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Title:      Anthony Adverse (1933)
Author:     Hervey Allen
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia ebook *
eBook No.:  0200541.txt
Language:   English
Date first posted:          August 2002
Date most recently updated: August 2002

This eBook was produced by: Don Lainson dlainson@sympatico.ca

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Due to the large foreign character content, the 8-bit ASCII character set
(which included accented characters) has been used. Anthony spends time
in many countries, hence the Italian, Spanish, German, French,
and even Cajun.

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Title: Anthony Adverse (1933)
Author: Hervey Allen





"There is something in us that can be without us, and will be after
us, though indeed it hath no history of what it was before us, and
cannot tell how it entered into us."

--SIR THOMAS BROWNE.




CONTENTS


VOLUME ONE

THE ROOTS OF THE TREE


BOOK I--IN WHICH THE SEED FALLS IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST


I.  The Coach

II.  The Little Madonna

III.  At the "Golden Sheaf"

IV.  The Enchanted Forest

V.  A Pastoral Interlude

VI.  The Muse of Tragedy

VII.  The Fly Walks In

VIII.  A Hole in the Wall


BOOK II--IN WHICH THE ROOTS OF THE TREE ARE EXPOSED


IX.  The Convent of Jesus the Child

X.  The Chick Emerges

XI.  Between Two Worlds

XII.  Casa da Bonnyfeather

XIII.  The Evidence of Things Unseen

XIV.  Reality Makes a Bid

XV.  The Shadows of Faith

XVI.  Pagan Mornings

XVII.  Philosophical Afternoons

XVIII.  Bodies in the Dark

XIX.  The Numbers of the Virgin


BOOK III--IN WHICH THE ROOTS OF THE TREE ARE TORN LOOSE


XX.  Apples and Ashes

XXI.  Adventures of a Shepherdess

XXII.  Icons and Iconoclasts

XXIII.  Farewells and Epitaphs



VOLUME TWO

THE OTHER BRONZE BOY


BOOK IV--IN WHICH SEVERAL IMAGES TRAVEL TOGETHER


XXIV.  The Table of the Sun

XXV.  The Villa Brignole

XXVI.  The Street of the Image Makers

XXVII.  The Pillars of Hercules

XXVIII.  The Seed of a Miracle


BOOK V--IN WHICH THE NECESSARY ALLOY IS ADDED



XXIX.  The House of Silenus

XXX.  The Miracle in the Chapel of St. Paul, Regla

XXXI.  A Decent Mammalian Philosophy

XXXII.  Honour Among Thieves

XXXIII.  A Mantilla Intrudes

XXXIV.  Through a Copy of Velasquez

XXXV.  The Temporary Sequestration of the Ariostatica


BOOK VI--IN WHICH THE BRONZE GOES INTO THE FIRE


XXXVI.  A Gradual Approach to Africa

XXXVII.  The Crew Go Ashore

XXXVIII.  A Whiff of Grapeshot

XXXIX.  Viewed from Gallegos

XL.  The Master of Gallegos

XLI.  A Glimpse into the Furnace

XLII.  The Vision of Light

XLIII.  The Image Begins to Melt

XLIV.  The Hard Metal Runs

XLV.  The Bronze Is Sublimed

XLVI.  The Unicorn Charges Home



VOLUME THREE

THE LONELY TWIN


BOOK VII--IN WHICH A WORLDLY BROTHER IS ACQUIRED


XLVII.  Reverberations

XLVIII.  Old Friends Grown Older

XLIX.  What Banking Is About

L.  Don Luis Reflects by Candlelight

LI.  The Coach and the Berlin

LII.  Over the Crest

LIII.  The Force of Gravity

LIV.  The Plains of France

LV.  The Little Man at Great Headquarters


BOOK VIII--IN WHICH PROSPERITY ENFORCES LONELINESS


LVI.  A Metallic Standard Is Resumed

LVII.  Your Humble Obedient Servant

LVIII.  Gloria Mundi

LIX.  The Swan-song of Romance

LX.  Panem et Circenses

LXI.  Shoes and Stockings

LXII.  The Prince of the Peace Beyond the Pyrenees


BOOK IX--IN WHICH THE TREE IS CUT DOWN


LXIII.  By the River of Babylon

LXIV.  The Snake Changes Its Skin

LXV.  The People of the Bear

LXVI.  The Pilgrimage of Grace

LXVII.  The Prison of St. Lazarus

LXVIII.  The Stone in the Heart of the Tree

Epilogue





VOLUME ONE

THE ROOTS OF THE TREE




BOOK ONE

In Which the Seed Falls in the Enchanted Forest




CHAPTER ONE

THE COACH


Between the villages of Aubière and Romagnat in the ancient
Province of Auvergne there is an old road that comes suddenly over
the top of a high hill.  To stand south of this ridge looking up at
the highway flowing over the skyline is to receive one of those
irrefutable impressions from landscape which requires more than a
philosopher to explain.  In this case it is undoubtedly, for some
reason, one of exalted expectation.

From the deep notch in the hillcrest where the road first appears,
to the bottom of the valley below it, the fields seem to sweep down
hastily for the express purpose of widening out and waiting by the
way.  From the low hills for a considerable distance about, the
stone farm buildings all happen to face toward it, and although
most of them have stood thus for centuries their expressions of
curiosity remain unaltered.

Somewhat to the east the hill of Gergovia thrusts its head into the
sky, and continually stares toward the notch as if speculating
whether Celtic pedlars, Roman legionaries, Franks, crusaders, or
cavaliers will raise the dust there.

In fact in whatever direction a man may look in this particular
vicinity his eyes are led inevitably by the seductive tracery of
the skyline to the most interesting point in all that countryside,
the place where the road surmounts the hill.  Almost anything might
appear there suddenly against the empty sky, fix itself upon the
memory, and then move on to an unknown destination.

Perhaps the high hill of Gergovia where heroic events have taken
place in the remote past now misses a certain epic grandeur in the
rhythms of mankind.  For ages past tribes have ceased to migrate
and armies to march over the highway it looks down upon.
Cavalcades, or companies of pilgrims have rarely been seen upon it
for some centuries now.  Individual wayfaring has long been the
rule.  Even by the last quarter of the eighteenth century it had
long been apparent what the best way of travelling the roads of
this world is when one has a definite, personal object in view.
Such, indeed, was then the state of society that the approach of a
single individual, if he happened to belong to a certain class,
might cause as much consternation to a whole countryside as the
advance of a hostile army.

It was this condition of affairs, no doubt, that accounted for the
alarm upon the faces of several peasants as they stood waiting
uneasily in the late afternoon sunshine one spring day in the year
1775.  They were gazing apprehensively at the deep notch in the
hill just above them where the road, which they had been mending,
surmounted the ridge.  Indeed, a grinding sound of wheels from the
farther side of the crest had already reached the ears of the
keenest some moments before.

Presently there was the loud crack of a whip, the shouts of a
postilion, and the heads of two horses made their appearance prick-
eared against the sky.  The off-leader, for there were evidently
more horses behind, was ridden by a squat-bodied little man with
abnormally short legs.  A broad-brimmed felt hat with the flap
turned up in front served, even at considerable distance, to
accentuate under its dingy green cockade an unusual breadth of
countenance.  The ridge at the apex is very steep.  The first team
had already begun to descend before immediately behind it appeared
the second straining hard against the breast straps.  Then the
coach, a "V"-shaped body with the powdered heads of two footmen in
cocked hats peering over its slightly curved roof, outlined itself
sharply in the bright notch of the road and seemed for an instant
to pause there.

As soon as it hove in full sight a babble of relieved exclamation
arose from the group of watching peasants.  It was NOT the coach
of M. de Besance.

As to whose coach it might be, there was small time for speculation.
The problem rapidly began to solve itself.  The coach was heavy and
the hill was steep.  Suddenly, at a cry from the little postilion,
who began to use his whip like a demon, the horses stretched
themselves out.  An immense cloud of dust arose and foamed about the
wheels.

The black body of the coach was now seen coming down the road like
a log over a waterfall.  Oaths, cries, shouts from the white-faced
footmen, the squall and moan of brakes, and a frantic drumming of
hoofs accompanied its descent.  Four horses and the carriage
flashed as one object through the spray of a little stream at the
foot of the hill.  There was a nautical pitch as the vehicle
mounted violently upon a brief length of causeway that led to the
ford.  But so great was the momentum which it had accumulated and
the terror of the horses that the postilion was unable to check
them even with the attempted assistance of the peasants.

A large hole full of water on one side of the little causeway now
became horribly apparent to him.  With a quick jerk on the bridle
and a firm hand the clever little driver dragged his horses around
it.  The front wheels missed it by a fraction.  But there had not
been time to turn the trick entirely.  For an instant the left hind
wheel hung spinning.  Then to the accompaniment of a shrill
feminine scream from the interior of the coach it sank with a
sickening jar and gravelly crunch into the very centre of the pit.
Nevertheless, the rear of the carriage finally rose to the level of
the causeway as the horses once more struggled forward.  A high
water mark showed itself upon the yellow stockings of the petrified
footmen.  The coach lurched again violently, rocked, and stopped.

Scarcely had the coach body ceased to oscillate in its slings when
from the window projected a claret-coloured face surmounted by a
travel-stained wig much awry.  A hand like a lion's paw flourished
a gold-headed cane furiously, and from the mouth of its entirely
masculine owner, which vent can only be described as grim,
proceeded in a series of staccato barks and lion-like roars a
masterpiece of Spanish profanity.  It began with God the Father and
ranged through the remainder of the Trinity.  It touched upon the
apostles, not omitting Judas; skipped sulphurously through a score
or two of saints, and ended with a few choked bellows caused by
twinges of violent pain, on Santiago of Compostela.  During the
entire period of this soul-shaking address, and for several
speechless seconds after, a small, intensely black, forked beard
continued to flicker like an adder's tongue through the haze of
words surrounding it.  Somewhat exhausted, its owner now paused.

Those who thought his vocabulary exhausted, however, were sadly
mistaken.

The gentleman looking out of the coach window owned estates both in
Spain and in Italy.  From both he drew copious revenues not only of
rents but of idiom.  He was of mixed Irish, Spanish, and Tuscan
ancestry, and his fluency was even thrice enhanced.  He now gripped
his cane more firmly and lapsed into Italian.

"You mule's bastard," roared he, twisting his head around with an
obvious grin of pain to address the little man sitting astride the
lead horse, "Come here, I say.  Come here till I break your back.
I'll . . ."  The rest was cut short by a second grimace of agony
and a whistling sound from the cane.

The recipient of this alluring invitation climbed down from his
saddle rather slowly, but with no further signs of hesitation
walked imperturbably past his four quivering horses toward the door
of the coach.  His legs, which already appeared small when astride
a horse, were now seen to be shorter than ever and crooked.  Yet he
moved with a certain feline motion that was somehow memorable.  As
he turned to face the door of the coach and removed his cocked hat,
two tufts of mouse-coloured hair just over his ears, and a long,
black whip thrust through his belt till it projected out of his
coat tails behind, completed for the peasants, who were now
crowding as close as they dared, the illusion that they were
looking, not at a man, but at an animal vaguely familiar.

The door of the coach was now pushed open by the gold-headed cane
revealing to those by the roadside a glimpse of the sumptuous
interior of a nobleman's private carriage.  Its owner had been
riding with his back to the horses.  As the door opened wider a
long, white object projecting across the aisle toward the rear
disclosed itself as a human leg disguised by a plethora of bandages
and resting upon a "T"-shaped stand contrived out of a couple of
varnished boards.  On this couch the ill member with its swathed
foot seemed to repose like a mummy.  On the rear seat could be
caught a glimpse of a brocaded skirt the folds of which remained
motionless.

The claret-coloured face now appeared again and the cane was once
more flourished as if about to descend upon the back of the
unfortunate postilion waiting hat in hand just beyond its reach.
But the gentleman had now reached the limit of his field of action.
He was the owner of the mummified limb on the "T"-shaped stand, a
fact of which he was just then agonizingly reminded, and a torrent
of several languages that seemed to start at his waist literally
leapt out of his mouth.

To the surprise of all but the footmen, who were thoroughly inured
to such scenes, the little man in the road ventured to reply.  He
purred in a soft Spanish patois accompanied by gestures that
provided a perfect pantomime.  Due to his eloquent motions towards
the peasants in the ditch and the hole in the road, it was not
necessary to understand his dialect in order to follow his
argument.  With this the gentleman, who had meanwhile violently
jerked his wig back into place, seemed inclined to agree.

Seeing how things were going, a tall fellow somewhat more
intelligent than his companions now stepped forward.

"It is to be hoped that monsieur will overlook the existence of the
terrible hole which has caused him such discomfort . . ."

"Overlook its existence, you scoundrel, when it nearly bumped me
into purgatory!" roared the gentleman.  "What do you mean?"

"Ah, if we had only known monsieur was coming this way so soon it
should have been filled in before this.  It is very difficult now
to get these rascals to come to the corvée.  We were informed you
would not arrive until day after tomorrow.  I can tell you, sir,"
continued he, turning an eye on his miserable companions which they
did not seem to appreciate, "I can tell you they were just now in a
fine sweat when they heard monsieur's coach ascending the hill.  If
it had been that of M. le Comte de Besance . . . oh, if it had been
M. le Comte himself!"

