleman, "and what would you have dealt out to
that ruffian, Mr. Commandant?"

Daunt's face looked up wooden and stern. "This was mere bravado," he
muttered, with a slight smile of politeness, "done in a night, no doubt,
by three or four men. Such publishings of hate are meat and drink to
those who cannot nurse their grievances, and would not much increase the
unhappiness of the officer who walked, as he knew, with his life in his
hand. Shaxton, here, believes all this natural hate is to be stilled by a
dose of 'silence.' Well and good! We prison people, however, cling to
bodily punishment--degrading as it is to punisher. The prisoner's brain's
a variable engine. We learn early just how much to tamper with it.
Shaxton steps in with a whole gallery of masks and slippered warders over
a bit of flooring that would sink me."

"Ho-ho," chuckled Shaxton. "I must laugh at you, Mr. Superintendent. When
you're angry you're so good-tempered. Like the lady in the play--so
'precise' even when you're presuming. Say at once we're building a

"I do," said Daunt, with a cold and expressionless certainty, "and for
the very brain you want to punish: the brain that feeds on society."

Shaxton gave up his play with the wall, and, giggling a little, faced
round with his shoulder against it.

"Well, I know you," he said, looking at Daunt and smiling, his face
rather yellow. "You're right, you think, and so you'll say it. The place
is to be put into being. There's no stopping it now. Heavens! I'm tired
of it. They've had me stuck down to details like a fly on a pin. You saw
the first plans, didn't you: you and Shelstone? It was Heans--a
convict--elevated it; and we all attended that night. What's become of
that fellow since his skedaddle? These fellows--Karne here--tell me
you've got a fine old story about a woman in the case?"

"Oh, come now, Shaxton!" laughed the officer known as Kent.

"I was present at Wellington Crescent, sir," said Karne, folding his arms
and staring downwards, "when you were discussing with Beal the
infatuation of certain women with prisoners. You remember you left it
open to conclude a certain officer's lady had helped the convict with her
husband's money?"

Daunt gave the speaker a sort of pondering glare, never glancing at

"You young hell-rake!" he broke out, laughing loudly, yet frankly
crestfallen. "Very well done--ha, ha! I shall have a nice name! You
mustn't go watching me over the wine-glass. Jack's not satisfied with my
entertainment; he must have a quiz at the sit of my cravat." (He looked
round with his rueful laugh.) "He's peeping under the table, all the
while we're hobnobbing, measuring the indifferent style of my pantaloons!
By all the laws of friendship, what have you caught me saying? Named no
lady, I hope!"

"Karne's joking," said the red-faced gentleman, with an immense grin.

"No, sir," said Karne, somewhat wildly. "Certainly you named no lady."

"Was it true though, about that woman?" asked Shaxton, hoarsely chuckling
with the others.

Daunt swung a little towards his questioner, his hand on his chin, his
brow slightly knitted over the ghost of a hardening smile. Their eyes
met, and Shaxton dropped his, lifting and tapping his sword as he leant
against the wall.

"I'll be perfectly candid with you, Shaxton," said Daunt, with a sudden
deepening to official weariness. "The police, in this case, had knowledge
of a package dropped from a carriage by this woman, and picked up by a
discredited gambler who, immediately becoming possessed of funds,
purchased and fitted out the old Government schooner in which Heans tried
to effect his escape. The carriage-hood was up, and in throwing back the
package, a tassel of the lady's shawl became caught in the hoodspring,
attracting the driver; who seeing something in the road, would have
stopped, had not the lady bidden him somewhat hastily to get on. This
crossing his suspicions, caused him to look back at the bottom of the
street, where he caught the Captain lifting the package. When we
advertised for information concerning the escaped schooner, the
hackneyman brought in the story."

A sudden heave of the shoulders and Shaxton pushed himself from the
partition. With much chuckling and a very pale ugly ironical countenance,
he caught Daunt's arm, staring up into his quiet hardening face. "Well,
look there now!" he cried as if lost in the story's scandalous interest,
"and didn't you say the very money was her husband's?"

The other shifted back a precise, cold step.

"To be properly honest with you, Shaxton," he said, with a stern
swiftness, "I concluded so. We knew one of the men was indigent, and the
convict--then allowed a small remittance from the Crown--had been punting

"Upon my oath," chuckled the other, turning away with a sort of slow
jocularity, "I thought I knew that woman! I'm a worldly sort, but I don't
go these depths. If I was to tell you gentlemen that I believed it true,
you'd call it an amazing tale. I'm sure you would--ho-ho! Mind, she had a
leaning for him not only! She must give the cadging beast the money--the
money of the--ho-ho--the money of the cheerful piece--her husband! Here's
a prisoner of good family--tchic, tchic!--a baronet of breeding, drags
the poor soul into the kennel beside him, and bares her silly bosom, that
would have harboured him, to this and that man's mud. I--I feel this."
(He strode to the door into the yard, slurring his words.) "You remember,
Mr. Gentleman Superintendant, I opened my door to him!" he shouted. "My
God--my God--the poor little witch! I thought it was one of our Mothers
of Patience!"

The gentlemen exchanged discomfited glances.

"Speaking frankly," said Daunt, with a hoarse droop in his voice, as he
turned after Shaxton, "I can't forgive myself for letting the prisoner
into a gentleman's house. We police see so much ugly depravity, we lose
our sense of vigilance before the filbert-nailed criminal. But I
admit--well--it was a case in which I was to blame, Shaxton, for a piece
of bitter weakness: an old matter of belief in women."

"Ah, I know that," said Shaxton, rounding by the lantern and pushing it
aside with his wellington. "Lucky beggar--you never need to believe in
anything. But you musnt't go saying these things--you've got a reputation
to keep up. I stick by the Superintendent--don't I, Karne?" He looked up,
chuckling whimsically, and Karne barked an ambiguous--

"Indeed, indeed, sir," amid a negative laugh of relief.

In the midst of it, a crash as from a falling chain startled the company,
and Sir William Heans stooped into the light, feeling his way slowly with
his hand round the side of the arch leading from the harnesscave. He had
removed his highlows, and held an amber-headed cane and a black top-hat
in his left hand. In their surprise, the gentlemen, who had been moving
doorwards, slowed to a halt, and Shaxton, whipping up the lantern from
the floor, shot the light on the moving figure.

Under his hair, somewhat deranged and streaked upon his forehead, his
face looked thin, puffed, and grey of cheek, and his plaid legs stepped
out in a slow, cramped, and painstaking manner. He stopped in the arch,
somewhat dazzled by the lantern, but staring at Shaxton, who with a
strange hard cry suddenly dropped the light a foot and then again
tremblingly raised it.

"Shaxton--you know me," Heans said.

"Heans," said the other, thickly.

"I am not happily known to these gentlemen." (He bowed three shivering
angry bows.) "I heard what has been said. I couldn't allow this to go on,
for the sake of the woman you have been discussing. I am as worldly a man
as any here, and if she had been a bad woman, you understand me when I
say I should not have faced you." (His quickened breaths cut for an
instant through the caves.) "If she had done what Mr. Daunt credits her
with doing--taken her husband's money to help me--Sir William
Heans--there would have been no need for this. I am such a fellow as
that. I would have remained in that place." (He motioned back with his
hat in a kind of choked silence), "till these gentlemen had gone--till
you had done--you, Captain Shaxton, and you" (he looked at Daunt,) "who
dismiss your prisoner's feelings--grooms and what not--and arrange your
SOIREES with so rough a conscience."

The gentlemen--still struck aback--stood staring in a kind of sour
nonchalance--Sturt's horse face with a faint point of encouragement;
Daunt somewhat negative and distressed.

"'Pon my life, sir," muttered Karne, with a reddish countenance, "might
have given us a hint, sir! Didn't dream the man we were discussing was in
engagement here!"

"Indeed, I must apologise," said Daunt, wearily enough. "I am confronted
by these people, every hour of the day. It depends on their conduct. I
cannot allow one to be more important than another."

Shaxton's voice wheezed out: "Oh, come, now, you knew that I and my wife
had known him."

"Perhaps you will tell me what would become of me," said Daunt, with a
little injured laugh, "if I countenanced the social claims of every
prisoner in my safe-keeping?"

"'Pon my soul," wheezed Shaxton, "I'll drop this light! I can't stand it
to his face. . . . Heans now--Heans--Heans--how did you get her to do

Heans made an unmoved, deprecating gesture with his eyeglass--a little
pathetically dingy. "Forgive me, Shaxton," he said, "for being material.
I have unfinished duties. Do not drop it. . . . ."

"Damme, it's heavy, Sir William Heans! I can't hold the thing up for

"I take you, Shaxton," said Sturt, with his brave head up and speaking in
a strong cool voice. "You are inclined to be sceptical. Now, I am not.
Isn't this in the circumstances the action of one of our gentlemen? If I
may put a word in, sir," said he, addressing Heans, "and urging its
indelicacy in behalf of the unknown, I should ask you to state exactly
how you came by that sum of money?"

"Indeed, my service to you, sir," said Sir William, bowing towards the
speaker in some confusion and sadness. "I can correct Captain
Shaxton. . . . if he is still sceptical. . . . about the fair incognita.
It took the entreaties of myself, green to the place and desperate, to
persuade her to take my money and drop it from her barouche. When the
police deprived me of my effects on landing, they had passed and returned
to me my handkerchiefs, among which were some notes concealed in a
perfume-pad. At first I put these aside with a view to escaping. In the
end, however, I played away and was cheated of twenty pounds. The
remainder--after my friend and I had by a miracle evaded Mr. Daunt--I hid
in a box of Tunbridge-ware, having a picture of the Pantiles on the lid,
in this woman's house, and she at my begging entreaty, and because of the
horror she had for my situation, at the mercy, as I was, of certain
unscrupulous persons beneath my station, removed them and cast them into
the hands of my friend at the top of Davey Street."

"Ah yes--yes," said Daunt, removing a cheroot which he had just lighted,
and staring at Heans rather dark-humouredly, "that is true. Certainly I
was on his track."

"Ah, sir, you approve of me!" said Heans, tossing his glass icily.

"Steady now," said Kent.

"I know you for a man who will cut any number of capers," said the
Superintendent, with an ugly sternness. "You would not ask me to

Hereupon Shaxton--who seemed to have recovered from his first shocking
pallor at the sight of Heans--lowered his lantern, and stepping back,
button-holed the Superintendent with a remarkable and clumsy freedom.
"I--ho-ho--" he said, bending and staring in the other's eyes with a
giggling, ironical smile, "I ask you to approve."

Daunt, seemingly jealous for his privacy, and much ashamed of the
business, here pulled away, rather protestingly staring into the other's
baleful eyes. "Shaxton," he said, with a sudden little smile and nod,
"you may command even the police, and call us careless. We will pass the
pad for you and Heans' rash incognita with pleasure."

"Bravo--bravo," said the gentleman with the red chin-beard. Sturt stared
inquiringly from one to the other, his face a brave question. Sir William
looked for an instant in deadly earnest. "An acknowledgment of mistake, I
give you my honour!" Karne was heard to mutter.

Shaxton dropped Daunt's coat, while his chuckling eye flashed laughingly
away and laughingly back. The lamp swung in his hand, and he continued to
giggle menacingly between his depressed and drooping lips. "Ho-ho," he
said, his eyes again on the other's, "you must allow me to protect the
woman! It's rather funny of you, Superintendent. So help me G--d, I
thought you were devoted to her! Weren't you--you won't mind my saying
it?--weren't you constantly in her drawing-room when I was present?"

"True," said Daunt, staring palely at the other, "the foolish girl
certainly had her day of lionizing."

"I swear before G--d, I thought you set up for a sort of guardian of
her," Shaxton chuckled, approaching a fraction closer. "Chedsey, or is it
Beal? has a tale about your having a heroic set-to with Heans, there, in
her husband's room?"

"Yes, I attempted to protect her name," said Daunt, lifting his head a
little proudly and sourly. "We all have our heroic moment about the

At once Heans, who, leaning with his right hand against the wall, and
looking down, had listened to the labelling of his character, uncaring,
if with a vexed and wearying air, whipped out in a burdened ill-held
voice: "What incident is this which has broken your belief in the

The Superintendent raised his eyes to the prisoner, with the question:
"You will continue to connect yourself with her--and her reputation?"
while Shaxton, yet chuckling, stared back over his shoulder into Heans'
face. A blenched stare took Heans, like a reflection of the latter's
unseen eyes. He picked suddenly at the stones with his riding-cane.

Shaxton flashed back at Daunt. "She was struck on you, too," he went on,
as if there had been no interruption; "I think this very sour of you,
Superintendent. You want a better bile. You're rather cynical--aren't
you! Here you are squeezing her through--for a friend--with a lavender
pad! Poor piece!" (He smiled malignly at the Superintendent who, for some
seconds, stared or glared at him.) "Come, gentlemen," he added, hoarsely,
"we must get back to the ladies." (The shadows leapt as he turned
doorwards.) "Bah! it reminds me of the old woman who regretted she had
not married a watchman, as he had his lantern in everybody's yard. Dash
it, before I went for any one, if I was in the habit of rooting in refuse
with it, I'd wipe my weapon!"

Raising the lantern, he again squared round by the door, and stood
staring back at Heans, The others stopped rather protestingly: Daunt, as
it happened, in sombre, nodding expostulation with Sturt. "There you are,
Heans," sighed the Captain, ruefully; "all the possible virtues
still--eh? It's a strange world! 'Pon honour, I hope you're comfortable
in it--not too much against you! Why now--have you still that pad in your

Sir William's eyes flashed at the other, and he half turned away as if he
would return into the cave, pushing back, however, with a quick, cramped
effort. "Indeed, sir, I have not," he said, shaking in an agitated way
the frayed ribbon of his glass as if he would have slightly snubbed the
other; "it is in the possession of a Mrs. Quaid, from whom I had rooms,
at No 5, B---- Street. She was a selfish, bothersome, anxious person, and
would no doubt have retained it. Indeed, I may say, she was so much
impressed by the story that it had been embroidered by an acquaintance of
my own, a lady of title, that, when leaving, I bestowed it upon her that
she might be easy in her mind, at least, about my ton." (Here Heans, with
a slight grey laugh, put his eyeglass to his eye.) "Do me the kindness,
Captain Shaxton, should you call and examine the scent-pad for the
purpose of assuring yourself against a baseless aspersion--do me the
honour to obtain at my expense--I have an old ring here which I am sure
she will accept--some volumes of PLUTARCH'S LIVES OF THE ANCIENTS in her
possession, the study of which I have missed sadly since I have been in
assignment here."

Shaxton, striding across half-jovially, half-malignly, wheezed, "Yes,
I'll do it--yes, poor Heans. You don't mean to say the old hussy deprived
you of 'em!" and clasped carelessly the ring which Sir William thrust
into his hand. At the same moment Captain Sturt stepped over and offered
the prisoner some choice Orinoco tobacco from a silver box.

"In bargaining as to price," continued Sir William, bowing and dipping in
his hand in an abrupt manner, "she wanted a shilling more than I could
reasonably expend. So agreeable in you to oblige me, Mr. Shaxton, and
you, sir--in a stranger too Pray give my respects to the poor woman. The
fellow with the books will find me, here, in Oughtryn's house!" (He nodded
here and there, suddenly broken in spirit and rather ghastly pale.) "I
ask permission," he added, "to remind you I have some duties yet
unfinished." And before any one could speak, he whipped on his hat, and
turned very quickly away into the arch. Perhaps to lessen the impression
of sadness left by his stumbling shadow, Daunt, of the police, called
after him in a hoarse, leisurely voice, "Very good hit, sir--very good
hit!" And as he put the gentlemen through the door, he glanced slowly
about the stable, up at the walls, and at the legend: "Stone him to



Outside the stable, Daunt, despite Sir William's request for polite
reading, took a piece of yellow chalk from his uniform, and marked round
the bolt of the upper door with it. Inside, there was Heans, satisfied,
no doubt, that he had capped an impression of resignation to stables,
and Mr. Oughtryn's service, by his mild fever for the lost classic,
which the cynical officer seems to have treated rather as if a proud and
incorrigible prisoner, having handed over all his belongings to those
about him, now demanded only, for a more perfect peace, one little bunch
of violets to sniff.

One of the gentlemen, moving across the yard, rather urgently hailed the
Commandant, and catching up his sword, he departed, brushing and flipping
the chalk from his fingers. It was Captain Sturt.

"Hope there was nothing wrong in my offering the poor fellow tobacco,"
said he; ranging up and eyeing his preoccupied face.

"No, you did quite right," said Daunt; "they get little enough of that
kind. In any case I am like enough to have trouble with him after
this--bless his mercurial ecstasies!"

"Most interesting. I'm afraid you mean you're sceptical about his

"Not of its endurance, but of its honesty. That man will fight me with it
as long as he can scrape a satin stock together. I leave a visitor like
you, sir, to allow himself the luxury of being moved by him--to offer him
your kindness--while I observe how much he is keeping as a hostage for a
future life of gentility here, what sort of a practical notion he has of
settling down on the tags and tatters he's clinging to--as against those
he's lavish with as he's been to-night."

"Pitching too much ballast overboard for a prisoner, eh?"

"Most fine and magnanimous, isn't that the word? It's wonderful how long
they keep it up--almost as if it were part of the blood. But piecing
together his careless manner about the lady, and himself, and to me, I am
about to keep my eye, for a week or so, about the back gate here. These
are technical horrors, Captain Sturt--pray forget them!"

* * * * *

To retrace our steps, a second and no less curious accident had happened
to Sir William when hiding in the harness-cave. When, to avoid the
officers, he had returned in among the chaff-sacks, in feeling about him,
his shoulder had struck a heavy chain pendant from the two smaller ends
of the place, used for suspending the spare sacks and horse-rugs, and in
thrusting up his hand to stay the rattle of the slack, it had
encountered, not the chain only, but a place of juncture where it ceased,
and its last link was upheld by a double greasy leather thong (resembling
those used by prisoners for tricing up their anklets) to some moving
substance against the back wall. Now what brought Sir William to return
to this again, even after his tragic encounter with the gentlemen, was
this, that while he sat upon an upright sack near the wall, with his hand
still upon the thong, stilling the swinging chain, his arm beginning to
tremble in agitation as he heard what was said, he was confused by the
sudden "jingle" of a lighter chain, inside the wall, and somewhere above
his head. More than once, while the chain still swung, and he durst not
remove his hand, he heard distinctly the steady "tinkling" of this other
in some crevice of the wall. But what had specially roused his curiosity,
was that it had the iron "jangle" of the anklechains of the road-gangs,
known to his ear, [Note 15. The chain makes a deep sound in concussion
with the anklet.] and for one foolish moment--before he realised that it
was connected with the thongs on which he had his hand--he had a fancy
there was a convict up there concealed in a hole. It gave him quite a

We have said the horses were attached by running-chains to the mangers,
and the occasional rattle, no doubt, prevented the gentlemen from being
attracted by the other. When Heans had forgotten all this, and jerked
himself up by the thong to go out and meet the gentlemen, the whole
erection whipped up, the chain in the cave rattling, and the gyve--if
that it were--lashing the stones in its prison in the wall.

It was some time after the yard had ceased to echo with the visitors'
swords and wellingtons, that he came out and took in the lantern. Having
coated the beasts, he returned, and with the lantern in his hand, was
about to leave, when, being interested in the extraordinary way the
sack-chain was secured, he once more shook it into voice, holding up the
light, and eyeing the wall with it. He saw that it was split by two heavy
cracks, each about the width of an elephant's leg, and running obliquely
to the roof like those in the stable. While one crossed the corner of the
wall high up, the other began about five feet from the floor, making at a
sharp angle for the other side. Strolling inward, he ran his glove along
the chain, and, where it ended, the black thongs, pressing in till he
came under the higher of the two cracks, out of which, as he now saw,
they hung. He became very curious. Pulling himself up upon a sack, he
stared up the crack after the strings, but could not see the end of them.
He now lifted and held up the lantern. The strings ran, it seemed, to the
very socket of a narrowing fissure, but he could see no chain or sign of
one. Again he pulled them sharply and heard the hidden iron ring in some
stony crevice. There was plainly a second chain hidden up in the wall;
and, fetter or what not, how had it come there?

He could make little of it, and at the moment, as it happened, cared not
enough to enquire further. It seemed out of the question that a man, even
with the arm of an Ourang, could have jammed a pair of irons so far
within the wall. Nay, an urchin could not have swarmed up the crack far
enough to fix them. Heans climbed down and examined the thongs. They were
of leather, black with age or dust, and carefully knotted--the knots
being flattened as with friction and somewhat greasy and evil-smelling.
Where they met the cable-chain, they were not attached, but passed
through an end link and upward without a knot. Once more--this time with
both hands--Heans had given the chain a heavy pull, and harkened till the
noise ceased. On a sudden he stilled the quivering thongs. It had
occurred to him that they might still be attached to dead legs.

His mind, as we have seen, was only half in that matter, and at length he
left the lantern in the place and went and stood at the door into the
yard. Other things were exercising his thoughts. The two windows of the
large room were still candle-lit, and he saw someone standing alone there
with head bent, and hands on a table. He knew from the hang of her back
and head it was Abelia. From a reflected glow in his bedroom window, he
saw there was unwonted light in his passage. He listened. There was a
muffled "gurr" of conversation. They had not yet departed. The visitors
were still somewhere in the house--possibly on a search for
waiting-rooms. As if in answer to his query, a military cloak moved in
the end window of the chamber, while a shrill volume of conversation told
that some persons were still congregated in its doors into the main
passage. The latter was disclosed to him, both back and front doors being
now open. It was broad and roomy and lit half-way down by a double
oil-lamp not much brighter than the moonlit garden at the other end. He
made out, or thought he made out, a man standing in the garden in a
cocked hat. But this might have been a bush or tree.

That restless officer in the window kept snatching at his cloak, and the
hum of conversation proved it was no breeze that did it by bursting into
a high laugh. Blind Abelia might have been reading alone from a book on
the table. Two fingers of moonlight had shot into the yard over the
eastern roof. Now that the moon had reached the yard, the figure by the
front door was not so easily to be made out. Had the motionless fellow
left the garden!

Oughtryn's shrill voice is heard suddenly in the great room, and the
windy rumours of conversation break into a ripple. All at once Abelia's
constrained figure curtsies, and her shy head is smiling, nodding, and
blinking. Heans sees her grope across the room, and out across the dim
passage. By the light in the hall she has left open the opposite door.
Now a piano tinkles shrill and dim, and suddenly the great room has
people laughing and dancing in it. "Tang--tang--tinkle--tang,
tang--tang--tinkle--tang." The old house lit and peopled after many
years--the old deserted, dumb, black place--where once the King's
representative had court, and died with a secret on his widening lips!
Only yesterday, Oughtryn was asking: "Where are the notables and little
ladies, now!"

Something had frightened them all away. And here they were back again,
tripping over what grim stain--sporting with what new-old tragedy! Was
the old place clean? Those years of emptiness and obscurity--had they
served to cleanse it?

Bring your silken dusters, little ladies!

With a sigh, Heans put on an old cloak, and taking up the lantern, walked
sadly along past the horses, and held it over against the carving of the
prison lock, and the largest of the two great fissures in the stable
wall. This mammoth crack, springing in the last or ninth stall, was wider
than those in the other cave, and split the back wall almost in half,
vanishing into the rocks of the ceiling about a fathom from the
harness-room. Had some maddened, and care-nothing old-timer wriggled up
for a wager--or a crime--or some insane hope--or injury--up the great
fissure, and got stuck in some cul-de-sac above the harness-room, where
the great crack junctured with that of the strings! Who had fed him? Who
had kept his trap a secret? Who had tied his fetter-strings to the chain?
Who had forsaken him at last in his crack of doom? Had no one heard the
whispers begging in the stones?

Why? It was a singular place for a chain to be!

Awful to think some tide of human flotsam had wrestled up those cold
rocks and fallen away--all but its iron and bones!

Heans swung the lantern down, arresting it for an instant on the hewn
image in the cocked hat, and the letters "Stone him to death." For whom
was this dooming? Him they found in the chair in the ball-room there? Or
another whose sepulchre these rocks became? Strange if the doomer cut his
own: "Stone him to death."

Hark! Music! "Tang--tang--tinkle--tang," and the soft thunder of boots,
swords, and voices! The old house sounds hoarse! Grim old house! not
clean yet--not clean yet! Who is it has started the music here? Who
brings poor man and woman together? Who is the new dance-master--whose
stern swift fingers are on those keys? Who will arrange a meeting for two
who were old lovers once--or a hand-fast with her husband, once your
friend! Is it another cutting wicked dooms, and this time as a grace to
his own image! Is it good will or ill will? Is it a good spirit or a
practiser? Is Fate dragging him reluctant, or has he put out his knife
and carved another boding on her stony face?

Sir William spat and blew out the lantern.

He picked his way back to the entrance. When near the door, he started
back into the dark, but staring. Mrs. Shaxton was in the hall--Matilda
Shaxton, beautiful as a lily, but a flushed lily, and a much thinner
woman. There was a man there listening to the music with her, a man with
black-grey hair. He had his back to the yard and seemed to be pointing
out the beauty of the entablement, and widening his arms to the width of
the doorway. She did not seem happy in his company, for he said a smiling
something in answer to her, from which she shrank with an evasive
feminine shrinking. Suddenly he bowed and strode out of the front door.
He wore a cocked hat. Heans saw that it was Daunt. Sir William was not
certain whether Daunt had taken his leave, or waited crying back some
polite cry from the garden.

Poor Mrs. Shaxton seemed uneasy, and looked out at the front and back
into the yard. Heans had the horrid thought that she was still under the
gossip of that man who was growing older and--for so stern a man--loose.
Sir William knew from two spirit-stilling interviews how ugly this
playful mood of Daunt could be. He was troubled for Matilda Shaxton.

There was something threatening in the ENNUI of this stern and bitter
man. Sir William, in his exaggerating, over-angry mood, had likened him,
to-night, to some fine reptile, which had stung its way to supremacy, and
languid with success, was half-inclined to put its fang aside--yet could
not refrain from stinging the boobies, and wanting yet some drawing-room
weapon for common defence. Perhaps Sir William knew him better than those
gentlemen. Yet Sir William, from the moment of their first meeting, had
nursed a dislike for Daunt, and with a mind unhinged by real or fancied
wrongs, had not undermagnified the change in his warder. The prisoner--it
may be told--had imagined his jailer's mood of tolerance unpleasantly
mischievous, and as wide for himself as for the world. Now that he had
got there, this man, said Heans, is not really interested in a position
of eminence. It crosses him to aim fine and kindly, without change,
praise, or cessation; and if he must put a sheath on that venomed
instrument, his tongue (always phonetically right), the good folk, to
whose level he had won, must permit him, for sheer boredom, to wear it in
his cheek. "Surely," he could see him say, "that will be sufficient
homage to stupidity!" That seemed his half-weary, half-laughing attitude.
Yes, the man is dropping his guard (still speaks Sir William's hate and
anguish), and while doing so, is letting go his stern self-discipline.
There he lies, wallowing in the trough, an ugly and sly craft, shockingly
efficient, and unable yet to discard his sinister excess.

It was told that two young ladies, polking together, had been relating
how gallant had been the conduct of a prisoner out in the stable in
behalf of a certain unknown woman, and poor Matilda, dancing by, had
overheard the title, "Sir Somebody Lane." Being curious, she asked her
partner if that was the name of the prisoner; and he corrected her,
putting her right.

She had at length excused herself and crept into the hall alone; and
there, moving out too, was the Commandant of foot-police, who, perhaps
seeing her disquiet, or because, as we understand, there had been already
some slight coolness between them, had very coldly and briefly pointed
out the beauty of the architrave and the doorway. She had not seen him
for a matter of months, and she looked as keenly as she could at him to
discover if it was the same Mr. Daunt, who had made, it seems, some
mistake--quite an old story between them. After a second's scrutiny, she
said, in a rather silly, laughing way--her voice sharp: "How clever of
you, sir, to have discovered a house with a ghost in it!"

But he kept his face away, himself laughing half-ruefully and shrugging
his shoulders. "Oh, you've heard of the ghost?" he said, rather
indirectly. "Would you like to see it, madam? Shall we resurrect it for
you? I never know whether you ladies are serious or laughing!" (He looked
tired, and smothered a little, involuntary yawn.) "Little to be
frightened of," he assured her, "after a period in these obscurities! You
will not see it, madam! Ignore it, in your sternest style--look the other
way, if it come! Do not let their tales trouble you!"

He bows again in a steady, polite, mirthless, disillusioned way; puts on
his hat; and takes his leave. Very abstractedly, and almost a little
goutily, he hurries over the threshold.

Presently, alone there, in the hall, she falls on her knees, and presses
her two hands into her bonnet. Heans saw her sway, and then roll over and
lie there. And the music!

He was hesitating at the hall door, when it filled with fluttering women.
There was a sharp scream, and a long, little moan. Sir William moved back
into the yard. They had removed her bonnet, and her hair was upon the
floor. Captain Shaxton, who, like Mr. Daunt, was just departing, ran back
and knelt over her, chuckling her fears away and gently smoothing her
face and forehead. And the music ran like a little maiden about the
frowning yard--"Tang--tang--tinkle--tang, tang--tang--tinkle--tang,
tang--tang--tinkle--tang, tang--tang--tinkle--tang, tinkle--tang,
tinkle--tang, tinkle--tang, tang--tang--tinkle--tang,



Heans, from his breakfast-room window, saw Abelia searching for flowers
among the bushes with trembling hands. Her grey figure, tight of sleeve
and bodice, relieved only by white vandyke collar, long black apron, and
smooth red head, moved with a blinking serenity along unkempt beds
bordered with broken cement; here culling some small creamy thing from a
gnarled tree that declaimed with every brandished limb it could ill
spare its one rosette; there choosing among little armies of red
valerian which fought and beat the grass unaided under a barren rockery.

Thus began for Heans a day pregnant with curious events. It was Sir
William Heans' fate in these eventful hours to ask a surprising number of
questions, and to have them answered with a remarkable grossness.

The house was built of smallish bricks, with windows and corners of
immense uneven stones, curiously alternating in size with a cumbrous
attempt at the Academic, and hewn sharp. The long narrow roof was only a
few feet high and shorn off at either end without ornament with a stern
and laconic expediency. Along the garden's eastern side, a wall of yellow
freestone, turning yellow-green, ran from street to cliffs, and after a
picturesque and elaborate plan darted up the latter, being breached about
ten yards over the summit by an arch having a white door now fallen
aside. Propped against this, the west wall, and the house-front, were
several pieces of rude sculpture hewn from the same stone. Among these
were two immense acorns and several of those curious pieces of
architecture known as modillions. An immense ball of the same substance,
four feet high, and smoothed to a nicety, stood on the left side of the
main-door, on a wide sunken step of wood. It had a hard, grim look, as
though the carver in his fancy had conceived, and wrought to a hair, a
symbol of a world he hated. It might almost have been the actual block of
Sisyphus. Over the door itself, a single welcoming hand projected  from
the lintel, also carved in stone. The same artist too, or one-whose
manner was similar, had carved a figure on the black stone-fountain that
broke the main path, half-way from the street. Once a beautiful, golden
thing, from which silver splashed against the mountains (for the
triangular ornaments on its five octagonal pillars were yet mustard
yellow), it was now darkened and water-less, and offered as an acceptable
substitute the vegetable waves of periwinkle, with which it was filled,
and which threatened to engulf its central figure. This little black
statue, mounted on a tulip-shaped pedestal ornamented with diagonal
grooves, and evincing considerable ingenuity, if ignorantly moulded,
could hardly have been intended to chime with a peace of bees and
jonquils, for it was only malignant and threatening. It was the figure of
an epauletted soldier, prone on a rock with head thrown back, eyeing the
sky, at whose lips was an iron trumpet through which the water--with a
rather violent fancy--must once have risen and dropped. But when the eye
sought for some fine aspiring face, fitted to the conception, it was
haunted by a mouth and brow wild with a hideous surprise. It may be that
such water as had splashed back upon the sandstone face had exaggerated,
if it had not entirely defaced it, to this strange look. If not, the
notes of that wild clarion had never brought the help so dreadfully
desired, any more than had the water which had fallen upon it washed away
the look of terror.

It was Charles Oughtryn's opinion, not professing it, as he mentioned, to
be worth much, being that of a man who "knew next to nothing," that
fountains and garden ornamentations built for frightening people "was a
mistake, though noble; that gentlefolks was better provided in the garden
with Italian ladies and the new-born young. However, he was not one to
lower the condition of a place by misplacing a remnant of its fine days,
however puzzling to the ignorant."

Had you seen Oughtryn riding to and from his farm at Bagdad--his custom
every Tuesday and Friday--you might have catalogued his peculiar figure,
in a sort of black livery frock over-supplied with cloth buttons, tight
black breeches lost in dull oiled jack-boots, and odd, curious, little
chimney-pot, as something between a lion-tamer and a funeral attendant;
his thin beard and stoutish figure completing the incongruity of his
arrangements with the suggestion of a wilier Falstaff. In his garden,
where it seemed his desire to ruminate in a dark green slop, slippers,
and a Manilla straw, but where, from a gnawing sense of the
fitting--especially since his prisoner had been assigned to him--he had
his rare, grim attacks of path-hoeing and reproving with a bill-hook,
when the results would show traces of a mind attuned rather to an
antagonism of 100 feet gums and repelling mountain-sides of wattle and
dogwood than wrestling blackberry and briar rose (when Abelia would hover
on his flanks with a deprecating crying for the slain, combining the
grieving of a distant relative with the matter-offact encouragement of
the undertaker--answered with curious, shrill, wild shouts)--in his
garden, the lion-tamer dissolved into a rather troubled elder, given to
lapses of cards and worldliness, with very little belief in his
associates, with a dislike for reading but a respect for "works," but at
the root of his being, a determination to perceive, if he could, the best
in the standard--an obstinate reverence for things that have been named
first, which bade him search them towardly rather than sceptically. It
was this curious quality possibly which had so early gained him his
"conditional pardon." We have all met, once or twice in a life-time, with
this singular nature.

Oughtryn had, according to his own account, been card-bitten when, as a
convict-shepherd, he and three fellow solitaries had been gathered for
defence into the hut of one of them during the Black revolt of 1816, and
he expected to carry the sting to his grave. With him, however, it seemed
less a living poison than an irritant. "Fraser's" and ecarte acted as his
dead-nettle rather than his bane, while the occasional exceptions
incidental to thin-voiced companions and whist on Saturday evenings in a
corner of the great room were irregular and seemed limited to meet a flux
of "blunt" rather than some gnawing need or canker. He was a careful
wastrel. As he put it, staccato voce, to Sir William: "He played only
with pudding-ends."

It is to be remarked that from the windows the west wall was almost
hidden in shrubs, as was also the front fence of bars and masonry which
met the decapitated gate-posts. Some yards along the housefront to the
left of the door--which was six feet across, glassless, and sunk in the
wall at most an inch--there stood an old sentry-box shaded by a
tobacco-tree, between two fragments of sculpture: one a biblical group
with the features defaced, the other a great corbel. This was Oughtryn's
summerhouse and here he stocked his cans and tools. In this also, since
he had come to distrust his directness in dealing familiarly with his
prisoner; since they had more than once disagreed with regard to the
signing of the sunset pass; and because Sir William refused excepting on
special occasions to "intrude himself" in the front garden, Oughtryn
would sit, half in, half out, with the COURIER, the VAN DIEMEN'S LAND
ALMANAC, or a piece of knitting, until Heans chose, or did not choose, to
open his window two yards beyond, when, after the unaltering question
"Complaints, honour?" had been answered, gossip, philosophy, or print
would pass between them.

Though they would meet in the cave, Oughtryn seldom entered Sir William's
portion of the house, and Sir William entered his only for an occasional
game of cards in the great room with Six of the pawnshop, himself, and a
floating member who was never, by the way, Mr. Carnt, who had not
Oughtryn's approval, as one who'd "let a friend down" when drinking. The
blind girl, and a sad, monumental, leisurely person with heavy
hair--introduced as "the woman"--came, went, and held the ends together.
Not that Oughtryn had been able to give over immediately, wholly, or
unshared, his "gentleman's apartment" to Heans, to meet whose standard it
had been piled and embellished into being. For the first months of Heans'
service, he had haunted the stuffy passage between the kitchen and his
creation, liable to rushes and intrusions, trampings, tiptoeings, and
clarions of domestic regulation. But, in this way, no one learned more
finally or more entirely than Oughtryn. Heans' high "good graciouses!"
and "good heavenses!" his negative shocked laughs as if some one should
apologise; his quick departures and jolly little "good days"; his long
stable-absences, presently made plain to the builder how much he might
enjoy of the cake his standard sense had prepared--his beautiful, much
mahoganied cake, garnished with cushions of pink horsehair; with plaster
ladies on the mantel-piece, three feet high, protecting doves; with a
brand new marble lamp standing seven feet on the beaufet and vouchsafing
on favourable occasions a peculiar far-off glow; with a life-size plaster
figure of a Roman soldier, quaintly fitted with a drum and a pair of
whiskers, wheedled out of old Asbold, the snuff-man, for an experience;
with the terrible, tomb-like, high-and-mighty wardrobe of a writing
cabinet and the armchairs, one of beads and one of iron covered with
yellow graining and full of hidden springs for pinching the unwary finger
(not indeed a chair to lightly rest in); with its strange china and its
choked race-horses all galloping in tune, ready rung from the
prisoner-auctioneer at a ring-dollar apiece; with the fine things
mentioned and the fine things unmentionable, from the numerous
embroidered mahogany-footed stools which macadamised the floor to the
immense, blue, mosque-andminaret bird cage in the window, containing one
very small and slightly apologetic bird--these poor Oughtryn discovered
must be renounced--lavished, into the limbo of "right done"--yes, better
to cut the painter entirely, so difficult is it to keep a large traitor
hand from patting about you as you enter, or an ignorant brain
mild-tempered before the aggressive dignity of your own arrangements.

But "lavish" as he was with his arts and possessions, Oughtryn was a
miser when his fears or his fetish were in question. It was not his view,
though a vulgarian given that way, that a gentleman keeping in good
smellage with the police should be seen too much at "dives" such as
Fraser's; nor (as well for the first reason as another) should the
notability and gentry approach the desperations in anything--such as
drinking, for instance, or slopping about the blunt. In this certainty,
he begged to be allowed one morning to discontinue the official wage he
paid Heans, as dangerous, being an encouragement to black thinking in the
police-spy, of whom he never feigned to any feeling but fear; and when
that received no answer from Sir William's window, and Oughtryn did not
chance to look round from his knitting (he was in the sentry-box) he had
sworn a very ugly frightened oath that he would be persuaded by no
feeling of veneration for his betters to sign more than one fortnightly
night's pass out. And though, as time went on, it was suggested by the
nameless woman that Sir William's health was being jeopardised by his
closer confinement, yet Oughtryn frequently returned such extra passes as
were conveyed to him, unsigned, with such written comment as: "You knows
the traps is watching an old convict, honour"; or "The traps is sharp
after Bully Suire--your honour will be pulled up constant"; or he would
draw a manacle instead of his sign-manual; or if he were easy in his
mind; for "he was as much bothered with devils as a black-fellow," he
would send a written message by Abelia, to the effect that he was
reluctant to pass the gentleman out into danger and temptation, but
offered to play him crib for it in "Captain Collins' Chamber." As for the
woman--he would say that he had never known one to hit off a man's health
yet: she must slop over him too kind for manhood, or present him with a
sour "hiceberg" whereon to lay a swounding head.

At the sentry-box also, certain favourable occasions (the peace of a
close garden after rain--the unconscious consciousness of Abelia at her
piano, or blinking near among the plants) had wooed even Sir William from
his grievance, and set him off, burning with recollection, on some
fineness of his past, till the window rang with huddled, stilted phrases,
starting Oughtryn, in return, troubled brow and beard buried in knitting,
on some bad narrative of the Black String, and his experience therein, or
that other which gave it light, so wildly connected with his life, the
Black War and the Bounty Five. How it began with the hanging of
"Muskitoo," the bad New Holland black, who led a hell-pack that adored
him; Oughtryn had stood in the hills and seen him hung; Oughtryn heard
the black women wail. "After that they'd spear the very dogs." How fifty
of them caught the Richmond "traps" in a valley, and set on them with
stones, but were beaten with the bayonet. How a man ran forty-three miles
from Swan Port for the Pittwater garrison, his hair turning grey. How
they killed the lonely women. How Dalrymple Briggs, "the beauteous
half-caste," snatched in her speared baby, and beat them off with
duck-shot, "near done up by their bursting through the chimney"; how the
lady mother, Mrs. Jones, with her faggoted roof, won three hundred acres
from Government, cowing them with a fire-arm and a cauldron--them twice
in. How they'd creep up at dark, flinging lit wingwangs on the gentry's
roofs, and a palsy hung on property. How they would suddenly pounce on
the unprotected and lonely, till the whites got the scares and some died
of terror.

How they had a funny hate for a red-coat, and how the escorts were
doubled. How Hobarton shrank when Captain Thomas and Mr. Park were found.
How he shared a bunk with Don, of Don's Battery: the hill he shot from,
knocking them back with an old Bess. How he (Oughtryn) was shepherd to
Captain Blythe, of Oatlands, and warning given by a burnt stick at Table
Hill, when fallen asleep, he waked with his gun gone, in a ring of
blacks. They were doubled up with laughter. Most they killed, but one or
two they spared--him, he supposed, for the stupid sight.

Thus were a number of evenings spent, Sir William flapping a magazine,
and fingering something lengthily in an old landscape which had been
summoned up as a frame to a tale of stalking; Oughtryn, with beard buried
in chest and bowed legs folded one inside the other, knitting and
grumbling along in a high, tinny voice; sometimes, I fear, expectorating
tobacco-juice; at others pausing, stroking his knitting, and staring
round, pale-faced and plausible of eye, as if to fascinate his
hearer--like some old gardenspider who has once pounced with rather
poisonous consequences, and if somewhat stout for the kill, will spin
you, from habit, a cunning, sinister, if vaporous net.

* * * * *

Sir William had just been thinking, as he watched Abelia on that eventful
morning, how strange, how grim, that anything so frail, so vague of aim,
trembling blindly to each flower, blown whither it would not, yet
flutteringly determined, could instil into the midst of pain a flitting
as of peace. There was peace indeed in that bare life--gentle and remote
Abelia. She had a sort of habit of serenity.

As if to belie his thought, he saw her pause in the path that skirted the
great shrubbery bed along the eastern wall. In it grew high baggy bushes,
and fronting her, in particular, that leggy thing imported from the
Amazon, with elephantine leaves, and sweet blue poisonous flowers. He was
amazed and then startled to see the girl spring back and turn away as if
to run to the house; but in her terror she went but a few steps, suddenly
dropping her basket and creeping back again to the tree. He could see how
distraughtly and yet how cautiously her feet took the ground. Some fancy
about a reptile, thought he, some love affair--yet why does the child
move back so shudderingly? There was indeed something repulsive in the
great bush through whose black stems he could see the wall, with, near
the ground, some half-lit crack or opening. Heans sniffed the air. He
could smell the heavy perfume from his window. It was like the caress of
a tiger--soothing, gentle, yet with faint reptilian hintings.

Oughtryn, he knew, had gone off early with few words, and in a black

Now for fear the girl should come to harm--there was something fascinated
in the way she returned upon her course--he snatched up his walking cane
from behind the Roman, and climbed over the sill upon the path. That he
might not interrupt Abelia rudely in some private endeavour, he sauntered
at a slow pace along the house-front. Almost immediately he stopped,
however, for the girl had seen him. She was in a bowed position, as if
about to thrust her way beneath the tree, and now turned with the leaves
about her head beckoning him away. He had never seen her so distressingly
in earnest, and at the same time her face half-kept the wall as at the
hint of something ugly and unpleasant there. Heans held up, swinging his
cane in some annoyance and perplexity. The garden was quiet, its bushes
crinkling with an occasional gust. Sunlight just gleamed on their slope:
the opposite clouded in fine greens. His attention was suddenly drawn
over the wall by a soft exclamation, moaning and guttural. This was
followed by a rattle of talk very short and sharp. He had been accustomed
to hear a strange childish jargon from that direction, and these were two
grown voices. Some seventy yards over the wall were the pediments of the
next house; a small gloomy institution situated on a bare green rise,
where were maintained and educated the few children of the exiled Blacks.

Heans made slowly along his path and down that beside the wall. Abelia
had actually crawled in beneath her tree. Its great leaves, though heavy,
were sparse, and Heans, approaching and piercing them with shaded eyes,
could see distinctly a hole or waterway in the wall and the form of the
girl stooping before it. Something in the picture of the girl's figure
before the cement-framed hole held some curious, half-recalled interest
for him. He stopped. He could no longer see Abelia's figure. He
immediately decided to follow her. He had advanced but four or five paces
when, as if she had seen him, she came groping out from among the dank
loose leaves, and met him with a mouth contracted with fear. Her restless
lids were almost closed, and she sought to get her trembling hands upon
him. When he reached her, she sank against him and seemed unable to
stand. Her white face clutched its shred of serenity.

She pointed to the house and Heans guided or rather pulled her across the
beds to the front. Beneath his window, she beckoned towards one of the
carven stones and fell upon it, letting go of him immediately.

"What is the matter?" Sir William Heans asked.

"I'll speak now," she promised, in her distracted way.

"Why, Abelia--nothing to frighten you, my dear?"

"Yes--yes," she persisted. "I was coming--past the tree--with the blue
flowers--when I saw something scarlet in its centre. It was so bright--I
thought it might be some strange flower. But when I peeped inside, there
was a break there in the wall above the opening, and the scarlet was
showing through. Just then I heard a man speak very quickly. I saw it
must be a soldier, and creeping in, I caught through the wall a man's red
coat and the peak of hair on his collar. Below the crack was a hole for
the runaway water. I thought I would be able to see who they were through
the runaway" (she stopped, blinking before her, for an instant dumb),
"and sinking down I saw them sitting before one another on the grass: a
soldier, one of them, a large angry-speaking man, and the other the old
nurse black-woman, Conapanny. She was holding out her hand and seemed to
moan and pray for something--and he--he had his shoes and gaiters beside
him, and was putting kangaroo moccasins over his stockings. But when
Conapanny went on staring at him--begging and begging--he put his hand on
his bayonet and said--oh, Sir William, the man said 'If she made a noise
he would stick her with his gully!'"

"Gracious heavens," said Sir William, in a soothing voice, "my dear, I'm
quite certain you misheard him!"



The world will hardly make much progress until the wicked man is
segregated; he tires out so many good men.

When Abelia, half-fainting, had been carried in to the nameless
woman--and an explanation vouchsafed--Heans hurried out again, stepping
his way swiftly towards the waterway. Quite clearly, as he approached, he
heard the sound of suppressed weeping. Pushing aside the dank obstructing
bush, he crept in beneath. The opening was some fifteen inches high by a
foot broad, and ornamented by a rough frame of concrete, in which the
trowel had dug like a dagger. It had been opened to drain the upper side
of the wall into the house-gutter, which here hugged the lower, but the
roots of the great heliotrope had cracked gutter, hole, and wall. Not
content with shaking the foundations, the tree had thrust two black arms
through the fissure, pushing beyond its scented flowers.

Sir William, putting his eyeglass to the crack, saw no red-coat, but made
out something like a heap of old clothes spread on a bush. He lowered
himself upon his side in the pallid grasses and stared through the

A few bushes were scattered about a hollow of lean grass, in which lay a
couple of bundles in net bags (quaintly ornamented with soiled pink
bows), some roots, and some fragments of raw flesh, which, from the gray
hair attached to it, he took to be that of a native animal. How these
came to be thrown broadcast was his conjecture, but among them was a
small old black-woman, pinched and grim of face, and sunk as it were in
the earth rather than sitting upon it. Her body was covered with a pink
skirt and tasselled shawl, and in her lap, though her eyes were not upon
it, was something that looked like a dead reptile, but which he presently
saw was nothing more than a withered cluster from the tree above him
whose plucked blue blossoms rot as quickly as the hint they give with all
their sweets. Heans considered it more than likely that he had been
observed by the native, whose senses would be more alert than his own;
but she had given no sign. She seemed sunk in a kind of stupor of
weeping, and plucked slowly at a bit of growing grass with slim black

He was dragged out of his thought by the groaning of the hinges of the
street gate, and the noise of footsteps on the central path. He could not
at first see who it was for the bushes, but once he caught a gleam of
colour, and suddenly, across the fountain, where the black bugler blew
his trumpet, through a clear pass of leaves, he saw a soldier pass slowly
up, a bundle in his hand, and his cold, bold eyes on the house.

Sir William let the man go past and presently started towards the house
along his own path--never, however, coming abreast of the other. When the
soldier reached the door, he did not immediately knock, but stood swaying
and looking about him, tapping his loose trousers with a gnarled stick he
carried. He was smart to note Sir William as the latter turned into the
transverse path, and forsaking the door, came swaying in an easy way to
meet him. He was a tall, full-complexioned, dark-looking man, high of
cheek-bone, thick of chin, but over his limber--almost
skittish--friendliness, stared an obstinate eye, coldly and covertly
angry. He saluted as he approached, yet with an open smiling countenance,
as it were, just civil, if not unlikely to be caught in a rudeness. A
hasty stare would have painted him that sort of ragamuffin personage who
has led the village pack of toughs in his youth, and would spend his age,
the revered of a certain class of toper, in its inn. No worse.

Sir William could hardly believe but he was identical with the man over
the wall, yet noted if it were he, he had, for a reason somewhat
troubling, discarded the moccasins again for muddy shoes. He thought to
himself, perhaps there were soldiers about. He carried no musket. Still
with that belittling pleasantness of his--by which Sir William supposed
he was known to him--he asked, in a rich, glib, fluting rattle, "if Mr.
Charley Oughtryn had the place here: as he had orders to scrub the floor,
and take in furniture for the swarry? A nice thing it is, sir," he
continued, not waiting for an answer, nor giving a chance for one,
"laying us battery-men on to this tack of decorating, a-running us here
and a-running us there--to this 'all and that manshin, like biddies with
their scrubbing brushes. Sooner go after the crows [Note 16. Natives.]
again on the hills--I would, sir--like running children and rusting your
regimental fire-arm--on convict rations. I would, sir--on convict
rations! Spafield: that's my name S-p-a-f-i-e-l-d: pronounce the A like a
R. Now, sir, pleased to tell me, sir, if they expect a man named with a
name like Spafield?"

Sir William, looking, with his fallen, aged face, rather baleful about
the eyes himself, answered nothing, examining the other where he stood
saluting and half-stifling his malign pleasantries. The latter
titillation no more hid, nor yet revealed, his adamant assurance, than
did his rich rattle and untidy moustaches his long ham-like cheek and
thick, heavy chin. The commanding man of a low pack showed just so much
under his wicked geniality as the tell-tale smear on an urchin's mouth.

"Oughtryn, as you may know, is away," said Heans upon a sudden. "You will
produce your permission. I know you soldiers."

The other grinned up with a slight glint, his voice beginning to drag

"Fare and bed till the Sunday morning: Joseph Spafield. That's the
gentleman's name; and that's the order."

"Where is it?" asked Heans, for the man had produced nothing.

His trousers-lappet hung undone, and, after an interval, in which he
watched the other with his angry facetious eye, he thrust in his hand,
pulling it forth again, however, empty.

"I'll give it into the biddie's fingers, if you'll excuse," he answered.
"You've two 'andsome women in the house, I'm told. I'm not responsible to
any one but the people. . . . You'll understand my lord" (dropping his
voice to a whisper). "I 'appen to know your connection here to be a funny
one, and I'm here on dooty. It's not for a guard to be too free. You'll
comprehend my footing's delicate." The man folded his arms under that
malign look.

Still staring at him, Sir William put his glass in, and after a moment's
pause, said: "You may come with me"; whereon the man whipped his bundle
up unpleasing sharp, and followed, almost treading on his heels. As they
passed the sentry-box, he piped up a sportive sing-sing for his private
ear, being a repetition of some curious Indian or Native ditty, in a
rich, harsh tenor:

Morruda, yerraba, tundy kin arra
Morruda, yerraba, min yin guiny wite ma la

but dropped it for a great laugh, as an article escaped his bundle, and
he turned to snatch it up. Though he did so, and thrust it away, in one
movement, Heans had seen on the path a sort of slip-knot of waxed string
on a locket of black wood. It seemed to him a sort of tourniquet.
"Them's the boys to silence the bettong," [Note 17. Kangaroo rat] said
the man, with a loud dark laugh, as he sprang upright. "Aha, my lord,
for a June night in good old England! How a poaching turn do cling!"

Heans turned away from him and tapped with his cane upon the door, which
lay open. The nameless woman appeared on the instant, but not before the
soldier had remarked the ornamental hand over the door, and gabbled out,
how "we was in old somebody's grip, mister, by the look of it!"

(It seems the carved fingers in their form offered rather a grip than a

The woman heard him as she came underneath, but Sir William broke her
statuesque alarm somewhat by a faint smile and the remark, "It appears
differently to different people, sir . . . This red-coat," he added,
indicating the man to the woman, "has just come from the street, giving
the name of Spafield, and stating that he carries an order, quartering
him here for the period of her ladyship's party. There is no question of
his entering the door, of course, unless he can show you authority."

The woman gave a slow cold nod, though she was pale, and said that she
took orders from no one but Oughtryn, and he would be home about three.
She then stared down the man in her remote way, reaching her hand vaguely
towards the door. "We must take you in," she added, as if with a sudden
wavering, "if the gentleman knows what he's saying, and you're here for
the chamber."

A worldly tolerance was in the man's eye, standing there with folded
arms. He had put his bundle down upon the round stone. "I see," he said.
"Now I tell you what, my amiable girl. Here's my Queen's uniform, and
here's me presenting myself, fair and square. My noble here thinks he can
put a man down. I know how much down that gentleman's got to his coat.
He's got a doctor, he has." (Here he laughed.) "Well, here's my word and
title as a soldier. You take me to the room, and I'll start a-work
scrubbin' it. Let me have no more setting in judgment on an officer as is
ordered on nonpleasant duty."

"Ah," said the woman, "well, I don't know but what you mightn't come in.
I'll show you the chamber, and you can speak to the master when he comes

Heans, standing on one side of the door, hit the brick arch sharply with
his cane.

"That satisfies you, then," he said. "The soldier is to enter."

"We understood some help would be sent this evening," the woman
explained. "The officer can come in. Come in, officer."

The man was about to speak, stepping forward after the woman, when Heans
tapped his shouldercushion with his stick. The fellow turned his face
like a snake. "One moment." persisted Heans, motioning the woman back;
"the presence of this man in the house may be alarming to Miss Abelia, as
she is not herself. The entry of a stranger, and one likely to be noisy
and inconsiderate, will hardly restore her. She has been thoroughly
frightened." The man gloomed at Sir William, then threw up his head and
laughed, in a merry, gleeful way. "The 'andsome miss afraid of a uniform,
well, this is news! You're not half a Jo, my lord. I can see that by the
way you talk to 'em. The amiable young charmer'll never 'ear a shoe-step
from me, bar she beckons first--that I'll promise. Abeelya. Abeelya.
That's poetry, that is. There I'm defenceless already! Now tell me, sir,
what was them women's name's made for, opposing or seducting? The girl's
sacred as a funeral, lady, from this hour. While I'm about this 'ere
manshin I'm that young lady's natural protector."

Unexpectedly the woman asked the soldier to wait, while she consulted
with young miss, and turning, stalked back into the side door. Sir
William faced away, resting his right hand upon the arch, and looking
down the garden. The soldier, after examining his companion narrowly over
his folded arms, turned also, and glanced about. A clouded sun threw
dapples of light upon the dark green pleasance, touching the forest of
the hills with a tender gleaming. The garden, ensanguined with wild
valerian, gilded with the cracked and wavering lines of its concrete
borderings, lay out obscure enough, with a beam here and a beam there
upon its weedy paths, and upon the small high figure with the bugle,
a-blowing his silent peal from his periwinkle couch. They were thus
standing, when the street gate--as who should say a far note of the very
bugle itself--again groaned, and an old woman in a black beaver bonnet
entered scrapingly, and came busily up the path. She held up her cashmere
skirt with one hand, carrying a small bundle in the other, but at sight
of the two men, seemed to waver by the fountain, as if uncertain, in a
sudden shyness, whether to return or proceed.

"On my oath," said the soldier, with a deep laugh, as he directed his
gaze about the garden, "old Nick's been a-chipping round this here park
with his chisel, mister, by the appearance of it. And a d--d funny hand
he's made of it. Ah," he cried, turning and accosting the hand above the
doorway in a sharp voice, "ah, welcome me, would yer; and break my 'and
too, by the look of you." And so saying he raised his arm, and struck the
outstretched fingers with his stick. Much to his surprise, and apparently
a little to his confusion, a portion of the carving fell "tap" upon the
top of his shako, and dropped thence upon the wooden step at his feet.
Stooping, he picked up a small black object, and after examining it,
threw it with an oath away to the right, across beds and bushes.

Heans noted that he had broken one of the fingers, but he made no comment
upon the man's actions. With the soldier he turned to meet the woman as,
issuing from the side room, she came again into the hall. She was placing
a handkerchief in her apron pocket, and her heavy chignon of hair seemed
to have become loosened, otherwise she was her remote, tolerant,
statuesque self.

"My young miss," she said, "is glad enough for you to come in, soldier.
She hopes you'll not find the chamber rough. The ladies and gentlemen
said they would polish it theirselves." At this she quavered up a grin
and edged aside, while the soldier instantly snatched up his bundle with
a rattle of broad fun, and made to go in. He seemed now in a hurry and
threw a glance behind. Over his shoulder the woman saw the newcomer
approaching up the path. Turning back, she called a "What is it, ma'am?"
and with her the man turned half-malignly: Sir William also, with his
back a little bent and polite. The old woman came on, shaking the curls
from her face, and mopping it with a large chequered handkerchief. She
stopped down, staring into the hall, as if to locate the feminine voice
which had hailed her, and then turning, bobbed a curtsey at Heans.

It was Mrs. Quaid.

"I'm sure, sir, you'd hardly know me in my poke," she said, in a shrill,
wavering voice; "I'm Mrs. Quaid, what 'ad you as a lodger."

"Why, Mrs. Quaid," he said, his face turning pale, "is this indeed you?"
He put his eyeglass up and smiled and nodded. "What--you don't mean to
say you have earned my gratitude by bringing me the ancients?"

"Yes, sir, very truly I've fetched you them myself--volubles as I thought
I couldn't part with--which I bought seven years agone from a soldier,
the very living smoke of our young guard here, though he was a holder
man. Oho, young friend, are you there?" (to the woman). "He came to the
door, and, says he, 'You'll take them off me, biddy; I'm in trouble, and
old Asbold's got my watch and my Bible. I'll take their worth to you, no
more.' So I give 'im a dollar for the appearance sake. Come now, young
friend," she said, turning to the soldier, who, swinging his bundle on
the threshold, eyed her cold enough, "you'll not surprise me by telling
me your name's Spadefields. A bold and a long-cheeked man he was, like
you, and a careless way with him. But I reckon he was a bolder and a
holder man, even in those days. Ah, I see by your temper--you'd be above
coming to my house with books!"

"How old do you take me for, biddy?" cried the soldier, rattling it out
through a rather stupid grin; "seven years ago I was no battery man."

"Oh well! it wasn't then, young friend."

"Devil's in it," chuckled the other, with an amused yet rueful admitting,
"yes, I 'ad you over the coals about them books--old Biddy Quaid! I knew
you as you came in at the old gate. Fancy now your fetching them books
for the gentleman, to-day! Why, they come from this very manshin! Break
your 'art, you'd 'eave them away if you knew what was on 'em! I'd burn
'em if I had 'em."

"These books are for the gentleman, soldier. So you've a something in
your life, friend, you don't want reminding of!"

"There's something quare," says he, "in your bringing them up to this
door before my very face--old Sall."

"To this door, young friend? Was the wrong done ye perhaps in this very
manshin?" (staring at him.)

"Well, to any door."

"Look there now! and they come from here, did they? I see you staring
round as I came up. A funny old place, I say" (nodding about) "for bad
books to come from!"

The soldier was silent.

"Very peculiar I should have met you," she added, and pointedly turned to
Sir William, leaving the man swinging a quivering bundle and staring out
under his eyebrows.

Heans, who had turned his shoulders that he might better observe him,
swung slowly away to her accosting. He somewhat absently, yet bowing and
smiling, received the books from her hands. Indeed, he seemed preoccupied
by the coincidence, or struck by the man's change of face, as also did
the nameless woman; she addressing the soldier from the shadow of the
portal with the remark: "Well now, they told me I'd be frightened out of
here by the old Governor, but I never have been."

The man laughed. "If it aint remarkable you should mention the Captain,"
said he. "Why, I've seen them very books in Governor Collins' 'ands, I
'ave. But--'e's dead, I 'appen to be certain of that bit of news."

Sir William's eyes had again sharpened on the fellow even while the old
woman was accosting him, and indeed, she too took no pains to conceal a
sort of distaste for the man, putting out her mitted hand and drawing
Heans, by the coat-sleeve, down the path in the direction of the gate.

"Is 'e after them for something?" she asked.

"No, indeed," said Sir William; "there is to be some dancing for the
Governor's lady, and he is to scrub the floors."

The old woman began immediately to pour forth her news.

"The gentleman come in last night," she was saying, "by the name of
Captain Shaxton. I noticed, over the chain, he was an officer, or for Mr.
Boxley's troublesome ears, I wouldn't have allowed it. Oho dear! I saw at
once he was not in a calm state of mind, and I was for calling down Mr.
Pelican, what now 'as the loft (Ah, them was regal places for the poor
baronet--I often says--now in Oughtryn's dangerous 'ands!), when he asked
if I still 'ad the ancient books Sir William 'Eans had favoured, and
showed me a ring, saying you was desirous of purchasing them. As he'd
broached the subject, I let him in, and went to 'unt them up. It could
'ardly be a wager, I considered; yet I did not think the gentleman was
drunk, though I saw his hand a-trembling-like in his sword. When I
fetched the books, he took one or two from the table, and turned the
pages. He agreed they was the ones, and read out about 'Fabulus Miximus,'
saying it was 'a fine sentiment.' But it licked him what you wanted with
them; and he did not seem contented-like. He then offered to give me the
price of them in place of the ring, and again asked me if I knew it for
yours, sir--holding it up--which I said I thought very probable I did. He
paid my demands out, and said you were not applicably situated. He then
asked me, light-like, if I still had in my possession a perfume pad which
Sir William 'Eans said had belonged to him; and he said (with a strange
look, which frightened me back off him), he said, if he could see it, so
that he might know there existed such a thing, it would, for some reason,
help your credit and honour. Well, sir, I couldn't see how it could
redound to that, and you know, sir, I'm not one who can afford to mix my
reputation with sacheys which 'as leather skeletons in their cupboards!
Indeed I had small-stitched it, very careful, since you was taken; but
what could I say? Was he following out evidence, I asked myself, or
satisfying his uneasy mind? I soon saw you must have somehow let it out.
Anyhow, while I was downstairs, I deemed I'd not give it into his
trembling 'and, not for the Governor's acres!"

She gave a sort of sob and wiped her eyes with her handkerchief.

"He was a clever gentleman, and when I told him so and he'd examined it
by the candle, he asked if I'd mind his feeling of it. When I asserted I
wouldn't have it touched, he bent down and smelt it, and then asked
me--staring up at me--if I'd cut a few of the stitches, just to make
certain it was lavender. Says I--drawing it away--'I'm loath to destroy
it for a matter I'm not easy on; it's all I have in memorial of the poor
baronet; besides being embroidered very rare by a honourable woman of the
realm of England.' He was not taken in, however, but said Sir William had
sworn against Captain Daunt to a leather pocket in the lavender, and if I
would satisfy him it was there, a lady might be protected from insult,
and Sir William 'Eans' honour backed. It was different sir, when I 'eard
about the lady. His anger seemed to choke the gentleman, and it was as if
he wouldn't speak no more. 'Oho dear,' says I, 'this sounds like
quarrelling and black blood!' 'No,' says he, 'you're frightened of
getting Heans into more trouble.' 'Well,' says I, I'm thinkin' of all,' I
said, 'but, by your leave, it's me and my boy would be back again, if
Daunt was to think I kept things from him; and you've done me a wrong
repeating it.' 'Ardly 'ad I spoken, when he snatched the pad out of my
'and, and slipping out his sword, there in the 'all, forced the point
into it on the floor: as swift a thing as ever I see. I couldn't 'ave
been more surprised, sir, if he'd stabbed me with it! 'There,' he said,
in a loud, wild voice, 'you can't be blamed now, madam! You can tell them
it was Captain Shaxton discovered it, but when he thrust it back" (the
old woman began sniffing in her bonnet) "torn in my chilled 'and, I
declare, sir, I was thinking it was somebody's bleeding 'art!"

Heans, striding beside her stiffly, with the books tucked high under his
left arm, here turned aside, stopped, and put his foot upon the
fountain-edge. He looked deadly chilled and fallen of face. Mrs. Quaid
extinguished her outbreak, and asked his pardon "for a weak 'eadedness
unnatural in a woman of 'er troubles. I couldn't be so mad with Captain
Shaxton," she said, as if begging forgiveness for failure, "seeing he was
so broken with it. But when, hasty-like, he would have taken the books
from the table, I pulled them away from him, saying I'd bring 'em to you
myself, for that I knew where you was placed. And so I'd find what was
true about it--and if it was for Sir William 'Eans he'd took the secret.
And he asked me when I should go. And I said, in the morning; for if it
wasn't right, I must get somehow into Mr. Daunt's good books. And the
gentleman, he laughed his hoarse little laugh, and he spoke very strange.
'Daunt won't molest you,' he said, 'but if he should come, or send a
constable, show him the thing by all means, and tell him'--the gentleman
laughed--'by a funny accident, I cut it with my sword.'"

"Enough, Mrs. Quaid." (Sir William turned and sat down upon the
fountain-edge, dropping the books to his plaid leg. Before him the
comfortable house--its stones and peeling sashes staring in the midday
grey--stretched soldierly under the royalling of a single gun. It was
empty, the red-coat and the woman having disappeared; though a hoarse
shock of laughter--a laugh like the angry roar of a beast--told they were
in the chamber. A glint of annoyance leapt into Heans' face, but was
suppressed. He began to question her: she facing him, her withholding,
tragic face ungranting among its quivering curls.)

"I wish to ask you," he said, "the old fellow seemed to speak serious?"

"Well, sir," she said, as a whim of compromise, "I'll tell you what I
thought--I thought, sir, you'd really 'ave to be careful mixing yourself
up between a crazy gentleman like him, and a official gentleman such as
you're aware 'as your name and hage in his black-books--a man as 'as made
a powerful place. Oho, dear, that's what I thought! And, now I begs to
remind you, Superintendent Daunt is changed if he's let himself be
maddened into a quarrel--that's without a woman's broke him down. He's a
successful gentleman, and knows how much respect to show to womenkind.
Sir, take an old woman's advice, and wait his reasons before you go
siding with the weaker side!"

"Come now--you, as a lady of experience, consider there is bad blood
between the two?"

"Well, sir, it's time I was returning home, and indeed I'm glad you're
still situated safe." (A couple of tears dropped from the beaver bonnet
on the gnarled fingers.) "But I'll recommend you private, as a lady that
knew you in your palmy days, and 'as 'erself 'eard the staple of 'er cell
clash, unless you're siding with the cleverer, give them their 'eads and
'ands, and don't speak for neither." (She dabbed her handkerchief into
her bonnet.) "Men with bleeding hearts is dangerous, but Mr. Daunt--
well, an older man he may be, but if he's committed a mistake, it's from
the sternness of his judgment. God bless me, never a fear had that
official! Side wise, Sir William. Where other men goes wrong Mr. Daunt
don't. A man as I've 'ad a great kindness from, yet one I can't help
respecting. Oho dear, I don't like to think of the old gentleman's glum
white face--laughing as he did! And the lady!"

"I must indeed side wisely," Heans said, "for more than one reason.
Yet--wait--I have a strange notion----" (He rose slowly from the
parapet.) "Now wait where you are, Mrs. Quaid. I will return in an

With the books under his arm, Heans turned down the path towards the
gate, walking at a good pace. The old woman remained by the fountain.
Heans was muttering as he walked. He seemed to argue with himself, and
spoke with a sort of menace. At the gate, he paused for an instant,
nodded, and turned back. "Daunt is cynical," he argued. "It is a
farfetched story. He may not believe me. Why should he! It is against his
acumen, in which he is a firm believer. However, he may desire to know
whether Shaxton called on Mrs. Quaid even if he keep away himself. His
position is difficult--nay, very difficult. Hobarton will be talking of
last night. The curious incident of 'the stable-baronet' will be about
among the messrooms. He may send to Mrs. Quaid to make sure Shaxton got
nothing. Would he, if he called there, and found the pad--is he the kind
of man to leave it there?

"He is in a difficulty. Mrs. Shaxton's fainting-fit will have called
attention to her. Suppose it comes out who the lady is--suppose in his
anger, or his cunning, Shaxton should let it out--whom the lady is, whom
Daunt has so terribly condemned, it will be remembered instantly how kind
she had been to him. People will wonder how it happened that he came to
treat people, with whom he had been intimate, in this way; how a man
could be so bound up in his profession, so stern in probity, and yet deal
a blow like this at an intimate acquaintance. And let us suppose--cynical
men as we are--it should get about that Heans had spoken the truth--and
there did exist a pocket--before Daunt knew whether he should contradict
it, or steady it out. He might want to know if Shaxton had the thing in
his hands."

Sir William's air was tragically final as he reached the fountain. "Dear
Mrs. Quaid," said he, "only one thing more--risk this for the 'poor
baronet.' Bring the pad to me, and should a policeman wait on you, tell
him that its owner has it again. Come, you will do this?"

"Lord help us, sir, what would you be doing with it!"

"Mrs. Quaid, I have reason to think Mr. Daunt will call for it--if he has
not done so. That is my judgment of him. He may order you to surrender it
for examination. We may lose it--sole evidence of the good fame of a
lady. My Heaven, that cannot happen! Send somebody here with it to-night.
Why, don't you see--he could come to me."

"You don't want the gentleman to come to you, sir," said the old woman,
shrilly. "I'm speaking for you, sir, remembering your difficulty. You
can't speak up against him. You've had too heavy a dose from him."

"His unappeasable hunger and his scepticism will bring him to this
house," Heans said.

She faintly shook her ancient curls:

"Now he'll send somebody else!"

"Not to me. I believe he won't do that. He will fear what I might say."

"Ah, frightened of what you know, sir!" She shook a wild finger at him.
"Mr. Daunt's too clever for you!"

"If you kept the pad, he might deprive you of it!"

"No, sir" (trembling.)

"I will tell you. I have a heartfelt wish to help this lady."

"He might send you a police-officer."

"Mrs. Quaid, I don't think he would risk any one else in evidence. As yet
there are only that silly giddy fellow (excusing his wife) and a
convict's shadowy testimony."

"Nay--nay, sir, I won't hear it from any one! I'm affrighted, sir, of the
gentleman's stern way!"

"Let me request you to tell him, how, in your kindness, you brought
prisoner Heans the books, and he demanded that the pad should be returned
to him."

"Ah, I'll see--I'll see! You didn't mention money, did you?"

"I have my old pelisse in very good wear," Heans said. "If the pad comes
to me to-day, I will send that to you. The fur is of considerable value."

She looked down nodding in not very gracious acquiescence.

"As I'm a sad woman, I never put the pad in the hands of the snatching

"That is true."

"If he presses me, as God's with me" (trembling violently,) "I'll give
him the gentleman's ill message."

"You, madam, know better than I how to go about it."

"Well, sir, I won't answer for the secret, but you can 'ave the pad, sir.
I won't be troubled any longer with the risk of it--no, sir. Oho dear,
I'm not a trusting woman! Charity begins at 'ome, and I've known days
past what you're experiencing, and masters worse than this low Oughtryn.
What you're up to I'm not certain. You're not a person as'll suffer a
woman to advise. Because of better days, and because I had the
looking-after of you in brighter years, I adjures you, be watchful of
them as overlooks you. Ah, a funny place! And funny doings, as I've
'eard, and as this very founting will tell you, with its dead man
a'blowing his ghostly tunes for others' ears. Oho dear, I'm glad mine are
deaf to them, and I pray yours won't be opened to 'em, sir, by violent
doings, in this house. They're going to dance, are they?" She turned
housewards, with a grave air, "Her ladyship and all--ah, a funny place
for the music! Look," (pointing up) "there's my young friend at the
window, this moment, a-peeping at his old friend in the garden. A nice
old young man--not a-scrubbin' yet. So I'll go home, sir. Women 'as their

At her indication, Sir William saw in a window on the extreme right, the
slats of whose shades were just perceptibly raised, the outline of a
figure standing motionless between it and the one behind. He changed his
glance to the heavy bonnet of the old woman--who, with an open
unsatisfied, grey-old stare bobbed a curtsey, and turned shruggingly
away. He looked after her as she hurried downward, a dark curl flapping
about her bonnet.

"And troth, Mrs. Quaid," called he.

When at length he turned and moved housewards, his ear was attracted to a
spot in the eastern wall, whence from beneath the heliotrope came yet a
faint runnel of crying.



At four in the afternoon, Heans, in frogged pelisse and travelling
cap--his horse saddled on his arm--still paced the yard, awaiting
Oughtryn. He arrived at about half-past; unlatching the gate and jogging
in gloomily on his horse. Heans, gathering his reins as the other's
low-crowned straw appeared over the wall, got into the saddle as he came

"Now, where's the child, honour," asked Oughtryn, passing the gate:
"making puddings, odrabit her, when she might have her pleasure-horse and
elegant gallanting! I hope she's not been keeping your honour argufying
again, and begging herself off. The tea-kettle for company and drudging
about--that's her green bay tree! A lowly spirit! Poor chit--poor 'omely
one--I asks pardon for thinking better of her! If she 'ad age, she'd know
how reasonable she was getting her pleasuring!"