"M. de Besance?  Ah, then we are already upon his estates!"
interrupted the gentleman in the coach.  "Do you hear that, my
dear?"  Seemingly placated, and as if the incident were drawing to
a close, he began to close the door.  Noticing the crest on the
outside panel for the first time, the man by the road licked his
lips and hastened to correct himself.

"But yes, monseigneur," he gasped, "the Château de Besance is
scarcely half an hour's drive.  One goes as far as the cross-roads
at Romagnat and then turns to the left by the little wood.  And the
road from here on monseigneur will find in excellent shape.  For a
week now we have laboured upon it even in wheat sowing time."

Mollified at finding himself so near the end of a long and painful
journey the gentleman's face relaxed somewhat from its unrelenting
scowl.  A few pale blotches began to appear through its hitherto
uniform tint of scarlet.  Encouraged by this the unfortunate
bailiff essayed further.

"By special order we have smoothed the road from Romagnat for the
illustrious guest expected at the château; but not until day after
tomorrow."  Here he bowed.  "Yet an hour later and this accurséd
hole would have been filled.  A little more willingness on the part
of these"--a grim smile of understanding on the face of the
nobleman here transported the bailiff--"a little more skill on the
part of monseigneur's coachman . . ."

Scarcely had these words left the man's mouth, however, before a
hail of rocks and mud set him dodging and dancing.  The small
postilion who had all this time been waiting in the road hat in
hand was galvanized into instant action.  On all fours, he dashed
about snatching up every clod and stone that came ready to his
paws.  The whip flickered tail-like over his back, his grey-green
eyes blazed brilliantly, and he spat and squalled out a stream of
curses that might have done credit to his master.  One of the
peasants began to mutter something about the evil eye, and all
began to draw back from the coach.

"Are we all right?" shouted the master to his footmen.

"Yes, Your Excellency," they replied as if with one voice.

"Drive on then, Sancho, you devil's cat," roared the gentleman now
grinning with enjoyment at the grotesque scene before him and with
satisfaction at finding that neither his leg nor his coach was
irreparably damaged.

But at the word "cat" the little postilion fairly bounded into the
air.  His hair seemed to stand on end.  Those outside the coach
appeared to be fascinated.  They continued to stand and stare until
with an impatient gesture the gentleman on the inside pulled a
tasselled cord.  A small bell hung in a yoke on the roof tinkled
musically, and the horses long accustomed to the signal moved
forward.

Finding himself about to be left alone on the highroad in a
hopeless minority, the postilion with a final snarl turned, picked
up his hat, clapped it on his head, and in a series of panther-like
leaps, for his legs were far too short to run, gained the lead
horse already some yards ahead and vaulted into the saddle.

"A cat!  A cat!" shrieked the peasants.  The four horses broke into
a trot, and the coach and its passengers rocked and rolled along
the road that had been so carefully "smoothed" to the Château de
Besance.

But rumour preceded it in the person of a peasant runner who took a
short cut across the fields.  The servants at the château were
warned of the unexpectedly sudden approach of visitors.  Even
before the coach reached the cross-roads at Romagnat that entire
village was agog.  For nothing except scandal spreads so fast as an
apt nickname.  The two indeed are frequently related, and in this
case as long as he remained in that part of Auvergne Don Luis
Guzman Sotoymer y O'Connell, conde de Azuaga in Estremadura,
Marquis da Vincitata in Tuscany, and Envoy Extraordinary to the
Court of France from that grand duchy, was invariably associated
with his feline postilion, Sancho, and referred to over the entire
countryside as Monsieur le Marquis de Carabas and his cat.

Compared with the surface of the royal highway the recently
smoothed road upon the estates of M. de Besance was as a calm
harbour to the Bay of Biscay.  Both Don Luis and his leg thus began
to experience considerable benefit from the comparative ease with
which the coach now rolled along.  The end of a ten days' journey
from Versailles was almost in sight, and the marquis began to
contemplate the bandages in the vicinity of his big toe--from which
only a faint, blue light now seemed to emanate--if not with entire
satisfaction at least with considerable relief.  As he did so his
eyes happened to stray past his carefully cherished foot into the
deep recess formed by the rear seat, thus serving to remind him of
what he was at times somewhat prone to forget.

The ample rear seat of the coach upholstered in a smooth velvet of
a light rose colour was deep enough to form, with its painted side
panels and the arched roof above it, what seemed from the front
seat, where the marquis was now leaning back, to be a deep alcove.
Sunk in the luxurious cushions of the seat, and reclining against
the back of the coach with her head directly under an oval window
was what appeared to be the body of a young girl scarcely eighteen
years of age.  Her form was completely relaxed.  Her long sensitive
hands, upon one finger of which was a wedding ring, lay with
startling and web-like whiteness against the rose of the cushions.
Two waxen arms disappeared at the elbows into the folds of a grey
silk travelling scarf wrapped about her shoulders like a Vigée-
Lebrun drapery.  She sat with one leg crossed over the other so
that her skirt, stiffly brocaded in a heavy heliotrope and gold
pattern, fell in a sharp-edged fold that might have been moulded in
porcelain to one white-slippered foot.

Used as he was to an almost selfless yielding in his girl-wife
which constantly expressed itself in his presence in her relaxed
physical attitudes, there was, as he now looked at her across the
aisle of the coach, something in her posture which caused Don Luis
to glance hastily and uneasily at her face.  Her small, rather neat
head lay drooped to one side.  Since Bourges, which they had left
hastily after the death of her maid by plague, she had been unable
to accomplish an elaborate powdered coiffure.  Consequently her own
hair of a pure saffron colour seldom seen in the south of Europe,
burst, rather than was combed back, into a high Grecian knot held
precariously by one gold-knobbed pin.  Across her wide, clear
forehead, above carefully pencilled and minutely pointed arcs of
eyebrows, and blowing out from the temples before and around two
finely chiselled ears, sprang a delightful hedge of ringlets and
tiny silken wires.  These in the rays of the western sun, which
darted now and again through the oval window behind, were touched
along with a thousand dust motes that danced in the semi-darkness
of the coach, into a sudden blaze and aura of golden glory.  A
straight nose, and a rather small, pursed mouth, whose corners were
nevertheless drawn out enough to be turned down toward an obstinate
little chin, completed a countenance with a bisque complexion like
that of a miniature.  It needed only that the eyes should be wide
open and staring directly at you out of the shadows to give the
impression that you were actually in the presence of some dream-
like and helpless doll.  But her eyes were now closed, or almost
so.  As her husband looked at them with their long, brown lashes
disclosing only a blue polished glimmer of the pupils beneath,
while the lids remained perfectly motionless, it calmly occurred to
him that she might have fainted.

Yet this realization even when it became a certainty did not
suggest to Don Luis any necessity for immediate action.  Before
everything else the marquis was a connoisseur, an appreciator of
rare and accidental patterns of beauty in nature, and of their
successful imitation or creation in art.  The picture before him
was a combination of both.  The wide-flung frame of the upholstered
seat, the delicate rose-leaf tint of the background, the
perspective of the alcove, and the unusual arrangement of its
lights and shadows were, so it happened, in exact harmony with the
central and somewhat tragic figure of the portrait.  There was even
a high light in precisely the proper place, for a large emerald
breast pin concentrated the stray beams of sunlight and deflected
them in a living grey-green shaft across the folds of the girl's
scarf.

Don Luis was delighted.  For the time being he felt that his
condescension and his trouble in marrying this young woman had been
rewarded.  And where had he seen that exact arrangement of
headdress and features, accidental to be sure, but quite purely
classic in effect?  Ah, it was on a coin of Faustine; or was it
Theodora?  Perhaps a combination of both.  One's mind played tricks
like that.  His artistic imagination no doubt!  Yes, there was
something a little Byzantine here, and yet quite Grecian behind
with the knot, of course.  Well, he would look again in that
cabinet in the Pitti next time he was in Florence.  He knew the
exact spot where it stood.  Just next to that vile medallion of
Guido. . . .  But a slight trembling of his wife's eyelids reminded
him that some more direct attention to the subject of so admirable
a reverie was now in order.

"Maria," said he, leaning forward and feeling along her arms as if
she were a doll whose limbs might have been accidentally broken,
"listen, I am speaking to you."

Recalled thus from somewhere else by a command not to be
disregarded, she slowly opened her eyes, wide, and very blue, upon
him.  Scarcely had full consciousness returned to her look before
she hastened to disengage her arms from his grasp and to whisper,
"Better now.  It was that last jolt.  I was sure we should all be
killed.  I prayed to her all the way down the hill.  I dreamed I
was with her now."  A haze suffused itself over her eyes as if she
had been looking at the little hills of a child's paradise with the
morning mist still gathered upon them.

For a moment he remained silent.  There was one crack, however, in
his otherwise turtle-like armour.  Glancing toward a statuette of
the Madonna, which at his wife's entreaty had been set in a niche
in the side of the coach, he crossed himself fervently.  The
upholstery had been cut away to allow the insertion of this figure
and its little shrine, and for some time he kept his eyes fixed in
its direction with an expression at once conventionally pious and
fearfully sincere.  Only a boyhood in Spain could have achieved it.
But while it lasted and his lips moved, the girl remained still.  A
look of mixed jealousy and chagrin as if she were loath to share
some personal possession with him hardened her eyes and brought her
chin a little further forward while his devotions went on.  At
last, seeing that his gaze had shifted to the window again, she
ventured to ask, "What happened?"

"Nothing," said he.  The coach rolled on a short distance.

Settling back he pulled up a square flap in the cushion and
produced from a locker in the seat a bottle and a small, silver
travelling mug.  "Nothing, fortunately," he repeated, "but drink
this and you will soon feel better.  Shall I tell you now?  It was
a deep hole in the road.  A few minutes later and it would have
been filled.  No doubt it did jar you badly sitting directly over
the wheel, but the coach of monseigneur is undoubtedly a good one.
We shall not be delayed."

Without spilling any of the wine which he offered her, she managed
to sip it down and wipe the scarlet stain from her lips with a wisp
of a handkerchief.  Seeing how steady were her hands, Don Luis
congratulated her and proceeded to follow up his panacea for all
earthly ills, as he put the bottle back in the seat, with a little
cheering chat.

"It is really too bad that both of the mishaps of the journey have
fallen upon you, my dear," said he, wiping his own lips.  "I could
complain to M. de Besance about this last one and make it lively
for those lazy peasants.  He is said to prefer the high justice to
the low, but it is not quite so easy in these disturbed times to
take the high hand as it used to be.  Hanging or driving away a
tenant is not to be thought of nowadays, especially when one's luck
at cards has been of the sorriest.  They say some of these fellows
in the country are getting impatient at sending all their rents to
Versailles.  The fields here look in condition though," he
exclaimed, "fine, well-tilled acres!"

She nodded wearily.

"So they didn't expect us so soon," he chuckled, "otherwise that
hole would not have 'existed.'  Well, Sancho paid them back in
their own loose dirt."  He proceeded to relate the incident, at
which she succeeded in smiling faintly.

"No, we are decidedly before-hand with them.  If you had not
insisted on delaying at Bourges to be sure that maid would die, we
might have been here two days sooner.  That delay was a sheer waste
of time.  Oh! it has been difficult with your hair, I am sure.  But
do you know I admire you as you are.  There is a certain classic
air about you.  They told me you were quite the rage at the Petit
Trianon in a milkmaid's smock.  It was really clever of you to
manage that.  To be commanded to the dairy by the queen herself,
twice!"

A slight tinge of colour began to suffuse her cheeks.

"Still you should never have let them find out that you really did
know how to milk," he went on.  "That was a faux pas, a decidedly
peculiar accomplishment for the wife of an envoy extraordinary.  It
is not real simplicity they want.  You should have merely pretended
to be learning rapidly.  But to have finished milking before
Madame!  It was fatal!  I can tell you our stock dropped after
that.  I felt like M. Law himself.  If it had not been for my luck
in the oeil-de-Boeuf and that night at de Guémené's soirée we should
have been nowhere, nowhere at all.  Even the mission might have
failed.  But when I won M. d'Orléans' new coach from him at écarté,
and drove off in it with the lilies on the door!  Ha!  That was
something, even if one's wife did know how to milk."  He looked at
her, stroking his beard with satisfaction.

The coach rolled on while the shadows deepened.  In the depths of
the seat he could not see the tears in the eyes of his young wife.
The world outside glimmered before her.

A red ray of sunset dashed itself against the rose-coloured
cushions and glanced into the shimmering pools of her eyes.
Reflected there she saw the Palace of Love at the Petit Trianon;
the torchlight on the pool before it.  A dust mote became a boat
gliding past in the red glow.  Ghosts of music began to sound in
her ears.  The trees whispered outside like the park forest.

Suddenly the vision became intensely clear.  Up the little steps of
the temple sprang a young soldier in a white and gold uniform.  He
was putting roses on the altar before the god of love.  She leaned
forward now to see his face--and found herself gazing directly into
the eyes of her husband.

His lips parted slowly in a completely self-possessed smile.  She
gasped slightly.  The vision had been so clear!  She was almost
afraid he must have seen it, too.  But Don Luis was not given to
visions.  The gouty leg had unaccountably stopped pulsing and its
owner now felt inclined to talk.

"M. le Comte de Besance did not come off so well in his bets with
me either."  His smile widened.  "Five hundred louis against my
living on his estates till my leg is cured!  All of these fellows
are so sure of their provincial springs.  No one can dispute with
them.  It is like arguing with a country priest about a local
miracle.  Por Dios, how he leered over that fine hand he held.  I
almost believe he wanted to lose just to have me try his spa.  Else
how could he have played so ill?  So I shall take my time here.  It
is due my good luck.  And I like the air already.  None the less
that there are no handsome Irish captains of the guard to breathe
it.  Mark that!  O'Connell was my great-grandfather's name.  That
is all the Irish you will get.  We shall say no more about that
fellow, but"--and he leaned forward clutching her knee--
"REMEMBER!"

Having delivered this ultimatum he sat back again for some time in
silence.  At last one of the footmen absent-mindedly began to drum
upon the roof.  "Leave off that," roared his master.  Outside the
man snatched his hand back as if he had suddenly found it resting
on a hot stove.  Don Luis continued.

"You can rest here and forget all about it.  They say the Château
de Besance is a pleasant enough place.  The last M. de Besance but
one spent some time in Italy and even journeyed to see the Grand
Turk.  The rugs are said to be remarkable, and there are some good
Venetian pieces.  Besides, the place is not too large to be
comfortable.  I shall get you another maid, somehow, and you can
indulge your cursed English taste for driving about the country."

"Scotch, you mean," the girl said softly, "my father . . ."

"It is all the same," said he, a little impatient at the
interruption.  "Doubtless there is a small carriage in the count's
stables.  But no jaunting about in peasants' carts!  That was bad
enough at Livorno when you were a girl.  Remember!"

He had an unpleasant way of trilling the phrase in Italian, an
accent that might have accompanied a sneer.  She always felt it and
winced.  Yet seldom was he so talkative or so amiable as now.
Despite an occasional sardonic fall in his tones, without which he
could scarcely have expressed himself, for the first time in her
married life of about a year he was verging upon the affable.
Sensing the state of his feelings as well as their ephemeral
nature, she decided to pick flowers while the sun shone.

"At the château--could I have a dog?" she asked.  Her quick reading
of the human barometer and her instant grasp of opportunity tickled
his shrewd fancy.  In the mood he was in he consented with an ease
that astonished himself.

"At the château, yes.  But it must not come into the coach.  I will
not be having the cushions made for royalty itself ruined."

She laughed.  The very thought of a companion who could give and
receive affection revived her.  Leaning forward she looked out of
the window and let the breeze play on her forehead.  They were just
approaching a village.

Presently the coach and four wheeled sharply around a well-curb at
the forks of the road.  A weather-beaten cross stood above the town
fountain, and the usual crowd of women drawing water at that time
of day put their pitchers down or slipped the bucket yokes from
their shoulders at the sound of horses.  Almost everyone in the
village who could find an excuse to be away, and there were few who
could not, stood waiting to stare curiously but silently at the
coach.  The only sound was the clopping of hoofs and the occasional
snarl of the more vicious village curs carefully held back from
barking.  Dogs which barked at guests on the estates of M. le Comte
de Besance invariably failed to return to their owners.

"To the château?" cried Sancho, drawing up and nourishing his whip.

One of the horses began to crane its neck and sniff toward the
fountain.  The crowd gaped and began to murmur something among
themselves about a cat.  "But, yes, certainly, a cat!"  There
seemed a humorous difference of opinion.  Sancho began to jabber.
The bell on the top of the coach tapped twice with unusual
emphasis, and he swung the horses to the left.

"That fool!" exclaimed the marquis, "he would stop at every village
well to start a brawl.  An end must be put to that!  If he fights
with everyone who howls 'cat' after him between here and the Alps,
I shall be needing a new coachman long before we get to Italy.
Besides, the man does look like a cat!  You can see, my love, it
would never do to have a dog in the coach with Puss-in-Boots on the
box, never!"  Don Luis actually leaned out of the window and
laughed at his own joke.  In town he would never have thought of
doing so.  It was the first time she had ever heard him laugh
heartily and something in the tone of it startled her.

They were ascending a long rise now between a pleasant park-like
wood on one side and a carefully pruned vineyard on the other.  A
few bunches of grapes smaller than berries as yet showed here and
there.  An all but imperceptible perfume was in the air.  Maria
breathed deeply and lay back with her eyes closed.  The scent was
delightfully familiar, suggestive even in its intangibility, and
she allowed herself, as she relaxed into the cushions, the
unexpected boon of indulging to the full an overpowering illusion
that she was returning home.

After all, perhaps the Château de Besance might have its
compensations.  She would play that she was coming home anyway.  It
would make the arrival at another strange place more bearable.  The
faint tinge of colour brightened in her cheeks.  Even the illusion
made her heart beat faster.

Her husband was looking out over the vineyards, wide and peculiarly
mellow in the last, long rays of full daylight.  If only that
countenance with its pointed beard, the cheeks forever a dark wine
colour, the hard black eyes, and the mouth like a trap,--if only
HE were not here now to spoil her dream!  A small breeze blowing
across the aisle of the coach fanned her cheeks and brought a more
pungent whiff as of the vineyards about Livorno.  Shutting her eyes
tight she breathed more deeply, then she turned away from him and
opened them wide.

From the little niche in the side of the coach the madonna was
looking at her.  The girl began to pray to her silently.  The face
of the Virgin was very familiar.  The little statuette was the one
memento which she had been allowed to keep that still reminded her
of home.  Her lips moved imperceptibly, her nostrils widened to the
breeze, her eyes remained fixed upon the face of the statue.  For a
few wretched and blessed moments she was back again in her own room
in her father's house.

Don Luis had no idea of what was going on in his wife's mind.  He
saw that she was praying and that seemed natural enough.  But he
did not care how, when, where, or to what a woman prayed.  Just now
he was nowhere in particular himself.  His leg had stopped hurting
and left him pleasantly vacant of mind; in an easy, almost
garrulous mood.  He leaned out of the window still farther and
noticed they were nearly at the top of the hill.  Hadn't the
bailiff in charge of the peasants said the château was just over
the top of the rise?  The memory of that unfortunate fleeing in a
hail of mud again caused Don Luis to laugh aloud.

The little postilion turned about in his saddle and looked back at
his master.  An amused grin spread from his whiskers along his
jaws.  A knowing wink passed between the master and his man.  Just
then the horses began to descend.

"What can you see ahead?" shouted the marquis.

But the reply of the postilion was lost in the sudden grinding of
brakes.




CHAPTER TWO

THE LITTLE MADONNA


The peasants working on the corvée of M. de Besance had just
completed filling the hole in the causeway and were gathering up
their tools to depart for a well-earned night's rest, when the
sound of galloping hoofs once more fell upon their ears.

There was a short cessation of the sound.  Then without any further
warning a man mounted on a spirited bay horse darkened the notch at
the top of the hill.  Picking his way rapidly down the steep slope,
he splashed at a sharp clip through the ford and cantered onto the
causeway.  A certain military precision lurked in the folds of a
blue cloak that fell from his shoulders in trim, straight lines.
As he came opposite the group of peasants he reined up his horse
sharply, and at the first glance as if his judgment was seldom at a
loss, picked out the bailiff in charge of the work although the
man's clothes were still bespattered by the dirt with which his
friend the postilion had recently favoured him.  The stranger
beckoned to him, but somewhat suspicious from his recent experience
the man hesitated to step forward as smartly as before.  Nor did
two large pistols in the holsters of a military saddle, and the
brass clover of a rapier scabbard projecting below the newcomer's
riding cloak add to the bailiff's sense of self-possession.

"Come here," said the horseman, seeing how matters stood, in a
voice that was not to be denied.  With some visible hesitation the
bailiff advanced.

"Have you seen a gentleman on a black gelding pass this way
recently?"

"No, sir, he has not come by this road," replied the man.

The stranger's horse refreshed from its recent plunge in the ford
danced about uneasily and pawed the dust.  "Ha, Solange, you witch
you, ho, girl!" he cried, reining her about in a semi-circle with a
sure hand and bringing her back again as he called over one
shoulder, "How do you know that?"

"Because, monsieur," replied his informant, "we have been working
here all day and no one has passed southward except the coach of
monsieur . . . pardon, I mean monseigneur, the guest of M. le
Comte."

"Monseigneur!" said the stranger raising his eyebrows.  "Why do you
say that?"

"The crest, sir, the lilies were on the door!"

"Are you sure of it?"

"Am I likely to forget it?  Dieu! am I not covered from head to
foot by the filth which that devil, his cat of a postilion, threw
at me.  Look!" and the bailiff turned to exhibit the state of his
back.

He was immediately struck by another missile, but this time of a
more welcome kind.  As he stooped to pick up the coin, he saw the
limbs of the mare suddenly gathered under her as she felt the spur.
By the time he had picked up the money and bitten it, both horse
and rider were fifty yards away.

"Monsieur is in a hurry," he muttered, as he pocketed the piece and
prepared to go home.

It was easy enough to follow the coach.  In the newly smoothed
highway the broad wheel tracks of the great vehicle were as plainly
to be seen as if it had just been driven over a field of virgin
snow.  Yet the coach itself was nowhere visible.  Behind the top of
a little rise above the village the stranger dismounted and made
sure of this before urging his mount onto the level open ground
below.  He was about to gallop on when a low cloud of dust at the
top of a hill across the valley caught his eye.

The coach was just emerging from a patch of woodland and going over
the skyline.  From where he stood he could even see someone lean
from the window to speak to the postilion while the latter turned
in his saddle to reply.  Then the whole equipage disappeared over
the ridge.

Clapping spurs to his horse the stranger galloped down the road,
leaped over a low hedge, and taking an open short cut across some
meadows, found himself in a trice back on the road again.  The
village, which he had thus avoided, lay between the highways at the
"V" of the cross-roads, and he was now passing rapidly uphill with
a wood on one hand and vineyards on the other.  Just short of the
hillcrest he again dismounted suddenly and threw the reins over the
mare's neck.  She stood patiently, precisely where she had been
left.  Muffling his cloak well about him, he strode rapidly forward
a few yards, stooping low.  He then left the road, and taking
shelter behind a convenient shrub, looked down into the valley
beyond.

Before him lay a low valley, a wide, cultivated landscape
stretching away in the softly brilliant afterglow of a French
sunset.  In the foreground was the park of Besance.  A statue
gleamed here and there amid the wide-armed trees like an ivory high
light.  The road wound through the groves in a vague "S"-shaped
curve up to the château itself, an old building with candle snuffer
towers.  But there was a new wing in front with high, arched
renaissance windows and a row of conical trees in tubs.  It was one
of those minor Versailles which during the last two reigns had
sprung up all over Europe.  As he watched, a fountain began to play
on the terrace and the downstairs windows gleamed with a saffron
light as someone flitted from room to room lighting chandeliers.
The coach now emerged from between a wall of hedges, made the half-
circle before the entrance, and drew up before the door.  In the
lens-like air, as the footmen leaped to let down the steps, he
could even see their brass buttons.  After some little delay the
coach moved out and trotted around to the rear.

A scene of considerable bustle was now revealed on the steps of the
château.  Four lackeys bearing a man with a white object that stuck
out straight before him were swaying up the stairs, marshalled by a
bustling major-domo.  A woman stood waiting for them at the top
while various bags and valises in charge of other servants
disappeared through the door.  Even at that distance he could still
make out the peculiar heliotrope shade of her skirt, and that she
was carrying something in her hand.  "By God!" said he in English,
and with an emotion so violent that it found vent in immediate
action.  With a determined and almost desperate gesture he plucked
a handful of leaves off the bush which concealed him, and scattered
them angrily.

The four men bearing their human burden now began to shuffle on the
last ascent to the door.  Evidently what they had in hand was no
light matter.  At the very top someone stumbled.  The whole group
began to sway perilously.  Then, as the invalid's cane began to
play over their heads and along their backs viciously, they fairly
precipitated themselves into the gaping mouth of the door.  Only
the woman now remained, apparently looking out over the landscape
where the shadows were beginning to gather.  In the excitement
attending the entrance of the baggage and the gentleman it seemed
as if she stood there forgotten.

The watcher behind the bush had never hoped for such a stroke of
good fortune.  She might have been looking directly at him.  With a
deft bound he gained a large rock that stood squarely upon the
crest behind which he had been hiding.  He held his cloak out wide,
and tossed it.  Then he began to caper and wave his hat.

For a moment the little figure on the steps stood as if transfixed.
Then she too threw out her arms wildly and began to wave whatever
it was she was holding in her hands.  For a few seconds these
mutual signals continued.  Then the woman turned suddenly and
hurried into the house.  To the man standing on the rock it seemed
as though she had taken the daylight with her.