Sir William explained immediately how that morning there had been
something of an intrusion, and that Oughtryn's presence was urgently
wanted. He himself, he said, had hesitated to admit a noisy character to
the house, but the women had overruled him, expecting someone for the
great room. Not liking, however, the man's manners, he thought it wiser
to await his return, before leaving. He gave now a short account of the

Oughtryn had dismounted. "So," said he, chewing at a forgotten quid and
straining up his eyes at the other, "did the woman bid him in against the
gentleman's remonstrance?"


"Without showing his voucher?"

"Just so--feminine excitement, I daresay, in view of Friday's festivity."

"Stay--them feminines sometimes see more than us. Something strange for
that here woman to go lunatic over a novelty man. Yet who'll say! They
burns their boats sudden. Why," asked he, with a sudden knitting of his
brows, "have they got soldiers about after somebody?"

"I cannot say," said Sir William, paling and straightening his hat. And
he urged his horse slowly out of the yard.

Sir William ambled past the cliffs and up the lane to Davey Street: a
part, thronged as it was with memories of Pitt's Villa, he seldom
frequented. Turning down, he stopped only at the cemetery, turning into
the street above it, and galloping airily beside the graves. Past these,
the road turned at right-angles to avoid the sea, and Heans pulled in
before a stern Roman villa lightened a little by an encircling of
ironwork, before whose woody garden were drawn up two white-bodied flys
and a dusty barouche filled with baggage. The gate was open, and riding
in, he dismounted and threw his bridle over a paling. He then advanced to
a door in the blind centre pediment and found it open. In the amber light
of the hall inside, a muscular-looking man in split sailor's trousers and
pea-coat stood with his hand on the stair-rail, talking with a groom. It
was a dark, friendly, masterful fellow, the lower part of whose face was
set in a fine toothy geniality, tinged, however, at the moment, by some
lofty cloudiness of the fine brow. He pushed in a half-meaning way to
meet--or almost it seemed to bar--Sir William's entrance.

"Mr. O'Crone is engaged, sir," he said, in answer to Heans' enquiry.
"Indeed, I am to say that he is no longer free to receive any but the few
friends summoned this morning."

"Nonsense, man!" said Sir William, somewhat hectically. "I am certain Mr.
O'Crone will see me! My name is Heans."

The man put up an implacable hand.

"You can hardly be aware, sir," he insisted, his large mouth growing less
genial, "of Mr. O'Crone's sudden attack. I have orders to state plainly,
to whoever may enquire, that on receipt of the news that his unfortunate
friend was to be removed to Port Arthur, and all hope of a meeting taken
from him, he was attacked with such deep grief as to endanger his mind,
and it has been thought wise by his servants to remove him this evening
to the ship, and sail from the place. I can assure you, sir, we have been
much put to it to know what to do. Our master has for some time been
uncertain in his behaviour."

"This is sharp news," said poor Sir William, his legs spread apart, but
very still and pale. "Can I not enter and see him? He knows my name,
'Heans': an old friend." As he spoke he made grandly to push in, but the
man advanced, spreading his large hands apart.

"I must add, sir--and pardon us ignorant men protecting a poor master--we
are in a quandary about admitting any not known to us. My master, sir, in
his wandering, has expressed a dislike, sir, of certain black-mailing
people--prisoners, sir,--who have got the holt on him; and we've sworn,
sir (those of us watching), that to ease him like, we'll have no soul in
but those two or three special named. It's pardonable in us sir, to be
jealous for him. Some of us is mere sailors, hot of head and easy
angered. Understand, we'll not have the master troubled any more than can
be mended."

Sir William was superb at this moment. He put up his glass, and hiding
his trembling lips with his hand, stared the man wanly in his large,
bland, conciliating, brisk, yet bothered face.

"I," he said, with a short cough, "will barely be taken for the
black-mailer. It is a man named Heans, Sir William Heans, and quite well
known to O'Crone. It is a heavy blow that Mr. O'Crone is to be taken
away, and I shall not see him."

The man yet stared with his peculiar friendly implacability.

"You look genuinely hurt, sir, and I feels it," said he. "But I assures
you, no. Several gentlemen has been here--saying the like, but we gave
them that answer. Let me have your message, sir, if it please you. My
master is heavily reduced, sir, and quite unfit for strained talk."

Sir William asked in a low voice for a little "clemency." "Now," he said,
"I had a certain arrangement with your master, which is cut off by his
sailing in a very heart-breaking way. Do you think" (removing his hat,
bending down, and peeping into the hall), "do you think now you could
persuade him to come for a moment to the top of those stairs there. Now
you go, sir, and beg that much for Sir William Heans. I promise you, as
Heaven is my witness, I will go no further than the stair's-foot, and
speak no more than six dozen words!"

The man looked at him for a full minute with a sort of open glaring of
eye and knitted forehead. "If I were to do it, sir," he said at length,
"and anything was to happen beyond what you promise, I'd not pause to
think, sir, before using my arm against you. You can take that risk, sir,
and the risk of my misunderstanding what you might happen to say in them
six dozen words, if you please, and my master wishes."

"Ah," said Heans, chuckling and showing his white teeth, "you take me for
the black-mailer. I am afraid I am dusty with my ride. I shall be sorry
to hear this from his own lips, but I shall take it better, when I have
seen him." (He cleared his throat, and the man slowly moved back from the
door.) "Good Heavens!" he cried, as he stepped in, "I am a gentleman of
my word--as men go! I will stand here in the hall!"

It was a small place, rather dirty, with a well-worn cedar-wood floor
painted in white and varnished squares to imitate marble, and yellowish
walls coloured to a curious imitation of stone with orange-tinted
pillars. The stairway ran up the right wall, guarded by an iron
balustrade in numerous round O's, and where it turned there was a tall
bronze lamp on a stone pedestal. A narrow old key-patterned carpet ran up
the steps, which were broad and coarsely varnished, while light crept
down upon, rather than illumined, the apartment from a half-moon above
the blind windows in the pediment.

The man reluctantly bowed Sir William in, with his hand on the banisters,
and then went up the stairs. At the bend, he took another stare,
breathing athletically through his fine teeth and eyeing, with
halfdecided reluctance, those yet beautiful plaids, and the tasselled cap
in the gentleman's glove: somewhat overhung and full. He then
disappeared, and immediately, and quite plainly, was heard the announcing
of "Sir William Heans." At once a voice answered querulous and arbitrary.
Presently after the man came down, and taking up his place by the door
with his face inwards, superintended a long wait of more than half an
hour, through which the three men stood swaying and sighing without a
word, the groom under the stairs surveying O'Crone's man, O'Crone's man
surveying the groom, but vouchsafing no explanation but a troubled air of
expectation. Into this, creeping down and floating about the orange
pillars, a drone of persuasive speaking.

At last there was a stamping and rustling, and two rather archaic ladies
in skittle-waists and heavy leghorns appeared on the stairs, and came
hurriedly down, enveloping a pair of flushed faces in grey veils.
Immediately after--but somewhat painfully--came a feeble old woman in a
cashmere shawl and pleated bonnet, followed by two new-fangled young
persons with hoops in their tight buckled dresses, and pretty shawls of
the sham cashmere made at Paisley. A clergyman was with these people, and
all showed fewer traces of emotion than the first pair: indeed the old
woman, though she once put her handkerchief to her face, seemed
peculiarly serene. The young ladies, as they kept their hoops steady with
their haftless parasols, chattered audibly in a discomfited undertone.
Bitter-faced Mr. Craye--for it was he who accompanied the party--found
time during the descent to remark the people in the hall, and took the
occasion--in a somewhat deliberate way, as one piloting newcomers about
the colony--to whisper the name of the slightly PASSE figure cooling his
heels there. The young women were sharply interested--even a trifle
dismayed--while the old woman--who was none other than Mrs.
Testwood--halted half-way down and observed the gentleman with great
intentness. Sir William moved and bowed a little over his glass. He
looked old and flushed, and his face was somewhat deephewn now with
lines; he hardly seemed to observe them as they passed. The young ladies
went prettily out. The old one came down leaning in a sort of serene pain
on her cane. In the door she turned, and beckoning to the clergyman, had
a whispered word with him. Immediately Craye turned in his bitter way and
regarded Heans. Then with evident stiffness and reluctance--as it were a
gentleman breaking in upon a settled theory--he at once approached him,
and whispering, drew, by the purport of his words, Heans' heavy eyes from
vacancy, as it were, upon those of the old woman, who took him
immediately with a quiet bow, and tapped her way out. Craye added
something for himself, as it were, and also departed. His words had been
something as follows: "We heard tell this morning of your last night's
action, Sir William Heans, and as friends of the lady, request permission
to thank you." So it was out already! As Heans did not answer, Craye
seems to have added: "Indeed, sir, it has explained an impression of our
last meeting."

"May I be dead, if I comprehend you!" Heans whipped out. He did not seem
to wholly hear.

When the clergyman had gone, and also the groom, O'Crone's man again
advanced to the banisters, holding there and looking up with an
expectant, set, and anxious face. Sir William advanced round him to the
bottom of the stairs, fiddling with the tassel of his cap and looking up
also, his amber-headed cane under his arm. In the dead silence, suddenly
was heard the rolling of the carriages in the street, and the thumping of
Heans' horse. Presently there was a murmur up the stairs, and the ceiling
shook. O'Crone slowly appeared at the bend, tottering forward, with his
left arm round the shoulders of a dark-bearded servant. With his right
hand he supported himself by the banisters. He was dressed in a black
coat and trousers, but his cravat lay loose and unbuckled upon his neck.
That curious angry dignity which was his, was gone very shockingly for a
mien of weak and shrinking pallor. He looked half his width, yellow, and
shrunken--the look of a man who has yielded. Yet his stooping Jewish
figure had become, as it were, endignified with renunciation, if it shook
in an enfeebled, angry way, as if it were against the making of another
unselfish effort. With the two of them was an oldish man--perhaps the
very last who should have companioned such a nature at such a time--a
stout, pompous, aldermanic looking personage, with a prominent stomach.
(Yet how often and how curiously is it the case that the most faithful
are the most incongruous. Happy is he who sees this early. Poor Lear
might have never turned mad had he recognised his Jester for his
Fortune-destined friend.) This gentleman, who was very thick set, and who
wore his frock-coat open--curtain-wise--over his cord protuberance, took
up a fine position, with hat a-cock and hand in waistcoat: his face in a
state of obstinate muddled depression.

Half-weakly, half-snarlingly, O'Crone stared down at Heans. Indeed, his
face looked for an instant unhealthily wicked, as of one who had found,
in spite of things, a sniff of pleasure in the ill wind.

"Well, Sir William Heans," he said, "here I am. You know you would see
me. I am not a pleasant object."

"Ah," said Heans, lifting one foot to the stairs, and leaning back upon a
quivering stick (the man beside him darkly leaning with his fingers on
the banister, watching with his cloudy smile, that foot beneath his
eyes), "I am sorry, sir, you seem ill. This amazing news--is it really
true? You leave us all with no warning, and with hardly a word?"

"I fear I'm weak," said Mr. O'Crone, "now I'm in it. Nay" (and a dark
stare came into his eyes and he looked rather into vacancy than at the
man below), "who shall hinder me to wail and weep. . . ?"

He muttered on, restlessly smoothing the banister with his right hand,
while Heans stood feeling his chin and glaring up.

"I've joined in black despair against my soul," said Mr. O'Crone, "and to
myself become an enemy."

The fat gentleman behind endeavoured to pull him from his abstraction.
"Nay, nay, a little crotchety," he said, in a faint fussy murmur, "a
little natural contrariety. Do not distress yourself. Let us beg the
visitor to shorten the interview."

"You wish me, Heans," said O'Crone, looking very white, "to carry a
message to your friends in England. Now, are you asking more? You have my
signature for nothing. I have nothing to fear from you. You know as well
as I do I haven't given you or your friend a single moral or business
claim over me."

"I came in to see if it were true," said Sir William, looking up like a
pale old man.

"Come--come, I should compound with a ten-pound note," put in the old
fellow, with a large peevishness. "That is what I would do, gentlemen. It
would satisfy everybody and there will be no rhyme or reason for pokey
speaking." ("Extremely ingenious and agreeable," he whispered, rather
privately, "when he's paid for it. Know him well! Regular quiz. Daren't
do it directly. Too much of a gentleman. I never understood it!")

"Ah, you mistake Sir William Heans," said O'Crone, grimly feeling the
banisters. "Money! My Heaven, it is merely a matter of a little
sharpness! God help you, sir," he cried out, with extreme anger and
bitterness, "I reject your offer, who once, in a different situation, had
my personal acquaintance. I no longer bend to your importunity, nor, in a
private transaction, do I hold myself bound to men who have shown
themselves cruelly void of forbearance. My honour is sadder and wiser out
of the hands of such men. Nay, sir--nay, sir" (lifting his hand and
crying out pettishly), "I have the excuse of illness for speaking

"In a word," said Sir William, staring in extreme sarcasm from the bottom
stair, "you have no need of such men."

"I am too shaky for recrimination. You must pardon me," said O'Crone.

"Stoopid economy, my dear sir," pattered the old personage, pitching up a
shower of snuff.

"God save me," hissed Sir William Heans, "am I in a position to be
quarrelled with!"

"He is asking me a question," said Mr. O'Crone.

"A costly conversation," nodded the old personage. "Come now. Allow me to
hazard----" (He somewhat privately put round a hand towards the back of
his coat.)

The man in the pea-jacket stood leaning against the banisters looking up,
his fist clenched over the rail. Heans, if he were in the position of
some one staring, as it were, through a hopeless window--if he seemed to
stoop under a weight--swung his glass, as he turned away, and jumped his
cane on the pavement, even with a half-jocular appearance.

O'Crone, holding by his man, with his white sick air, cried after him
rather chillily: "I'll not forget you, sir."

Hotly the other halted and looked back. "Ah, you had once a better heart,
my lord," he hissed, whereon O'Crone cried out in agitation:

"Peace, Heans, oh peace . . . go!" And as he hung on his man his eyes
were lowered.

"No, but let me speak your name," said Sir William, whitely staring; "a
man, by G--d, of such a nice forsaking humour----"

O'Crone suddenly covered his eyes, and there was a loud burst of sobbing.
At once he staggered backward, and surprising his man's grasp, fell over
in a faint upon the person behind, who caught and clasped him to his
front with a confused, unstately tenderness.

"Swooned away, 'pon my word!" cried the old fellow. "Tell the man to get
out. I say so--tell him to go out. A nasty business. Very obstinate! Give
it over to 'em. They don't come here for nothing. I say to everyone, if
he's got round you, it's dangerous to bullyrag. If he hasn't, he'll
pretend he 'as. A ten-pound note," he panted; "and rather polite, than
otherwise----" He stopped and his mouth fell open as his eyes caught upon
the action of the body-servant at the door.

This man, removing his eyes from his master, turned and ran at Sir
William, when seizing him by the front of his pelisse, he dragged him
from the centre of the hall into the doorway; Sir William meanwhile
struggling to strike him with his cane, which, being in his left hand, he
used weakly and to little purpose. The other servant, leaving O'Crone,
with lifeless face, propped against the person of the old man, had come
half-way down the stairs, where, seeing that Sir William was being
already thrust through the door, he remained, in pale, if inscrutable
inaction. Heans' antagonist (continually struck at and endeavouring to
shelter his head beneath Sir William's chin) never once released his hold
of the pelisse, but thrust the other backwards against the door--a panel
of which was open--and thence into the garden, where he released him, and
receiving as he turned a heavy cut from the staggering prisoner, ran in
and bolted the door.

Sir William fell to the ground with his effort, but rising lightly,
brushed himself delicately and instinctively where he stood. His glass
was gone and he must search before he recovered it. There was a somewhat
irreparable tear above one knee of his plaid trousers. Presently he went
over to his old beast. There, beside the animal, he rested, with his
hands on the saddle and his head bowed. At length, seeming to become
aware that he was being watched by the man on the box of the barouche, he
moved to the fence and lifted the rein from the paling.



When Oughtryn had put up his horse, he did not go in to the women, but
entered the house by the yard door that opened into the Chamber. He
found the red-coat standing with his back to one of the windows in the
same wall, his face somewhat pale and hang-dog. His coat and shako lay
on a threelegged table by the chimney, and he stood in his grey shirt
and dirty white breeches, to protect the knees of which he had bound
together a sheaf of straw, and this with wooden bucket and brush lay in
the middle of the floor. Half of the room was damp with his scrubbing,
the other untouched. It was fine and long. Three small white windows
broke the walls on either side, the two most eastern with their shutters
closed, the further with their shades raised a few inches over the slate
sills. Between the outer pairs and the middle, on each wall, shallow
arches had been sunk, and in these, in lieu of papering, some elegant
amateur, dreaming of a classic past, had painted archaic shrubs and
ferns waist-high, with here and there a Grecian pillar to the height of
a woman. The sprays and pendants peeped from the plaster with a veiled
air, the leaves, a bluish-emerald, the stiff stems and branches sunken
to the drab of old wounds in cupboarded masters. At the west end, in a
bow of windows, was a small mantel-piece of stone, its supports grooved
and voluted to represent Ionic pillars; while a stone cornice, grooved
in harmony--as with a rude tool groping after the Greek--joined walls
and ceiling. There were two doors into the hall; one close to the north
wall, and another not far from the south. Both were open at the moment,
the room indeed being lit from the hall and the span of light beneath
the shades. Against the more southern door, an octagonal table and three
chairs had been pushed back, the soldier's blue bundle lying there, with
his cane, a besom, and an empty drinking-glass.

When Oughtryn came in, he did not at first see the man, and when he had
peered round, under his hat, at glass, bundle, coat, and shako, he
shrilled out, "Where have ye got, officer?" rousing the hang-dog figure
to a gabbling response.

"What's this!" he said, without the least movement of body or pale bold
head, "Bonnypart himself! Been a-talking it over with your prisoner, Mr.
Oughtryn. Very pleasant, you were, very pleasant and chatty. Yes, I seen
you under the blind. My faith, says I, it's a herridge I see--what with
swells turning prisoners, and prisoners turning swells! Not saying it
mean-like, but the curiousness, Mr. Oughtryn, of the old fellow being
your servant-man, and your treating him so deferential!"

"Why," said Oughtryn, advancing on the figure in his blind, wide-eyed
way, yet looking rather drawn in about the mouth-corners, "I don't quite
remember you. You must be a older man than you look?"

"You're speaking hoarse. You needn't be afraid with me. Weren't you
shepherding for Captain Blyth when the niggers was round Swan Port? You
had a burning scare and we soldiers was run across from Richmond, one of
us dying from fatigue. I remember at the burnt hut, a small hulking
feller very bandy in the leg. My, you was doing the deferential in them
days! Helping here, Capt., and smiling there, Capt. I didn't forget you,
did I?"

"No," said Oughtryn, "you didn't forget me. Nevertheless you're a puzzle
to me. If you is a oldish guard, how do it come doing menial work at your
time of service? It puts me to my trumps. Are you a special
confidential--you don't look to me like a groom for the young ladies?"

"Ah, you want to know why they sent me? As to that matter you've fallen
on your feet. Yes, I can fit you. I'm a gentleman as has had a experience
lately as has made a changed man of me. To out with it flat, my wife has
left her home, and gone off in suspicious circumstances on a ship for
Port Phillip. I've been a bit snappish and sour, and they've put me here
for this work, thinking the sight of the pretty young women would soften
my business for me. Funny cures for funny ailments. It's as much as I can
do to behave unrude to females."

"What packet was that?" says Oughtryn. "We read of a prison-woman running
off with the surgeon of the old CARDEBEQUE. Was that your young woman?"

"Nay, I won't tell you what she went off in. She was no prisoner. Have
some gumption, mate! You ask me why I'm a-scrubbin here, and I tell you
I'm a man who's sick in his mind. I can't help that, can I? You'll have
to put up with a bit of moonying and temper from this officer. You'd
'ardly call the old room cheerful for one of my ailment--yet I say this;
these young ladies of yours is considerate of a man. They seem to scent
he's off of the steady. You see 'em tip-toe in; leave a foul clout, or a
sneaker of punch; and melt like a shadow."

Oughtryn--as his habit was--retired backwards to a chair near the door at
which he had entered, and sinking upon it, and removing his hat, stared
widely and bulkily about the room. Once or so he made use of a box of
sawdust behind him under the table. He had a foolish, half-placable look
upon his face; the curious look of a man not quite comfortable in his own
house, and not very pleased thereat.

"You've been here before, then?" he said, at length. "I hear you speak of
it as the old room?"

"Long before youse come into dwelling here," said the other, "that I can
assure you."

"Not in Collins' day, I bet! I can tell you they say his Honour, the
Governor, died in this very room!"

"Well," gabbled the soldier, laughing very quiet, "I know a bit more than
that about Collins. I tell you I seen Collins dead on the floor of this
very room when I was a young boy. I used to go of errands for him, and
running in late from Government Paddock when the famine was on, I found
Muster Gargrave and Dr. Mountgarret standing over someone on the floor by
that right window. They must have dragged him over to the light. I saw it
was Collins, though he was changed and dark in the face. The doctor told
me to run off; the Governor was dead. I heard they'd found him
a-crouching in the corner of a sofa by the fire, his hat on his head."

"So you seen that?" said Oughtryn, rising and walking over to the
fireplace. "Well, it wasn't usual." (He stood peering stupidly into the
right pillar of the mantel, and under the jalousie.) "I suppose it was
done right," he said, presently. "It was a strange time, I've heard say,
when the famine was on:--kelp and kangaroo, and the prisoners freed into
the bush, each man for himself. A fellow might have crept back through
the lines--some one who hated bigger than he starved--and--but I heard
say there was no wounds found on his Honour?"

"I seen blood on his Honour's fingers, I'll tell ye that, and some was on
the books he had with him, as I know, because they come into my handling.
The Governor's sister was about and the doctor. Can a man murder silent,
and leave no mark?"

"Nateral 'istory narrates he was found dead in his chair. Being resident
among these valuables, I get apicturing what took place. It makes me
curious to meet a man as saw him lying on this very floor. Now, Captain
Daunt--you know the notable Superintendent Daunt--he says to me he didn't
die in this mansion. 'Collins,' says he, 'lived in a house called
Regent's Villa.'"

"Daunt couldn't 'a said that. That gentleman knows I was here. You'd
believe what I say if you knew how I've been all day dreading scrubbin'
up a bloody board by that window."

Oughtryn stood there bow-legged, very glum, and staring from the
mantel-piece to the boards beneath the right jalousie.

"So you is to be made a useful nuisance?" said he at last, as with one
rather crushed in his own house.

"A nuisance, mate! What do you mean?" The soldier turned his malign,
efficient head towards him.

"Hang me, you say them as sent you knew of your knowledge of my place!"
(He lifted again his hat to his head.) "You know the place better than I
do. Hang me, if I'll give in to too much open house!"

"My faith, I think you'll take as you're given!" said the soldier,
feeling in his lapel. "Here's my order, and pretty stiff it is." He did
not move, but stood with the order in his hand.

Oughtryn, after an interval, squirted some juice into the box and came
over. The order evidently displeased him, for he shifted his hat up,
drawing his hand over his forehead, somewhat patient and fallen to
pieces, while he brought the paper to bear against his wide eyes. "I
see," he said, resignedly, "when you're done inside, you're to take over
the stabling. You're to 'ave the chaff-room for your bed. Well--no--it
'ud be handsomer between you and me and my gentleman if I give you the
empty room above here, where there's an old squab and sofa. My
gentleman's in and out of the stable. He wouldn't get along with that
sort of plan."

"Very considerate you are, mate, for me and the pass-man. What about the
young ladies wanting available room? Read your paper. I've orders to
occupy the stable and not to disturb the quality."

"I see--they asks free of all available rooms, specally ground floor. I
suppose you want your key and your independence?"

"You're a knowing one, asking why a man of my age and reckoning should
refuse to be locked up!"

"Well, you'll sleep up above till the room's wanted. My gentleman won't
stand you about his work. I don't know who would think of it."

"Hang me--he'll get along safe enough for his ease and comfort--though I
hears grumbling in stricter parts about you 'mancipists and your convicts
would cause a man guard a good hand. I'll keep out of the old raff's way,
if that's your fright, though I value a sack out there before a squab in
the barrack. Believe me, it leaves a bad taste, Bonnypart, what with my
disease and what I saw under the window. I cain't forget the old fellow.
You give me the key and I'll sleep out."

"I'll give you the key when the ladies want the room. I'm not going to
have my man put upon."

"My body, I don't want to be boxed up!"

"You can go and come as you wish."

"I've told you, break your 'art, I don't want to be bothered with the
women!" (There was a noise of footsteps in the yard, and the soldier drew
aside the blind, looked out, and then back.) "I'm all sour like," he
continued. "No more relish for merryin' with 'em. I go off slack like a
Birmingham gun."

"My blind chit and the woman won't hurt you." The soldier dropped back
the blind.

"Well--d--n it!--you look out, altering orders!"

"I'm here a-making a private asking for my stable till the Sunday?"

The other kimboed his arms and gave a cold, hang-dog shrug about the room.

"I tell you, mate," gabbled he, "I don't want in here."

"Why, gammon," cried Oughtryn, "you're persistin' in that false bruit
about my house, are you! Ill-tempered as like as ill I take it. I can't
have you pertendin' to it. We'll have the whole rout of young ladies
a-fainting and calling 'ghost' if you don't stifle that bit of 'istory.
We're all friends here. We're your obedient, 'umble servants as long as
you don't behave malevolent, and quick to obey orders. The ladies and
gentlemen is welcome to all I have. I have no say where my benefactors is
concerned. The 'ouse is theirs. But you leave my gentleman his place, and
me a private say, and behave yourself healthy."

"Nay, I'll not promise you, mate," said the soldier, pushing himself from
the wall. "Give me the order."

Oughtryn held it near to him, congenial, dazed, and rather sunken of
face. "Them orders is worded over-stern," he said, shaking his head. "An
old-timer doesn't need that."

"Stern you'll discover 'em," said the other. "You get me a drink,
Bonnypart. I've a throat like a padded wall." As he spoke, he thrust the
thing in his pocket, and whipped up and shifted the bucket along the
floor. "It's getting dark," he added, kneeling upon the straw; "to-night
won't see me at the chimbly."

"You get your work done and eat a good meal," said Oughtryn, making away
through the north door. "You don't look to me like a supernatious man.
Hang me, you spoil my cheerfulness talking heavy! Get your scrubbing
done. I want to raise a talk about old times with you, bye and bye, in
the garden."

In the door he stopped and called high for "Abelia," ordering some
"cognac in a glass," and after an interval, in which he stood chewing his
quid and looking into the fading garden, while the soldier knelt upright
in the middle of the floor, holding a brush in his hand and staring like
a bald bad image of Pharaoh at the chimney--Abelia, blind and pale, came
feeling over the half-lit hall, and approaching Oughtryn, thrust
something white into his hand.

She would have given him the glass also, but that he beckoned her, with a
neighing negative, into the Chamber, indicating, in a wide absorption in
what she had brought him, the soldier kneeling upright in the centre.
Holding forward the trembling, amber glass, the girl moved in, a
blind--knowing not whither--smile under frightened lids. At first she
seemed unable to locate a figure in the dark room, going south towards
the table, but when she did so--her sight catching, perhaps, in the gleam
in the bucket, or the man's white legs--then indeed she stopped, her face
rigid, as if transfixed with horror, advancing only after an interval
with frightened, late, placating smile. She came so lightly beside him,
and the man was so absorbed in his sly, black-pupilled reverie, that he
seemed be mazed by her appearance, ducking back with a violent laugh, as
she stopped, with her hand out, holding the glass to him.

"Why, my charmer, I didn't know as it was you," he said, and cursed, and
took the glass as she held it out half-seeing what he did. Taking a swig,
he stole a hard look at her pretty, nodding head, and afterwards another
swig (more slowly), and then another longer look at her serene,
trembling, pallid face.

"Ah," he said, trying to soften his bold white stare, "it's you that was
a-peeping round the other this morning. You're the 'ouse-pet, aren't you,
my pretty? I can say that quick, can't I? You needn't be frightened of
them soldiers no more, now you can start 'em like a sheep. A soldier of
the Queen and your gentleman protector. Eh--now what 'ave I done?
What--you won't forgive me! I'm a shiver yet. It's not the first time
your pretty face trapped a great stoopid of a man or I don't know liddle
shy--do I?"

Abelia drew away awkwardly, blushing a little, and trying to see him
through her lids. "What's your will, soldier?" she whispered.

He gave another fluting guffaw, and threw up and lingered over his
heel-tap. "That's brandy--that is," he said, handing her the glass. "I'm
no man for cat-lap." Before she could free the glass he had her by the
fingers. "Come, you think I jabber enough for two," he whispered; "now,
you say you forgive me for being a soldier and spoiled a-standing
night-guard at the watches. That's where I been when you was sleepin'
sulky, and you shrinks away from us now we're serviced. Remember the poor
irongrays, Queeny. Now then. Are you docile?"

She twisted in his clutch--striving to free herself with her other
hand--her blind serenity trifled with--startled, paling, and
then--laughing low.

"Oh, soldier, let go," she whimpered.

"I'll let go, little shy," he whispered--"I'll let go, if you say 'poor
iron-gray--he's rough.'"

"Poor iron-gray, he's rough," she said, and he took his hand off hers and
the glass. She went to the window for a moment, standing strange against
the grey-green blind; and then fingered along the frescoed leaves towards
the old man. He--Oughtryn--had not looked round. He had a paper in his
hand, but was not looking at it. He was standing in his bulbous, bland,
bandy way, masticating and looking out at twilit bushes. When Abelia got
to the door, she examined him uncertainly. She then whimpered the
question, "Will you sign the pass? It is Mr. Starkey who brought it, and
he has been drinking. He says Sir William has had a fainting fit down in
Asbold's shop."

"It might be a mistake," pattered Oughtryn, low but on a high key. "He
has never drunk too much in daylight. Perhaps he is hac'ally taken ill.
Eleven-thirty. Hang me, if I'll pass him out so late!" (He slowly tore up
the paper.) "Things are not a-boding good. I will go down and bring him

He had let the paper fall in little pieces over the floor. The next
moment, reminded perhaps what was forward by the noise of the soldier's
clout rinsing in the bucket, he turned, adding in a high, tinny manner:
"Here, child, pick 'em up, every one of 'em. At that rate, we'll get no
ball-room." In answer, Abelia knelt in the door and began to gather them
painfully and with a fumbling care that her blindness doubtless made
necessary. Behind, the soldier suddenly made the gloaming clamorous with
a harsh scrubbing and fluting:

Morruda, yerraba, tundy kin arra,
Morruda, yerraba, min yin guiny wite ma la.

* * * * *

Of this day, crowded with strange incidents, perhaps the most surprising
have yet to be related. Oughtryn had not been gone a quarter of an hour,
when old Conapanny, the black, came into the yard, and sat smoking, among
her bundles, at the kitchen door. A neighbour of two or three years, she
paid the two women occasional visits, when she would tell of her yearning
for the scrub, and ask questions about God and life, rather penetrating
than curious, and always in the character of one who spoke to keep
another talking. The Oughtryns were rather flattered by than enduring of
her visits, for she was something of a celebrity, being one of those
faithful women who acted as guides and gobetweens to Mr. Robinson on his
"pacifications," in particular his last journey over swamps and snow from
Western Bluff: indeed, it was said that, like Truganinna, she had saved
his life from drowning. "Marmanuke," she would say, speaking by title of
Robinson, "he stare at blackfellow--blackfellow lay down weapon"; adding
when she chose to talk obscurely--for she had good enough English--
"Blackfellow know Marmanuke velly angly for blackfellow," Enough, though,
of Conapanny's celebrity. She was one of perhaps seven natives left in
the island for various reasons, herself at the instance of Robinson, who
had appointed her native-nurse to the children of the exiles, in which
capacity she served with a restless and convulsive devotion; now shrill
and motherly; now taken by a fit of study and sunk in tattered copies of
ROKEBY or PAUL AND VIRGINIA: for she had that elegant accomplishment; and
now and again (after pining entreaty) dropping harness, and
disappearing--humpbacked--into forests after roots and simples for
childish ailment and perhaps her own.

This evening she had come a-begging a net of kidney beans from the
fountain plot, and for these, since the women were bustled by the extra
hand, "come scrubbing of the Chamber," they had bidden her round by the
house to pick for herself. She seemed shy of this, doubting "big-fellow
Oughtryn, him hound her off," and "Mr. Tuso-servant-man" (as she for some
reason christened Heans, whom she divinely mimicked), "him holler to me
from window," It seems Sir William, early in his assignment, seeing her
hanging about the garden, and puzzled by her appearance there, had, with
one shout, caused her to flee away like the silent shadow that she was.
It is to be added in fairness when next day Heans passed her in the yard,
and stopped to listen to her "'ohoning" with Abelia, as is the way with
women, Conapanny's amber eyes--instead of blazing with angry
recollection--filled with inscrutable tears. Tonight, when told that
Oughtryn and 'Mr. Tuso' were not yet home, she consented with reluctant
"youeys" [Note 18. Youey=yes.] to help herself, but instead of rising,
began emptying dainties, gathered elsewhere, from rush-bag to net. Abelia
had seemed shy of her Conapanny to-night, and hung in the shadow of the
kitchen, or behind the woman. She suddenly moved alone (serene and
enigmatic) to the door-post, and stood blinking upon her. "Where you been
to-day, Conapanny?" she trembled out.

"Where?" grunted the black, not looking up, but continuing her work with
subtle fingers: "Mitis Langdale--Mitis Hall--Mitis Quaid--Mitis Shakerly.
Mitis Hall poorly, Mitter Hall poorly----"

"Out all day?"

"Out all day."

"Conapanny, who was it you talk with on the other side of the wall in the
morning? Conapanny know! Tell me, Conapanny."

"Ai--me talk with a friend," said Conapanny, and she stared up.

"He spoke bad. I hear him. Why you no tell--poor Conapanny?"

"He spoke bad? You hear him?"

She took out her pipe, and knocking it on the flags, rose, hardly putting
hands to ground. Then shouldering her bags, she stepped forward, staring
past Abelia into the kitchen. The woman was busy at the range, and with a
glance about, Conapanny stepped out again and stood a minute under her
bundles with eyes on the ground. The courtyard was yet cosily alight, and
now and then the leaves whimpered in their eyry at the summit of the gum.
Steps came from the hollow room where the soldier was at work, and then a
laugh, and then a swelling song. On a sudden, shockingly on this, there
was a shout and a grim noise of struggling. Abelia turned and pushed
inward to the other kitchen door, where the woman met her, and they put
their arms on one another. It was pretty dark in the passage, which ran
past kitchen and staircase--under which a doorway gave into the hall.
Through the door the latter place gleamed faintly, showing in the
opposite wall the south Chamber door standing open, and even the glass
standing on the table and the bedimmed uprights of a chair. The struggle
continued for the space of a half-minute, with now and then a desperate
cry or exclamation; dropped; was resumed; and then dropped outright. Then
followed the sound of a sort of shamed breathing. In the kitchen, the
woman took courage, and called in a hard slow voice, "What is happening
in the room?" There was a harsh noise as of an effort to speak, but
nothing intelligible. Presently the woman called again: "What's befallen
you, sir? Speak, if you please." And now there came a sullen shout:

"Bring a light here. My 'and's caught."

The woman, turning, snatched a candlestick and lit it at the fire. She
ran to see if Conapanny was at the door, but she had gone. They then
advanced along the passage--serene Abelia holding to the woman's
waist--and turning down the warm hall, peered in at the Chamber. By the
light of the candle, some one was seen lying by the right wall, near the
upper end. "Is it you, soldier?" asked the woman, and the answer came in
that swift unmistakable flute, "My b----y 'and's caught in the skirting,
Sal; it's fair crushed, I'se warrant." With a sigh of hesitation they
sidled in along the wall, and looked upon the man from a little distance.
"Ah," cried the woman, starting back, "there's blood--you've wounded
yourself!" Abelia did not move, however: she stood there gently blinking
in the candle. He lay half on his back, his head sunk, his gaze
adder-like, his long legs spread out towards them, unable to rise for his
left hand, which was caught below the wrist between floor and skirting,
which here gaped--as happens in sun-shrunken houses--near the distance of
an inch. Supporting his body on his right hand, he gave an explanation in
the jabbering jocular, though his words, his massive cheek, and his
assured hard face were a trifle too remote and grey. "For a
guard-officer, I've given us all a bit of sport," said he. "Why, liddle
shy, you'll have to beckon me over; I've no more pluck for the stormin'
of your havenly citydel. My faith, you'll have the laugh of me yet! Mice
is my game. Yes--I see something glint, and I put in me 'and after it (it
was a little lady's ring and d----d if it didn't run in before my
fingers), when I fancied something crossed my palm, and I fell
a-struggling like a woman. Here she is--gripped," he added, and gave a
pull at his wrist, which was ringed about with a scar like a bracelet.
"Now you get my bagnet from the chair, my tender girl, and I'll see if I
can lever 'im out."

The woman did not move, but Abelia, finding a strange courage, felt
through the shadows and found and pulled the bayonet out of its black
case, which the man, rolling over towards the skirting, took in his right
hand, and thrust in beside the other. There was a crack, a struggle, and
he swung over and sat up. After a space, he said: "You women scamper and
get me a clout for my hand," and the two left the candle and went away
together. Presently after, Abelia came feeling in with some linen; and he
rose from the floor and held out his wrist--silent while she bound it

Indeed, how silent these old homes can be in the evening!



It was dark when Oughtryn and Sir William Heans rode into the yard, the
former taking both horses and bidding Sir William in: a service which he
accepted without a word, moving slowly across but not using his cane. In
the kitchen candles his fine eyes looked for once sightless and vague.

The soldier was in the stable, and emerged into the door, as Oughtryn led
in the beasts. Sir William did not look back, though the yard skellocked
to the sudden battery of talk, the brazen confident rattle, almost done,
you might have said, and yet laughed at yourself for saying so, with a
purpose. The sharp fellow seemed to note Sir William's dejection, for he
distinctly gabbled at his back: "A down peg, on my oath!" At the moment
Heans thought it singular the man should exercise his resentment when he
saw he was discomposed.

In Sir William's dusky room, the tall lamp had been lit, but not turned
up, and there was an infinitesimal noise of welcome from the bird cage,
as the silent one moved one step away along his perch. A cloth had been
laid on the table, which was spread with its usual groaning profusion of
oversalted bacon, slices of underdone mutton, calcined eggs, ill-washed
butter, and multitudinous preserves in extraordinary china, the jam
itself as palatable as jam can be that is made inclusive of stones,
skins, and kernels. And yet there was such steady profuseness, such
decent generosity, such faithful hospitality in the old prisoner's house,
that the waste, the briny meat, the bitter fruit, had come to stand with
Heans--a man of fastidious taste--on a level with the quality missed in

An elegant decanter, shaped like a swan, and ornamented with
many-coloured pimples, two of which stood for eyes, swam in its wonted
place beside Heans' glasses, glowing as usual with a somewhat bilious
appearance, being filled with an arrangement of Oughtryn's known as
"beer": a fantastic thing of varying and often alarming nature. The
ingredients for making tea, excellent cheese, and an immense, tough,
home-made loaf, were also part of the feast, the former including a green
earthenware teapot, remarkably shaped like an elephant, which old Six had
given Miss Abelia.

Heans strolled past the groaning board, unbuttoned his pelisse, and threw
that, stick, and cap in the iron chair. The fender was full of logs from
the hills, but the fire had been forgotten, and was in embers. A pair of
kid boots was freezing on the kangaroo-rug behind the wood. Heans knelt
and put in some long boughs, waiting there until they flamed. It occurred
to him to wonder if the presence of the soldier was responsible for this
neglect. On the way up, Oughtryn had remarked, how "the officer there,
a-scrubbing of the room--a man of small-conduct to his mind--had act'ally
seen Collins' body lying there dead, and seemed troubled by, or was
pertendin' to, a disrelish for sleeping above." And he himself had
answered, that "he had caught him at it with Mrs. Quaid, who met him in
the morning with her books, and went for him like a vixen." Well--strange
fate!--pimps, blacklegs, turnkeys, spies--all may come and go, for Sir
William Heans has nothing left to hide--no broken window-bar to curtain,
no hole half-chiselled, to conceal, through which the prisoner fancies he
can smell old summers! Poor dungeoned fool, didst dream thou hadst a
cleavage in thy chains, and when thou wast roused, and knew it sound,
could not but kneel and long again for the lost anguish of thy sleep! He
rose and went into the bedroom, where he removed his coat and slept.

* * * * *

He was waked by voices, feeling very cold. Getting up and finding his
door ajar, he stood beside it a moment collecting himself and listening
to what at first he thought some human quarrel coming from the garden.
This little passage ran north and south, and he could feel by the draught
and the sour smell of the tobacco-tree that the window at the north end
was open. Putting on his coat, he went up the passage, stopping by the
window just before his own door. The blind was up, and several stars
rested like beacons on the mountain-side. He moved to close the window
(it was not usual to find the windows open in the house, and more
certainly so early in the summer), when the voluble gabble of the
soldier, breaking out just under the sill, made him withdraw his hand.
"Ah," said the man, with a lazy irony, "us redcoats was soft against
them, was we! Well, I think we did better alone than when the Black
String was on, and you lags put in--though we 'ated the work. 'Not
fittin' for the King's Regiment's,' as Cap'n Vicary used to say. Our
Besses was rusted agin the bushes, and our shoes, being private found,
went to pieces on the stones. When we struck, 'owever, we struck, sure
enough, Bonnypart. I reclect when me and Roe was two of a military post
at Crass's out-station on Cross Marsh." (Here the soldier paused to
strike his flint-steel.) "The scrub was so thick, a man with a tomahawk
could barely make a quarter-of-a-mile's progress in eight hours. The
postman he come running in with his mouth bruised and a spear through his
jacket. Out we turns. There was snow on the ground. We come up with them
a-squatting in a break around the blaze--men, biddies, and children. The
corporal he shouts, 'Alt--'fire! . . . ." Sir William saw the ruby of a
match rise in the dark, and the image of the man's KEPI and hanging hair,
while slowly the window and passage filled with tobacco. "I tell you," he
added, quick and glib, "I've balked at the look of a black ever since."
Heans put forward his hand to close the window, but changed his mind, and
turning aside into his sitting-room, shut the door. Here the fire had
fallen low again and the room seemed cold. He looked about, thinking he
must have caught a chill from his sleep, or from the open passage; but
was surprised to find the nearer of the two windows open. This caused him
a moment's surprise. He did not remember to have felt the cold when he
returned. Oughtryn's high voice, muffled by the sentry-box, was neighing
through the blind.

Before closing it, he lifted some wood on the fire, and squeezed a
fraction more light from the illustrious lamp. A kettle of water had been
placed in the fender, and this he put on the mutinous wood. Moving back
to the window, he heard Oughtryn cry out: "Not he. Jones was saved by
being a cockney, as I remember him a-saying. He took to the surf, the
blacks running along the sand and throwing waddies at him, which, he,
being street-born, dodged." Heans harkened a few moments, then softly
closed the sash. Instantly it seemed as if the soldier heard it or had
seen the reflection of the raised lamp, for from that moment there was an
aggressive rise in his narrations penetrating the night, unrelieved by
equal returns from his companion, whose voice Heans scarcely again heard.

It may be said that he gave the matter his attention because of what
followed in the room. Under the window was a small mahogany table, its
round top composed of seven saucers of wood, once used, it was said, by
Governor Davey for his plates in rough weather. On this, beside a
standish and quills, lay Sir William's new-found PLUTARCHS in a pile,
minus the topmost, which was fallen to the floor. When he had picked up
the latter--for he had put his foot upon it in closing the window--and
returned it to the pile, he noticed that not only had the first been
thrown from its place, but that the whole six volumes had been
disarranged as by a blow or fall against the table, while, either by some
inadvertence of Mrs. Quaid's, or the intention of an intruder--for he
soon connected the open windows with an intruder--something in the
nature of a green paper-packet had been shaken out of, or hastily
inserted, between the second book and the third. Removing the packet, but
never lifting it to the level of the sill, Heans lowered his face once to
it, then carried it, with the volume which had been under it, to the
fire, when, falling upon a chair with his back to the window, he tore it
open, keeping the cover of the book about it. The green enveloping paper
gave place to a small feminine article, carmine coloured, somewhat too
flat for a pin-cushion, somewhat too stout for a book-mark, worked very
indecisively in lavender and gold, and bore his monogram and coat-of-arms
in many coloured silks. Altogether a gay and brilliant thing, it would
have been difficult to place colours together more likely to please or
attract the eye. Yet like a beautiful and tender female, designed
seemingly to grace and sweeten the earthy garden of life, it held in its
tender silks--its pinks, its golds, its greens, its lavender--a stitch or
two of black, as if to warn it too were woven of the elements of tragedy.
It lay only for an instant in Sir William's hand, for across the upper
end of its golden side, a hand had worked in yellow thread:--

"See within. . . . and help you God."

Instantly Heans, now pale as death, took a knife from the table, and
severed the upper stitches against the pages of the PLUTARCH. In his
effort, the green envelope escaped the book and fell upon the vermilion
roses of the carpet. It was addressed:

(per countenance and favour of two ladies)
Charles Oughtryn's Mansion House,
Macquarie Street."

But Sir William, giving it no heed, found and extracted from within the
pad a small folded paper, stamped with official-looking print, which,
when opened, revealed, itself a cancelled ticket-of-leave to one
"Patrick Clench," but on the back (over the list of the prisoner's
favours) ran a mass of tremulous writing in violet ink, even as
stereotype, and close as a missal. Sir William, if he was now looking
for something of the kind, would have instantly known it for the writing
of Mr. Carnt.

He lay back in the chair, almost upon his left elbow, and a sort of groan
escaped his lips as he puzzled out the burden of it. Slowly a tear broke
from the corner of his glass, fell upon his cravat, and ran down his
velvet waistcoat. Yes, indeed he seemed exalted, and twice corrected a
swift, joyous ejaculation with a lift of his gaze and a harkening pause.
Presently, at a noisy outburst from the hall, he sat up and rose to his
feet. The kettle was bubbling and rattling on the fire. Quickly folding
the ticket, he approached the mantel-piece, and raising the statue of the
lady with the dove at the left end, placed the paper beneath it; then
removing the pad from the book, he took this also, and after carefully
extracting with a penknife the direction in yellow stitch, hid it beneath
the angel at the other. He then dropped the enveloping paper in the

After he had done this, he took his pelisse from the chair, and holding
it up to the lamp, examined the fur lining with a gleam of interest. He
then with some care folded it, and taking out an old GAZETTE from the
catacomb cabinet, wrapped it up, tying it with a piece of blue tape.
Afterwards, removing the tea-kettle, he was at some pains to produce,
with its aid, and that of various articles about the tea-pot, a cup of
tea, sinking the tea in a silver tea measure (artfully contrived to
resemble a dromedary), fishing the animal out, and with difficulty
extracting the leaves through the howdah, that he might afterwards eat
them upon his toast. Indeed, Sir William was at some trouble to come at
his meals, from the wealth of ornament that leagured them about. Part of
his service was adorned with portraits of "Suffolk Worthies"; part with a
many-hued acrostic; each plate demanding the same burning question, till
temporarily extinguished under a piece of bread or mutton--once more to
be offered inexorably when the appetite was assuaged. His sky-blue
tea-cup, lost from the cupboard of some Regency blue, was shaped like a
kylix, and stood unsteadily on its little pedestal--indeed, was
precarious when its shallow basin held its amber quantum. The very knives
with which he now cut the bread or carved the meat were precarious with
rough carvings of tigers, snakes, and dying ladies. It seems to have been
one of Oughtryn's opinions--aided by Abelia's straying, untutored
fancy--that the nobility "was like horses; and would wither away if made
to take their food in rude directness," indeed, only thrived when
permitted to approach the board in a circuitous manner.

* * * * *

It must be enough to state, for the moment, that something in Carnt's
communication had turned Sir William's thoughts with gratitude towards
the black woman, Conapanny. Not that she wholly occupied them--the
sharpened air, the energy which had gripped his frame, the swift fallings
of face and sudden exaltations, had their goad and spur elsewhere; yet
there was something in what had happened, something in the room or its
appearance, which pulled Sir William repeatedly into the actual and
stumbled him against his old landlady and that brown woman. Once he rose
from the table (where, hardly seeming to do either, he was steadily
eating ham and drinking tea), opened the door and peered into the passage
towards the open window; and once more, when he had shut out the evil
tobacco, he paused by the left window in his own room before returning to
his seat. A few moments after, he went again to that window, and returned
with Fate in his hands--a volume of the Ancients--which, holding up with
one hand, he began to read, the while attending to his inner man, his
whole air showing a pallid effort to concentrate his mind upon the fate
of that most noble Newton of the Greeks:--

"But what most of all afflicted Marcellus, was the unhappy fate of
Archimedes, who was at that time in his study, engaged in mathematical
researches; and his mind, as well as his eye, was so intent upon his
diagram, that he neither heard the tumultuous noise of the Romans, nor
perceived that the city was taken. A soldier suddenly entered his room,
and ordered him to follow him to Marcellus; and Archimedes refusing to do
it till he had finished his problem, and brought his demonstration to
bear, the soldier, in a passion, drew his sword and killed him. Others
say, the soldier came up to him at first with a drawn sword to kill him,
and Archimedes, perceiving him, begged he would hold his hand a moment,
that he might not leave his theorem imperfect; but the soldier, neither
regarding him nor his theorem, laid him dead at his feet. A third account
of the matter is, that, as Archimedes was carrying in a box some
mathematical instruments to Marcellus, as sun-dials, spheres, and
quadrants, by which the eye might measure the magnitude of the sun, some
soldiers met him, and imagining that there was gold in the box, took away
his life for it. . . ."

Whether or not it was the odour of the man's pipe, pervading the room, or
his unending, fluting jabber, which forced his image on Heans' thoughts,
he found himself defeated in his attempts to read; and not for the first
time during his repast, reverted to the violent scene between man and
black which had so affrighted Abelia that morning. Conapanny's wailing,
too, rung on his mind with a strange persistency. Now came that faint
familiarity in the name "Spafield," and the insistent feeling that it was
connected in his memory with a black woman and a hole in masonry. . . .
He made another attempt to lose himself in the fate of the ancient
engineer, when he was reminded that the book in his hand was one of those
recognised before the door by the soldier, who hinted at some unpleasing
tragedy or superstition connected with it; and it was with this in mind
that Sir William Heans began to turn it in his hand and examine the
gilded back. Was the book a possession of that same Governor Collins
whose body was seen by Spafield lying in the Chamber? He turned the
leaves, searching for signs of former ownership--for fates other than
that of the ingenious defeater of Marcellus--only to remember with a
feeling of curious alarm that there had been a scrawl at the end of one
of the volumes; whereon, searching the end-papers of the book, and
finding nothing but an old superscription, he rose and returned to the
window. Two of the volumes on the table yielded nothing more. There was
nothing in the third. Only against the blistered back of the bottom one
was the object of his search--the old letter--and though he could not
decipher it in the faint moon, its poignancy and wild threats came back
to him as he stood staring at the curious printed characters. He did not
at once seek the lamplight. The appearance of it recalled enough of the
burden to enchain him. He remembered the stolen meetings--the passionate
attachment amid the lack of food--the threat against the usurous boy, Joe
Spars. He recalled how the book--the volume in his hand--had been given
to Joe Spars to put in the waterway. If it was still here with its
fellows--could Spars have put it there?

He approached close to the blind, and lifting a slat stared through it
towards the heliotrope, and then the other way; but here his view was
impeded by the triangular side of the sentry-box. The two men were still
talking, but their voices sounded short and angry. In the instant that he
harkened, Oughtryn's voice piped out: "You'll never manage it. The likes
of you can't do it." To which the other gabbled softly: "What's there in
it! I've known worse than me 'as rose flash--aye, played long-coat,
clergy, and company manners, after shooting a crow 'en in a tree." Heans
moved slowly to the other window. The blind was down and he took the cord
and raised it. Just below the sill, on the mossy path, was the carven
stone on which poor Abelia had fallen; a kind of corbel, of which the
flat back stood towards the house, its round, grooved front in the moon.
Was it a neglected example? To support what groined wonder had it been
wistfully foreshadowed? Leaning on the sill, he stared down upon it,
enwrapped and grave. He then lifted his glance over the garden,
clear-pathed, and backed by beckoning hills . . . Of course he could not
see the face, but there it was, the small stone image, with the raised,
black trumpet. At that moment Heans was amazed to hear a note of muffled
music. There had sounded a distinct three or four notes, rather rapid and
tinny. And then, when suddenly there came a knock at his door, and the
woman appeared asking if she might remove the cloth, and as he (Heans)
turned nodding to the fire, he was agreeably relieved to hear Abelia
playing her Spanish songs.

* * * * *

It was often his habit, rather than smoke his tobacco-pipe among finery,
or for the silent company of the horses, to carry it to the stable; and
now, while the monumental woman was leisurely denuding the table, he took
from the door a plaid shooting-jacket, and sought cap and tobacco-box.
Before he left the room, however, he carried the volume of PLUTARCH to
the lamp, and examined the messages, and the resulting cry of anguish, of
the malign carver. A prisoner. A stone-cutter, who hewed his creatures in
a garden near which were "caves." Finally a captive in them, still
attended by the usurous boy Joe Spars. Standing stiff and tense, Heans
read it through: "I am to be whipped and confined for the while--perhaps
forever--out of the garden. They have shut me in the caves . . ." Here
he paused, shutting the cover a moment, and glaring aside. Thereafter
lifting his glass--which had dropped--to his eye, he read, "Damnation
seize them--if they let me have my chisel again, I shall do something
awful!" (He gave a sharp exclamation as the woman dropped an array of
spoons, but bowed as of habit, as this fate-like personage begged a
remote and symbolical pardon.) The soldier's malicious laugh broke again
upon the window, intermingling with the tang-tinkle-tang of the buried
piano. He read very slowly; "His Honour shall know of me."

Afterwards he went over to the standish, thinking deeply and twisting a
pen in his fingers. Abruptly he took a dip of ink, and returned to the
cabinet, where above the name "Spars" in the postscript of Surridge's
letter, he made the entry "Joseph Spafield," and the date "Nov. 4th
1841." So the document remains in the old book with his addition in
scarce darker ink.

He now closed the book on a piece of blotting-paper, leaving it on the
catacomb cabinet. The little wizen face of the clock informed him from
its weary weight of ornament that it was nine. He could not find his pipe
on the stone sill where he usually laid it, nevertheless he moved on the
door, where, turning, he asked the woman for the lantern, as he had
mislaid one of his smoking appliances. She left the room, and he heard
her slow tread stop and resume as she engaged in a whispering in the
passage. A high cry of, "I was a young boy afore you in and out of these
old rooms," informed him who had stopped her. While she was away, he
found his pipe on the drum held by his whiskered friend, the Roman, but
before she returned he had concealed it, and when she fetched the lantern
ready lit, he did not extinguish it. Before he departed, however, he
asked the woman if it were true, what was said about the old black,
Conapanny, that she spoke like an educated women? And they had a few
words about it, the woman waiting a moment over the folded cloth, and
speaking with more than usual reluctance.

"Conapanny can speak elegant enough when she likes," said she, and would
have moved leisurely away.

"Miss Abelia is better?" asked Heans. "I hear her at the pianoforte."

"Yes, she is well."

"It was she who told me the black carried a book about her?"

The woman paused at the drawer of the beaufet, and seemed to consider.
Finally she muttered, rather than said, "she carried in her nets a book
called 'Colonel Jack,' she thought, but she did not think her reading of
it was more than a penance."

"Penance! Then it is indeed she I hear crying. I cannot get it out of my
mind that she has been injured."

"Nay--you don't need to have done crime to be made to weep," said the
woman, in a distinct, low tone. "Maybe she weeps for her kith--like."

"That is so," answered Sir William, and for a moment he seemed about to
speak further, but changed his mind, and went out into the passage. When
yet in his door, he saw the white shoulder-pads of the man in the window,
and moving with relief to the entrance, stepped out into the yard. The
night was quiet and cold. The soft fingers of the moon had the foliaged
cliff and the doors beneath, but the hulk of the great dwelling behind
him was dark, only for one candle in the kitchen. Heans stepped swiftly
across, dodging the wet grass among the flags. The remnant gum wafted a
forest breath in the walled yard. Where his light touched the built-in
stone about the doors, he actually records noticing a yellow streak near
the upper hinge of the first, which he does not remember to have before
seen, but does not stop to look now. In haste, he wrenched back, rather
than pulled, the bolts, making his entrance into the stable so suddenly
that Oughtryn's great dapple gelding strangled up upon his feet. It was
at this moment he found he was clutching a cane along with the lantern,
and connecting this unconscious arming of himself with to-night's news
and Spafield's intention to sleep here, he lit his way hurriedly through
the arch of the harness-room. The man had as yet made no preparations,
excepting a few sacks taken from the chain and thrown in a corner,
showing where he was making possibly a sort of trial of it. (He had not
then heard of Spafield's hurt.) With Sir William, we may wonder whether
Spafield, when he removed the sacks, noticed the ringing of the walled
chain. In reference to this curious discovery, Sir William had become
possessed of a rather terrible idea, and we now tell how he made haste to
test it.

Listening for a moment towards the house, where the piano was faintly
tinkling, he pushed up to the back of the cave, and here fixed the
lantern about neck-high in the lower crack. He then did a very simple
thing, and one we may well wonder he had not thought of before--he put up
his hand and pulled steadily at one only of the two strings which ran
from the sack-chain up into the wall. As he had anticipated, after a pull
or two, it gave and ran steadily, the link of the sack-chain acting as a
pulley, and the weight of it keeping the strings taut. The walled chain
no longer rattled, as, steadily watching its place of outlet, he paid in
the string through a pair of grey cotton gloves. With five or six pulls,
however, the thing stuck, and after a tug or two, he relinquished the
pressure upon it, loth to risk force. Now pushing back till his shoulders
met the sack-chain, he pulled that upon them, thus taking the weight off
the strings, while, with his hand, he swung the latter in the crack--as a
fisherman might his fouled line. On this there was a 'clink,' and then a
loud 'clash,' and a glittering metallic shower fell out of the crack,
splashing on the floor and on the wheat-sacks below. Stooping, Heans
picked a fragment from a sack and held it to the lamp. It was a piece of
yellow glass, portion, he judged, of a flattish bottle or jar. Stretching
up, he again tried the string, and it running steadily, from the crack
appeared the neck of a small flask, such as might once have contained
Tokay. It was fastened by a bit of dirty rag. Heans, however, had hardly
this to hand, when the strings, again sticking above the outlet, gave
sharply to an increasing pressure, and much exalted, he hauled at
something which came uneasily--indeed bunching like a garment--till a
dusty object dropped out into the cave, about the size of a man's head:
an old officer's hat, as he afterwards found, cocked at front and back,
the front cock being torn away and bound over the head-hole, making a
rough wallet. For the instant, he was prevented from handling it by the
bottle-neck: that fouling the sack-chain. To get at the second arrival,
Heans had to mount upon a sack, from that height being near enough to
sever the attaching cord--a bit of ribbed maroon ribbon--and bring the
thing down to the candle. Much litter had been knocked off in the
descent, and he considered by the edgings of the flaps, and the stains
upon the felt, that it had been an old hat before it was tied upon the
strings. He remembered such hats worn by officers in his childhood;
indeed, similar to that worn by the carven officer over the stalls in the
stables. The ribbon which had attached it to the thongs, also held the
cock or lid in place over the head hole; but though severed with a
penknife, the mossing of small webs about the tie-holes, and in the ribs
of the tie, still held the lid. When Heans attempted to open it, he found
the ribbon still further stiffened by some substance with which it was
coated, and which had stained a part of it black, and it was only by
exerting his strength that he forced it apart. The inside was in fair
preservation, though stained with dirt and perspiration. It had once been
a fine hat, and a ragged piece of pleated satin still clung to one side:
white once, now stained enough. A fine circle of ribbed silk lined the
crown, and on this lay a small article or tool about the size of a
fourinch nail, of which the last inch had been filed and rubbed down till
it was not much thicker than a sailor's needle. Its tip was still stained
with some dark pigment. Besides this there was no other object in the hat
but a piece of dried fern of the kind known as 'maiden-hair.' When he had
lifted out the tool from the bottom, he spelled out the hatter's name,
half-quagged in the discoloured silk:


And here, his eyes grown sharp in searching after the printed letters,
came suddenly upon the words, "Pull my body down," written in a darkish
ink, above the advertisement; whereon, putting the hat nearer the light,
he read without difficulty: "Pull my body down. The cleft's cut." Not
long afterwards, his eyes discovered above, in a small blotched,
straggling print (as though done by a hand practising with a new,
perhaps unfinished tool), "W. Surridge," and the word "faithful." Heans
made out nothing more at the top of the circle of silk, though there
were two or three unmistakable blotches of ink concealing letters if not
words. Underneath the advertisement, however, but somewhat to the right,
was a plain direction, though unfinished, and somehow fraught with
sadness. It appeared to read: "Over on the back see what I did. I
said----" and there it ended, or seemed to end. Finally, after five
minutes' further examination of this surface, Sir William inserted his
fingers under the bottom of the silk and began to separate it from the
crown. He found it came easily away, excepting the top side, where it
was still sewn to the felt. He was, however, considerably surprised to
find the under surface of the material white, clean (but for a few
blots) and bare of hieroglyphic. It was not till, in thoroughly
searching it, he drew it out of the hat to its full stretch, that at the
extreme top, under a few words in hand print, badly blotched, he found a
second careful direction: "Damp defeated me. Muslin runs. Try on the

For a moment at sea, Sir William laid back the satin in the crown. What
leather was referred to? Had it been lost or dropped above? There was a
narrow kid head band, stained almost blue, and if anything had been
written there in explanation it was unreadable. Not a word or letter was
to be found. Pulling a corner of the leather up, he thought he could see
something peculiar in the colouration of the under side, and instantly,
he ran his hand round underneath it, wresting it up as he went. Inside
the band was undressed, tough as parchment, and near white as the day it
was sewn, while upon its even surface a mass of close minute hand-print
wound its spidery way about the circlet. Hardly touched by the seadamp,
the MS. was even readable in the candle. There was one slit in the
leather, where the ends of the band met at the back of the head, and in
the left top corner on the right of this, a rough drawing of a head with
wings, such as we see on ancient tombs, seemed to indicate the beginning
of the manuscript. Heans, without difficulty, spelt out the first words
in the lamp: "Here's to you, Carrow, and you, black Derrick, or Hammes,
or any other desperate man. If ever you return, see what it came to after
all; and if not you, for I know not what they'll do now, some poor wretch
wild enough to try, and slim enough to break his luck." Before reading
further, Sir William glanced down the lines for the name Spars, and found
it occurring near the bottom of the leather. Before he desisted he had
found also that of another. He now lit his tobacco-pipe at the lantern,
and picking his way with the latter to the arch, there blew it out. He
had the chapeau in his hand, and leaving that against the lantern by the
arch, he went into the stable, there standing for some half-an-hour
smoking beside the door.

Towards the end of that time, a second light appeared in a window above
the Chamber. It was a dim light, the window, as well as being shaded,
appearing to be coated with dust. Presently after Sir William saw this
window darken, but almost instantly the blind next on the right was lit
from behind. This, however, only for half a minute. The next it was dark
again, and suddenly he noticed that the gaps in the first jalousie were
once more illuminated. A few seconds after, Heans stepped back from the
door as the slats of this jalousie ran crookedly up, and the white
facings of the soldier's coat appeared close against the glass.
Afterwards there was a patient manoeuvring with the catch, and at last
the damp-swelled window was heavily raised.

It was a still, dewy night, the crescent moon running shyly among
mackerel clouds, to which clung a few bright stars like diamonds among
wadding. Sir William distinctly heard Spafield pull a hoarse breath, and
mutter gloomily to himself. Though he could see his features but vaguely,
he considered by the foreshortening of the breast of his coat, that he
was bending down and looking under the window at the stable. He remained
in this posture for one or two minutes, breathing at intervals in a
curious, whale-like way, and then suddenly called "Mate," loud and
distinct, presently repeating it lower yet sharper.

Sir William did not answer, and he could see the man, after a short
silence, press into the window and throw his leg over the sill. His head
was now outside and facing away from the gate, and he leant still further
out, holding to the window with his left hand. From this position he
began calling in an insistent, powerful flute, at first quietly, then
louder and more obstinate, "Halloo, Oughtryn--halloo--halloo!" till
finally, with an oath, leaning in, as no one answered, and the kitchen
light remained passive, he handled and cast out along the wall, hallooing
all the time, what sounded from their "hocking" fall in the yard like a
pair of shoes, and after them, something that flashed in the kitchen
window, and fell almost against the door with a wonderful, vicious
clattering. At this there was a cry within, and something like a chair
falling, and presently Oughtryn stood sleepily at the door, muttering and
crying high and anxious:

"Did I 'ear any one, now? 'As you spoke, please?"

Instantly Spafield hissed from his window: "Devil take your soul, 'ave
you locked me in here?" Oughtryn started and turned slowly round. For a
few seconds he examined him, seeing him plainly no doubt in the light
from the room. "You know I haven't," he said, somewhat between wheedling
and hectoring. "I said I'd leave the door open."

"Them hall doors is locked."

"You were using the Chamber. I left that one open."

"Suspicious, mate! You locked me out of your parts after I came up?"

"I haven't locked the passage under the stair. Presently I'll be going

"Well, I saw someone go through there. It was locked when I tried it."

"Perhaps the women locked it--you being a stranger. They're not gone

"No, it wasn't one of them I seen----"

"You seen--did you? Come now--bad agin!"

"Yes, I've had a poisonful, mate. I hoped it was you done it."

"What's this! What 'ave you been doing? Luny about the 'ouse again! Come
now, 'ave you trooly seen his Honour Governor Collings' walking, living

"Break your 'art--if I told you, you wouldn't believe it!"

"Ho well--you can tell me--if you please."

"Ha-ha--well--if I told you I seen a black on them stairs, what would you

"Go it, yer cripple. Crutches is cheap," called the old convict, heavily

"Rot you--I knew you'd bilk!"

"Saw a black?"

"A black woman. I told you they was poison to me. I hear something, and I
comes out of my room. I sees her standing by the wall next the stairs.
Afore I could move, she steps down."

"And you goes down after that, a man of conduct?"

"Poison-quick, I went. There was a glint in the front hall. As I come
down, I see, underneath, something pass through the door. But when I
come, there it was locked."

"This is something pretensed by your mind," said Oughtryn, after a
sceptical pause. "I've known of it before. Rum and yarns on your disease
'ave done you this. Give yourself and the 'ouse justice, officer. Wait."
(He spat out his quid.) "I'll go in and try the door myself."

He turned and made for the lit kitchen--pausing however to stoop and feel
along the flags for a bright object which he had kicked with his foot,
but which he eventually found and held to his eyes. It was a naked
bayonet, and he disappeared, shaking it doubtfully in his hand.

The soldier remained in the high window, staring over towards the cliff,
and now and then kicking the skirting within with a heavy thudding. The
foliage in the yard made an infinitesimal rustling. In the stables, Sir
William Heans moved to the small square hole on the left of the
door--that he might command a view of Spafield's face. As he stopped and
looked through, his lips moved. He said, "God pity you--Joseph Spafield!"

Almost instantly Oughtryn came out of the kitchen.

"You had 'er on your mind," neighed he, turning and blinking up under his
hand. "It's not locked. Too much yarning about them sometimes punishes
you in that way--unless you done 'er a bad turn."

"Ah," said the soldier, speaking after a long silence in which his foot
could be heard banging against the wood, "black-bottle, you're thinking?"

"Well, you've had your drink to-day. You lie down. You won't see them
black charmers any more . . . I've lived here four years, and never seen
no ghost to stare me out."

"Devil take her soul, so long as I don't hear her! I heard her feet."

"You've been like that all evening, officer. The mind's a fickle thing.
You're hanging too much on them blacks. You can spit 'em from your mind
when you like--hear that. That's what I tells you."

"Friendly with me now," gabbled the man; "spit 'em from my mind, can I!
Ha" (more sharp and malign), "I've been foul chid enough by an old lag!
Condemn the house, will I! Faith, I've given you a queer dance, old mate,
what with my ailment and my unhappy life! Come now, keep it from the
girls. They'll be laffin' old Sly out. Devil take your soul, I'll spit it
out, will I! Ha-ha! Where's the old beau--gone a bye-bye? 'Appy dreams! I
tell ye the place is past damning!"

In this half jocular strain he threw in his leg over the sill, but leant
out again to ask the other, "That my gully in your 'and? Is 'e damaged?"

"Not beyond a dent," said Oughtryn. "He'll do you for the spirits yet."
With that he went indoors, and Spafield, after moving a little about his
room, and once returning to the window, shut it.

* * * * *

It was after the half-hour when Heans returned across the yard, and as he
passed up the passage, he heard Oughtryn moving uneasily in the kitchen.
It was a night's custom with Oughtryn to hail him from that obscurity
with a "My duty to your honour, and a sheltered night," or "Calm repose
and four walls, honour"; but now, standing in the kitchen door, he
stopped him with the words: "You was in the stable, I know. I hope you
don't let the man disturb you."

"He has not yet intruded upon me," said Sir William, tightening on the
old chapeau under the lapel of his jacket: "a man with a very scandalous
mouth. And a coward too."

"He seems frightened of the old house," repeated Oughtryn; and he related
how the man had alarmed the women by his flurry in the Chamber. "Lost his
bad woman, as I told you," said he, "and gone sour and angry like without

"Do you believe that?" called Sir William, casually.

For a moment Oughtryn said nothing--standing in his door just able to see
Sir William as he stood by his.

"There's something amiss with him," he presently remarked. 'He's not a
nat'rally scared man. He's bore a bold life. I should--speaking under
correction--I should say fate was worriting him for something he's

"We must put up with him? I believe you wish me to understand that?"

"A powerful man--I'd 'ardly dare provoke with one who's plainly got

"What makes you think that, sir?"

"Oh, I know. I know when humility is scarcely pretensed."

"So we must bow to the dust. Is that the Order?"

"It's in his v'ice and manners, Sir William Heans," said Oughtryn,
somewhat hoarse and shaken. "He doesn't need to care. Perhaps, if others
can't, God Almighty is a-provokin' him."

"Perhaps He is," said Heans.

They parted and Sir William went into the sitting-room. Oughtryn came
along to the back door and locked it with a tremendous clap. It was his
notion of the fitting to remain in hiding till Sir William had gone. He
had slithered back into the kitchen passage, and extinguished a dim light
there, when Sir William re-opened his door. "What do the women think of
it, Oughtryn?" he called.

"Oh," said Oughtryn, in a small, haggish voice and coming to the corner
of his passage as fearing an eavesdropper, "the woman--she slides away
from the subject, calling him 'a well set-up army officer,' but the two
are resting down to-night."

"And Miss Abelia--how does she take it?"

"Well, women seldom spurns the sick man, even if he's a ill one," he
said; "and since she's been atendin' of his wrist, Abelia, she says he's
'a brave bold man,' she thinks . . . But I'll ask you, sir, to read the
back-hand for yourself." So the cautious fellow said "Good-night," and
Heans heard his steps dwindle along the flagged passage and the stair
door slam.

When he turned into his room, he felt a half-chill which told him at once
one of the windows was again open. He was of course much surprised. The
green blinds were now down, and the room lay serenely in its illustrious
half-light, the fire burning quiet. The chill from the window was
unpleasantly sharp. He put the old chapeau on the table and turned to
shut it. He was not, however, done with the horse happenings of that day.

Thinking he heard the left jalousie flapping, he went first to that, but
stooped first to raise the books, two of which had again fallen from the
table. This startling him, he turned to the cabinet, on which he had left
Surridge's volume of the PLUTARCH. It was gone. At the same moment he
noticed that a thinnecked vase, top-heavily stuck with rose-apples, had
been overturned upon the table. He picked up the vase, searched the room
for the missing volume, and then returned to the window. He now noted
that the little table had been pushed to the left of the sill,
occasioning perhaps the fall of the books. He put his hand on the cord
and pulled the blind. The window had been thrown up to the limit of the
lintel. Of the cedar shutters (nightly fastened by Oughtryn from
outside), the right was still open, and leaning forward, he saw, in the
soft moon against the wall, the cloth-enwrapped face and shawled
shoulders of a black-woman. She seemed like a small beast that crouches
in, half fascinated, half terrified into courage. Her large eyes, at
first unseeingly upon the garden, when she turned them upon himself, she
either could not or would not move as the fear in them prompted--nay,
importuned. As, in the surprise of the instant, he drew back into the
room, and again looked through the shutter, a faint sound, something
between threat and bleat, escaped her frozen figure. Sir William saw with
a sudden and dreadful sense of shock that beside her bundles, by the
corbel, the PLUTARCH lay upon the path.

"Why," said he (as he relates), speaking as carelessly as he could, "so
it is you, Conapanny! What can I give you for bringing me my precious
package to-day?"

She said nothing, though once more that curious sound escaped her; and
she moved, as with a vast effort, perhaps a foot nearer to him. The moon
fell from a mackerel cloud, and she put up her hand to shield her face.
In a moment it was gone, yet as if her movement had freed her from the
spell of a stricken hour, and still shielding her face though the terrace
was beshadowed, she bent down, and raising the book from the path,
stretched forward and held it to the sill by Heans' hand. He gently put
out his hand and pushed it back.

She slowly drew back her hand with the book in it. Her eyes were on him.
At last her voice issued from her lips--panting, low, entreating:
"Conapanny know old house--old book. In old time Conapanny Moicrime.
Moicrime go away----" Her voice broke, and she fumbled open the cover of
the book, holding Surridge's letter up to him on a level with the sill.
"You take Mitta Tuso," she entreated. "Conapanny see book in
window--afternoon. Me come see you to-night. Me read what poor Walter

"How many years ago was this written?" asked Heans, taking the book from
her, and pretending to peruse the letter, yet at a loss what to say,
seeing what he knew.

"O--oh, thirty-three--thirty four--thirty-five year," said Conapanny,
dropping to the native's droning way. "Gubner Collins--Gubner
Davey--Gubner Arthur, all gone. Gubner Franklin now. Collins--him
die.----" And she stopped short, rose without a sound, and looked along
the front of the sleeping house.

"You call him 'poor Walter?' " asked Sir William Heans, sharply. "Why do
you think him lost to you?"

"He no alive," said she. "Years ago--gone. Moicrime look long time. She
not know yet."

"What doesn't she know yet?"

"She not know yet--how!"

"Does Moicrime think any one--knows?"

"Some one know."

"Why should she think he died so long ago as that?"

"Not forget," she said, in a faint, harsh whisper at the bottom of her
throat, and she shrank back once more into the wall.

Sir William--waiting there with his unhallowed knowledge--was too moved
for a while to continue. "Do you mean," he said unsteadily, "that--after
so many years--you are still looking for someone to tell you what
happened to Walter Surridge?"

"Yes, Mitta Tuso," she said, staring at him. Before he could continue,
she suddenly rose by the window, and snatching the book which Heans had
replaced, opened and examined it in the faint moon. Turning then with her
finger on a word in the postscript of the letter, she elevated the book
towards Heans' face.

"That bad wite," she said, "him know how Walter go from Moicrime."

Sir William bent his eyes to the name by which her finger rested, but
whether by accident or design, she was pointing not to the name in the
old document, but the one beneath it, the ink of which was hardly dry.

"Years ago, Moicrime try make him speak. No. Old Conapanny--she ask him
about Moicrime--Walter--other day--to-day--no. She ask old Gubner
Collins' house--old house dumb. She ask book, book speak----"

Sir William could barely brook her figure hanging by the window, and
turned back into the room, folding his arms. When angry at his
ineptitude, his powerlessness to speak of Surridge's brave end because of
the deed he believed had led to it (not knowing whether this silent
spirit of the past had had time, or yet allowed herself, to connect
threats with death), when rendered bitter with his locked mouth, he
turned to the window, his heart heavy with its burden, yet half inclined
to speak something of the entombment of lost Walter--there was the corbel
lying by the wall, but no sign of Conapanny or her beribboned bags. She
was gone. In the soft moon, the gilt-framed book lay foreignly on the
edge of the stone sill.

Then, across the garden, he caught the shadow of her, striding under her
bundles by the Orphanage wall. Near the heliotrope she disappeared. Nay,
she has turned west. There she goes (he pulls the shutter closer) between
bush and tree, her head in its white kerchief on a level with her burden.
Her hate or agony have brought the sweat upon her face and its dark skin
glitters. Now, past the medlartree, she turns down beside the fountain,
her eyes bent upon the periwinkle in its broken basin, where once the
water had reflected her young face.

How still are these old gardens in the night! How indurate, scarred, and
meaning are their once graceful ornament! For how long can they nurse a
wrong in their old bosoms! Queen Elizabeth (we read in history) expressed
a doubt to her General in France of the wisdom of turning persons out of
their houses that Havre might be safer held; she 'doubted,' if they were
driven from their homes, 'whether God would be contented with the rest
that would follow.' History tells us what happened to the garrison in
Havre, and by what they were defeated.

Perhaps Sir William Heans, as he glared about the garden upon this and
that, upon its heroic arrangement, its wrestling roses, its finger-marked
rocks half swallowed in weeds, its blackened, corroded, presiding
figurette, realised a little plainer than "brother Warwick" of the old
day with what strange line and rule the Almighty works. Heans relates how
later he had a vision of Moicrime, slim and straight, in a blue,
high-waisted dress. (Poor, pretty, vivacious Moicrime!) But this, we
think, was only his poetic way of putting it, unless, indeed, his tired
fancy had gotten the better of him after he had read the writing in the



It seems that daft devotee, Homely O'Crone, had, before his departure,
received and lent to Mrs. Scudamore a copy of Serjeant Talfourd's latest
tragedy: GLENCOE; or, THE FATE OF THE MACDONALDS, just produced by Mr.
Macready at the Haymarket. All young Hobartia had been spouting the
sonorous lines, and it had not been long before a clique had been
meeting at Isnaleara, the mansion of the Hon. Mrs. McKevin, with the
intention of producing it on its own account. Let it be said that the
occasion of its playing--though semi-private--was such a success, the
audience were so pleasantly elevated by the nobility of the tragedy
(Ensign Tipton, as Henry, the traitor brother, being especially stormy
and successful in a uniform of the Argyll Regiment designed by old
Duterreau), that, at her Ladyship's request, and out of compliment to
the intrepid lady, it was agreed to reproduce the first scene of Act 2,
and the last, in "Mr. Daunt's room" at the fascinating old ruin in
Macquarie Street.

It was so kind of Mr. Daunt to bend to triviality--a man so preoccupied
with real things. The young ladies were full of admiring gratitude. Miss
Gargrave, who though she was eighteen, still wore an iron collar covered
with velvet to make her hold up her beautiful neck, said of him: "He is
such a nice man--I think." On the other hand old Miss Bullinger Lecale,
who had watched him from the past with 'an illboding eye,' and for years
had pounced with unerring instinct on any sign of horsiness in him,
"could not think what Satan would be up to, leading the gells into those
old damp places." But then Miss Lecale, if once a war-heroine, had
troubled her vogue somewhat. She was inclined to the outrageous after
enforced silence. Was it not she who had remarked before a gentleman,
"she would like to see the women with their tobacco-pipes"; and was it
not Mr. Daunt who asked: "But would the ladies keep it up?" She was
angelical, but she had no repose! It is a pity--perhaps an insuperable
tragedy--that so many of the things which make for our peace depend upon
the petty observances of life. Ah, we can all bear the smarts; the
difficulty becomes dangerous when they are inflamed by the flunkey and
the cad! "Even the gentlemen do not approve of her PRONONCE style," said
young Miss Gargrave, as she brushed her hair before a friend's toilette.
"Men are such fools," answered her insouciant companion, and straightway
descended to the withdrawing-room, where she presented the young
gentlemen with their image of a good woman.

When on Monday night the rumour got about that the Commandant of the foot
police had said something derogatory to the reputation of a certain lady,
and, at a luncheon on Tuesday, that comical Captain Shaxton had daringly
confirmed it, and laughingly (and actually with his wife on his arm) said
that he was going to make a serious thing of it and bring Mr. Impudence
out in a new line--that of Mr. Pickwick in the challenge scene, "brandy
and water--jolly old gentleman--lots of pluck," though there was swiftly
and magically a slump in Mr. Daunt, and his thoughtfulness for the young
people, there were those who remembered meeting the man Heans both at
Pitt's Villa and Flat Top Tier, and feeling for Mrs. Shaxton in being
forced by their relationship, and common kindness, into intimacy with a
person of such a notoriety. It was really very interesting to hear how
the better nature of the man had prevailed and he had come forward in his
humiliation to speak for one who had shown him so much kindness. "Common
kindness! well, it had been more--it was exceedingly romantic; brave;
indiscreet; and unpleasant; and all were glad--glad and happy--to feel
the man's testimony was unnecessary. Captain Shaxton was right in showing
it all up and forcing Mr. Daunt forward."

She had fainted, it seems, when she heard her cousin was actually
assigned in the house.

The reader will remember how, on the occasion of a certain dinner to the
explorers at Hodgson's Hotel, Captain Shaxton took occasion to nudge Mr.
Daunt. A nod is as good as a wink to some. After Sir William Heans'
arrest at Spring Bay, concerning which there was so much sympathy for the
Shaxtons, the prisoner having cleverly made use of their reunion at the
Tier as a blind to his absconding (for that was how the story began),
there could not help but be a little tension in the relations between the
Shaxtons and Mr. Daunt: mere good taste--it was noticed--rendering their
relations less intimate for a while, and indeed, bruising the pleasant
ties of acquaintance, so that, though all parties met and conversed, it
was evident the same degree of familiar intercourse, which had been known
to exist, was never quite resumed. Not that any vulgar cold-shouldering
or boding looks had been observed; nothing more than your good woman's
inability to forgive a too open clamouring of Duty in the gentle house of
Friendship. Nor had it ever been held against Mr. Daunt in society that
he had given permission to a prisoner acquaintance to attend a friend's
SOIREE, knowing him to be in leaguer for his escape. It was even
whispered that Heans' conspiracy, which had been for some time preceding
his escape under the eyes of the authorities, had been known in much
higher quarters, and that this was but one more chance to persuade him to
acquiesce in his position. No, it was a high feather in Mr. Daunt's cap,
about which, be it said to his credit, he had never "spoken a word." Let
us say here, concerning this matter, not a breath of suspicion had been
breathed against him--even of "a little natural jealousy": a phrase not
unfamiliar upon his lips. Among his faults he had the rather forgivable
one in a police officer of being a little too easy with the small sins of
character. "It always came as a relief to him," he once said, in his
brisk way, "and somewhat of a surprise, to see people content with the
smaller crimes"; or, as poor Shaxton had added with a chuckle: "content
with their pocket knives."

In point of fact, would the thing have got out, but for Captain Shaxton
himself? It seems Mr. Daunt had spoken under the rose; hadn't mentioned a
single name. Was he really to blame? The subject had cropped up and the
other gentlemen had given this and that tale. Mr. Daunt had kept his
secret, merely relating what seemed to him a certain probability. Of
course it was a scandalous thing to say, even of an unknown person, if
you had not had the direct evidence. But then the Superintendent had
given no date, and he had been in Hobart Town many years. (Fought his way
up, it was said, in Davey's time, and had a scar or two.) It might have
been any officer's wife from Governor Davey to Governor Franklin, and any
escaping convict. Really nobody would have connected such a thing with
the Mrs. Shaxton, who had the cousin, the prisoner. Yet--there had, after
all, been a low 'Captain' in Sir William Heans' case; every one had
laughed over the old Government schooner, the farce of her dilatory
arrival at Spring Bay, [Note 19. There was a probation station at Spring
Bay.] and bare escape out of the police boats. Everybody remembered the
case in the COURIER. Would you then have credited Mr. Daunt with
recklessness? Had the guilty secret, which he had kept so strictly, and
which he fancied true, made him cynical about women? He often said those
bitter little things. But he must have known dear Mrs. Shaxton----

Here we must pause to confess that what happened to Heans at his capture
at Spring Bay is unknown to us. He is reticent of his experience at that
moment. Neither can we furnish a more definite reason for the ensuing
coolness between Daunt and Matilda Shaxton than her account to a friend
of an interview in which the Superintendent made some "grave mistake." We
give here, however, a "reflection" written by Sir William Heans, at the
moment of his assignment to Charles Oughtryn, in the pages of his private
album (September 6th, 1840): the latter a species of memorandum, begun
but rudely broken into, from which we get some drops of confirmation of a
narrative based too much on letters written with reserve. Is it a sober
thought that this has an echo in it of the indignities of capture--and
even throws a light on Mrs. Shaxton's words of reprobation? Perhaps a
troublesome inference, yet, as will be seen, confirmed much in Sir
William's portfolio of French despatches to his friend Charles

"Say, when the protagonist of gross ambition has you in his hold, when
will he strike you, when will he use that power? When will come the
irresistible moment? It will be in a moment of ENNUI--in an instant of
impatience. Ah, how pitiless can be this being--with no uplifting ardour
save ambition--and a heart resilient with released enmity, is known only
to those who have survived revolution, mean stagnation, or any of those
abnormal moments in which he finds his power! Of what use the chivalric
sentiment that in the last extremity of human wrong a tyranny may be met
by force! How bravely, for a while, shall the lonely penitent face the
inquisitors! Such sad survivors know how strange the earth looks close
against the eyes."

Between the caligraphy of wounded pride, the flourish of ill-borne
humiliation, can we detect a something pricking through law's spirit--a
half-vindictive weapon come of self-guidance by the sound of right which
can so easily become its echo?

In any case, Captain Shaxton was afraid it would be traced to his wife,
as the stableman's name was known, and he (himself) had shown interest in
the slandered woman. Captain Kent, who was in the stable, said it was
wonderful how he took everybody in, only showing decent feeling for 'the
poor woman,' and how all along it had the making--what with Daunt's
sternness and conviction--of an ugly affair. Of course Daunt had backed
him up and behaved decently. What might not a man of less refinement have
said of a lady in a stable! As for Heans, he was sharp as a needle,
speaking of Mrs. Shaxton as "the fair incognita." How impossible it was
to imagine Mrs. Shaxton in an AFFAIRE DU COEUR, even with a man of so
handsome a person as some remembered that of Sir William Heans when first
transported! Nowadays, with that PASSE figure, with the port-wine face,
and shred of pathetic ceremony, it was very unpleasing. True, the lady's
very indiscretion proved her probity. Captain Kent said he protested he
did not think anything would have come of it if Captain Shaxton had but
held his tongue. But, indeed, how could he let it rest on the silence of
a gentleman, who, if he had mistakenly spread a falsehood, had once been
an intimate of his house--and the other man's generosity. As a man of
honour--how could he bear it! Captain Shaxton was so important now that
he was to be architect of the Port Arthur prison, and so, of course, was
Commandant Daunt. All the world wondered why, having kept the secret so
long, he made so strange a mistake.

There must have been some reason. Mrs. McKevin (who was quite one of his
admirers) thought it was all Mrs. Shaxton's fault for never quite
forgiving the Commandant for catching Heans. It was very unwise of her
not to forgive a man so clever--but our Miss Lecale who, as we said, had
pursued him with dislike from days out of mind, and watched for his real
or fancied weaknesses with the unaltering perseverance of a cat upon a
field-mouse, or as Shaxton said, "with a highly sisterly affection," and
in justice to Daunt, with very few wounds in return--Miss B. said:
"Captain Shaxton will never get the man to fight, and if he doesn't look
out, for all his chuckles, his pistols, and his perfume-pad, he will
never quite clear his stainless wife of her silly play with the old BEAU

While Hobarton was hesitating whether to laugh with Captain Shaxton, or
fear with some indefinable prompting that the moves of two such quiet
players held some indeterminate danger, Mr. Daunt actually appeared the
following morning at Pitt's Villa, rang, and was admitted to the presence
of Mrs. Shaxton, who was lying on a sofa in her drawing-room; with her
being Mrs. Meurice, her old neighbour, a Miss Towerson, and Ensign
Tipton. The last named were in riding attire, and had, it seems, galloped
up to rehearse with Mrs. Shaxton their respective parts in GLENCOE in
which tragedy Matilda still bravely held to her promise of prompting. The
audacity of this interview caused unfavourable comment throughout the two
cliques of Hobart Town, coming even to the ears of the Governor, who
touched on his attempts to divert Heans from his downward course, and
expressed a doubt "If Mr. Daunt (with whom he could not always agree)
were wise in waiting on Mrs. Shaxton in view of the freshness of the

Tipton, when he caught the name and who it was, was inclined to resent
the visit, and rose with a dark air, but Mrs. Shaxton, with a softened
look, got up and received him; and in a sort of grey flurry pointed him
to a chair. Mrs. Meurice herself sprang up, and made him a little CONGE,
with tears in her very red face. The beautiful Miss Towerson, who was
taking the part of 'Helen,' nodded forward from her chair, but did not
take her chin from her hand. She held herself rather annoyed and aloof. A
quite accomplished actress of tragedy, she was only barely acquainted
with Mrs. Shaxton and not much more with Mr. Daunt. For her it was a
vexatious moment. Who would wonder if she were a little frightened!

Daunt, who was attired in a tight black frock and cords, looked somewhat
too saddled with grave issues for his company. For a time he said very
little, leaning forward upon his hat and gloves, his grizzled face sunk
in his collars, listening with intentness to all that was said, only now
and then giving, by witticism or steely word, a hint of his alertness.

It was a doubtful situation, and though it was late in the morning, none
of the three other visitors would leave Mrs. Shaxton--a club antagonism
to Daunt alone rendering Tipton blind to the signals of Miss Towerson.
All three sat on in their chairs, keeping up a flagging talk, which Mr.
Daunt aided with terse anecdote or a bit of news. Even with such a deadly
business under the surface, none could help but be interested in the
surface reason for his visit. He wished to ask Mrs. Shaxton whether she
were interested enough in human sadness to undertake a call upon the
woman in the Cascades in whom poor O'Crone had been interested. She was
as suddenly stricken as had been that person at the news that she was to
go away. It was thought of asking Lady Franklin to visit her. It was
believed that a visit from any one of her own status of refinement would
revive her. "If he could prevail on Mrs. Shaxton," he said, "and perhaps
Mrs. Meurice, if that lady had pity to spare, he believed the woman would
make an effort and they would get her away."

"Was not her crime something very unpleasing?" Mrs. Meurice had asked.

"Very," said Daunt, and then seemed to demur, dropping his chin in his
hand. "Forgive me for putting it frankly. But there is no getting round
the fact that, however merited it may have been, she pistolled her

The visitors found it difficult to hide their interest in the history of
"O'Crone's convict," though sharp old Mrs. Meurice, who had regained a
scarlet composure, warned Matilda: "I am sure, with your BAL PARE, you
could never go throngh with it!"

"Believe me," said Daunt, "you are wrong. She is a proud, gentle-natured
woman, given to reading and hand-painting. Her influence in the prison
has been widely felt. She has made quite a name for herself--playing the
lady bountiful: even refusing an assignment, preferring apparently her
work among the sick and private studies. Her sickening has given the
notion she has been informed of the departure of her impetuous admirer,
though according to Leete she has never acted up to his eaprice. Yet with
the women coming in to the factory and going out, it might have got
about. She weeps. She will not eat. Tears--tears! She will unbend to no
one. It is--we think--a pity. She has set her will against Port Arthur.
If she could but be got to the Commandant's house there--a breezy place
in its own grounds--she will be out of danger."

"Is it so dreadful as that?" asked Matilda, unfurling her pale flag of
help: "a matter of returned devotion?" (Of course, none present knew so
early poor O'Crone had been the Earl of Daisley.)

"Call it a recluse's whim to remain in her den, madam," said Daunt, "and
you will be near the opinion of your obedient humble servant."

"I protest--the poor soul expiring of a--a whim, sir!" objected Mrs.
Meurice, who would have said anything in antagonism to Daunt; "people do
not expire of such thing!"

"We are all dying of whims, madam," said Mr. Daunt; "a few preferring
that the whim should be a fine whim: the rest of us for a whim. Ah, Mrs.
Shaxton, you who are expiring of a fine one, at least you will accompany
me to the prison. You will come with me in a fly to-morrow--out of pure
kindness. Between us can we not rescue the woman?"

"I don't think I can go with you," said Matilda, very quiet.

"You don't do yourself justice, then," said Daunt, leaning forward with a
strange pallor. "There is something about this woman that will appeal to
you. I beg of you to come with me on this peculiar occasion. You, with
your cleverness and sensibility, will manage it. Won't you come to the
rescue? Our man's wit is at a dead wall."

Matilda raised her sick eye a little from her work. She seemed almost
grave: "I could not stand grossness or harshness," she said: "I can't
think you would put me against grossness or harshness."

Tipton was glowering. "Mrs. Shaxton," he laughed, "'pon my soul you're
too serious!"

"Indeed, madam," said Daunt, grizzled, stern, and pleading, "the poor
lady is neither gross nor hard. I would not dream of putting you in such
a position. You may trust in me. I came up this morning relying on your
pity. Your kindness--who should know it better than I, who have been a
guest here for four years now? Have I been mistaken in again trading on
it? We come again and again, madam, to the rare places where it refuses
to die--steer our dark ships, madam, impudently into the haven. Weary
men, dear lady, fighting our erring war--will you tell them it is not

"I do not know," said Matilda, sewing in a quiet flurry. "You are very
complimentary--you are very complimentary to me. I don't think it can be
fair to be stern--to be so full of duty--and come claiming your
gentleness from the women. Why--why do you ask me? Are you sure I shall
answer you gently?"

She looked up at him strainedly where he sat leaning forward on his cane.
"Are your sails dark with storm, Mr. Daunt? are you come in your
strength?" said she.

"You are jesting with us poor men, Mrs. Shaxton," he said.

"No--no," she corrected him. "Is the woman dying from the handling of
that place? She must not die of that. Do you remember how a year ago you
spoke to me standing at that mantel piece--you spoke against somebody to
me, and I told you I thought it was so dangerous to be stern, especially
with people whom one does not like or approve of?"

"I protest," said Daunt, a little yellow, and nodding very vigorously,
"it is often heart-breakingly difficult to disapprove."

"What--of those you dislike, sir! Ah, how near is your 'justice' to
persecution; even if you are a Crichton yourself--and who has always been
that!" (Her face grew very pinched and strange.)

"You mean," said Daunt, "a step too much--a frankly mistaken step--a
misreading of character, and one is himself the wronger. How true--how
very true! But is--was discretion mistaken in that case? No, we are so
used to being in the right! Dear madam, we are weary of it, sure of it,
laying our nets by our conviction--by our dislike, if you please, and
only waiting for the end. Gracious God, Mrs. Shaxton, we police, in
pursuing a conclusion to a finish, do not often need to turn in the worn
track, and throw our all on the kindly effort of a lady!"

He looked in his efficient, urgent way at Mrs. Shaxton, and she stared
back at him, half sad, half grave. It seems strange to us that she should
have looked so bravely and so steadily at him after what he had done:
this efficient, weighty, witty man. He who had given out in a male
conclave the crime of her whom he had once professed to protect. That is
the least she could have seen--granting to his mind whatever despair of
cynicism: a motive the most frenzied and passionate. Was she meeting
something in his talk that was not practice with something in her soul
that failed at indignation? Did she--who if any there knew the grape on
his tongue, whether it were sweet or tasteless--did she know why he had
waited upon her any better than did Tipton, who "thought old Daunt was in
a funk," or Mrs. Meurice, who "thought his visit meant he was at
Matilda's feet" (he had a difficulty about being polite to impotency), or
Miss Towerson, who "thought the Superintendent spoke so impressive about
the other woman"? Who knows what they knew of one another? What secrets
he had not divulged of her, what secret she had kept of him? Here sat our
stern Iago who had pushed a husband further on a jealous scent; our
yellow Hamlet, who for some reason had not struck when he might--for some
reason of three or four. Which had it been a year ago? Which was it now?
After all, the young people, and some old ones, are so impressionable; it
takes a genius to send them away satisfied as to his dignity!

Ensign Tipton had remarked: "'Pon my life, sir, I think we're all hanging
too much on one lady's unselfishness! She has the thankless task of
prompting a company of addle-pates--that's the men, haha--the ladies
never forget their parts!"

The beautiful Miss Towerson bowed and laughed rather sourly.

"It's quite angelic of you to continue," she said, in a high uneasy
voice. "Her la'yship was saying only yesterday--'indeed you are too ready
to exhaust yourself for a lot of thoughtless people.'"

Here Mrs. Meurice surprised the company with one of those masterly upcuts
of your swordswoman, who, after hours of feinting, double-feinting, and
retreating, has the miraculous power of exploiting, at her need, a blunt,
brutal, candid question.

"Now really," said she, "could not Mr. Daunt get his charity elsewhere?"
Even for this Daunt was not unready, dropping out quietly and quickly,
and with a sort of smiling surrender: "Could the good lady show him any
one with the experience and genuine goodness?"

"Indeed, sir," answered the lady, very red, the feather on her poke
wildly quivering, "you have spoken truly, sir!"

But was Mr. Daunt very angry? He sat there with (according to Mrs.
Meurice, who alone reported it) "a signally fearful pallor on his dapper
face." "I am speechless, ma'am," said he, in a small breathless voice,
unlike his own. "I know not with what more to urge my words--to rouse
Mrs. Shaxton's interest and alarm."

Something in this last troubled the breast of the cold, romantic Ensign,
and whipping the floor with the tassel of his cane, he hurried out a
banal nothing to the effect that their "Egeria" was leading them all with
invisible strings. He could hardly wonder, he said, at Mr. Daunt's
decoying the generous lady into his prison. If she can smooth old
Shandler's temper ("he's murdering MacIan, you know ") and blind young
Balsers to his own pathetic eagerness, she can manage the poor creature
in the Cascades Factory. "I protest," said he, "madam has us all urbanity
and strict attention."

Perhaps he was as surprised as any one at finding himself giving a sort
of push to Daunt's wish. It was always difficult to say what was amiss
with Daunt--he was always pretty pale--whether he was angry, ill, or what
not. Now, he took up the conversation in a quick way. "Man, as a
constable," said he, "has little time for polite reading. Yet I have
found time for the play. I shall look forward eagerly to the great
night." (He always was apt to name "great" occasions in which he had a
part.) "An elegant tragedy--but, don't you think, Mrs. Shaxton, a little

"Indeed," said Matilda, dropping her rather dismayed eyes on the window,
"it is enlivening to sit and listen to Helen and Henry Macdonald
disputing over the treatment of their lovepassages. Even when they agree,
I am not fatigued; they do their lines so nobly. As for old Captain
Shandlers" (she bent over her work again), "he is the gentlest of men so
long as he is permitted to be what he calls 'his frank and untrammelled
self'" (there was some laughter), "while Mr. Balsers--indeed I try not
to be fatigued with things like ardour."

"I protest--a capricious heroine!" said Daunt, with a glittering little
laugh. "She will not accept her young gallant's addresses except they be
offered according to the book. Pray tell me--I am still in the dark
concerning Helen Campbell." (He suddenly addressed himself to Miss
Towerson) "Is she, dear madam, as good as she pretends? Has she not two
strings to her bow? Which--can you honestly tell me--which of the two men
really has the lady's heart?"

"I am afraid the bad one, sir," said Miss Towerson, and then went a deep
orange colour, and munched her beautiful lip.

Of course, those in the room, and during the afternoon, more than one
other Hobarton drawing-room, were inwardly discussing if Mr. Daunt were
interested as much as his appeal implied--and how much--in the sickening
of the Cascades artist; whether he were not hinting at something as
threatening, more weighty, and more personal to Mrs. Hyde-Shaxton and
himself, in that rapid, weighty voice. We know it is easy to imagine
these things in the conversation of a lady and a gentleman, and more than
one laughed at Tipton and Miss Towerson as a pair of "impressionable
young people." There are those who will glean a tragedy from every
company. In point of fact, it was too disturbing to the composure to
allow of making certain. That the very gentleman who had spread the
"thing" should be paying his duty to her--sitting there in Mrs. Shaxton's
room--even if he had not had that reputation--would have set older
people (from fear alone) watching for "indirect intimations." For poor
Miss Towerson it was "particularly distressing," since her friendship
with Captain Shaxton's wife was "purely a theatrical one," and she had
but a bowing acquaintance with Mr. Daunt as a bitter prison bigwig, with
an interest in polite entertainment. She had heard of the mock-knightly
doings in the stable (knew of the absconder's cousinship with the lady),
had been herself on Monday at the old house. She had taken part with Mrs.
Hyde-Shaxton and Mr. Daunt in consultation that evening. She had admired
with them the "French cornice." She had expressed herself enchante with
the size and acoustics of the pretty room. She had been one of those to
go to the assistance of Mrs. Hyde-Shaxton in her fainting fit. But only
kindness to the invalid had taken her to the rehearsal that morning, and
quite naturally she did not wish to figure in anything serious.

Really frightened, "inwardly disturbed," she was kept in her chair by a
feeling that Mrs. Shaxton ought not to be deserted until they were
certain she was able for it, and was aided in her intention by Mr.
Tipton's composure. Though the conversation took a surprising turn, both
young people maintained there was more tragedy beneath it than the
artist's, and Miss Towerson imagined a note almost of threatening in Mr.
Daunt's conversation. How nonplussed he looked at Mrs. Meurice's remark!
Mrs. Meurice, herself, went so far as to say he was frightened of the
talk he had brought on himself, and was playing on Mrs. Shaxton's
soft-heartedness to countenance him in it. Apart from Miss Towerson's
embarassing position, Hobarton was inclined to laugh at the young people,
and consider they were taking things too seriously; and Mrs. Shaxton
seemed to think so too, for before they left Mr. Daunt had almost
persuaded her to drive down with him to see "poor Daisley's convict." (So
rumour said.)

Here, let us add, it was reported by a gentleman of repute late on
Tuesday night, as beyond question, that the prisoner's old landlady--Mrs.
Quaid--had been approached, and contrary to Hyde-Shaxton's statement, had
denied all cognizance or claim in the famous pad, hinting that she
remembered distinctly giving it into the possession of Sir William Heans
himself; and also that Commandant Daunt, being interviewed by old
Chedsey, said sternly that he at least had never seen it, and he was
afraid he was not optimistic of its being found among the fly-away tags
and tatters of Sir William Heans.



Following on our account of the solicitude of Hobarton in the daft Earl
of Daisley and the woman in the Cascades, the reader will be startled to
learn the contents of Mr. Carnt's letter, which (as he will remember)
reached Sir William Heans by the hand of Conapanny on the sad night of
his farewell of the Earl--hidden in the womb of the perfume pad. Along
with these hurried tidings, we will acquaint him with that other find of
an eventful day: the short but very dreadful narrative of Walter
Surridge as written with a nail on the leather of the French hat: though
Sir William himself, baffled by a day of contrary and clashing eddies,
did not actually complete the reading of it till the following morning.

Mr. Carnt's letter, which had caused Heans so much emotion, was written
in a tremulous hand, very clear, readable, and fine. It went:--


No time to lose. Saw O'Crone; risked night call at
Oughtryn's; bilked at lights and uniforms. This morning heard military
had quartered Oughtryn, and deemed dangerous to approach. A SOIREE on
you, devil's luck or Heaven's help! Got early from prison, and saw
soldier in garden. Caution--caution! At wit's end! Met old landlady near
cemetery and stopped her. Asked after you. Old lady very done up; had a
visit from police; taken to watch-house to give evidence against
constable who had allowed prisoner to slip money through search-room.
Man violent. Maintained stoutly it was a lie. Police want to see relic;
gave Daunt a bit of her mind, she did; poor, old, pale cheese. Put it on
to you. Told him she'd returned it you at your request. 'Ware heroics!

Old lady had smelt police, however, and was arranging relic's
transportation with blackwoman in back yard, who had the thing in her
hand. Old black hid it in her dress. Mrs. Conapanny from Orphanage! If
she was still in the yard! What of poor old Psalmy Providence now! Life
or death, I gasped, and tried Quaid with Daisley's money. "Mr. Daunt's
injured me," moans the old lady, "and I've injured him, poor gentleman,"
and presently she beckons me in. Old black sitting there when we came
through. Weeping. Had a fright. Quaid quiets her down. Mr. Carnt shows
gold old black--weighty sum. Crosswheedles her. No go. Old lady gossips
endless with her. I agree write short message go inside handkerchief-pad.
Old black handles pad, and agrees, God save her soul! Put it to-night in
possession of neighbour's pass-holder.

It will here be necessary to explain--what has been only hinted at--that
it had been Carnt's plot, in his first moment of sympathy with O'Crone,
for a certain stipulated sum (at grim personal risk) to smuggle Madam
Ruth out of the factory among a batch of Friday's prisoners committed to
his charge for service: in a word, that it should be contrived that
madam bribe another woman by a trinket of some sort to let her creep
through the gate as an assignee in her place. The connivance or silence
of the bribed woman was to be further ratcheted by the promise of a
heavy sum to her account, left with Six of the jumble shop after the
attempt had been made, whether successful or not--whether or no madam
got out of the prison and afterwards escaped the island. Carnt's notion
had originated from an episode which had occurred during these
"discharges," in which, as we know, he had accepted the duty of the
harassing post of conductor. He had actually lost a wild, red-headed
girl from a batch of checkaproned women in the main street of Hobarton.
On this memorable Friday he had forced the remaining prisoners to run
with him incontinently after the culprit, to the immense ticklement of
the town. It had, for a while, been his wild intention (with the
adventitious aid of Leete's illness) to repeat the accident in favour of
Madam Ruth. She had even been communicated with, and had shown a fearful
willingness. But this mood of reckless generosity did not survive. On
the excuse that the risk to himself was insuperable, but possibly
because O'Crone had been injudicious in his disclosures, Carnt decided
to throw in his lot with the Earl and the object of his infatuation, and
soon, not satisfied with this, insisted that his honoured friend, Sir
William Heans, be made a party. O'Crone, having accepted himself with
demur, choked altogether over so now dangerous a mouthful as Sir
William; indeed, for a while he seems to have dropped all thought of his
dangerous design, sailing for Sydney, but returning in a month with a
cargo of Indian sherry, much appreciated in the barracks. After this
venture, imitating other SAVANTS, he voyaged less, but rode horseback
about the island. He was understood to be preparing a book on the
Tasmanian native, and several articles in the local sheets upon this
subject, and the flora and fauna--with hints to intending settlers--over
the NOM-DE-PLUME of PETER VAN DIEMEN--were keenly criticized as
emanating from his pen. His was a sad and curious history. He seemed
unable to leave the neighbourhood of these proud and irritated officials
and that unfortunate and violent woman. Yet one more interview with
Carnt was followed by yet another sailing, this time among the northern
islands, from which he had just returned, bringing back fabulous tales
of a community of convicts, backed however with a fine shipload of
seal-skins. His dip into this grim industry had coarsened him, or
rendered him more strange and reckless. He was back but a few weeks when
it was reported he was grown fond of rough company; at any rate, he
cared less what company he kept. He seemed strange in his mind, went
ungroomed, dressed rough, and cut with looks of anger his old

Once again, as in the early days of his disappointment, he hung about
within sketching distance of the factory; haunting the mountains above
the prison; or harrying the jailers and prisoners who had access to the
gates. And no--he would no longer know his old friends. That was but the
truth. He seemed to have forgotten or to nurse a natural injury against
the society he had frequented. Thus much for him of whom the town already
talked as the "daft departed," and gentler society as "the poor,
distracted Earl of Daisley." How little is there between the inclusion of
a being by a community in the intricate knots of its humanity, and his
thrusting, remarkable and solitary, without the ropes! But we, further
behind the scenes, have better news of him. In point of fact, he had
returned from that island voyage more inclined, for some reason, to the
risks of Heans' company, and it had been to meet him that Carnt had made
the appointment, we remember, at Muster-Master-Mason's Place. We now know
how the change in Leete's illness, which seemed to shatter all plans and
hopes, served only to knit the plotters, and whatever the failure of
Carnt's earlier negotiations, we see by this letter that, giving way to
desperation, with Captain O'Crone, at the disaster of the woman's
departure, he had, with the Earl's help (immediately on their meeting at
the ale-house) concluded their desperate plan of escape, including
himself and Heans, and promising no insuperable risk.

Now for Daisley's news (he writes.) Daisley comes across EMERALD north
of Flinders Island. EMERALD full of skins, pumping, and weed-clogged.
Stifft noble, and if timeous to agreement, now lying off Vansittart.
O'Crone sails to-night, and will signal him to run for the Tamar [Note
20. Ship-way to Launceston.] and hang off West Head on Sunday morning,
when he will run in and pick up boat. O'Crone will run west and return.
Keeping hull down, he will watch light and flag on 9th, and if Stifft
shows red and green, run on out of  sailing-route, and pick us up in the
inlet north of Gun-carriage. Stifft bungling, Daisley will bring in
yacht under beacon.

Signalled the Irishwoman, Kate O'Mara (approached last October, the same
bright luminary who has been seven times convoyed to "respectability" by
Mr. Carnt, but continues to revolve upon us), passed her madam's
bracelet, and got a fresh promise, kind and strong enough, "blast her,
she would never need to rob no more!" Madam herself was the difficulty.
Thought it was up. She had been growing very sick, and goes to and fro
with haggard eyes ever since the verdict. She was at the door on Monday
evening when the news got to me, and Shaneson and Hewet went across and
spoke with her encouragingly, She looks from one to the other very ill,
and I hear her say she's sorry to be leaving the people. At the corner of
the gate where I stood, I winked and violently frowned to rouse her to
the notion I was going to do it, and she gives me a stare between the
warders, but seems too weak to care much. This morning Dr. Goodrich came
early, and as he returns through the gate, I step out and ask how she is.
He says he must have her up and make her go down to Hospital. I saw her
when she descended into the court, and called to Shaneson I'd go after,
and say "good-bye" to her. Shaneson won't permit it. At one o'clock Major
Ellis brought the Launceston doctor and a French traveller and Mr. Carnt
to show them round. At Hospital door Matron takes them in, and I see
through crack Madam Ruth folding nightdresses near door. I call out,
"Hope you're better, ma'am, and can I wish you good-bye?" She looks up
dazy, but doesn't move, and Matron says to her kindly, "she may go and
say good-bye to Mr. Carnt." French gentleman much interested in her
hair--in the pathos of it--asks the story. She came to door not very
willingly, and before she could speak I cautioned her and told her what
was to do. I thought she'd fall. Egad, I felt her weight on the door! "Go
on, Mr. Carnt," says she, "I can hear you. I'm sensible of all you say,"
and then she says, "I'll be fit for it, but the journey's very heavy."
Presently, "I think I may die," says she. "We must all die--even the
worst of us--that's a comfort," says Mr. Carnt. Sympathetic Frenchman,
with tears in his eyes, moves a little further into dormitory. Pathetic
parting scene, for GALIGNANI or the DAILY NEWS! She will manage to be
delayed in the dormitory till late in afternoon. When she returns, she
will stand no risk of being occupied in kitchen or above stairs. I will
send Kate O'Mara upstairs to inform Orderly women are below, and while
man is in with Leete, Madam Ruth will exchange shawl and apron, and she
will come quickly down as he returns. Poor Kate will lock herself in
madam's room, and slip back to chamber, but if madam's companion is
there, or attempts to give alarm, she will hold her there "all night."
God be kind to her incurable generosity, and give her heaven in the
diamonds! I don't know what she'll catch for it!

If pass gates, (concludes the letter), leave madam with steward from
QUENOSABIA who has room in Collins Street. Madam changes; Carnt leaves
charges, and changes. Rev. Padsdow, in dyed wig and grey whiskers, goes
to Tanner's stables, orders carriage for gentleman and lady to wait at
Orphanage, and pays fare to Bridgewater. Rev. Padsdow and sister (in
heavy black bonnet and fair curls) may be joined by friend at Orphanage
(30 past 6), and drive comfortably to join coach at Bridgewater. Dismiss
hackneyman. Pick up night-coach to Launceston. For Heaven's sake (and
hers), unless hard put to it, don't join carriage at Orphanage! Mustn't
peril the lady. Jarvis knows Sir William. Coach leaves Ship Inn 7.10.
Take old bay and ride to the ferry (or across it in morning, as if you
were going message to Oughtryn's farm at Bagdad), and join coach as
consulting-surgeon. Dr. Charles Chandos. If hard put to it, come to
carriage--and may the great Architect see to the rest. The above is
compendious but final.

Believe me, honoured friend, in considerable trepidation,

Yours very faithfully,

Perhaps the fact most to be remarked in Carnt's plot, as indeed in most
of the prison-breakings not fictional to which humanity has put its mind,
is not the precaution painfully taken, but the risk indifferently
assumed. Either man is a much more gallant and cynical animal than the
novelists suppose, or than the reading public will accept. "Bah," he
seems to say, with his gambler's eye on vacancy, "even if the free bourn
be won, the hated bondage put off, are we so much further than from one
prison to another--is the grave any deeper to be dug?" And hardly
plotting, they seem barely to go beyond a precaution, the rest being left
to mother-wit, chance, or human frailty. In the novel, on the contrary,
the pining captive is shown planning horribly for the "happy ever after";
miserly of the risk to life and precious body; grasping at the heavenly
chance with avarice and matchless pains. Nor does your novelist allow for
the private bitterness, the little disease, the sense of humour of his
jailers, on which many an historic captive has broke ward. No--in the
convict Carnt's plan of escape from Hobarton like that somewhat
resembling it, and used twelve years after by the exile, John Mitchell,
questionably, painfully, and disastrously, yet as the ante-chamber to a
yet more reckless and quite successful plot--I say, in the plans of
Carnt, inscribed so trig and tremulous on a cancelled pass, seemingly so
tentative, and involving issue for at least two parties final and fatal
as a gun-shot, we see the complot of the human being, behind a veneer of
stratagem, playing gallant with his life to a singular degree. It will be
noted that a similar idiosyncrasy is to be found in the older document
before us, the narrative of the convict Surridge, though in this case a
something sullen in the character of the stone-mason makes him take his
risks for purposes deeper and more dread. We may imagine Sir William's
feelings when that night he fetched and opened the old cocked hat in the




Here's to you, Carrow, and you, Black Derrick, or Hammes, or any other
desperate man. If you ever return, see what it came to, and if not you,
for I know not what they'll do now, some poor wretch, wild enough to try
and slim enough to break his luck. The great crack was marked above the
mouth with a lock and broken key by Samuel Jallet who fell sick working
of it in 1804. And he died in the May of that year. Read how I came to
finish it; it will do you a service. I was one of thirty suspects
deported from Parramatta to aid in forming a settlement at Restdown, and
lucky I thought myself, for when 600 armed men rose on March 4th, at
Castle Hill--those on the roads, and on the public buildings, and the
farm servants--I heard the settlers and soldiers, who knew they meant to
overpower them, was ruthless. [Note 21. This must be the rebellion of
which Mr. Holt leaves record.] A year after, we came across to the Camp,
and joined those at work on the building. At first we were set at work in
the timber-carriage, and housed in the cave. When I joined there was
great activity, the precinct walls and the walls of the cottage being
near finished, and the hospital roofed, besides many other wooden houses.
As I was a suspect, and the news from the ponds made them fearful, they
would not let me work at my trade, though I appealed more than once to
the taskmaster and also Sergeant King. Now I became angry and could not
forget it, because some made believe to boast I was no mason. To prove
the jack-pudding out, I cut an image of Carlet, and one of James Craw, on
the cave walls, and later a threat for mate Moreman against King, and
one, because no attention was paid me, and for the private hate I had of
his person, against the fine gentleman, his Honour. This served me well,
for the semblance being good, and it being noted (his Honour himself
examining it while we were up the mountain), I was taken down and put
before him, when being a fine young man, they showed me lenity, and put
me in the way of certain ornamentations for the cottage.

His Honour was pleased to be patron to my skill, though he was impatient
in his manner, and gave me a new shirt, for though it was hot, we mustn't
go in trousers; and Mr. Gargrave, seeing me perspiring over the Basin,
gave me an old dress hat for my night-cap. They put me from one thing to
another as I showed myself able for it. Together with the Basin, I did a
mantel-shelf after the Roman, and two fine gate-posts. The stone was
soft, and while I was sorry for that when they thought them praiseworthy,
fearing their duration short, I was pleased at the artifice when
slighting words were given. Oons, they were pleased to have me try the
impossible, but it must be done after their mind! Many a piece I spoiled
by anger or despair. I forget blame very hard. (The last sentence in the
parchment was uncertain.) Here then I've lived for two years, with a year
on the Hospital ACROTORIA. At first I carried out the suggestions of the
gentlemen, who made a hobby of me, but during the past year, when
supplies gave out, I had less attention. Firstly, I was put to some
designs for the church, and left to devices of my own, among them the
figure of the Virgin which I marred in a fit of temper with Mountgarret,
who was pleased to think the trumpeter more a Frenzy than a King's
soldier. Master Collins came early into the mansion with three servants,
the mistress his sister, that little black princess whose father had been
shot at Rest-down, and young Spars, who acted as his Honour's footboy.
The young Jack-a-lent had a running tongue with him, and stood off me
except to poke fun at my handiwork or rage at his Honour (which he would
do as soon as clean his buckles), but the Arab girl--the same who'd
tripped it through the roofless mansion in her red and spangles--I often
caught her flashing eye, and one morning she came where I was, she did,
feeling the cottage flowers, and peeking at the hills--(it was the day we
heard Boney was defeated, and his Honour had Joseph powder him)--asked me
a question, she did, and stayed with me all morning, but was scolded in
doors by the worshipful Master Collins, who came out with some officers
of the Government. So it was done between me and her. She looked for me
as I looked for her. Never by me in the garden at that time, but staring
at one another by the hour round a bush or door, or at a window trying to
comb her Arab hair.

Late next year. I was removed, but presently I was back again, and the
old man put some reading in my way, as he said I was very ignorant of
life. I took to reading what I was given in the cave, and at midday. I
suppose she saw what I was at, and soon she had her book too. I saw her
book was covered similar to mine, and as the boy had become easier with
me, and had confessed he had had her for his sweetheart but had been
caught molesting of her, I told him--what I now think he had all along
perceived--of our partiality, and he agreed to exchange the books, mine
containing a piece of my neckerchief on which I had written of a little
wound in my hand. Joseph Spars, after some delay, brought a reply from
her, "Love poor Walter always!" written painful in her book; and though I
considered this reckless, and cautioned him against repeating it on his
Honour's books, Spars wouldn't have me destroy the page since it might be
missed, but he would lay some ink over it. Thus passed May and June, our
attachment growing, and very agonising, and Spars enjoying the mischief
of gobetween. His Honour was hellish impatient and punished me for
malingering, and she was scolded for too much application to her book. I
believe now there was disgust and suspicion over us. Her pretty
sprightliness was going, and I was insane with longing for speech. I
thought upon a plan to be near her, and this was carried out. In these
days when we are on salt pig and seaweed, and little of that, [Note 22.
The great famine.] his Honour's sister, Mrs. Collins, will send what
little fresh can be spared to the Hospital, and this Moicrime continued
to be allowed to carry. In a hollow of the ground, on the other side of
the wall, she would sit down. Against and topping the wall, where I
worked, was left a bushy tree, and in its leaves I would pull my stone
when it was sunny, out of sight of the Marine at the gate. When she was
there, she called over the wall. Whereon I climbed over inside the tree
and she sat for a few moments in my arms. We had not met more than twice
in this way, when as we sat together, I saw the glazed hat of the Marine
over the bushes, and he took us both in, she a-sobbing. I got nothing for
this, though some have got fifty lashes. They let me alone; I seemed
forgotten. In the afternoon his Honour came out where I was, his
top-boots covered with mud from riding. He had a whip in his hand, but
there was not a word said. And presently he went away. I know not now why
they did nothing against me. It was three days before Spars came near,
and I heard his Honour had sent the girl away. Perhaps it had been better
for all I had been punished. I could never forget my angel.

A night or so after, Spars told me she was in the Hospital. She was not
handled severe, and ran about where she would. One morning he saw and
spoke with her. She was in the paddock. They had cut down the bush I had
used for a ladder, but along towards the Cottage there was a little tree
growing, about two feet up, and behind this a gully-hole, cut after the
wall was built. In brooding over my bereavement, I thought I could use
this on some special occasion. I got soon to the hole, and found it
looked also into our hollow. Spars agreed to catch her, and tell her the
date of the assembly extraordinary, when she could come across to the
wall. This he did; and on that morning, about  eleven, I heard her voice
whisper and found her hand lying in the drain. Here we spoke five times
in November and December Spars watching the muster-roll and keeping me
informed, and me, since he would risk no more for my promises, jotting
dates in my book, and planting that in the gully-hole for her to find. We
were discovered one morning. Very sudden her hand was snatched from mine,
and though she made no noise, she drew breath grimly. Presently she said
to me, "Walter, I will wander by again." After there was a terrible
upbraiding over the wall, but behind me, on the path by the windows, a
voice said huskily: "Surridge, you are discovered." I looked round, and
there was Dr. Mountgarret, as he often called in, with his specimen-case
and gun.

When I say that I was persuaded of his worship's threatening voice, my
act of wickedness may be better understood. But though I knew that I was
to go to the geers, [Note 23. Triangles.] little did I anticipate he
would do this with the girl. When I knew that she was to go with Ondia,
which I did after two days in these caves, where I was alone but for the
nights, my five mates being gone to the works, it was my wicked intention
to revenge if I couldn't save her. I had his Honour's book, and in this I
wrote a letter to the girl, and persuaded Peter Naut--who was in the
garden--to pass it to Spars, and so he did. Now I left my mates by means
of the great crack, which Jallet, when the place was building, had
discovered by the wind (for he lay below), but since he had died and
Bastien had been freed, the two of us, slim enough, had not troubled at
the night-work. Now a nail and a stone was provided me, and I set to work
at it, but in my agony not content with night-work, ascended on the fifth
afternoon, and was trapped there by Mr. Carlet, the taskmaster, who came
in for some tools, and calling among others Sergeant King, he searched
the caves pretty thoroughly, though for some reason desisting sooner than
was expected; nor were the mates questioned beyond the preliminary
investigation, the famine hanging heavily upon every one, and he running
to a conclusion that I had slipped out among the Government men. Now
being trapped, and much sympathy with my grief, two of my mates agreed I
should work on out, they drawing me up a little food from their
allowance, which was done by means of a chain from the timbercarriage
which they were using as a drying-horse, and a running haul of thongs,
which, that I might have my hands free, we swivelled on my anklet. Here I
worked for four days, not daring to come down, my two mates able to spare
me little. On the fifth morning, my mates were taken out as usual, and
never returned. For two days and a night I saw nothing of my mates, but
heard the hosting of the troops. I now had the neck widened to about a
foot, but was very thirsty, and feared if I did not get down, I would be
unable to move. Having secured the thong by my dagger-knife, I came down
about nine that night and got a little water from the jugs. Though the
house was lit, as I saw through the port-hole, the court was empty of
them who had the order or habit of assembling. At four o'clock on the
following, all being quiet, and I being near through the work, yet
troubled much with hunger, I again descended. I had not been long down,
when I heard his Honour scolding, and looking into the court, saw the
foot-boy leading away his horse. I waited there till Spars returned, and
spoke to him through the port-hole. After a while he approached me, and
when he knew who it was, he promised to get me what he could. This he
did, returning with a bottle of wine and some fragments of bones and
cheese. As for bread, he said the prisoners were all released into the
bush for what they could find, the soldiers and settlers guarding the
Camp. [Note 24. Dispersal for Food Order of this period.] He had been
caught taking his share and had been put on Carlet's back. I asked him if
the girl was gone, and he said, with a laugh, Master Collins and the lady
wouldn't see her again. She was gone with blacks to Cross Marsh. I knew
then I could not save her, whereat I spoke wickedly against his Honour
and the lady; and he, laughing, backed away from me. Now I called to him,
threatening him also, and presently he came near, and said if I wanted
out why didn't I come? On my enquiring what he meant, he informed me the
door was stapled only, the padlock hanging open in the ring. I ordered
him to lift it out, but he said no, he wouldn't. I then asked how I could
use it, and he said, with a stick and a piece of thong, I might jerk out
the padlock, and lift the hasp. I thanked him, but he made a wicked oath,
running weakly to the house.

So in my mischievous anger I did not wait till dark, but with a small
double hoe, jerked out the padlock, and with a horn of it, succeeded in
raising the hasp. Half an hour after Spars had deserted me, I had passed
the bolt, and crept out in the quiet to the butt, where I had a drink of
water. The door beside was open, and I came into the passage. People were
moving in the maids' portion. Through the door on the left, I saw his
Honour sitting on a sofa before the fire. Behind him a Persian shawl and
some pistols were on the table. Also wine and cheese. In my grief I would
not shoot him, but kill him with my body's strength. Yet it must be done
silent, or it might be frustrated. Now the wicked one reminded me what I
had been reading in the volume of the PLUTARCH, how King Hannibal was
killed with a cloth, and few knew how he died. So removing my shoes, I
came behind and took the shawl. And I put it over his face, and when he
sprang forward, some fell into his neck above his neck-cloth, and so I
stifled him against the sofa-back. And that he might look as if he died
as he sat a-reading, I picked up the cocked hat, and put it upon him, and
under his hand I put a book that lay on the sofa by his grey pantaloons.
Presently after I drank some wine from the decanter and took a little
cheese from his plate, and as I took them I saw through the window Mr.
Carlet, the taskmaster, approaching the back gate. Taking the pistols, I
ran out of a door to the front, but was stopped before Mrs. Collins and a
maidservant. I then came out at the back, hoping to get down the garden
behind her Ladyship, and at the corner, past the kitchen, there was Spars
holding white beside the wall, and down the garden, Mr. Beaumont, with a
nosegay for my lady. I now returned along the kitchen wall, and thence I
went across, into the cave, hardly before they came. I think I was not
seen by any (saving the foot-boy); but one, attracted, I suspect, by the
door, came and looked into the cave, while I lay in Jallet's cell under
the crack. He entered one of the cells. He went away throwing-to the
door, as some one screamed from the Cottage. Again some one came up in a
quarter of an hour, amid the hubbub (when my accident had befallen me),
and I heard him drop the hasp and turn the lock.

But God had not done with me, and so I come to my miserable end. As I
pressed through the waist of the great crack, a pistol, which I had put
behind in my band, exploded in the lower part of my back, and I got with
difficulty to my hat and tool, my legs being gone in a paralysis. When I
had stanched it, and felt I was not immediately to die, nor yet in such
pain, that I could not do something with my hands for a mate or the
prisoner, who, like Samuel Jallet, may yet fall upon the secret in these
rents--before this I was moaning and making much of my difficulty, and
while thus, I depose as I lie here a verily writing, I heard some one
come lightly upon the flags, who listened at the hole, and when I cried
out for some water, saying I was dying, stayed a while and at last went
away, and I have not heard him come again. Who is this who came neither
to aid me nor to bring the thing to the light? Oh me, I do not
believe . . . so young! Whom have I killed? I will shoot him through the
crack. (The last words were crossed out in the original MS. and made
illegible, though from the faintness of the second ink they could again
be read.)

[Note 25. The author may be accused by some, of confounding fiction with
reality. He therefor thinks it necessary to state that the circumstances
of the death of Governor Collins as described in the text are, as far as
he knows, entirely imaginary. But it is well known that the Governor was
found dead in his chair about the date mentioned, and how he died is
still a mystery. A similar note to this is to be found in Sir Walter
Scott's "Waverley", explanatory to a parallel historical narrative
half-true, half-unknown.]



Give ower your House, my lady fair,
Give ower your House to me.


"We have a horrid monster here!" said Sir William, standing aghast in
the breakfast-room, with the hat before him on the table. It was an
ashen spring morning, and, outside, the east wind fought along the wall
with the guardian trees, or sprang in, struggling with the shivering
shrubs. Bless me, the poor little statue seemed to be bugling in a

Sir William, before his breakfast; the remains of which were upon the
table, had crossed to the stable without seeing their unwelcome guest,
but on his return heard his confident gabble over a shrill protest from
Oughtryn at an open chamber window, and saw his long face stoop and look
out. He looked indolent and uneasy, and gave Heans only a half look, as
it were, out of his shouted conversation, but at the same instant, his
hand had moved slily over the window-sill, and a pebble shot over the
flags not more than two feet in front of Heans' trousers. Trivial as was
the action, and chance as may have been the aim, Heans, vainly struggling
with his dread knowledge of the fellow, and his own private excitement,
returned to the room much perturbed by it. A little brooding over and
gathering of yesterday's incidents, and he was still inclined to the
belief the man was plaguing him personally; and a disquiet began to
possess him lest his evident enmity might put a new hazard in three
difficult days. Yet it was strange. Neither the soldier nor any one else
could know of Carnt's scheme, the ink of which was hardly dry. Had he
(Heans) let anything slip in the stable? 'Pon his soul, he considered, he
had been most circumspect! He knew life and men, or at least enough, as
Carnt would have put it, "for a tolerable defence"; along with this, that
one experience of his capture, or the common infirmity of the cabined
mind, had instilled in him a rooted scepticism in the good intentions of
his keepers; and seeing life and men in their carelessness, envy,
selfishness, weakness, sickness, or cynicism, he yet paled, his hair
stiffened, and his hand clenched, at the thought of this ruffian and
evil-liver, this treacherous go between and murderer, loosed upon the
quiet house, and, according to Oughtryn, barely pretending his humility.
Sir William naturally asked himself why was such a one sent upon so
domestic a task? Had "Spars" had the cunning to hide his nature through
these thirty years, and valve his poison out of drill-hours? Bah, these
men knew what men were! Had he made for himself a sort of work-a-day,
wicked trustiness? Such men were valuable to their superiors. Was he the
Blackadder to some official Bothwell? "God help me," said Heans, in
self-reprimand, "I am thinking too sourly! The man is ill, and had lost
the company of the baggage, his wife. This scrubbing, stable-cleaning,
and festooning a bower of roses for my Lady Franklin is by way of a
relaxation for a sick wolf." Yet, by Heaven, it did not sound rightly!
And if true, it was hardly fair of fate! Ah, coincidence, coincidence,
thou factor in our human or animal doings, as much to be reckoned with as
the most cunning and best calculated snare! Coincidence had summoned him
(Heans) to Flat Top Tier on the day before his first beggarly run for it;
coincidence, it was possible, had brought this sly ruffian to the house
three days before the new attempt! With whatever powers, or motive, he
was come--were he nothing more than the scrawl upon his order--or were he
interpreting, after the manner of a disreputable flunkey, some hostile
feeling of superiors rather implied than expressed (for Heans was half
persuaded there was mischief in it), Spafield, this time, was not having
it all his own way. Coincidence, or something sterner, had sent the
pitiable ruffian back to Captain Collins' cottage.

Up to the present we have mentioned no names because the implications in
Sir William's letters up to this moment carefully refrain from doing so.
We prefer to follow the trend of his mind as he records it. Whatever the
reason for Heans' silence, it says a great deal for Mr. Daunt that the
former did not credit him with so much dislike for himself that he would
descend to sheer evil-doing against him. Does it not say a great deal for
human nature that it so reluctantly admits that in a fellow-creature?
Hardly do we credit our friend with "running cunning"; at worst we guard
against the possibility. And yet, how countless are the catastrophes in
the histories occasioned by man's reluctance to relinquish a fellow-
being into the hooded den of the wholly-wicked! Watch us trying to
explain him (or her) to the last--lending him this, forcing that upon
him; fitting upon him these or those little cloaks of weakness or forced
probity or hypocrisy or harmless failure; searching round for
something--anything--any human rag that will make him seem of us while he
is here.

* * * * *

There were some early arrivals in the morning: three staid maids with
stooping heads and beaver bonnets, accompanied by three grooms holding to
their hats: all laden with parcels. The latter made several journeys to
and from the gate, the maids remaining and filling the passages with
conversation. About nine o'clock Heans left his room intending to return
to the stable, but as he stepped into the yard he thought he could hear
voices within the cave, and next moment his attention was called (by the
head and cape of the driver appearing over the gate) to the fact that a
fly was drawn up outside the wall. After a few minutes' wait, during
which he assured himself there were people in the stable, he stepped
across. He felt if he was to escape out of the place during the week he
must not shrink from the routs of grooms and gentlemen which would
assuredly throng it. As he went, he noted that all the windows of
Collins' Chamber were thrown wide, and in one a woman was importantly
flapping her duster amid echoes of further activity. Arriving in the wind
at the stable door, he found two men in talk, with backs turned, some way
in while the man Spafield, quick and bold, in red coat and shako, was
pitchforking the hay from the nearer stalls, and labouring with it into
the murk of the innermost. Sir William made out as he came in that it was
Oughtryn and Mr. Daunt who were talking there: the former in his best
oiled boots and buttoned coat, very bland and obsequious; Daunt somewhat
shrinking and lost, in a grey cloak and low-crowned hat. The latter
advanced along immediately he saw Heans, something of the old, immaculate
briskness in his manner. "Sir William," he said, with quite a pleasant
little smile, "come, do not be annoyed with us for making free here. We
really must stable the young actors. It is just civil. Oughtryn will send
away his nags for the 7th and give us stable room."

"Why yes, Honour," said Oughtryn, as if repeating some arrangement for
the benefit of Heans; "I'll lead the horses down on Thursday to Deal's or
Stully's--my own self."

"'Pon my word, sir," Daunt went on, "the young actors are in agonies and
hysterics over stable and rooms, and though I will yield in the matter of
your sitting-room, if you will allow me, I will on no account permit you
to be incommoded about the other. Now, sir, grant us this much latitude
for the great night." Heans, though distressingly taken aback by the news
that the horses were to be removed, and by Oughtryn's caution that he was
not to aid in it, said steadily enough he yielded the matter into
Oughtryn's hands; if he consented, he would remove from his room.
Surprised, no doubt, at Daunt's mellowed manners, and troubled by his
presence so early in the morning, he looked him in the face an instant;
after staring across at Spafield, who was moving quickly in and out of
the dusk, gripping a pitchfork used only to a pair of ancient cotton
gloves. Oughtryn now approached them in his tall small hat, somewhat
crestfallen, yet blinking blandly. He doubtfully tapped one hand with a
very small twig which it was his habit to carry in the other when off
duty (and with which he might be seen bending in the yard, reprimanding
cat and dog). "Changing the straw," observed he, in a manner somewhat sly
and aloof, "for the conveniency."

"Sir William Heans is very civil about the sitting-room," said Daunt,
pitching it back at the other in a shrugging way. "Half the world cares
little enough how it disturbs the other half, I'm afraid, and we've all
been very greedy after the old house. 'Pon my word, there's so little new
going on! I want you and Sir William Heans to understand I won't stick
out for any room you want undisturbed. The ladies get their girlish
fancies about a thing, and though as we get older, confound it! we are
easier weakened, I don't wish to be run into an injustice. That is not
one of my faults. At least, not one I boast of. It is, of course, very
amiable of you about your room, sir" (turning full on Heans). "Now, come,
shall I see if I can place the men's green-room somewhere else?"

He looked at Sir William with a sort of pleasant steadiness, to which,
perhaps, his greying hair added an impression of age and compunction.
"You see, I am here now," he said, "to do what I can."

Sir William stood sitting upon his cane, and swinging his glass. His
tails flapped about his rather PASSE trousers, and he listened, his head
fallen a little, baleful and cold. If he was perplexed by so much
gentleness, he was not moved by it. "Do you mean, sir, you would be kind
enough to secure me the other room?" he asked, with some indifference.
"Indeed, sir, you are highly civil. My privacy--I cannot trouble you so

"We and Life grow older, sir," said Daunt, with a little, comical shrug;
"it becomes more difficult to keep from injustice. So much outside
selfishness, Sir William Heans--so much egoism! And each one of us with
the private career he is husbanding, or indeed ceased to husband. What
wonder if we grow bitter with each other--place justice as a habit? Now
take us along, Master Oughtryn" (he touched Oughtryn swiftly with his
fashionable rattan), "show me to Sir William's room. Let me see it and
any other you can replace it with, if possible downstairs. Let us find,
if we can, some way to leave your servant alone." (Again he looked Sir
William in the face.) "Now, will that do?" he said. "I do not forget my
duty to you or any one?"

Sir William said: "Certainly, certainly, be pleased to come to my room."
He turned away rather sharp, as if he would lead the way, but turning
back, "Upon his honour," he said, "it would not be an irremediable
sacrifice to lose the room for one night!" He would not have the ladies
troubled in their pleasure. "No, no, let me serve you," said Daunt; and
again touching Oughtryn, moved past Heans into the door. Oughtryn,
picking his way out dark and bewildered, called high, "The gentry might
have the office under the stairs, given they could persuade the women. It
was their sewing-room, and they was jealous of it."

Daunt, as he was caught into the wind beside Sir William, hoarsed, "Ah,
the women! If you cannot harness them, man, I can't. Would they," he
turned and cried back, "would they be good enough to accept some
compensation from Sir William Heans and myself? Has not Miss Abelia and
elegant taste in old Six's china?"

"Ah, she's one that knows her own," said Oughtryn, feeling out of the
stable, sly and subdued; "and a maid to pick and refuse, for all her
unbeauteous appearance. Their domestic looks belies 'em."

Heans, as he hurried, yet endeavoured not to hurry, in front of Daunt,
seemed even more sorely hit than the occasion warranted. Twice he
restrained his too eager pace, turning mellowly upon Daunt, but his face
looked chilled. His glass he put up and dropped. For one thing, among the
moment's burden of contraries, he had, just now, experienced a
confirmation of his conviction of the soldier's private illfeeling, and
was trying, in his mind, to resolve away its nasty secrecy before he got
into his room. As he turned out of the door before the Commandant, a
glance back into the scarred cave (one of those glances which elude our
vigilance) had passed over Oughtryn, fair upon Spafield, first his tall
shako, and then his Tartar face, stooping in the dusk behind the
partition of the hay stall, and staring over it through the spread
fingers of his right hand. He was looking at himself in a cold, open,
private way. It seemed, at the least, that the villain, by this vile old
sign, was endeavouring to make plain between them his sly and
unappeasable aversion, and intention to further it in a double manner.
Sir William could not pass it.

The wind was loud in the gum and the budding shrubs about the yard, but
up upon the cliff it seemed as if it would uptear the struggling things
and fling them down. The day remained ashen. Heans had gathered his
forces as the three pushed across, clinging to their hats. As he
unlatched the little panelled door, letting it blow open, he half-turned,
asking "if he might enquire" (somewhat cavernously and inscrutably)
"whether the soldier fellow in the stable was the man for a delicate

"Indeed!" said Daunt, his voice echoing in the passage as he went in.
"Oughtryn was interested to ask me the same question! Pooh, sir, you
can't expect soft-sawder from a soldier. Put up with the fellow for the
week . . . now, which door?"

He moved past him along the passage, and opened the door of the darkened
sitting-room. Daunt entered, with Heans at his heels; and some seconds
afterwards Oughtryn came into the door and wiped his boots, somewhat
sinister and mild. Sir William stopped beside the nearer window, his face
sharp and still against the rioting garden. Daunt, who with his hat off
looked old and pale, stared about him smiling sternly, almost kindly. He
looked about at the saucer table, the bead chair, the meek bird, the
Roman figure, the mantel-piece. A slight look of amusement came into his
grizzled face, as if his thoughts were in two places; however, he said
softly: "If you wish, gentlemen, I will see the man, Spafield, before I
go, and explain, somewhat, the position to him. They are apt to kick
above orders. It is not so simple." He then told Oughtryn to take the man
on Thursday with the horses--"keep him occupied." Sir William ("in sheer
fright," he tells us) was asking himself why had Daunt engineered his way
into the room; was he about to ask familiarly, or demand, or search by
force of his official power, for the article which he supposed it to
hide--that under the marble angel on the right of the clock? He should
not have it----

Nay, let us believe Sir William in his tempered doubt of men, in his
trepidation, cold hope, and frantic fear, maligned Daunt. He had merely
come, in that sort of repentant mood to which we are all subject, to make
his way easier for the old BEAU GARCON. What more natural! As he said,
"We grow older!" and yet, in his evident striving after a measure of
tolerance, of his evident "older-ness," and mellowing, he could not hide
the faint impression, he invariably conveyed, of dark familiarity and

"Aha, Charles Oughtryn," says he, with his hissing little laugh, "never
again attempt to persuade me you are a dark disciplinarian. Tipton and
the young fellows must have heard of the room. Upon my faith, I don't
often find the prisoner and his master on such terms--though enough begin

"Manifestly more commodious for a gentleman than when you were last
here," said Oughtryn, bowing low, and speaking rather huskily. "My
prisoner and I seldom quarrel, and he has done his best to give my
daughter some elegance of polishing. His presence here 'as been no
trouble to us, and it has been my plan to put about him such articles of
magniloquence as would not be faddling to a gentleman. Where's all the
money, you ask me? It brings me little. But by these things, you see a
gentleman suitably found." As he spoke he slipped into his beard a
surreptitious plug.

"Ah," said Daunt, still gravely amused, "this is handsome of you. Consult
the next gentleman's taste as well, and he will never grow restless. He
will spend his existence with you. Indeed, a dazzling wallpaper! Isn't
the mantel-piece slightly overburdened? And these books--what does Mr.
Fielding, the writer, say: 'I had rather enjoy my own mind than the
fortune of any other man!' Indeed, Sir William, everything has been
granted you, it seems, except two things: resignation and undisturbed
possession. What is the good of all the splendour in the world without
them? No, we certainly must not disturb you. I must see what can be done
with these young gentlemen."

At something in what he said, Heans' nerve seems to have failed him, and
even while he was speaking, he left the window--too pale for mere
indignation--and putting himself before the fire (Daunt being at the
bottom of the table) removed a pair of grey cotton gloves, and laid them
somewhat aimlessly upon the mantel-piece, beside one of the marble
figures. Had he recollected who was there speaking so pleasantly--one of
the sharpest policemen in Tasmania? With a hand leaning by them, he
turned inward a little to the fire, a varnished boot upon the fender, yet
standing in a grey chilled way, as if his shrunken finenesses of costume
were too thin for this windy weather.

"Indeed," he said, in a hoarse yet gracious voice, which he seemed to
strive in vain to keep steady and aloof, "you are right of my resignation
of mind. I would cut and run to-morrow if I could. Well, sir" (with a
short, trembling laugh), "take the room if you desire it. Take my pretty
ornaments for you BAL PARE and deck the old Chamber with them. Take my
clock, my bird, my green lustres, my two ladies with the doves." He
catalogued them, staring at them one by one. Afterward he turned and
looked at Daunt, very cowed, grey and gracious. "Yes, let them have the
room, sir," said he. "Take anything you want."

Daunt gave a little glance up at him--a sort of mournful, bitter glance.
"Come, I know you, Heans," said he, "better than you know yourself. You
are an irreconcilable man. 'Pon my faith, sir, you hug it to yourself! I
should never be surprised at any sudden recklessness from you. A report!
A catastrophe! Ah, it is Sir William Heans! Just as A said--just as B
prophesied! Tut--tut--it delights you, I think, not to be circumspect,
and help yourself. I am persuaded you shall not pleasure yourself with a
fresh mortification and hug a new reason for reckless speaking--not by my
word, if we can fob Tipton off! Come, sir, you will be yet frank enough
to admit with your old master Oughtryn that our care of you is as just as
our punishment. Here is one who is rich from his firm belief in our good
intentions." He turned to Oughtryn, adding: "Still quite unassailable,
Oughtryn, I am sure?" And he laughed gravely, but how sternly he said it,
with a parting glance into the room and round at the two windows, his
pale little hand upon the table! Suddenly, while he spoke, the noise of
someone knocking rattled into the wind, and Oughtryn, while he backed to
the door, remarked, "since Mr. Daunt was pleased to ask, he was the same
as ever he was." But as he felt for the handle, his air was puzzled and
pale. He added, in his shrill voice: "I look for highness from my
masters. Honours, but a gentleman cannot always show his hand. I've
suffered little and gained much from my masters, gentry, but by them as
to which my masters delegates their mastering I've suffered hell. A
gentleman cannot give his mastering."

When he opened the door, the woman herself was standing against it, her
sleeves up, her massed hair awry, but her air as immovable and remote as
usual. For the moment she seemed to personify rather a beckoning than a
patient Fate. Ignoring both Oughtryn and Daunt (over whom she passed a
blind look), she informed Heans, slow and direct, "that Mrs. Quaid was
outside about a fur coat--a perliss--and would prefer not to go without

Heans coldly excused himself to Daunt (who turned politely to the
window), and moving to the writingpress, unlocked and removed from its
shelves a parcel, which he brought to the door, and was about to give it
into the woman's hands, when Daunt flashed about, crying: "Hold, I beg;
this is pure pride! Allow me to protest against what I think Sir William
Heans is doing. Do not, Sir William Heans. Do not let that coat go out of
your hands. Foolish gentleman, you do this before me to irritate me. No,
come--come. For Heaven's sake, pity my position, sir, and let me feel a
little happiness in thinking I did this! I have--we all have--seen this
handsome coat. I know what you are doing, sir. Let me--let me (so much a
stranger now) do this small act of help. Come--please."

He advanced and put his glove on the parcel--his eyes on Heans' face. Sir
William was at the instant about to give it to the woman. Daunt's air was
stern, comradely, and appealingly.

"Ah--ah, highly civil, sir. No, no, certainly not!" said Heans,
ceremoniously parting with the parcel, and Daunt, snatching back his
glove, turned again to the window. Oughtryn, standing to attention to the
left of the door, and only occasionally turning his quid, seemed as if he
would have interjected some explanation of the peculiar delicacy of Sir
William's affairs, but he did not, his strained eyes returning towards
Daunt only more crestfallen. He did at last say, as if unable to keep
entirely aloof: "Appears to have been a exchange of them books by your
'and, sir, between Sir William Heans and the old 'ag." Daunt possibly was
wiser, remembering the ring given to Shaxton in the stable. He remarked,
however, "Gad, for these books!" and gave a lame laugh as he fingered
them: adding "These old women will cadge your very handkerchief from your
pocket. The reward is inadequate." He thereupon wheeled about, asking to
be shown the room under the stairs, and turning to Heans, added: "No, Sir
William Heans, let us see what can be done with the BEAU SEXE. Let me beg
your veteran help. Oughtryn, where shall we find your daughter?"

They walked immediately into the small passage, Oughtryn leading. As they
turned into the larger, they were met by the woman, returning with
something in her hand. Without pause or hesitation she strode past Daunt
and Oughtryn, and approaching Heans, gave into his hand a handful of
small articles, with the loud remark that "Mrs. Quaid had found them in
the pocket of the coat, and 'was frightened they might incriminate her.'
" Heans, who saw even in the half-light of the passage that one was a
folded silk handkerchief of a kind once used by himself, immediately
placed that, and the papers that accompanied it, in his pocket, laughing
his thanks. ("Very remiss of me," thought he, though he was certain he
had emptied the coat on the previous night, and he did not think he could
have mislaid in that coat one of a set of valued handkerchiefs now for
some time regretted. In the flash of his reflection he had thoughts of a
new message. At the same time he did not think that Carnt would have sent
him anything of importance in this reckless manner, nor the old woman
have passed it in with the Commandant in his very room--unless, indeed,
it was, for some reason, urgent. Could it refer to Daunt himself?)

Daunt, after a quiet stare, turned and walked on.

"Where shall we find the girl, Oughtryn," he asked again; "in the kitchen
here, or enlisted among the helpers?" He spoke sharply.

"Where is Abelia?" Oughtryn demanded of the woman. "The gentleman has a
petition to put. Is she hiding in the kitchen?"

"No," answered the woman, giving a glance back into the kitchen. "Maybe
she is in the Chamber. Abelia--she's been sickening for the horses, and
mislikes the presence of a stranger with them. She's been hanging to and
fro all morning, plucking up her courage. Maybe she's taken heart and
gone over with an apple."

Sir William exclaimed: "Not in the stable!"