He instantly recovered himself, however, and hurried downhill to
his horse.  A glow far more lasting than his exercise on the rock
could have produced suffused him.  He felt bursting with good
nature and kindliness.  Plucking some small bunches of grass he
rubbed down the mare, and fondled her soft nose.  The grass was
next applied to a pair of long, very fine military boots.  A finely
worked handkerchief flicked the dust from a cocked hat whence, to
judge by the shading, a braid-edging and cockade had recently been
removed.  The stranger as if from mere military habit then looked
at the priming of his pistols, tightened the girth, and patting his
horse affectionately but heartily on the flank, sprang into the
saddle and trotted off at a brisk pace toward the village.

In the great hall of the Château de Besance Don Luis sat under a
chandelier, propped up in a huge chair nursing his leg.  The pain
of having been let down upon it did not subside for some time.
Immediately upon being brought in he had done full justice to the
occasion, and his shattered malacca cane that lay beside him on the
parqueterie was a mute witness that the man who stumbled would have
good reason to recollect his misfortune.  No one, indeed, had
escaped wholly.  Even Maria upon suddenly hastening in to help him
had been ordered to let his bandages alone.  He told her to go
upstairs and dress for dinner, in a way which made even the
servants wince.  Not that the marquis had been impolite.  It was
merely his tone.  There was a crushing viciousness in it which made
his young wife's solicitude wilt like a flower caught in the cloven
hoof of a bull.  In her agitation she had all but fled the room,
leaving the little object which she had been carrying like a
favourite doll lying forgotten upon a near-by table.

The major-domo of M. de Besance was wondering how he could fill the
place of the caned lackey whose arm would be useless for a week.
Well, he would have to wait upon the table himself.  Monsieur was
undoubtedly a hard case, and perhaps it would be better to take no
chances.  M. de Besance had sent strict orders for the careful
entertainment of these guests.  The accident was terrible!  He must
make amends for it.  He glanced at the face of the sufferer.  A
restorative perhaps, something unusual.  He bowed and retired, to
return presently with a small, squat, greenish-black bottle.

The marquis' expression changed.  He watched the cork-drawing with
the eye of an expert and could find nothing at which to cavil.  The
man's precise mixture of art and ritual was impeccable.  A divine
odour as of a basket of fresh, ripe peaches left in the sun filled
the room.  With good care and a steady hand the butler decanted the
upper inch of the liquid into a glass that had been carefully
wiped, and handed it to Don Luis.  The latter inhaled the bouquet
and a look of understanding passed between the two men.  It was an
occasion.

"Of the year of Malplaquet, Your Excellency," said the man bowing.

The marquis drank slowly.  Old toper as he was he was scarcely
prepared for the surcharged flavour.  It would have been cloying
had it not been accompanied by a fiery glow that might have made a
salamander start.  The marquis just succeeded in not choking, and
finished the glass.  His eyes shone.  He was surprised that such a
beverage existed.  It was worth having come from Paris just to
sniff the bouquet.  A genial glow miraculously combined with a
delightful languor swam through his veins.  His leg ceased to stab.
When the mist of pain and the dullness of fatigue cleared from his
eyes as though someone had washed a dusty window, he now saw that
he was seated in an apartment furnished with an exquisite but
somewhat outmoded taste.

"Monsieur need not move," said the butler.  He lit a fire of
resinous wood which instantly began to crackle and throw lambent
shadows about the brass andirons and white marble mantelpiece where
two satyrs grinned at each other through a tracery of leaves and
grapes.

It was not the first nobleman the old servant had treated for the
gout with brandy.  The great thing to do was to keep them still.
"Hot water and a valet will be here instantly, Your Excellency.
You shall be made comfortable."  He covered the bottom of the glass
again.  "Supper will also be served here, and I shall have an
apartment prepared for monsieur on the ground floor.  The stairs
are unnecessary.  I did not know of His Excellency's affliction or
the chamber on this floor should have been ready upon his arrival.
Another accident for monsieur is unthinkable!  The new room will
take some few moments.  After dinner it will be ready.  Monsieur
can retire then, if he desires, without going upstairs."

The man waited without seeming to do so for a sign of approval.
Don Luis knew when he was being well served.  A major-domo of the
old school was rare in this degenerate reign.  He raised his hand
in a gesture of assent and let it fall back to the stem of his
glass.  The man retired.  His queue, the precisely horizontal bow,
and every line of his back were at once respectful and correct.  As
he turned to close the door silently he saw the guest of his master
sitting dreamfully with his nose poised like a beak just over the
rim of the glass.  In his eyes there was an expression of great
content.

Don Luis finished the rest of the peach brandy and sat gazing into
the fire.  Below the waist he seemed to have vanished.  One of
those rare moments of heightened consciousness and clear vision was
upon him.  He felt himself to be all eyes.  The combination of
spirits and fatigue had been precisely right.  Without moving his
head he permitted his glance to wander about the room.  It passed
with keen relish from one stately bit to another and finally came
to rest on the object which his wife had left on the table.  It was
the little madonna which she had carried from the coach to take to
her room.  In the state that he was in, his hands reached for it
somewhat mechanically.  For the first time he began to examine it
closely, dreamfully.

It was very old, evidently the work of several distinct and widely
separated historical epochs.  He turned the little shrine in which
the figure stood to and fro.  The shrine itself was certainly
ancient Byzantine work.  No Gothic artist could have conceived
those wide, flat arches at the top.  What a vast dome had been
conveyed in-little by that curious, buttressed hood over the
Virgin's head!  And that sky, and those stars!  Don Luis grunted
and took out a small pocket glass.  The secret of that heavenly
blue must have been lost.

The figure, though small, was posed with immense dignity against a
background of night.  With some fusing of sepia, cobalt, and ebony
the artist had contrived to convey that living blue of heaven on a
summer evening which opens out through vast antres of atmosphere to
the milky shimmer of stars beyond.  Spread out and over this, like
the far and near points in a crushed net, was a galaxy of golden
stars.  These, as he moved them to a better perspective,
scintillated with the true zodiacal fire.  In the top of the dome
he was delighted to recognize the arrangement of the constellation
Virgo, and to note, as he brought them closer again, a light dash
of silver in the rays of what would otherwise have been too yellow
a fire.  The consummate brushwork of some painter upon ceramics had
wrought that.  In some mysterious way the whole background had been
given a universal lustre which by reverberated reflections all but
cancelled out the shadow of the figure that stood before it.  "It
was a cunning device," thought Don Luis.  He looked more closely.
"By heaven, it was glaze!"

From this sea of stars the face of the Virgin swam up to him
somehow vaguely familiar.  It was as if he had seen it in life.
Or, was it a kind of universal human memory?--something learned so
far back in childhood, perhaps from the face of his mother, or
before, that it had been consciously forgotten?  The expression of
the features was so deeply brooding, and yet so universal, that it
had produced in him that distinct and unplaceable sensation of
having often seen them somewhere else.  Those clear brows, those
wide-open eyes, the slightly distended nostrils and the archaic
smile; there was a hint of something sphinx-like, yes, distinctly
Egyptian about it.  And yet the poise of the head was Greek.  He
was at a loss at first to place it.  Now he looked more closely at
the stiff, jewelled robe.

It was made of small pieces of coloured stones with the glint of a
jewel-chip here and there.  It was set with seed pearls about the
hems, and ennobled with a gilt pattern of some papyrus-like plant.
Florentine mosaic work before the grand dukes, early Medici!  He
could also see it was attached to the statue by minute, extended
silver wires; a new coat given to her by some pious owner long ago.
It rose out and away from her body, to fall lower down into a
stiff, jewelled skirt such as medieval royalties once wore.  He
could even see behind the robe, for it stood out from her like a
herald's tabard.  Beneath the bodice her breasts sloped down in
pointed ovals that suggested sleep, and dreaming there, in utter
peace, held in the crook of her arm was the infant.  He thought of
Dionysius on the arm of Apollo at first.  And yet, as he peered
again, almost fearfully now, since the thing had become so real,
there was something too intimate and tender about this child in its
mother's arms to be pagan.  No, it was undoubtedly the Christ-child
on Mary's breast.  It must have been modelled in Alexandria an age
ago, the statue itself.  It would have taken a Christian born a
pagan to have done it, an Egyptian Greek, some artist who could
combine various old gods and humanity into something new; something
old but something new.

It had always been a theory of the marquis that it is in the
miniature masterpieces, those which can be put into a glass
cabinet, that the arts of civilization culminate.  First come your
gigantic architecture and your monoliths; then something more
human, more livable, realism, perhaps, gradually becoming
beautifully conventional; then medallions, engravings, miniatures,
cameos, and statuettes.  And here was a nice illustration of the
thing, he liked to think.  He stroked his beard.

In Byzantium this single shrine would have been part of a triptych.
He could still see that the right side of it had once fitted on to
something else.  He put it back on the table and slipped the glass
into his pocket.  The gilded sun-burst, that almost imperial sun-
crown upon the head of the Virgin; that had Constantinople written
all over it.  Some devout Arian had once owned it.  He leaned back
and let his imagination supply the two missing panels:--God the
Father most elevated in the middle, on one side of Him the dove
descending out of the clouds from the Father's bosom, on the other
the little shrine he held in his hands.  The triptych was perfect
again.  How easily he had restored it!  But was it necessary?

This shrine he actually held--why, it alone represented the entire
Trinity and humanity, too!  The cosmos for that matter; there were
the stars.  Had not the Holy Ghost descended upon the woman?  The
Son of God and man was in her arms.  And the Father?--why HE was
there by necessary implication, invisible as always, but the
creator of all.  How huge, how universal was this little symbol he
could hold in one hand.  For a moment he was humble before it.  He
came as near to worship as he could.  Then his natural pride
reasserted itself.  His logical and theological mind laughed in his
skull to think that out of that Arian triptych only this remained.
How literal and how elaborate was heresy!  The other panels had
been unnecessary.  Only the Catholic symbol was required and
everything essential was there.  Ah, a nice point!  Something even
the Jansenists could scarcely refute.  A fit subject for a
monograph.

And yet artistically WAS the statue perfect?  Weren't those
fluted mother-of-pearl inlays about her feet a little tawdry; about
1700, no doubt.  But no, narrow your eyes and you could see the
eternal stars mirrored in them.  She was standing before the
universe at the pearly gates.  Seventeen centuries had contrived to
make something perfect.  Don Luis conferred upon them the greatest
compliment of his own.  Drawing a small gold box from his waistcoat
he sprung back the lid, tapped his fingers lightly in a kind of
salutation, and took a large pinch of snuff.

The resulting sneeze so startled a valet who had just entered the
room that the marquis laughed.  It would never do to have all these
servants afraid of him.  Fear could make an antelope awkward.  The
marquis bade the man good evening and began to ask questions about
the château.  Presently the valet was at his ease and the work of
revamping Don Luis proceeded comfortably enough.  A small silver
basin filled with hot water served to refresh him as, with the wig
and cravat removed, a warm sponge was passed over his shaven head
and neck.  He soaked his hands in the water.  A fresh, lace jabot
was then wound about his neck and the frill carefully made to stand
out from his shirt.  A larger and more comfortable bag wig was
taken out of its box and slipped onto his head.  It was scarcely
necessary to use the brush at all, and the bow on the queue was
kept clean of powder.  To Don Luis that was the test.  No whisking
off afterward!  He preferred to beat servants rather than be beaten
by them, if it came to that.  A small dash of verbena on his
handkerchief, and with the cushions carefully, even solicitously
rearranged on the leg stand by the butler himself, the marquis felt
at home, ready for dinner in fact.

The man threw a few more logs on the fire, drew up a table before
Don Luis, carefully avoiding his bandaged limb, and began to lay
covers for two.  The napery was ivory-smooth, the candles were
carefully shaded, and the plate was not only good but positively
inviting.  "If the chef can do the appointments justice," thought
Don Luis, "I am prepared to be convinced that M. de Besance was not
merely trying to cure his homesickness by a vicarious visit in my
person to his ancestral halls."  He preferred to remain cynical,
however.  Nevertheless the variety and nice arrangement of the wine
glasses tended to confirm the claims of his absent host.  The
butler now lit a small lamp under a brazier and announced that
dinner was ready when madame should be announced.  "Tell her," said
the marquis.

The logs crackled in the grate and in some distant part of the
house a clock began to chime.  The room was a large one.  The table
was set under the last chandelier next to the fireplace.  The
candlelight from the sconces and chandeliers reflected themselves
and their crystals with long splashes of yellow light on the
polished floor.  As Maria entered the apartment from the opposite
door, it seemed to her that the little table was at an immense
distance.  The silver and glass twinkled upon it like stars caught
in a fleecy cloud, and over the edge of it, looking like the moon
itself, shone the scarlet face of her husband.  To a light
splashing of silk she seemed to float to him over the lake of the
floor in her wide panniered skirts, moving her feet invisibly like
those of a swan.  "Madame la Marquise."  The man with the injured
arm should have been at the door to announce.  With some well-
concealed embarrassment the butler also hastened forward to seat
her.

"Bravo, my dear," said her husband, "such a toilette in so short a
time is a marvel!  You know the lamentable reason which keeps me
from rising to the occasion."  To her relief she saw him smile.
She began to talk rather hastily.

"I have a maid, a woman from Fontanovo, that M. de Besance sent
here some days ago.  You cannot imagine how pleasant it is to hear
Tuscan again.  It is almost as welcome as English."  She checked
herself and coloured deeply.  The marquis overlooked the reference
to home.

"While we were in Paris I thought it best to use nothing but
French, but we can now speak Italian," said he, changing into that
tongue.  "It is certainly charming of M. de Besance to have sent an
Italian maid, probably one of his household he picked up while in
Florence recently."

"She is returning to Italy and hopes to go back with us."

"Ah, that explains it then.  But not altogether.  Besance has been
the best of fellows.  Paris would have been quite a different place
without him.  That little journey of congratulation to the Duchess
of Parma--I was able to help him with that, and we were compatible.
It is not often one makes such a friend after forty.  Do you
suppose he would really have turned his château over to us on a bet
at cards?  No, he is genuinely anxious to see me cured, and his
enthusiasm about the waters at Royat was really catching.  I hear
of many cures there, too.  By the way," said he turning to the man,
"Henri?  Jacques?"

"Pierre, Your Excellency."

"Pierre, then.  How far is it to the baths?"

"About an hour's drive, monsieur, by way of Clermont.  And there
is, if monsieur desires to stay overnight, an excellent inn."

The prospect seemed to cheer Don Luis greatly.  Since some time
before his marriage his leg had kept him little better than an
invalid, and a round of high living at Paris and Versailles was not
calculated to help the gout.  The very thought of getting rid of
his discomfort and being active again made him feel like rising
from his chair then and there.  Indeed, for the first time in his
life the state of his health had for a year past caused him to give
it some thought.

Newly married to the daughter of a Scotch merchant of Leghorn who
had some vague Jacobean claim to nobility, the marquis had from the
first been swept off his feet by the strange beauty of the young
girl who now sat across the table from him.  He had first seen her,
accidentally, while settling a matter of business at her father's
establishment.  As he happened to be the owner of the buildings in
which her father's concern did business, it was not difficult for
him to find the way of gaining a swift consent to his suit.  That
is not to say that the marquis' method of approach was crass; on
the contrary, it was adroit.

The good merchant was a widower up in years and anxious to see his
only child well and securely bestowed.  To that end a very
considerable dowry was her portion.  In fact, the old man was
prepared to embarrass himself, and did so.  Although Don Luis was a
quarter of a century older than his bride, still in the eyes of the
world, and to her father, the match had seemed a fortunate one.
The marquis condescended, no doubt, but the dowry was worth
stooping for, and to do him justice, in his own way Don Luis loved
the girl.  He held wide fiefs from both the Grand Duke of Tuscany
and the Crown of Spain, and was much employed in delicate
diplomatic affairs from time to time.  To Maria's father in
particular the marquis had seemed like a god from the machine come
to snatch his daughter back to the high Olympus of court life to
which in some sort she belonged.  From that realm an invincible
attachment to the unfortunate house of Stuart on the part of her
ancestors and her father's consequent necessitous lapse into trade
had effectually banished her.

The girl herself had been too young and inexperienced to realize
the full implications of what her father pressed upon her in the
most favourable light.  Even her maid, a girl about her own age,
and her one human confidante, had abetted the scheme as a wise
young woman should.  There had been no one else to turn to but the
little madonna.  From her she received comfort but no advice.  The
girl's heart had continued to shiver in a premonitory way at the
sight of her prospective husband.  But obedience and love for her
father, who she knew parted with her only because he thought he was
setting her feet upon a fortunate path, sealed her lips.  Yet
dutiful as she was, even after her marriage there was one thing for
which she could not bring herself to pray.  It was for the
restoration of her husband's health.  The thought of physical
contact, the mere touch of his hand, indeed, turned her to stone.

With Don Luis it was far, far otherwise.  He had in one sense been
starved for some time, and his touch was therefore too hungry to
note anything but its own temperature.  Yet he had deliberately
starved himself.  For if he was in love with his wife, he was also
in love with himself, and that self was possessed of an enormous
sense of the ludicrous.  In the rôle of husband and lover he saw
himself, not young and handsome--for he was too wise and too candid
to suppose the opposite of what his own mirror disclosed--but
forceful; not to be denied; a master of life upon important
occasions and possessed of some dignity withal.  A man of the
world, he had no illusion about bed-time intimacies.  There was
only one way to maintain a manly dignity there.  Hence he did not
intend to approach his marriage bed for the first time on crutches,
with a bandaged foot and debilitated--lights or no lights.  Besides
it MIGHT be painful.  The thought of it made him grin and wince
at the same time.  He was anxious for an heir, too.  But so far he
had deferred to circumstances.

The meal continued.  The potage paysan might have been a bit flat
but the rye bread in it had been toasted and imparted that nut-like
flavour in which the marquis delighted.  A dish of trout in butter,
a mushroom patty, an endive salad with chives together with some
excellent wines from the count's cellar composed a light meal for
which Pierre apologized profusely.  A fresh cheese cool from the
spring house, and a firm, white loaf caught in a silver clamp
provided with a small steel saw in the shape of a dragon's head
with teeth amused Maria.

By the time the marquis had sampled his host's liqueurs he was
prepared to remain all summer.  No doubt the cure WOULD take that
long.  He was tired after Paris anyway.  He rattled on about his
recovery.  "Have the coach ready at nine o'clock tomorrow.  Tell
that man of mine," said he to Pierre, "and don't allow him anything
but table wine tonight.  I shall go to the springs first thing in
the morning.  My dear, I shall soon be well!  I feel sure of it.  A
man you have not yet met in fact!"  He looked across the shaded
candles at his wife eagerly.

Her eyes opened wide and the colour left her cheeks.  She felt like
one trying to thrust off a nightmare.  Then the vision of the
figure waving to her from the rocks came to comfort her.  Watching
her closely, her husband leaned back and laughed.  Certain visions
also flashed across his mind.  He had never seen her look so well.
It would all be well enough shortly.  The child might come in the
spring, after they were in Florence.  That would fill her life for
her, and bind her to him.  He need not worry about cavaliers after
that.  Not that the young Irishman at Versailles would ordinarily
have caused him a second thought.  A beautiful, young wife would
have admirers, of course.  But under the circumstances!  No, it had
been just as well to leave a little sooner.  He was a dashing
fellow and the uniform of the guard was a handsome one.  It was
better not to put too much strain on a young girl's sense of duty.
He looked at her again.  Her eyes had wandered past him and her
lips were moving.  Following her glance he saw that her gaze was
fixed on the madonna still standing on a near-by table.  She looked
up again a bit startled.

"You forgot her when you went upstairs, you know.  I was examining
her while you were dressing.  She is quite a precious work of art.
Where did you get her, by the way?  Let me see her again."

She rose obediently and brought the figure in its little shrine to
him.  He put down his glass and took the relic in his hands.

"Where did you say you got her?"

"From my maid at home.  It had been in her family for a long time.
She was a Scotch girl."

"Scotch!" said he, "this at least did not come from Scotland."

"Her father was a Greek or of a Greek strain at least, a Greco-
Florentine.  His name was Paleologus."

"What a strange combination," he smiled.  "I remember her now, I
think.  She wanted to come along with you."

"Yes, Faith Paleologus," she turned the syllables over in her mouth
as if they were somehow unpleasantly reminiscent.

"Did you ever notice this, Maria?" he asked, turning the statue
sideways.  Taking a knife he pointed behind the mosaic work.

It had never occurred to her to look under the Virgin's robe.  She
had always thought of it as part of her.  Following the glittering
point of the knife she now saw the little silver wires holding the
stiff dress out from the statue like a herald's tabard before it.
Underneath was the figure of a naked woman with a child at her
breast!  Small jewelled lights glinting through the tiny bits of
glass and chips of gems in her robe played upon the shadows and
curves of her exquisite body.  But the knife was pointing coldly at
a fracture.  At some remote time the statue had evidently been
broken off below the knees and mended again cunningly.  To the mind
of the young girl, who was scarcely more than an idolater, the
whole thing came as a shock.  With a gasp she reached down, took
the madonna from her husband's hands, and as if the knife
threatened it, caught it to her breast as though it were alive.

"Be careful," he said.  But she crushed it the harder.  A look of
extreme happiness glimmered on her face.  Then suddenly becoming
aware of him again she stiffened.

"You are tired," said he, "take a good rest.  I shall be leaving
early tomorrow for the springs.  You will have the whole day at the
château to yourself.  Why not arrange for a drive?  That new maid
can go with you."  Taking her free hand he kissed it and looked up
at her.  The hand fell back into place.  "Good night, Maria."

She recollected herself and swept him a curtsy.  The shrine
remained cuddled in her arms like a doll.  Like a doll she carried
it from the room and turning just at the door looked at him.  With
a little movement almost fierce in its intensity she clasped her
precious-thing even closer and disappeared up the stairs.  "What a
child she is," thought he, "what a child!"  He looked around.  The
bell-pull on the wall was too far to reach.  He struck a goblet
with a knife.  Pierre appeared.

"Bed," said the marquis, "and mind how you get me there!"

The man disappeared.  He returned a few moments later with two
sturdy assistants carrying long poles.  These were lashed securely
under Don Luis' chair.  Placing themselves between the ends of the
staffs before and behind, the men lifted the burden easily and in
this improvised sedan he was carried out of the room.  Pierre,
holding a lighted candelabrum above his head, led the way.

The marquis smiled grimly.  He saw himself proceeding down the
marble hall like a Roman consul.  No, it was like a bridegroom
carried to his chamber with the torch before him.  The fancy
tickled him.  There was something in the omen he liked.  He seated
himself upon his bed with some difficulty and began with the
tenderest solicitude to unwrap the bandages from his foot.  The
valet with equal care aided him to remove his clothes, then the
wig.

Presently a shaggy, powerful man with a closely shaved head, a
thick chest, one swollen foot and large stubby hands was seen
sitting on the edge of the bed.  The candlelight glittered on his
scalp.  He slipped a long flannel sack over his head.  It fell in
folds about his waist.  He tied on a night-cap and had a small
calf-bound volume brought him as he settled himself, not without
grievances, in the huge bed.  The valet arranged the light.  "At
what hour, monsieur?"  "Eight," replied the marquis in a far-away
voice.  The man bowed and retired.  The marquis read on:


Now, my masters, you have heard a beginning of the horrific history
of Pantagruel.  You shall have the rest, and then you shall see how
Panurge was married, and made a cuckold within a month of his
wedding.  How Pantagruel found out the philosopher's stone, the
manner how he found it, and the way to use it.  How he passed over
the Caspian mountains, and how he sailed through the Atlantick sea,
defeated the cannibals, and conquered the isle of Perles.  How he
fought against the devil, ransacked the great black chamber and
threw Proserpine in the fire.  How he visited the regions of the
moon, and a thousand other little merriments.  All veritable.
These are brave things truly.  Good night gentlemen. . . .


Upstairs the light from his wife's bedroom turned her window that
looked toward the village into a bright yellow square.




CHAPTER THREE

AT THE "GOLDEN SHEAF"


From the rock on the hill where the stranger had exchanged signals
with Maria to the village below it was nearly a mile.  The mare at
that time of the evening expected oats not far ahead and needed no
urging.  Indeed, as he rode into the little town of Romagnat her
rider was forced to pull her up at the cross-roads with a firm
rein.  She stamped impatiently and pretended to shy at the grey
figure of an old woman drawing water in the twilight.  He heard the
bucket splash in the well.  It was supper time and the streets
appeared deserted.  Except for a few lights here and there and an
occasional murmur of voices or cry of a child he might have been
alone.  The bucket now reappeared on the well and the woman turned
toward him.

"Can you tell me, mother," said he, "where the inn is?"

"It is there, monsieur," she replied, pointing toward a dim light
at the end of the street leading back in the general direction of
the château, "at the lantern, where the door is opening now."  Some
distance up the hill a glow of firelight flooded out and vanished.
"But the great hostel is at Clermont about a league from here,"
continued the old woman hoping for a reward.

"Thank you, I am only wanting supper."  He automatically fumbled in
his pocket, but then thought better of it.  The less cause for
being remembered the better.  His disappointed informant
disappeared, and he turned toward the light.

It was a dim and smoky one hung under what at first appeared to be
a suspended mass of rubbish, but as he drew closer this resolved
itself into a sheaf of wheat tied over a sign.  La Gerbe d'Or could
still be faintly traced in faded characters as the lantern swung
gently to and fro.  He stood for a moment studying the building and
its surroundings carefully like an old campaigner, then he turned
through a low brick archway and rode into the courtyard of the inn.
The delighted whinny of the mare brought out an ostler.

"Send me your master, my lad, and be quick about it!"  The man in
the door, munching a large sponge-like fragment of black bread,
took a look at the long, lithe figure on the horse and disappeared.
A few moments later he came back with a lantern and a round, shiny-
faced little man in a white apron.

"I want a room for the night and supper," said the horseman.

"Certainly, if monsieur will descend, the request is not VERY
unusual."

The face of the clown with the lantern began to prepare itself for
a laugh at the stranger's expense.