Immediately the woman led the way along the passage, and into the hall,
from which the drugget and furniture had been removed, and upon the
wooden floor of which two elderly servants knelt before pails. The back
door was closed, but the front was open, showing the ashen sky and some
furniture grouped about the stone sphere. The three men stopped in the
hall, but the woman went on into the Chamber, quickly returning with the
information that Abelia was not there, and might be in the garden. From
where they were standing, there was visible the south side of the
Chamber, in which, among other preparations, curtains were being hanged,
their pretty blue folds ballooning in the wind of each half-open sash. At
the farther end two bonneted ladies were standing in the shadow,
superintending the arrangement of the valances by a maid-servant and an
old butler in brown. A second manservant was on his knees by the door,
polishing at the floor with candle powder.

The two ladies curtised grandly to Mr. Daunt's salute, and as Oughtryn
despatched the woman to seek the girl in garden or stall, Daunt very
gravely excused himself, and requesting to be summoned when the girl was
found, traversed the Chamber to pay his duty to the visitors. There he
stood in the window in his grey cloak, listening half quizzically to his
chill observing acquaintance. As Daunt left them, Sir William stepped to
the back door of the hall, and slipping back the bolt, pulled it open
against himself. As he did so, he saw the woman flutter past in the wind
of the yard; while across, in the door of the cave, stood the lost
Abelia, drooping shyly, with the house cat in her arms; also, a little
within, appeared the maroon of Spafield's coat, and his bandaged wrist as
he leant upon the hay-fork. Heans, in the instant he stood looking over,
heard the man raise his voice at her in a pretence of hectoring, and the
girl bend with the pretty crushed laugh familiar with her. A dismayed
crying from the charwomen, as the wind caught them, brought Oughtryn up
beside Heans, who for a moment neither heeded the pleadings of the former
nor the master's shrill warning that "by opening in the litter he was
crossing the scolds!"

Heans made to close the door, but hesitating, beckoned the old convict to
look over, which he did, crying: "The woman was right. Bother my jacket,
if the chit hasn't crept over to the horses!"

"Very strange," protested Sir William, "as if Miss Abelia had lost all
fear of the fellow!"

"Yes, there is my darter at the stable door," said Oughtryn, heavily. He
put up his hand and shut the door.

"Miss should avoid that rascal," Heans exclaimed.

"Nay, honour, a girl gets friendly with a man when she's doctored his
hand," said the other. "They don't deal as we do. This morning early
there they was slying with him at the kitchen door."

"Upon my soul," said Heans, in a low voice, "so innocent and so young!"

Oughtryn seemed to consider. "Let the chit be," said he, as one deciding,
shrill and heavy.

In a few moments a door banged above the knocking of the windows, and
presently the woman emerged from the passage, followed by Abelia. They
had hardly come into the hall--Abelia now pallid, her lids low and
troubled--when Daunt made his bow to the women, and came quickly out of
the Chamber. While the Commandant was approaching, Oughtryn acquainted
the women with what was in the wind about the sewing-room, and how it
might be wanted in lieu of Sir William's chamber. Heans himself neither
urged nor protested, standing with his hat poised in his much-cleaned
glove, his eyes sharp upon this ashen day. Mr, Daunt had also, for an
instant, other matters in view. Advancing, brisk and absent, he shook
hands with Abelia, and then, with a swift apology for the abruptness of
his demand, announced that the lady yonder (indicating the lady with the
blue feather), Mrs. Scudamore, was most desirous a message should be
delivered this afternoon at Miss Newry's, Tregaron, below the barracks,
and he had promised that Miss Abelia would be kind enough to ride down
with it. While speaking he gave a hostile look at Heans, as much as to
say, "I am aware you will make a favour of this, also;" but he looked so
desirous and grimly kind, and in such momentary trouble with his ladies,
that he carried his way on the wave of it, and while Oughtryn harshly
consented, Abelia repeated after him the message she was to carry: "Mrs.
Scudamore's compliments, and would Miss Newry be good enough to send
immediately the short yellow fringes."

Daunt appeared so engrossed with small worries, that for a moment it
seemed as if he would depart down the hall, altogether dropping Heans'
affairs; he suddenly, however, returned to them, with the remark that his
time was short, but if Abelia could be persuaded to resign the room for
Friday night, the young actors might make shift with it, and Sir William
Heans' privacy be undisturbed. It was his desire that no irritation
should be aroused by the reunion of an evening. He was sure (in his stern
way) she would aid her cavalier of many pleasant rides in anything
helping to his tranquillity.

Abelia, after a fluttering silence, in which she never raised her quiet
face, answered that it was only a little room, and they had intended to
use it as a storing cupboard for father's sitting-room, which the ladies
begged to have cleared. The woman, who stood holding by the banisters in
the rear, put in at once, "that the ladies were not satisfied with the
size of the small sitting-room." "That is so," said Daunt, glancing down
the hall, "yet we want for his Excellency that room on the right of the

"My girl is happy his Excellency, the Governor, will make use of her
room," said Oughtryn. "This is a raising of the house, which they tell me
has seen Governors before--though I know, sir, you don't credit with
that. Lord above, they say the old Captain walks in one of these rooms!
though the fine ladies won't believe it, and as for me, I don't hold with
such proceedings--unless perhaps when the man's an ill man, and then the
dead they punish him."

"Ah, we'll be a long time waiting for the dead to punish," said Daunt,
with a little hearty laugh. "If you can produce the old gentleman's
wraith, Oughtryn, I am sure we all--Sir John included--will be delighted
to entertain him as a guest." (He swung back towards the staircase.)
"Come, Miss Abelia, show me the sewing-room! I believe Sir William Heans
will be willing that you store the furniture in his bedroom, and if this
is large enough, that may clear the matter."

* * * * *

They made through the stair door to one on the right, which the woman
threw open, disclosing a small square closet, with some shelving, some
plain chairs, and a table on which was a work-box. Daunt, walking in,
sharply examined the place, and presently summoned Abelia, who felt her
way to the table, the woman coming into the door behind her. The wind
clapped and rattled at the window, which looked through a pair of dusky
curtains upon the back of an old watercask lashed by a hawthorn bush.

"Capital--capital! Oh, you must let us in here!" said Daunt, throwing
open his cloak and fanning his harsh face with his hat. "We can move the
table under the window, and you must let us have these shelves. Now, if I
can persuade the young fellows to change the room, have I gained your
sanction, young Miss Oughtryn? One more intrusion, but the last, I
promise you. Will you" (lowering his voice and staring round) "and Madame
Inscrutable here--will you be quick enough to perceive something grave
under my visit! It is to spare an intrusion upon another who, people are
only too ready to say, is being made uncomfortable, nay, too likely silly
or desperate, by a piece of harmless fun and pleasuring. I mean there
shan't be one hint of this. Now help me to get on the right side of the
book and secure that man his privacy."

He spoke low, but harsh, and not very good tempered. His air was
persuasive and not disrespectful, yet beneath his harsh persuasiveness,
there was ever something mocking and outwearied, which either he could
not hide, or did not trouble to, or specially used, while he was in the
room, to cover a shyness he was in before the women. Abelia stood in the
grey room, groping at his harsh and humid face as a bird hangs, poising,
in a pale sky. It was the woman, however, wonderful and statuesque, with
her fine pale hair--a blind look also in those fateful, care-nothing
eyes--who spoke for her. "Yes," she said, in her slow voice, "they were
glad it was not too little for the gentlemen. Oh, yes, it was provoking
it was so small!"

And Abelia echoed in a murmur tremulous and precise: "They thought it
vexations for their gentleman that he should lose the breakfast-room."

"Ah, fickle lady, she remembers her riding-master!" said Daunt, harshly.
(Was it from a carelessness of relief, or that old weakness of his, that
he grew less polite?) "I knew you would not place us or your old BEAU in
a danger; and yet" (speaking lower) "you must be cautious, you women,
too; not too much sugar and petting or you will bring him into trouble.
Petting was the cause of the last mistake, aye, indeed, and his first
too. I speak frankly--warning--warning--something's wrong--not too much
cooking and soft-sawder. As I said to Oughtryn: 'Cut a dash with him, but
don't spoil him. That is all we police ask.'"

He stepped back, his grave face making for finality, and, pulling his
handkerchief from his coat, moved over and measured with it the

It may be said that Hate, as well as Love, breeds extraordinary cunning
and dissimulation in the simplest of women. Abelia stood with that
groping hand of hers steadying her timid face, which reddened slowly to
her smooth and peaceful forehead, product of retired, uneventful rooms.
Still she tried to see Daunt through striving lids. The woman pushed
herself from the door and came behind her, muttering over the unceasing
struggling of the wind, "Nay, he's not so easy petted, sir. A hard one to
please, but complains little to us. A proud sperrit."

"I am aware of that," said Daunt, nodding his head and laughing. "I
advise you to be cautious, Madame Inscrutable and Miss Abelia. I have not
done with you yet, my dear young women."

"He is crotchety. Little worries provoke the old gentleman," went on the
woman, in a calm, low voice, yet staring after his face as it moved about
in a quiet inquiry. "We think there are them that perceives this."

"Ah, good woman, we are all provoked in that fashion," says he, smiling
rather mockingly, as he examined a cupboard on the right. "I'll speak to
Cadet Tipton about this place."

There was a moment's silence in this woman's sanctuary, and at that
instant, the voice of Oughtryn rose somewhat shy and formal in the
passage above the gossiping of the charwomen and the wind. "Speaking
under correction," came the words, somewhat stilted as from one talking
warily to kill a trying moment, "for he knew as little as any one on such
a subject, he'd heard say if a ghost came out of a room, he was against
rules--let alone a-runnin' up and down stairs as he chose of his own

"We know our gentleman pretty confidential," persisted the woman, in her
stern way. "We have bepitied him hearty. He never seems to get used to

"It might be very tragical with him. It is his delicacy of mind," said
pale Abelia, fluttering up her shy and drooping face on Daunt's. "Oh yes,
sir, at any time, something intrusive or degrading might put him out and
make a desperate man of him!"

"Tut--you seem as jealous for the old fellow as he is for his pupil,"
said Daunt, gently; "we do as kindly as we are able. Meddle too much and
you make a sad mess of it."

"I think, sir--I think those who do not like him perceive he is very
proud and gentleman-like," said the girl, showing a sort of troubled
spirit--her face darkening and turning aside.

The women put their arms on one another in a kind of quiet expectation,
staring at the man's harsh face, awaiting something, and yet not
awaiting, significant, persuadable, fateful, inscrutable, crediting,
cynical--as we sometimes seem to see them. Mr. Daunt too was silent, his
small hand on the table, toying with the green shells in the lid of the

Just then, above the dragging of furniture, and the plugging of the wind,
a covert shrilling from Oughtryn broke in from he passage. "Speaking
under correction, gentlemen," he was saying, "their word of honour is
used by them like the oaths of most people, and they tires of probity
just as soon as they can rise no further on it."

A stern mocking smile broke over Daunt's face. "I see," he said, "your
model father has glanced off the subject of ghosts to that of men.
Curious beings, my little blind Abelia. Those modest eyes will be happier
occupying themselves with shells and needles. But you will never let an
old fellow advise--will you? Even we chamber mice must out and pretty it
when we are young. Pooh! so shy and timid, you know all the world

He raised his eyes, looking grey and steady into theirs.

He then put his hat on his greying hair, and began to do up his cape.
"Gracious G--d," he laughed, "we mustn't forget Mrs. Scudamore's fringes!
Kindly say it again, Miss Oughtryn."

Abelia repeated the message in a tremulous yet precise whisper, and
Daunt, bowing to them both, went out into the passage.

Sir William leant, high and graceful, under the rise of the stair,
looking, with his glass up in his thin, hot face, his tilted hat, and his
air of weary scorn, very much as he had just been described to the two
women. As Daunt came out, he turned sharply, and made a fine pretence of
examining him, which the first sight of the other's face withered stiffly
into the baleful. It was the same with Oughtryn, who, as the
Superintendent emerged, was gossiping in the stair door (steady and
distant as you could wish), but as he stepped upon the slates, put his
hand upon his mouth, becoming bland and puzzled. Daunt made himself
pleasant enough (if on the hop to get away,) saying, "Your hand,
Oughtryn--the place is small, but I think we shall squeeze into it."
Oughtryn shifted his stick, and fumbled off his hat, shaking Daunt's
fingers, blank, blind, and tremulous. "Why, Oughtryn," added he, "you,
and your respected assignee, are superannuated, I think. Your women are
so amiable and respectable, I feel ashamed of having cadged another room
from them. I did not wish to alarm."

Daunt then turned to Heans. "I think, sir, you are very rarely placed.
The two women talk of you almost with affection. There, sir," he said,
his face gathering from a grave smile; "owing to certain
misrepresentations which have been brought to my notice since our meeting
in the stable, I took the trouble to see that all was done to put myself
on the right of the book, and you undisturbed. I think all will be well
now. But by what God you worship, sir" (speaking quick and quietly), "let
me beg of you to grasp plainly that this civility of mine is no
soft-sawder!" He bowed to Heans, looking the veteran he was, lined,
resigned, and tolerant to a mark; then turned and traversed the passage
past the kitchen, and so to his right to the yard door. The women saw
him, from the window of the small room, almost blown into the cave; so he
did not even forget his promise to speak to the billet.

Sir William experienced inexpressible relief when the door banged, and
started without a word in Daunt's footseps. He turned into the
breakfast-room still trembling with anxiety, not much lessened by a glum
remark of Oughtryn's: "Fine days these, honour--but I like them worse
than I did." In the breakfastroom, he went straightway to the fire, but
had not stood there more than seven seconds, before dropping his stick.
He tilted the marble effigy on the left of the clock, and extracting
Carnt's old pass, examined it, tore it into pieces, and dropped them on
the live wood. The black pellets he ground into the ashes, and covered
with fresh logs. Afterwards he approached the other effigy, but did not
touch it. He stood there, with his neat glove on the mantel, staring
fixedly upon the serene breast of the Peace, and twice searchingly about
the room. He seemed in doubt whether to freshly hide the pad, and where.
At this moment, in his perplexity, it occurred to him to examine the
articles which Mrs. Quaid had sent him, and turning to the table, he
pulled the little bundle from his coat-tails. Among five or six passes
bearing Oughtryn's signature, the handkerchiefs, a pocket-mirror (which
he was certain he had never seen before), and a glass-string, was a
soiled letter, addressed to him in a handwriting once more familiar, that
of Captain Hyde-Shaxton. The seal had been broken, and the inside was
only slightly less soiled than the out. It was a year and more since he
had received a communication from Captain Shaxton. There were but two
outside pockets to the pelisse, and these were large, and hung low to the
hand. He knew, of course, this letter had not lain in them more than a
few minutes.

He was about to read it, when the door resounding with a knock, the
woman's voice rose above the worn lowing of the wind, begging permission
to set the table. This he gave, pocketing the articles and moving with
them and the note to the east of the windows. She entered with her grim
face behind a tray bearing many remarkable and homely objects. While she
went in her proud, slow way about the table--unchangable for wind, riot,
the World's no, or Hell's yes--he read this grim request:--


I am in a bit of a pickle. The old lady told you how I called the night
after you and I met, and had a look at the pad. Well, I took a funny way
of my own to let the town know I'd seen it, but some one (the police saw
her early) floated the counter that the old woman denied it; and, last
night, at Magruder's, old Chedsey informed me several, to put a stop to
it, had been to see, and when questioned, she said you had it, putting a
doubt on the whole thing (you understand) and giving me the lie. When I
went down this morning, upon my word, I found she actually had sent it to
you! When I learned this (you see I and my wife are in a bad position if
it is lost, many being furious at my joking way with Daunt now they hear
it isn't to be found, and at second introduction of you), when she saw
what a hurry I was in, being en suite at eleven, the old cadge said she
was to fetch away a coat in exchange for it, and would I make it good to
her to pass a letter back to you as being found in the pocket; so now I
warn you put it in a safe place--a place there's no doubt about till I
can run up to-night and get it. I didn't ask the woman why you took it.
It is not difficult for a man learning life as fast as me, to make a
guess why you took it into your possession. But I go one worse now. I
ask, "Is it safe with you?" There's a hellish insinuation! Captain
Shaxton do be serious! Ah, I'm a very comical man when I start--a comical
man! But don't you interfere, friend, to prevent that.

Till I see you, with respect,

Dear Sir,
Your most obliged,



We know how troubled Sir William was about the pad for the few hours
till Shaxton could relieve him of it, by the story of what he did with
it for that time. During the afternoon's ride, dear reader, where would
you think the embroidered, sparkling thing reposed? Not on the
mantelpiece among the ornaments, or in Heans' little bedroom, nor even,
by strange good fortune or prescience, upon Heans' own vigilant person;
but in the saddle-pocket of his silent, stooping, blue-goggled
companion, Abelia Oughtryn. What led him to take this strange
precaution? Many things. A serious clash with Spafield had driven him a
little wider from his balance. Again Daunt's many hints at his
restlessness seem to have puzzled him. Was Daunt feeling in the dark,
relying solely on his experience of captive-men, and his own self, as he
had a skilful way? Was he running on his anger in the stable? His
carelessness to opinion? Surely. Where could even he have got a hint of
the truth? O'Crone had, alone, been too skilful to attract the most
astute upon his staggering retreat. He thought of the fellow, Islip, of
the Cascades tavern: a man with a covert, if pleasing manner, whom he
had sometimes supposed in police-pay. Had Islip reported some of his
injudicious railings, his meeting with Carnt, or Carnt's with O'Crone,
or even overheard that Monday's conversation. Well, God comfort them!

There was all too much fear and risk with such a man! He might be more,
not less, subtle than they feared. Finally, in case a hint might have
been passed in to Daunt by Islip, and he were stopped, questioned, and
as had been done a half a dozen times ordered to produce the contents of
his wallet, he had given it, as they rode up the lane, to Abelia, to put
in her saddle-pocket. Coincidence, we repeat, is a strange thing! When
the very thing he feared happened, and Heans was stopped not only at the
South Boundary, but also at Barrack Square, and ordered to dismount and
produce in the watch-house what he had upon him, Fate's RIPOSTE was
almost too much for him, and he was given a chair by one of the

He soon found he was out upon a wild day, though for other reason than
he had feared. When he demanded why the indignity was put upon them, he
was told, with a sort of rollicking sympathy,  that the order was "owing
to the absconding of Jewell, and a general wave of grumbling." There
were other assignees under search, and to hide his relief that there was
so good a reason he enquired if Jewell had been taken, and was informed
"no, but the dogs had tracked him to the 'station' at Brown's River."
"Ah, Jewell," he thought, secretly ironic, as he readjusted his coat,
"Jewell, poor fellow, has taken the wrong turning"; for Brown's River
was south, and West Head north.

But when he got out of the town, after the ordeal of the two searches,
he became entirely unnerved, and with his eyes searching the geraniums
of Pitt's Villa, perched upon its walls under the wood, he wondered if
he could not carry up this ghastly treasure, and relieve his trembling
hands, and those of the incompetent, shrinking, uncomplaining girl.

But we must first relate what had happened to Heans in the stable. He
had inquired from the woman, and learned that Miss Abelia would be ready
to ride at a quarter after three. When he had taken his meal, he took
the old hat out of the beaufet, and again examined the writing. He
desired, it seems, to certify himself on certain facts in the narrative,
to again ask himself what sort of man was that with whom he had to deal.
It was disquieting to know that he had been mixed up in the blacker
game. What would he be at now with his little tricks and his grimaces?
Apparently he, Heans, must be somehow in his light--though there was no
proof of that, for he had known this type of cunning, gabbling fellow to
show his fangs at sight of men of his like. We all know the strange
shock of being brought face to face with hate with no motive. And this
was a black, aged man.

Not very satisfied with his cogitations, he donned cap and jacket, and
taking the chapeau thrust it carefully between the wall and lower and
hollow part of the Roman figure. He heard Spafield's flute in the
kitchen as he threaded the passage--stopped, and detected beside it the
minor of Abelia's voice and that of the woman. As he crossed the windy
yard--the breeze was yet brisk--he buttoned on a pair of Abelia's cotton
gloves. His thoughts were on Surridge's death as he entered the stable.
When over in the early morning, he had gone to the top of the cave, and
peeped up the large opening in the last stall; but beyond the entrance,
it was quite dark, and he could only feel with his hand that it was
remarkably smooth, and narrowed immediately. As we are aware, Spafield
had been filling that stall with straw, and as Heans entered again, he
noted that the stack was now piled double the partitionheight against
the east wall, hiding the entrance to the crack. It now struck him,
looking along the crack as it ran upwards, that the feat of the wounded
man was more credible, the slope being less abrupt than he had supposed.
He had been standing within the door but twenty seconds when he heard a
noise just behind him, and turning, found that Spafield had followed
after him, and was leaning, looking quietly at him, against the jagged
stones of the door. He himself had been there such a few seconds, his
ears yet tingling with the flurry of the yard, that the man must have
fairly run from the kitchen as he crossed the windows. After the first
instant of surprise, Heans might have ignored the man's action, and the
bold, dark, intent manner of looking upon him, as a piece of shabby
intrusion, but for the body yonder in the crack, and what had happened
across the yard in the chamber. As it was, in his nervousness and
dislike of the high Tartar face and cushion chin, the cold old look, the
long cheek with its tallow yellow and wine red, the puffy strength of
limb creasing the loose trousers and straining the arms of the tunic, he
gripped his cane to his chest, and flashing round, asked the man,
point-blank, eye to eye, "whether he had orders to dog him about?"

Spafield did not move, but with bitter white eyes on Heans' cane, asked
the gentleman if, looking at it sly, he would take him for military man
or constable? "Mind what you say," added he, with an impudent imitation
of police-jargon.

"If you haven't," said Sir William Heans; "if you have no reason to dog
the stable at all hours, or me, you can leave it to me for these few
minutes while I am at my work."

"Bless you, sir, for that," said the man, with a cold sort of laugh, yet
leaning leisurely, and eyeing Heans' person and limbs--never his face,
"my body, I've orders, have I--well, not from you!" Here he settled his
shoulders against the wall, as with a sort of dark pretence of
preparation for a long and confidential talk.

Heans, forcedly recollecting his great chance, and the history of that
port-hole in the wall near his eyes, turned away, endeavouring to thrust
the fellow from his mind as one half-insane with bad health,
bereavement, or remorse, who was diseasedly bent, while he had his
accursed privilege, on persecuting his antipathy--the most gentlemanlike
man about. "I give you my word," he says, in relating the incident, "it
was my policy, as it was my wish, to cut and run; for this was not the
week to let myself be pushed into a disturbance!"

Sir William, like many another, was not successful in his policy of
discretion. He had gone off not very steady to the harness-cave, had
returned with his brushes past the soldier, and had begun to groom
Abelia's horse: a work which it was his habit to complete with some
care. He was well at work at the grey, and had even broke in to a very
thin whistling, when the soldier walked into the stall. His arms were
folded, and his bold eyes were at once leisurely and vicious, lazy and
angry. It is not said of men of Sir William's age that they are cruelly
frightened, yet as he brushed the quiet horse, Heans trembled for his
precious hope, pressed so covert by this man. Was he seeking a
collision? He seemed to know by intuition that he had been avoided. As
he leant his back against the stones of the partition, he spat, and
Heans, for a flash, stopped working, and looked up in his face from
beside the belly of the horse. Threatening as he looked, he hid a
trembling, for, as we have said before, he saw by his eyes and mouth
this was a black, aged man.

"So," he said, "you are still interested to remain in the stable?"

"My faith, yes!" he answered. "You can't help yourself. I'm a quarter, I
am. I'm making a home of it. 'Ang you, this nag's for pretty kit--our
blind kit!"

Sir William made no answer, except a growing pallor.

"I believe you don't understand what I means," said the man. "I'm
jealous for the girl. Come, now, you let me do the horse for her."

Heans rose beside the grey horse.

At this instant an ordinary natural sound came to his aid. He had never
noticed it before, but on the sudden he heard the wind groan in the
crack above their heads, with a curious human wuther, as it does in many
a seaside chimney.

"A strange place to make a home of, I think--my man?" said poor Heans.

"Ah, my noble, and a curious place for two!" said he. "I am" (with an
indescribable and veteran threat)--"I am turning your face away from our
blind shy."

Sir William took no notice of this remark.

"And you are sleeping in the harness-room, there, I see? I noticed your
bed by the wall?"


"Ah, my man! What is this? I understood them to say you are
camping--sleeping--in the stable?"

"If you want to know--no. I've changed my mind. I prefers the 'ouse for
sleeping, as it turns out."

"What is there amiss with the stable, sir?"

"What! has he been telling you about the dook [Note 26. Spirit.] last

"I heard you last night from this cave, my man. So you prefer the house,
dark women and all? Why have you changed your mind?"

Here Spafield moved his shoulders a little against the stale wall. Sir
William bent beside the grey.

"By my body, I can't think what you want!" said the fellow, looking down
upon him with those cold, sharp eyes. Sir William noticed that the tops
of his high cheek-bones and the bridge of his angular nose were grey as
earth. "You're asking me why I changes my mind? Perhaps to oblige you,
my lord. Perhaps, to oblige myself. Why do you want to know . . . why I
changes my mind about sleeping in that little cave?"

"It struck me as strange," murmured Sir William Heans. And he began to
brush the stomach of the horse.

"Psha!" jabbered Spafield, after a silent look at him, "I'm not partial
to a rough bed! I'm the janleman for the ladies' chamber. I don't like
these here ghostly images--his Majesty King George's ghostly image--no,
nor them horses pulling at night at their chains, a-putting a man in
mind of them old bailiffs. There you have it, steel and 'andle. You
won't find me a changeable man. You won't guess me out. No man's ever
choused me off his footsteps. I've a preference for sleeping grand, and
I've another reason. Now, why do you ask me why I changes my mind?"

The man lowered his face, tugging with his teeth at the tag of the dirty
bandage on his wrist. While doing so, as though by some irresistible
attraction, he curiously cast up his wide, bold eyes over the wall.

Heans was stooping with his eyeglass directed up beside the body of the

"It has struck me as strange," he said, with a marked and ceremonious
distinctness, "that you should alter your mind--a determined man like

The man's eyes glazed wickedly as he stood against the partition,
turning dry and dark. He shook his head, tugging savagely at his wrist
and muttering contemptuously like the veteran he was. "Ah," he agreed,
in a short, hoarse voice, "strange! Struck you as strange! You're one to
ask a private question--you are!" (Here he tugged the tag out of his
teeth, releasing his threatening face as with a spring.) "And I'm to
inform you private why I moves here and dogs there. Break your heart, no
lipservice! Open talk! Life's a game, isn't it? Well, it's to be an open
game this once atween us. No funny finger work. Nobody watching you."

"Nor you," said Heans as grimly as himself.

"Ah" (the man nodded palely), "you ask me private, and I'l tell you why
another time--I will. The whole dying-gasp truth!" With that he settled
his shako on his head, spat, turned leisurely as if to move out,
stopped, said "No offence, I hope," and moved very slowly out of the
stall. You may--if you are Colonial born--have seen a snake move in this
way round the one door of a room. Sir William could hardly believe that
he had gone. For a while he paused before the black planks of the middle
door--very close--as if examining the make. Then he moved down to the
open entrance, and Sir William heard him singing under the wind:--

Morruda, yerraba.

At last he moved out, and Heans, going to the door behind him, saw him
sway across the yard, and go round the corner of the house.

* * * * *

So when Sir William got out in the wind of the road, the thought of
Shaxton's warning, and his unpleasant experience in the stable, so added
to his uneasiness, that he became reluctant to return with the pad
through the town. Though he hardly fancied they would meddle with Miss
Oughtryn or her horse, still--on a pretence of not knowing her--she
could be asked to produce what she carried, and he was the more troubled
at the possibility, since she had shown--or he fancied so--some
reluctance to take the pad from his hand. It seems that both Oughtryn
and his daughter were markedly cautious in their relations with him
where these touched upon his connection with the System (as indeed with
them was he), the laws, risks, and bounds of master and pass-holder
being strictly taken for granted and never outraged. Indeed, had they
shown weakness in this matter, Sir William's ceremonious exactitude
would alone have put a check upon them. But Oughtryn and Oughtryn's
household had always been shy and wary--even ungenerous--with any
situation threatening collision with authority, or Heans' status. So
even when Heans held the embroidered pocket, without cover, towards her
saddle (they were just turning into Davey Street), telling her that it
had reached his ears the very happiness of a lady, who had once shown
him kindness, depended on whether he was able to keep the little article
till he could pass it into her husband's hands, and speaking of the fear
he had of its being lost or taken out of his possession, and how he kept
it on his person, anxious lest they should have him in again at Boundary
and he should lose it like his private letters--even when he spoke of
his anxiety, and asked her to take it, she only goggled at it puzzledly,
and then at himself, fumbling her reins "as if they were knitting" (as
Heans often told her), and presently must jig away, in a serene muddle,
with flapping hat and kindly horse. When, however, she drew again beside
him, this time running clumsily into him (a species of accident he
thoroughly objected to), she begged him, in a tremulous and troubled
voice, "if he thought it would be safe there, if he would please to
place it in the pocket of her saddle, as she could not spare the
fingers?" Whereat Heans, thanking her, yet seeing she seemed dismayed,
bade her turn away her head, and she would not know if he had hid it
there or no.

When they were stopped outside the Barracks, and she sat in the road
near the black-bloused constable who held Heans' horse--with her calm
eyes blinking through her goggles and her clumsy habit fluttering in
not-pretty folds, she made a curious, uncompromising figure. Perhaps she
was not yet sure what she held. Her very discomfortable yet serene
appearance seemed to isolate her from her companion's difficulty, and
speak for him as some one improperly disturbed. When Heans came out,
staring about him after the old fine manner, but ah so flushed and
baleful! she answered his hoarse enquiry whether "she had been much
disturbed," with the tremulous answer that "she was not so much
discomposed because of the other occasions." At which the young
constable had hitched up her ever-dangling curb, and patted the grey.
But when (having left the message down near the water and continued on
out of the town) they were pulled up with a summary jocularity at
Boundary, and because of the press of pass-men, Abelia was left by the
roadside blinking blindly about, with Heans' rein in her unreliable
hand--if she retained it, despite the sentry's private prognostication
that she would "drop it for a paper dollar," she lost her delicate
colour, and grew marble under her goggles and tight shiny hair, very
dismayed in her eternal quietude, so much so that a stout gentleman,
passing in a gig, who knew of old whose riding companion she was, took
her face for a sign that Heans had been "caught again with compromising
stuff"--to which his lady in the yellow overbonnet replied that she did
seem very dejected. It may be she was not very clever for a woman, or
the double cause of her dejection was too heavy to be concealed. When
Sir William trembled finely out, with his glass stuck in his port-wine
face, and "supposed that after this, by Heaven, she would prefer to
return to her home," she whispered distinctly, "not if he wished to take
a ride beyond." Their relief when they got out upon the sea road may be

Heans, however, did not continue battling with the wind, but turned
inland, and rode a mile or so under the town, till he neared and joined
the road which he had known so well, and saw closer than he had seen for
many a month, the mounds and rises which stepped upwards to Pitt's
Villa. And there it was, standing on its brown walls in its woods; those
above it rocketing beyond sight into the mountain mist, that into which
their road turned concealing, secret as of old, the precipitious
approach--scene of that broken rendezvous with Stifft. I believe Sir
William muttered and grew greyer as he went beside Miss Abelia Oughtryn.
Did he blush also as he thought there was no longer repute nor peace in
it? Did he remember the shy disapproval, the psychological doubts, of
poor dilatory Stifft, who in four more days was to take him to freedom?
The moment was fraught with excitement and pain. Nay--did he think of
Daunt, and how they quarrelled in better days in the room above? Heans
did not draw rein till they turned into the bottom of the wood, where,
looking up, they could see the wall, and the geraniums trembling in the

He stiffly and slowly dismounted. Abelia dully watched him through her
goggles. She must have known that the house above was that one he had
once frequented. She must have known too--if she knew no more--that he
had received no communication from those who dwelt there since his
escape. She may even have heard that the lady chatelaine was his cousin,
and if so, may have had her conjecture how such a cause could have
severed so abruptly an acquaintance so intimate. Did she know how
beautiful and kind was the lady--the lady who had fainted in the
passage--how much more puzzling it must have been! Indeed, what might
she not have gathered, from the happenings at the Cottage two nights
ago--and of to-day--she, who, according to Mr. Daunt, had her own
precocious mood of playfulness and . . . knew all the world already!

Heans' experience at the dwelling of O'Crone, the day before, had so
hurt his pride (as having in it a hint of intentional punishment towards
himself, as well as an end joyful to all), indeed had so seared his
mind, that he approached with a chill nervousness, not usual even in the
days of his assignment, not only the house in the terrace, but Pitt's
Villa also. At the first-named, he had waited some distance beyond the
gate, somewhat conspicuous with that faded, flowing saddle-cloth, old
spencer, decent hat, and baleful glass; here, after Shaxton's letter,
and a reason as good, he was of course more unwilling to be found. He
knew who was beyond the trees. Knew longing--yes. He saw her face, how
she looked, how spoke, how shook her fair, good head. He saw her sink
upon the floor--so pale--in Oughtryn's cottage. Had she heard then what
had been said of her by Mr. Daunt? For whom--or by whom--was she
stricken down? He turned away his sad mind. He was going from this
place. Yes. Out of it--of this. No more avoiding. No more tutoring. No
more escorting. Yet he wished, in her danger, in his shamed affright, to
get the pad into those hands, and know them folded close against that

He strode musing along the narrow track. At any moment a fly might go up
or come down, and they become food for the curious. Torn between longing
and disquiet, he approached Abelia, who sat patient upon her grey horse,
her goggles also on the road. He had thought it proper to call her
attention more than once to the incongruity of those calm airs upon a
horse. "As if she were playing her 'farewell to the piano,'" he would
say, "and the horse too." But now she looked fatigued under her straw
hat. Advancing, he asked if he might remove the article he had placed in
her saddle, and starting, she answered, "Yes, sir, if he considered it
quite discreet." He continued with hoarse gratitude for her
understanding. "He gave her his word, it was because he was not easy in
the thought of returning with it through the town--even in the saddle!
He thought he would get it now into Mrs. Shaxton's hands. It would be
over then. And a bad weight done with. . . . The lady lived at the top
of the road, where she could see the red blossoms. A good woman--a kind
woman. 'Pon his soul! he considered it would be best to be done with

He took the folded pad out of the pocket, and unfolded it. Bright little
criminal of many adventures--tragedies--pretences! It had thrown its
refreshment into more than handkerchiefs. Conniver at two breaks for
freedom. Small minister of rescue--nay, perchance, and ruin! There it
lay in its red, gold, and black--pretty thing--unharmed but for
Shaxton's stab!

"Do you think they would search my saddle?" asked serene Abelia.

"No," said Heane, "they would not touch you, unless they mistook your

"Why does the Superintendent speak of you as so unsettled, Sir William?"

"They have got 'prison unrest' on the brain, I think," said he.

"But you are not restless, are you, sir?"

"Tut--tut, no. Perhaps it is because Mr. Daunt has said I am so, and
having said so, would provoke me if he could, into some indiscretion.
Now, miss, what other reason could there be for suspecting your quiet
old tutor?"

"Why, I don't know that there is really any other reason," she said,
sitting low and speaking said. "I hope you keep good company, Sir
William--I hope you do, Sir William."

"What do you mean, miss?" asked he, rather sharply. "I see my few
friends; sad fellows like myself, Are you afraid they will grab me
through Mr. Corbet or Mr. Carnt? Besides" (he looked up dark and grave),
"you keep queer company these days yourself, my dear."

She reddened, looking dully scared. Ignoring the reference to her
dallying with the soldier, she asked (nay rather beseeched): "You would
think Mr. Daunt was too sprightly a kind of gentleman to be a very
dangerous gentleman?"

Sir William looked from her face to the article in his hand. "Do you
mean that you are aware it is he who has spoke against this lady--Mrs.

"No, I don't know that," she said; "I don't want to know that." (And the
drooping figure threw up its grotesque, never-used whip.) "It is for
you, sir--poor man," she said.

"Me, indeed?" cried Sir William, rather weary. "I am well enough, my
dear. Very handsome of you, ma'am, I must say. But what bothers you?
See--are you really beginning to be afraid of your Mr. Daunt?"

"Mr. Daunt socially ruined in Hobart," he was thinking.

"I am very disturbed about him," she said, strangely.

"Disturbed? Why, my dear," says he, huskily pooh-poohing it, "you will
persuade an old fogey you care what becomes of him----!"

"La, how do you mean, please sir!" she almost cried out, "'what becomes
of you?' Isn't that a tragical way of speaking?"

"Oh," says he, put aback, "just my careless way of putting it, Abelia."

And he gave her a sour little stare as she sat discomfortable upon her
horse. "They're always watching me, and be hanged to them! Learn to
ride, young lady, and you will please me. And give a thought, child,
give a thought to whom you talk with. I don't like the soldier-fellow,
my dear. I have private information about him. I know him to have been a
bad fellow--stay!--I think him still a vile, bad fellow. My dear young
friend, keep away from that man. He spoke of you almost familiar this
morning . . . but, come, I know you do--I know you do! Who so sensible
as you when you like! Don't mind my talk!"

Her straw hat had fallen till it concealed her goggles.

"You do not say anything to reassure me?" he said, a little sharp, but
kind yet.

"Yes, I do," she said, dropping to the vague and tremulous. "But I am
very discreet. Oh yes, Sir William. We are so very careful--so very
careful of making trouble with people--people put over us."

"Ah," said Heans, "and if I have private evidence the man was once as
bad--bad as him you heard over the wall? What then?"

"But those who sent him there--they can't be thinking him so very
wicked--please, Sir William Heans. He seems sick and bitter-like.
Perhaps he's a reformed gentleman."

"Why! my child, he is a bad man!"

"Oh please, sir, please--it would not be wise or kind to act with him

Heans stared at her calm face.

"I declare before Heaven," said he, very pallid, "you mistake me!" (And
he put the pad in his coat-tails, and turned to his horse.) "Don't you
be too sure, ma'am, there's a necessity, when a man is a villainous

He now mounted and somewhat deliberately tautened his mustard coloured
gloves. The wind missed them in the grey-black road, splashing over the
bushy pinnacles of the wood, and huddling and rattling in the opening.
"Now," Sir William said, "with your leave, I will take no further risk.
I am nervous of Mr. Daunt, and so are you, my dear. He is more
interested in the fate of the little article in my pocket than in all
the rest of his affairs. What might a man like that not do! I tell you,
I thought he would have taken it from me this morning in my room--so
painful was my anxiety. This little pad put in her hands will make him a
perfidious fellow--a betrayer of friendship--a calumniator before
Hobarton--about this lady, and about poor Heans, your faithful old
servant. Won't you, for my friend's sake, and for your old servant, come
up now, and put it in her hands?"

"Me, sir?" said Abelia, rather pitifully; "you want me to do it?"

"Yes, my dear." (And he looked down, struggling his glass in, as hardly
knowing what he did) "I will never ask you to do so much for me again. I
will dismount you at the gate, my dear--I have a private reluctance to
handing her something which if it brings her relief, must remind her of
much suffering come to her through me. Go in and ask for Mrs.
Hyde-Shaxton. You will give it into her hands only, and say it is 'a
farewell gift from a sincere friend.' Do I make myself heard over the
wind? 'A sincere friend.'"

(Yes, Abelia heard him. She was watching him closely with dismayed,
soft, striving goggles, as if she would have warned him that he was
again speaking strangely tragical and final. Farewell! The word caught
in her own slender throat. And why, if all would be right now, did he
bid the lady "farewell" as if he would never see her again in the wide
world? And why was she--she who lived beside--never to do more than this
action for him? A sad way to speak! A strange, vexatious way! Yes, she
heard him over the wind, and crushedly nodded her calm, pale face.)

"Quick, let us get it done!" he said; and while he spoke he glanced
behind him, as with a recollection of another meeting on that road. "Not
my name," he said, "if you can withhold it, my dear. And return quick,
and I will be waiting a little down the hill. It is but a few yards from
the gate. I remember the place. Ah, it will save us much pain--save us
much pain!" Indeed, he was not entirely himself, and seemed to try and
shut his lips as he shook his reins and moved upwards.

Abelia followed on her grey horse. In his tragic eagerness he left her
somewhat behind; and by the wall at the top he waited for her, his hand
on his hat, and coat-tails fluttering. His bleared face was kind, and
smiled as he put that flapping yellow thing into her slow hand. When he
had lifted her to the ground and she had groped her way into the garden,
holding her habit loosely, her hat low upon her white, quiet face he
turned back, and struggled down beside the wall into the shelter of
white stems and silver bushes. As he passed, he picked a double blossom
from the shivering crane's-bills, saw it but absently, and moved on
crushing it to atoms in his fingers. His track was starred with little
drops of red. The uneasy beasts delayed him, pulling at the tussocks, or
urging forward against his shoulders. Now he stopped. Behind him was the
retaining wall, below him the fall of the steep road.

* * * * *

When Abelia reached the door and rang, Matilda came out and spoke to her
very kindly. She examined the pad, saw the monogram upon it, and seemed
at once to gather what it was that was being handed to her by the
distrait being in the untidy habit and goggles. She asked the girl if
she had ridden up alone, but the girl trembled out, "no, there was some
one with the horses."

Matilda then said strangely: "Won't you take off your glasses, and allow
me to see what you are like? You have been a companion to Sir William
Heans upon his rides for so long a while."

Abelia struggled off her glasses, and showed her restless eyes. Matilda
stared and wept some tears. She presently expressed surprise that the
article should have come into her hands direct from Sir William Heans,
since Captain Shaxton had sent up in the morning to say he had warned
Sir William he would call that night. Whereupon Abelia, with some
silence and looking down, told her no one had seen Sir William but Mr.
Daunt, and what had just taken place at the Barracks and Boundary, and
how Sir William Heans had formerly lost private letters in that way. And
Matilda abruptly asked, "But why should he carry it with him?" And the
girl shook her quiet head, and then explained that he took it from his
pocket just as they came up to Davey Street, and put it in the saddle.
After which Matilda took her limp hand, whip and all, and for a long
while could not stop a kind of silent crying.

Abelia stood quiet until she had recovered herself. Once she fluttered
up upon her face with blind, placid eyes, and fluttered away. Matilda
begged her to thank Sir William Heans. She had suffered much to-day, and
for the last three days, for the sake--for the sake of this dreadful
matter, and she could never thank him enough for the precaution he had
taken--for taking it into safety, and so bringing, she was told, yet
really would not believe it, another danger on himself. "Oh, it was not
believable of any one." (We see this was the kind of friend Mr. Daunt
had made himself--as many another: a being to whom he could be faithless
in a weak moment, to whom he could be mean and wicked with provocation,
and yet who would not readily leave him.) But she would run and write a
few words, she added, if Miss Oughtryn would wait one moment; and Miss
Oughtryn assenting tremulous-voiced, yet as precise as she could be
under the strange circumstances, she ran away like a fair, uneasy
wraith. And Abelia, as she stood blinking at the blowing flowers, once
echoed to herself, "Not believable of any one!"

Matilda wrote to Sir William Heans much what she said to Abelia, adding:
"Sir, I cannot believe there is any danger for you, or one in your
position, if only you will be jealous for your private welfare, and the
regulations. There are those who are too ready to say you are among
those harbouring resentment against them; who watch for your falling,
full of pessimism, and disbelief in your discretion. I have heard more
than one speak of you in that way. Surely this is all you have to fear.
If there is more, only God can watch. Oh, sir, the quiet path, and rigid
care, just now, for your very life's sake! Miss Oughtryn tells me you
wish me 'farewell.' Thank you, sir, and I wish it to you too."

Even when Matilda came out with the letter, she seemed not very well
able to speak. Yet in her ardent seriousness, she forced her unwilling
lips to say, "in Captain Shaxton and herself Sir William Heans had no
fair-weather friends, as he would find if ever he--ever he needed them."
It was the old, skilled Matilda Shaxton who spoke those words. And
Abelia took the letter, and bobbed a serene strange curtsey. At that
Mrs. Shaxton came forward very touchingly, and put her hand for a moment
on her arm as if she would stay her yet. But she did not seem able to
think of what she would say.

Poor Abelia blinked very fast, and her calm head trembled. And suddenly
Mrs. Shaxton said quite quietly: "Do not distress yourself, Miss
Oughtryn. It will all come right--it must," and asked if Sir William was
much changed? And presently the girl trembled out in a cautious way: the
gentleman was a little wilder in his ways--"Oh, I don't know, ma'am!"
but she knew he would be grateful for the despatch. Then out of her
placid distress, she broke away, and tremblingly asked, "if she might
pick Sir William Heans a few of those thin, white flowers as a
keepsake?" And I suppose, as Matilda bent her head over the valerian,
she must have remembered that wild morning she picked them for Death's

So Abelia fumbled on her goggles, and bobbing another curtsey, wrestled
out of the pretty blown garden, holding her hat and the flowers in a
forlorn-hope clutch. Oh, at the gate, what a torn, grey sea! She shut
the gate, and struggled wisp-like along the wall till she found her
companion. There he stood, with his hat in hand, smoothing his neat
forehead with a faded check handkerchief. His chin was somewhat sunk in
his cravat, and his eyeglass swung upon his old spencer. How
distinguished and handsome he looked, how elegantly the old plaid
breeches gripped the well-painted boots. How well his drooping, French
moustaches became his aged and saddened face.

He looked about, blanched, and stared as he saw the flowers Abelia
carried. The girl's face behind the goggles seemed unvexed, but as white
as her Vandyke collar. As she groped nearer, he seemed frightened at the
stoneyness of it. "Ah," he said, "you seem overtired, miss," and he
regretted that he had brought her through so much. She did not seem
inclined to speak, possibly because she would not trouble him with an
answer; but she gave him the letter, and stood fluttering over the
flowers, till, taking them from her, he fixed them in the pocket of her
saddle. It was only when descending the hill that he asked for the
flowers, took them, and threw them into the wood; then opened the
letter, read it, and cast away the fragments. He experienced a curious
notion at the bottom of the hill, where for a moment he pulled in alone.
At the top, where the trees met the wall--he was certain of it--some one
was standing in a maroon shawl.



It was indeed a day of discomfort, for Heans was again stopped not 300
yards inside Boundary by the armed constables in charge of a road-gang,
being sharply questioned, though on representing, halfbeside himself
with indignation, that his ill-used lady and himself had been already
twice molested, and himself searched, he was permitted to pass up into
the town. The gusty place seemed full of alarms. Behind a company of
stately pedestrians paced a couple of constables with carbines: and as
they crossed northward by the oil-lamp, where poor Stifft had too
openly snatched at his schooner, there was a grey party of
sub-overseers tramping under their muskets. Again, at the street-foot a
glow of red against the cemetery was, in Heans' opinion, nothing less
than a sergeant's guard of the 51st Foot. Sir William was hard hit with
the unlucky coincidence which had led Jewell to run for it, at that
instant, and stir the vigilance of the police fair in the face of his
own attempt. He felt at that moment cowed and frightened ("as if he had
been quite a young fellow ") at the thought of renewed encounters with
the insane man, Spafield, and at his thoughts of Mr. Daunt. Now that
all was over, it was weighing on his mind that he had diverted the pad
into his possession, chillily fearing some outcome yet. He was
overwhelmed, he says, by a sort of black fear that there was no
fighting through malign coincidence and the meshes of espial and
disaster the presence of these two men implied. No doubt, being
somewhat overhung with the grey evening, he was confusing unlucky
coincidence with human action. Only for an instant was he so broken in
courage. Before they came under the cliff his spirits had risen
somewhat and pushed further from him these tragic counsellors of
fatigue. He made an effort to see things clearer, reminding himself of
the retirement of the ruffian, and the tragedy in those gloomy rocks
(there was a little ferny path up into their one ravine) past which the
snorting beasts are ambling. He renewed his resolution to lose no time
in acquainting Oughtryn with the man's singular behaviour, to show him
the hat, the writing, and the black strings, as well giving an account
of Conapanny's warning, and of the ruffian's gross and unpleasing
reference to Abelia. Despite Oughtryn's almost sinister respect for
matters touching the System--and for those with its borrowed or deputed
power--he trusted he would be prevailed upon to report the ugly story,
and immediately rid them of the man; failing that, that he would
disclose his true opinion of the man's peculiar attitude towards

It was then, suddenly remembering that he might never again lead Abelia
towards her father's gate, he turned and called to her, she tailing, in
her provoking habit, just in the rear of his beast. Under her Manilla
hat, her face held a peaceful paleness, as though she cherished some
taper of calm in some privacy of her mind. With her too-many reins and
ridiculous whip, she clung, with some spirit, to a bit of valerian,
broken with the swinging of her horse's head. Sir William drew in, and
speaking with her, said, with a gracious softening of that baleful air,
"Here we are, my dear; and an end to our day's ride. Are you cold, miss?
Egad, there's an end of all things, a finishing, be it good or be it
cruel. Mercy upon us, it has been a bothersome day!"

Pale Abelia seemed to reassure him, trembling out it had been "very
agreeable," but that "her fingers were quite benumbed upon her

"Ah," said he, alluding to her piano, and dropping out his glass with
his pleasant old cackle, "presently you will warm them with your, 'St.
Patrick's day in the morning.'"

He was pushing in the wind to the high gate, when from up the lane a
shrill "holloa" stopped him. Some one in a blue shako and short military
cloak ambled down upon them, waving a white glove. As he passed under
the rocks, his voice laboured out, begging them to await his coming, and
Heans (and possibly his companion) saw it was Captain Shaxton. Heans
dismounted and awaited his approach. Shaxton advanced breezily, saluting
the young woman, and vigorously shaking Heans' hand. "Gracious G--d!" he
cried, "what an evil wind!" And he took off his shako there and then,
and showed them the splash upon its blue felt side where he had twice
lifted it from the road. Almost in the same breath he whispered a
wounded query about his letter, and receiving, for his hunted stare, a
steady affirmative, avoided or waited for no more, but running to the
gate, swung up the manacle, and pushed a way for them into the yard.

This experienced reader of faces seemed satisfied that he was to have
what he wanted, for he made himself very foolish, useful, blind, and
clumsy, assisting poor Abelia to alight, with a half-present air, but
many chuckling pleasantries; among them an amusing reference to a lady
who when asked if she liked riding, said she loved it, "all but the
walking, ho-ho-ho!" (than which anything less applicable to shrunken
Abelia, with her pale face always turned aside from the speaker, could
hardly have been imagined), and himself stabling her grey, dwindling
however in this process, and presently turning, and giving Heans to
understand, when quickly he joined him in the stable-door, that, "upon
his life, he believed the squealing wind was dropping!" Either the yard
was so much more protected, or it was certainly growing calmer. The
gusts no longer lashed the sky with the gum-top, nor tried the wall
bushes. The sky seemed lighter and yellower behind the pediments of the

Heans, with his hand to his mouth, called the information to him that
the article mentioned in his note was already in Mrs. Shaxton's hand;
and who was the conveyor; and how they'd had trouble with the police;
and after voluble thanks (rather white and thunderstruck), and an
interval of strange chuckling, Shaxton gave signals of unquiet, either
of waiting on the other for a sign, or of wishing to be gone without
resurrection. Sir William, however, persuaded him to take gin with him
in his rooms, partly, it seems, "for a certain communication he wished
to make," and partly for the little pleasure of his happier company in
the moil of private difficulty in which he balanced. Spafield, by the
way, was nowhere to be seen. Abelia had gone in by the kitchen door.
They immediately pushed their way across the yard.

The Chamber seemed full of company, as indeed from the rumours might
have been the house. Some shawled ladies peeped through the glass at
Captain Shaxton as he went. There sounded the 'clink' of refreshment; a
sudden abnormal hammering; and the fall of wooden matter. A candle was
lit by a resplendent curtain in the Chamber, and another sprang up
deeper in the room.

It was a peculiar situation for both gentlemen, and they entered the
small door and silently threaded the passage, both half-reluctant, both
terribly drawn and grey. When Sir William ushered Captain Shaxton into
his room, at first, in their abstraction, they saw no one, but
afterwards they were made aware, by a slight movement, that Mr. Daunt
was seated in a chair beyond the mantel.

Such was the presence of mind of that gentleman that for an instant he
did not rise, but remained seated.

He was in full fig--sword, tailless red coat with immens ecollar, sash,
grey trousers--and his grey overcoat, gloves, and cap with upturned peak
were on the table. His well-groomed face, always acute, had, for the
instant, lost the pessimistic suavity lately noted in it, and was just
much sharper than is nice: sharper than it is quite seemly to seem, and
perhaps to look at.

The position of his coat and hat seemed to indicate that he had been
waiting in the room for some while. He seemed very displeased at the
sight of Captain Shaxton. Yet even as the door opened, he had not the
look of one whose thoughts, as he sat alone, had been composed.

He hardly bowed to Sir William Heans, but addressed Captain Shaxton,
watching his face with extreme closeness. Whatever his intentions, were
he wicked or mere man of the world, naturally, in his ugly position, his
first thought would be to discover what had become of the fabulous pad
(if Shaxton had it), and this, having known him intimately, he could do
best by observing the condition of Shaxton's spirits. Having found him
sharp enough, he might next wish to know if he had come for it.

He let them both come in and, till the door was shut: "Upon my word,
Captain Shaxton," said he, with some reproach in his sharp voice, "so
this is where I find you, actually plotting against me in company with
my prisoner, Sir William Heans! This is too bad! Frankly, if we were not
men old enough to know better, it would be a laughable thing! The very
man whose private rights, against my judgment, I am endeavouring to

Shaxton, standing by the door, with the grey day on his puffy face,
fiddled with the middle fastening of his cape, with a glum pondering,
which, but for a deadliness in the eye, might have been mistaken for
compunction. His sardonic lips trembled and twitched. He seemed to look
almost with approval on Mr. Daunt, who, whatever else he saw, could not
have missed the answer in that quieted visage to what he wished to know.

For some seconds he kept this look and mouth on Daunt. Before speaking,
he let slip the little scimitar he wore, which he had been holding under
his arm inside his cloak, to the floor, where its sheath "clicked" and
tapped above the flow of the wind.

"Ah-ho-ho!" he muttered, still with his sheep's eyes on him, with that
appearance of specious absence, "Sir William invited me in to drink
something or other with him. On my honour, Daunt, we came in for that

He looked most unpleasant. And for some reason Daunt seems to have
believed him. He came forward and rested his hand on the table beside
his coat, his efficient, whiskered face slightly more suave and pallid.

"I know," he said, still watching the other's eyes, "who it is I speak
to. I know the two gentlemen before me. I am aware just how friendly you
two gentlemen are together. Pshaw, I know the use of lenity to men and
women! Let us forgive our trespassers, but first, O Lord, deliver us
from their certain enmity in the future! Ah, sirs, which of the three
here will first cast a stone at the others! Let us curb a dangerous
indignation. Fate has made an unbecoming thing."

Shaxton still fiddled with the fastening with his right hand, though
with his left he threw back his cape over his left shoulder. "Ah,
dear--dear," muttered he, always with that wavering, unpleasing stare,
"I don't know, Daunt, that you're not justified. But what is this, sir,
you wanted here? Do you wish that I, Shaxton, should cut and run, and
leave you two men alone?"

Daunt at first answered nothing, merely turning to the fireless fender,
with a loud laugh. Suddenly he said, shaking his head as if he would
throw off a slight unquiet, "No, no, you need not go. I know your
ingenious and agreeable way! I believe you are speaking too seriously."
As he spoke he threw himself with some noise of clanking into the iron
chair in which he had been sitting. The reader may remember this
pleasing article of furniture.

The other gave a wheeze-like chuckle. "Why, I think I understand you,"
he said, lightly. "You're so highly civil and sensible about it. We used
to be very well acquainted, Daunt; and you know you've only to ask
Captain Shaxton to go and you'll get rid of him. Politeness breeds
politeness, as the old woman said when she shook hands with the hangman.
(Ho-ho--you heard me tell that before!) At the same time, I came in for
a chat with Heans, and when I find you here, at such an awful moment for
us both, feeling the tensity myself, and how we know each other so well
(all the little intimacies of private acquaintance), how you hit it off
with Matilda, the freedom--the unguardedness of our intercourse--our
joking way--why--ho-ho--I--I thank my stars for your SANG-FROID, and the
easiness of manner with which you smooth it all over."

"You spoil my confidence, Captain Shaxton, you do indeed," said the
other, leaning forward with his hand upon his sharp, dark face. "Like
our friends the gossiping ladies, with their too-red lips, your method
has been of late (nay, has it not always inclined to it!) 'If only we
can get him in the dirt, we will have something against him.' Can you
two men get me there? There's the rub. Gracious G--d, is it possible to
keep clean against so much ill-will! To tell you the honest truth, I am
less deeply interested than you think; I am inclined to bestow the prize
upon you." (It was a perhaps harmless foible of Daunt's that he never
gave in; he invariably "bestowed the prize upon the other man.")

He rose slowly from his easy position in the chair--his face drawn and
like a sheet of paper--and reached his fingers over the table towards
his coat, as if to take it up, but instead rested his hand upon it, and
raised his eyes upon Shaxton and then slowly over to Heans. "Do not
plague me," he seemed to beg--and yet stared from those sharp eyes not
quite saying it.

"I take you, Daunt," said Shaxton, his loose lips depressed and
twitching like a bag. "I came in for a chat with Heans--here. Why--I'll
stand aside for you to go--don't doubt me, Daunt--if your business with
Heans can wait." He retreated back a sharp step or two as he was
speaking, but, whether by accident or intention, brought up full upon
the face of the door, where he stood slouching a little, and staring
over with those strange, plausible eyes.

Sir William, when he had first shut the door, had remained, somewhat
shocked, beside Shaxton with his blanched stare where his was, and the
handle yet unreleased. His face, at his entrance, showed a mixture of
relief, amazement, and unquiet (there was fear in his pinched vexation)
utterly different from Shaxton's humble staring. The trend of the talk,
however, immediately recovered him, and he moved a pace from Captain
Shaxton towards the window, and between the two, where he stood leaning
upon his cane, his hat cocked, yet somewhat pathetic in his ceremonious
yet horrified expression.

The room seemed older than its human occupants, with its fallen fire,
tall furniture deep with many depths, and the wind flowing behind the
stone sills. The Roman soldier, with his drum, his sidewhiskers, and his
blank, blind eyes, emptied of care or mischief, hope or rue, seemed
closer to its permanencies than the three gentlemen in their mysterious
human difficulty of approach. He might have stood for what Borrow called
the "hearth spirit." A white cloth was on the table, which was set for
Heans' evening meal with those curious appliances, the carved cutlery,
the acrostic plates, the redeyed decanter, the beautiful teacup, the
toddy-glass with the picture of the Battle of Waterloo, the telescope
castor, the hour-glass caddie, the elephant teapot--very pleasant and
engaging. On the fire side of the table, as we have said, was Daunt's
coat and hat, and beside his gloves, not quite visible to any one
standing, lay a little silver article or fruit-knife, either shaped like
a horse-shoe, or whose two small blades were open, giving that
impression. So much Sir William saw.

"Do you wish to tell me, sir," Heans said, striding a step in front,
with that curious half-balked air, "that you have waited on me again in
behalf of my rooms?"

"Indeed, sir," said Daunt, breaking into a sort of sharp, kind grin (as
''You're a clever man, aren't you!"), "who would think, from your manner
to me, that I had waited upon you to inform you your private chambers
would not be used! The ladies have been kept waiting, and tempers
spoiled, while I sit here hoping to calm your distemper! A curious and
gentlemanlike reception."

"You smile, Daunt," said Heans, with a terrible stare. "Are you playful,

Daunt's smile died from his efficient face, if not quite from his eyes.

"I protest," he said, "I am anything but joking in the company in which
I find you. My obscure good will, the making a rather pet case of you,
is not enough, you think? And yet you know me, sir. I have my bothersome
antipathies like you. The mere wish to be right with myself brought me
here, and sustains me yet. While you--reckless, presumptuous man!--and
your worthy friend, with his ill-advised obstinacy, dare offer me this
for my clemency!"

"No--no--it's the effect of generosity on you, bless you," said pallid
Shaxton, softly watching him. "Come, now, I can't have you pitching into
Heans. He's been--as you must know--interfered with during his
pleasure-ride, and he's not up to it. I can't have you severe with what
he says any more than with what I am saying to you. But you never seemed
severe with P.S. And only once with the missus. Your natural indignation
doesn't always overcome you. Be witty, be clever, Daunt, be stern with

Daunt drew up from the table slowly--doubtfully--with a displeased smile
in his acute, wise eyes, as if some one (say a young fellow) had refused
the safer thing. From the table, he removed his small, right hand,
kimboing the tight red elbow. At the same time he placed his left on the
mantel, turning his grizzled face across Shaxton to it. (Sir William, at
that moment, noticed a singular thing: that the wind had ceased, and the
tallowy sky was streaked with a wirrow of clouds, "like sheaves of hair
upon the dead.")

Commandant Daunt played a little tune with those fingers beneath his
eyes, but must have been too old and pallid--too bitter and careful--to
make comfortable attack for Heans' companion, or ease of mind for
troubled Sir William. Shaxton advanced a step from the door, and he
looked up. He said at once, with a quick bow, as if to keep him
back:--"As God is my witness, Shaxton, Fate has put three gentlemen in a
singular position. Let me ask one question. The whole story is known to
us here in this room. Must we dissimulate? You and I know what happened.
We both overheard the words that passed between Mrs. Shaxton and Sir
William, your friend here. We both heard Sir William's proposal
concerning the schooner. (Do me the justice to remember I have never
given that evidence publicity. Perhaps few would believe me if I did!) I
ask you, did the terms used by her--the language in which she expressed
her feelings--excuse me in my belief in the hackneyman's evidence?"

"Perhaps," cried Shaxton, in a shrouded voice, yet making a motion
nearer to him. "But in the end you had your bit of public fun with her."

"As G--d is my witness, I never mentioned her name!"

"I know, Daunt," said Shaxton.

"I admit, sir, I had suspicious about the prisoner. And I informed you
of them. . . . with the result you remember."

"Yes" (with an effort), "you put me up to that. But you grew fatter,
Daunt, and it began to filter through the wine-glass, didn't it? Yet she
was a good soul."

"Pshaw, Shaxton," said the other, with a quiet outraged laugh, "if
you're going to outwit a man, you really must be more civil with him!
You are blinded by the fact Sir William Heans, here, has stood out for
Mrs. Shaxton. Is it for you? to use your own joking way: is it for old
P.S.? If he had not put forward his scent-pad, would you have continued
your dislike? Have you entirely lost all feeling of heartache? Entirely?
Come, come, you forgive so easily! I wish to G--d, I could forget or
forgive it! I remember her gentle words as I stand here--those she used
in the drawing-room at the Tier. They make me devilish angry. Yet you
seem well enough together, Shaxton? The wound dealt you is healed by a
few gentlemanlike assurances. . . . Frankly, though, is the prisoner's
feeling for 'P.S.' one of entire respect? The prisoner is a man of the
world--a MAUVAIS SUJET; who has not heard of his gay cynicism! By
Heaven, Shaxton, even I would forgive him a quiet smile of amusement!"

Captain Shaxton had dropped his head for a dark instant; then his
depressed lips began again to twitch and to smile. Heans stared from the
window quite old and sinister, his patched fingers trembling upon his
cane. I suppose it would have been in a spirit of self-sacrifice that he
forced from his mouth: "Aid me, Heaven; you heard her pitching into me,

Shaxton whinnied out a nasty little laugh: "Fie, she was angelic with
you, man!"

"Ah, well, it is you who laugh at me now," said Sir William, keeping his
old face away.

"Which does it serve you to pretend?" said Shaxton, and he looked at the
other--chuckling; and then stopped, and drew his face slowly back to

"It would be more seemly if the man laughed at you all," the Commandant
cried, "as, from my knowledge, I believe he does." (We believe Mr. Daunt
believed that.)

Shaxton caught a heavy breath. His blue shako drooped (as we have said),
but presently he raised it, drawing his ashen face, reduced,
crestfallen, and twitching with humble joking back to Daunt. Thus
staring, he slipped his cloak slowly off and threw it upon the Roman
figure, where it caught and hung clumsily from the drum. Daunt lifted
his strong, sharp face from his left hand.

"I believe you are playing with me, Daunt," said Shaxton; "'pon my soul,
I do! But you're not a good hand at it. I believe you were meant for an
honest man. So was I. But hate plays the devil with our private honesty.
That's the reason why I won't leave you. It's growing late, and the
room's rather dark for us, but (unless it's imperative--I mean a matter
of life, Daunt, and death) I won't leave you now. You know me for a
jealous man. You knew that a year ago. Now again. Alas, it's true, but
not quite in the sense you think! There's the jealous fellow who drops
his jealousy a little when the object of it is not successful. There's
the jealous man who chooses that moment specially to strike. There's the
jealous prank. All these may be your idea of it. Then there's the fellow
who will 'persecute you to death,' as Queen Mary's friend put it when
she married the other one" (he advanced two slow paces towards the
kangaroo-rug, both hands fiddling with the stomach buttons of his coat,
his eyes humble--halfjocular yet about that pallid hanging mouth): "old
P.S.'s brand," he said; "you may have come across that too. Fie, think
on the poor woman! Can't you blush! It is not too dark in this little
room to see your eminent face. . . . ."

He came yet a half-step upon the rug.

Steel-hard was Mr. Daunt; vigilant, regretful, deadly, a little sharp, a
little careful, a little old. You would hardly have known him for other
than a gentleman, in very difficult company, keeping himself on the
civil side, except that upon the bottom of his face there was a
smile-like contraction of the muscles, such as people have, they say,
who have expired of thirst. It seemed involuntary. Perhaps he was trying
to smile kindly. But that was not the significance of it as seen in
conjunction with the vigilant eyes. It may be mentioned for what it is
worth that Captain Shaxton said afterwards how, while he noticed that
one of the Commandant's little hands on the mantelpiece to be white as
snow, he saw that that upon his hip was almost as red as his jacket.

"As God is my witness, Shaxton," he said, harshly, "you are not well, or
wise, or you would not speak so insanely. I made one little mistake
about your lady, from the sadness--nay, the ugliness of my experience. I
forgot her kind familiarity--her difference--from long absence: a matter
at her door rather than mine." (He glanced at both gentlemen very
careful.) "I misconnected her with the man, here, who tried to draw her
astray, and for whose character and doings I have always had--as you
know--and still harbour, a profound suspicion. Even he, himself, cannot
say of that I am unjust." (He looked at Sir William Heans for a long
time.) "Speak, sir, have I been unjust to you?"

Sir William, leaning with both hands on his stick, and blinking on the
window, choked out: "Unjust! Damme, Daunt, I cannot say--I really cannot

"No," cried Daunt; "only unjust to the other prisoners of the Crown, in
making an exception of you, Sir William Heans."

"Come, Daunt," said Shaxton, "you near ruined my wife."

Sir William suddenly stepped forward and rapped Shaxton with his stick
upon the arm. "You've had a bother with me, sir," he said. "Be fair to
me." But Captain Shaxton never moved from the mat.

Daunt was answering him swiftly. "My motive, you know as well as I, was
conventional--a mere company silliness. A secret and bad motive may be
found for every action of the noblest of men. Never take me for a true
gentleman if this is not all my part in it!"

"G--d aid me," said Shaxton, still fiddling with his buttons with that
unaltering stare, "G--d aid me, I'll make this man's face blush! Come,
if I draw my dress sword on you, will you use your weapon?"

Daunt whipped his hand from the mantelpiece to his sword, but otherwise
did not move. He looked very white, very malevolent, very full of
knowledge. It is not a pleasant thing to see two such men in such a
position. He answered Shaxton with the words: "You seem to me insane."

Shaxton pulled forward his little black sword, and got out the blade. He
ran at Daunt. But even then Daunt did not draw his sword, but darted up,
catching Shaxton's sword-wrist in both his hands, and forcing
it--protesting quietly against the unseemliness--with some
struggling--back upon his head. In another instant, Shaxton gave a
sharp, exasperated cry, and the Commandant, suddenly releasing him,
sprang back behind the table, and drew his blade from its sheath. When
their swords suddenly clashed, Sir William noted a trickle of blood
welling from Shaxton's right eyebrow, which that gentleman, while he
held Daunt's blade with his own, kept whipping away with his left hand.
The gentlemen were swaying to and fro with their swords pressing
heavily, Shaxton endeavouring to free for a pass, Daunt's blade pushing
heavily over his. When Shaxton got his sword clear, the blood was
welling freely over his right eye and nose, and Daunt seemed with little
difficulty to keep a succession of rapid cuts off his shoulders. The
latter, in a breathless voice for him, cried out that he had hurt his
eye with his ring, and bade him have a care, as the blood was blinding
him. Captain Shaxton laughed a low laugh, and tore Daunt's jacket with a
deadly blow near the elbow. Now Sir William sprang forward and pushed
his cane beneath the weapons, urging them, under his breath, "there
should be no more of it, with the house full of women!" But Shaxton,
with a whimpering oath, thrust him off, so that he staggered to the
window, and ran upon Daunt, at whom he slashed and thrust across the
fire, his opponent engaging him with rapid work (indeed, the two men
strove with a fair equality of attack and parry, Shaxton keeping the
blood from his eyes with his left hand), till following upon a long and
horrid locking of the handles--the two men's faces being within a few
inches one of the other--Daunt, who was above, gave a sudden release,
and with a wonderful, swift up-cu ton the point, knocked the lighter
weapon heavily back upon the other's face.

Shaxton went suddenly down in a sitting position. He seemed blinded and
faint, or the blow with the sword-back, which already marked his face,
had bewildered him. It must be remembered that Shaxton was fighting for
his life--and Daunt too. He fell, leaning on his arms, towards Heans,
and the curve of his sword pointed over the carpet towards him; who,
ducking almost as he collapsed, jerked the weapon out of his hands,
though Daunt had put his foot within two feet of it. We cannot say what
Daunt would have done with it. Sir William, fatigued with his day and
distressed with its doubts and forebodings, had evidently some notion of
attacking the Commandant if he could not otherwise defend Captain
Shaxton, who, however, breathlessly demanded the return of the sword. In
any case, after waiting an instant holding the slippery steel in his
glove, and seeing the Commandant step back and presently bring his sword
down on the table, he advanced, holding the hilt towards him, which the
other, though at first he shook an ashen face, presently seized in his
white hand.

Only for an instant, however. Next moment it rattled to the floor at
Heans' feet. Daunt cried out, "no, he would not take Captain Shaxton's
weapon on any account." "For my safety's sake," said he, "take it to the
window, prisoner, and pitch it out."

Sir William, with a stare, took it up (Daunt holding to the mantelpiece,
ashen and grave); drew the blade across his glove; and with a glance at
Shaxton (who, even as he looked, demanded his weapon through clenched
teeth) threw up the window and flung the weapon into the garden. There
and then, as he heard it fall, he remembered all his private fears, and
almost regretted, as he turned, that he had not answered an unfairer
prompting and been a braver man.

Daunt put his sword away, and slowly lifted his coat and cap from the
table. A spot of blood lay in the palm of his left hand. "There," he
said, and a heavy gravity was on his face, "I might have kept your sword
as evidence of this singular attack. It has gone, you see, where you may
get it presently. Notice our friend's eagerness for law and order! No"
(as Captain Shaxton began to heave himself, complaining, upon his feet),
"remain where you are while I go to the door. I am a man of trained
nerves, but I am not certain that I have not had two men to deal
with--in this unfamiliar room--and my eyes to the light. You, and the
man you have chosen to befriend you, may, if you choose, complete your
campaign against me in the congenial atmosphere of spirit--or does
Oughtryn provide Clos Vougeot?--you may keep the tune up undisturbed by
fear of watch or overhearing. If you move, gentlemen, if you move, I
give you my word, I will take my sabre to one of you!"

Captain Shaxton, who had got up upon one knee, as if by a spell remained
in that position. Thus kneeling, propped by one hand upon his empty
scabbard, he pulled a pocket-handkerchief from his breast, and wiped the
blood from eyes and face. Subsequently, when Daunt walked across the
room, he looked up at him, and as he passed, said, in a sheepish
complaining: "What is this you've done with my forehead?" Daunt answered
with some concern, "You have me on the hip! I must have bruised you in a
moment of excitement. Fortune, for once, was with the attacked." And
stopping beside Shaxton, he brought round his right arm, on which hung
his coat, showing him his small fingers, on one of which was a ring, the
one stone of which might have been a diamond.

"Ha, well," groaned Shaxton, sitting back upon the carpet and feeling
his heavy wounded face, "if she hasn't satisfied me, the bitch has not
left me without a comfort."

We do not know whether Daunt blenched at this reference to his discredit
(assuming Shaxton to have referred to Fortune), or whether it was his
wound that chilled him, but he went to the door without a word. Shaxton
looked after him, murmuring, with very small sharp eyes. When Daunt had
opened the door, and was half through, he turned on Sir William Heans,
who, with thin, grim, unquiet face, was watching him from the window. "I
am not comfortable about your part in this, sir," he said, "after what I
have done. I am never one, however, to carry my kindness too far--to the
forgetting of mere duty." So speaking, he rested his stare upon him with
a long, grave look, before he turned aside.

* * * * *

We hesitate to conjecture what took place in the room after Daunt left
it. It appears that Captain Shaxton could not be persuaded for a long
while to rise from the floor, and that he felt his humiliation too
keenly to be consoled immediately by reminder of what he had not lost.
This is what Sir William tells us, but we gather the scene was even
sadder and more tragic. Heans left him, with a second tumbler of gin
beside him, and hurried out, round the back way to the garden, on a
search for the weapon. The place was still and calm, the bushes black of
bough and cut as from cardboard, the sea harsh upon the ear. A woman
went down with a couple of band-boxes as Heans came up the path. He
found the sword by its point, which lay wickedly over the cement, the
glass-like blade very bright in the light. Without ado he took it across
to his window and was about to throw it in, when a hand stopped his, and
quickly released the hilt from his fingers. No word was spoken, and
Heans did not return immediately, but, contrary to his custom, took the
path once up and down, and picked a few of Miss Abelia's odd-looking
flowers. When he did so, it was as he half expected: Captain Shaxton's
cloak had gone from the Roman, and the meek bird was the only living
occupant of the room.