"Come here, my host," said the man on the horse who did not show
any intention as yet of descending.  Somewhat abashed the fat man
came and stood by the saddle.  The horseman now leaned over and
began to talk in low impressive tones.  He was an adept at assuming
that confidential air which by taking one into a secret both
flatters and impresses.  The boor with the lantern had not been
included and to the innkeeper he represented the gaping world.

"Look, my friend," said the gentleman dismounting and bringing an
ardent and commanding countenance close to that of the round-faced
man, "I am here on the king's business, and I do not want the world
to hear of it.  Do you understand?"  A small, yellow coin with the
countenance of the king upon it passed hostward between them.  A
convulsive grasp of the fingers and a look of understanding were
simultaneous.  "Yes, monsieur," whispered the fat man like a
conspirator.

"Well then," said the gentleman, "can you give me a room and serve
my supper in it quietly without having half the village in to gape
at me?  And how about your wife's tongue?"

"I will serve you supper myself, monsieur, and my poor wife's
tongue has been silent these two years."  The fat man choked.  The
stranger laid his hand upon his host's shoulder.  "She is in
heaven, my friend," said he, "never doubt!"

"Ah, monsieur, you are very kind, but I am sure of it.  Come this
way and you shall have what you want.  It shall be the private
chamber upstairs.  Here, François, give me your lantern and get the
other from the settle."  Unlocking a narrow door that opened into
the court the innkeeper led the way.

They ascended a circular stone stairway and came out into a small,
blunt hall.  The host rattled his keys again and presently threw
open a door, standing aside for his guest to enter.  The room ran
clear across the house.  On one side was a window looking out upon
the court and on the other a long, leaded casement through which
penetrated a faint glow from the street.  The fat man advanced and
opening the lantern took out the candle and kindled the fire.  A
bright blaze sprang up from a pile of dry faggots revealing a low
apartment with ceiling beams, a high four-poster bed in the corner,
a table, two chests, and several chairs.  On the rough mortar wall
was a black crucifix immediately over the bed, and on the chimney a
faded print of what had once been meant for a likeness of "Louis
the Well-Beloved"--some fifty years before.  The host looked at his
guest inquiringly.

"Excellent," said the latter.

"It was our own room before my wife died," continued the fat man
lighting the sconces, "I sleep downstairs now to keep an eye on the
servants.  I hope monsieur will find himself comfortable.  Supper
will be served directly."

"The sooner the better," replied his guest.  "Have that ostler
bring up my saddle and bags, and see that my horse gets a full
measure.  No drenched chaff, mind you.  A good rub-down, too.  But
send the man up to me."

The fat man bustled out puffing with importance.  It was some time
since he had had a guest who did not haggle over terms.  Presently
the ostler was heard ascending the stairs.  His ungainly form
filled the door of the room as he deposited the saddle and its
heavy bags on the floor with a bump.

"Look out for the pistols, François," said the gentleman.

The man stared blankly.

"In the holsters, you know, you had better unstrap them."

The man did so, bringing them gingerly to the table and laying them
down carefully.  The weight of the weapons and the silver crown on
the flaps filled him with awe for their possessor.  The gentleman,
very tall and straight, now stood before the fireplace and was
holding aside his cloak to warm himself thus revealing a long
rapier with a plain brass hilt.  His eyes glittered with a hard
steel-blue under a mass of brown curls that had escaped from the
bow and queue in which he had in vain attempted to confine them.  A
long, straight nose with thin, quivering nostrils over a firm bow
of a mouth and a stronger chin completed a countenance which with
extraordinary mobility could flash from an expression of grim
determination to one of extreme charm.  He appeared to be about
thirty years old.

"Take good care of the mare, 'Solange.'  She answers to that.  Fill
her nose-bag full, she will not eat from a strange manger.  Mind
she doesn't nip you, but rub her down, and make a good deep bed."

"Yes, monsieur," said the man, "Maître Henri has already told me."

"Do it, then!" snapped out the gentleman.  He snapped him a coin
which fell onto the floor.  The man groped for it and stood up to
find himself even nearer to the stranger whose nostrils expanded.
He fumbled for his cap which he had forgotten.  He took it off.

"And, François."

"Yes, monsieur!"

"Do not come up here again, you bring the smell of the stable with
you."

"No, monsieur," said the man letting his hands fall humbly with a
ponderous despair as if he had been reminded of something fatal.
Suddenly a smile of vivid brightness irradiated the face of the
stranger.  His white teeth seemed like a flash of sunshine in the
light of which the heart of the man before him became happily warm
as he stood clutching his cap in one hand and the piece of silver
in the other.

"François," said the gentleman continuing to smile, "would you like
to earn a piece like that again tomorrow?"

"But yes, monsieur," gasped the ostler.

"Then remember this, do not say a word to anyone about my being
here.  Nothing, you understand?" The face suddenly became grim
again, "It might be dangerous!"

"Nothing, monsieur, nothing," but now the ostler was somehow again
looking at the face with a smile on it.  His own expanded into a
loutish grin with snagged teeth left here and there in ponderous
gums.  An idea slowly hatched itself.  "Monsieur," said he bowing
like a mountain in pain, "has never arrived.  I cannot remember
him--even in my prayers!"

"Precisely," said the gentleman.  "Go now."

A peal of boyish laughter followed him down the stairs.  "Whew!"
said the gentleman, and threw open the window that looked into the
street.

It was a clear starlit night.  He could see for some little
distance over a tract of open country beside the hill from which he
had just ridden down.  Far to the right the giant, sphinx-like
curve of a demi-mountain shouldered itself into the constellations.
In the valley shone the brilliant windows of the château.  He drew
a chair up and watched.  She was taking supper there now.  A look
of longing came over his face.  Then it suddenly turned white with
fury.  "With him!"

He sat for a while with an exceedingly grim expression in a reverie
so absorbing that he temporarily lost all count of time.
Gradually, as if he were dwelling on something more pleasant in the
past or some bright hope of the future, a faint smile began to play
about his lips.  Even with this, however, the look of determination
remained.  Presently his host knocked and entered bearing a tray
piled high with supper.  The gentleman was hungry and peculiarly
sensitive to odours, and the odour which now filled the room was
highly satisfactory to both his nose and his appetite.

"It is the best I could do for monsieur at short notice," said the
innkeeper.

He began to lay the table.  A bowl of soup, a steaming ragout of
rabbit and carrots, white rolls, and a bottle of wine discovered
themselves.

"Excellent!" said the stranger, as he settled himself with evident
satisfaction to the repast.  "Indeed, I was prepared for something
worse than this."  He filled his glass and after a preliminary sip
tossed it off without further doubt.  Nevertheless, the innkeeper
continued to stand before him clasping and unclasping his hands in
the folds of his white apron in considerable perturbation.

"Excellent," repeated the gentleman, polishing off the soup and
sampling the ragout.  The man, however, continued as before.
"Well?" said the gentleman, raising his eyebrows interrogatively
but with a slight tinge of annoyance.  "Oh, I see," and he reached
for his purse, stretching his long legs out under the table to do
so.

"No, no!" said the innkeeper deprecatingly.  "Monsieur mistakes me.
I have no doubt of his ability to pay--when he departs.  It is
this.  It is the law that I must report the arrival and the names
of strangers who stop here together with a declaration of their
business to the mayor-postmaster.  They must, in fact, show their
papers within twelve hours.  Otherwise I shall be heavily fined."
Here his hands locked themselves underneath the apron.  "The times
are troubled ones, you know, monsieur, the roads . . ."

"Do you take me for a brigand?" demanded the gentleman with the
stern look which he was able to assume instantly.  "Besides, I have
not yet been here twelve hours."

"Forgive me, monsieur, but it is not so simple as that," said his
host.  "My brother is the mayor-postmaster.  He is even now
downstairs and knows that you have arrived.  He has seen supper
brought to your room."

The stranger paused for a moment over his ragout while the flame of
the two candles on the table continued to mount steadily.  There
was no expression whatever on his face now.  His legs continued
stretched out under the table in a nonchalant manner.  Suddenly he
drew them up under him determinedly, and leaning forward with a
quizzical grin as though he anticipated something amusing,
remarked, "Show him up."

"Monsieur will not come down?  My brother, the postmaster . . ."

"Postmaster be damned!" snapped the gentleman.  "Who do you think
_I_ am?"

With a deprecatory gesture, the innkeeper disappeared.  There was
the sound of a short colloquy downstairs, a door opened, and two
pairs of heavy feet stumbled up the stairs.  The gentleman
addressed himself unconcernedly to his ragout.  The footfalls came
down the hall and ceased.  The gentleman helped himself to a
particularly savoury morsel, swallowed it slowly, and looked up as
if his thoughts were elsewhere.

Standing in the door, with the broad, white expanse of the
innkeeper behind him, was an almost equally rotund personage with a
wide, stupidly cunning face.  A huge cocked hat with a moth-eaten
cockade was pressed down importantly upon his brow to which it
managed to impart by wrinkling the rolls of fat a portentous and
official frown.  There was in the man's manner a combination of
obsequiousness and truculence either of which was ready to triumph
over the other as events might decide.  To the gentleman at the
table there was no doubt as to which attitude was going to win the
day, however.  His spurred boot shot out swiftly from beneath the
cloth.  Catching a chair deftly, he kicked it precisely into the
middle of the room.

"Sit down," said he.

The man advanced somewhat gingerly and sat, only to find himself
looking directly into the stranger's face.  Seeing the latter
eyeing his hat with surprise and disapproval, after an evident
inward debate, he removed it and laid it on his fat knees.

"Monsieur, the innkeeper's brother, I believe," said the stranger
looking at him with the ghost of a twinkle.  "No one could doubt
that at least."

"And the mayor-postmaster," began the little man puffing out his
cheeks.

"How am I to be sure of THAT?" asked the stranger leaning back
and looking at the man grimly.  "Have you your documents with you?"
The pompous look upon the face of the astonished official collapsed
from his cheeks as if they had been a child's balloon pricked by a
pin.  He squinted anxiously from his ferret eyes and began to feel
his pockets dubiously.  "Not WITH me," he admitted, still
fumbling.  Then his hands sank back onto his hat again.  The
situation was unprecedented.  Already he was almost convinced that
he was falsely impersonating himself.

"Extraordinary!" said the gentleman regarding him doubtfully.

"But, but, I AM the mayor, the postmaster.  All the village knows
it!  Is it not true, Henri?" he demanded appealing desperately to
his brother.

"Indeed, monsieur, it is," replied the innkeeper.  "The curé lives
but a few doors above and can verify it.  Surely . . ."

"Well, well," replied the stranger, "I am inclined to believe you."
He raised a hand to deprecate the need of the curé.

"See," cried the mayor-postmaster with a flash of inspiration on
his dull face, "here is my cockade!"  He shifted his hat suddenly
and turned that dingy mark of office toward his doubter.  "Monsieur
has been looking at the wrong side!  He did not see the cockade
when I entered."

"Ah, that is different," smiled the gentleman.  "Can you blame me--
when I was looking at the WRONG side?"

"Certainly not, monsieur," both voices replied together.

"In that case I shall be glad to show my own papers."  He reached
in his pocket and drew out a long folded sheet.  "You see,"
continued he frowning, "I always carry my identification about me.
And it would be well," he added, fixing the flustered man before
him with a cold stare while rapping the knuckles of his extended
hand with the edge of the document, "if you would do the same when
you demand the credentials of a military gentleman."

The shot went home.  With a flushed face and far from steady hand
the fat man took the extended paper.  He unfolded it nervously and
began to read.  He was almost afraid to find whom he had offended.

It was a special leave of absence issued by the Minister of War and
dated from Versailles permitting M. Denis Moore, subject of His
Most Christian Majesty, captain-interpreter attached to the first
regiment of the royal horseguard, to travel upon private affairs in
all the kingdom of France during the space of four months.  Upon
the expiration of leave he was to report back for duty at
Versailles.  The script was in the beautiful, round hand of a clerk
of the war office, yet the eyes of the mayor moved over it slowly
while his lips spelled out the words.  At the bottom of the
document, however, much to his relief, he came upon a block of good
solid print.  There, along with such other exalted personages as
the intendants of provinces and the mayors of cities, he thought he
found himself included amongst "all loyal subjects of the king" as
bound to render aid, protection and assistance to the said Captain
Denis Moore in all his lawful designs whatsoever.  Nor as an
officer of the royal household was the captain to be hindered,
taxed, prevented, or delayed in his going to and fro on pain of the
explicit displeasure of the king himself.  "And of this ye shall
take good heed."

"It is the Minister of War," said the captain, pointing to a
signature whose many flourishes the poor man was in vain trying to
decipher.  Face to face with the signature of so great a man as the
Minister of War the mayor-postmaster felt himself to be something
less than dust.  He also felt himself in the distinguished presence
of an unusual man.  Under the circumstances, it would be best to
waive the usual small fee for examination.  No, he would say
nothing about it!  He folded the paper carefully and handed it
back.  "Monsieur the captain will excuse the interruption I hope,"
he said, preparing to leave the room with evident relief.

"Without doubt," said the captain, "but sit down.  I have something
further to consult about with you.  Come in," said he to the
innkeeper, "and kindly close the door.  Can we be overheard?"

"By no one!"