We have yet to add that Sir William Heans, before tending his horses at
7.30, went carefully round his rooms, examining everything--even to the
gauzes about the picture-frames--with minute scrutiny, if careful to
disturb nothing with his fingers. We gather that he found no single
object out of its place, or even disturbed, till he came a second time
to the Roman soldier, when, a return of his inward agitation in
connection with the presence of the mansworn Spafield leading him to
feel behind the effigy, he was horrified to discover that Surridge's hat
had gone. Resting in the hollow back was a grey stone.



And as to the speech about a villain, who ever saw one? Out of a novel
or a play, I never saw a villain, and I don't know anybody who ever did.



 . . . For, by the living God, if your honour will cause to be made
there in England, a certain lingering poison, and send it hither by a
trusty messenger to me, not letting him know what it is, but forge some
other matter, and let me have commandment from your honour to whom I
shall give it, and therewith you shall try me what I am . . .


When Sir William made this discovery, and when--having somewhat got
over his dismay--he had again gone through the rooms, he took his cap
and stepped into the passage. At the intersection of the two passages
he called the woman. The light by the kitchen was lit, and the place
quiet but for two dropping voices beyond the stair and its half-open
door. The comfortable noise of cooking came from the kitchen, but in
answer to his call an opposite door drew open, and the woman came very
quickly out. She paused between the two doors, looking forward, her
expressionless composure somewhat invaded. She did not shut the low-lit
door behind. Sir William wore his cotton gloves and carried his cane.
He asked, coming a few steps into the main passage, "if Oughtryn was
yet home?" His voice dragged unquietly. The woman instantly answered
that he was not, and "she could not tell why he was so late." Despite
herself, as it were, a faint plaint was in her tone. She added, "He
went for pasture for the horses for to-morrow and for the Friday," a
fact about which Heans knew something. Sir William said he wished to
speak with Oughtryn as soon as he came in, and the woman, with a step
towards the kitchen, agreed to give him the message. She had pushed
open the door, which was on the latch, when she again paused and asked,
"was the gentleman going over to the horses?" Sir William having
replied in the affirmative, "Mr. Spafield," she said, "had given them
to know he would bed them and see them comfortable." To this Sir
William answered with an "Unheard of!" and a feverish tapping of his
stick; finally he said he would step over and make certain. The woman
gave a curious, deep laugh. "The young man's been over-jolly this
evening," she exclaimed with a sort of bitter amusement--and overloud
in tone for her--and came somewhat heavily from the door. "He don't
seem himself--not a sensible man. We thought--Miss Abelia and me--we
thought he'd been doing a bit of drinking. We don't know."

"You should have summoned me," said Sir William, quietly. "Do you mean
the man has been a trouble?"

"Oh, I don't know," said the woman, with a cool laugh. "He keeps Miss
and me a laughing--he does, but you, sir, mightn't think him so
diverting like that. Miss has taken a queasy about something you said.
Mr. Oughtryn being late, we were thinking he might bed the horses, and
let well alone."

"I see," he said, and he looked very sharp in the face. "Oh no--oh no,"
he said, "you can be quite easy in the house! I will avoid any talk with
the man if it will quiet your minds."

"Oh well, well!" ejaculated the woman, and she put up her hand and
thrust open the door of the kitchen. She would have vanished from the
passage only Heans called to her again. "I would like to ask," he said,
"if any one was about my rooms today, besides yourself and Mr. Daunt? I
have an anxious wish to know if you saw any one in the passage outside
either door?" The woman answered jealously that she had herself seen
none other than Commandant Daunt, but that she had been engaged for some
time in the Chamber, Mr. Daunt himself calling after her, one of the
women acting giddy on a ladder. After a silence she enquired bluntly if
he had missed anything from the rooms, and he made answer that as far as
he knew he had lost something of trivial appearance but of very great
importance. He concluded that she had not that day gone over the rooms,
and she said that was so. She volunteered, after a minute's silence,
that there was one during the afternoon about the house--but she had
never known her touch anything--and that was Conapanny. "She was
squatting under the front windows, as she is used to do when Miss is
playing in her room. I told her Miss was away."

Sir William did not enquire into the matter further, though he did not
move. He seemed very sharp and uncertain. He was backing into the
passage, saying as he did it, "Together with my loss, your master's
failure to return is rather untimely"; when as he turned actually to the
door he asked "if Oughtryn had been particular to say to what part of
Hobarton he was going." The question, innocent as it sounded, and asked
with head half averted, was given so much louder and more unnatural, as
to seem the voice of a different person, and whether the woman noticed
it or not, she answered with a sort of slow reluctance: "Stully's, I did
hear him say, and Cliesby's. I couldn't say, hasty, which was most in

Heans now lifted his glass to his eye and faced her stiffly. "Supposing
I wished to send after him," he said, "would you seek him at Stully's

"I would go to Cliesby's," she said, rather coolly than surprised, "him
being overdue. But you'd not think it necessary to send for Mr.

"No--not likely," he replied; "but it is as well to know where he
is. . . . Cliesby's paddock is next the Ship Inn, I think--a field with
a long stone shed?"

At this instant a step fell in the quiet, and Abelia Oughtryn groped her
way into the door from the half-lit room. She stood with her head down
and her indecisive hand on the wooden framework. Her shadowy dress was
grey and simple, but the light shone upon her collar, serene head and
face, which was white and afraid, with a kind of nobleness and quizzical
darkness under the unquiet eyes. She spoke in a trembling, precise way.

"Father must have gone to Leeworthy's, Sir William, being so tardy. He
said he would try beyond Boundary if there was no loaning to be had from
Mr. Stully."

Sir William was frightened of something about the girl. He flushed,
stuttered, and asked in a voice somewhat unctuously ceremonious, "Tell
me, Miss Abelia, now through what gate would he go?"

She said so quietly, and her head so dark: "The gate to the Dalrymple
[Note 27. Launceston] Road, Sir William."

"Indeed," said Heans, turning away, but coming back again. "Would he go
far on the way to Bridgewater?"

"No," she said: "just beyond where there's the spring and the
water-trough. There is a large gabled dwelling----"

"I remember," said Heans, rather vehemently, "a brick house by the

"Yes, and that lies empty, sir," the girl said. "They live in the
cottage called 'The Hope' above the paddock."

"Egad, we are being too anxious!" cried Sir William, suddenly. "He will
come in in a minute." And there he stopped short as if he feared he was
being too particular in his enquiries; and indeed the girl had raised
her head, and was now looking towards him, as she stood by the woman,
with pale, quizzical, fluttering eyes. Thus the two. So they watched him
go out, the woman downcast and like a figure of uneasy Fate.

Outside the small door the night was still, the sea clangorous in the
darkening yard. Sir William had forgotten a lantern, and was about to
return for it, when he saw the cave door was open and bore a soft
stationary glowing, showing that somewhere within was a remote light.
There was no one between house and stable. He stopped not far from the
house, but could hear no footsteps about the cave. He was in some
trepidation, knowing that half his hold over the mad Spafield was gone,
supposing the fellow to have been frightened sufficiently by his
innuendo to have broken into his rooms, and in so doing discovered the
dead man's message. Even if that was so, Heans had something in hand,
and it was to secure this as much as to fulfil a duty that he hazarded
so late an encounter with him.

Outside the cave he again stopped, but there was no sound within but the
mutter of the sea. From the remoteness of the light, he took it that it
was placed in the harness-room, and as he came near the door, the
reflection upon the hinges and the left post told him he was right.
Within, all was dim and quiet, the horses coated and at their food, and
a great deal of tidy straw beneath their feet. For a while he remained
near the door, hearing nothing from the harness-room, and waiting for
any one to move in the gloomy reaches of the stalls. In the very pallid
light, made blacker by the glow from the other cave, motionless forms
seemed to people the wooden divisions, if steady lack of movement
persuaded of inanition. There was no human sound. With that curious
sense of the absence of man, Heans felt there was no one there.
Eventually he stepped into the stable, and thence through the opening
into the lighted cave.

It was silent, the lantern hidden behind the chain of sacks, the walls
and roof in a strong light. With a glance about the shadowed portion, he
stepped across to the chain. As far as he could see, the rest was empty

He started at once to put his purpose into effect. Surridge's document
gone or mislaid, and the evidence it brought as to this ruffian's nature
near gone with it, it might be difficult to convince an old hand of
Oughtryn's kidney and cares of the burial and resurrection in his cave,
or win him to the peculiar suggestion of the soldier's aim--and
certainly any one to whom Oughtryn might appeal. He regretted he had not
at first risked the calm of his escape. The loss of the chapeau, so
sharp upon what he had been seeing and overhearing in his private room,
was dismaying, but as a man wishing to rouse another to a nasty fact, he
felt he had yet something to back the suspicions he detected in his
master, and his personal narrative. It may be supposed there were
moments when he himself hardly knew what he was trying to do or trying
to prove--beyond some reasonable excuse for an unmanly nervousness. It
is not pleasant to find oneself the single butt of a murderer (a matured
malignant), however remote his crime, and whatever the reason of his
lying in wait upon you. Yet--a few hours and he might be out of this
peculiar danger. He could still leave it alone, but for the girl and the
beggar's behaviour in the stall! He remembered how suspicious old Quaid
had asked outright if the soldier was "after them for something?"
Gracious G--d, with the fellow's crimes and singular way, he thought he
had a reasonable answer for that! That was a word with Oughtryn--Captain
Hyde-Shaxton--or some magistrate of the police.

By this time, it is plain, Sir William, despite his decent way of
putting it, was in a kind of nervous affright of the whole thing.

His purpose, as the reader may have guessed, was to sever and return
with the bottle-neck and the running thongs. But most of all he was
anxious to see whether they had been tampered with. We must mention here
that when vehemently searching his rooms a few minutes previous, he had
been surprised to find that volume of the PLUTARCH, which we know as
"Surridge's," there with the others on the small table. It was
curious--and threw him presently into new exertions after the
chapeau--that he had been left that piece of corroboration. (Was the
thief too cunning to break into the volumes, or hurried into

Now, in the cave, he was at first sight relieved to see the great chain
hanging in its place, half hidden under sacks and old horse-coats. He
had no sooner put his hand upon it and jerked it, however, than his
heart sank; there was no answering ring from the crack. As he pushed his
way along it, he shook it twice and then again. No, the wall-chain made
no answering jingle.

Heans paused for an instant to collect himself, and as he did so there
was a curious thudding--either a landslip in the hills, or
thunder--which shook the caves, and to which the horses rattled out
their chains. The quiet that followed seemed reflected by the motionless
lantern, which was raised on two red band-boxes against the yard-wall. A
rat or native cat made a scurrying behind the harness press, which drew
Sir William's attention to the curtain by the south end, which had been
drawn aside, showing the pommels of Abelia's side-saddle, and dangling
from them the soldier's dirty white bandoliers and bayonet, and a large
pair of leather shoes.

When he had again harkened, he continued his way along the chain to the
end, where, above the row of sacks, he found that the bottle-neck had
gone, while the leather thong had been freed of knots, or substituted by
another having less, which was attached at the top end to something
immovable, but which, on climbing up, he found to be a piece of forked
wood, dead, and jambed into the narrows of the crack. The sharp
disappointment induced by this discovery--the disgust--the loss of hope
it meant--made Heans more shy of being under watch. He listened there
another few seconds. Afterwards he stepped down and returned for the
lantern, but, on searching, found beneath and behind the chaff-sacks
only one or two minute fragments of brown bottle-glass. While drawing
out the sacks' there was another loud scurry of rats--so heavy that he
thought he observed a bag move bodily, and raised the lantern, staring
among the spheres. One or two holed by rats were stacked loose upon the
others, but he did not examine them, being satisfied no person of bulk
and strength could be hidden between. As he replaced the light on the
band-boxes, he was attracted by a glistening object behind them, and
stooping down, he picked out a square bottle, three quarters full of
rum, and a curious little object made of string and oiled wood, which it
will be remembered the brutish fellow dropped from his pack on the
Tuesday afternoon he arrived at the house.

There was little in the juxtaposition of these articles which made for
Sir William's composure, though the menace which troubled the villain
most seemed rather that from the dead than the living. He threw them
down, feeling considerable heaviness of oppression, and went over to
Abelia's saddle. He was about to cast the man's belongings to the
ground, but remembering his promise, turned and took his way straight
out of the caves into the yard. There he stopped for some time looking
about. A number of little stars were out in the sky, shedding their pale
beams upon the walls of the house; yet unable to lighten the dark
squares of the windows. There was a flutter of lightning in the
south-west. He had been there about twenty minutes, when he was
attracted by a thumping and crashing on the top of the caves. Moving
further out and looking up, he saw the red-coat himself, walking among
the bushes not far from the old gateway in the wall, and making west
upon the lane. As though he saw that he was seen, he stopped, eyeing him
with a cold and careful stare. Eventually, as Sir William put up his
glass for a better look, he dropped what he had in his hand--a long
implement or log of wood--and rolled forward through the bushes down to
the eaves of the caves. He wore no shako, and at first sight, in the
murk, it seemed a feebler, older figure than Spafield's, but this was a
mistake. It was the villain's own long head and hectoring cheek-bones
that arrived upon the brink. As the shadows forsook him, half in drink
as he was, there seemed a something flabbier about that cushion chin,
and a sort of blenching recurrence in that angry stare.

Heans did not like the look of him in that place, as things were, but
thought, with the height of the cave between them, he would see what he
would say. He therefore stood quiet about the centre of the yard, his
cane caught in the middle, his baleful eyes upon the other's. The
details of each figure were clouded to the other, if Heans' person must,
he knew, be outlined plainer by the kitchen candle than was Spars' upon
the slope and studded cave. Though Heans had seen him drop something
further up, he perceived that he still held a large, brown object in his
right hand, which dangled like a garment. With this in hand, and slowly
picking his way over the ground, he approached and stopped about the
middle of the roof.

Sir William says that they were silent for about a minute, the hard
villain shifting back a little as his trousers and coat-facing caught
the one light of the house. "I declare it's you standing there so
stiddy," said he, with a deep, jabbering laugh, yet hanging darkly on
him; "and a stern way you looks at me, just as if you 'ad the power of
this earth and 'ell, and the Mahour's [Note 28. Devil's.] string was in
your 'and--just for a moment in the liddle glove there which is on your
show-cane. Oh, we've had our miff, we' ave, over the girl! I understands
you well. Girls is for the protection of the gentlemen. It is a matter
of trust from you to 'er. Ah, I follow you, honest, in what you want.
Yet I remember you when you was a down peg only last night. That's all
changed now, my noble! I was the whole pin then, by 'eaven! Something
singler's been at Spafield since we met. Heaven deave you, here you
a-dogging a bereaved man! It ain't a gentleman's act. A man's private in
his ways when he's bereaved. Who'd think a gentleman of honour would
'ave his meanness! You'll raise my dander yet, you will! Why, I looks at
you from these rocks and I says you're not so lively down in that there
yard, yourself, with your hand upon your cane. So it is. Break your
'art, I know the world! I remember when I was young and admired. I use
to be a smiling seesaw for the children to crow on. Now I'se a rotted
board for the histing of the quick and dead. Do you see what I mean? At
any rate, I face it stiddy."

Heans, who welcomed the groan of uncertainty he detected amidst the
vacancies of the threatening villain, made a harsh clearing of his
throat, and enquired what he was doing up upon the caves? Privately, as
he looked upon the bold, old face and narrow angered stare, the gloves
upon his cane were quivering with chill disgust and nausea.

The man gave him a long, unquiet look, swinging the object in his
bandaged hand.

"If I'm laid out for it, sir," said he, with a quick step forward, and a
faithless pretence of reassurance that was a poisonous threat, "I've
only been a-hunting of the bettong [Note 29. Kangaroo rat.] in these
liddle rocks, as you can see by what I 'old here in my fingers!" (He
snatched the object he held to his right hand, and elevated it a little,
though his eyes were never on it.) "A good night's work," laughed he.
"He spoke up for 'is 'andsome life, he did, but I ruined it for him, and
then I followed him at my ease. Bless the little pimp, he thought to
chouse me off with his inner-cent dodging. Plague it, gentleman, you
don't believe me! Here, break your 'art, I'll cast him down for you, and
you can carry it in to them amiable women! A singler, curious animal!
Mind, sir, there's a weight in him to make him fall fair."

While still speaking, Sir William saw him swing the object against the
sky and hurl it knowingly up into the air over the yard, whence it
straddled over, and fell with a dull leap and a loud rattle close in
front of his feet. Sir William, amazed at the accuracy of its direction,
had raised his cane to ward it off, and after it had fallen, did not at
once take his eyes off the thrower, who regained his balance after his
effort, with a troubled stagger. When he took a look at the little
kangaroo with the grim head of a rat, which lay gleaming upon its face
with its long legs spread upon the flags, he was sufficiently attracted
by it to overturn it with his stick. Its bosom was transfixed beneath
the arms by a long, flat knife, whose rounded blade projected three
inches from the fur of its right side. The pressure of the blade and
handle--which shone like a bit of pine--kept the animal's front paws
crossed one upon the other.

"Look at him for an old one, my lord," gabbled the redcoat, folding his
arms under a chill, aged laugh; "I've pinned him up so nice he can't do
much--can he?--but supplicate Shebna with them little brown 'ands?"
Heans, however, did not answer nor again give him countenance, and
presently after he heard a soft but very sickening oath, and realised
the fellow had cocked his dangerous back at him and gone muttering off.
Heans himself, true to his promise to the women, had turned over to the
house, but when he heard the man going, he turned about and watched his
long, lank hair and Tartar face descend into the night over the escarp
of the lane.

When he had gone, Heans returned to the animal, and removing a glove,
bent down and felt its body. It was very stiff and cold. He rose again
and was about to go, when, struck by a thought of his defenceless
condition, and what he was about to attempt, he drew the knife from the
animal, wiping it upon the pretty brown fur. He notes--with apparent
irrelevance--when he withdrew the blade, the small wrenched hands of the
rat fell apart "with quite a human gesture of release."

As for the poor weapon which Sir William Heans had found for his
defence, it was laughable and crude enough, and apart from serving as a
sign of the rascal's enmity, it was understandable why it had been
discarded. The blade, about six inches long and slightly curved, had a
gully or groove along the centre as in that of a sabre, and might have
been a part of one, though now so blunt and ill rubbed as to be just
recognisable as steel. The bit of wood into which it was fixed, and
which served for a handle, seemed the section of the root of some
bush-plant, which had been barked, and upon which Heans' fingers felt an
uneven grooving. When Heans, quite shaken with the beastly encounter, at
length reached his room, and had drunken a good draught of Oughtryn's
"ale," and eaten sparingly and long of his "export" pig and pumpkin-pie,
he drew out his "knife" again and imagined in the grooving upon the
handle a rough carving of a human face, with a wisp of long hair behind,
and a kind of ecclesiastical mitre upon its head. He became much
interested in the supposition when, later in the night, he made some
effort to sharpen the long blade with the aid of his toilet-scissors.

* * * * *

Before Sir William re-entered the house, he waited a few moments in the
small entrance-door, till he heard the yard gate shut, and suddenly saw
Spafield flutter like some huge moth into the light of the stable, and
the gleam go out as he went in and stood a while looking about in the
inner way. There was little sound of his feet on the flags. Presently
the gleam of the light again shone, and did not go out, though Heans
watched it for some minutes. Three times he rose from the supper-table,
and groped his way through his bedroom furniture to the back window. On
the third of these occasions he found the face of the stables dark, but
for the spent rays of the light from the house. So it remained while he
was there. On his way back to the sitting-room, he went again to the
door, into the yard, and stood within, with it a little open, listening;
and once again he opened it and stood looking up at the pallid and
changeless cliff.

He heard the women move in the kitchen as he went from back to front,
and noted that the opposite room was still open. He saw by the gleam on
the panels that the stair-door had been shut. The noise of the sea was
not in the house, which struck very quiet. The woman seemed her
indifferent self when she came in to clear the table, and he thought it
possible she and Abelia had found some comforting counsel. When he
asked, "No sign yet of Mr. Oughtryn?" she answered, in a low voice, "No,
but he may have gone with Leeworthy to 'Fraser's,' though it's against
his custom to eat from home." She enquired, on the heels of this remark,
"if the horses had had attention?" and he replied that "they had, and
that he had had some words with the soldier," though privately he
thought the woman was aware of that. He added that he had found the
man's manner "wild and unsatisfactory," and he said it would add
sensibly to his quiet of mind, if, till Oughtryn came in, the keys were
turned in the communication and kitchen doors, and she and Miss Abelia
stopped below. Madame Fate replied unconcernedly with "her and Miss's
thanks, and they had turned the keys, and Miss had shut her room."

She was not, however, so composed as she appeared, for as her
statuesque, bechignoned head was vanishing into the passage, she took
affright at nothing, stopping, and plunging on again so sudden that the
articles upon the tray she bore collided sharply, and one fell to the
floor. In the stillness in which she stooped and groped after the
fragments, Heans heard the voice of the soldier, not very high (rather
low and harsh) singing in his room over the Chamber, and knew, and
concluded the fellow intended it, that he had come into the house. As he
sat listening to that intrusive booming and lowing, he wondered, above
the menacing of himself, how the ruffian's wicked assurance would stand
him, locked alone above another's hearth--the old hearth stained by his
young malice.

Murruda, yerraba, tundy kin ara,
Murruda, yerraba, min yin guiny wite ma  la.

Would he low and drink himself to sleep upon his squab? Would he remain
vigilantly awake? Heans considered he could not trust for that night to
a period of oblivion in his mind.

Sir William, though he endeavoured to compose his mind with an ALMANAC,
hardly read a sentence. He put his door wide, and lay back or sat forward
in the bed-chair, no sound in the hushed place escaping him. At nine
o'clock, he rose and opened one of the windows, hoping, by standing
there, to hasten the sound of Oughtryn's approaching steps. Among the
ghosts of plants a cricket was crying, "Eve." He turned and again
searched his rooms, but could not be certain of a single sign of
intrusion or strange handling. Despite this conviction, he for a long
while haunted both rooms in search for the dead carver's palimpsest.

During all this time he kept his ear on the large passage, along which,
at intervals, came the man's voice. If the interval was overlong, Heans
would rise in his chair, or pause in what he was engaged upon. As the
minutes grew on, the man's lowing became sharper and more assertive, and
the intervals between each outbreak longer. In his rooms Sir William
Heans' pauses and ruminatings became proportionately more lengthy. After
the half-hour, there was one lengthy silence in which the house was like
a grave, and like earth into it he heard the ashes fall in the grate of
one of the passage rooms. He thought, at the same instant, that he
distinctly caught the tread of a shoe, and its creaking, in a room above
him; but dismissed it as gratuitous. Not many moments after, an uproar
of angry laughter and singing came in high and distant by his window,
and, hanging near, he supposed the cut-throat fellow had moved from his
pallet, and was either standing before a front window above the Chamber,
or at work in one of the front rooms. It sounded to his ears that there
was bravado and shaken assertion in the noise the man was making, yet
that the villain was endeavouring (like a whistling urchin) to make an
impression of ease, calmness and power on any one who might be
listening. Eventually that became plainly his policy, whether the
intrusion were directed at some growth of his bottle or the occupants of
the house. He could be heard marching along the passages, and into one
or more of the rooms, his shoes making a deep sound, and colliding more
than once into furniture or door, the last perhaps intentional, as they
were accompanied by a malignant laughing. If he was intruding, he was
far from concealing it. He would suddenly begin to whistle or hum;
sometimes bursting for an instant into a loud bawling; but stifling it
or dropping it as out of character and uncomforting; again giving a
loud, angry, and taunting laugh, or a jeering monosyllable dragged out
upon a silence. He carried a candle at first, but put it down about the
centre of the house, as Heans saw by the bushes. Sir William fancied him
with folded arms, and malcontent, stern face. Vanity, and threatening
assertion, and a little fear: Sir William thought he could detect these.
Were they the whole meaning of his disturbance? He seemed to know that
he was alone upon the floor; he knew that those below could hear him.

Some time after, the man retreated along the passage, and took the light
to his room. Heans, who rose to listen after the steps, heard them go
over the hall, hesitate, and suddenly the stairs rang heavily with his
descent. He made a loud indistinct shout as he advanced, and another as
he retreated. Heans imagined from the careless noise that he was going
out, but at the stair-bottom he came round, and suddenly he was at the
handle of the door.

When it would not open to him, he seemed to stand there for a long
while, and presently his slow, heavy steps thumped their way back up the
stairs. Heans, who had come into the women's passage, saw, by the moving
reflection, he had a candle. The women's door remained lit and open, but
there was no noise from either that or the kitchen. At the top of the
stairs the villain seemed to go into his room. The deep rumour of a door
announced silence.

Some minutes after ten, Heans heard him again out in the landing, but
with a scatter of jeering talk rather than singing. Sir William had been
sitting with a PLUTARCH in his hand, but from the uneasiness he felt, he
went over to the window. Spafield, by the reflection of the light, was
for a time in the west rooms, and in one of these--though his footsteps
were seldom quiet--was the stationary candle. Heans supposes that he
must have left the light in one of the rooms and come very quiet along
the front passage (there was a front passage along the upper story),
for, happening to glance at the Roman figure, he noticed that it was
trembling, and the next thing, he was conscious of the creak and thump
of the man's shoes above his head. He could not say if he was there bent
on some disturbing of himself, but he remained in the room for a
considerable time, the sound rising and falling as he stumped in and out
from there to the passage. All the while his voice, not high, was
grumbling in a horrible rapidity of threatening. Heans rose angrily. He,
however, heard some one speak at that instant in one of the lower rooms.
He instantly calmed and filled and lit his tobacco-pipe, and stood
smoking for a little in the passage-window. He felt, while there, there
was a sort of bad oppression over the house, and even as he peered out
past the sentry-box, the man's footsteps were blotted out by a rattle
and shiver of thunder, while almost as if that had been its herald, the
moon topped the wall and made a shining in the garden. How black were
the trees, how shiny was the long grass! The wretched Spafield must have
been at the window above, for he stopped his walk. A little after, his
feet went away down the passage with a peculiar tapping, and with the
weight at the finish of the step. He then turned--if he was walking
backwards--and made a hulking step or two which shook the floor.
Suddenly his flight was stopped, and Heans heard him come slowly back.
Again there was not a sound. Into that there fell a muttering, and, from
somewhere muffled, there pealed out a dry harsh cry, like an infant's,
but full of volume and hatefully daunted. Right upon it there was a
heavy tumult and banging, then a great cry, and then a sudden 'clashing'
of glass. Again a renewed uproar, and a space in which nothing could be
distinguished. And last came a deep knocking and cries of "Your honour,"
and "Sir William Heans," and "Help, sir," and "Help for the officer,
ladies," with a deadly mixture of cursing and groaning, half of which
was lost in a banging and tumult that made the house ring.

When Heans came into the main passage, the woman was walking towards the
stair door, with her candlestick and a heavy pistol. She turned the key,
and opened it. Spafield seemed to hear the key and his hoarse groan
became lower. Sir William followed the woman through, passed her, and
waited an instant. He took the candle at the woman's offering, but as
she clung to the weapon, he left her at the bottom, and began to go up.
Abelia's calm but twinkling face came into the door, but he heard her
rapid breathing, and told them both not to move. The woman suddenly
thrust the pistol to him over the banisters, and he took it, and went
up. At the top he went across the bare landing to the corner of the
passage. He stopped at the corner, cleared his throat, and said, "I am
here." There was no answer, but a harsh oath from near the bottom, so he
spoke again in his fine, ceremonious way, asking "where he was?" and
"what had come upon him?" There was no answer while Sir William waited
very stern and patient. He held up the candle. Some fragments of glass
lay in the moon, some two-thirds along the passage floor. Suddenly there
was a renewed knocking, and a low voice rose from somewhere complaining:
"This here's the door!"

Heans advanced along towards the broken glass. Spafield's appeal came
from a closed door opposite these fragments. "Come out, sir," said
Heans, "and let me see what you are doing." There was again a low groan.
Then swift and harsh: "The door's closed. I'm caught, I am. I'm in the
woman's press here."

"Where is that?" said Sir William, coldly. "Speak in a distinct voice.
Why don't you come out?" He put the candle down behind him and advanced
nearer the door. At that moment, he was annoyed to find that the women
had followed him, for from the top of the stairs, a voice as stern as
his own directed him to "the linen-closet: the door with the glass

The man mumbled a chill something, and Heans drew nearer. The door
behind which he spoke was like the eight others in the passage, but had
a window at the top, in which was a cross-piece: the nearer pane in
which was broken out. The panes were placed high, but, in a little, he
had a clear sight of the man's face, sunken, sly, and sallow against the

"Ah, my lord," he cried out, "you'd never 'ave thought this of me!
You'll turn it quick and let me out. Faith, I'm distressed! I'm the
worse for my being in here!"

Sir William stared in great distaste at him for a while. "Well indeed,
my man," he said at last, "if you can get in, you can get out! Now, what
is it? You had better give an account of your behaviour."

"It's my mind, squire, my troubled mind," said the other, keeping his
eyes on him; "ah, I never dreamed of this! Come, I trust in you, sir!
I've 'ad enough. You can 'ave too much cold man. I tell you I got to
drinking a bit and spiting round! And I takes to worriting about them
old days, and walks in and out a-bravin' my sorrows, and a-singing them
off me. But afterwards I goes off my level over a certain sound I heard,
and I lays quiet. Then I rouses and goes after that, and goes a-braving
nothing. And something spites me against going where I would, and
especially into this 'ere old Punishment Closet, as it used to be. And
being full of vinegar, I open the door and come in. And I was standing
with my back to her, when "sough" she falls slap into the lock, and when
I comes to open her, there was no handle. And I swear to you, I hears
his Honour's old voice, like it was yistiddy, out there, bidding me
"take my punishment." By my body, I tell you when I wrestle with her she
wouldn't come for me, and when I smash away the glass, I couldn't reach
her with my useless 'and! There, Squire, it was my unfortunate mind that
dealt against me, and here I come against the butt-end of my life!"

Heans, after a considerable pause, said (and coldly), "That may be," and
advanced, and put his hand on the handle. Before he turned it, he looked
back once to the candle, and forward along the passage, and once,
fixedly and long, through the front windows, where the moon lay in the
wooden garden--but, eventually, he reversed the hasp, and when the door
gave, turned his back and walked off slowly up the passage. His
situation was not easy. He would have taken upon himself to keep the man
shut in at his peril, and seemingly somewhat at Joseph Spafield's. For
other reasons he could hardly leave the man. Yet he succoured the shaken
wretch to what end--but a quiet house--to what end of private
difficulty. For the service he knew the man's nature well enough to
conceive that he would rip the hand that loosed him. The temptation
could not have been small. As he found by her enquiry, when, having
taken the candle, he turned into the landing, the woman did not seem to
entertain anything but the expectation of his release, and as usual she
did not seek his opinion.

We know little more of this passage, than that he went instantly down,
locking the door behind Abelia and the woman, whom he had found standing
together in the landing. He passed back to his room after returning the
pistol and informing them what had occurred. So hushed was the house
that they heard, no doubt, as much as he. He told them the man was in a
strange state of mind, and seemed to have become caught in the linen
closet, where he had shut himself in fear of the wraith of Governor
Collins, whom he had known in his youth. He added, in lighter pretence,
that he thought him bad, ill, and "a drunken booby," but what he said
did not change the fixed regard of the others. For the rest, he had
conceived it beneath him to look behind him, or was fearful lest the
frightened villain should run after them. He, however, heard the man
come out, and pause outside the press door.

* * * * *

We can see the soldier standing by the broken door, with his tall, black
head and tag of hair, and large long sallow face.

* * * * *

Sir William regrets, and so also does the writer, that some freer weapon
than his is not in the breach to delineate the last incident of that
Wednesday night. It seemed to him such a curious and plausible
occurrence that happened under his eyes, and partially through him, that
he would have wished to make a souvenir of it with some beautiful,
monumental prose. The motionless witch of night, with its grey moon and
streaky clouds, its occasional alarms, the ugly and fateful things which
it had brought to life, the house yet wanting a master, the pair of
boding women, the sly wretch above, and the uncanny shock he had put
upon them (even if his panics were Heans' strange ally), these were but
the brooding beginning to the singular end.

When he left Abelia and the woman, the time by his clock had not reached
the half-hour. For a few minutes there was movement and steady
discussion in the lower rooms, but not a sound above except, shortly
after, one dull report immediately over the stairs: from the man's door
it seemed. When he looked to see, the light was gone. Beyond this though
he was often on his feet, and kept his door open, and though the silence
made a vault of the house, he never heard the man move. It occurred to
him to consider with what sort of gait he had gone westward for his
light, and across over the stairs. He was very quiet. He was not
satisfied that his fright--sallow with fear as he looked--would keep him
still. He did not know whether to wish most for drunken disturbance or a
silence which had too little reassurance in it.

At a little past the half-hour, he went down the way to the bedroom, and
opened the yard door. A dull glow was on the flags and told of a kept
fire in the kitchen, and then, along, the brick wall was dark, till up
under the roof--greatly to his relief--on the left upright of the window
next to that above the hall, there was a dull candle-light just quicker
than the moon which fought it. Here too it was still; not a sound from
the closed stable, the foliage of the yard and cave lit and sounding
with a few drops of rain, the sea rising to an occasional belling. He
gathered that his composure was still somewhat disturbed from the fact
that for an instant he thought he saw a figure standing just within the
old gateway up on the cliff; but a lighter greying of moonshine
dispelled the illusion. A scrub-oak was growing on the moon side. As he
turned, his mind hung on the grim character of the stone-mason, a daily
witness of that opening, and not able to get by it to a word with his
Moicrime. He returned somewhat easier through the hollow house after
turning the key.

He set himself again to wait for Oughtryn. This he did restlessly enough
for an hour and a half. For the warmth he put on his plaid jacket, and
sat with his window open so that he might hear the least sound or the
groan of the gate. He stood also for long periods at the window, and
tried to penetrate the bushes below the fountain. He was almost afraid
of the old platted place after what had occurred. Since he could not
allow himself to drop his vigilance of mind sufficiently to read his
book, he kept the volume in his hand and fell as he sat--or walked--to
completing his last plans. He would escape on the Friday morning. It was
his intention--perhaps a little resentfully--to use the fact of his
assignment into servitude. And its success--indeed the application of
this plan--would depend on whether Oughtryn paddocked the horses with
Leeworthy or what other acquaintance. Were the man one he knew to be
acquainted with his master--and himself--and could he learn the
whereabouts of his dwelling without rousing the old convict's
surprise--he would carry his saddle there on the morning after next and
inform the fellow that he was bidden by Oughtryn to take two horses to
the farm at Bagdad. If all well, he would ride off, passing the Ferry
and the Brighton police post on Oughtryn's well-known nag in its usual
direction. He would afterwards drop the horses in the bush, and wait for
the night coach near some wayside dwelling Till dusk Oughtryn would
think him at Fraser's or Six's. After that, Oughtryn would wait, perhaps
an hour, before going to the latter place. He would then visit other
places, but hardly make a fuss earlier than twelve or one. This not
considering his pre-occupation. Should the fellow, for some reason,
refuse him the horses, he would throw away the saddle and return here,
or better, to some near-by lurking-place. At 6.30 the carriage with

It would serve his turn, thought Sir William Heans. True--as we think
may have occurred to him the while he was seated over the fire, for he
speaks of a feeling of despondency--no very creditable arrangement to
satisfy the mind of an English gentleman. Alas, too little good-faith
with these people who had been agreeable to him! Entailing a plaguey
double part and a treading on the good nature of the family and the
MANES of the enseamed old dwelling which had given him roof. He must
have felt he was in his way (like the rascal Spars) making a sort of
troubling and wounding of privacy, alas, a little wounding of faith! He
who would fain have left a decent memory of himself in this room.

Happening to be in his bedroom about twelve o'clock, and being heavy
with the day's chances, he composed himself to lie and listen awhile
upon his bed. The fires in the breakfast-room and kitchen were the only
sound, and the only light the soft window-shine from the cliffs upon the
heavy furniture. If somewhat troubled about Oughtryn, he knew that he
was a "punter" at Fraser's, and might have been persuaded to a late stay
against habit and punctuality. He did not propose to approach the women,
and increase anxiety, by an offer to go after him, till an hour and a
half after Fraser's closing time. Even after that he felt a reluctance
about leaving them. Despite, however, of his endeavour to rest, he lay
vigilant and stiff. More than once, he sat up and drew aside the curtain
of his "tent-bed," thinking this or that creaking of cabinet or fall of
incinerated wood was the lock of the hall door, never to be summoned
upon his feet by a succeeding thumping of footsteps nor the stirring of
Abelia and the woman, whom he knew must be lying awake. He sat there
alarmed by many a voice of dumb wood and speechless walls, yet sinking
back to consider how he might most prudently drag from the old man the
whereabouts of the paddock, and convey to him the dangers of a day
marked with blood, and with it that of the lost stain upon the Chamber

* * * * *

He was not certain whether he had fallen asleep, or was so deeply
immersed in his thoughts as to be startled out of a species of repose,
but he was awake suddenly to the motionless night, and to the distinct
and insistent "clanking" of a chain. The sound was remote yet clear, and
it would pause, begin again, cease for a minute, and then once more
resume. Sir William, even while he sat up and attempted to locate it to
some particular portion of the house, was reminded of the ghost stories
of his youth, and when, failing this, he had followed it in his mind's
eye to some position more removed or outside the walls, was inclined to
consign it to the stable and a restless horse, but was not satisfied
that it was made by a moving animal, nor that the chain of any one of
them had such a sound. It was not a heavy chain, and it rang against the
stone as though the horse had broken its fastening or lay upon the
floor. There was no drumming of the manger. He could barely picture the
beast lying prone, yet seized with such continual strange alarms. Some
misgiving made him move with great care to his window. The wooden shade
was still drawn. The moon was nearly overhead, and showed the stable
closed and quiet. All seemed breathless, the top of the gum silvered and
twinkling faint.

We have said the three tarred doors were shut, but as he held by the
window stone, Heans put his face closer to the glass, for he had become
convinced there was a gleam on the right side of the square of the
furthest air-hole--that between the first door and the gate--in fact, he
had a fancy there was a light lit and covered within.

His hand sought the leprous divisions of the glass and pushed the sash
up. It seemed two or three minutes before he caught anything (not even
the sea was audible), when there rose as from nowhere a faint
"clanking," and a little "jingle" of a chain. Both were very low, but he
believed they came from the cave, and again his mind misgave him at the
stony clatter of it. He endeavoured to descry through the pane whether
the bolt in the first door was shot, but the moon was too dim. He stuck,
however, to his fancy about a glimmering in the throat of the port-hole.
He drew back. He decided to satisfy himself about the light. If he was
mistaken, a horse might be loose and at the straw.

His "weapon," which he had christened mockingly his "poniard," he had
hid in the sitting-room, and he did not go after it, not wishing to
rouse the house to his departure. He took, however, a riding-cane from
the twisted nob of his toilette. He at once moved with care into the
passage, opened the door, and went out. The flags were wet and there was
a slight sprinkling upon his cap. In the kitchen the fire yet shuddered
on the window, and the soldier's light still cut the window-frame in the
upper part of the house. Sir William eventually released the handle, and
went very slowly across the yard. He distinctly heard the chain ring,
stopped, and tried steadily to place it. Again he moved across. As he
went he watched the throat of the port-hole deepen to a steely glare.
About ten yards off, he again paused as he became aware that the hasp of
the bolt was padlocked down, and the padlock empty. Something peculiar
in the outline of the door itself attracting him, he put up his glass.
He saw presently that the bolt had been shot outside the slot, and that
the door was ajar to that extent.

At the same instant a heavy "slither" of a chain came from inside, as
though a horse had broke from his fastening and was pulling his chain
about after him.

Heans drew softly to the door. He perceived by the shimmer in the hole
there was a kind of a light, and when he had put his face to the crack,
and had accustomed his eyes to the semi-dark, he saw what seemed like a
lantern in the second of the mangers, covered by a coat towards the
door. This was the stall next to that in which was his own beast (which
was half asleep upon its feet), and in strange juxtaposition, perched
right up on a partition, he made out a figure which he knew must be that
of Spafield, leaning against the back wall of the cave. The silent place
rang with his breathing. He had raised in his hands a pole to which was
fixed the hilt and single rusty prong of a hay-fork, and this he would
poise slowly up and insert in the crack above. When Heans first made him
out, he was hanging to the pole, resting his lowered head against it.
But presently he raised that tall black head, and curving his shoulders
upon the wall, felt for something with his prong above, and when he
found it--with sounds either of great exertion or heavy suppression of
excitement--pushed it downward a few inches or a yard, to the
accompaniment of a heavy rattling, and that sound which had brought Sir
William from the house.

He wore no coat, but his accoutrements swung on his shoulders, and he
gripped the top of the partitions as he went along with skin slippers.

It was evident that he was somewhat retarded in his work by a wish to
keep the chain as quiet as he could. He had a white eye also to the
horses. He looked once fair in Sir William's face with eyes that had a
sly and deadly drag, before which he caught his breath. So Sir William
Heans found the fellow at his work. Indeed, the stable held a curious
figure--a new and deadly effigy--balancing upon slow, sly limbs,
muttering and waving with its pole along the cobwebbed wall, as if it
would conjure to light, rather than drag from it, the bloody secret
among the half-finished scrawls and wooden effigies so deeply graven
there. There he panted, spoke, strove, and stared behind him; singularly
silent for so large a figure; visible as a wraith is visible; every
instant fading a little more out of linement as the prong searched lower
along the lip, and the chain answered and fell protesting over the

Thus was explained the noise Heans heard.

It may be wondered--with so much at stake--that Sir William did not at
once fling open the door and confront him. Perhaps you and I would have
been chary of interfering with him! Heans gives the impression that in
the disgust of the instant (all the terrible facts being so apparent) he
could not determine for his own interests and the interests of the roof
under which he sheltered which course to take. Whether to stop him,
whether to be a witness to his hateful struggles till he had brought to
light the poor remnants of a man, whether to interfere before he could
gain possession of them, whether and whence to summon some eye beside
his own (a prisoner's) in evidence--such a quandary seems to have kept
for some minutes the smell of the tarred door in his nostrils. It seems
he had made up his mind, throwing compunction aside, to leave the
villain at his work and summon the woman--but time prevented him. In the
agitation of the moment, he ran three steps towards the kitchen,
slipping down on the flags. He then turned back, being fearful that the
persuasion of the woman, or Oughtryn, if he was now in the house, would
require time. When he did regain the door, and got the glisten of the
yard from his eyes, he missed the villain from the wall, and presently,
there was the silent fellow beyond the horses, climbing without the pole
over the mangers, and in an instant he saw him leap and land upon the

It seems that Sir William's emotion mastered his anger and agitation,
and for some while further he withdrew his eyes and waited in the
dropping rain. When presently, preparatory to entering, he was
endeavouring to follow the movements of the man--that is, the indistinct
place of them, for a space, if his slow and careful movements were
audible, they were uncertain to the eye (in point of fact he had lowered
his body behind the stack of straw) when Heans had actually pulled the
door back a fraction, he was immeasurably startled to see something like
a second human form passing between himself and the moon of the lantern
on the wall. It was without sound. It came out of the harness-cave, and
went along halting and feeling at the partition of each stall. After
there came a violent jerk and jangling from the stack, it did not move
beyond that partition that was beyond Abelia's grey.

He saw dimly who it was, as its head, bound in a white handkerchief,
passed opposite the reflection. Gracious G--d, it was Conapanny, the
native woman! As the shadow passed from stall to stall, Heans saw her
lift her left hand and deftly pull the handkerchief from her head,
thrusting it in her dress. She shook a singular bush of fine stiff hair
about her face. She carried, strapped upon her back, something
resembling a red Government blanket, the which, when presently she
stopped and drew it about her shoulders, Sir William saw to be not a
blanket, but a shawl of great beauty. (It was ever after an idiosyncrasy
of Sir William's to asseverate that it was a shawl. Was it in verity any
more than the scarlet covering allotted the blacks, and pardonably
mistaken by one enthralled with the elevation of her history?)

After there came the noise from the corner, she did not move beyond the
grey's stall. But she stood upright, as with an effort, beside the stone
partition. It was extraordinary how youthful, yet how threatening she
seemed. Who was she? Did she make a passable shade for yonder cold
deserter? However she came by the secret, she was making a bold attempt
to frighten the frenzied miscreant from the stack--perhaps to snatch
from him her own? Yet Conapanny, old campaigner, illimitable mimic that
she was, breathed audibly, as though her body was obsessed with groaning

Heans, in a few seconds, heard the hay give, and the man jump upon the
stones in the stall next to that which had the stack. He could not see
him move, but heard him panting over some work over which he stooped.
Suddenly Sir William saw the sallow and black of his long head above the
stall. It was then that Conapanny gave a kind of whimper, and he in
answer a low gabble of surprise, but where he was he could hardly see
her for the end-post. He moved about that sallow patch that was his
face, once upon Sir William, and once flashed it upon the wall, where
over the light, and lined blackly in it, the carving of Governor Collins
stared grotesquely on the ceiling. He then swung something upon his
shoulder and came quick and quiet out of the stall, into the post of
which he staggered with his burden with a noise that rattled and tumbled
a horse upon its feet. After lingering there till all was quiet, he
appeared, nodding silently along, his head down, in the passage before
the stalls. He seemed to bear a kind of tarpaulin sack upon his
shoulders, its mouth bound with a rope, which frisked with his gait like
the tail of a lamb. He must have again heard the blackwoman, for Heans,
the watcher, saw him sharply throw up his pale nose and eyes; and there
he saw her, almost, but not quite, a part of the stones of the grey's

He drew aside, stopped, and gave a low sound like a shuddering bray. As
Sir William Heans pushed inside, he saw the man dart to the wall, and
the tarpaulin jerk up and fall from his hands, as he clutched and
whipped out his bayonet. The mass fell with a heavy echo against the end
door, and as it did so, Spafield shuddered into and along the wall for a
few feet, his bold head turned back. Heans knew that he moved from the
scrape of his bandolier against the stone. For the contrary reason he
knew that presently he had stopped.

Conapanny's shadow did not move, but there was a slight rustle in the
straw about her bare feet. The man turned round, rose, and scraped a few
steps back. He stopped before he reached the stall, rose upright, and
went nearer to the figure of the black. He seemed to sway before her,
yet try to make her out. He seemed to debate for a wicked instant what
he might do with this. His attitude, with the steel nursed against his
stomach, was blandly fatal to her, curbed yet with some old nausea of
the veins. Then, thinking better of it, he staggered away and caught the
rope of the tarpaulin--eyed her a little--swung it with a crash to his
shoulder--eyed her yet a little--and then, with his right hand feeling
the wall, stepped dangerous and reviling along the stable to the last

Just in the door, dark with the light behind, Sir William Heans stood.
He remained there, pale and baleful, with his cane quivering in his
hand. Spafield saw him, and stopped not far from the door, leaning with
his hand upon the wall. The surprise drove a moan or a grunt from him,
but with a flash behind, he came on saying, "Stand aside. I don't like
your looks."

"Drop what you have," said Sir William Heans, "and you may go out."

"Why should I drop what I have?" he gabbled, pausing again. "Why should
I drop what I have?"

Sir William told him once more to drop what he had.

"A fine man, you, to interfere with a man's recreation," said he. "Out
o' doors and a prisoner; By b---- you'll get into heavy trouble under

"Joseph Spars," said Heans, in a calm voice, "drop what I will never
allow you to take away from these caves."

"By 'eaven, you won't!" cried Spafield, huskily, "then for the love of
G--d, let me away!" and he flung aside the rope, staggering to the door.
He came feeling before him with his hands. Sir William whipped aside to
go out into the yard, and at the instant he was in that position, with
his eyes yet inside upon his face, Spafield cried out, "I'll spoil your
beast's powle," [Note 30. Skull] and making a spring, flung himself
bodily upon the doorway, so that though Heans was agile, and all but
cleared the post, the miscreant caught his right foot in his hand, and
brought him by that, and a dislocating wrench, to the ground. Here,
despite his struggles to free his foot, and though Heans rained blow
after blow upon his fleshy gyve with the knob of his cane, it pulled him
closer and yet closer inward, till as Sir William attempted to rise for
his succour upon his left foot, he was stunned by a covert blow about
the post--he supposes "from a skin moccasin--" and fell back upon the

Oughtryn, however, who was in the kitchen, scolding across the hollow
passage, heard a curious sound, and ran to the window. He saw the cave
door ajar, and thought there seemed something like a human figure on the
ground. He did not know Heans had gone out, but was instantly frightened
by the fancy that it was his "speckled clothes." Even while he made them
out, a man came out of the stable, staggering over the obstruction, and
walked, with something hanging on his back, through the yard gate. He
thought, by his white breeches, it was Spafield, of whose doings he had
been informed, and he threw up the window, and sent his name after him.
The shout had but left his tongue, thrown shrilly on the stone chamber
of the yard, when yet another figure rushed from the stable, following
Spafield out of the gate. He saw that she had bare, grey feet.




There was no end to Mr. Daunt's understanding--his experience of what
was wisest. Early on Thursday morning, a messenger arrived at Pitt's
Villa, with a note, hoping that Mrs. Shaxton would accompany the
commandant to the Cascades Prison, and that she would be pleased to
expect the fly at thirty past two. The letter contained something more.
There had, it seems, been some arrangement, but it is still a matter of
doubt for which of the many reasons Mr. Daunt repeated the request, and
for which it was accepted by Mrs. Shaxton. Of course the sending of the
message intimated, in a stern and courteous way, that the Commandant was
ready to keep to himself the "accident" to Captain Shaxton. It might
have been meant only to convey that point. As well it wrote in polite
cold English that it would be a sensible move. Did the matter leak out
through "Oughtryn's household," and the abrasions on Shaxton's face, the
preparations for Sir John and Lady Franklin's entertainment would be
jeopardised--irremediably, it was likely--and an unhappy meeting take a
formidable importance. Did, however, Mrs. Shaxton keep to the
arrangement to drive down with Mr. Daunt (the "patient, he was told, had
been less nervous and distressed"), it would render any rumour of it
burlesque and out of court.

We wonder if Matilda accompanied the Commandant for any of the reasons
in or even between the lines of his message. It is known she did not
inform her husband with whom she was going, and, evidently, he did not
suspect her. She left him in his bedroom. Mr. Daunt had appointed a
place in Davey Street at which he would join her, and the carriage had
picked him up. Why, then, if she was not moved by this somewhat urgent
argument, did she--whom Carnt, in his amusing way, had called "nothing
human alien to her"--go down through the heavy rain that afternoon in
the Commandant's fly?

Do not let us be sentimental about it. Yet do not let us be hard. Her
action is only too easily explicable in a hard way. Can we not give
something to "womanly forgiveness?" Hobarton knew in the morning,
through Captain Carne and Garion, of the mounted police, that Heans had
produced and forwarded the handkerchief pad--it was said, with singular
good taste--and old Chedsey had examined it on Garion's verandah. So all
seemed right on that score. Why then did she surprise Hobarton by her
feminine volte face, her "charitable journey," her quiet turning upon
fortune in the afternoon?

We know that she had heard on Wednesday evening something that Hobarton
did not know. Indeed, Hobarton did not know all then, nor for some time

Of course, in a hard sense, she went to save her poor old husband and
herself from further danger from this skilful man. It may well be the
poor lady was still frightened of Mr. Daunt. Yet this could hardly be,
when she had known him so well. Looking back on her history, and its
connection with Mr. Daunt, he appears on the whole in quite a protecting
light, if severe and determined, with the two exceptions, so
unaccountable. Again, Daunt had shown discretion when attacked by her
headlong husband, and perhaps she felt she owed him something, as well
as the prisoner who stood by. Or perhaps she was touched by his very
weakness--as we have once already hinted, and as history tells great
Queens have been of those prisoners who had been their companions, and
who had turned aside to be unkind to them, even to "grudge the
continuance of their lives." Perhaps, again, there was something about
the Commandant she liked that no man was open to--it seems the way of
women to deal in that fashion. And last--let us be hard for
once--perhaps she agreed to go because of her old attachment for the
prisoner, Heans, who might have increased the Commandant's dislike for
himself--by diverting the pad. It was not believable of any one, yet if
such a gentleman as Mr. Daunt were socially ruined, would Sir William
Heans be worse placed or any differently treated?

We know there were those who "protested" she wished to "increase her
figure" by pretending to countenance the Commandant; that the lady was
at the bottom of it. We have no leisure for the quags of embittered
enmity. There is no doubt the Commandant approached her, and that on
this occasion he "made no mistake" of the state of her feelings,
whatever that mysterious one had been. Despite of the comments of Cadet
Tipton and Miss Meurice (already chronicled) that "old Daunt was in a
funk," and that "his visit meant he was at Matilda's feet," we cling to
the fact that she was a good and wise lady, and that the simplest
explanation is often the truest. Looked at in its frankest terms, was
she more than courageous, did she more than accept Daunt's implied
petition for forgiveness, and go and shed a calming drop in the ear of a
distracted woman?

By arrangement Daunt stopped the carriage at the turn from Davey Street;
just beneath the very oillamp under which she had dropped the purse. He
was protected in a blue greatcoat, and held an umbrella over his hat.
Someone who saw him as he entered the white-wheeled carriage said that
he had the manners of a grave and reassuring gentleman, and heard the
words rapidly uttered, "I was on the point of thinking your courage was
not the weapon I have known it."

What they said, how they politely whiled the way, as they drove down the
short distance to Macquarie Street, and along to the Cascades, we know
little, and we hazard a guess it was little enough. Perhaps the reader
can see Daunt looking from the window, as he sat beside the lady he had
so hurt. We know, however, just so much: that Daunt comforted her with
the assurance that the distance to be traversed in the prison was
infinitesimal--" in at the gate and up Major Leete's stairs--and lo the
woman who had so enchained our poor friend!" And she had said, very
agitated, she was only frightened of seeing some cold face that wouldn't
accept her, and which she could never forget. And Daunt answered: "Ah,
our Mesdames Les Gehennes [Note 31. Old name for the torture of the
rack.] are under lock and key to-day!" He was very cool and steady, and
in these later days it would have been a kind of rudeness to speak of
him as "efficient." The window was down, and he sat rather heavily, with
his small hand upon the door: in the narrow road lifting his hat sharp
to a black whiskered turnkey and a Mr. Six, the latter the collector of
curios, such a pale, draggled figure for the Commandant to notice so
markedly. Mrs. Shaxton, however, sat forward, her eager neck poking from
her pretty, white collar and shawl, her eyes hot and narrow in her
bonnet. Six reported they were red, but as he was almost in tears of
excitement himself, how could he have perceived so much through the
rain? Of what use is it to hang about the thudding hood of that old
vehicle! What happened, however, when the Commandant had seen her under
his umbrella through the tall gates, we have an account. Mr. Six ran
back almost to the bridge, and saw the gentle creature go in in her
brown coal-scuttle, with the gold riband and the grey feather.

* * * * *

Daunt had spoken about the woman's hand-paintings, and he took Mrs.
Shaxton into the side room under the arched gate, pointing out the
pretty pieces of band-box stacked and slung among guns, chains, tawse,
gags, and other implements of correction. Matilda pretended to examine
one or two, and bought a dark red rose held in an infant's hand, which
Mr. Shaneson said, with a clarion laugh, was also his favourite. The
prison accountant, Mr. Carnt, was seated at his desk in the corner
beyond the slant spy-window, and he rose in his shrunken broad-cloth,
watching them all the while they were there, with one hand on his
papers. Matilda, though she had the side of her bonnet towards him,
thought him a dispirited little man without his hat. She looked again in
his direction when Mr. Daunt named him and enquired after his health. It
was strange of him to laugh such a wild and silly answer. Daunt, who was
waiting behind Matilda, said, in a sort of subdued aside, "Mr. Carnt,
you are looking oppressed with this place. Shall we put you out of it
for a bit?" And Carnt muttered, with a wild laugh, "it was certainly
time he had a rise; would the Commandant get him a secretaryship to Mr.
Montague?" Oh, how ironically Mr. Daunt nodded his head! At the door she
gave him a bow with Mr. Shaneson, but he turned pallidly away.

* * * * *

There were some neat back stairs, and afterwards, in a small, oblong
room, through a door on the left, there was the woman "who had so
enchained our poor friend." A tall, slim figure, with reddish hair, and
a long, fine face, was seated with a book by a fire in an inner corner.
She stooped slightly, and seemed from the way she had her knees doubled
beside her chair to be in a sad mood. Yet the marble face which looked
up at Matilda Shaxton was at first so unwelcoming and unfriendly that
she stopped in the door: her little umbrella clutched in her soft hand.
A look at her surprised, small face softened the other's somewhat--not
much, but as it were allowing herself to be interrupted. She lowered the
book she had been holding, eyeing her with a jealousy less superior and

It may be supposed that she had read there through the years of her
punishment in this noble and pale jealousy of the mind.

Daunt's voice said, "This is Mrs. Hyde-Shaxton, prisoner. See how kind!
I have prevailed upon her to come and talk with you."

Madam Ruth answered in a voice hardly audible: "It is you, sir? Come in,
madam. I may not rise, madam." There was an embroidered black chair by
the second bed, and she drew up her knees about her book, and indicated
it with quiet grace. "Madam," she said, "why have you done this for
Madam Ruth! It is heroical!"

"Please," Matilda said, looking at her with strained brave eyes, "you
won't be troubled or disturbed with me. I am told you are better. Ah,
that's better news! And now you're in the fair way to health?" She came
forward beside the other woman, standing between her and Daunt, and
stood looking down.

Madam Ruth looked up white, dejected, and rather discomposed than
touched. "Why, madam, it is nothing," she said, with a perverse
softening of her proud face. "They say it is mere disobedience. But you
have come here with an open mind. I see you are not afraid of poor Ruth
and her perverseness. You have bought my picture, madam? Ah, it would be
happier if we had it all in our helpless hands like that rose!"

Mrs. Shaxton, after a motionless pause, moved away and sank upon a
chair, which Daunt had lifted near the fire. She raised and glanced from
her bonnet at the little picture in her trembling hand. "True," she
said, "this rose is too often like our health, and that is the kind of
clasp we have upon it. . . . But you have so many accomplishments: your
hand-painting and your studies. . . ." The speaker turned and examined
the elaborate embroidery upon the bed at her side. And for a few
sentences the women talked on these and kindred interests--each with a
sort of accomplished kindness--the visitor leaning forward with an
eagerness just free from feverishness, the other sunk in her chair with
a noble, half shrinking dejection.

Daunt, having put his hat down on a table by the window, and examined
for a long while a sketch of a dead knight which was there, and the
books which hung above the bed, came back and stood a little removed
between the women, his gloved hands stroking his side whiskers with a
sort of brooding air. His eyes were upon a painting over the chimney of
an old rough-cast house among decrepit trees. Yet he seemed to listen
rather than look at what was before them. More than probably he
heard only such scraps and snatches of the talk as "By Heaven's
Providence . . . A mercy it was not on the night of the ball . . . They
had the day's grace," being only half with them. Or possibly the
malfeasance of the night was clinging upon his shoulder, and he saw only
that he was there with the wife of Captain Shaxton, in the cell of the
artist-woman. Matilda Shaxton and Madam Ruth more than once lifted glances
to his rigid cheek.

"Ah, madam," said Madam Ruth, in answer to sympathetic Mrs. Shaxton, "I
protest, you are as stern as the gentlemen. Do you too tell me I can
sadden myself at my will? The gentlemen are John Knoxes, every one of
them; to them a woman's will is her one reason."

"Indeed, prisoner," said Mr. Daunt, breaking somewhat wearily in, "speak
gentler if you can! We have ladies and gentlemen in our prisons who can
do that and more. No one has ignored the sad cause of your suffering,
nor the necessity there is of overcoming it. No one has pretended to
himself you have no cause. Mrs. Shaxton will express by the gift of her
presence the sympathy we have so clumsily spoken."

Madam Ruth fingered her great book, staring dejectedly into the fire.
She did not show any feeling--unless by the proud and rigid paleness of
her cheeks. Her thin shrinking head and neck lay like some sad sculpture
upon her black dress and shawl: the calm harshness of her set face, the
gentle coronel of her soft hair.

"Mr. Daunt," she said, "you speak as usual as if you knew the depth of
all difficulties. Do you indeed know the bottom of all my secrets? I am
in fear of you. You are a gentleman of so much experience."

"You in fear of me, Madam Ruth!" he answered, with a sharp quiet laugh.
"In what way, tell me, could a watchful care do more to make you

She answered nothing.

"Then why, faithless prisoner, shame me before Mrs. Shaxton by telling
me you have me in such awe?"

"Indeed, I know that you consider me," she said; yet never looking up
from her dejection. "And you do it from your habit, sir."

Mr. Daunt might have said to the singular woman, "Expect more of
humanity than that and you will get less," but what he said was: "You
are open with me, madam. I will be frank with you. I have besides a
strong personal belief in and regard for you."

"Fie, sir! you mean I have not your dislike. Well, though you do not
hold me in disapproval, still I am in dreadful awe of you."

"But honestly, madam," said he, advancing to the mantelpiece and taking
in his glove a parrot's feather of scarlet and green, blue and yellow,
which lay there, "if you had that disapproval--even my dislike--would
you, while you behaved, fear my firm determination of mind?"

Without moving her face, Madam Ruth gave a quiver of those despondent
shoulders. "Ah, do not hate me, Commandant Daunt," she said, in a low,
care-nothing way. "I shall be afraid for my life."

"As much as that?" he asked, speaking with a sort of grave shrug. "And
just because I warn you to grasp after your own health?"

"Indeed, sir, how kind of you to confer my peace back upon me!"

He dropped the feather upon the mantelpiece.

"You would not have us let you drift into folly," asked the pale, stern
man between the two women, "without a protest against so weak and
foolhardy a policy! See, I warn you against a grave danger. Sympathy is
a hold-fast and a medicine, but where the penalty is grave, we do not
haggle with our doctors, or secretly amuse ourselves with the
pretensions of well-wishers. Get well, madam, and be discreet. Take the
safer way--I beg you--though upon it your feet are leaden, and your
secret hope and longing have been unsatisfied."

He spoke somewhat harshly. Madam Ruth's shoulder quivered up a little,
her head drooped yet further, and her thin fingers clasped and wrestled
with the leather corners of the ashgrey book in her lap.

As for eager Matilda, she reddened in her bonnet and cried out: "Stop,
Mr. Daunt, you speak too gravely. Do not misunderstand him, madam. He
means divertingly. Indeed, sir, are you one to--can the best of
us--advise upon opportunity, and how we shall brave our disappointments,
and the things that menace us?"

Daunt drew back with a tragic look. "I am not fit--I am not fit," he
muttered briefly. "Speak for me, madam. You are a healing in yourself. I
was forgetting I had prevailed upon your lenient heart. This shall be
the drawing-room of a private acquaintance; it shall have no bad record.
I will use not one further word but simple kindness--I promise you--not

Matilda said nothing--indeed, seemed confused and troubled she had said
so much--but throwing the crossed ruches of her shawl aside, she put her
hand upon the book where Madam Ruth's hands moved. The latter raised her
head from her still lassitude.

The anger in Mrs. Shaxton's voice seemed to have attracted her. She
slowly moved aside the five wrestling fingers over the five hot ones. "I
am a sour woman," she said in a trembling and petitioning voice: "a
hermit who has forgotten how to like--indeed, or thank. You have braved
me, Mrs. Shaxton, and it is to Commandant Daunt I owe the fact that you
are here, and my life is broader. Mrs. Shaxton will come again one day
before I go. Madam, will you let me paint a picture of you as you came
into my room? Mr. Daunt--won't you bring Mrs. Shaxton again?
Don't--don't misunderstand a harsh woman, Mrs. Shaxton, Mr. Daunt. And
madam, let a sour woman say, do not be vexed with the Commandant. He has
been very good to me. And he speaks of you, madam, with a sort of

Did she know he had not always spoken so of her?

Matilda rather wildly answered: "Yes, I will come. I would not have had
this pleasure had Commandant Daunt not chosen me, and assured me I
should find some one who would like to see me. There, Madam Ruth,
perhaps after all the Commandant knows us better than ourselves! Mr.
Daunt persuaded me the sight of a lame duck like me might do you good."

Her staring eyes held the other's with the brightness of tears. Madam
Ruth looked at her without tears, her white fingers holding upon her hot

Daunt had observed the prisoner severely, his face not softening much.
If he had an opinion, he was not for surrendering it at their devotion.
With just sufficient civility for manners, he bowed, saying "he would be
glad to have the honour of again escorting Mrs. Shaxton." He added, with
a stern sharpness of feature, "it was surely the kindest of motives
which had urged her to make a second journey, while the prisoner's
sudden offer to make an effort and devote herself to colouring a
portrait of her visitor, was surprising and good news; unless," he
concluded, saddening and making a little joke of it, "unless it will
have an additional attraction for Mrs. Shaxton to possess a souvenir of
herself standing against the bars of the prison?"

And Madam Ruth said in her pale, harsh way, "she would like to paint
her, but not by the window." "Dear madam--as you came in by the door,
with the Commandant's inflexible face behind your bonnet."

"Indeed," cried Mr. Daunt, laughing rather loudly and pacing away
towards the window, "indeed, indeed, do I appear so grim as this?"

And there he stood looking out upon the cosy, dripping court.

"Ah, well," said Matilda Shaxton gently--and the face in the bonnet near
Madam Ruth's stared and smiled a little--"it is not all a good world
outside. And bars, if they keep in, shut so much out that we might not
have seen or been vexed with. That is an idea congenial to me--if you
will allow it. I wish you would paint me at your window, Madam Ruth;
where you have sat so long. If you will bring me down here, Mr. Daunt,
quite soon, and Madam Ruth thinks I will make a good drawing, I will
dress in my best for it."

As for Captain Daunt, he stood steadily by the window, weightily feeling
his palish face; urbane enough in his white cravat, high-shouldered
great-coat, and wellingtons, if somewhat too occupied with stern matters
for true good manners. He roused himself with a heavy shake to answer
Matilda Shaxton.

"I promise Mrs. Shaxton a very willing servitude," he said, and gave a
little harsh bow and smile, but did not turn. "It is truly angelical in
her, upon my word it is! And what a healthy pleasure for the prisoner! I
promise you, I will give it attention after our historic night, and even
arrange with Leete before we leave." And then he turned to the table,
took up his hat and cane, and stood staring solemnly at the unfinished
painting which hung above it.

Major Leete presently hobbled to the door upon his stick, and softly
requested an interview with Mr. Daunt. The Commandant immediately went
out, leaving the door ajar, and he and Leete were heard talking in a low
tone. For some while longer, Mrs. Shaxton talked with the shrinking,
noble-looking woman by the fire.


Charles Oughtryn shook the rain from his benjamin, and followed the
butler into the low, square hall of the chief-district-magistrate. It
was late and two lamps were lit. Mr. Magruder had not long begun dinner,
and regretted that he must ask Mr. Oughtryn, if his business was any but
the briefest, to return later. To this Oughtryn, whose eyes seemed very
sly and primed, demurred, placing his coat upon the slates and his hat
and whip upon that, beside a chair of former Grecian lines, on which he
took a slight seat. To the butler's enquiry whether he intended to await
the conclusion of dinner, he made the shrill but steady rejoinder,
"manifestly, with the notable's permission." He sat thus for an hour and
a half, through the door on one side the quiet rain falling, and through
the door at his left, the rattle of silver and harsh flow of voices.
Whatever were his conjectures, as he glared round upon these chequered
walls (the ornate frames, the tragic prints)--whether he was
overburdened with a notion "money and sneers," or awed with a sense of
the "notable fitness of things"--whether he was merely repolishing a
keenish weapon for the encounter that was before him--there he sat, a
primed and tested ancient, leaning forward with hands folded over knees;
somewhat daunted, somewhat removed, and somewhat chary; yet a person
decided and determined.

When presently four ladies pressed out in a flutter of laughter, the
swim of their severe dresses drowning the rain, they gazed about each
other's shoulders at the seated figure ("Mr. Oughtryn, the owner of the
famous room"), and smiled as they mistook for inflated consequence his
concerned and cabined air. Even when they had passed across into a
further door, he was not immediately summoned into the dining-room, but
had leisure to listen to the tinkling of a piano, and the low voice of a
young lady who sang a somewhat puzzling song of a "deserted castle," and
of Cupid being found unharmed among the ruins, to which Mr. Oughtryn,
thinking of "fountains" and "effigies of the new-born young," observed
"it was a mercy it was not broken too."

The ditty had just ceased, when two fiery young gentlemen crossed over
arm in arm, whereon Oughtryn, being beckoned from the dining-room,
detached himself from his chair, took up his small hat, his official
whip for counsel, and groped, bowing somewhat blindly, out of the slated
hall, into a pleasing aroma of sherry and flowers.

In the room, a tall, dark man with bold, weary eyes was leaning to the
right of the mantel-piece, and throwing into the fire, piece by piece,
some minute fragments of a document which he had evidently just torn in
pieces. Magruder, who sat at the end of the table, seemed to endeavour
to soften a determined expression to something more forbearing as
Oughtryn entered. The latter advanced to the disarranged table, with
fingers guarding lips, while the magistrate discussed the wherewithal of
hides and casked mutton. Oughtryn gave his answers with an eye straining
after the bland in secret concern, and, on his side, it was evident the
magistrate was talking more haughtily than he wished. He cried "Ah, ah,"
and tossed his weighty head, as if he had seen the other's respectful
concealments and would fain forget his own: He now indicated some wine
the butler had put on the bottom corner of the table, and a chair there
against the wall beneath a pretty portrait of a young lady taken against
the shrouds of a ship.

Strange beings, men! Here they stood or sat in their discontent in the
warm room. Here strove to accomplish their large ends beside the noisy
fire. Are we sometimes too forgetful of the pleasant fends we have
erected and the second moral effort it is possible to make behind them?
How much quicker would these men have surrendered their private
determination, or resigned measures in another's behalf, had the roof
been removed and the rain allowed to enter?

* * * * *

Oughtryn had conveyed the impression, as one who knew "next to nothing,"
but who had listened steadily and blankly to Sir William's bedside
narrative, that something careful might be done, and as far as his
cautious notions went, had better be attempted. He was sly and forlorn
by turns. On his earlymorning visit, he sat by the tent-bed, holding his
small hat and whip across his knees, attired in the all-enveloping coat
and jack-boots, accoutred to "remove the horses to pasture." He made
very few interruptions, once widely explaining himself as "having no
liking for such proceedings," and again putting it as "a dangerous thing
to any one who was steady in his judgment." When, however, the whole
story had been told him, and when Heans had sent him across to the cave
to examine the cracks, and the sack-chain, and afterwards, at Oughtryn's
request, turned up the one piece of backing he had--the writing in the
PLUTARCH--spelling out the manuscript through his eyeglass--Oughtryn,
though he could not admit there was much to go on, "doubted he could
stand constant under another night of such conduct." Nor, when he was
told of the afternoon's collision over Abelia's horse (and he had heard
something of this), could he allow, without an attempt to stop it, "any
fresh discommodiousness being worked upon yourself, honour." There, at
first, he sat, he and Sir William, hemmed in and surrounded by spare
furniture early brought in by himself and the woman, squeaking
occasionally in a sort of high protesting, and more than once observing,
as if to reassure the patient, that he was taking the soldier with the
horses, as had been suggested by his Honour, the Deputy-Commissioner.
And upon Sir William enquiring if they would be long away, he explained
(as if Heans' accident had disarmed a wonted closeness) it would depend
whether Leeworthy could take them, as he seemed overfull. If not, he was
due two miles on at Gastine's--a name, as it happened, familiar to his
questioner. It appeared both Leeworthy and Skipwith of Glen Allen were
absent during yesterday's visit, and he had trudged on to Mr. Gastine's,
who himself was under-shedded. He considered there was less danger in
"fearing too much than too little," and he would be wary of opening the
matter to any officer to whom he might appeal, in a way which "couldn't
be stood for." He added that to hearten himself, he would, before
calling, find and question Conapanny, though he did not lean much on the
backing of a native seen about at night. This last observation evidenced
he was not far from crediting the terrible story Sir William had told
him. As for his relations with Spafield, he had spoken with him early at
the kitchen door, and his account of it had been "bad for yourself,
honour, on account of impudent and petty tyrannising with him, and worse
for the black that followed him--though I speaks to both being
conspicuous held."

Heans gave as clear an account of his discoveries, and the events of
yesterday, as his fever would permit; having so much sadness of dismay,
in his excitement, to determine that through no lack of warning should
danger chance upon Abelia if to-morrow he departed. Oughtryn, who, when
approached on this point, was standing by the bed, having returned from
the cave, glared blindly at the bed-clothes, and was as if he could not
be made alarmed about his daughter. It was as if he dismissed the women
to their own comprehension and defences. After hearing, however, of the
afternoon's struggle with Spafield, he admitted, with a twinkle of
falsetto obstinacy, "his poor chit might be graver questioned." It was
plain he had already had some talk with her. He held his hat in his left
hand, and the PLUTARCH open in the other, as if he had something given
him to read he knew already by heart, and perceived, moreover, it was
not pleasing to think upon. Indeed, as if, in his roughened fingers, he
held a standard author of whom his sly and reverent mind, somewhat
simply furnished (a mind not equipped for deciding), could find no
excuse for approving. In a word, before him lay Sir William Heans, "his
gentleman," the worse for a nasty, persistent collisioning with wise
privilege (that wall he so feared), and he, an old-hand yet, was feeling
prudently his humbler weapon, and scheming a grey campaign by which he
might cut a "quietness" about him against the cautious principle by
which he lived.

Heans--was it because he was leaving Hobarton?--chose to be reticent
about the quarrel between the two gentlemen in his room. He informed
Oughtryn there had been some disagreement between Captain Shaxton and
Mr. Daunt on coming from the eventful ride, and that he considered Mr.
Daunt had taken an unfair part, but he did not touch on the peculiar
relation of both gentlemen to himself, nor did he lay undue emphasis on
the facts that he had found Mr. Daunt seated there, and that he had
reserved him the room. Perhaps he saw by the man's face he had no need
to be more particular. To his concluding remarks, Oughtryn, after a
short silence, caught his breath in a peculiar, harsh sigh. Then with
the neighing and somewhat cryptic observation that "crutches were cheap"
(not including, it may be supposed, the remainder of the metaphor in
deference to Sir William's presence), he snapped to the book, tapped a
dark forehead with it, and presently put it in the pocket of his
voluminous coat. Afterwards, with a short-sighted peep into the rainy
yard, he drew from the same pocket a very crumpled handkerchief, and
after carefully unfolding it, took from it his usual crumb of comfort in
a small lump of tobacco, which he flipped somewhat forlornly into his

* * * * *

"Come now, sir," said Magruder, when Oughtryn, having taken his wine,
doubtfully smelt it, and drunk it at a draught, replaced the glass on
the table, "what you have to say may be said before our friend Dr.
Wardshaw. He and I cannot, I fear, yet part. Let me try to satisfy you
better than I am satisfying him. Now, now, Mr. Oughtryn, I thought all
was sugar and ale with you?"

"Mr. Oughtryn," said the dark man, glinting a dark look over the table
and smiling too, "you must put up with me. Mr. Magruder has his teeth in
my wrist and I can't get away till he lets go." He pitched a pellet of
paper on the fire still smiling, and when Oughtryn had somewhat blankly
dropped his eyes, and traced the patterns in the carpet with the tip of
his whip, he admitted huskily that "presences of persons like Dr.
Wardshaw was a convenience even in private," and to Mr. Magruder's
request to "Come, now," lifted a blenched face, and shrilly told what he
had found the night before on returning to his yard, his pass-man's
explanation of the affray, also of the writing in the book which had led
the prisoner to watch the soldier, and of the soldier's "supernatious
conduct" of which his daughter and servant had been witnesses.

To this Mr. Magruder, flipping the nutshells in his plate as though they
were so many human nuts whose tone he was testing, replied with the
question: "I know you, Oughtryn, have not come carrying to me the
assertions of the one party. What had the file, himself, to say?"

Oughtryn opened his many buttoned coat, and rising, drew from it Sir
William's green-leather book, which conducting along the table, he
lengthily and laboriously opened at a candle, and lowered gropingly
towards the magistrate's chin. Magruder now put on a pair of immense
spectacles, and arresting the book, lent back and examined it by the
candelabra. He was occupied thus a considerable time, Oughtryn, whip in
hand, staring at him, with a sort of grave hope. At length he put it
down, and after musing a while at the empty table, "begged his friend,
Dr. Wardshaw, to do them the favour to examine the writing." This the
doctor did, clutching up the book and retiring with it to the chimney.
Magruder then asked Oughtryn to return to his chair, and when he had
again seated himself, primed, obstinate, and somewhat fearful, repeated
his question. Oughtryn told him word for word what he had told Sir
William Heans.

The doctor made a sudden irreconcilable noise like the echo of a
sardonic laugh, and Magruder, painstakingly removing his glasses and
frowning up, enquired if Oughtryn could say "if the young girl seemed to
encourage the attentions of the soldier?"

"For a female so obscure-minded," said Oughtryn, brushing his hat across
his cautious eyes as if he would brush away some puzzle, "she had spoken
with him unusual steady. The man is treated obedient by us all." He did
not know what her reason was, if it was more than chit's goodness. She
was good, if of a domestic leaning. It was his notion she was hiding
fright, and he had not interfered with her because he knew she thought
the man the same that had spoken bad over the wall. It was singular for
her to be so easy.

"You don't mean she was froward?" asked the magistrate.

"There is nothing showy about my female," said Oughtryn in explanation:
"the child is frightful by nature and obscure by disposition."

Said Magruder, tapping stern glasses and staring over them at Oughtryn:
"And what does the old native say? Could she be made to speak? What
enlightenment is there in her account of her movements?"

Oughtryn hung his head. "Putting aside hasty speaking," he said, "we
have not yet found the woman. She seems to have gone off. Conapanny has
her runs in the bush. She has not yet been come on."

Magruder turned to the doctor, remarking acidly: "I hardly expect you to
agree, sir; but I cherished a respect for the old native."

"Ho," said the doctor, "you drop there, do you?"

The magistrate raised his hand, waving it ironically. He sat for a while
with head down. "And did you yourself mention," he said at last,
addressing Oughtryn, "did you mention to the prisoner yourself the
superstition against the house, and that Governor Collins had died

"Honour, my gentleman had heard the guard himself speak of it."

"You petition to have the appointment altered on this?"

"I--I fetches a warning-like to you, gentlemen, and asks you to quarter
us less troublesome and threatening."

"You make no accusation?"

"No, I can't, honour." (Did Mr. Oughtryn sharply breathe?) "But I
fetches the danger." He rose suddenly, with whip and hat clutched to
him, and hand outstretched, his eyes blind in the candles. "And I asks

"What danger? Be specific."

"The danger that's attacked my gentleman."

"Nothing more serious than the fracas?" The magistrate looked heavily,
narrowly, and enquiring into his eyes.

"Well, honour, I put in a word for my young person having her name let

Magruder fumbled at his white cravat and put a yet more remarkable

"Sit down, sir. Calm yourself. Your prisoner is a gentleman, is he?
Come--come, I should like to know what in your opinion a gentleman is,

"I can't rightly put it, sir," said Oughtryn, sinking slowly to his
chair again, "unless--putting aside notableness--it's him that cheats
less than he could--including of his mortal life?"

Both the gentlemen gazed at him whimsically.

"Why, sir, you have so much faith in man!" marvelled the magistrate,
showing his fine teeth a little over his corporation. "I expect less and
demand more myself. It is my business. Well, well" (growing colder), "so
Sir William Heans has left you so much! He has, however, a singular
twist for investigating other people's crimes! I am in somewhat of a
quandary. I hardly wish to grant him the credit for an invention so
grim, nor do I willingly give it him for a blackguard attempt to revenge
himself for a blow, or get the man, with whose familiarity with your
daughter he was chagrined, into trouble. . . . I repeat, with a caution"
(as Oughtryn rose and sat down again), "I hardly care to entertain these
thoughts. . . . I declare to you privately, if your pass-servant were to
bring to me that document he says he found in the cave, and which has
disappeared so fortuitously, I would get him his conditional pardon."

Magruder here stooped forward in his chair, and emphasized what he had
to say with a knife, on which he kept his eyes. He seemed to wait upon
Oughtryn, but Oughtryn added nothing. He then pushed back his chair and
sat for a while with his hand over his forehead. His stern mouth alone
showed beneath. Dr. Wardshaw tossed the green book, turning once to
examine his be-satined chin in the glass, on the results of which
examination he seemed profoundly ironic. Over the table, behind the
steady candles, Oughtryn held a stiff forefinger across his lips and
peered sly and sharp about the walls, as though amid a heavy oppression
of "money and sneers" he were clinging unvanquished among the "notable
fitnesses" of his belief.

"Is the red coat of large build?" asked Magruder, sweeping his hand
suddenly from his forehead, and crossing his comfortable white trousers.

"A tall man, honour," answered Oughtryn, "tough by nature, and given to
frisky speaking. A deep hand."

"I suppose," said the magistrate, sharply, "Sir William Heans has come
to consider your daughter to some extent under his protection?"

"My prisoner was pleased to show me he was anxious about my young
person--being of a withdrawing nature."

"Is it not an old story," said the other, patting his knee, "and the
fault with the young girls? They are rather fickle sometimes: some one
or other assuming a proprietorship over the young woman which both she
and her new gallant resent?"

"The young person being shrinkable?" questioned Oughtryn, staring up
past the other, as if he sought some blank and uncomfortable solution in
the portrait on the wall behind.

The doctor made his peculiar noise, and spoke. "The young girl is nearly
blind, Mr. Magistrate," cried he. "I take another side. I suppose Heans
was trying to protect her against the man and her own innocence."

"You make the file out to be bad, sir--an intruder on the peace of this

"I have attended this girl," said Wardshaw, indifferent enough--and
holding tenaciously as a watchdog to his private tragedy. "She is a
gentle, shrinking creature. That sort of philandering on her part--and
with such a brutish lout--is exceedingly improbable."

"Dear me," said the magistrate, somewhat fallen of face, "this is very
curious. You believe, then, it might be a sincere state of fright in

"I take that point of view," said Wardshaw. "I add an idle suggestion
that the old gambler speaks the truth--that is, so far as the file has
made a set at him about the girl. The other thing may be his frantic
style--sheer panic in a moment of danger with the lout at him. As for
the soldier--it is as Oughtryn says--he has a bad way or a bad mouth."

"What is this you say about the rest of it?"

"I said fright," said the doctor, with irritable decision, lifting the
book and staring indifferently at its old square back and gilded
traceries; "but I leave it to the Court and his wider experience of
human character."

"Oh you do, do you!" said Magruder, shruggingly. "In the end many do,
Wardshaw! Indeed they do! And you, Mr. Oughtryn--is it fair to beg of
you your private opinion of Sir William Heans' discoveries and losses?"

Oughtryn dropped his eyes over that cautious finger, and seemed to trace
a troubled sketch with his whip upon the white carpet. His cheek twice
moved as though he was chewing unconsciously on a figurative crumb of
comfort. Eventually he said: "It's fell out very foul for my servant. I
do not like it, honour;" and glared up again at the portrait above the
magistrate, as one might look out, watchful and humble armed, across a

"Well, now, listen to me," said old Magruder, with a fell and final air;
"you guarantee your story of the file's knowledge of the house and
superstition. I think, with that in hand, and the book, you and your
prisoner would strain a very weak chain. That is all. What more is there
in evidence beside the ingenuity of the idea, and perhaps a peep of
daylight seen at the top of a crack in your stable? A bad
exaggeration--such as that about the hat--might get the prisoner into
trouble--if it was such. What is to be done? I cannot take it on this.
At the worst the quarter is only in authority over you for a few
hours--three days, you say. If there is any danger for your
daughter--anything in Sir William Heans' fears but mere jealous or
super-annuated interference--can she not avoid the man? The same with
the prisoner. Let him behave carefully Sunday, and should the man go out
of his way to approach your daughter, come to me (with clear evidence)
and I will try and free her of her indiscretion. I remind you, Heans'
reputation in connection with the ladies is not successful. Should the
prisoner, after a few days' reflection--with indignation cooled--stick
to his extraordinary story of the ancient hat and writing, still make a
body-hunt out of a night's ratting, still wish his evidence tested of
the connection between Spafield and the "Spars" of this scrawl, I will
listen to him--I will look into it. I repeat--if he still wish it. If
not, I will not pursue it. I remark, I don't know who has appointed this
file. You remember your prisoner has not been a contented man. The
police know more about him than I, or perhaps you do. Who is to say the
officers responsible have not put a truculent fellow in a shaking
mire--where a mild man would not serve two purposes! You request me to
exert my authority to have the man removed. I say to you, Put up with
the quarter for three days, or come to me with a piece of rough
behaviour unprovoked. Meanwhile the pass-man has been once hurt. I know
the prisoner's physique; it is not a heavy one. You may tell the guard,
if there is any more rough-handling of the prisoner, I shall not
interpret it favourably to him or those to whose carelessness his
appointment is due."

Magruder had not quite finished what he had to say.

"Now mind, sir," he added, "do not be too loose with your signature
while the file is about. Keep Heans in at night. You can be too free
with your pass-man!"

He then bowed and wished Mr. Oughtryn and His Excellency better weather
for the morrow. Oughtryn rose. Sardonic Dr. Wardshaw swung from the
mantel-piece, and with Magruder's consent, carried the PLUTARCH and put
it in the old fellow's hand. As he did so, he said half-comfortably,
"Commend me to little Miss; you have all got what you want, haven't
you?" Oughtryn, while putting the book away in his coat, seemed to reply
that, "it was a kittle fit," and when he had buttoned up, and gone to
the door, he turned and thanked "honours, for steady standing to it." He
then groped his way out, his face, if passive, rather staid than free.

So he left the motionless gentlemen, and emerged into the hall, where
the piano was playing to an accompaniment of warm spring rain.


Towards evening, Sir William rose, dressed, and went into the
sitting-room. He felt pretty well, and tramped the floor, testing his
ability to perform the long coach journey. His head, bound in a green
handkerchief, he found painful, but steady; and was soon confident that,
with a good night, it would serve him. He rose about half-past five. The
rain had then stopped and he felt more hopeful about the weather. The
silver-leaden sky had given way over the hills to a cloth-of-gold
cavern. A perpetual noise of steps was in the damp garden, and persons
were tramping up and down about the fountain, a sharp melodious "toot"
floating out incessantly as they passed the gate. Sir William Heans
thought of many things as they went among the clear bushes; how little
these merry people made of the groaning old gate; how the grandeur or
the sternness that had been was probably part of the amusement--part of
the pleasant clamour that came along the passages.

In passing, he has a note remarking how beautiful that night was poor
Abelia's red valerian--Bloody Warrior as it is playfully called. On all
sides, under the shadows of the motionless bushes, the wet grass was
coloured with an old stain of blood. Yes, it was as if the day's rain
had washed out of the garden a forgotten discoloration to suit the grim
old stones and paths--as the sick ruffian, Spafield, was frightened he
might do on the boards of the great room.

Heans had heard the horses leave the yard in the morning, but since then
had not seen Oughtryn. He could not detect the red-coat's gabble under
the clap of hoofs, but supposed he had departed with it. The man was
either subdued or keeping quiet. He had seen the woman, but had not
spoken with her. But for a slight outweariedness she was her monumental
self. He had some recollection of having seen her face in the night, and
from the fact that she expressed no surprise nor barely enquired of his
condition, he judged that she had aided Oughtryn in attending him.
Abelia he had not seen, nor for a while heard her voice amid the noises
of preparation. This was not extraordinary in the quiet girl, but he
would have been glad to be made certain in what condition the collision
with the villain, and Oughtryn's communications, had left her mind. He
was startled by her voice about half-past four.

The occurrence was not quieting. She spoke in the yard, not far from his
window, and in a low, clear tremble. He heard her plainly say, "I did
not speak to you."

And then a voice he hardly recognised: "Come now, Shy, I thought you
called to me!"


"Well, you looked at me--I thought you wished a word with me."

"No, soldier--I was just----"

"Just what?"

"Just thinking you were----"

"What was I?"

"Just thinking you were sharp enough."

"Pretty sharp--why now? But you never seen me sharp--only kind!"

"Something--something tells me, soldier, you're very sharp."

"Why, miss, you're looking calm as shivering ice at me!"

Sir William rose, flung on his gown, and stood holding by the window.
But there was nothing more said. Abelia, perhaps, had turned and gone
in. He heard steps move a short distance away and there stop. Leaning
forward over his toilette, he saw the vile figure of Spafield, quite
close, somewhat turned from the wall. He was drawing a cane across his
trousers, the back of his red coat bowed and sulky, the cheek beneath
the shako a curious chalky livid. He could not see if Abelia was still
there. He pictured her against the wall, shivering and white. In a few
moments two men in livery appeared before the stable, and Spafield
strolled over, accosting them with folded arms. Heans could not get the
picture of her out of his mind all the while he was dressing.

The house was full of a subdued bustle up to a late hour. The woman, as
we have said, had little to say, and while the supper-table was
undergoing its brief period of array, Sir William sat reading and
thinking, and did not intrude upon that monumental silence. He
recollected, while she was there, the half-warning, half-entreaty she
had made him just previous to his visit to the stable, and though he
could not say what point of view she took, he felt his promise to
refrain from collision had been broken, and this silence seemed to
admit. He said, however, as she was about to mingle with the footsteps
and alarm without, that he regretted the anxiety caused last night; it
was unavoidable. And whatever she had been told, he begged them to be
"shy of all intercourse with the man while he remained." As for her, she
stopped in her slow way, and with the door-handle in her hand, and her
proud eyes regarding it, "he should have no fear for them two women,"
she said. "Miss and she had got a real fright of the officer."

He thought that the tone of her voice again insisted that the fear was
not for them, but he sat quiet and said no more, and she seemed little
more willing, plucking open the door and seeming, in a sort of haste, to
stumble out.

Oughtryn knocked and edged into the door as he was seated before the
table. Somewhat blank and secret, he announced, "there was no news of
Conapanny, nor did he know where to look for her"; adding "that there
was no throwing out the blood-crow either, but honours had ordered him,
through Oughtryn, to mind his p's, and this he had told him." Sir
William, dressed with much neatness and seated for this last evening
behind his table curiosities, asked a few questions from a brave
eyeglass, and was answered careful, high, and breathless from about the
door. "He answers me respectful with his arms locked," said Oughtryn,
referring to his words with Spafield, "but he has the look of a marked
man; and supernatious in his head again"; he added, "for he tells me the
help women have been playing at him, for that he found a candle lit in
his bedroom when he went up to-night." He seemed to add this
communication rather as a sort of heartener, and significant point, than
a singular thing for Heans' inspection. In any case silence ensued upon
it. On this Sir William broke at last (he was sitting back, and he let
his glass fall out upon his velvet waistcoat)--broke at last to "suppose
that it had been necessary to ride on as far as Gastine's?" and was
replied to with a nod.

Oughtryn, having agreed to send in his "chit" during the evening for a
few cautioning remarks, withdrew his head, then slowly pushing in again,
he placed the green PLUTARCH on the edge of the table. He had again
turned aside when Heans asked if he would take a toast. To this he
agreed, Sir William filling a wine-glass and an ancient rum sneaker from
the decanter. Elevating the glass with a stern air, Heans proposed "long
life to himself and peace in his house"; to which Oughtryn replied with
"a roof, honour, and a good end." He then went away, and Sir William's
chin fell upon his cravat.

Yes, Sir William stood by the window, watching the gold pale out of the
north, or sat by the fire listening and thinking of the strange things
happening and about to happen. He thought of the fellow who had struck
him down. It looked a long way over those hills, and the effort was a
grave one. And this was grave, and thronging oppressively, this, out of
which he was stepping, and armed with vague and arresting talons. The
lights in the garden, the low voices, the uncertain under-roll above and
below stairs, the sharp trumpeting of the gate (there were times when he
unconsciously connected the noise with the call of the little statue on
the fountain), these, and the thought of the dangerous fellow about the
house, who, if his power had been curbed, had come out of it with hands
quite free, were harassed moorings from which to loose a course upon "a
tide which had no turn." He was glad and relieved when Oughtryn shut his
shutters, and he was barred for the night in the mild and prosaic
company of the Roman soldier, his dove-women, of which he used to say
they did him good, for they cast continually into a worldly mind the
images of good women, his friend--the empalaced bird, the steady,
little, feminine clock so overweighted with ornament, and those other
curious things which had been his companions.

When the woman had drawn the shades and removed the supper, Sir
William's thoughts took a dangerous turn, and he looked about him for
that world we call "a book." There was the PLUTARCH lying on the angled
patterns of the cloth. He rose and took the leather volume, examining
the green and brown marbling and the gold-lined sides, and reading a
portion here and there. Eventually he returned with it to his bead
chair, and elevating it, with his sharpened features towards the lamp,
tried with painful precision to follow the lines of print.

But this failed to divert him:--

"It is said that when Lycurgus the orator had delivered Xenocrates the
philosopher out of the hands of the tax-gatherers who were hurrying him
to prison for the tax paid by strangers, and had prosecuted them for
their insolence, Xenocrates afterwards meeting the children of Lycurgus,
said to them, 'Children, I have made a noble return to your father for
the service he did me; for all the world praise him for it.'"

And this made him sad:--

"Many persons of rank made their court to Alcibiades; but it is evident
that they were charmed and attracted by the beauty of his person.
Socrates was the only one whose regards were fixed upon the mind, and
bore witness to the young man's virtue and ingenuity, the rays of which
he could distinguish through his fine form: and fearing lest the pride
of riches and high rank, and the crowd of flatterers, both Athenian and
strangers, should corrupt him, he used his best endeavours to prevent
it, and took care that so hopeful a plant should not lose its fruit and
perish in the very flower. If ever Fortune so enclosed and fortified a
man with what are called her goods, as to render him inaccessible to the
incision knife of philosophy, and the searching-probe of free advice,
surely it was Alcibiades."

While this unsteadied his mind:--

"After this glorious success, Alcibiades, ambitious to show himself as
soon as possible to Tissaphernes, prepared presents and other proper
acknowledgments for his friendship and hospitality, and then went to
wait upon him with a princely train. But he was not welcomed in the
manner he expected: for Tissaphernes, who for some time had been accused
by the Lacedaemonians, and was apprehensive that the charge might reach
the King's ear, thought the coming of Alcibiades a very seasonable
incident, and therefore put him under arrest, and confined him at
Sardis, imagining that the injurious proceeding would be a means to
clear himself."

Even though it was followed by this most hopeful passage:--

"Thirty days after, Alcibiades, having by some means or other obtained a
horse, escaped from his keepers, and fled to Clazomenae."

He discarded the book thereafter for last week's COURIER. And the
COURIER for his "poniard," his old weapon of defence, which he
unbuttoned from the breast of his clawhammer, and fell to sharpening
with his pen-knife. Was this Sir William Heans at this work? How strange
he looks! He says himself he felt a "hard feeling of regret." While so
engaged he changed his mind concerning the "mitred figure" upon the
handle. He observes a likeness in it to the cocked hat and uniform--and
even the narrow face--of the carving in the stable of the ill-fated
Governor Collins.

Perhaps the fancy was father to the discovery, and he was too ready to
think he had fallen upon the "dagger-knife" fashioned by Walter

At seven the house had quieted, and a little later, there came a groping
knock at the door, and Abelia felt her way in. Heans backed the bead
chair about and half-faced her as she stood by the table. She had in her
hand some Wandering Jew, which perhaps she had brought to put in one of
her singular vases--one of which, pleasingly mispainted with a
bird-cage, was on the table. However, she laid them instead upon the
cloth and tried to blink between Sir William and the fire. Grey dress
and black apron, brooch and tatted collar. Flat hair--face a trace
fallen, as one not easy where she gropes--and the inevitable, pale,
fluttering calm. A singular, trembling, precise hand that twists back
and forth upon the greenery.

Sir William remarked: "Is that you, Abelia?" and tapping his knee with
his book, and speaking rather irritably, he said he was sorry that,
after her father's trouble, a bad man was to remain for some days about
her home, with special facilities for intrusion. "He wished again to
warn her against speaking with him. He begged to know," and a sort of
wheedling laugh crept into his voice, "if she thought she could give him
a promise not, of her free will, to speak with him again?"

The girl shrank against the table and gave the required answer. "She
promised, if she could prevent it, not again to speak to the soldier.
She said she trusted she might never speak with him."

"Ah," said Sir William, "there's no relying on such chance
acquaintances, my dear. Lord help us, it's a strange world! No, not in
any one. Here to-day, Abelia, and gone to-morrow. No trusting, my
child--no trusting, miss."

"It was not that I was confiding," she said, pale as death and peaceful.

"Well, what was it?" He spoke hoarse.

"It was, we had better be respectful."

"That is wise, that is the way your father speaks. But take care that
him you prove does not prove something unforgettable. . . . By Heaven,
my head is passably painful--there, that's well! So you promise me this.
Yes? That's a great relief. And I, as your old friend, I wish to kiss
your hand, miss, in good-night."

He half rose from his chair, took her hand, and kissed it, and sank
back, staring at the fire.

She stood aside, her eyelids wildly fluttering upon her calm face, and
as if they were dragged from her, came the words: "Sir, why is your
voice, sir, so heroical sad?"

He did not answer. He sat before the fire, his plaid legs crossed, his
chin propped upon the old book.

Abelia pushed slowly to the door, and again stopped while she felt for
the handle, her face white and sour-calm.

"Come, miss," he said, without moving, "are you still there? Abelia, the
house is quiet at last. Won't you go and play to me your ROBIN ADAIR?"

She gropingly pulled open the door and went out. Sir William Heans sat
there, and did not move, till he heard the faint tinkle and tang of the
piano, when he rose and re-opened it. He stood behind the door and
listened. She must have left the stair-door open, for the tune crept in
from the hall with unwonted distinctness. It seemed to float away into
empty rooms and wander out, falling on little firm cadences, and rising
on little scales of seemly and half-shy joyance, taking to air so
prudently, alighting to earth so soft and gropingly, like the savour of
such a quiet week of a contented life--such provident gaieties and
sadness--as should have been lived in such a place. It aspired, it
touched and skimmed those old ceilings, it fell a-fingering the air--and
sprang peeping at the gentle stars. "Tang-tang-tinkle-tang." On she
played steadily and pretty well. The old house hung about that distant

Sir William stood by the door, beating time with his book, and making at
last a sort of humming. Indeed, what was there sad in the child's
playing! Behind him, his friend the bird gave evidences of strange
feeling--we hesitate to call it alarm--clambering with a great caution
up the minaret. And suddenly, in the midst of a pretty flight, the piano
ceased. In the hush there was born in some corner of the house a slow
and husky singing:

Murruda, yerraba, tundy kin ara,
Murruda, yerraba, min yin guiny wite ma la.



Well, God's above all; and there be souls must be saved,
And there be souls must not be saved.


Beyond the break in Abelia's music, and an occasional bleating
above-stairs, the night passed without disturbance. Once only, in the
small hours, he thought he heard a loud and prolonged fit of drunken

He awoke much refreshed. It was a pleasant day, with a veiled sun, and
the hot air upon the damp hills. Sir William dressed about seven and
stood for a while in the doorway into the yard. Though it was warm, he
wore an old black cloak as though not yet recovered from his vile
attack. There was a strong odour of Spring grass. The kitchen door was
open, and there was movement within; but the stable was still closed. He
had fixed his intention, of walking over to the cave while it was still
empty, of entering, and bringing back Abelia's saddle, his own, and
their appointments (these being his especial charge), and placing them
as if for security among the furniture in his bedroom. It was then his
purpose to watch for a moment when yard and stables were empty, and pass
quickly along across the windows to the gate: his saddle held about his
waist under the cloak. Though this would mean a longer distance to be
traversed under the eye of any one at the back windows, he preferred the
risk to that of deliberately removing the saddle before strangers in the
stable, or an interruption from Spafield, who might see him go in.
Should he, by some accident, return from Gastine's, who would have time
in the house to miss the saddle?

And so the hazardous trial had come. In a few minutes he stepped slowly
across in cap and cloak. The vapours shrouded the hills and the soft sun
beamed more warmly. There was a smell of cooking among the Spring
odours, and he heard the woman's footsteps on her flags. Oughtryn he had
left at the front shutters, and he trusted he might not have to explain
his behaviour. The door was locked. He opened it and felt his way
through the empty stable. The curtain was again withdrawn from Abelia's
saddle, and his hand, seeking the pommel, came in contact with the man's
moccasins, which were hanging from it. The skin was sodden and wet. He
threw the loathsome footgear to the earth, and lifted the heavy saddle
to his shoulder. On the pommels he hung the two bridles by their bits
and reins. His own light saddle he essayed to take upon his right arm,
but finding it over much for one journey, he carried it through cave and
stable, and out a few yards before the door, where, dropping it on the
stones, he made his return without it. He did not see that he was
observed, though he again heard the woman in her kitchen. He took a
breath or two in his bedroom, and then went out. He thought he would
have brought the other saddle in without encounter, but as he returned
with it somewhat conspicuous upon his shoulder, and was within twenty
feet of the passage, there was a smell of tobacco, and Spafield himself
came round the corner of the house, a morning pipe in his mouth. A civil
smile was on his face, and he dropped his eyes and swiftly touched his
shako. In the glimpse he caught of the miscreant, he thought him much
changed--changed as it were in nature; his face had a plodding weakened
look--a bad old man's air. Sir William passed him with head averted. In
the room, with the saddle down, and himself resting upon the bed, he had
an instant's disheartened qualm that the ruffian had been watching
him--even had a prompting why he had removed the saddle. But he relieved
himself much by the thought that had he been suspicious about its
destination he would of course not have shown himself. He would have
remained hidden.

Yet the half-civil look upon the wicked face; the lurking smile; the
pointed glance upon the saddle; knocked ever and anon on the door of his
mind during the morning hours. Supposing Spafield was on watch upon him,
and entertained any suspicion of the saddle's being used, what reason
could he have for showing himself? Little enough. Yet there were two. He
might be conveying a benignant warning; or he might, with some secret
motive, wish to frighten him back into his bounds.

Heans' mood was excited. He naturally remembered the man's strange
attempts to cross him, and how they had been thwarted. He could not
forget his attempts to make a sinister impression on him. If attachment
to Abelia was the sole cause of his enmity, of course, he would be glad
to let him go--to get rid of him on any count.

Well, he did not, as we shall see, allow himself to be thrust from his
enterprise by a prompting which, in spite of an insistent knocking at
his mind, was too much the idle impression of suspense.

From the sitting-room window he watched the same beaver-bonneted maids
come up about the fountain--how full of lively importance! and ten
minutes after, a loitering boy, with a basket and a handful of stones.
Close behind the urchin toddled an old fellow with a hoary chin and a
carpenter's bag, his eyes impressed with the occasion, his lips
muttering all the way up. He seemed to be saying: "Governor Franklin,
his Honour, Governor Franklin!" The baleful watcher remembered to smile
as two young ladies appeared, one of whom kimboed her arms and swung a
lightsome turn about the basin.

Soon after the woman brought in the piles of rancid bacon and calcined
eggs, and he announced that he would perhaps be absent from his lunch,
requesting that it might not be left for him after two o'clock. The
woman bowed and went out.

About half-past nine he heard the rumbling of a vehicle and two
gentlemen came up from the gate, one young and tall, the other stout,
with an auburn wig. A little behind them, Mr. Daunt hurried in, rather
sharp and fussy. He wore a long blue coat, and was followed by a couple
of prisoners in grey carrying hoes and rakes, to whom he gave brief
orders. The men touched their black straws and immediately began hoeing.
Daunt came quickly up through the warm veiled garden. He seemed too
absorbed in his last touches--for a ruined man; too much of a piece with
the human gaiety of that morning--for a settler of strange dooms.
Despite his bustling way, Sir William flashed away from the curtain with
glaring eyes, and stood trembling over the fire.

And Matilda Shaxton would speak in these old rooms tonight!

* * * * *

At half-past ten, in his bedroom, Sir William dressed himself with his
usual care and put on his hat. This done, he tightly bound up his bridle
with cord, and buttoned it into the breast pocket of his clawhammer. In
a small high pocket of his waistcoat he put his "poniard," thrusting the
blade down through the lining. He then brushed and donned the somewhat
rusty cloak--a long garment with a cape reaching nearly to his ankles;
and, when he had for some time listened, and observed the state of the
yard through his window, he hauled up the light saddle under his arms,
and attached it by the girths and a stirrup about his waist. Then,
buttoning the three top buttons of his outer garment, he took his cane,
and with his left hand supporting the saddle back, he walked quickly
through the passage to the door. Ever since he had been in his bedroom,
the stable had been empty of life and, as far as he could discern, of
sound. The yard he now also believed empty, and when he came out he
found it so. Without pausing an instant, he walked along nearish to the
kitchen windows; then across the half-open door (with its clattering
china) and, when level with the sewing-room, struck outwards for the
gate. He became aware, with some discomposure, that the hall-door was
open; but a side-glance, as he passed, showed it empty, unless were
included two gentlemen leaning and jesting by the entrance. He was
conscious of a pleasing bustle, and of several people, behind the
curtains in the bright Chamber. As he tapped his way across, his eye was
suddenly tugged upwards and he was much disturbed by a gleam of scarlet
in the open window next but one to that over the hall. He was more
relieved to see that it was the soldier's coat and bayonet only, that
were lying on the sill. Now, in a few leisurely steps, he had levered up
the heavy latch and swung in the gate. Next instant he had passed out,
and the gate had lipped its latch. Every step he took he expected to
hear the heavy fluting gabble or that loathsome song follow him along
the yard; but there was no alarm. The house was resonant with the
pleasant movement and gossip of preparation, till he had levered up the
latch, pressed through, and "shut it away for ever."

It was his plan, in case he should meet Daunt, or some one else, down
about the front, to go up the lane to Davey, rather than down to
Macquarie Street; and he started quietly past the caves and up the hill.
There was no one in the lane. Had he decided to descend into Macquarie
Street, he might have passed down across the Rivulet, and by forest
track, joined his road outside the town; but, burdened as he was, he
turned from an arduous climb, while, if he had come on a constable off
the road with the saddle, the moment would be decisive. He chose,
therefore, the risks of street and Boundary, trusting to his known
proclivity and employment. Thus, striding leisurely, and twice or thrice
turning his glass down the empty lane, he swung his way to the corner.

His method of carrying the concealed saddle proving much less trying
than he expected--indeed quite comfortable--he even debated, as he
threaded the street, whether he would remove it at that place to his
arm, though that had been his plan. A few yards from the corner, he
unfastened it, slipping it out upon his left arm as he came about, this
being the last place where the change might be made without remark, and
fearing some accident to a thing so hidden between here and Boundary.

He found himself quite alone in this part of Davey Street, though in the
dim distance, at the bottom, there were a cart and a few pedestrians.
The dwellings, here and there, had no life. The sight and smell of the
mountain sea refreshed him. In one spot, no bigger than a crown, the sun
was moving on the water like leaves in the moon. In his anxiety, he
found himself questioning if there was enough wind for "poor faithful
Stifft," but cast away the doubt. It was wise to be at one's calmest. He
struck up a whistling, but soon stifled it, considering it safer to save
his breath. The road descended slowly. He began to feel overhot in the
cape, but knew he would need it before night. About half the distance
down, he began to notice people both behind and before him. A baker's
boy approached him, and then an old woman, both of whom stared more than
was comforting at his saddle. A glance behind showed him several people:
most of them of the other sex. There was a stout man in a faded fustian
jacket, carrying something on his head; in the road, a cart drawn by a
donkey; while, as he looked, from out a lane, came a gentleman riding a
rather fresh horse. On he went, very much lighter in mind, down the
steepening slope. It was his intention, at the bottom of Davey Street,
to follow the road past the cemetery and jetties till it swung

Before he had reached the bottom, however, in a fit of annoyance, he
elected to slightly change his way. A glance now and then behind showed
him that, while the donkey-cart had turned off, its place was taken by
two vehicles--a fly and a gig--while the gentleman upon the horse was
still there, and kept rather annoyingly caracoling his company, making
him feel the irksomeness of his observation. Another glance three
minutes later, after that the hearing of his ears, told him that the
gentleman was not far behind, and the fact that he did not trot on his
way, but kept his nag angrily on the rein, and at the passade, plagued
Sir William sufficiently to incline him to turn out of the rider's and
his own road down a lane to the left. This he did, presently arriving
with a sense of annoyance, yet of great relief, into the more frequented
Macquarie Street.

On his progress here, Heans, being somewhat afraid of curiosity,
quickened his pace and stepped sharply along towards the sea. He passed
a fair sprinkling of pedestrians, but no one observed him with marked
interest. But for the fact that the saddle was now a troublesome burden,
and for the effort he must make to appear unconscious of it, he was
buoyed up by a feeling of coming triumph, while below him, on his left,
not three lanes off, was the turning of his goal. Keeping his glance
away from every face, he crossed quietly over to the left-hand pavement.
Though the covered sun was warm, the pavement was still damp.

He noted that several gentlemen had discarded broadcloth and tall
head-gear for kerseymere and Manillas. At this moment, as he was about
to pass over the top of the last lane--his being next--he turned to take
a farewell glance up Macquarie Street, staring at the swimming mountain
and striving to pick out the Hospital pediments. He at once saw, behind,
the same top-hatted gentleman on the restive horse caracole out of the
lane next below the one he had just taken. With a renewed sense of
annoyance, he flashed about and hurried on. On the other side of the
crossing, it occurred to him that he would more certainly keep to
himself and company by turning down this lane, coming into his road
below by Governor Collins' Street. This he immediately did, slackening
his pace a little, and taking his way more leisurely along.

A little way down, there was a tailor's window, somewhat attractively
set out in the winter's coats and SURTOUTS. Among the latter there was a
long, grey garment, which attracted Sir William's attention. He stopped,
went back, and gave it some examination through his eyeglass. At the
same moment, happening to glance back, he could see along past the
buildings on the left that accursed figure in the top-hat and frock. He
was pulled up at the crossing and was in conversation with an old game
and fish seller at the kerb. Heans, whose temper was somewhat heated by
his walk and this coincidence, gave the rider two minutes to proceed,
and waited by the window till he should pass from vision. Two--three
minutes went by, yet the fellow would not cease his interminable
gossiping. The older man had left his stand and was soothing the restive
horse, and clutching at his knees. Sir William turned and began to move
past the shop, when he was struck by a wish to outstay the rider; so
returning, he went up into the tailor's room. He expressed a desire to
examine the SURTOUT. The tailor, an old man of some manner, yet with a
straying eye to Heans' cloak, fetched the SURTOUT from the window and
displayed it before him. Heans, relinquishing his saddle, and leaning
back upon his cane, examined it and several others with discrimination
and even with detail. He assumed, with business acumen, that the
approaching summer had reduced them somewhat in price, but was assured
(with much sadness of humour) that such wear had no time or fashion, and
the moth only would remake the pendant--to which Heans smiled, and at
last selecting a plain garment, and requesting the tailor to expect the
price in the following week, returned slowly into the street.

When presently he glanced back, the rider with the tall hat and black
coat had vanished along Macquarie Street, and he went on, well rid, he
felt, of an idle follower. He made slow and quiet progress to the
corner, and then with his saddle awkwardly upon his right arm, and his
cane in his glove, came sharply about: the Ferry road once more in
vision. He passed several people, and the face of one which he saw
advancing right on him gave him a heavy pang. It was that of the small
policesergeant who a year ago had ushered him into the waiting-room of
Franklin's audience-chamber: the man like a half-drawn knife. He was in
smart cords and clawhammer and eyed him and his saddle with just a ghost
of steely interest. He passed, however, without stopping him, and Sir
William, on his part, threw him from his vision with a remarkable calm.
Near the end of the street, he passed also, very down on his luck, a
fellow with whom he had played at Fraser's: a man who was remarkable for
staring at each of the company in turn, and for long intervals, and
saying never a word. He was aware that this gentleman stopped and stared
after him disturbingly.

At the end, he crossed over the street, and was in the Ferry road.
Looking south, he saw several vehicles and horsemen, and directly below
him, before an inn, a tilted cart with bullocks and a trio of
sailor-jacketed stockmen. About the cart, as he looked, came the
troublesome fellow on the restive horse. Heans stood there for a moment
and stared steadily at this rider. He was a handsome man, with quite a
Byronical air, a fine thin face, and prettily groomed whiskers. He came
nobly and abstractedly along the road. He seemed younger than Sir
William had supposed: not more than thirty to thirty-five years. Sir
William did not think that he was particularly observed by him;
nevertheless, he turned away with an unquiet heart-beat. A few yards on
along the footpath was Six's curio shop, and before he quite knew what
he had done, he was standing before it, and looking at the prints and
pieces of brass and copper. He there endeavoured to win back his calm of
mind. Immediately, over the white glass behind, he saw Henry Six
himself, his head a little bowed, and the newspaper in his hand. For a
flash Heans hesitated, but decided to wait again till the rider had
passed by.

He waited five--six minutes. A horse with a vehicle passed down, but no
hoofs passed up. He waited another three, four, five. Six continued to
read his paper. No horseman went by. He now stole a glance southward. He
immediately felt a sense of relief, for he could not see his sheep-like
follower among the stockmen or by the wagon, and believed he had gone at
last by his right-hand turning. He was mistaken, however, for on turning
to look behind him, he recognised not the rider, but not far down his
fine roan, held by a tout before a warehouse. Here were Six's brass and
copper baubles, here was poor Six sunk in his paper, and yonder was the
horse, now singularly familiar even to its green forehead band. Sir
William examined each for a brief while; shifted his saddle to his left
arm; and continued slowly up the north hill.

The road steepened and wound about. Heans took his way yet more slowly
up, making some effort to regain his coolness. Not far over the first
rise was the Boundary, and by the roadside the white Watch House of the
constables. Though still fifty yards away, he saw that the low door was
open, and that in it, a man was standing in a black blouse and belt. He
had often passed the place with Abelia, and once or so with Oughtryn,
though never on foot. Now if, by a troublesome chance, he was stopped,
he was prepared with a story of a pleasure ride, and the distant
quartering of his beast. The circumstances were unusual. If he were
walking far afield for a pass-man, his horse had been removed, and it
was no business of his. "By Heaven, if they pleased, they could suspect
him of a second gallop to Spring Bay!" He remembered on that occasion it
had been plaguey cold, and he had ridden through the Posts as cool and
hopeful as for a day's hunting with the Ravensworth. Now he was hot with
his tense tramp, his head ached, and his composure had been disturbed.
Faugh, he would be in Launceston to-night! Who would suspect that of him
with his leaden saddle and his DECLASSE old cloak!

Before he quitted the rise, he glanced swiftly behind. There were half a
dozen people on the slope, respectable New Town folk bound his way. No
vehicle. No roan horse. Down below Six's shop, however, he saw, or
thought so, among several horsemen, the roan horse with the gentleman
once more upon its back, at a standstill, and facing away from him. The
man was fiddling with his fashionable white gloves, and seemed to be
staring here and there. Heans turned away with a kind of laugh, and in a
few strides he put the street out of sight. Though he was hot and very
painfully excited, it was a fine relief to him that no eye now upon him
knew the extent of his walk and its peculiar direction. With the Watch
House before him, he felt considerably lighter in mind. He threw open
his cloak and shifted his saddle to his other arm. On the right hand was
the house, on the left the bridlepath on which he walked. A constable in
black was in the door, and as Heans advanced, he was aware that another
fellow came up and stood behind him. They stood rather high above a
flight of four wooden steps, and he noticed that to see him it was
necessary to bend under the white frame of the door. Heans passed sourly
by, flicking the flies from his cravat with the tassel of his cane. "By
G--d, their stare was heavy to be borne!" He thought they would have
spoken to him. But they seemed to be lingering over something among
themselves, for he heard the inner man distinctly mutter the words:
"Every dirty card of a dirty pack." If they had called on him, he was
prepared first to answer them with a "Good-day." On a sudden, he heard
the bang of their steps as they left the door, and afterwards a loud
echoing talking--almost an altercation--which continued while he was in

When past the Boundary, and along, and well up the hill above, how
natural it seemed that he had passed unaccosted, and how much firmer
were his spirits! Almost his difficulties were over! He anticipated no
trouble with Gastine, an easy-going young English settler. As he climbed
up, he debated a message from Oughtryn to his hand at Bagdad. The
worst--the Hobarton streets--the Boundary--were behind.
Better--better--better every mounting step. He knew, however, that he
was still in sight of the Watch House, and kept to a leisurely and
stately pace. He would soon blot that out, moreover. Fifty yards in
front, the road wound behind the right-hand bank, and he would there be
finally out of observation. Just here he met a civil young man who
wished him a "Good-day," to whom he replied in his pleasant ceremonious
way. When almost within the privacy of the bank, he cast a last look
below, wishing to satisfy his mind if the constables were still in the
house or had come into the road. There was no constable in the road,
though there were three pedestrians coming his way, and behind them,
ambling along, the top-hatted fellow on the roan horse.

Sir William Heans seems to have been over-shocked at the reappearance of
this haunting man, but kept on, making a vain attempt to explain away a
reasonless anxiety. He considered the gentlemanlike figure as a visitor
to the colony on his way to friends at New Town. What more ordinary! Or
riding for the scenery towards Bridgewater. What an annoyance that he
had clung to this peculiar direction! So he would begin and end. While
he mounted nearer the top, sedate of pace, Heans heard a horse's
trotting rise up and die out in the hidden banks, and about a minute
after a single sudden hoof-beat behind him. He did not look at the
rider, though he knew it was the same. He hoped he was as sick of him,
and cloak, and saddle, as he of his roan beast and black rig-out. He did
not once look back, though he heard the horse now ambling, now quietly
walking. The beast was moving rather faster than himself, and he hoped
it would soon pass him. For a long while he mounted the veiled hill
before that springy foot. It was, however, yet in his rear when he
walked quietly into the high village. Here he stopped a few moments, and
looked for a while at the new landscape. His heart fell and rose as he
heard the sheep like fellow pull in his mount behind. There were some
pleasant dwellings and two tracks to the right and left, and he hoped he
might now be rid of those trying footsteps. Presently he ventured on. He
went unaccompanied--sixty--seventy yards. He was still alone at one
hundred. He was yet almost believing in the quiet before and behind,
when, thinking the gentleman must be nearly out of sight, or gone down
Kangaroo Valley, he turned and took a look behind. Sure enough there he
was, a small, accomplished figure, quiet for once upon his horse, and
looking over the vale.

It was now seven miles to Derwent Ferry, and six more to Jordan River
and Brighton. Young Gastine's house was of slabs, and stood on the road
about two miles beyond the village. All would have been well now, had
his optimism not been shaken by the behaviour of his companion
passenger. He could no longer persuade himself he was rid of the
broad-clothed figure. He went on, quietly preparing himself for, and
instinctively straining his hearing after, the "clip-clap" of those
springy hoofs. His main hope now was that the gentleman would go
clattering by, and leave him at last fairly to himself. Indeed, he felt
it better, he informs us, not to again hope a change of road in his
follower, and have his hopes flung down. If he might not take his way
unwatched, he could stick to it under the man's scrutiny. He seemed a
fine, handsome man, despite his rig. How should he know he was causing a
grave inconvenience and his figure become a devilish obsession! The very
way he was killing his time at the cross-roads showed he meant no harm,
and was engaged in a tour of personal enjoyment.

Sir William had gone a quarter of a mile, and had passed Leeworthy's,
when he again heard a horse's trot behind. This time it was a pair of
gentlemen in a gig. He went the next mile without sound or sight of
horse or man, and his spirits, despite his firm intention, soared
unruly. He slackened his pace and walked along at his leisure. It was
pleasant to think how far he had won, and with no definite misadventure.
Now a small child came from a hut, and walked a part of the way with
him, from whom he obtained bearings as to the position of the house of
Mr. James Gastine. It was the next house but one in sight on the left
side, and about a mile on. Sir William rewarded the child with an old
pen-knife. He was pacing along beside a bank, when there was a heavy
rumbling of heels and hoofs, and the Launceston coach flung past him,
with two priests and a red-coat on the roof. There was a woman in the
body, and the sight of her dark bonnet cast Heans' thoughts to Madam
Ruth. The coach was still in sight when again he heard rapid hoofs
behind. The rider this time was a prisoner, the top flapping of his
glazed straw, and a sack of chaff held before him on his saddle. Sir
William stopped the man as he was cantering by, and enquired if he had
passed on the road a gentleman in black clothes upon a fine roan horse?
Before the prisoner could reply, there was a click of hoofs immediately
behind, and the very figure under discussion came jigging quietly on the
roadside about the bank.

It fell on poor Sir William like a thunderstroke.

At a loss what to do, he dismissed the convict with a "God save me, here
is the gentleman!" and turned and sat down as if to await him on a few
stones by the road. The convict, with a glance behind, went slowly off.
Heans put his saddle down, lay back, and crossed his legs. He observed
the rider sharply as he came along. The other was a man of elegant
manner, and came slowly up without changing his pace. He eyed Heans, but
rather on his dignity, than rudely. He had a heavy yellow cane in his
glove. Just before Heans' cairn, he pulled his roan to a restless stand.

In a loud, accomplished voice, he asked him: "Are you not a prisoner?"

Sir William Heans, after an interval, said that he was.

"'Pon my honour," said the man, "my business is a troublesome one! I am
a constable. Is not your name Sir William Heans?"

Sir William, with some hesitation, said that was so.

"Have you a pass?"

Heans said, "No, he had no pass." "I need," he added, "no pass at this
time of day. I was about to go and take my horse."

"I see you have no saddle-cloth with you?"

"It is a long distance to Mr. Gastine's house," answered Heans; and a
little breathless, but with quiet SANG-FROID, he explained how his
master's horses were at pasture, and the house filled with disagreeable

The man kept for a moment a somewhat haughty silence. Sir William
gathered hope from the perfect courtesy of his face. His clothes, his
air, his unsunned cravat, might have ridden straight out of Piccadilly
or the Row itself.

"I am a young constable," he explained, curbing that restless roan, and
addressing him with a steady gravity; "and I am not certain what to do.
I cannot follow you any longer. I think I will take upon me to order you
to return to Mr. Oughtryn's."

"Upon my soul," said Heans, "this is d--ly vexatious of you!"

"I told you my business was a troublesome one," said the rider, gravely
and amiably eying him. "It will be better not to deceive you. Inspector
D'Ewes saw you go past his window with your saddle at a little past ten
o'clock. I am ordered to follow you, watch where you go, and if
unsatisfied with the necessity (seeing the emergency at your master's
house, and the attention of your master likely to be distracted) to bid
you return and lie quiet for the day. That is the decision I have
arrived at."

Sir William Heans, who was observing the man through a sharp glass,
nodded, flushed with anger, and sat upright. He jerked his saddle again
upon his arm. The rider turned his horse sharply about, but when facing
and rearing south, he turned and spoke again in his accomplished voice:
"Do not delay about the town, sir. Mr. D'Ewes, himself, may go up to the
house this afternoon, and I shall ask him, if he does, to make certain
if you have returned home." With that he let the beast go, and galloped
off stiff and steady as a rocking-horse figure in a lithograph.

Before he obeyed the constable's order, Sir William sank back upon the
cairn and thought the matter out. His hopes, if they had been slowly
broken, steadied at last upon a fine if more desperate philosophy.
Though gravely shocked and daunted, he saw the better enterprise was
fairly barred, and he must now return through the town, and try his hand
at the worse. Sir William Heans was not sentimentally inclined towards
Madam Ruth, nor excited with O'Crone's attachment to her. Had he been
freer, he might have been with those who christened it "infatuation,"
rather than with Mr. Carnt. Having made what sacrifice he could to help
the woman, he now would return and take his seat in the fly. He was not
so discouraged or disturbed by the ordeal that he had just undergone, or
by the thought of what he had just escaped, that this appeared to him
impossible, or faced with any difficulty which he could believe to be
extinguishing to gentlemanly courage. He weighed the matter as he sat in
the quiet road, until he had it healthy and clear--thinking, as a Prince
of many difficulties once wrote: "If it could not be, then in God's name
be it so."

He stayed for some time musing by the roadside, but rose at last. He
could not but see he was returning to many hated dangers. Straightening
his hat, and removing and dusting his cloak, he threw the latter and his
saddle on his arm, and turned back. He left the saddle at the first
cottage he passed, to be kept till called for. Then with slow and quiet
steps he passed down into the town.

* * * * *

And now we come to what happened at the house on his return. Things went
into singular hands from the very first.

He arrived at the back gate at between half-past two and three o'clock.
He found both gates thrown open, and inside, shouldering the Chamber
wall, was a carriage and horses, and gossiping with the flyman, a pair
of old fellows holding saddle-horses. There was a deep note, a sort of
braying uproar, in the Chamber, hall, and indeed the house top and
bottom. In the hall he distinctly saw Abelia: the young girl very pale
and listening to two women below the stair. The yard itself was
otherwise empty; the stable door open at the top and silent. In a flash
of grateful thought, he fancied Spafield at work in the middle of that
indoor scurry, and not likely a witness of his coming in. He caught
himself in wonderment whether any of those employing the soldier
observed the weight upon his mind. . . . When he reached the small door
and pulled at the handle, his fingers encountered something foreign and
chilly which was bound cord-wise about it, but which a hasty withdrawing
of his hand disturbed, so that it fell on the step. He instantly thought
of the lost thongs from the stable, and that Spafield, in petty devilry
and triumph, had slung them on the handle; but, in stooping down, he saw
it was a small, dead, grey snake with a black cap upon its head, its
body bruised with recent killing. He had hardly stooped, when along with
the flurry in the house, and the gossip and clip-clap at the carriage,
there ran up to his great disappointment--swift and definite as a
bullet--that vile harsh singing:

Murruda yerraba. . . .

and this, though he waited a minute by the door, he could fix in no
direction, though he put it within the quiet door of the cave. Here was
his welcoming. Sir William waited in vain for Sly to show himself.

In Sir Charles Scarning's portfolio of letters there is a passage,
rising almost to eloquence, describing Heans' struggle in the privacy of
his room for the right to chance his honest luck against the shrouding
of forebodement and hasty conjecture aroused by his unlucky walk, and
the buffet of lively enmity received at the end of it.

Indoors he found a maid on her knees at his passage, and though he
looked neither to the right nor the left, he was aware there was a
considerable number of excited people in the kitchen hall. He at once
entered his sitting-room, where he found the evening cloth already
spread, with upon it some salt meat and bread. His first action, still
with his cloak on his arm, was to advance to the window. At first he
could not descry Daunt's two gardeners, and believed they had gone, but
suddenly he saw their glazed hats over the bushes which hid the gate. He
was displeased to find them still in the garden for the obvious reason.
Had he been successful on his walk, but been refused a horse, it was his
intention to return to Macquarie Street, but instead of entering
Oughtryn's, to await the carriage in the Orphanage grounds. He had
thought of the hollow by the old gully-hole. Now, though forced back to
the house, he entertained a wild hope that he might reach the same place
by surmounting the wall. With the prisoners still in the garden the
heliotrope was dangerous.

And in any case, he considered this rather as an ecstatic and fortuitous
plan, depending upon preoccupied windows and the chance of the garden
being empty. He intended, therefore, when he had eaten and rested an
hour, to take a walk down to the gate and see how things were towards
the Hospital. However favourable or unfavourable the result, he would
not so early risk being found absent from the house. But later--about
5.30--when there would be a lull in the preparations, and the young
people were returning home to dress, he would take another look, and if
practicable, get out by the tree or the gate.

When he had settled all to a matter of minutes, he put aside his cloak,
and removing the bridle, which had somewhat chafed his arm, he opened
the cabinet, mounted a chair, and hid it as high as he could reach
beneath some papers and magazines. The cloak he put on top. Now if a
search was made, they would seek for him in his cloak and possibly on
horseback. He then took his seat once more at the table, and ate a
determined meal of bread and meat, seasoned with some gin and water.
Nobody disturbed him. His room was singularly quiet, while above his
head, and just across his passage, and on the garden path, were little
scrapes and monotones of dallying or headlong movement. When he had
done, he rose and went down the passage to his bedroom. Some people were
laying a carpet along the kitchen hall, and a few gentlemen stood under
the stairs by the door of the sewing-room, which was open. There was a
figure standing beside the left wall near the dark end, but he did not
see for certain whether it was man or woman. He went quickly into his
room. There he refreshed himself at his basin, and taking his plaid
riding-jacket, his old spencer, and his peaked cap, from which he first
cut away the blue-silk tassel, he brushed them carefully and laid them
on a chair. To the contents of his black velvet waistcoat, one of whose
pockets held his "poniard," the blade being thrust through the bottom
lining, he added a pair of scissors, a mourning band--and that
thoughtful addition to his possessions provided by Mrs. Quaid as part of
the equipment of his pelisse: the pocket mirror. It was his intention to
remove his moustaches.

A look from his window showed him four persons in conversation before
the stable door: two being of the flyman type, the third the old
carpenter he had seen arrive in the morning, and the fourth Spafield.
The latter was seated gloomily on a keg, his arms folded, the cushion of
his left shoulder couched against the black door. The others stood
deferentially about his bold, dull face, which was the colour of a
candle under his hat. Heans watched for some minutes this little
conclave. The carpenter and one of the hackneymen did most of the
gossiping, Spafield contenting himself for once with monosyllable or
dogged laugh. Heans was still at his window, when the flymen stumbled
away to a call, the carpenter waiting a little, and then following
towards the gate. In a little the soldier rose himself, stood for an
instant in a peculiar position with one hand and arm outstretched
against the door, and went slow and at a sort of groping pace into the
cave. Heans was much relieved to find the grisly fellow on this side of
the house, and watched the shakoed head pass in, fancying a faint
stagger in the heavy limbs.

Till four o'clock Sir William rested upon his bed; for he was, of
course, unable to sleep. When he rose, Spafield was again seated at the
door of the stable, his bold, sunken eyes upon the gate. Heans quickly
took his chimney-pot from the toilette, and went down the passage to the
sitting-room. He again passed somebody standing by the wall close to his
end of the kitchen hall, and though he did not look to verify himself,
something slender in the figure and groping in the posture reminded of
Abelia. When in his room, he closed the door, and leant in a quiet
attitude over the table. Then donning his hat, he raised the sash of the
nearer window, and climbed out under the tobacco-tree. The day was still
close, and the human odour from its limbs and leather leaves was acidly
pervasive. He turned from the sentrybox, and with cane behind him, and a
high, eyeglassed eye, stepped slowly along to the Hospital wall. At the
corner of the path, he halted and looked back towards a top window
whence issued sharp men's voices. He then permitted his gaze to roam
downward about the garden. With instant relief, he thought the two
prisoners gone. He could neither see them nor hear their hoes above the
jerks and clamours of the house. In a little he proceeded downward.
Already the garden held in its delicate shadows the waning of this
beautiful day. Each bush stood alone. The basin was a thing almost of
beauty, singularly apart, and clear even to the gaiter on the soldier's

Sir William, in a few leisurely paces, reached the cross path by the
heliotrope. Among the heavy branches of the bush he perceived there was
promising foothold. The corner of the place below him was thinly treed,
but by edging a few feet westward, he saw through a break of bushes the
gate shut against the decapitated pillars. Beyond it there was a man
seated in a two-wheeled cart. He glanced about below the basin, but
neither saw nor heard any one upon the lower paths. He suddenly heard,
however, some one in conversation with the driver of the vehicle. It was
a deep nasal voice. It might be a groom. On the other count, Inspector
D'Ewes himself might hang about yet.

Before moving, he paused upon his cane and looked back again with
curiosity along the comfortable house, majestic under the thyraus of its
single gum. There was movement in the Chamber, and Abelia's quiet window
held a trio of posturing figures, rehearsing, perhaps, their tragedy. He
was yet looking back, when an elderly fellow in a wig hurried to the
door, wrestling with his great-coat, and Heans elected to wait till he
was gone. He suddenly returned and called into the hall, and Captain
Karne emerged and they descended with abstracted steps. The gentlemen
passed without seeing Heans, who advanced towards the fountain as they
descended about it and approached the gate. He was about midway between
the wall and the main path when they went out. A half-step brought him
where he had a glimpse of the gate and a portion of the fence. He saw
the actors turn down the road, behind the railings. There was no one
else in the road to either side, unless he was motionless behind a
pillar. Near the gate, however, was the two-wheeled cart held by a man
in pork-pie hat and blouse. On the path by the wheel stood a small man
in decent black. This person turned as the gentlemen went by and touched
a tall, seedy hat. He had a grey chin beard and a grim, careless face.
Sir William saw him turn and saw that it was a markedly saturnine
countenance. He knew the gentlemen, and the gentlemen seemed to know
him, for one of them threw back a question, and was answered by the
words, "Five o'clock, Captain Karne." What was to take place at five
o'clock? Heans did not like the man's looks, and that peculiar mingling
in his appearance of efficiency and seediness decided him, after the
tragedy of the morning, not to show himself at the gate.

He did not stop, but paced quietly along till he reached the fountain.
Here he paused again, contemplating the long house, the periwinkle in
the basin, the carven stones among the foliage, without perceiving one
of them. He was thus standing, when he was startled by a loud
'good-night' below him, and turning, caught the man in the tall hat
leaving the cart and departing along the railings. Heans hesitated a few
moments only. Though secretly overjoyed to see him go, he would risk no
more now, for fear of indoor overlooking, and holding to his resolution,
he returned and regained his room by the main-path.

When he had stepped over the sill, he stood for a while with his eyes
riveted on the garden; but at last, forcing himself away, he brought a
"Solitaire" board from the cabinet, and sitting at the table,
endeavoured to while away the minutes with those unruly balls. When he
returned the clock had pointed to seventeen minutes past the hour. Short
as was the time he had been gone, his cloth had been reset and the fire
lit and plenty of wood in the grate. There was even a vase of
out-at-elbows greenery. An uneasy addition to his agitation was not the
only feeling aroused by these attentions. Yet there was a peculiar air
of unfamiliarity--of reproach--in the curious objects of the room and
table, as if he had been gone for a period of days instead of moments.
They were no longer there on his behalf--nor for his convenience. It was
as a species of intruder he sat through the heavy seconds.

At the half-hour, that game of elimination became intolerable to him,
and he arose and paced the room. Up and down--up and down! How remote
the sightless eyes of the Roman! How jealously the marble figures held
their doves! Whose books were those? Whose pampered bird was that? Not
this distempered creature's with the tugging heart! Not the wild old
fellow's at his sickening promenade! And how determinedly the gaiety of
preparation hummed--the play outside went on!

At a quarter to five, he had wrought himself to such a pitch of
suspense, that he became persuaded he would have been wiser to have
changed his plan, and risked the gate when he had it before him. He
decided to wait no longer. The man's remark hung in his thoughts. The
likelihood that the hour of five was some important juncture in the
ordering of the entertainment agitated his spirits, and persuaded him
some new fixture might be then accomplished--some key turned--which
would render more troublesome, if it did not endanger, his departure
from the house. In this state of mind, he quietly opened his door and
once more made for his bedroom. Outside, he collided with a flushed
young lady running from the hall, and drew back with a smiling bow.
There were several people close to his end of the larger passage, he was
uncertain who, his eyes being confused by the lighting of some little

In his room, he changed his clawhammer for the shooting-jacket, and over
that buttoned the black spencer. Taking his peaked cap and a pair of
mourning gloves, he went over and looked into the yard. With a pang of
relief, he saw by his jacket Spafield was seated against the cave door,
though he could not see his person for a couple of men in frieze aprons,
who stood over him. One of these turning off towards the chamber, he
observed that the fellow was splicing at a long rope, an end of it
caught in his teeth and a portion about his foot. A ladder and some
wooden pulleys lay on the flags. He saw his skilful, tallowy hands
tremble with his exertions, and as he turned away, profoundly regretted
he could not have bridled their wicked expertness to safer purpose. He
at once returned to the sittingroom, scarcely changed in appearance from
the clawhammered figure who left it ten minutes earlier. Without
pausing, he again opened the window and stepped out. The day was fast
passing, and already the grey veils to the northward were coloured with
the tinsel they put in the chimney-pieces in the play. It was not till
he had come from behind the sentry-box, and made a few quiet paces east,
that he became aware there was a soldier with a shouldered musket among
the foliage to the west of the basin. Heans walked on, however,
distressed as he was, and endeavoured to come to some decision what
course of action to adopt. When he came to turn along the wall, he had
somewhat recovered his faculties. He did not consider it likely that the
man would interfere with him, and if he did he would be under the
necessity of explaining why. If the man accosted him, he would see what
he wanted, and the man would have every opportunity of stopping him, as
he came near, or before he reached the gate. He saw that when he reached
the heliotrope he could avoid the meeting by threading his way through
the intervening bushes to the gate, but he thought it better to turn
west and do nothing covert. He, therefore, proceeded quietly to the
heliotrope, and when he had passed into the western path, he stopped a
moment and looked back, as if he would take a sharp prospect of the
house. He heard the man's boots scraping clumsily along the path. When,
next instant, he faced the basin and the soldier behind it, he saw that
he had stopped at the other end of his beat, and that his observation
was directed to the Chamber. In the quiet of that moment, he caught a
soft, regular thumping below the path. He could see below him the rusty
bars of the gate and a portion of the fence running east, and that all
seemed open and clear. He began to move on, and saw clearly through
another opening that the road was empty. Suddenly, between two bushes of
lilac, he saw, pacing on the grass within the gate, a horse-constable in
black blouse and heavy strapped KEPI. The man was not looking at him,
but stared down, his cutlass hooked on his belt, his hands behind him.
Dazed as he was, Sir William Heans kept on, his hands also behind him,
his eyes on the path. When he reached the fountain, he stopped for a
moment, raised his face, and watched the soldier at his paces. Then,
without turning to look at the gate, he paced slowly back up the main

Not far from the door, he was passed by two young ladies and a tall
young gentleman in uniform. In the shock of his disappointment he stood
to one side, the young fellow addressing him with the words: "The old
place is in full fig, sir." For answer, he cackled out a sharp laugh,
and moved on until he approached the front of the house. He formed the
intention of pushing his way into the door and making a personal request
to Oughtryn for the sun-set pass. But this intention was immediately
thrust aside for the better opportunity born from an unexpected meeting.

There were two persons standing to the left of the door, beside the
great stone ball, over which was a pretty festooning of flags. One was
the gentleman with the horse face whose name was Sturt; the other a
young soldier in strapped shako and short military cloak. There were
also one or two persons inside the hall. Sir William walked quietly up,
and, when yet ten paces off, looking in after Oughtryn, he saw Spafield
standing near the rear way, balancing a ladder beside a gilt
candlestick. He was staring into the Chamber. Some heavy piles of rope
lay at his feet on the pink carpet. In his surprise at seeing the man
there, Sir William stepped in front of the door. The ruffian at once
turned a pair of singular cold eyes upon the prisoner; a look in which
there was--for all the powerful arms which propped the ladder--a sort of
meek and struggling horror. At sight of Heans, he gabbled a bold
something, and turned and kissed his yellow hand at some one down the
kitchen passage. Heans might now have returned to his window, when
suddenly an aproned assistant entered the hall by the back, carrying a
heavy iron street-lamp. The man shouted to Spafield as he came, and
Spafield, straightening up, came after the other, carrying the ladder
out before the door. Outside he turned and lowered it jerkily against
the arch. Then, very slowly--mounting rung by rung--he began to attach a
pulley by a piece of rope to the wrist of the stone hand which projected
over the entrance.

One of the gentlemen nodded to Heans, remarking, "'Pon his word, it was
a graceful sentiment: the lamp upon the outstretched hand!"

Sir William drew a step nearer and seemed to join in the interest of the
event. It had flashed across him that by passing in now, and down by the
kitchen hall, he might go out immediately by the little door, and cross
the yard unseen, to the gate. A slow and calculated stroll up Davey
Street, and down by Watchhouse Lane would bring him in sight of the
carriage as it drew up. He remained, therefore, only a few seconds
longer, his quiet glass upturned to Spafield at his singular task. In
those seconds, he thought the miscreant approached the carving with a
sort of caution--that when within reach of the grey fingers, he sensibly
swayed and hesitated, as if he could not bring himself to meddle with
them: then darted at and bound the tags of rope about the stone with a
decision and panting laugh  that had a note of grim relief. At the same
instant he actually glanced back at Heans himself. Heans turned from
him, and stepped into the house. He recognised no one in the beflowered
hall, and passed, with head down, under the stairs, and along the
kitchen passage, which was now lit with little bracket lamps, and
carpeted in pink and yellow. There the place was quiet and empty, except
at the far end, where stood a party of four women--two in shawls and
bonnets. One of these he perceived, by her height, was the woman. She
stood a little below the kitchen door, and though he did not closely
examine who it was, he saw that Abelia was standing by the wall behind
her in a curious, drooping attitude, her head being on her arm. Though
distressed by the girl's appearance, and troubled by the thought that it
was she he had seen during the afternoon in that part of the passage, he
did not permit himself to stop, or even the last brief word that was on
his lips. As they had seen him pass, he opened his bedroom door, and
walked within for a few moments of violent suspense. By his watch it was
now past the hour. He returned slowly from his bedroom, and let himself
out into the yard. One old fellow in an old Manilla was walking two
saddle-horses beside the Chamber. Through the open gates was to be seen
a horse standing in a pair of shafts, the vehicle being invisible. Sir
William walked over to the stable, and when he had looked once within
the door, he turned and continued his walk to the gate. The vehicle was
a light yellow gig, and there was a groom in claret at the reins. He
thought the man stared at him with peculiar intentness. As he came into
the gateway he slackened his pace to a stroll. When between the two
gates he stopped and glanced up and down. As he was approaching he had
seen about the right post the gleam of a pair of loose white breeches. A
few steps revealed above them the clawhammer and leather hat of a
constable. The man had a grey chin-beard, and it came as a double blow
to Sir William Heans that it was the same fellow he had seen in the

* * * * *

He did not wait long at the gate. After a sharp examination of the horse
and carriage, and a cursory look up and down--during which he gave the
constable ample time to accost him if he wished--he returned over the
yard. As he passed the hall, he saw Spafield's tall figure at the rope
in front, and the great lamp glimmer slowly up across the door. He had
but reached the kitchen entrance, when there was a startling great crash
of glass, which set the two horses clattering and snorting, and the
birds leaping on the eaves. He looked about him, and saw the old
constable glance in at the gate, while he heard high to the front the
soldier's rapid and insolent voice. Had the hand fallen and the lamp
with it? Had Heaven struck the pretty fellow beneath it? Heans gave
little thought to the accident--whatever it had been! Hemmed in as he
found himself, and rudely wounded as were his hopes, he gathered all his
strength and spurred his spirits for another effort. The hands of his
watch were at twenty minutes past five. It would not do to lose a
moment. He might still obtain the pass from Oughtryn, and, with that in
his pocket, face one or other of the gates. No harm could come of the
attempt. He bitterly upbraided himself that he had not fore-armed
himself against such misfortunes, and taken the precaution to demand a
pass in the morning. He had for comfort, that he need be at no great
pains to bridle his hurry, for he had had dealings over the pass not
always even or free from vexation. Thrusting open the small door, he
stamped in, hoping to find Abelia still in the kitchen-hall. He was
relieved to see her bright head close to the wall beside a single
shawled figure, her posture hardly changed. Stopping at the corner
nearest his room, he called her by name, and she started with the
other--lifting her head from her arm. Instantly she came feeling over
the carpeted slates. A little way from Heans she stopped, very pale, and
groping at him from her smiling peace.

Heans put his glove on the wall, holding his cap behind him.

"Why, miss," he asked, with sharp amazement, "what is that that has just

"Something has been broken," she answered. "I fear it is a lamp that
was to lighten the entrance."

"Upon my word," he cried, with a kind look, "a clumsy lout, he'll have
to eat stick!" He then thrust in his glass and asked where Oughtryn was;
and when she said she thought he was upstairs, he begged her "please to
run sharply and get him to write a pass for Fraser's Club, for he must
be gone out before six o'clock."

Abelia began to draw away, but lingered, looking up at his face, her
left hand wandering at her ear and forehead.

"I told you I was in haste, miss," said Heans, unable to keep something
sharp and annoyed from his voice. "Will he be pleased to put 'Fraser's

"Yes, Sir William," she said, looking aside and feeling away, the lamp
upon her ashen face. "I--I will tell him. . . . Yes, to-night. I will be
quick. I will persuade my father."

Again she stopped, feeling at her black apron; of her face just left the
shy movement of those restless eyes.

"Always so calm, Abelia," he said, tapping the wall with lavender
fingers. "Be troubled for once, miss. I beseech you to make haste."

And at once she gave a sort of gasp, crying, "Yes, I will get it--I will
try to get it," and groped in a blind hurry up the pink and yellow

At the door, she stopped an instant, sent a white look back, and went
out. He heard feet feel up the stair over a rattle of glass and flurry
of speakers in the hall.

He waited for five minutes in company with the solitary woman, and then
went into the sitting-room.

His window was still open, and the shadowy place smelt strongly of the
tree without. Again he stood for a few minutes an alien among his silent
companions. The path was rattling with footsteps, and at the gate a
hidden voice was in conversation. In the north-east sky was one of those
old wounds which remind us of the echo of far guns.

A sort of lull had fallen on the house. Like some matured and
experienced beauty, it had thrown itself aside in its beautiful dress to
await the coming thing, and think on life. It spoke occasionally, in
soft explosions, and from a sort of ominous repose.

It was twenty-five minutes to the hour before he heard a faint sound in
the passage and a moment after a trembling knock. Sir William had been
standing at the further window, and calling "Come in," he remained
standing by the sill. Abelia came groping slowly in, and drew back
searching till she saw where he was. She shook her head--or rather her
calm head seemed to shake of itself--as she stood by the door. She was
like a gentle ship which is tossed about while the people pray.

"It is no good, Sir William," she said, her weak eyes fluttering at last
on his face; "he may not--he cannot."

Heans pushed himself slowly up, stared at her fixedly; then came
half-round the table. This kind of encounter had occurred before between
Abelia and himself. To-night he looked out-wearied and estranged, rather
than flushed and annoyed.

"Gracious G--d, miss," he said, somewhat harshly, "he will not give me a
pass! What can have possessed him now!"

"I cannot answer for it," she said, twisting her apron and dropping her
restless face. "He spoke very certain. He said he must put you off. But
he had a creditable reason."

"Abelia--Abelia," said Sir William, turning his head towards the mantel
with a sharp sigh, "I cannot suffer this. It is imperative that I should
meet some one at 6.30. This is insufferable, my dear. Go back, and tell
him I must get instantly away. I cannot allow anyone or any thing to
cross this engagement." He took out his watch and stood staring at it as
though its face were something grim which had amazed him, saying,
"Sharply, my dear!"

Abelia, with her untroubled face yet dropped, said her father had seemed
cross and frightened, and indeed she had tried to compose him. "He said
it was no use to dally with it." Yes, she would go up to the Echo-room
and speak with her father again; but she knew--she knew it would "only
be a farding off of time."

"What, your father was angry, was he!" said Heans, swiftly. "Well, miss,
here is a case in which I can permit no prejudice. By Heaven, creditable
reason! Is he aware that this is insulting to me? I can accept no
reason--creditable or may be--from denying me egress from my rooms this

Sir William, as he stared at the trembling figure, was reminded, with a
swift pang, of the soldier's remark to her outside his bedroom: "Calm as
shivering ice."

"He said," she told him, with a quivering effort at precision, "he said,
there was mischief about, and no one--not mad cattle--would drag his
name from him."

"He did--he did!" he cried, and turned away and walked with a sort of
sigh back to the window. . . . "You may tell him," he said presently
from that place, in a harsh tone, "I am deeply offended with him. Say to
your father, miss, I will find it difficult ever to forgive or pardon
further refusal of my natural request. Now, miss--if your faith is
good--if I can believe in you too, miss--in haste!"

She turned groping for the door, yet raising for a moment her pallid
face, and blinking softly at him. Her grey figure pushed clumsily away.