"You will both understand," continued the captain, "that what I am
about to say to you is the king's business and goes no further than
this room."  He glanced significantly at both of them.  While their
voluble reassurances continued to flow, he again unfolded the
paper.

"You will note," said he, pointing to the line upon which the
phrase occurred, "that I am on 'private business.'"  The mayor
nodded sagely.  "Now follow me"--his finger ran on down the page--
"and that you are 'bound to render aid, assistance, and
protection.'  It is that, monsieur the mayor, which I am now about
to ask of you.  Draw your chairs up closer while I explain."  It
was not long before the three heads were so close together over the
table that a fly could scarcely have crawled between them.

In a lower voice than he had been using, and with that confidential
air of being about to impart a matter of capital import, the
captain continued.  "There arrived today at the Château de Besance
a certain gentleman, the Marquis da Vincitata.  He is on his way
back to Genoa.  He was sent last year on a special diplomatic
mission by the Grand Duke of Tuscany to the court of Versailles.
The matter was one of such extreme importance that you will
understand I cannot possibly discuss it with you at all."

The innkeeper was already too flattered at having been made a
confidant in affairs of state even to attempt to reply.  His
brother, however, managed to gasp out a deprecatory noise at the
very idea of a complete revelation, waving his fat hand as if to
brush away so ridiculous a thought.  Fearful that the swelling
pomposity of the mayor might become apoplectic, the captain paused
for a moment before he went on.

"The marquis has certain letters in his possession."  He now
lowered his voice to a whisper.  "I am following him.  It is my
mission to obtain them, and it is in this that I shall require the
assistance of you both as loyal subjects, but especially of you,
monsieur the mayor."

"Certainly, in any way, but . . ."

"It will be quite simple.  I have already taken the first steps to
ingratiate myself with the marquis' wife.  She is young and pretty,
and he is old."  A look of extreme knowingness and worldly wisdom
appeared on the faces of both worthies as they gazed with open-
mouthed admiration at the captain.  Scarcely able to stifle his
laughter he condescended to enlighten them further.  "From her I
have already learned that the marquis intends to linger here for
some time while taking the waters at Royat.  It is my hope before
the gentleman is cured to persuade the lady . . ."

"To steal the papers," mumbled the mayor.

"Exactly," said the captain, actually patting him on the arm.  "I
see you are able to think quickly."  The combined smiles of the
delighted parties now seemed to illuminate the room.

"But to do that I must have a quiet place where I can stay,
reasonably close to the château, and one--mind you--where the news
of my being there will not leak out.  One idle word carried to the
ear of the marquis and the game is up.  Do you understand?  One
word!--and can you help me?"

Confronted by his first problem in statecraft, the mayor sat
thinking ponderously.  One could almost hear the wheels turn.  The
innkeeper finally came to his assistance by whispering something in
his ear.

"Why, the very thing, why didn't _I_ think of it?" cried his
brother.  "The farm of Jacques Honneton!  He is my brother-in-law,
a widower, and his place is quite close to the château."

"Not too close?" inquired the captain.

"No, no, monsieur, about a mile or so.  And you can be quite
comfortable there."

"I shall, of course, be glad to pay liberally," interrupted the
captain, "in a case of this kind the government . . .  You can
see," said he turning to the innkeeper, "that under the
circumstances I cannot remain HERE."

"It will all be in the family anyway," said the innkeeper.

"And," said the captain taking the words out of his host's mouth
and bringing his fist down on the table, "it must stay there!  Men
have been broken on the wheel for a slip of the tongue in a case
like this.  I remember . . ."

"Never fear, my captain," cried the mayor already white to the
gills.  "I will take it upon myself . . ."

"Then we understand each other thoroughly I take it, and I can
leave the arrangements at the farm with you."  The captain inclined
his head slightly, indicating that the interview was at an end.
With the air of two conspirators upon whom the burden of portentous
things rested heavily, the innkeeper and his brother the mayor-
postmaster left the room.  The latch clicked.  Snatching the napkin
up hastily the captain crammed it in his mouth.  For some seconds
what might have been mistaken for a choking noise escaped through
the folds.

Rising after a few minutes, he blew out the supper candles,
noticing with an amused smile that in the midst of the conspiracy
the innkeeper had forgotten to remove the tray.  "How dramatic even
the simplest person can become," thought he.  "The man has been
completely transported by his new rôle."  The captain wondered
whether the dramatic sense was not on the whole a weakness in human
nature.  It depended on who produced the play, he supposed.  "Now
in the army your great generals . . ."  He strolled over to the
window again.

The lights in the lower story of the château were being
extinguished.  Finally only one remained.  Suddenly a single
upstairs window shone out brilliantly.  The captain grinned.
"Separate rooms, eh!  No stairs for a one-legged man.  Vive the
gout!"  His theory about the two lighted windows at opposite ends
of the château pleased him immensely.  "So the marquis imagined I
was calmly going to be left behind at Versailles mounting guard.
It will be much easier here with him away at the springs most of
the day."  He looked at the lights in the upper window again.  A
strong tremor shook him, "Maria," he cried between his teeth,
"Maria!"  If he could see her tonight!  No, that would be mere
folly.  It might spoil all.  If he could only send her a message,
though.  God!  She was going to bed alone down there less than a
mile away!

He leaned half-way out of the window and for some moments continued
to fill his lungs with the cool spring air that was at once
refreshing and provocative.  A sensuous odour of vineyards in bloom
came to his nostrils as a love song might have drifted to his ears.
When he drew himself back into the room again the innkeeper was
removing the remains of supper.

"Pardon, monsieur," said he, "I knocked, you did not answer, and I
thought you had gone downstairs."

A sudden idea flashed across the captain's mind.  This man must
know some people at the château.  "Could you get a message to the
lady at the château, my friend?" he blurted out, "tonight!"

"Not tonight, mon capitaine, it is much too late, but early
tomorrow morning without doubt.  The cook's sister . . ."

"I do not care how, that is for you to settle.  Only of this be
sure.  Employ no fools.  I shall pay your messenger well and the
message must be delivered to the marquise, not to her husband.  To
the marquise herself, quietly, mind you, and without fail.  I shall
hold you responsible for this."  He slipped a gold piece on the
tray.  "You can arrange the messenger's wages yourself, you know."

"It shall be done as you say, monsieur," said the innkeeper with
eyes shining.  "No one will ever be the wiser.  We have our own
ways of getting news to and fro about the château even when M. le
Comte is home."

"Doubtless you have," replied the captain, looking keenly at the
wine bottle.

"From the château vineyards, monsieur, but not from the count's
cellars.  Ma foi . . ."

"I said nothing," interrupted his guest.  "But here is the
message."  He took a scrap of paper from his dispatch box and sat
down.  For a moment his crayon hung poised above it.  On the whole
it would be better to write nothing.  He began to sketch rapidly.
Presently he handed the folded paper to the landlord.  "Tomorrow
before breakfast, to the lady, and to no one else!"

"Without fail, monsieur."  The man took up the tray and went
downstairs wishing his guest a hearty good night.  Arrived in the
kitchen he began to set the dishes aside to be washed next morning.
Finally nothing remained on the tray but the folded note and the
gold piece.  He took them up and listened.  Above his head the
beams creaked reassuringly.  Nevertheless, it was with some
hesitation even when in his own room that he finally opened the
note and spread out the paper before a dim rush light.

Before him lay no writing but a vivid little street scene sketched
with an economy of line which it is safe to say was entirely wasted
upon the pair of small eyes now examining it.  Their owner,
however, had no difficulty in recognizing instantly the peculiar
gabled front of his own inn.  And if there had been any doubt of
it, the sheaf of wheat, the sign, and the lantern swinging beneath,
left nothing vague as to the place or the artist's intention.
There was the brick arch, too.  But with the budding critical
spirit of a true connoisseur, Maître Henri noted with considerable
satisfaction that the arrangement of the chimney pots was decidedly
wrong.  If this detail had not escaped him, it was with both
surprise and indignation that he next surveyed the strange equipage
which appeared to be passing before his door.  It was a coach to
which, with an apt stroke or two, the artist had somehow managed to
give the outlines of a classical chariot.  Its prancing steeds were
driven by a cat.  Vulcan, or some other infernal lame god with a
crutch, lolled back in it.  Behind him in the guise of a footman
stood Mercury with a small shameless Cupid on his shoulders.  The
latter was shooting into the upstairs window of the inn.  The arrow
pointed straight toward it with a message attached.

Certainly no such vehicle had ever troubled the streets of
Romagnat.  Of that Maître Henri was sure.  Nor did he entirely
relish the half-tipsy air which the artist had managed to convey to
the inn.  His was a respectable place.  Above all that shirt
flapping from the window was a libel.  The wash was always hung in
the court!  Bursting with indignation he hurried out to make sure,
crossed the narrow street, and turned to survey the front of his
establishment.  The light in the captain's window was out, but
certainly there was a shirt flapping there over the sill as if hung
out to dry.  "Mort Dieu!  What was the place coming to?"




CHAPTER FOUR

THE ENCHANTED FOREST


The captain was awakened next morning by his friend the innkeeper.
Despite his chagrin at the shirt, which he noticed was still
fluttering at the window, the good man was once more obviously in
the rôle of conspirator.  Nor did the fact that he came bearing a
tray with a bowl of coffee and rolls prevent him from walking as
though a burden of state still rested upon his shoulders.  Between
his half-closed eyelids Denis Moore surveyed him as he arranged the
table, and permitted an inward smile to escape as an audible yawn.
Finding his guest awake, the innkeeper turned and bade him good
morning.

"The message was safely delivered, monsieur.  The cook's sister has
returned, two hours ago."

"Any reply?" yawned the captain stretching himself, but with a
throb of pulses under the covers.

"No, monsieur, you said nothing about that.  Did . . . ?"

"I did NOT expect one."

"Oh!" said the innkeeper.

"At least not till later, you know.  And what do we hear from the
mayor-postmaster?"

"All has been arranged as I--as he said.  There will be a room
prepared for you at the farm we spoke of.  You can go this morning
if you like.  François can drive you over in the cart with the
cover.  If monsieur will not mind sitting in the back, on a truss
of straw, no one will see him there as he goes through the
village."

"And the mare?" inquired the captain.

"She can be taken over this evening after it is dark."

The captain was visibly pleased.  "I am bound to say that you have
both done very well, you and your brother, the mayor-postmaster.  I
shall see that your services are properly mentioned in my report,"
he added, sitting up officially, and drawing on his shirt.  "All
that is needed now is a closed mouth.  You can leave the rest to
me."

The innkeeper bowed and puffed out his cheeks.  In his mind's eye
he beheld a document heavy with seals and loaded with encomiums
winging its official way to Paris.  What an honour for the family
Gervais to be mentioned to the Minister of War!  "Monsieur is
indeed very kind," he murmured.  With some difficulty he returned
to his rôle in actual life.  "Is there anything . . . is the
breakfast satisfactory?"

His guest surveyed it somewhat skeptically.  "A flask of whisky,
perhaps."  The host stared blankly.  "Eau de vie, then."  With
incredulity upon his face the man vanished to returned a few
minutes later with the desired liquid.  "Bon Dieu!" said he as the
captain emptied a considerable portion of it into his cup and
tossed it off raw.  "In the morning, monsieur!"

The captain laughed.  "It is a family custom, my friend.  Several
generations in France have not changed it.  We still drink to the
King of France whenever we can in Irish whisky, as my grandfather,
the great O'Moore, once drank to King James."  He looked at the
flask wistfully.  "Lacking whisky, brandy is the next best thing."

"But in the morning, monsieur!"

"It is a fine loyal way to begin the day.  Will you join me?"

Not daring to refuse, the innkeeper gulped down a fiery potion
poured out by his host, and retired gasping.  "Exit," thought the
captain, "I shall now be left in peace at least for some time.  But
what a slander on the O'Moore's.  Brandy before breakfast!  One
would think us to be Russians."  Labouring under great excitement
as he was, he had craved the drink.

It might be hours before he heard from the château.  Hours?  Days!
Perhaps not at all!  But he dismissed that from his mind.
Underneath he could hear the morning activities of the inn already
well under way.  Judging by the clatter in the stable, François was
currying down the mare and being nipped at for his pains.  He
looked out into the littered courtyard.  It was a beautiful, clear
day and the smoke from Maître Henri's two chimneys rose straight
into the air.  Then he crossed to the other window and standing
back some little way so as to remain unobserved from the street,
glanced toward the château.  An exclamation of surprise escaped
him.  On the road leading to the village a cloud of dust could be
seen coming his way rapidly.  There was no time to lose.

He turned back into the room and from an inner flap of his
saddlebag extracted a square object carefully packed in a fragment
of blanket.  Unwrapping this rapidly he took out a fair sized
mirror which it contained.  Again hastening to the window he
propped the glass on the window-sill almost at right angles to the
street.  Drawing up a chair some distance within the room, he
seated himself, adjusted the mirror once or twice and waited.

Like many old buildings the inn did not front squarely on the road.
Even the slight angle at which it was offset plus the overhang of
the casement enabled the scene outside to be thrown upon the glass
in a bright little miniature of that portion of the village street
which the captain was most anxious to see without being seen.
Despite his anxiety, the situation and his secret view amused him.