Heans stood at the window, and twice watched the red and white of the
sentry's jacket flicker away and return stealthily among the carven
bushes. He turned and looked at the clock. It was still twelve minutes
to six. Almost immediately he heard a scrape outside the door and Abelia
pushed her way in.

Sir William was surprised. He turned at once and advanced about the
table. "Ah, so soon, my dear!" he said, in a pleasant, if low voice.

She held the inner handle and followed him with her glassy eyes, till as
he came near they fled and fluttered on the hearth. Her head shook, and
she seemed for a while, in a sort of calm struggle, unable to speak.

"Come," he said, more harshly; "you are standing there, miss!"

"Yes," she said, slowly, "I have returned very quickly; I have been

"Indeed now," with a stern precision, "cannot you speak less muddled?"

"Sir William," she said, serene and tremulous, "I have returned to tell
you my father must not do it. It would be dangerous. He is not at
liberty to give you his signature."

"Is it so, miss; is it so, miss? I can hardly believe your father!" he
cried, with his voice much in his throat And he put his hand for a
brooding instant on the cloth, and then stood up and walked slowly
towards the mantel. He put his right hand upon it. "And this is all"
(harshly), "from your father, this beggarly answer?"

She began stealthily to look about her by the door, seeking
half-flurried a new resting-place for tireless wings.

"There is nothing more to be expected," breathed she, rather difficult
in voice. "My father says he was warned last night, because that
dangerous, drunken officer had hurt you. They think--and he thinks--it
is the best for your safety."

"Bless me," he said, "they think of my safety! Hang them all, it would
have been better for my safety--and less chance of mischief--if I could
have got out of these walls to-night! Do my words trouble you, Miss

She fluttered glassy-eyed upon the window. "Such words--yes! they
trouble me."

He gave a cackling laugh.

"What, miss!" he said, and turned and gave her a sharp, slow glance.
"What do you see, Abelia?" Here he seemed to remember her affliction,
and laughing again, he turned and leant his brow upon his hands, saying,
"Hush, miss: there is no more to say!"

The girl dropped her eyes, waiting a moment with her face in the old
daylight, and then, with a disturbed and protesting exclamation, turned
away and went out. Heans heard her wavering feet upon the boards till
they met the carpet at the corner. She was gone and her pallid shred of

Now to Sir William Heans, as he stood sore of heart and emptied of hope
at the mantel-piece of his room, there occurred a last desperate and
peculiar plan. At the first glance, as he wrote afterwards to his
correspondent, "the idea appeared fantastic, even slightly disordered,"
when a circumstance, "a noise heard at the other end of the building,"
sharply thrust it into the feasible.

Resting near the left end of the mantel-piece, where he had put it the
night previous, was the gilten leather book: the old carver's copy of
the PLUTARCH. Being a prisoner in the same place, he recalled for his
comfort men who had endeavoured to escape the same walls, and failed.
Instantly there came to his memory Surridge's message and the legacy to
"any other desperate man" who might come after. Some one had "pulled the
body down," if perhaps the last one in the murderer's anticipation.
Suddenly, as he stood over the fireplace, Heans heard two sharp clanking
reports from the direction of the Chamber, as if an iron substance had
been dropped upon a deal board, and this brought to mind the ropes and
wooden pulleys he had seen at Spafield's feet in the yard, and later, in
the hall. It was just possible the rascal might be absent from the cave,
and occupied with his pulleys in the former room. The clock struck a
shrill 'six' in Sir William's ear. The house was for the moment almost
somnolently quiet. From this time, until the first of the final
arrivals, the yard and stable might be empty. Were a fellow slight
enough in his person, and could he go so quietly across to the cave as
to avoid the attention of the constable at the gate, he might make an
attempt to climb by the convict's vent into the bushes on top; by them
across to the broken wicket; thence descending along the wall in time to
reach the carriage by way of the Hospital entrance.

Sir William made this rash decision in the twinkling of an instant. He
saw if he was to essay his freedom by the interior of the cleft, he had
not a second to spare. He did not know how tight a squeeze it might be,
or how much physical force it would need for a man of his height to
progress through so small and slanting a fissure. For his comfort,
Surridge had dragged himself some distance up the passage after he was
shot in the body. The stone-mason had also found room in which to write
and work. As for Heans' health and bodily well-being, he states that he
was much fatigued, and indeed that his bruised temple and cheek ached
provokingly, and that he undertook the rude trial rather on a sort of
bitter understrength than in reckless heart. "At that moment," says he,
to his friend Sir Charles, "I would have given my ears to have possessed
the strength and optimism with which I always begin the morning!"

The minute hand of the little clock was yet in line with the hour, when
he removed his elbows from the mantel-piece, and taking his cap from the
window-sill, went into the passage. There was no one now in the lighted
hall, and in passing he stood and listened a moment, hearing a steady
flow of talking in one of the rooms abutting on it, and deeper voices,
he thought, beyond or above the stairs. The mainhall was open and not
yet lit, but the great room beyond seemed dark with a light like that of
a single candle alive by a violescent hanging. He hastened on into his
bedroom, and taking the key from the inside of the door, turned it in
and removed it from the outside. He knew that what he was about to do
must be done swiftly. On reaching the cave he would pause only to see
that he was not dogged at heel. Once in the cleft, he did not believe
any one would suspect where he had gone. Should Oughtryn see him from a
window, and, disapproving of his again entering the "blood-crow's"
quarters, follow after him, he believed he would discredit his senses
before he would look for him in the crack; that subsequently he would be
likely to return, and finding his bedroom locked, dismiss him to his
privacy, sooner than credit him with running out without a pass. The
same with any one else who followed him, Spafield only being with them
in the secret, and he a man at odds with his own bad wits.

Continuing to the back door, he opened it a couple of feet and surveyed
the yard and stables. It was as he anticipated. Spafield's powder-keg
was by the door, but he at least was not in view, while the old fellow
in the broad-brimmed straw had gone, he and his saddle-horses. A warm
reflected light was yet in the yard, but the tide of night was floating
in about the tall shrubs. The weather had been pleasing and shy for so
sad a day . . . When he had opened the door and passed out on the
stones, he saw instantly that the Chamber shades were down, while the
shutters were closed on several of the small upper windows. Beside him
the kitchen door was shut, and he heard no sound from within the open
sash. The yard was certainly empty of life. It was, or had the look of,
dead-water here. In the opening of the gate the gig horse was no longer
visible, nor could he see the constable from where he stood. Moreover,
it was not of great importance if the latter should see him enter, nor
would he be more likely, for that reason, to extend his watch to the
ground above. At that debateable ground he stole one steady glance as he
began to go across, convincing himself there was excellent concealment
for a stooping man between the vent of the cleft and the old gate, the
small bushes massing in a scarcebroken chain to the ruins of the breech.
Now--if a fellow had the luck to find an empty stable!

Sir William Heans went at a rapid, rather important pace across, his
head lowered and abstracted, as though desirous of procuring at the last
moment something left in the cave. As he arrived at the door, he heard
from within the house behind a low and rapid outburst, which rather
resembled Spafield's style, though more echo than voice. He there and
then decided, if he found the soldier in the cave, to turn upon his heel
and return instantly to his rooms. As far as he could see in a
side-glance, the gateposts, and the lone lane between, were clear;
though there was a repeated sound from there, or from the house, as if a
man were rapidly striking on a large pebble with another.

Sir William stepped past the keg and came into the cave. Before he had
well accustomed his sight to the troublesome borrowed gleams and slashed
lights, he believed, from the quiet, his star was with him. There was
nothing moving--horse or man--from him to the heap of straw. In the
excitement of this impression he advanced and glanced into the
harness-room. The close place had its usual fetid smell, but nothing
stirred within. In the mouth of the arch he gave another few seconds to
listening. As nobody stirred in either cave, he ran, rather than walked,
the length of the stable, coming quick and quiet into the stall next the
straw. Before climbing upon the manger, he flashed a look at his watch,
discovering there were twenty-three to twenty-four minutes to the
half-hour. He stood for a full minute listening beside the stone
partition. There were voices talking in the house--in the open hall, he
supposed--but they did not alter their even tone, or approach. There
were other distant alarms, but no brush or slap of footsteps.
Immediately he hauled himself up upon the manger. Here the fissure
passed level with his face, not an inch wide and dark within. He thrust
his fingers between the flat jaws, feeling no widening. He now got upon
the wooden coping of the partition, and stood holding by the wall. As
the straw was tight packed against the wall beside him, he threw
himself, as he had seen the soldier do, upon the middle of the stack,
landing in a sitting position with his feet towards the door. Swinging
round to the wall, his legs found the hole they sought at the back of
the stack, and clutching rather wildly at both straw and wall, he let
himself slide rather than lowered his body, till one foot came heavily
in contact with the bottom of the manger. He was now wedged between
straw and wall, having fallen somewhat out of the well, while in the
dust he had raised in that dark, confined space, he twice coughed,
having much ado to stay other incontinent explosions. At once, forcing
his body downward, till he sat upon the trough edge, he felt before him
with his hands, his fingers striking immediately upon the edge of the
chasm and giving in, the chasm itself opening to the left of the well.

He found, when he came to press in between straw and chasm-edge, that
the way within had been made easier than it promised, evidently by the
working in it of the miscreant's shoulders. Though it was dark in the
well, the chasm itself showed blacker, and he had the aspect of its
contour in his mind. Wrestling himself in quicker for the help of the
sloping trough, he presently lay on his chest entirely inside the stone
berth. It was well for him, as indeed he says, that he had not an
instant to waste in speculation, or dismay, over the happenings of a few
hours since within the little catacomb in which he lay. There was
certainly, he tells us, a something foreign in the worn angle of the
upper side of his couch which he touched for an instant with one
knee--an object, coarse and soft like a fragment of cloth, in which was
folded something nobbed and smooth like the stem of a pipe, but that it
was nobbed at both ends. Beyond this, the place seemed as bare as your

All was black within, but as he raised his cap towards the crack, he
felt a waft of air in his face, while a little wind sang, far up, like
the whining of a dog. Just above, through a narrow fracture, sadly
contracted for his negotiation, he could see a portion of the cleft,
about nine feet long, lit from the stable-side, and sloping far upwards,
with room enough at its widest, in shape like a pair of praying hands.
Pausing only to tauten his gloves, he rose to his knees, and testing the
slope hands first (and finding it far smoother than he expected) he
pushed upwards between the narrow walls; finding, when he was on his
feet, that a hold or slot had been cut in the smooth slope into which
his searching fingers fell, and the same higher up for his left hand,
and, when he had drawn himself off his feet, a similar support, a few
inches up, for his left boot. The slope here was fairly abrupt, but both
the upper and lower surfaces were, or had been worked, smooth, a mercy
for which he was thankful, seeing that for the most part the pass was so
narrow he was compelled to keep his head turned sidelong. The middle and
blacker part of these narrows, however, were wider than the rest. When
he had wrestled up upon his left foot, his left hand, searching, found a
slot in the middle of the sloping surface, his right feeling down and
out till it found a holdfast on the lip of the opening--here not half an
inch--over the third stall. Pulling over, his right foot now found the
first hand-hold, and he struggled and wrestled up out of the black
narrows into the half-light.

This struggling in the dark between two pressing walls was breathless
work and exceedingly distressing.

It was now gentler and freer mounting for some fifteen to sixteen feet;
but above that, the roof began to sag again in a sickening fashion,
falling at a long angle till it seemed to meet the bottom flat. Hauling
after him his trousered legs, he made for this without pause; working
forward rapidly on his left elbow and hip; for a few lavish inches in a
coffin-like niche even upon the dignity of his knees. The outward slope
here was sharper, and he had much ado to keep himself in the wider
portion: to prop himself, so to speak, on these slippery surfaces, out
of the pinching narrows above the stable. He was never far from the
surface of the stable wall--from twenty-four to forty inches--and though
the opening into the stable below varied in width, its light was
distracting rather than helpful, and he was better served by some small
shafts and glimmers from about and nowhere. Portions of the silent
stable and its stalls were startlingly clear to his passing glance, and
his clothing sometimes more clear above them than met with his approval.
However, with no leisure to heed or stop, he worked rapidly up under
that sagging roof, till it had bent itself to a few inches over the
rising floor, and himself just moving upon his chest. He could not get
his shoulders further, nor gain a view beneath. He began to conclude
that somewhere here must be the murderer's cut, yet he did not think,
since he had last seen the stable, he had risen sufficiently high to
have come above the harness-room. It was darkish here, the north opening
being a deep and narrow crack. Feeling along the roof with his hands, he
found a widening away from the stable, but nothing he liked. It was
long, and the rise at most an inch, while within, it had a black
unwindowed look. He did not see how any man, however driven and
reckless, would have pushed his body into so cruel a place. Down the
stable side there seemed little change in the roof, though there was a
curious crescent-shaped rise near its lowest extremity. Here, feeling
about, he found, under the pencil-width of stable light, a deep
depression in the floor, formed probably by standing water. It took him
a moment to realise that this was his way. It was excellently smooth if
shallow, and though plainly a natural feature, resembled a V cut in the
stone, its narrower end under the sag and deepest there. There it would
be possible to climb upon the side. When he had slid down and edged into
it along the stable-wall, he saw, in the cavern beyond, that the roof
rose dread inch by dread inch off the steep slope, the basin continuing
level into the rock perhaps an inch or two beyond the point where his
head lay. It was not a pleasing place. The upper roof kept so low that,
though there was one longish beam of light close above, yet he perceived
little of the still higher parts, and what he saw, from the block of
rocks, inclined him to think the cleft turned in. The climb had been
more difficult than he thought, but the cut could hardly be many yards
further up. He was inclined to high hope by the sight of some small
ferns growing head-down in the grey light. Sir William conjectured he
had been about five minutes climbing so far, and if he could manage it
in another twelve, he would yet catch poor Jarvis.

Reclining on his left hip, his hands, an inch from his chin, found a
couple of projections over the stable crack, by which he hauled his head
and shoulders under the sag, and by further weals and projections
disclosed by the light, lifted head and shoulders out of the socket,
kicking forward upon his chest again out of the more crushing narrows.
His face was still turned with his right cheek upward. Thus out of the
worst and blowing somewhat, though in good spirits, he saw something
through his arms which greatly disturbed him. Below his eyes, down the
narrow opening, was a view of the stables, showing the ends of two
stalls, and the back wall from the open to the second door. A sort of
flicker of light attracted his eye downward. Just beyond the port-hole
between the two doors, Spafield was standing in a draggling attitude,
but looking in a direction near the lower part of the crack. There was a
sort of stricken firmness in his bold figure. He held his shako by its
chin strap and swiftly swung it, while his left hand he kept shifting
off the wall and wiping across his open mouth and heavy chin, on which
was fixed a smile that might have been a sneer, or a more horrid gape of
reckless satiety. His long chin and cheek were wet with Heans knew not
what, and his bold eye was heavy and mischievously cold. An appearance
rather than a reality of humility was lent to his person by the long
smooth hair which crept over the white of his collar upon the red below.
Over his jacket-tails his "gully" hung at his cross-belt. There he was,
in his way amiable enough, his pale face directed some few feet above
the stack--whipping his dirty leg with his hat, and pushing up and
wiping away at that amiable fixture.

Poor Sir William Heans, moving just free between the two walls, was
doubtful if his struggles had been heard; or if the man had caught a
rubbing in the cleft--was uncertain from what it was produced--and was
watching the place in a kind of meek and deadly amazement. He watched
him closely. He did not think the vile rascal was comfortable. He seemed
yet blind to his position, and believed he was too meek for such a
triumph. Heans squandered a few priceless moments eyeing the wicked

What now happened occupied the space of from three to four minutes, and
took place in sharp succession.

Heans heard the man cry out a curious oath about "his body," saw him
spring round, flash his hand across his eyes, and bend his face to the
port-hole. For an instant his head blocked the shaft of light, and Sir
William saw his fingers go to his bayonet. Then he shot up, swore
silently, and ran over into one of the stalls.

Heans was now out of Spafield's vision, and he began immediately to push
upward. He was arrested with a deadly qualm by a voice calling his name.
Next moment the caves vibrated with Abelia's voice, and he heard her
call out, "Father says, please--please to come back, and he will go out
with you himself."

He looked down at the conflagration of the door, and saw her come
groping through and feel her way calm and timid from stall to stall. He
could see her fingers tremble on this post and on that. Again she stood
still and beseeched him by name to "come back to the house." She seemed
persuaded he was in the cave. Now he almost lost the girl; next he saw
her with her hands about her face by a port-hole beam.

Sir William chafed agonisingly in the crack. He was shockingly angry
with Oughtryn and his daughter. He caught quickly at a projection and
pulled upward a few feet.

He was agitated, however, at Spafield's disappearance, and once again
sought Abelia's figure. He had not heard the slightest sound, but
instantly he saw the gentle girl standing opposite the port-hole and
thought from her face that she was listening, but saw that the man had
crawled along the stall and had snatched at one of her hands. He was
still holding down, and he could see his tall head only over the

Perhaps in her amazement, or blindness, she had asked him who he was,
for he seemed to Heans to be answering a question in his rapid way.

"Who am I?" jabbered he. "You remember my face! Good old Sly! No, I
won't have crying--but mute crying! I agrees with you--I'm a sharp man.
But I'm lonely in my life. And here you are, treasured lady, my company
and only comfort. You took to me from the first, didn't you? We're a
pair of lonely ones. Let you away--never! Don't you make me cruel with
any one!"

"Cruel!" said Abelia, her trembling voice very quiet and precise: "Oh
no, you're very good to me, officer!"

"Ah, you see I'se the advantage of you. There's a thing I'm friends with
better than men. That's a thing I never ill-use. Playful like--feel how
my 'and has you in a vice. What a good thing I'm tender fond of your
liddle, pale face. Break your 'art, I loves you like a green jackass!
And never ashamed of you--no, I'm true. Liddle drab, I'm true till the
grave opens, and after that I'll be with you, if you want old Sly!"

"Oh, how your hand is trembling, soldier," said the poor girl, trying to
see him. "You mean me no harm? You are ill. Your hand is trembling."

"Look at that now! Feel how tired I am! Bah, I understand you, Abelia!
You took to me from the first. We ran it together, didn't we? Yes, I can
be patient and I can be cruel, just like you. But there, it's adoration!
Keep quiet! I'll put my loving hand on your mouth!"

The fellow staggered upright, the facings of his coat vying with her
groping visage. He pulled her near to him. Heans saw her face drop. She
struggled. He kissed her poor, weak eyes. She gave a slight cry, and he
put his hand upon her mouth.

There came a groan from the wall.

Sir William Heans began to return, and with a side-wrench struggled back
behind the sag. Somewhere here he stopped an instant, and in a sad
distinct voice said, "Be calm, miss. I am close beside you. You will
soon have aid." He added, as calmly: "God pity you, you beggarly
villain." Looking out again, he saw the girl duck and (taking advantage,
perhaps, of a spasm of amazement in the red-coat) near pull apart,
wrestling a few steps over to the wall, but in the wrong direction, to
the east of the port-hole. Spafield wavered slowly after her, his steady
leaden glance on the wall behind. "Ah," said he, swift and harshly, "I
hears a old cat mewing. So that's where my noble was? I thought you was
a dook--very near. You're coming to interfere between me and the drab!"
He caught the girl again, and she hid her face. He dragged her hands
away and again covered her mouth. The feeble girl struggled back,
cowering into a corner of the black door.

Sir William swiftly pushed his way down under the sloping roof, and when
presently he reached the cavern midway towards the narrows, he altered
his posture head-downward, and so slid and struggled his way to the
narrows below, into which--retaining his balance of mind I know not
how--he entered on his chest and stomach, feeling for the hand-fasts,
and guiding his person roughly from left to right, and vice versa, by
his recollection of the ascent; steadily at first, for fear of a
sprained hand, but, catching, with the fourth hand-fast, a glimmer of
straw through the hole at the bottom, pushing and sliding with a jam and
a heavy fall against the mouth or funnel; thence, flinging, rather than
climbing, into the cavern beneath Jallet's broken key.

Feet first, he pushed out into the manger. In the gloomy straw-well
there was a beam of light on the wall side, and in the sharp outline of
the mouth. He rose in the manger, and climbing on the side, sought to
get some hand and foot-holds in the straw, staying himself against the
wall at his back. The holding proving inutile, he turned to the wall,
and following up the crack with his glove, he found a foothold on which
he pushed up within a few feet of the top. Here, touching, on a level
with his thigh, a fresh unevenness--possibly the very carvings of the
convict Jallet--he inserted his right boot, and turning, sprang up and
struggled out upon the walled surface of the hay.

The dazzle of the port-hole was distracting, but across the stalls he
could discern Abelia's figure clinging yet with her face against the
door, and that of Spafield, at the same instant holding one of her hands
from her face, and glaring back from a grim, depressed attitude. The man
looked back at the stack, his bold, high-cheeked face very white under
the eyes, which seemed both narrow, leaden, and angry. It was a quiet
movement. As he straightened up, and as Heans jumped down upon the
manger from the partition, the latter saw with fresh abhorrence--beside
himself with anger, loathing, and grief as he was--that there was a
staining of blood in the corner of Abelia's mouth.

Her restless eyes were shut.

Sir William Heans descended into the stall, and from thence walked
slowly into the next but one, where he remembered seeing his hay-fork
leaning on the partition. He found and secured the fork, wiping his face
with his handkerchief, and regaining his breath. Presently he told the
soldier to "drop the young girl's hand."

The red-coat, who had been leaning on the door with his right hand,
shovelled the girl's hand from his left to his right, and turned about
till he faced Heans. He thrust his free hand, which was bandaged, under
the facing of his jacket, pulled something out, and put his hand
waveringly on the combing of the door. He took off this bunched hand,
once, to meekly touch his tall, black head.

"We've 'ad a bit of a miff," gabbled he, keeping that narrow stare on
Heans. "Break your heart, she's not free like she used to be with me! I
believe it's you."

"You believe that!" said Sir William Heans, striving to hide the calm
trembling of his hands on the hayfork.

"My body, yes, and more!" said Spafield, with a pallid glitter of anger.
"What was you about in those black cracks? You speak and tell me how
high you was!"

"Yes," said Heans, in a quiet voice; "behind the cut of your old master,
you cruel and haunted wretch!"

The fellow did not move, nor did he seek his bayonet, only elevating his
long, bold face for an instant towards the cleft. At that instant, Sir
William flashed up the fork, and sprang in upon him, making a feint high
upon the arm which held the girl's, but aiming with all his strength on
the muscle of the other on the door. He was afraid the fellow concealed
some beastliness in that hand. The soldier was quick, dodging twice,
and, by luck or judgment, receiving the blow as much on the white
shoulder-cushion as the arm beneath. He gave a quick grunt, dropped down
against the door as if shot, and made a dart along the wall behind
Heans. The latter, however, prepared for such attack, swung himself
back, with the back-sweep of his weapon, into the mouth of a stall. He
brought up stunningly against the right partition, with the red-coat
raised on one knee in the way opposite.

The amber light at the few openings was softening, and tranquil eve was

Sir William spoke to Abelia, bidding her "run to the house," and with an
oath the ruffian bade her be mute, adding: "You move, and I'll lock your
'and!" She stood where he had dropped her arm, her serene face huddled
against the door.

It may be wondered at this juncture why Sir William Heans did not
himself call upon the nearer constable. We suggest as one reason, that
his outwearied mind forgot the man's propinquity, in the narrowness of
the event--the agony of disappointment--and the gravity and justice of
his aversion. Perhaps he put it aside, and perhaps too long. When aloft
in the cleft, he had made no outcry, and his reason is plain. After all
that had happened on that day, and on the evening before, as a prisoner
he would hesitate to summon a constable in such a juncture. With what
hasty story? Where had he been--with that red tale on Abelia's lips?
What story would Spars have given?

But more, was it not less than seven minutes to the half-hour? There was
danger to Jarvis Carnt, who might, even now, have gained the Orphanage!

While against the partition, Heans--stained, breathless, and bestrawed
as he was--tugged at and opened the breast of his spencer. He was unable
to get as clear a vision of the ruffian as he wished, being confused by
the beam of a port-hole which he kept behind him over his shoulder; but
he had the hay-fork up, and kept his eye on the gleam of his legs.
Spafield made, however, no advance, sudden or sly, on his antagonist.
Backing sourly against the wall, he balanced with a kind of feebleness
upon his legs, and began to retire towards the terrified girl. His right
hand slipped stiffly along the stone. His bandaged arm hung low against
his white leg. By thus returning, he a little lessened the distance
between himself and Heans.

Sir William waited until he came closer by a couple of steps, when,
stepping forward a half-step with his left foot, he aimed a flash-like
blow at the back of his head, which the rascal, ducking forward, took on
his pouch and bayonet; when swaying round off the wall, he flung himself
on Sir William's left knee, catching that in his left hand and the ankle
in his right. Doubling up his leg, he sent him, with a horrible sideways
wrench, tumbling down on his two hands in the stall. Instantly, it
seemed, the fellow's trembling hand closed across his mouth, and his
uncertain knee pressed him heavily towards the stones.

The wicked man again beheld his prey from behind. He was now--like the
tarantula--in his chosen position for attack. He had now that
"advantage" on which he nourished. It was not difficult to say what this
time he was about to do with it.

Immediately after, Heans felt a string-like band pass over his head and
face, and draw tight between his cravat and chin. It was not till the
thing began to grip inexorably, and his breath and sight began to fail
him, that he saw with what steady intention the twist was being exerted.
He had sunken from his hands, yet was still propped upon his right
elbow, his extremities kicking upon the man's buttock, the fingers of
his right hand endeavouring to get between the band and his neck. He
felt that his senses were becoming unreliable. With a supreme effort of
mind, he left to its will the choking thing about his neck, and thrust
his hand through the breast of his clawhammer. He felt immediately the
hilt of that burlesque weapon. It was there, low in the pocket, but his
chest being at strain, he had some difficulty in getting his fingers
round it. He had reason to bless the irregularities that were upon it.
At that instant, in a moment, perhaps, of stupid elation, Spafield
slightly relaxed the tension of his instrument, and bending
liquor-haunted lips to his ear, said, "You might have knowed, Mr.
Silence, I'd never die in these caves!" whereon Heans, twitching the
hilt upward with fore and great fingers, slipped his thumb upon it, and
presently got sufficient of the handle in his glove to grip it. He felt
Spafield sink heavily down upon his back, and again there came a
sickening pressure at the tourniquet. At the same moment, Heans, making
a wrench at the "poniard," lifted it till the blade was free, and twice
struck it back with all his force as high as he could get his arm.

Instantly the tourniquet relaxed, and with a grunt and a whinny Spafield
sat rather than fell against the near partition of the stall. He was
quite quiet. He breathed hard. His face, lying back in the port-hole
beam, had for a moment a frightful look.

Heans wrestled from under him and struggled to his feet, staggering to
the manger. Here he rested for a few seconds, when on turning with the
intention of passing out of the stall, he saw the soldier sway up and
tremble forward upon his right arm, his long face raised towards him
grey as stone. He thought, indeed, the wretched man had something on his
mind he wished to say, till in the port-hole light he saw that he was
rising upon his knees. His right trouser leg was stained with a heavy
soaking of blood. He rose very slowly, and with a groan fell forward
upon his breast. He fell on his left side, and Sir William heard,
between pity and loathing, that after he fell he muttered some loose
prayer or petition for "heavenly mercy." Heans--dazed and faint enough
himself--might even then have pushed by him, when a spasm of the great
body disclosed that the sheath of his bayonet, near the left coat-tail,
was empty. He had fallen on his left side upon his arm, towards the
other, and almost across the stall.

His right hand, palm downwards on the stones, was not three feet from
the corner where Sir William stood. The latter quickly turned, and swung
himself up by the partition to the manger. Spafield, who had been lying
on his bayonet, shot forward on his left knee, brushing Sir William's
boot with his fingers. The ruffian fell groaning under the manger, but
as Heans, holding his knife in his hand, balanced along the sloping
side, the soldier leapt up, and working rapidly along the manger-edge
with his hands, hauled suddenly up, and aimed a ringing stab into the
right partition, not a span beneath the strap of Heans' trousers, as he
leapt over it upon his chest. Heans, however, was hardly lying upon the
coping, and in the act of lifting his legs over, when Spafield was
dragging steadily, in a curious sitting posture, for the mouth of the
stall. His massive legs were crossed, and he pulled himself forward by
his arms and hands, dragging the long weapon in the right. The angry
patch on his leg now vied with his coat, but he held his betagged head
obstinate and low. He was away so suddenly, and his progress was so
steady and desperate, that Sir William saw he must be quick if he was to
evade an encounter with the maimed wretch in the stall end. His
judgment, however, being untrustworthy, and being still distressed in
mind and breath from what he had escaped, he missed his footing on the
manger-edge of the next stall, and fell heavily upon his side and elbow
on the stones. He rose at once to his feet, and picking up the
"poniard," which had flown out of his hand, would yet have run for the
mouth, but already he thought he could hear the slither of the bayonet
out in the open way, and sure enough there, an instant later, was the
man, sitting quiet, leaning on his hand, before the stall.

Sir William tells us that at the same instant, behind the red-coat, the
grey dress of the child caught his eye. Her face was turned inward
against the door.

As he backed into the corner, endeavouring to steady himself, Sir
William was not certain what to do. He might run fair at the miscreant
as he sat darkly eyeing him, and risk a stabbed leg or a fall; or he
might leap up and scale perhaps the next two partitions, so gaining on
him, and getting before him to the yard. Spafield, as if he divined the
latter chance, dragged himself a few inches nearer the right partition,
but there again stopped. It is possible that, having heard Heans fall,
he imagined him more hurt than he appeared--perhaps unable to climb. He
may well have thought this, seeing him standing against the manger,
somewhat bowed, and leaning heavily on his arm.

Spafield eyed him for a time, and then began to drag himself into the
stall along the opposite partition. He dragged himself in with much
exertion, about four feet: pausing there and painfully moving his
crossed legs outward across the stall. Afterwards he moved a few inches
further--his face, as the other did not move, filling with a sort of
black anger--and with some oaths and groaning began to draw in his left
foot beneath him. Heans now thought him near enough for safety, and
turning, backed himself by his right hand up upon the manger. In his
left was his "poniard." Here he stopped to see if the ruffian would
continue (when he would have sprung back upon the coping); but seeing
that he did not, but immediately whirled about towards the way, he leapt
rather than stepped along the manger, and sprang upward upon the next

It was sharp work now on both hands. Sir William Heans endeavoured to
outdistance the wounded man in a climb across the next two or three
stalls, while it was plainly the mad fellow's purpose to stop him ever
reaching the door. Sir William swung across and dropped sharp upon the
next manger. He put all the speed and judgment he could summon into the
breathless race; the while, with a quick and groaning effort, Spafield
flung himself into the open way, and with steady, dark head down, and
tapping knife, was shouldering those heavy limbs after him along the

Heans, avoiding a chain, and balancing with his knife-hand along the
wall, was in three steps against the next partition, and as quickly
astraddle it. Swinging over and dropping, he was aware that the redcoat,
with powerful arms and hands, was bowing his steady way but a few inches
behind it. The dragging noise of his limbs and the regular "slip-slip"
of the steel upon the stones made an unpleasing and never
to-be-forgotten sound. Again Sir William safely balanced his way along a
manger-edge, and reached the stone division. As he pulled up upon it,
glancing into the way behind, he saw the ruffian dragging but a few feet
behind it, watching him from that low head. He seemed, as Heans saw him,
to pull his whole leg beneath him, and propel himself forward with a
sudden spring, which must have brought him alongside the division, as
Heans dropped upon the next manger, for he was panting at the stall end
as Heans went across. This time Sir William dropped into the manger
itself, not trusting his wearied steps upon the edge. He knew by some
furniture of the place that he was in the last stall but two, or the
third from the door, and that the effort he was about to make must be
made in the next, or the following stall; preferably the next, the first
being much contracted by the overhanging of the harness-room. In the
flash of that instant, as he stumbled his way across the manger, he knew
that he would be unable to outdistance Spafield. By the time he had
hauled up upon the next division, sprung clear, and dashed for the
mouth, the red-coat would have dragged within the distance of a spring.
He could hardly have thought his chance of serious worth, if upon the
effort of another climb he were caught by those skilled hands. Two
courses were open to the dazed man. He might make a black game of it
back and forward over a partition till the hour, or beat him yet and get
into the yard. The last was the main intention of his mind. As deep,
indeed, as it seemed that of the wicked, panting ruffian to keep his own
distress as quiet as he was able.

Their quiet was a point on which they seemed agreed.

Even as he clambered up, half-blind and choking for breath upon the
manger, Sir William had decided upon adopting a dangerous ruse, which,
while it won him a pause, faced him, in a few minutes, with a precarious
end. In the stall behind the one he was leaving, he had twice come near
to missing his footing on the chains. He determined, when dropping from
the top of the next, to counterfeit a slip and a second fall somewhat
along from the corner of the stall, and so place the now exhausted
murderer a second time in a quandary, whether to directly approach a
fainting man, or, doubting his malady, which place of evasion to guard,
the stall-mouth or the last partition.

Sir William made the leap twice--falling back into the manger with an
intention only half-calculated--before he topped the partition.
Throwing his leg up, he straddled the coping an instant, then swung over
the stall towards the mouth. Even as he swung, Spafield, with a ghastly
bowing and straining, struggled level with the partition. In the stall
Heans fell upon his feet, but instead of letting go, clutched for a
moment wildly at the coping, and sank with a slight cry upon his back,
rising again in a faint and groping manner upon his elbow. At the same
instant, the soldier came with a quick spring, and a slap and slither of
steel, near to midway across the mouth. He fell prone, with his knife
under his deadly face, but seeing instantly what had happened, wrenched
himself round by his hands close to the division he had just passed. Sir
William, with a sharp effort, sat upright, and got, with a white glare
of fatigue and blindness, upon one knee. His rusty dagger hung
half-forgotten in his left hand. His right glove clutched at the stones
of the partition above his head--which, as something which knew its
danger, seemed to waver towards it and yet steel its striving senses
against the support. Here was, or seemed to be, a wounded quarry, after
Spafield's heart.

The red-coat, however, was not so certain of his fortune. Pulling a foot
inward, and raising himself on his arms, he examined the fallen man. The
tired panting of both men became audible.

If the grisly fellow was not quite certain how to take the man before
him, he quickly decided upon a course of experiment. He began to drag
himself close in along the partition against which Heans leaned. The
half fainting gentleman allowed him to come foot after foot into the
stall; then, coming late to his senses, he groped feebly upon his feet,
and limping half-upright, began to go back with knife held up and
glaring face--back and outwards a few defensive inches towards the
centre. Another inch and Sir William would have been by the deadly
ruffian and out into the yard. Spafield, however, came no further.
Plunging immediately round, he flung himself diagonally across the
stall; and indeed made no wait there, but dragged back heavily to the
bottom of the next partition. Heans, too, lost no second, but flung
panting back, and sank beside the opposite wall, close to his first
chosen spot.

Spafield sat blowing and panting here but a few moments. He had got
himself round again with shoulders opposite Heans and his one leg drawn
beneath him. There he lay and heaved, his long head mostly low, his eyes
also low for the most part, though now and then the cold gaze looked up.

He began to drag forward again, almost straight for Sir William Heans,
but in a direction a little behind him. This would have taken him across
the centre of the stall; thus, making for a point just behind that where
his enemy hung. He seemed to offer a gift to the dazed man of a sporting
dash out, but in reality, and on the glaring face of it, had Heans
delayed an instant where he was, it would have put Spafield, near the
centre of the stall, within springing distance of Heans staggering out
along his wall, or staggering back into the right corner of the manger.
Heans' frantic defence was a retreat towards the left corner, with the
threat of again negotiating the manger and in turn the last partition,
provided the wearied and weakened ruffian enterprised so far into the
stall, repeating his first attack on his exhausted and breathless

Spafield, however, showed an abnormal rawness and nervousness, instantly
flinging round to the left across the mouth, even as the other struggled
upright, making his white-eyed retreat. Almost as quickly Heans plunged
back after him; but staggered again to his knee against the wall.
Spafield lay there for a while upon his knife.

At last he rose again upon his trembling hands, and painfully shifting
his legs round, moved further under the right partition. His face had a
stonier, more exhausted look. He began to drag inward along that
division, gasping heavily. He held his head low and sidelong, his face
showing a mixture of jaded impatience and deadly qualms of faintness. In
one of these he stopped, his head resting on his left elbow, and
despondently eyeing the stones between himself and Heans. The bloody
patch on his upper leg had spread below the knee. He looked weak and
disillusioned--only half in step with his terrible work. His panting
face, narrow as was the stare--and his straining body--had an air
somewhat asking for agreement, somewhat familiar, somewhat ashamed. Was
there a sneaking wish for clemency in Spar's grey look? Is not the
demand for forgiveness often Wrong's last card?

Sir William, kneeling by his partition--himself at handgrips with
exhaustion--wondered was he spent, and if not, where was the trap?

Where lay the plan in this distant stalking, and clinging to the other
wall? As he advanced in, a foot at a time, Spafield began to give him
nobler and nobler chances for a dash out. Was the wicked wretch stupid
with his terrible exertions? Rather, was he tempting him out with a
bait? The full length of the stall was about twelve feet. The spot where
Sir William knelt was about three feet from the manger. Spafield pulled
in along the opposite partition for some five feet, and then, after a
pause, continuing his inward drag, began to roll out at an almost
imperceptible angle nearer the centre. Sir William did not immediately
notice the lessening of the distance between them by so deliberate a
movement, but being puzzled by his daring so far in, and at his momently
opening, with his approach to a level with himself, a more wonderful
chance for egress, he happily discerned that he was no longer hugging
his wall. Spafield was now over seven feet in and still two feet nearer
the mouth than Heans. There was, even now, at the moment he was caught
at it, a gap between his red jacket and the wall beside him of
twenty-five inches. Heans no longer dallied with the alluring bait, but
rose to his feet, and sprang half round to the manger. No sooner did
Spafield see him get up than, quick as a flash, he swung up his bayonet
by its point, and spun it whistling at the back of his head. The weapon
caught the much enduring gentleman a blow on the side of his cap, and he
fell wildly into the piled straw, his hands catching for support at
partition and manger. His blood was up, and he endeavoured to see
collectedly through the labouring and confusion of his senses. He was
down on his right knee in the hay. He succeeded in doing so to the
extent of perceiving that the ruffian was about to spring upon him. He
heard the screaming cry of his breath. He saw some six feet in front of
him his dark head, low--saw him jerk under him his left foot and fling
out a red arm. In an instant the white facing of the soldier's coat
hurled upwards, and with a defensive and instinctive memory of his
chosen place of attack, Heans whipped up his left hand, with the
"poniard" in it, to the cap of his knee. Spafield had again chosen that
way. The man fell upon him with a terrible force, the knife entering his
breast below the cross-belts. With a strong, long groan he sprang
upright upon his feet, swayed life-like for a few seconds, then crashed
down upon his back, rolling over and over into the mouth. There he lay,
face up, for a while moving his arms like a man swimming; then falling
quiet, the hilt still in his coat.

Sir William staggered to his feet after him, and sank again to his knee,
and to his back among the hay under the manger--there watching the
fellow die with a grave eye. Presently he removed his gaze with a sort
of impatience, and looked sadly into space. So the day was over, and the
evening's gaiety was about to begin! His despondency then came very
heavily upon him, and as he lay there, he repeated to himself in a sort
of monotone certain words which occur in a writing in the old book: "For
where is now my hope; who shall see it?" again repeating, after a sad
interval of quiet: "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is
not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?"

Suddenly there crept upon his hearing the sound of some one crying.

It was the poor young girl. He called to her: "Do not weep, miss."



With regard to the little play alone--who will ever forget the evening
who was present; or the strange, simple old house; or the garden with
its broken stonework? Sir John remarked that the "room" had certainly
"been built for speakers." The advancing echo of the violins with their
"Campbells are coming" was charming. While, when the violet curtains
were withdrawn from before the western end, and the "Hall of Halbert's
Tower" was disclosed, Lady Franklin was heard to inquire whether the
"carved ram's-horn mantel-piece" was "actual stone." The ladies and
gentlemen voted the play most striking and noble, though many condemned
the fair Helen for loving the wrong gentleman--handsome as he was in
his majestic villainy, full of haughty triumph as were his sinister
words: "Our regiment mean to teach your clan the finest of all lessons:
the art of spending life." As for Halbert Macdonald, the generous and
unfortunate young chief, he seemed to exult in his noble sacrifice, and
who will forget his plaided figure as he stood at the little window
beside the chimney, and apostrophised, in fact, the mountain luminary:

O, blessed star
Of morning, do you wait upon that cone
Whose whiteness mocks our marble, to renew
The calm cerulean distance can impart
To thoughts of earth's brief struggles? Linger yet!
It sinks; 'tis gone; its peace is in my soul.

It was excellently portrayed, the acting of old and young vying with the
realities of the room; the pretty sorrows of the participants with the
sound of the drums and fifes outside in the garden. The actual tragedy
in the caves had been carefully hidden from the guests. Those who knew
of an affray had been cautioned, while, that an actual death had
occurred, close by, a few hours previous, was known only to one or two
of the men. A small conclave of gentlemen, awaiting Sir John Franklin in
the little room off the entrance, had gravely discussed the tragedy, and
the master of the house had been summoned. Oughtryn's story, and that of
Dr. Wardshaw, who was watching his daughter, had created distinct
sympathy for Sir William Heans, who still lay in his rooms. The case was
remarkable. The soldier had been stabbed to death, but there had been a
long pursuit, while a peculiar instrument and marks of attempted
strangulation had been found on the prisoner's person. The old master of
the house played his part pretty well, facing Sir John Franklin, and
revealing nothing, as he was bid. Few heard tell of the terrible affray,
and those who remembered to enquire after the shy child, Abelia, were
told anything than that she had been taken away between life and death.

It is no use pretending the company was anything but most amused and
gratified. When THE FATE OF THE MACDONALDS had been settled, and tea had
been toyed with, the green chairs were whisked under the walls, the
violet hangings tucked away, and those staid, bewhiskered gentlemen
circled the floor. The girls soon lost their playgoer's pensiveness, for
there was dead "Halbert" in his rough plaid, and traitor "Henry" in his
black periwig, polking in line with them against the chalky old
paintings on the walls. Aye, and "Mac Ian" and "Lindsay," a pair of
too-portly enemies, at their wine; and wilful "Helen Campbell," her
bridal veil thrown off, attitudinising beside her pretty, imperious
Excellency before the mantel--on her right, in clawhammer and white
breeks, Sir John Franklin himself, grinning away with his tragic,
obstinate, round English face. Indeed, "Mr. Daunt's discovery" was a
success. The novelty and freshness of partings and meetings in such a
place appealed to nearly all--weighed upon but a few. The innovation of
the police Commandant was much praised.

We may imagine the decoration, the pauses of the piano, the loud and
level conversation, the candles, the black silks, the curls. Mr. Daunt
was his efficient self--with a steady-eyed word with this one, and a
hard smiling patience for that. His not obtrusive figure shared a short
of mild notoriety with those of Captain and Mrs. Hyde-Shaxton, because
of something "prejudicial" he had said of that beautiful woman, and the
reconciliation that had been come to between them. All had heard, and
many besides old Chedsey had seen the "lavender pad"--with the leather
pocket in which the prisoner had hidden his notes; and many besides her
amusing husband had expressed grave anger, all of which had been happily
terminated by her clever unselfishness, and (quickly meeting Mr. Daunt)
her determination the BAL PARE should not be jeopardised for a private

If people will only keep their tempers, so much may be forgiven!
Besides, it was said Captain Shaxton's wife had been in grave fault with
the law, and invited her vexation, from her romantic action. A good
woman cannot afford to be indiscreet!

There was a general interest in this lady, so erect and frail, her
staring eyes so uplifting, ardent, and good. While old Captain Shaxton,
with his fun and his subdued giggles, was made quite a favourite. Many
had scented the attachment to his wife, the agony of mind, and the
endurance of purpose, which had been hidden under his amusing threats.
They felt it was deeper than if he had expressed himself "open and
dangerous." Here he was mildly laughing away the instinctive stares of
curiosity, and here and there, perhaps, a mild look of wonder. What a
power is a little moral courage!

Yet we press too much on the passing curiosity about these people. The
interest of the hour and the night was in devoted Lady Franklin, in
whose honour the company was assembled, and who had the daring to
accompany her veteran discoverer across the untrodden peaks to Macquarie
Harbour. [Note 32. Then deserted.] Still we must not forget to chronicle
old Miss Lecale's remark: "Who but the Commandant," she said, "could
have engineered it so that if he lost he won." Again, Mrs. McKevin of
Isnaleara--the promoter of the "farewell SOIREE"--had her little
defence, so it was told. To the gentleman who remarked that, "he was not
such a very dangerous fellow after all," she replied, "Beware how you
are severe with my Commandant. He does not often boast." While there was
old Captain Shaxton's joke about the "exploring party." Some one
remarking that "Lady Franklin would set a new fashion in chignons and
white silk slippers at Macquarie Harbour," Shaxton had prophesied
delightfully, it would be "a bold front and snow-shoes!" Yes, we may
fancy, amid the whirling throng, the jests--the courteous fears--the
steady-spoken congratulations! There they went! And of course there were
matters between people whose united ages would not have reached that of
their handsome hostess, as important to them as these we have told.

In the midst of all this pleasure and amusement, we may imagine how the
news fell on the guests that "Captain Shaxton had just shot Mr. Daunt in
an empty garret above the ball-chamber."

* * * * *

Luckily, poor Mrs. Shaxton, who had been up at gun-fire with some scenic
arrangement, had made her adieus and slipped away. It came out
afterwards that Shaxton had been standing under the stairs talking into
the actors' green-room, when Daunt, coming behind, and calling over his
shoulder for Tipton, Shaxton turned, looked at him for a moment, and
asked him off-hand, "why their friend H. was locked up?" It seems he had
some information. How he had come by it is inexplicable, since by strict
request the fatal affray had been kept from him and his wife. He had
heard sufficient, however, of some half truth to know that Sir William
Heans had been caught in a scuffle about a woman during that day and
some one had been hurt; and being depressed about it, had gone along to
see if he could speak with the prisoner, in whose debt he was, but had
been turned back by the police. He had just returned up the passage. Few
knew there to what he was referring, except Captain Karne, who had been
with him in the stable on the night of the inspection, and, knowing both
men, was restless in the matter. Daunt looked at Shaxton quite amazed,
saying, "You needn't pump me, Shaxton! I'm worked to death! Go to Gold
or Magruder," and immediately left the door: going back under the
stairs, and after calling for Tipton, turning and mounting them. Captain
Shaxton, muttering something about "pockethandkerchief in the
cloak-room," after an instant went off and was heard to go after him up
the stairs. Karne, not quite easy in his mind, waited in the green-room
for five minutes, when growing more uneasy, and fancying he heard a
pistol-shot over the piano, he beckoned his friend Kent from the
ballroom and together they mounted to the upper floor. There was a
ladies' waiting-room to the left at the end of the front passage, and
there were two for the gentlemen along the passage to the right. Karne
had met Shaxton with the arrivals in the first room of the two--a small
square cabinet--the second room three doors along, had, in fact, hardly
been entered. The passage was not well lit. The two young men paused in
the first door, and seeing nobody there, passed on to the other. They
smelt a faint smell of gunpowder. The room contained a few turkey-worked
chairs and a round table on which was one candle only. There was nobody
here either, but across the end of the passage a door stood open before
an unlit room. The alarmed Karne beckoned onward the half incredulous
Kent. As they came up a door within slammed. This chamber was furnished
as a bedroom, as the moon showed, but a door at the back was lit
beneath. Though all was silent, Karne pushed across. Listening a moment,
he suddenly flung the door open and ran in. This was a small, longish
room, quite bare, and a candle stood by the skirting opposite the door.
The shutters were closed behind the broken glass, which had been stuffed
with bits of cloth and mended with paper. The two gentlemen stood
against the wall in opposite corners--Shaxton by the east window, with
his coat off and a stained handkerchief bound on his shirt-sleeve, which
was raised in the very act of aiming a little flint-lock pistol at
Daunt. The Superintendent stood in a curious, bowed position beside a
door in the corner. He was looking sternly at Shaxton, with one small
hand spread on the gilded panels, and a similar weapon hanging in the

* * * * *

What happened between the two since they ascended the stairs is not
known. Had they disputed in the second cloak room and gone together to
this remote chamber? Or did Captain Shaxton, not finding Daunt in the
first rooms, follow him with a candle through the two rooms at the end?
Old Captain Shaxton never told the story--except that they fought upon
an old matter in dispute between them.

* * * * *

Captain Karne immediately sprang between them, crying out, "Stop,
sir--stop! The Commandant is not shooting!"

Shaxton lowered his trembling weapon, saying, "Be hanged to you, I let
him shoot first! I was in his debt."

"Is that so, sir?" asked Karne, looking at Daunt.

Daunt gave a little nod.

Karne drew back beside Kent, who was in the doorway behind.

Hyde-Shaxton again put up his weapon. He had lost a good deal of blood.
There were spots of red on his black cravat, white waistcoat and
trousers. His trembling mouth had a determined drag.

At that instant Mr. Daunt said, "One moment--I--one moment----" He had
not moved, but his sharp, implacable eyes dropped in a strange way to
the floor. Shaxton tossed his chin and just lifted his pistol above the
other's head. He looked very grave. Both Captain Karne and Kent moved
forward a step.

Thus Commandant Daunt stood for a matter of twenty seconds, none of the
three gentlemen knowing quite what to do or what to make of this unfair
demand upon his opponent's patience. Then quite briskly and collectedly
he remarked, "Your pardon, gentlemen, there is something wrong with my
sight. I see two of every one here." (As he spoke he raised his dark,
immaculate face and looked at each in turn). "The floor," he continued,
"the floor sways there in front of me. A moment, sir--I have a strange
fever in my stomach----"

None of the men moved, neither Shaxton to lower his weapon, nor those
standing by to interfere.

Hardly had he spoken when he sank with a jerk to one knee, and his
pistol fell rattling out of his grasp. He then fell sideways upon his
hand, and Kent approached and stood beside him. He began to breathe hard
and terribly. Several times he seemed about to fall his length, and Kent
knelt down and unbuckled the spotless cravat inside the velvet collar.
Captain Shaxton let his pistol-arm fall and turned to the little window.
Thus they waited--the distant music the only sound--the stricken man
leaning upon his arm and breathing terribly, his face and eyes directed
on the floor with an ashen vacuity of look.

Karne suddenly remarked he had seen the Government Surgeon in the
ballroom. He addressed Daunt in a hoarse, formal voice, asking should he
fetch him up. Daunt raised his keen eyes, trying to fix them upon the
speaker, and complaining he was blinded. "The place falls under me," he
gasped swiftly out. "I am extremely ill, sir! Yes--yes--fetch him, if
you must be running up and down. You youngsters--pah, this is death!"
With this he dropped his head sourly, and seemed as if he would have
sunk face-down upon the floor had Captain Kent not snatched at his
shoulders and raised him with his left arm over his knee. Thus hung the
stern Commandant of the foot police, his old eyes on those bare boards,
with his sharp, ashen face framed in its short side-whiskers and greying

Captain Karne hurried away, returning in a few minutes across the
bedroom with the brisk old surgeon, bitter Mr. Craye in a tall bitter
cravat, and Captain Garion, of the police. Shortly after these
gentlemen, old Magruder entered, with a couple of decanters, followed by
Sir John Franklin himself; and last the old forgotten master of the
house emerged from darkness and stood holding open the door, with blind,
obsequious eyes.

* * * * *

In the ball-chamber, Karne's shorn air, and the object of his enquiry,
aroused some notice; and by the time he had found the doctor, and in
whispering his information, delayed a quadrille, people were asking had
something occurred. A substitute for the doctor was found, but the
latter, after hurried consultation, thought the news should be further
circulated, and in a little Franklin and others were observed to go out.
Either by inference, or leakage, the news flew that the doctor had been
summoned to the scene of a quarrel. How unseemly! On an occasion so
perfectly angelic! Captain Shaxton's name was mentioned. The Captain and
Mr. Daunt were missed from the room. They would not dare do it! As from
nowhere, shot the hydra-headed legend that the two gentlemen had been
pitching into one another in a room above. Had the Commandant of the
foot police wounded sprightly Captain Shaxton? Why, no sir! No, madam! I
protest I can hardly believe it! It was t'other way! I take my oath, it
is Mr. Daunt ha' been winged! What! Hush! Handsomely, gentlemen! 'Pon my
life, sir, I can assure you on my word of honour, the Commandant, poor
man, is----

A young girl fainted under the south windows.

Old Mr. Duterreau, standing between her Ladyship and Miss Crackcroft,
stopped the music, and requested a hearing from the ladies and
gentlemen. Heaven knew, he said, what fantasia would next be swimming
into fair or handsome heads! He implored them not to mar by
misconception or romantic tittle-tattle so happy and so noteworthy, so
ingenious and so agreeable an occasion. He wished to make it clear to
everyone that the Commandant of the foot police, Captain Daunt, had not
been wounded, but seized by an illness, somewhat severe. In a few
moments he hoped they might be reassured. So saying, he smiled and
signalled to the violins.

 * * * * *

The Government Surgeon rose to his feet; stood looking at the patient as
he pocketed his instrument--lightly, ponderingly; and turning on the
others with a little smile, shook his head. He left on the floor before
Daunt a wine-glass half-filled with a muddy liquid. There was no wound.
The old sulking fellow with the pistol and the guilty mouth, by the east
window, was safe. It was the heart and stomachfever, to attacks of which
the Superintendent had been addicted. It was about to end.

The surgeon whispered some instructions to the clergyman who was behind
him; and very definitely answered some questions from the group at the
door; proceeding thence to Captain Shaxton, somewhat short of sight, and
with a "Come, sir, have you the bullet in you?"

The reader may picture to himself the room, the candle, the once-gilded
woodwork, the once fanciful decoration, the gentlemen in their clean
cravats and broadcloth, bland and not quite free of the gentle
association they have but left--Magruder offering his snuff-box to
Captain Karne behind Sir John, who stood a trifle advanced, with his
sad, round face somewhat blanched, and his hands folded in a peculiar
manner over his waistcoat, as if he were nursing a telescope.

He also had not been in strict agreement with the gentleman breathing
out his life before them.

Over near the other door, Mr. Daunt yet hung upon the knee of Kent;
beside him, kneeling with folded arms, the downcast Commandant of the
mounted police; and behind, standing as it were in guard upon them, the
Rev. Mr. Craye, with a sort of precise, determined, unobtrusive air, as
of one unmoved among the faithfulnesses of death.

Without lifting his head, Mr. Daunt suddenly said: "How indeed should
the dying exact respect!"

There was a calm silence in the room.

"Who are all these gentlemen come to my grave-side," gasped he again:
"Magruder, Karne, Garion, Shaxton? By my word, Shaxton, you near
pistolled me, you unfortunate man!"

Captain Shaxton pulled restlessly in the surgeon's clutch, but he said
nothing, fiddling at a shirt-button, and looking at the other fixed and

"We are all here, Mr. Daunt, brotherly men," said the Governor, gently,
"come to learn how to take and face the end of it. God give us all a
brave station or a quiet anchorage."

"In the calm eye of heaven," said Mr. Craye.

Daunt beckoned for the glass of medicine, and Captain Garion lifted it
to his mouth.

"Ah," gasped he, nodding his white face slowly up at Franklin's, "and
half the nobility too, it seems. Quite a memorable scene for Hobarton. I
breathe, sir, with trouble. . . . The old rat-hole sways like a

The medicine seemed to act soothingly upon him. He breathed with less
agitation and less harshly.

"What a pretty speech, gentlemen," he gasped, speaking more otiose, his
chin sinking into his cravat, "that about the 'calm eye of Heaven'--as
pretty a thing as ever I heard! I suppose our friend Craye says these
pretty things by kindly practice. . . . Sir John Franklin" (swaying for
an instant upright), "Commandant Daunt wishes to speak. He makes an
urgent request--an urgent--a very urgent request----"

The Governor immediately advanced, stooping beside the dying man in his
free, sad, athletic way. He waited thus in silence, and then as Daunt,
with his sunken head, seemed unable to do more than make his breath, he
pressed him with the quiet question: "Come, Mr. Daunt, will you not
convey to me your wish?"

There the Commandant leant on Kent's knee, his grave eyes downward,
trying as it were to stay his sight upon some point--to steady and
regulate his breath sufficiently to pass his words. He gave a faint nod
of his head, saying at last: "I have, sir--I have a something on my
mind--something urgent--urgent--something which should be known to some
one . . . to . . ."

His labouring breath again mastered his speech, and he began again his
stern struggle for utterance. "Who is this person, Mr. Daunt?" asked Sir
John Franklin. "Is it woman or man? Is the man present among these men?"

The Commandant shook his head. He raised his impressive face (in which
the determined spirit seemed to rule even the might of death), rolling
his eyes for one sharp instant over the half-distinct figures before
window and door. "I wish," he said, in a low voice, "I request that the
prisoner--Sir William Heans--now under police guard below--be quickly
brought before me--that I may inform him of something--before
all--something deeply to his advantage."

So speaking, the gentleman's lips shaped a little racked smile, and he
sank fully back upon the breast of Kent, his head sunk, his sharp face
staring down. All in the little room heard what he said, and there was
no need for Sir John's repetition to Garion of the Baronet's name. Those
who knew of the fatal struggle in the caves were considerably startled
and surprised at the announcement that poor Daunt wished to communicate
some knowledge to Heans' advantage, naturally connecting it with that
affair, and waiting with amazement for some revelation containing new
evidence. Mr. Daunt was a close man. He had kept this matter to himself
during the earlier deliberations in the reception-room. Death had
surprised him, or Death made things seem more important. Now that he was
dying, he was made uneasy by the possession of some private knowledge.

Of course there was the other affair. The prisoner had been a sort of
fourth party in the Daunt-Shaxton quarrel. Was Mr. Daunt about to make
some public reparation to Shaxton and Heans? If this was so, Shaxton
himself did not seem to welcome it. Those who looked at Shaxton noted
that the other's words had filled his depressed stare with a sort of
wild protest. Captain Shaxton was plainly uneasy. He stood staring over;
and wincing as the surgeon worked on his arm. Had he heard from Mr.
Daunt the full tale of the red-coat's end? Of what, then, was he jealous
in such a generous announcement--containing a promise of yet better
testimony for the character and motive of the prisoner? It was natural
that few took open notice of him or seemed to observe his unsatisfactory
air. His position was invidious. He was overhung with the disgrace of
his act. His opinion--if he had one--was not encouraged beyond his
trembling lips.

Magruder and Charles Oughtryn, on the contrary, may have thought Mr.
Daunt felt he had been careless in arranging for the appointment of the
file (if it was his), and was about to make some confession to that

Oughtryn's demeanour, could we have watched it, would not have been the
least interesting in the room. In the background of the picture, as he
was, he was in the foreground in knowledge. His house had been the scene
of strange relationships. He had seen, in prudence, his fears
materialize--till he himself took up his weapon. To what purpose! His
'gentleman' and the soldier had come to ends from which he and his 'poor
shrinkable miss' had tried to guard them. We can see the old master--in
his best to his jack-boots--his eyes on the breathless Commandant with a
pale, blind, feyly apprehensive air. All night, his inward thoughts had
been paining his private heart, but he had erected a sort of stunned and
even mildness, which would pass for geniality in a person of wide and
somewhat hazy duties. Upon this fixed and daunted surface, the dying
request of the Superintendent had fallen like a pallid thunderstroke.
What was this he must tell the prisoner to his face?

As the gentlemen hurried the matter through, Oughtryn backed open the
door and stood waiting in the bedroom. A whisper passed from those in
the doorway against warning Sir John of Heans' fatal violence, and
Magruder, drawing Garion aside, bade him specially apprise the prisoner
that the Governor--though he might address him--as yet knew nothing of
the occurrence. Daunt's words might reveal nothing to disturb his Honour
further with. Garion and Karne were despatched downstairs, and Oughtryn,
the old master, to guide them.

Sir John Franklin remained in earnest counsel with Magruder, their backs
to the light. Here, as they waited, the Governor pressed several
questions concerning Sir William Heans' post in the household upon the
other, who answered them with a grave particularity. There they were, at
once watching Mr. Daunt's condition and whispering in concert, when
steps were heard in the passage. Sir John moved a few feet east of the
door, drawing the other with him by the arm. It was a solemn moment, and
the faces of the six gentlemen, in their pleasant, conventional attire,
were shadowed with a troubled expectation.

Garion entered first, and then Oughtryn, and after him Sir William
Heans. The latter leant upon a cane, holding himself pretty well, if
somewhat sad. He was neatly groomed and carried one hand behind him. His
slow, fixed eye met Shaxton's ruffling, unquiet stare, and then
travelled to the figure of Daunt.

Sir John Franklin, touched by something changed in the man's face, moved
back and whispered, "Go forward, sir. There is good news in it, so we
are promised. This poor gentleman is passing, and perhaps we may look
for new and fresh opportunity for Mr. Heans in his farewell words." Sir
William looked fixedly at his humane face, saying, "I would, sir, that
what you outline for my fate could be."

He then went forward and stood beside Daunt, his hand upon his cane.

Sir William Heans has confessed to us that his chief fear was that he
should hear from Daunt that Carnt had been captured, and that all was
known. He was haunted by his friend's jeopardy. His face was afraid.

It was some minutes before Captain Daunt raised his eyes. Mr. Craye, who
stood at his right shoulder, stooped and whispered a word in his ear,
but though his iron chin lifted a little as with his breathing, he yet
stared upon the floor. At last, as if by keen struggle he had arranged
the matter, he raised a wavering and dizzy stare, till it met and held
upon Heans' agitated face. An instinctive look of disbelief and cynical
annoyance disfigured it, into which sprang something stern and
complaining; and then, as with a better thought, and as if he would have
washed the ill-feeling from his face before he made his revelation, he
slightly shook his head and lowered his eyelids upon a strange, sharp
smile. His breath rose, became louder, quietened till it became regular.
At last Mr. Craye, suspecting his calm, put a hand upon his shoulder,
and found the Commandant dead.

With the gentlemen gathered in that remote room, we can but wonder what
was his intention. We may choose to think with his Honour and Captain
Garion that Mr. Daunt meant to act as became his station, and
acknowledge to Captain Shaxton before he died that he had mistakenly
traduced his wife, and credited the prisoner with the lowest of all
thefts. We may think with Magruder, and possibly old Oughtryn, that
Daunt was ashamed of the character of the billeted soldier, and would
even have cleared Sir William Heans of his own carelessness; or go to
Shaxton's extreme, unquiet and suspecting of the dead man after two
engagements with him; or even feel relief with poor, sad Heans that
those yet smiling lips had been unable to announce the capture of his
friends. Nay (for how could he know Carnt was in the coach at that
moment?), he has as much as expressed a doubt whether Daunt knew
something of their plot, and, in love with his "lightning and sunshine"
to the end, would have thus authoritatively disclosed and stopped them.
To these fevered accusations let us add our private contribution: that
if he knew their plans, it were the better revenge upon the one to have
permitted the two other parties to go free. . . . Indeed, that he
expired with a look of hate upon his face may seem to some that he died
according to his will and intention at the end, even in the manner of
his silent death.

We may think with any one of these. Or we may think with the Government
Surgeon that Commandant Daunt must have been painfully ignorant of his
interior. Or with Karne and Kent--here was a fine bitter man caught by

Or, with Mr. Craye, we may pray unmoved above the pretty murmur of the

* * * * *

So we see the night ended rather tragically. Yet it was a beautiful
morning: the sea death-silent, without a sound of wave or wind. A cool
watery moon and stars. The cup of the sky so remote over the clear dark
it could hardly be seen. . . . Some appointed guardian, we are told,
walking early about the empty house--for even Oughtryn and the woman
were elsewhere--was touched at the sight of the native woman, Conapanny,
seated, with her rush-bags round her, under a window near the door.

She seemed to know the old house was empty.




On December 2nd, 1842, a sad feeling was caused in Hobarton by the news
that the prisoner Heans had either escaped or been lost in the forests
about Port Arthur. [Note 33. Second-sentence prison.] The news was
semaphored from mountain to mountain over that extraordinary sea of
trees in the way of particular tidings from and to the prison, whether
you were to be informed of a death, or, being a guest of the
Commandant, summoned the tramway. A feeling almost of shock hung over
many who remembered his mounted figure or in whose minds the death at
his hands and the comparative clemency which had been accorded him were
still a matter of interest. "Shock"--because the words "lost in the
forests" indicated that the search had been abandoned, leaving awash
the poor word "escaped" with too heavy a cargo of grey chance for it to
float upon the fingers even of romantic hope. Nay, it was there but to
stigmatise the poor attempt. There was something infinitely pathetic in
a man of his station and gallant bearing, his once elevated position in
society, his refined care of his person to the last, lost, wandering,
exposed, caught, dead, in that scarce penetrable ring of mighty and
extraordinary growths.

We believe there are still to be read some moving regrets and decent
moralizing in and out of print upon his "melancholy fate."

Some five years after, it was reported in Hobarton that he was living in
the French seaport town of Dieppe. This strange story was generally
discredited. Again a few years later the story was repeated; it was
stated he was alive and living in France. But it was not until his
demise in the year of the Franco-Prussian War that the rumour of his
survival was privately confirmed.

The manner of his escape from that notorious and romantic prison has
remained for many reasons a mystery. How comes a man of his physique and
gentle nurture to be numbered among the few who succeeded? Hobarton did
not know. We believe there were stories. We believe there was one
whisper of collusion among the authorities, at which those of the
authorities who were still living laughed heartily.

How did he penetrate the wooded mountains which rampart it and its
lake-like port? How did he feed himself in the forests without gun or
arms? How did he find his way where not a few had tried? . . . where
even the Commandant of the Settlement once lost himself and was
recovered on his back?

Sir William Heans has left a brief record of his arrival at the
Settlement; of his rough passage in the cutter with some
fellow-prisoners; of his feeling of despondency--of fear--at the thought
that he was approaching the forbidding prison upon which he had heard so
many animadversions; of the foreboding he felt as they beat in among the
goblin mountains; of his agreeable surprise as they rounded Dead Island
at its pretty red stones; and of his amazement as they sailed into the
bay at the "haven-like village out of Goldsmith, backed by a tall
English spire."

The place had been laid out for a Naval Arsenal, and had not a few
beautiful buildings in the Renaissance Roman, strictly pure, and formed
from freestone cut in blocks from a quarry behind the village. The
church, an Abbey in size, was a sort of pinnacled Gothic, crowned with a
towering Gothic spire. Following a general gentleness of colouring, even
the Penitentiary, if of plainer pattern, was built of a beautiful pink
brick, and placed low on the lawn of the cove, the jetties along its
front lapped by the still arm of a ramparted and foliaged sea much
resembling the landscape of Loch Lomond. Perhaps the mountains were a
trace too weird and goblin in shape, too close and darkly massed with
trees. Perhaps there were three blow-flies for every common house-fly
found elsewhere. Perhaps the beautiful harbour was too full of a
strangling seaweed. Standing by the church, you saw the Roman town,
reared and staircased five houses up on the south hillock, terminating
in the Commandant's French villa poised in its hanging garden over the
sea (into which sprang a staircase of stone like that we read of in The
Mermaid), with below in front, the pink Penitentiary, just seen down by
the little water and the isles, through thirteen years' growth of
English and Australian trees.

The prison of Port Arthur was like a vignette in an old "Keepsake." . . .
Looking thus eastward out of the cove fair over the bay or loch--over
Dead Man's Isle, which lies in the middle like Ellen's Isle on Loch
Katrine--looking out across the bay and up over the towering mountains
beyond, you will see where Sir William Heans made his escape, and its
direction from the prison. We have now to tell how he broke new ground,
and how it occurred.

The peninsula on which Port Arthur is situated may be roughly likened to
a pear, its flower being Port Arthur, its stalk the Neck at Eaglehawk,
which alone connects it with the mainland. A few celebrated escapes were
accomplished along the Hobarton Road from the flower to the stalk, the
prisoner swimming over, braving the dogs, soldiers, and sharks which
watched it. Except by the stalk, how could any one escape from the pear?
This road was the one accredited chance of a private pardon--the one
opening to good health and practical despair--the others (the pitiful
rafts and the roamings in the bush) were but the circlings of the
disordered about the bower of the BELLE DAME SANS MERCI. Heans, however,
ignoring the stalk, penetrated from the flower at an acute angle from
the road fair through the forests eight miles across to the Eastern
coast--seeking that rugged indent known as Waterfall Bay. Looking out
from Port Arthur, we see that to reach the hills he must have somehow
crossed the water or rounded the arm to the north. Which did he do? How
did he outwit the Commandant's sleuth-hounds? How, when he had crossed,
did he reach the bay without food, water, or a guide?

As the reader may have guessed, it could hardly have been accomplished
but in one way, with the help of the guide of Pacificator Robinson,
Conapanny, the native woman.

* * * * *

Only a few days before, the Commandant (the famous Captain Booth) had
made the remark to Heans, as they were standing on the wharves, that he
would do much better to take his parole. He (Heans) had taken sensibly
to the work and life; but the oath would open something better to him.
The grim man sententiously recommended it. You cannot manage a town of
grim clever men without being a grim clever man. This was a grim clever
man. Heans, before he descended into the whale-boat which was to row him
to his clerking at Point Puer, had received the advice very favourably,
requesting only a few days to think it over. While it would seemingly
bind himself against himself; turn the prison key a final irrevocable
turn; he knew as he raised his face in the cup of the hills, this was a
mere impression of his mind, and it would mean, as the Commandant
hinted, another kind of turn in a door or two of the walled town above.

He was momently a little shocked when one evening he heard from the
boatswain of the whale-boat that a Captain Shaxton was in the place, and
had lodgings in the Governor of Tasmania's Cottage over past the church.
Government Cottage was a little carven house on which much pains had
been lavished, even to biblical bas-relief. It lay secluded beyond the
avenue, with its garden and its fountain. It was known Shaxton was the
author of the new form of "silent treatment," and had come to
superintend the laying of the lower courses of his prison. It was
supposed he was a stern fellow. Heans heard and saw nothing more of him
till one evening about six o'clock, when he received  a summons from
Captain Booth saying that Captain Shaxton would be very glad to see him,
and asking him to step over to the Commandant's villa.

Captain Booth had given a favourable account of Heans, said he was very
civil, and had kept his address; and Shaxton said he would like just to
see how he was--he didn't care about speech--before he went back. He
would be glad to give a decent account of him to his cousin. It was a
pleasant night and they were walking on the green point beyond the
garden. The Commandant said--with some deprecations from Shaxton--he
would ask Sergeant Dores, in whose cottage Heans now had a chamber, to
bring him to the gate, and they could take a turn above the water.

Booth seemed to consider Shaxton a seasoned enough old fellow, not to be
frightened by much, while Shaxton was hardening himself up that he might
not be shocked by the sight of Heans. When they heard the sentry
clattering at the gate (a pretty carriage-gate with stone pillars) and a
tall figure walked through, he was glad to see it was Heans himself, in
a second-class suit of smooth cords, a sort of collar, and that sort of
clever cravat which tries to hide a linenless shirt. No cane. No glass.
No gloves. A black peaked cap a little rain-loosed.

The Commandant went up into the veranda, taking the sergeant with him;
while Heans, with a look or two about him as if he were rather blind,
walked slowly through the garden to the place where Shaxton was standing
with his grinning face towards him.

Shaxton remained in that curious position, looking at him hard and
doubting, till he came quite close, reminding him of his way of going
for Daunt in his room. He seemed half-moved, half-inimical. When they
shook hands, he made a great noise, laughing too much. He was strange.
He turned gropingly away and put out his hand, however, indicating the
sward and inviting Heans to a turn. Not a word did they say for a while,
Shaxton stooping a great deal and once only appraising, with a chuckle
and a beckon of his arm, the Island of the Dead, and the island-like
spit of Point Puer with its lights in the water.

Shaxton asked what sort of life he had of it here. Heans told him, "not
so bad: a great deal of clerking work, some choir singing, a little
fishing with the commissary-general, a hand at cards with a few of the
military--a system sharp, energetic, clever, chilly--distinctly chilly
to two old club-men like yourself and me, Shaxton!"

Captain Shaxton concealed great agitation. He was much hipped at seeing
how little he was really altered. He thought to himself, "The old seemly
reserve; the eye just a little duller, just a bit more fixed; the man
might do it, he could do it." In the quiet evening, in this twilight
place miscalled a prison, amid the night noises of little birds, he and
poor imprisoned Heans walked quietly, his throat sore yet with its old
wrong the while he sought words by which he might give way to the
persuasions of his wife. Twice had Heans endeavoured to abscond, the
first time with the secret aid of Matilda. Again she would join with
others in getting Heans away, and he (Shaxton) was actually here with
the discretion of the thing and the very message in his mouth.

He wore a cloak over his evening dress and a low castor hat. His lips,
as he eyed the bay, had an underhung and fateful smile.

"What a scene, Heans," says he, with an awed sort of chuckling, "for a
duel in the play, an affair between gentlemen, interrupted by the

"Would you interrupt it, Shaxton?" says Heans.

"Heans, I am not the tragedy man," said Shaxton. "I'm the old fellow who
does the kind heart."

"Well, you can't fight me, sir," said Heans.

"Ho-ho, no," said Shaxton, "not you and me, Heans."

How difficult to do! How difficult to decide! It was with him entirely
whether he should give or keep his monstrous message. It was for him to
judge if these remnants of Sir William were to be trusted with it,
whether they were equal to making use of it when heard. It would never
be done if he shut his mouth; his faithless, dishonourable mouth. It was
with him to withhold a treachery or give. With him to muddle, mar,
miscommit, destroy the man's steadiness, give him great news, uncover a
strange chance, fling back the lock to a shocking and remarkable
opening--or leave him to this (him, poor ceremonious fellow!)--this kind
of a collar, this unseemly self-attention, these malformed clothes,
these shoes, this cravat from which a fellow peeped aside!

The sea lifted without wave and swept inward about the garden--inward to
the wharves. He had not committed himself to anything. He had not given
any promise that he would disclose anything to Heans. "Life's brief," he
thought. "Like the great sea-weed down there, we surge or bob up for our
gasp of indifferent air, and sway secretly away!" Poor Heans might play
out his comical piece here as well as otherwhere; and be buried perhaps
in yonder Island Cemetery; and leave the Shaxton mouth to a few "civil
enquiries": to the pleasant thing here in the garden from him to a
prisoner of the prison.

His wife's voice touched him.

Booth stood on the high steps of the veranda in conversation with
Sergeant Dores. They could hear his sharp, roused protests. As little
did he (Booth) think there was a chance of skedaddling for the poor old
BEAU as he dreamed of his swimming the Neck itself, or the architect of
the Model Prison being tampered with or tampering with him. No,
Hyde-Shaxton that night was the last man to help a prisoner to abscond.
The very last man in the prison.

The same air, so self-contained, so pathetically BON TON!

What a fate--what a fate!

His God, no. . . . not the cravat; not the Government shoes; not this
erection of gentility in burlesque; not these hills, Hyde-Shaxton, for
the old fellow who gave it up for the blind young girl! We suppose
Shaxton called himself a humane man, though he did design a prison. We
suppose he excused himself as a humane man. It is the more
uncomfortable, uncommon form of being weak--except with ourselves.
Presently, half-chuckling it out--nay, begging him to do it--he
communicated there almost without warning the planning that was offered
for his escape.

"Is there any way by which you could find yourself outside these walls,
besides this kind of thing?" says he.

Heans asked what he meant.

Says he: "Would the EMERALD eight miles over those mountains be any use
to you, Heans? Could you make use of her--could you reach her?"

"I take it you are in earnest; you do not lightly say it?" Heans said.

"No, I don't. Be sharp!"

In the first dark flush, Heans "believed he could--it was germane to his
feelings--he thought so."

"Could you do it with the old guide, Conapanny, to meet you, feed you,
and take you across?"

In the first pale flash, "Yes, sir, but how would Conapanny pass the gut
at Eaglehawk?"

"She is prepared for that. Indeed, of what could they suspect the black
if they caught her?"

"My Heaven, that is so!" said Heans.

After some talk Sir William Heans satisfied Captain Shaxton his part in
it was feasible. They came to an agreement while yet quietly at their
paces. Shaxton swore it would be the end of them all if he saw Heans
again, and asked how he had best communicate with him, when, by lack of
report, Conapanny might be safely said to have passed the Neck. Both he
and Heans agreed that the church was the best medium, and Shaxton
volunteered the suggestion that his wife would shortly visit the prison
in his company and that her presence in the church (and hers alone)
would be the warning that the black had gone out upon her journey, and
had had time to arrive at a point on the hill opposite the settlement.
Her actual arrival at that point would be made known to Heans by a
forest fire started on a hot day on the summit of the hills towards the
Neck. [Note 34. see end of this para.] Shaxton, moreover, asked for some
distinct place at which Conapanny could await Heans' escape from the
town, and Heans bade him inform her to take the line between Dead Island
and the Signal Station on Mount Arthur, and to keep well up from the
water in case by some accident he failed to hide his track. He believed
there was no danger of their searching any way but to the Neck.

[Note 34. Those dwelling in Australian cities are often overhung by
these summer conflagrations started by no ascertainable cause. Two of
these at different periods have swept Port Arthur and reduced it to

He promised to obey the old native's directions how to hide his path.

The plan put forward had originated with poor, dilatory Stifft, being
financed by somebody who was nameless (sentiment will say the Earl of
Daisley), and been communicated through Mr. Six to the Oughtryn
household--I fear from certain signs Oughtryn himself was not quite
unaware of it--and from blind Abelia on her sick-chair to Mrs. Shaxton,
who was in the habit of sitting beside her. The surprise and disgust
occasioned by the absconding of Madam Ruth with a clerk of the Cascades
Prison--a mere prisoner like herself--Oh woman! woman! you are all
alike! what a prosaic end to the strange romance!--while it lost Leete
his appointment at Port Arthur, was nothing to the disgust of Captain
Stifft when the phantom schooner at the mouth of the Tamar took off only
Mr. Jarvis Carnt and the half-fainting figure of the artist of the
Cascades. True, the fog, or the weeds on his hull, or his indifferent
seamanship, had delayed Stifft till the rowers in the boat had all but
mutinied and threatened to pull home or land and leave their besodden
and despairing cargo in the sun under the beacon. True, Mr. Carnt had
made them understand "never" for any other man was "vulgarly early" for
the captain of this schooner, and he would prefer some other way of
getting dry. True, the ship got the two poor wraiths it did only by a
chance of mistiness and calm which kept the day in its bed and winged a
late hail to reach a woman's ears. Stifft would neither accept
admonishment nor be pleased with his success. On this matter we dare to
state nothing more than the fact that he either borrowed or moved some
one of means sufficiently (perhaps by his very despondency) to allow him
funds with which to procure stores and a new sail, and attended to
another matter connected with his two years' agreement with Sir William
Heans. Though shocked by the news conveyed by his boy that Heans was now
a prisoner at Port Arthur, this did not deter him from offering his
services. The details of the affair which led to that segregation
spurred him to a fresh effort of patience, while the mild form of Sir
William's sentence strengthened him in the belief that the liberation of
that gentleman was not outside the power of the contracting party.

He would never have brought his ship so close to Hobarton, perhaps, if
Mr. Daunt had been alive. He had had a great respect for what Mr. Daunt
might possibly know. But Mr. Daunt, as we know, had died suddenly during
an entertainment in Hobarton at the house of the old farmer-prisoner.
There, also, during the identical day, Sir William Heans had attacked
and killed a soldier, though he saved, with his undoubted dislike, the
daughter from worse than death. He was always a man for the ladies! We
curtail the story as Stifft considered it. On general evidence,
especially that of a native, the soldier had been proved to be a
dangerous, threatening man, though through an unlucky question by the
police magistrate, just when the black seemed inclined to be
communicative, she had been reduced to a weeping and impenetrable
silence. She seemed to admit knowledge of the man in her childhood, that
he had always been a 'bad wite,' and that she had had a lover who was a
prisoner in the caves in the days of Governor Collins, whom the man had
hated if he had not actually brought him to his death; but when asked if
she was willing to commit the hand of her lover as being in any way
connected with the death of Governor Collins, she grew indignant,
laughed, cried, contradicted all her previous evidence and at once
reduced herself, or was reduced, to a babbling incoherency from which
nothing was able to arouse her. Nay, if she had admitted she was in the
caves on the night of that Wednesday, she laughed when asked if Spafield
removed the remnants of a body from the stable, and was a hewn statue of
silence when they asked if she knew where the body was buried. For the
rest, the old farmer had already warned the authorities of ill-will
between the servant and the soldier, requesting the latter's removal
from his house. The suspicion lay on the soldier and the blame on the
authorities (as they admitted), if Heans' excuse for his concealment in
the stable as hiding from the man in the hope that he would presently go
out was not accepted in some quarters. Oughtryn's sick daughter,
herself, seemed doubtful why Heans was in hiding in the caves, unless he
wished to avoid the man--or unless he was, as he rather unconnectedly
implied, "examining the cracks." It was Stifft himself who communicated
to the Oughtryn household the fact that Heans had been endeavouring to
escape, and so it was made plain what he had resigned (so we have it) to
these few.

 How far Oughtryn was involved we hesitate to say. How far, or by what
inducement, he was moved out of his caution towards so grim an
enterprise--who shall decide? Possibly he had an inkling from the first
what his 'gentleman' had been about in the crack; possibly he had had
much thought upon the point and his not immediately crying out for
help--which were explained when he heard of the near presence of the
escapees in the carriage. Heans had struggled with death itself to hide
his interrupted enterprise and save a hubbub for a half an hour. If he
had succeeded in breaking out of the stable, Spafield would scarcely
have summoned the police to confront the story on the girl's chill
lips. Poor, precise young miss! did she manage, lying so pale there in
her chair, with about her curious pots of Wandering Jew and Ragged
Betty, cherry pie, Macquarie Harbour vine, love, bay--was it she who
worked these wonders upon her Conapanny and her puzzled, scolding
parent; did she produce a prudent argument; was it she, "poor chit,"
who among these frightened counsellors, these "fairweather friends,"
voiced the final appeal; was it she who (though addressing one who had
no "liking for such proceedings") fluttered about the quiet room the
most "obscure" yet the most speaking reason?

* * * * *

Thus Captain Shaxton's was the mouth which chose and uttered the words
which showed Heans that mysterious path; which, considering his stern
business there, and considering what these gentlemen had known of one
another, was a strange weapon to be put at his will, and used in a way
as becoming to his warmth of heart, as it was unseemly to his cloth. It
cannot be said that he owed Heans this debt. On the contrary, from all
we can hear, things between them were hardly even yet--never quite
even--sir or madam! There was something even forbearing and showing
quite a kind and philosophical outlook in this old fellow. There he
went, chuckling and shrugging at the powerful smoothbelted tide in his
black cloak and spotless breeches. As for Sir William Heans, he had
great difficulty in mastering his emotion. As he says in his description
of the interview to Sir Charles, "what with the shock of it, what with
the something touching in the old fellow's breaking in and saying it,
and the oppression on his spirits, there in the private garden, the
Commandant in his very veranda, he had a dismaying struggle to retain an
appearance of uneasy resignation."

The audacity of it--the unlikeliness of it!

When the conversation of Captain Shaxton and the prisoner began to flag
a little, they forsook the water and began to return over the grass
towards the villa. The garden was beautifully secluded by its fringing
of trees above the Penitentiary and the wharves. Booth seemed to see
suddenly that Shaxton wished to be relieved, for he advanced down the
steps to meet them, sending the sergeant to the gate. Captain Booth, so
they say, was a sharp, clever man. Shaxton met him with a rather rueful
chuckling, as from one with whom a trying interview was nearly
accomplished. "We two old fellows were glad of a word, Commandant. Many
thanks. It makes me ashamed to find him a more resigned man than I am.
Yes, I'm outgrowing it all, too, Heans. I declare I get befogged now
sometimes. I feel--ho-ho--like the drunken gentleman who sought refuge
in a theatre, and begged for a seat on the audience side!"

The Commandant made an "oh-ohing," and said rather harshly: "he was
happy to find Sir William Heans well enough--not complaining, he was

"Not a bit of it, sir," said Captain Shaxton. "It was just like Heans to
keep his head and busy himself with his work." Of course, it was new for
a man like Heans. He hoped he foresaw some more pleasant things in store
for him. He believed that would come before long.

"Why, yes," Captain Booth replied, "it has been recommended to Heans
that he should take his parole. This we have put before him seriously,
and Heans is giving it a few days' consideration. It will mean a
considerable broadening of his life. There is a hint of some horseback
exercise in the direction of the Model Farm, and Mr. Lempriere, the
Commissary-General, requests his interest at the Tidal Observatory on
Point Puer. Just so. Here we are, hourly looking for the brief assent."
He looked at Heans.

 "Ah, well, I'll leave that to Heans and yourself, sir," said Shaxton,
calmly. And he turned about very slowly and deliberately and went close
up to Heans (close to that comical article of apparel about the erect
neck) and spoke in a low voice some confidential words to him, and said
"Good-night," shaking his hand warmly and chuckling ruefully. As for
Heans, he made a rather sad little CONGE, raising his cap off his white
hair, and moving off a little reserved, putting his hand up against the
bars of the gate as he went out in that rather blind way. Shaxton never
thought of that moment without a shudder, as Heans strode off with the
soldier down the umbrageous lane, with behind them the beautiful tower
of the Powder Magazine, so classic in the gloom-light it might have
come stone for stone from the Capitol or the Appian Way.



Booth's importunity apart, the thing, when he came to consider it move
by move, was not so easy. It was comforting to be able to say: the
appearance of Matilda Shaxton at church one afternoon--a glow of fire
on the mountains--then eight miles (or double that) across the
forests--and his part at Port Arthur was played; there yet remained the
breakage from the prison, which, though not dangerous, was not pleasing
to dwell upon. As he thought it over it became less and less so. Out of
three or four outlets which he had outlined to Shaxton, he had chosen
with Shaxton's approval the safest--perhaps the only certain way. At
the weekly choir practice, it had been a habit of kindness in the
Chaplain to invite him to take a stroll without the north door of the
church. They would walk past the Governor's Cottage, up the north knoll
(where goes the road), and return. It was only a few paces, and nearly
all that time they were in sight and hearing of the sentries . . . but
not all. The lane inclined among the bushes to the left and to the
right. Of late days, as Spring came, if the conversation became
interesting, the clergyman and he would take a constitutional nearly to
the top.

The Chaplain was an elderly man, with coarse grey hair and a curious
sturdy, wistful smile. He did quite a lot of good in the prison, and
indeed with every one. He had the wonderful gift of approaching men
differently: one familiarly, another with reserve. He was something of a
scholar, but his aim was otherwhere. He had no visible fault, but some
were invented for him. He was good and kind, and often withheld his
opinion, while listening sturdily to those which could not have been
anything but painful to him. Heans' task was the one of throwing the
Chaplain off his feet, gagging him, and binding his limbs. He did not
look upon this as an undertaking of grave difficulty, but he could not
approach it without considerable anguish of mind.

Once over the Knoll, he would be in the forests, until three miles on he
rounded the north arm of the Bay, and made east along the water. His
plan was to make immediately for the beach and make speed along the
sands; then as he neared the north arm, or Long Bay, he would approach
the Eaglehawk road and walk warily, on the qui vive for a late
passenger-boat from the tramway, or the tramway [Note 35.
Prisoner-propelled trucks to meet a more sheltered ship-route.] itself,
which here had a terminus, and if running late would have to be
circuited. He would be much aided by dark. Once round the arm and he
would have nothing to watch but the central observation-house on Signal
Hill, and in this lay his peculiar safety, for the direction in which he
was bound was completely bare of the mountain watch-houses which
dominated every other part of the Peninsula.

(He relates how by Conapanny's request he was directed how to use the
road to confuse his pursuers, and also how to descend into the sea on
fragments of tree bark.)

Heans, though his singing voice has been described as passable, if
inconsistent, was still vain of it, and was eventually persuaded by the
Chaplain to make one of the singers in the Port Arthur choir. To enable
him to attend practice, he was granted the countersign every Wednesday,
and walked in the evening down Punishment Steps, out of the gate, along
the wharves, through the Doric gateway of the avenue (you can see, even
now, the pillars lying in the grass), and up the avenue to the church.
This beautiful building was of unusual form, having two immense wings
running north and south in which sat the prisoners, and between, a
shorter nave, entered from the tower, having at the west end a chancel
and large window. It was of hewn stone. In the nave were high wooden
pews for prisonofficers and guests, some of them curtained, while on
transverse seats before the chancel was the choir, and on the right a
wooden pulpit of the kind called "three-decker." The seats of the
prisoners slanted upward to the rear. During the service there was a
sentry without the tower, and one outside both the doors in the wings,
and the church was locked.

The Wednesday practice was attended by four determined constables, three
high-singing privates in the military, seven good-conduct men in grey,
two ancient fellows with cultivated voices and moulting airs, as steely,
forgotten, and proud as two old ravens, a chanting Stipendiary, no less
a person than the Deputy-Assistant-Commissary-General, and a quiet
fellow, fellow-baritone to Heans, whom he understood to be one of the
officers' servants. The choir was unsurpliced, those with uniforms
appearing in them, the two old fellows in their grey prison smocks, for
they were Imperial Paupers, or invalids. There was no organ. The service
was Wesleyan. The Psalms were pleasantly and finely chanted.

A fortnight after Shaxton's visit, the weather again moderated, and the
clergyman stopping Heans after "practice," they had a few words and
afterwards took a turn up the knoll. The old man's monosyllabic talk,
and his after-work air, sturdy and polite, if somewhat lost in private
anxiety, touched Sir William Heans sufficiently to render him silenter
than usual, drawing from the other a tentative enquiry after his affairs
and spirits, which he choked off with cackles and shrugs about the
weather. They continued to talk concerning the climate, comparing the
vanished winter with that of Westmorland. They had some words also on
the writings of S. Paul and the craft and cunning of his arguments, by
which he must have appealed to the crafty cunning man of many ages. The
knoll up which they paced had been once cleared of scrub, but it was
once more thinly overgrown, and there were places in the road (as Sir
William looking back, perceived) where they walked a few paces
completely hidden from the Settlement. The ground was soft and sandy.
Heath was budding among the coral fern by the wayside. It was difficult
to believe, as he walked spasmodically talking in the grey evening, that
after that wonderful and terrible experience on a coming Sunday, that
last sight of the beautiful face he yet loved, he must come to interfere
with the person of this old man; that through a violent action from him,
the seamed and wistful countenance at his shoulder must change to
amazement, alarm, dislike, upbraiding, reproach. How would he bring
himself to it? After what fairness of argument, unselfish sturdiness of
interest, or wistful silence of disagreement, would he turn upon and
grapple with him? Better here near the top, not far from the fringe of
bracken. He supposed the Chaplain would struggle and bravely wrestle him
off, elderly as he was, and sedentary as was his habit. It must be done
sharp; the mouth, now anxious, gagged; the arms, now persuasively raised
in gesticulation, bound! "Shall you, sir, revenge yourself as you
sometimes do, with a wilful stare as you lie in the sand; and I, sir,
with a salute upon your upbraiding face?"

So Sir William thought as he went out and returned into the prison. In
the ensuing weeks he often looked across the cove, sharply examining the
church and knoll. Portions of the road were visible from Dores' cottage
and he saw that every precaution must be exercised, and every outing
with the Chaplain utilized for strict measurement, precaution, and
observation. From the same window, Dores' house being high, he could see
part of Dead Island and the hills behind which Stifft would soon be
hanging. He often stared long and narrowly at these extraordinary
forests, and those swathing the northern heights of Signal Hill, placing
in anticipation on this bosom or that a sudden flash and jet of flames,
and too experienced in the accidents of life to be able to credit,
without moments of despondency and scepticism, the extraordinary promise
of a few friends.

("Ah, Scarning," says he, in writing to that gentleman, "it seems now a
matter for the elegant fireside; for a smile over PLUTARCH in my smoking
cabinet or abroad in the coverts of our dear French pleasance; but place
yourself with however good a friend in that valley of athletic sceptics,
whose attitude of life it was to suspect the fingers of a closed hand,
and something of my suspense and cynicism will be yours.")

October had gone and November had just begun, and Heans had heard
nothing more of Shaxton, though indeed along outside the walls below the
Hospital, the foundations of the Model Prison were rising out of the
ground. For all he knew Shaxton might be in the town or out. Each
Sunday, during the two services (at eleven and three), he snatched,
through a pair of spectacles he had of late procured, a secret survey of
the pews in the nave. He knew with strict accuracy what persons
inhabited the nearer seats, and was aware instinctively, and a few
moments after the service had begun, if there was a change, and what.
Shaxton, if he ever appeared, if he were not so placed, would endeavour
to place himself in a conspicuous position. There was a gap of a few
feet between the choir and congregation, while the first three pews on
either side--that the prisoners in the wings might view the
chancel--were uncurtained. In the third of these on the north of the
aisle sat the Commandant and one of the military officers, while in the
pew behind, half of which was curtained at back and side, Mrs. Booth and
an ancient lady sat with three young children. The three pews behind and
the four opposite these across the aisle were curtained in a similar
manner; moreover, the persons of the few worshippers in the rearmost of
these were visible to Heans only when they were on their feet. Here was
a black wig, there a beflowered, there a beaver bonnet. He knew them all
well enough.

Sir William had begun to look about him in the broadening summer, and
doubt both his courage and craft against the pressing of the parole. He
had not again been personally approached by Booth, but in three or four
situations he caught upon himself that sharp, uneasy gaze. Also it had
been conveyed to him by Sergeant Dores that Sir John Franklin on his
late visit to the prison had made enquiries about him and had been
relieved to hear how "good were his prospects." Despite of this he had
made every preparation and taken every precaution to meet his friends'
communication; he had fixed upon a spot where he could come to grimmer
hand-grips with the clergyman; he had snatched a view of the beach from
the top of the knoll; he was even now secreting large supplies of Mrs.
Dores' broad beans. And here it was--a dream seemingly--an insincere
civility--the warm-hearted and exaggerated offer of too kind enthusiasm!

One Sunday afternoon, a week after the visit of the Governor of Tasmania
to Government Cottage, when both Church services had been distinguished
by the presence of Franklin in the pew  beside the Commandant, and that
of her Ladyship beside the Commandant's wife, when the Settlement was
suffering something of a reaction after the fine comings and goings, and
Heans himself regaining courage after the sinking of spirits occasioned
by the sight of the great explorer who had again benevolently touched
his life--on this, a fine warm day, he noted, as the congregation
assembled, that the officer seated by Captain Booth had an unwonted
broadness in his build, and raising his face, he saw that it was Captain
Shaxton, For a second or two he dropped his eyes, endeavouring to
collect his perturbed senses. When he had quieted his distress, in a
sideways flutter of the eyelids, he saw seated in her Ladyship's place
against the red curtain behind, a figure in a brown bonnet with averted

The service had not yet begun. The chimes were yet pealing over the
harbour. The army of prisoners had filed two and two up the avenue,
split at the tower, and wound in single file into each door of the
wings, which it now filled. There they sat, to the front the men in
grey, and sloping higher that all might see and be seen, they with one
black and one yellow sleeve, and highest and furthest back those in
Lifer's yellow. On the chest of each a great P. A. The prison officers
and their women filled the body of the church. The keys had been shot in
the doors. Within, thirty soldiers stood to their guns against the
tower. The Chaplain sat in the pulpit, looking thoughtfully before him,
waiting yet to rise and pray.

Minute after minute--yet it seemed as if nothing would turn the brown
bonnet in the curtained pew. There was a long prayer softly but
penetratingly spoken. A loud, deep psalm was chanted--psalm of scaffolds
and arenas, the Twenty-fifth Psalm: 'Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my
soul. O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed.' The Bible was
read. Another long prayer. Still the lady in brown in the chocolate
bonnet had not turned her head. She had arisen, seated herself, and
bowed herself in prayer, but only one gleam of a cheek as pale as the
feather of that straw poke showed above the high wooden pew. It seemed
as though she were trying to lose herself in the reading and the prayer.
Sir William Heans, as he sang in his stiff way under the great window,
his book elevated, glanced at her again and yet again out of the corner
of his spectacles.

He could not be certain. Nay, he did not think that it was. He believed
no woman would do so strange a thing! He did not expect it of that lady.
But if--if possibly it was Mrs. Shaxton sitting there--what joy, what
inexpressible relief and gratitude! Think--the black somewhere up upon
those hills outside; the schooner and poor Captain Stifft actually
beating in under the cliffs beyond! Before God--to whom this sanctuary
belonged--let them have prudence! Nay, it was not she. This person's
form was slighter.

Perhaps the poor young lady was oppressed with the distracting
differences of this place of worship? But she must look about her soon.
She would not go through the whole service in that still spirit. What is
her face like? Is it old or young, sour or soft with pretty hope? Is she
perhaps a very beautiful young woman? Has she dark hair--fair hair? What
a pity she is so reserved!

A lady exposed to such a thing! Well, well, in these days we may wonder
at it! It is a most singular story. In cold narrative it sounds rather
an audacious feat of cool endurance. To be locked in that church with
such a secret! As we walk now through the roofless ruin, and endeavour
to reseat the wild-hearted lady in her pew, with only the book-rest
between herself and Commandant Booth: her husband's back before her: as
we endeavour to repicture the slim figure of Matilda Shaxton, stooping
forward as she sits, a brown mantle about her shoulders, the renowned
Commandant just in front, and beside him that humane and guilty
inconsistent, Captain Shaxton, somewhat drooping-mouthed, depressed, and
singing glumly--to rehear the rustle of massed humanity, to think the
thought of this and that, to think the precarious hope in the brains of
the three whose story we have followed, to listen to the remote
determined reader in the pulpit: "And the God of peace shall bruise
Satan under your feet shortly"--attempting to picture it, we are not
altogether comfortable with the knowledge of how little the most clever,
most omniscient officer present had any reason to connect the presence
of Captain Shaxton's lady in the church with the accident that happened
afterwards to the once-fashionable, now pathetic figure at the back of
the choir. It was probably thought that Captain Shaxton did not know she
would be confronted by Sir William Heans in the chancel when he brought
his wife to the afternoon service. Then people alter so, and perhaps she
did not remember him. But, if it was not known if she knew her old BEAU
or not (for she made no effort to speak with him), it was supposed by
some, who perhaps were observing him too closely, that he recognised
both Captain Shaxton and his wife, and even that the sight of the lady,
with its reminder of the brilliant circles in which he had moved, was
partially responsible for his melancholy fate.

Sir William Heans' book quivered in his hand as he sang or sat at
prayer. If it was she, what unbelievable joy! But was it she? As often
as he looked aside, the face of the lady was lost in her great feathered
bonnet. She sat behind Commandant Booth, her head seen just past his
head, Mrs. Booth and the children being on her right and the old woman
on her left. She seemed instinctively to seat herself towards the
pulpit. She sat erect and a little forward, her face just so slightly
bowed and so averted, she did not show hair or cheek. Her neck was long
and very white, and sprang frailly from her white collar. She wore a
heavy necklace of amber. During the prayers she sat very bowed--sadly
or abstractedly, so the prisoner thought--and when she stood up, he
could see but the top of her bonnet over the Commandant's shoulder. Sir
William Heans felt a little oppressed and sceptical of the woman. Two
psalms had been chanted. The Chaplain had prayed for this assemblage,
and read. A hymn was sung, a stern old hymn by Sir Walter Scott. This
woman still sat forward in her pew with her bonnet fallen and averted.
But see, has she not a sad, wild air? Is it fancy there is something
sorrowful in that cramped posture? Why is then the lady so oppressed as
that impression Heans had of her in that last look?
Heans--Heans--something frightens you--something has begun to beat at
your heart in yearning--something pitiful and mournful tries your spirit
in the look of that poor woman! O freedom, where is then your prize! O
life, where is thy victory! What is there in that bowed figure against
the curtain that brings persuasion who it is? Not its determination, not
a visible fine high spirit of help, not a natural shrinking and fear,
nay not that joyous message of gain and personal power--nay, Heans, a
little ripple and tender eddy of loss.

It happened that during the following lesson the Chaplain "commended
unto them" one "Phoebe," "for she hath been a succourer of many. . . ."
and Heans, as he sat with his arms folded, cast round his eyes with a
sort of affright and yearning. As he did so, the bonnet seemed to turn a
fraction towards him, giving a faint gleam of fairish hair, and as if
she knew that he was looking at her, her head fell, and then lifted with
a heavy effort, sank again, lifted, and gave him the grave anguish of
the face he longed for.

* * * * *

Captain Shaxton wrote privately he was much hit by the sight of Heans
singing away in the choir. He never forgot the old fellow standing under
the window with his proud short-sighted airs, and the (ahem!) cravat.
There he was among those deep-voiced, broad-arrowed choristers, piping
away like the best of them. He didn't know whether to chuckle or be
indignant. Perhaps the strangest jest of all was the old parson-man in
the pulpit who'd befriended Heans, and had to be attacked. Captain
Shaxton "never attended to a sermon so closely," he said, "nor gave such
strict attention to any other clergyman." He looked at Heans, he wrote,
and then he looked up at the old fellow in the pulpit, and was never so
glad to find a brave little sentimental old gentleman droning out talk
about "loving your neighbour as yourself," and "those who have loved
another having fulfilled the law." His stature was comforting, and his
text--"Oho, he liked to hear the kind old fellow saying these things."

At the close, when the doors were unlocked, prisoners and warders had
filed out, the congregation gone, the soldiers tramped away, and the
choir had sole possession of the church, Sir William crept slowly out
under the tower. The Chaplain, himself, was just behind him, and struck
perhaps with his heavy air, he said, with that wistful smile of his:
"What a beautiful eventide!" Heans, walking shakily from his abstraction
and looking up, perceived that the light was heavy on the buildings and
cove trees. A sudden excitement caught him as he saw a new wanderer in
those extraordinary forests. . . .



The weather culminated on that Friday after the Shaxtons signal in a
fierce hot day, and Sir William Heans in his room in the evening kept a
vigilant eye on the hills, though hardly expecting the native to be yet
across, and only half looking for her flaring summons so close upon
Matilda's visit. He could not, however, refrain from a little
despondency when the serried tiers of the forests sank unillumined into
the darkness, vanishing without a spark, nor could he altogether
restrain his mind from picturing the many accidents which might have
befallen the woman in those cathedralled fastnesses, or in and about
the necks of East Bay and Eaglehawk. A change of weather blowing up in
the night, the following day was cold, so for that occasion the
precious chance of communication had gone.

On the back of this disappointment came the fellow-trouble bordering on
the keen and grim. He had been set one morning some rather distasteful
writing in the Punishment Offices, when along came Captain. Booth's
servant with a message summoning him to the Commandant's villa. With his
heart in his mouth, Heans left his pen and followed the man through the
archway and along the street to the gate. All the way up, and while he
waited in the garden till Booth was at leisure to join him, his mind
fluttered in agitation about the trouble of the parole. Week after week
had passed, and here he was, without doubt, to be asked what was the
result of his rather dubious deliberations for and against. How might he
best again put it aside? How delay yet a few days? There was this parry,
that RIPOSTE, lame enough against that keen weapon. And supposing he was
unable to parry it, and Booth stripped him sudden of his play, with no
defence left him--only refusal? If he found he could not give them his
word? Ah, Mr. Heans, what now? What would they do with the loose string
allowed, the little extraordinary freedoms, those shreds and tatters of
suddenly so priceless latitude?

It was a serious moment for Sir William as he squared his shoulders and
slowly paced the drive-way before the veranda. It was as beautiful a
sunlit morning as you could have wished to see, the shrubs and trees
lying golden and green on the sunny air, backed by grey tower, wall, and
statue-crowned peak, and the low waters making a little sound by the
wharves. He does not say, in contemplating this scene, if his mind
entertained, in that grave extremity, the ease which would have opened
about his plot had he greeted Captain Booth with an affirmative and
taken the oath there in his garden. Perhaps it is improper in us even to
chronicle the temptation.

When Commandant Booth came out upon the porch and descended the steps,
Heans, who had arranged his mind in some sort, came enquiringly towards
him. He was by that time ready for the troublesome eventuality, and did
what he could to hide his apprehensions under a calm reserve. The
Commandant looked up from a paper he was reading, and wished him "Good
morning" with his determined, uneasy eyes. He immediately brought the
other's heart to a standstill by asking him, "how he found the place in
the summer?" On Heans politely replying that it had many attractions on
a morning like "this morning," the Commandant, balancing on the bottom
step with the paper stretched in his two hands, and his eyes grimly
hanging on Heans, made the horrible remark, that "given sufficient
liberty of action, a man might find in Port Arthur as much contentment
as a short life deserved." The last thing that occurred to Sir William
at that instant was that the grim gentleman was himself somewhat lost in
the graces of his own creation, was himself lost in personal feelings,
and momently startled from his caution, he said, "Yes--yes--indeed, it
was like a village out of Goldsmith" (had he seen it in these later
days, he might with romantic accuracy have compared it to the "Deserted
Village"), "and a man only needed sufficient privacy of decision to see
poetry itself behind the prison." Such, however, was the case. Heans'
luck seemed actually swinging over in his favour. The Commandant was
himself only enjoying the sun a little, and thinking aloud. With a
flash, and a shrug of his shoulders, he summond Heans to corroborate
some items in the "register" of the Boys' Penitentiary, and grimly and
thoughtfully ascended to the veranda.

Imagine Sir William Heans' relief that it didn't go any further. As he
opened the gate, he whistled one of Miss Abelia's songs in the
red-coat's face.

As we have said, luck seemed to be turning, for heat fell again in the
following week, and Sunday broke in a suffocating sun, though with
little wind. That day and night Heans' anxious eyes were constantly on
the hills, but again they were unbroken by any flame or light that he
could discern. Then in the morning of Monday, when rowing over to Point
Puer in the whale-boat, the boatswain pointed out a small column of
smoke rising from a shoulder behind Signal Hill, and expressed the
opinion it was early in the year for bush fires. The day was very warm,
and there was a slight breeze west and north. So remote seemed the smoke
and so natural the sight, that Heans, as he sat in the stern-sheets of
the six-oared vehicle, was amazed at himself, at the quiet manner in
which he observed and discussed the phenomenon. There it was faintly
ballooning into the yellow-blue sky. How shocking, how difficult, in the
hot and drowsy morning, to think that that dim wraith was speaking to
himself. He heard the boatswain say he must hasten to the wharf, as men
would be sent to aid the soldiers from Eaglehawk. He tried to see the
old woman near the smoke, or climbing away from it, in this or that high
cobweb of a thousand trees. No, she would not be near it; she would be
remote from it before her smoke could be seen. No (and his eyes were
grim with thankfulness), more than likely she was here and now watching
them from the opposite shore, behind the veiling trees of the Island of
the Dead, towards which they were swinging under the prisoners' oars.

That evening the whale-boat was late in calling for him at Point Puer,
and he had leisure to watch from the boat-stage the far point of the
fire smarting and sinking on the gloom like a damp fuse. He learned that
the blaze had been signalled as making towards Port Bunche, and that a
force of prisoners and soldiers had been taken off to protect the
constables' houses. We fain would have presented to the reader a picture
of Sir William returning to the wharves in the stern-sheets of the boat
with the forests about the harbour ablaze about his head; yet as he
ascended those graceful jetties which the same element has reduced to a
few odd sticks, and stepped his way, past the various guarded arches, up
among the towers and battlemented houses of the peopled town, he felt
the very remoteness of her signal spark was the best medicine for his
confidence in the guide of Augustus Robinson, and assured him the small
live light at his back was the message of human hands.

This was on Monday. On Tuesday the fire was still burning in the settled
heat, and on Wednesday, though the smoke ascended only at intervals, it
was still engaging the men from the Settlement. Though, in view of their
comings and goings by tramway, road, and boat, Heans attended the church
on Wednesday without intention of making his hazard after practice that
day, yet as he strolled out of the north door with the Chaplain, he
experienced all the tenseness and pathos of an invitation. They paced
rather exhausted up the hot road, the clergyman sturdily brushing the
flies from a somewhat red yet patient countenance. Heans walked with his
arms folded, and as they passed calmly gossiping from bush to bush,
covert to covert, further and further up the hill, further and further
from the Settlement, lost to view to this, and then to that, and then to
the other pair of eyes stationed on the terraces of the town, the
impatience of Sir William with all he was dropping behind, and the tug
of yearning and fine, immediate offer from that which every step of his
feet marshalled further about them--the impulse to seize the ghastly
changes and chances for the first time possible now and on the instant,
was peculiar and overwhelming. He found his prudence thin. He found it
but serviceable to remind himself that next Wednesday would see it done,
and himself bursting out through all these straitened chains of chance
and honour. The smell of ferns in the cooler places of the road, the
spy-holes to the forest, the very subject on the lips of his companion
pedestrian--the fire--constantly pulled him back to the fact that the
blackwoman was here--had kindled her lurking signal in the hills. In the
minds of these two gentlemen upon their evening stroll, the fire indeed
was a pleasing subject of interest, but for very different reasons!

The Chaplain was reminded of a great conflagration which had swept the
region of the Clyde, and the "race for life of a certain esteemed
family, the ladies gently nurtured, on whom fortune had till then smiled
propitiously. Long years of exemption from their enemy had made them
contemptuous of it, and the breaks cut in the forests had been allowed
to overgrow. Only a day or so before they had been speaking lightly of
fire. They were taken at a single hour's notice: a sad, a solemn

"Indeed!" ejaculated Sir William Heans, glancing pensively about him
that he might observe how much of the Settlement could be seen across a
thicket of banksia; "just, upon my word, as the shrubs here are being
allowed to reclaim this hill-side!"

"Puff," panted the old fellow, waving the flies from his eyes, "it is
like the old enemy, I think! So quickly does it take advantage of supine
dealing that it almost has you unawares. Yet I would not call our fine
scenery anything but a friend, a clumsy friend perhaps, but not a wicked
or a violent one."

"A friend one would prefer to retain," said Sir William, staring vaguely
before him. "Alas, how many do we meet in existence with a fault
somewhat similar!"

"True," answered the Chaplain, in half-tentative agreement, "but I
presume it arises oftentimes out of the difficulties of life. There are
many roads that cross, and suddenly, hardly seeing what we do, we find
we are pressing, perhaps, in the path of another."

"It is a pity, my dear sir, that that is sometimes true," said Sir
William, pausing with his hands behind him, and testing again how much
he could observe of the town through the thicker weaving of foliage.

"It seems a pity," agreed the other, waiting and smiling up at him
gravely; "but, if you will pardon my freedom, I have observed that the
Almighty for His reasons sometimes cramps the boundaries of life."

"Our forbearance is to be tested, you would say, on one another?" Sir
William asked.

"Well--well!" the Chaplain laughed, mildly.

"It is indeed never happy work," said Sir William, strolling on and
speaking with a saddened calm, "to endeavour to explain such a situation
to any one. How difficult--I may say, how PRONONCE are many situations!"

"Some persons will not believe until they feel," said the old fellow
with his wistful smile, "and even then the surprise is too trying to

"True, ill-feeling is too often so created," said Heans, as they
approached the top of the knoll. "It is, sir, I suppose, the shock upon
a fellow's trust in himself and you!"

"You put it excellently, my good friend," the intendant answered, and as
he spoke he seemed to hesitate a little, as if they would go no further
that evening than this secluded portion of the road. "Indeed, sir, I
have known of what you hint. Our faith in mankind is not the better for
things like these. Eh well--eh well, I presume, sir, we may scatter in
our path a little forgiveness here--there a little forgetfulness!"

Both the Chaplain and Sir William here stopped. The latter looked about
him in the hot covert--stood a moment staring at the gentleman with a
calm abstraction. "Pardon me for my familiarity," he said at last, "but
you look fatigued. Shall we not curtail our promenade for this evening?"
Though the old fellow would not confess to fatigue, they turned about.
In the cove below was the soft labouring of evening waves.

* * * * *

But, as we have said, Sir William's luck was with him, and by a curious
accident he was spared the keen distress of an encounter with the
clergyman. This singular occurrence happened as follows.

We have already mentioned Heans' business at the Boys' Penitentiary of
Point Puer, where he acted as copyist and accountant in the commissariat
and workshop departments. Point Puer is a narrow neck of land which
spreads across parallel with the town to a few yards from the Island of
the Dead, with which at low tide it is almost connected. It is treed and
formed of the same pinkish stone as the island. Upon it stood the
extensive Penitentiary Buildings and Workshops, in which almost every
trade was in full working order, from boat-building to book-binding,
coopering to baking bread.

On the flat of rocks below the Point, where several boats were secured
to a wooden slip-way, Heans was in the habit of awaiting the whale-boat
after the day's business. He was sometimes accompanied by the Settlement
physician, or another, like himself, returning home, but often he was
alone. At times the boat was early and at times it was late. If it was
likely to be late, he was generally informed so by the boatswain on his
way to his work, and given the time at which it would be likely to
arrive. It would vary in punctuality from half-past six to seven, and
now and then considerably after. Owing to the bush fire, and previous to
that, to the arrival of the Government yacht Eliza to "heave down," when
the boat was required to attend the tram, Heans' patience had been
considerably tried by long periods of tedious waiting.

It was now the Saturday subsequent to the fire, and during the morning
journey he had been informed by the boatswain that he would be later
than usual in taking him off, owing to the arrival of Lieutenant-
Colonel Elliot and the officers of the 51st Regiment on a visit of
inspection. In the evening he came down to the landing about 6.30;
wandered for a while about the low flat of rocks; and when the tide
drove him back, returned to the slip and took a seat, as was his habit,
in one of the boats. Two new official whale-boats had just been
completed by the boat-builders, and one of these--an elaborate affair in
different coloured woods--lay with others below the slip. It was a
beautiful craft, light and graceful of line, part of its glowing timbers
almost black, the rest of a golden wood so luminous it might almost have
been a metal. She had only been launched that morning, and was the pride
of her designers. She lay, half on the slip and half on the rock, the
innermost of three large whale-boats, and Heans, as the tide drove him
in, went and examined her, and afterwards entered and "possessed his
soul in patience" in one of her seats. Sir William Heans was seen to go
down to the slip to examine, and afterwards seat himself in the bow of
the new boat. After that glimpse of him waiting at the landing he was
never seen again.

From Sir William's account the night seems to have been sultry, with a
fitful breeze "howing" over the Point from the harbour heads. As
twilight fell, finding himself yawning and heavy with the atmosphere, he
rose and reseated himself in the bottom of the boat, his back and head
propped against a seat. In this position he remained, half napping, half
reflecting, till presently he actually fell asleep. He awoke with a
start, oppressed with the smell of new varnish, with his head on the
bottom. He had been jerked from his first position. Everything had
changed: it was dark, a strong wind was blowing, and the boat rose
bodily and fell on the water. He sat up. The tossing sea without was
fuming up a haze between him and the Port Arthur lamps. All was silent
except water, wind, and a slight scraping as the boats were swung
together. The boat-swain was late--no sound of him beneath the scurry of
leaves. Heans became alarmed at the free movement of the bow in which he
lay, and though there was a light visible on the cliffs above, and he
knew where he was, he scrambled to his knees, and felt for the gunwale
of the boat on his right. His hand at first found nothing, but further
out, he struck clumsily not on the side but on the round stern of the
old whale-boat, his hand slipping into the corner. He at once reflected
that for her bow to take such a position, the new boat must have been
working outward along the old craft, and something had given way under
the tease of wind and wave. He pushed up hastily into the bow, and felt
for the rope, by which he might draw her back to safety. There was no
rope in the ringbolt, nor did it seem from the smoothness of the paint
as if there had ever yet been one there. He then felt about over her
bow-decking with no success, but afterwards groping underneath, he found
a great pin had been driven into the wood (to save doubtless the paint
upon her bow-works) and this was now bent outward--probably by the
vanished rope.

Whether the tide was an out-of-the-way high one; whether the new craft
had some fault or trait which made her uncommon gamblesome upon her
mooring; whether the very lightness of her timbers made her jerk the
more disastrous upon her stay; here she was, loose, and scraping away.

The wind was now blowing wildly over the Point, and if the boat had got
out, Heans reflected, he alone could hardly have poled her back. There
was an earth-grey sky over the warm and pitchy dark, with a flare of
invisible stars. In the wind a few tepid rain-drops. It is an ill wind
that blows no one any good!

He says he was about to stretch across and grope for the stern of the
old boat, when, quick as a flash, a way out of his difficulties occurred
to him. He sank in the wind and rattle upon the bottom planking, and for
a few rapid heart-beats considered the singular chance thrown in his
way. Cautiously he rose on his arm. He could not consult his watch, but
considered it was not much after 7.30. The gale which was delaying the
commandant's guests, the noise, and black, were a romantic chance. He
had waited for the whale-boat in all weathers, and his ears were
accustomed to seek the jolt of her sweeps. He was rapidly convinced she
was not approaching, even if she had left the wharves. Even as he lay
under the gunwale, straining his hearing, the bow with a loud "creak"
swung out, and he knew if he was to get her back he had no time to lose.
He saw he could no longer haul her in by the gunwale of the old boat. He
remained clinging breathless as he was to the bottom. By his side were
four great sweeps, and as the boat dived and nodded further into the
wash of the sea, he lifted and tried the weight of one of these. Again
by the puff over the gunwale, and a sudden list, he felt the wind had
found her. He felt the beautiful craft shudder uneasily into freedom.

He found courage to lie PERDU, however, till she seemed to be swung like
a cradle; then, staggering up, he clumsily fitted the two sweeps upon
their pins. Before he fell upon the seat between, he threw a wild "help"
towards the slip, and another into the rattling grey curtain of the bay.
He might with little suspicion have even now turned her head and tugged
her back towards the Point, but when there was no voice (nothing but the
wash and wind) on either side, he worked her about only till she faced
Long Bay, and settling down in some real difficulty with the oars, began
to help her away with the wind. The wuther of the night was with him.
Upon his right he held the smudgy flicker of Port Arthur, and high in
the swinging trees behind, the windows of the Point Puer Buildings,
dimming as they rose and fell. The elaborate craft, all grandeur as she
was, was light and manageable for her length, and he could feel
immediately a fine answer of her heavy bow to the fall of his sweeps. He
confesses that he pulled wild and ragged enough, but presently slowed,
using his strength more calmly. Quickly after, he rose a glimmer on his
left, which he knew must be the cottage of the sexton who lived beside
the dead on Cemetery Island, and pulling her out for fear of the
shallows, he gasped a wild prayer as it ran by him like a shuddering

In this romantic way Sir William found and took his chance. Thus he
began his race in good earnest from the prison and prisoning hills of
that Port Arthur whose fluttering bracket-lamps flecked the nether
wuther of dark and wind.

Under the Isle of the Dead, he turned her round, and pointed for his
hills. The gale swept him away; but when he had got the shelter of the
trees of the island between him and Point Puer, and thrust her out
across the wind, still her ladyship preferred to make Long Bay upon her
broadside. This would never do. Changing his mind, he got her head again
to the wind and her will, and having had enough of the experience, and
the breakers of the channel, and fearful of losing his bearings with the
Port Arthur lights, he set a course as much east as he dared of Long
Bay, aiming with his utmost strength to force her as far as possible
along between Conapanny and the arm.

But for her unruly head, he might have cast away his left oar, so intent
was all his skill and handling on his right, which alone constrained her
from Long Bay and the likely course of the pursuing boat. Every fibre of
his elderly powers was thus engaged in conquering so much of the wind,
and he was aided in many an unthought way by the distinguished make of
boat and sweeps, the latter, though made each for a double pair of arms,
being fashioned in a mysterious and knowledgeable harmony with the
picturesque vehicle and the romantic personages they had been meant to
propel. He rowed as he had never rowed, rising up and tugging her in
against the sea; now labouring her round as she played halfwilful into
danger or swung haughty and contemptuous over the very yawn of tide and
wind, and feeling only a passing peace of mind when he most felt the
strain of her tossing and mettlesome displeasure. Thus he frantic tugged
till he felt he had won a margin of easting from the drift and the
barge's inclinations, and so began to hope for the end. For the sea was
dark and wide, and the indented, forest-skirted beach meandered its
ragged miles and miles, and who was to know to what spot upon it he was
gone? Thus, I say, he ran her on till--breathless and exhausted--he
began to hope for the sound of a white shore upon the unpeopled darks.
Several times he thought he heard the paean of a beach, and had much
steady pulling and mastering of my lady before he was punished back to
the empty crying of endless water. He fancied he heard at this more
heavy-hearted time (and lost with a gasp of chilly horror) one fearful
rapid jolting of oars. Again there were two long hails or shouts in some
dim corner in the west. Yet again he heard a sudden, mighty sound like
the wind in the cordage of a ship, and was in doubt and distress,
thinking that pale glimmer of the Commandant's windows had got changed
for Point Puer and he was out in the channel. After that blind obstinacy
growing blinder. And so on, in a sort of stupor of mechanical agony (no
more liking the black places where he was) till he was waked sharp right
on top of a hand's-breadth of gnarled beach, and pulled in the boat amid
a pleasant and mighty blowing of enormous trees.

Heans did not sit long in the wave-beaten boat, but preparing his nether
garments in the best manner for the service, and with his shoes in his
hand, he left her ladyship to her own quarrel and hurried off east in
the water. He did not know yet with any certainly where he was. He might
be perilously close to the head of Long Bay, or miles east of where he
hoped to land, though, as he says, he had always had a faculty for
places, and was inwardly persuaded he had hit near his mark. The thing
was to run from the boat. From her bottom planking he took a small
boat-hook to serve him as a staff, throwing overboard all the other
fittings he could lay a hasty hand upon, to give what appearance he
could of disaster. And away he went, feeling his way by the waves about
his steps.

And here we bid good-bye (with the absconder) "to the bedecked and
beautiful craft which was afterwards to carry so many distinguished
persons back and forwards over these waters, upon whose dark wavelets
she was thus wildly born."

And what of Sir William Heans in these disreputable ways? How would you
and I, O Reader, have felt pushing along those wastes of blowing beach,
up to our knees in water, in search of a wraith of help--an old native
woman? What prudent, pleasant thing would we have had to say about it
afterwards? Yet when he had left the galley in the safe distance,
perhaps, the worst was in that doubt that hung in these mysterious deeps
of trees, whose song was great with emptiness. Could the woman be here?
Yet as he buffeted his way about a rocky point, or splashed into the
shelter of a sandy inlet; as he found a path here about a fallen giant,
there an obstructing headland; as one long, swinging reach gave place to
another, and he felt by the rain upon the left side of his face that he
must have turned at last into the coast opposite the prison--nay was
now, indeed, under his own mountains--as steadier and steadier grew his
confidence in the veranda of the woods and died his starting mistrust of
the lashing and ebbing sea: who will say that hope was not born in his
uncrediting breast, who will say that his spirit sank and never
fluttered again into a species of elderly elation?

These reverberating ways, the warm rain beating upon the wild wind, each
heaving, water-logged step, would have been an increasing happiness with
a touch less anxiety about the old guide and the morrow. "The tragic
distresses of portions of our lives," he writes philosophically to his
friend Sir Charles, "make at worst a pleasant interest for the young of
future ages. Such is life! And the thought ought to uphold us in moments
of grave and perhaps bewildered effort."

In a gap where the goblin-range from the sea-heads ends, and the one
from up harbour passes in behind like a wall (as may be seen from the
ruins), there was good shelter for the fugitive, and to win as near to
this as he could before morning was his struggle, He had narrowly
examined the shoulder from the settlement. It was his best landmark to
the place of appointment given to the woman--a spot in line with Dead
Island and the Signal Station on Mount Arthur over behind the prison.

When Sir William Heans judged, by the witch-lights of Port Arthur, and
by instinct, he was in measurable distance of this point, he elected to
rest himself and pass the time till light arrived in a tree, by a great
fragment of whose boughs, washed by the tide, he ascended to the lower
part of the trunk. Being afraid of falling, he did not permit himself to
more than rest (indeed, he was too fevered for sleep), and at the first
gaze of dawn he returned immediately into the water. As the fog swept
by, he found right outside him, like a forest in the sea, the great
shoulder of trees, and advancing for some forty minutes, he climbed
again from water to scrub, ascending in the bracken and "brambly
wilderness" to a point of vantage where he lay down to await a glimpse
of Dead Island and Mount Arthur. There had been one heavy shower of rain
after two o'clock, but it was now fine. The wind was from the north. The
day broke grey and warm. He fell into a short nap. When he awoke the sun
had dispersed the gloom of night from the lake, and in the centre lay
Dead Island, with a couple of boats pulling round in the heaving
channel-way, while to the south-west behind the spire of the village
lifted the peak of Mount Arthur, mantled with mossy forests. A few
minutes later he was retracing his steps along the hills, ascending
higher as he went. Towards nine o'clock he brought mountain and island
into line. He stood looking about him in a glen of fern and heath, so
wild and empty with wind his soul despaired of such a guest as another
human figure. With the two boats swaying now between himself and Dead
Island, he hardly dared to raise a halloo. He, however, gave a low call.
The wuther of the foliage answered him. He called again with a certain
importunity. A bird scattered away, an insect clipped from the ferns. He
ascended some distance further, along and upward. Shortly after he heard
a tapping noise, very slightly, as might have been made by the beak of a
woodpecker. In deep despondency he descended towards the sound, for he
thought it likely to be the natural noise of an animal. Twice in so many
minutes he caught it again. He climbed down till he came above a glade
of great gnarled gums. Oh Heaven--in the stem of one of these some one
had recently cut a gash with an instrument! It was fresh and red. A
little higher, towards a horizontal limb, there was a second cut in the
bark. On the limb itself, there sat a sort of bundle of old clothes very
still, and presently, out of this, an arm projected, and began deftly to
hack at the lurking place of some marsupial!



Sir William hardly allowed them an hour for counsel and preparation,
pushing off immediately with the old woman in the lead. From the forest
into which they now delved, as a man slides under the sea in a diver's
helmet, they never emerged till they stood, yet in its serried trees,
on the brink of the cliffs of Waterfall Bay. The tree-fern, musk-plant,
brush, and lofty timber shut them from all prospect of the outer world
as entirely as if they had remained in the gullies, rather than
struggled and cut their way up "hill upon hill, alp upon alp," till,
unknown to Heans, the top of the main ridge had been scaled.

After that, though descent became rather more than ascent the order of
these hidden places, Heans, from his own account, seems to have seen the
eastern sea but a half a dozen times, and at these as a vagueness
hanging on the tops of trees indistinguishable from the sky.

There is a story in the Australian histories of an escaped prisoner who,
arriving in a starving condition at a camp of natives, was permitted by
them to follow their wanderings unmolested, but unfed. He was thus
brought to a condition bordering on death; when a native woman took pity
upon him, married him, and divulged to him the intricacies of how to win
a subsistence from the scrub. [Note 36. Demarr.] A tradition such as
this emphasizes the hopeless position of a prisoner, wandering unarmed
on these Port Arthur boundaries, and while it points a cause why the
search from headquarters is soon grimly abandoned, it raises the
question whether Heans' abettor were not, in employing Conapanny, guided
by knowledge of so significant a legend.

While we shall not enter here into unnecessary details, which could
possess but little interest for the reader, certain intimate and curious
incidents of the four to five days' journey may be worth repeating.

Conapanny did not make at once east up the hill, but led a course
slanting rightways over the shoulder, descending about four o'clock into
the gully on the hinder side. Their progress was at all times a sort of
wrestle with nature, the undergrowth about the iron-bark entangling
their ascending feet, and higher up in a sort of morass darkened with
tree-ferns, footing and hand-hold becoming spongy and superficial.
Higher yet among the rock and monstrous yarra was a thornless and
pathless brush, headhigh, asking a monotonous breasting, though this
they now escaped by the hinder descent. In a creek in the gully, they
made good northward progress, stooping in the water under the emerald
spread of ferns.

Conapanny led, excepting when Sir William's subdued chivalry broke its
sensible restraints and retired mistaken. She wore a faded
green-flowered dress, the bottom flounces and sleeves of which were cut
away, a grey plaid shawl, and the inevitable white handkerchief about
her head. Whatever she had been through to reach the Port, she had kept
her apparel presentable. On her back, supported by her chest, she
carried (when met) a second shawl for Heans' use, and two rush-bags, one
large and one small. The larger bag contained some cooked frogs (on
which Heans broke his fast), two snakes, a lot of little fish of the
size of whitebait, some small crawfish, and some fresh-water mussels. It
should have contained an opossum also, had Heans not arrived at an
inopportune moment. The other bag held a horn flask for water, her
tinder wood, and some edible roots. In her right hand she carried some
sticks and bark on fire. In the other a staff.

Her baggage had also included a hatchet, which Heans now passed forward
or wielded at her request.

On the first evening they bivouacked on the shingle near the water,
Conapanny erecting a shelter of gum-boughs on the wind-ward side, and
making for Heans a "stockman's mattress" of gum-tree leaves. When he had
made a steady dinner of "white-bait" and roots, she went off upon her
hunting, all the animals on which they were to subsist being night
prowlers; and he did not see her again till he awoke at dawn. When the
shock of his strange and beautiful surroundings had gone off, he
observed her seated by the water's edge, picking from the mud by her
toes, what he afterwards found to be shell-fish. Near by, under the
greying bank, the smoke of a spent fire was ascending, and when he had
arisen and refreshed himself, he found, laid on some fresh leaves, a
little animal which he was told was a porcupine, and had the flesh and
taste of a fowl.

He had been bothered far into that night by the extraordinary noises
made by the frogs, so hoarse and full of volume, as one voice answered
another, as too closely to resemble distant human utterance. He was also
strangely agitated by the noise of the curlew, which, as he says, "is
rather a bitter cry from the night than the song of a bird." That is all
written of import of his second and only less grave night in the open.

When Conapanny had destroyed all signs of their stay, they pushed on in
the water till about the hour of nine, when they climbed out by a tree
and dropped on to the other ascent. They seem to have ascended;
descended to water; and again ascended a short distance; for on of the
following day they must have topped the grand ridge and begun the
descent on the coastal mountain called "The Pinnacle." They were all the
following day in accomplishing this, arriving at Waterfall Bay about
midday of the next.

On the second night, therefore, they bivouacked on the forest side,
Conapanny cooking for Sir William Heans a small fish she had snatched
from the second water, and for herself a snake which she selected from
three or four, choosing one with a silver belly as "budgery" (good) and
throwing away another which was yellow beneath as "bell gammon" (no
joke). Heans was reminded of how a European will detect a mushroom from
a toadstool. His guide prepared both dainties in her own way, wrapping
them in mud and baking in ashes. When the mud was hard, fish and snake
were removed clean and (speaking for the fish) very savoury. The
encampment here was rendered tiresome by the hurried return of Conapanny
from her night roving, having been followed by a "hyena opossum" (now
called "native tiger"), which she described as a brown animal with black
stripes and a large mouth. Its legs were short, but its length, with its
tail, was as "long as gentleman wite ma is tall." Heans left his shelter
and would have moved out in the direction she had come, but she seemed
hysterical and unreliable, crying "Nangry--nangry" ("Sit down"), and
Heans heard her wandering about the camp through the dark hours digging
for roots among the grass-trees and bracken. [Note 37. In "nangry"
Conapanny uses a New Holland colloquialism, picked up possibly in
settlers' pidgin.]

A frugal breakfast of roots and mussels followed in the morning, but
before evening Conapanny had made good the failure of the preceding
night, by the capture of an opossum and the welcome discovery of some
honey. It was a day, however, of singular tribulations. The ascent was
woefully steep, dark, and overgrown, and armies of brambles,
grass-trees, and a peculiarly malignant thorn, turned them aside
repeatedly and pitilessly from the direct route. Again they came on
sludgy hollows on the hills, and rocky pockets of the tiers, where
dragons seemed to have rioted, ripping up giant yarras or stringy bark,
and toppling them over into the creepers, where they lay, balancing
across the hanger, presenting a series of unscalable walls. It was in
one of these dark dells that a snake flashed up and fastened on the cuff
of Heans' coat; and when Conapanny flung herself towards him, it
suddenly turned and fixed its fangs in her wrist. To Heans' astonishment
she calmly unfastened its teeth with her fingers, killed it, and put it
in her bag. And all she would say to his tragic query whether it was
poisonless, was "Awoy--awoy" "Oh yes--oh yes."

It must have been over the ridge, at last, on the eastern descent, they
found themselves in a "dead forest," and before they knew it, were
enveloped in an awful landscape of prone, erect, and leaning poles. So
close and numerous were the dead, so menacing the silent desert of them,
so wearying were the mounting, climbing, and dropping occasioned by this
place--so unending appeared its extent--that Conapanny, in a moment of
indecision, seemed unable to determine whether to go down, retreat, or
on which side to look again for the living green of the less evasive if
more boisterous enemy. It was Heans who insisted upon picking their way
back and climbing round this remote enormous graveyard. So they made,
perhaps too timorously, a grim and tiresome return, camping at evening
safe, if still on the southern edge of that labyrinth of tragic weirds.

Of this trying adventure Sir William remarks jokingly, that "there were
moments when he thought they were fairly caught in the embrace of

Conapanny had caught her opossum during the morning climb, ascending a
tree and dropping some twigs down a hole; cleverly detecting by the
scolding of the disturbed animal where it hid, and cutting an orifice
lower down under its lair. At the same halt she brought some honeycomb
to Sir William on a piece of bark, and on his enquiring how she came by
it, she caught a bee in her hand, and fixing some white down on its
back, released it, pointing after it up a tree to which it flew. In
short, it was a woeful hard day of it, yet after all (so he thought) the
deeper they became entangled in these pathless places, the further were
their footsteps buried from the eye of that silent yet ever-present
follower, and the nearer (as he confidently believed) did they approach
their haven of departure and its phantom ship. At eventide, despite of
her adventurous day, Conapanny disappeared, scouting with an
indescribable gesture all help from Heans; and he, outwearied with his
axe work, saw no more of her till in the morning he found her grimly
cooking a wombat, and three little animals, the counterpart of
kangaroos, the size of field-mice.

* * * * *

On one or two occasions, during a halt here and a balk there, the native
woman had dropped certain curious information, herself inducing Heans to
make enquiries by enlivening the way with an anecdote or two of the
Pacificator, in which she imitated inimitably the well known pompousness
of manner of the great Robinson, adding certain other incidents of her
life, in which figured a Scotchman, whose broad diction she rendered
with an amazing faithfulness, though often, as she confessed, not
understanding its true meaning. From these entertainments, given, one
would say, with a convivial and social intention, she was once
tentatively led by Sir William to explain the secret of her presence in
the stable at Oughtryn's on the night of his first struggle with
Spafield. How came she to be there? The reader will remember her ghostly
appearance before the stalls.

She lowered her kerchiefed face awhile. Then with a tone somewhat sour,
she outlined rather than told this incident.

Surridge had confessed to her the secret of the cracks. His promise in
the PLUTARCH to "come to her or die" had filled her with terror. As we
know, Heans rode out that afternoon with Abelia, outside whose room
Conapanny was seen sitting. Conapanny had heard from the woman that
"miss" had ridden out, yet lingered for a while watching the incomers
and outgoers from the Chamber. While thus engaged, her sharp ears heard
a window go very slowly up on the other side of the sentry-box. Knowing
"Mr. Tuso" was out, she wondered who this might be in his room.
Hearkening, she heard a slight movement now and then, and presently what
she took to be an exclamation in a man's voice. Shifting along under the
passage window, she was suddenly affrighted by the words "On my oath!"
rapped out in the tones of Spafield.

Having no love for Joseph Spars, and hoping to catch him at his
thievery, or what he might be about in "Mitta Tuso's room," she inserted
her small figure in the gap between the sentry-box and the wall of the
house, and pushing on, pulled her face slowly up to the corner of his

One peep and she saw Spars by the table, examining something which, by
the leather head-band and silk, she took to be a hat. Another peep, and
she perceived there was writing on the band and something peculiar in
the hat. A third look, and with a spasm of pain she thought she
recognised a once familiar article of headgear.

She saw no more, for the man suddenly came towards the window, and after
a considerable pause, climbed out and strode off round the corner of the
house. Poor Conapanny pressed out and followed him round the house to
the kitchen corner. There she saw him go across into the stable, where
presently he lit a candle. She watched the place minute after minute,
seeing little, when he emerged and took his way quickly out of the yard
gate. Behind him the candle still burned in the stable.

No sooner had he gone than Conapanny ran across into the harness-cave in
which the candle stood. There for a considerable while she searched
walls, sacks, and harness-press for some sign of the hat, but she found
it not. Quite beside herself, she made a hiding-place between two sacks
at the rear of the cave, and drawing another down upon her, waited for
Spars' return. He came in some half an hour later, carrying a long pole
and two other articles, which he threw down against the wall. She then
watched him while he approached the end of the sack-chain, severed the
thongs, and lowered the former to the ground. She saw him cut the
bottle-neck from the thongs and carefully draw the latter into his hands
from the crack above. She watched him pocket the strings and glass, and
after, with a fresh thong and fork of wood, attach the chain in the way
Heans found it. All this she saw. Finally, she held her breath while he
drew away the sacks beneath and carefully searched after and gathered
the fragments of glass into his handkerchief. He was very deliberate.
His last act was to return to the pole he had discarded, and attach with
a fragment of rock and a nail, the prong and haft of an old fork. This
implement he hid in the corner of the cave, and extinguishing the light,
left the stables.

This was how the native-woman came to be in the stables on the night the
man took the body.

Heans, in reply, repeated the story how "poor Walter" had cut the crack,
and how nearly he himself had escaped by the effort of the dying man.
Again, though she did not press him with any sign of curiosity, he told
her something of the man's agony of separation. Still, she that was
called Moicrime showed no sign of interest. Heans said no more of his
wound and death, but when he asked her--one day as they sat on the
hill--if she knew indeed where Surridge was buried, she concealed her
face for a long while, rocking gently to and fro. At last she drew up
the left sleeve of her dress, and showed him, above the elbow, a
bracelet of jet-black hair such as the natives wear. [Note 38. The
privilege of a chief.]

* * * * *

Their luck seemed to hold. The weather kept warm and overcast, with
winds blowing from north and south-east. They noticed the stronger
breeze as they descended in the weather side of the woods. Here they
were--on the last day but one from port, and far from being followed by
one human sound--nor single shot nor signal bell--were almost oppressed
by the cloistered desolation in which they had been steeped: nay,
haunted by nothing more human than the unhuman note of the bell-bird and
that other, as fairy like, with a voice like the melodious crackling of
a carriage-whip. In despite of this, deep and remote from man as they
were lost; sliding and struggling and wrestling in the scented embrace
of these enormous places; Heans confesses to a tiresome thought or two
at evening, and in the despondency of fatigue, in the direction of those
organized and disciplined searchers of Port Arthur, many in numbers,
calm in knowledge, old in experience. Though they were not likely for
any human or ghostly reason to search this unconsidered region, still,
as he slanted further north and began to neighbour the station at
Eaglehawk Neck, he was unreasonably agitated at the close proximity of
dogs and red-coats.

They camped by a glittering cascade, hinting already of the bay and the
waterfall. Conapanny had killed a guana during the day, and hunting up
the torrent at night, soberly rejoiced at morning in two widgeon, a
couple of emu's eggs, and a native companion. They struggled down that
day for some time in the water, loath to leave it and its siren-song of
falls and sea, and then forsaking it at the guide's urging, though much
to Heans' uneasiness, as too far south for debouchment in their
direction, took again to woods, momently clearer as to undergrowth.
Heans noted how green was the forest in the obscure weather; enlarges on
the beautiful grey wattle; records how the forest trees now grew smaller
and closer, and how the red heath rouged the ferns and grasses and the
golden bottlebrushes of the Banksia. However, Heans came near being
right in his anxiety, and the native woman near wrong in her obstinacy.
Lower down they fell again into forest growth of extraordinary density,
from which, about the hour of twelve, they pressed out with a shocking
suddenness fair on the north cliff of the towering bay.

Waterfall Bay is only four to five miles from Eaglehawk Neck, from
which, however, it is hidden by the corner of Pirates' Bay, and the
usual heavy forest, through which, in our own day, a struggling
bridlepath is kept open.

The water was dark blue, and moved in a body against the beachless
walls. Far down in it was to be seen the yellow kelp swinging this way
and that. The cliffs, of a grey-brown stone, were so high and sheer,
that a pebble thrown with all the force from the top could not be seen
to reach the water. Yet the bay, in size, seemed rather a smallish cove,
feathered about the rim with a grass of forests, out of which, down the
opposite wall, fell a ribbon of distant water, subduedly splashing in
the sea.

The morning slopes by which they had climbed, hooded over the place in a
monumental amphitheatre: in the sombre foliage the white stems of many
straight, grim trees.

* * * * *

In shape the bay made three sides of a square, but, just past the falls,
where the southern met the western cliff, there was a deep inlet in the
corner, at the bottom of which, against the flat wall, some rocks and
bushes had collected in a platform, forming a foothold on the tide
level, where elsewhere was nothing but the drop to water. Here in calm
weather a boat might hang a few seconds, while in the bushes higher on
this abrupt secretion was shelter from storm and tide. To this platform,
a deep narrow cleft or chasm gave from the forest above, and here,
according to the directions of Captain Stifft, Sir William, on his
arrival, was to light a signal fire for twenty minutes every morning at
the moment of daybreak.

Sir William Heans' story now becomes a mere narration of monotonous
events: jottings of the weather, meals, fears, doubts, and sunrise
effects. They spent the rest of that day in climbing through the scrub
to the opposite cliff, camping not immediately above the waterfall, but
further inland, within handy distance of the chasm giving upon the
platform. There was safety in the chasm as a hidingplace if necessary,
whose abruptnesses were difficult of negotiation for any straying
animal. Conapanny, after a hasty supper, clambered down and gathered in
the twilight enough material for the morning's signal, remaining below
to fire, watch, and extinguish it. Here Heans took his place on the
following morning, collecting much material during the day, and
contriving to kindle his fire during a storm of wind and rain, being in
turn replaced by Conapanny, who brought food. The storm was a grim
affair. The evening ended warm, though electric and thundery. Dark fell
in silence. There was no wind. The whole vast night was on its edge. At
close intervals a screaming roar sagged down the arches of the sea.
Close to the grey shore the lightning snagged and whipped, flashing up a
wonderful light green amber wave and a warm scarred wall. The next
day--a grey day under a pall--the box-like bay had swelled, and was full
of earth-coloured, plunging seas.

It was rather a cruel joke to think of a boat caught in such a place as
it was then; the while he could not help feeling, as he eyed the swirl
and heaving surface, how romantic was the promise of help by such an
offing, and how much further away after such an upheaval. Both he and
the guide were anxious for their phantom rescuer and said little of the

He spent the first two or three days content enough to sit and rest in
hollows above and below cliff. The walls were honeycombed with strange
buttresses and holes, many of them down on the water line, into which
the tide swung like a beast into a lair. In two of such places, high and
low in the chasm, Sir William saw the storm out, and also something of
his more acute anxieties and watchfulness. On a bracken couch, with some
cypress-bushes swaying over the mouth, he experienced, in these
precipitous places, a certain triumph of effort and achievement, or
would, if he could have believed better in the dreadful pother of the
haven. And then, as the water began to subside, and they began to grow
bolder and easier between the seclusions of night and chasm, a swing of
the breeze brought the sudden horrid clamour of the dogs on the Neck,
sending them running to their fastnesses, while at another time, an
officer or sergeant, occasionally firing his gun, approached, along the
slopes, apparently after a couple of eagles which soared for a while
over the bay. These two occasions utterly squashed their growing
confidence, and made them impatiently uneasy with the tedious hours, and
acutely anxious for rescue. And then, as hour followed hour, and day
followed day--four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten--and not a sign
of shipping on the clearing sea, Heans' spirit underfell somewhat of his
demeanour, and began to whisper the chill word "late."

* * * * *

Sir William says he asked Conapanny one morning, when she was cooking a
couple of quail, what she had done with her reading books. COLONEL JACK
she seemed, by her gesticulations, to have buried somewhere, no doubt
where it could be resurrected. PAUL AND VIRGINIA "me leave with
big-fellow Oughtryn's gel. Gel lie tink too much."

"What did she say?" Sir William asked. "Did she promise to keep it

"Awoy, she said to Conapanny," turning her face, blinking about and
speaking with a surprising preciseness, "'How long must I keep book for
Conapanny--a long, long while?'"

"Me tell Oughtryn's gel, 'You keep book for Conapanny till by-em-by. She
come fetch book soon.'"

* * * * *

They steadily took their turn at chasm and beacon, watching bravely the
weather calm, and contending who should be first to see a ship on the
horizon. And then as day of calm succeeded day, and then a second week,
and then a third of tiresome anxieties and fears crept by, and then a
fourth week arrived, and day after day blazed up over the empty sea,
illumining the falls, and carrying through the hot hours its inexorable
voice into the gloaming--though Sir William, ever courtly, repeated his
excuses for Stifft as a man of incurable deliberation, yet meaning well,
he ate less and less of Conapanny's crawfish and cockatoo (confessing
inwardly to a sickness both at the viands and their grave and forsaken
position), while Conapanny, when she thought he was out of sight up the
chasm, drew from her shawl a long-concealed pipe, and sat pulling
secretly at some weed of her fancy alongside the fruitless ashes of the

Stifft was late.

Another seven days went by, and he does not like to confess how
disastrous were his thoughts and speculations, how sick he was of the
roots and spare food, though still keeping up (he hopes for his honour
as a fellow cherishing the memory of cultivated life) the mannerisms and
habits of confidence and hope. To his friend Scarning he says he is to
this day ashamed of his appearance . . . and the angry dismay of his
spirit. He describes himself in shawl, spectacles, and unseemly beard,
on these watches, masticating a crawfish claw or a shell-fish for his
breakfast. He describes the grey, harshvoiced evenings. He tells of the
noble quiet of the morning platform. It was one of those echoing-places
of the sea, where the cliff arches over and makes with some monolith a
cellared beating--as if the tide made and ebbed over the written slabs
of some cathedral. There he would stand, in the half-dusk, an ignoble
and tattered object, sick with the deferred hope of fruitless days,
staring with a shred of obstinacy into that wan opening in the walls. He
describes the hot sunrises, beautiful enough. This one, "a splash of red
currant on a silver plate"; that one, "a badly trimmed oil lamp on a
damask cloth"; and another, Heaven knows, in less sad circumstances a
pretty thing! It was a sky of mighty lavender clouds, backed with remote
pale alps, and fired with a rifling of pink. A grey satin sea, lit very
bright and pale, especially near the cliffs and fall, where the glassy
path was bestrown with lavender and carnation. He relates how in the
silence of that flat sea he heard a curious "creaking" echo, coming, it
seemed from the left hand wall. He drew back a step in the shelter of
the inlet. At that instant, he saw a singular object appear behind the
rocks and trees beyond the falls. It moved slowly, and looked to him
like a broken mast, supporting in temporary fashion a yard and sail. In
another moment a second mast appeared, intact, and suspending a patched
lug-sail. The thing moved slowly in, its shrouds and dangling hamper
sharp and unearthly in the strange light. She was a long, low ship,
overloaded or naturally low in the water, which you could almost have
reached from the deck. Her hull, which had once been painted white,
seemed as if it had been struck by lightning, so remarkably scarred was
it with discoloration and decay. As the swell bellied under her, it
disclosed her under-part green with sedgy weeds. Her rudder had been
strained and recently strengthened by a great transverse beam. Half her
foremast was broken away, but a tanned square-sail was securely rigged
upon two yards, and on her bowsprit, as she came, she deftly ran up,
over her old grey jibs, a third of a tough dark brown. Her lug was "like
my shepherd's-plaid shawl," says Heans. Ropes hung in festoons from her
broken masts and bulwarks, trailing behind her in the satin sea. A fowl
greeted the morning from the deck. A pig grunted. So she slowly came. In
the increasing light, her deck and deckhouses projected homely and
strange. Her after cabin gave by a door on the starboard deck almost on
the wheel. In this stood a ragged, grave, tall man, apparently chewing
his breakfast. As the schooner fluttered to a stop, he cast up an
oppressed and anxious hand.

After all poor Stifft had