A few yards below him two women in white caps could be seen
gossiping and gesturing violently.  Their shrill voices came in
through the window.  He noticed the peculiar "well-what-could-one-
do-about-it" gesture of one of the women as she seemed to let the
bad luck she was relating pour back onto the spine of Providence.
A black goat switching a long lily stalk in its teeth wandered
across the street.  "What kind of an omen is that?" thought the
captain, who was now amused to imagine himself a crystal gazer.
Undoubtedly a great deal of fate was concentrated in the mirror.
He could not help feeling that way about it.  Suddenly the women
turned and both gazed in the same direction.  There was the distant
crack of a whip and a rumble.  He could hear feet running to the
door downstairs.  A small blur appeared in the glass that grew
rapidly, almost terrifyingly swiftly into a coach and four.  He
caught a glimpse of a squat, cat-faced postilion riding the right
lead horse, and the two tall footmen behind.  In the distortion of
the glass there was something diabolical about them.  Then horses,
coach and footmen seemed to vanish uphill across the mirror into
nothing.  The next instant the cocked hats, white wigs and profiles
of the two footmen appeared close to and on an exact level with the
window.  Their heads and a small part of the coach roof seemed to
glide along the sill miraculously.  He caught the flash of a yellow
glove.  There was a sharp crack, and the captain swore automatically.
The mirror, shivered into a hundred jagged fragments, had tinkled
musically to the floor.

He was on his knees now.  He wondered if the missile had bounded
back into the street.  Inadvertently he had miscalculated the
height of his room above the road.  It had not been quite so easy
to reach it as he had expected.  Then he gave a relieved
exclamation and rose with the desired object in his hands.  In a
few seconds the piece of paper was disengaged from the small stone
about which it had been tightly wrapped, and opened out on the
table before him.  He bent over it, for the writing though clear,
was exceedingly minute.


He will be gone all day.  This afternoon early, the road to
Beaumont by the mill at the first bridge.  Driving.  The maid can
be trusted.  Till then Dieu te garde--AND ALWAYS.


"And always"--his lips moved as if in prayer and sank to the paper
in Amen.  All his frame flushed with happiness.  He felt his throat
beating in the collar that was suddenly too tight for him.  No, he
had never known how much he needed her.  The tumult and the longing
of his body surprised his mind out of thought.  There could be only
one meaning to the note.  She had decided at last then.  It had
been impossible finally to bid him good-bye.  Those days at
Versailles had won against all her scruples at last.  Or, could she
only be flattered that he had followed her?  But this was not the
court!  He ran to the window to reassure himself.  No, no this was
Auvergne.  Miles of pastoral landscape, vineyards, fields, forests,
and meadows rolled up and away to the heights of Gergovia.  Sound,
odour, and sight swept up to him bringing a sudden access of peace,
conviction, and determination.  The quest for which he had been
prepared to devote his summer was about to end.  He turned and
threw himself upon the bed in an ecstasy that shook him.  For a
moment he gave himself up to a sensation of unmitigated happiness.
He breathed deeply and lay still.  When he arose some minutes later
he noticed that he was still only in his stockings.  And he had
been walking about heedlessly amid the shattered fragments of the
mirror that lay scattered about the floor.

In the heightened emotional state in which he found himself, the
accident to the glass worried him more than he would have thought
possible.  An unusual sensitivity in which he became painfully
aware of the strangeness of his surroundings flooded in upon him.
It was like homesickness; the only remedy was to be with her
wherever she was.  Yet he found a positive fear of going out, of
meeting strange faces, possessed him.  After the moment of ecstasy
he was now at the nadir of that state, and a conviction of
impending tragedy overpowered him.  "How could such an affair turn
out well?  Suppose, yes, suppose THAT . . . what would they do
then?"  He reached out almost unconsciously and took a pull at the
brandy.  A feeling of relief and of normal assurance gradually
returned.  He felt better, confident.  He walked about, pulled on
his boots, dressed with great care, slung his rapier carefully
under the arranged folds of his cloak, and tied back his hair,
missing his broken glass sorely.  "Damn that piece of luck!"  But
he would forget.  He rapped on the floor and brought up the
landlord.

"Monsieur must be careful or he will give himself away.  Lucky that
no one else heard him."

In the mood he was now in, it didn't matter.  Yet he realized the
man was right.

"How soon can François be ready with the wagon?  I must leave for
the farm as soon as possible."

"In a few minutes," replied the innkeeper.  "Watch from the window.
When I come out into the court without my apron all will be clear
and you can come down.  But do not delay, sir.  People are about
now all the time."  The man went downstairs while the captain
watched impatiently, François hitched a mule to the wagon.
Presently the fat host appeared in his vest.  Snatching up his
holsters and saddle-bags the captain dashed downstairs and bundling
his stuff hurriedly into the cart leaped in behind.  It was a high,
two-wheeled wagon with a kind of bulging tent over it which when
drawn behind effectually concealed its burden.

"Good-bye, Maître Henri, and thank you," said the passenger to the
innkeeper.  "Give me your hand to clinch the bargain."

The fat man cried out at the grip he received from the gentleman
under the cover.  But on withdrawing his hand he found that within
it which caused him to bid his guest, as he rattled out of the
court, an all but affectionate farewell.

A few minutes later and the captain was safely ensconced at the
farm of Jacques Honneton.  By his manner and the elaborate
precautions in the reception of his guest, that well-to-do peasant
had evidently not failed to be filled up with the importance and
peculiar requirements of his charge.  The mayor-postmaster must
have been more than usually impressive.  Best of all, the window of
his room, Denis noticed, had a clear and uninterrupted view across
the park and of the entire front of the château.  That fact, he
thought, might have strategic possibilities.  He proceeded to make
himself comfortable and to inquire from his new host as to the road
to Beaumont.

"Là-bas, monsieur," said Honneton, pointing out a streak across the
landscape that about a mile away disappeared into a dense mass of
ancient greenery.

                            ----------

At the château that morning Maria was strangely happy.  It was the
first fully happy day she remembered since her marriage.  Despite
the cold fear which had crept along her spine the night before at
supper as the marquis chatted so hopefully of his recovery--and all
that it implied--the sensation of coming home, which had begun with
her in the coach the afternoon before, had continued.  Against the
sanguine prophecy of Don Luis as to his health, she had, although
she tried not to permit herself to do so, set off the glimpse of
the figure waving from the rock.  Without realizing that she had
unconsciously leaped toward him as an alternative with all of her
being, she consciously thought of the near presence of Denis as a
protection.  Someone to appeal to in case--in case one needed
someone to whom to appeal.  Then the maid was a dear, a merry and
understanding person about thirty but seemingly much younger.  They
had already confessed their ages, while the golden childish
ringlets over which the older woman leaned in unfeigned admiration
were being brushed just before bed the night before.

"Ah, madame was so young--and to be married to the old monsieur,
already a year!"  It seemed impossible.  The talk ran on in the
eager Tuscan that completed for Maria the illusion that she was
being put to bed again at Livorno by Faith Paleologus.  Without
realizing it she began to talk of her maid, her father's house, of
Italy, of all the old life, a forbidden subject, or practically so,
for Don Luis would hear none of it.

"You are now in a new world, my dear, forget the old one," he would
say, and look dubiously on the frequent letters from home.  Once a
month she could reply.  And he must read and correct her letter
when it was finally done with many sighs and not a few blots.
Always it must be rewritten.  "A marquise, you know, must at least
be correct in her correspondence."  How she hated it--and him.

Now she could talk at her ease.  A flood of delightful, childish
chatter was soon joined in by the maid as she brushed and brushed,
and watched the bright, beautiful face tilted back at her in child-
like confidence, and relief, and ease.  They went to sleep
whispering.  At midnight Lucia found she was relating the story of
her life to her mistress who was asleep.  The last details of a
romantic affair with the butler of M. de Besance died away with a
sigh as the final candle in a corner sconce guttered and went out.

Then in the morning had come the wonderful picture from Denis.  No,
he had not been wrong.  Of course, she understood.  Perhaps without
Lucia she could not have puzzled it out so quickly.  And what else
could she do but reply?  That tallest footman had carried some
notes for her before to Denis at Versailles.  And Denis remembered!
After all she could write a good letter; say a great deal on such a
little space of paper.  How surprised Don Luis would be if he read
that.  But heaven forbid!  She could trust Lucia, though.  Yes, she
was sure of that.  It had all taken only a few moments.  And she
would see him this afternoon--at that mill in the forest that Lucia
knew about.  What a jewel she was, and how much she knew about the
château and the country around after arriving only a few days ago.

To Lucia what seemed more natural than that madame should have a
cavalier.  One could not expect an ogre to fill the heart of a
goddess.  Besides she herself must get back to Italy and it would
be well to ingratiate herself with madame, to make herself
indispensable.  With a certain amount of knowledge one need never
be discharged at all.  She had learned that much at Paris.  One did
not leave the hotel of M. de Besance with two fair-sized shoes full
of gold pieces merely for dusting off the chairs.  But before all
she was a woman, an Italian, and the cry of youth to youth was as
natural to her and as little to be cavilled at as the sunlight
streaming through the window.  So the drive that afternoon was
arranged, and the letter, carefully wrapped about the stone, which
so thoroughly shattered the captain's reflections, was dispatched.

Hence, at half past one of that beautiful spring afternoon the pony
and the little landaulet painted with wreaths of roses and blue
ribbons, that Mlle. de Besance now secretly pined for even in the
family great coach at Versailles, was waiting at the door.  Since
madame herself was going to drive, the small bell on the bridle
must be silenced.  It would never do to have the pony shying at it,
Lucia insisted.  Maria pouted at this, but a knowing glance from
her companion reminded her that it would never do.  "No, no, it
must be taken off."  There was a slight delay while the offending
chime was removed and then they were off, taking the great circle
of the drive, the straight road through the hedges, and then a
swift turn to the right and on to the road for Beaumont.

The horse was a well-behaved but eager little beast.  For some time
now he had been little used and he travelled the road briskly.  The
red tassel on the whip began to bend back into the wind and the
wheels on level spaces grew dim.  Maria laughed with sheer
exhilaration.  The sunlight drenched the rows of vines, and as if
she had already extracted from it that quality that would soon be
pressed out as wine, her cheeks glowed and her eyes sparkled.  From
the heights about looked down upon her old ruined towers, white
villages, and little chapels whence the distant bells rang out now
and again in what seemed like a chime to the trot and time of the
horse.  Always over this country of Auvergne there was the sound of
bells.  At that season the vines had already been tended weeks
before.  In the vineyards they passed through they saw no one.

Suddenly as if a cloud had passed over their heads they were in the
forest.  It was damp and cool.  Great beeches covered with green
moss on the southern side threw level arms across the road.  The
sound of the pony's hoofs was muffled in loam and leaves.  The
wheels swished through them like the prow of a boat moving rapidly
through water.  Their eyes grew wide in the watery, green light.
The silence seemed prophetic.  Bright golden patches shimmered and
chequered the road ahead.  Down the long, cool glades they saw the
pronged antlers of the deer disappearing amid the trees and
blending into the shadows of branches.  It was an enchanted
country.  Only the forlorn and distant sound of a hunter's horn
durst disturb it.  No one else ever came there, no one but
themselves.  Then as she threw her head back to drink in the wonder
of it, and to taste the essence of spring that seemed to flow from
the tips of the beech buds trembling in the heat on the highest
branches, her whole being for the first time partook of life to the
full.  She was in that hour and in that green virgin place a woman,
full grown.

The old merchant's daughter was a girl, a memory moving
pathetically, only half-alive it seemed now, about a gloomy house
in Livorno.  Her father's voice, that careful, wise and knowing
voice, was far, far off, talking to someone else that had once been
she, but was so no more.  And the girl-wife?  Ah, Madre mia!--what
had THAT man to do with HER?

The horse sped on as if he would take her away from Don Luis
forever, leaving the cold about her heart and the fear behind.  A
robin flicked across the road in a patch of sunlight.  Against the
tender green of the leaves his breast seemed to burn like scarlet.
As if he had flashed a message from the heart of that enchanted
forest, rushed upon her the remembrance, the knowledge, and the
full conviction that she was going to meet her lover.

There could be no holding back now.  Had he not followed her all
the way from Paris?  After the crushing of all hope by her
marriage, after a year of foreboding and life in death, to find
this full cup of life held out to her, waiting as it were just
around the next turn in the road, intoxicated her, thrilled her
through every fibre and flamed up with a sudden blaze and hope of
fulfilment in the very core of her being.  "Yes, yes, yes--and
never again no," that was what the voices amid these trees, and
whispers in the night all the way from Paris--she knew it now--that
was what they had all been saying.

She flicked the horse with her whip, half amazed at her own
sureness and firmness of grasp.  The little carriage darted along
under the tunnel of great branches even faster.  Lucia with
surprise and fear in her eyes grasped the sides of the vehicle
tighter.  The road began now in a series of long even curves to
descend.  The speed increased.  They could hear the pony breathing.
A sparkle of water glittered through the leaves ahead, then some
weathered stonework.  They wheeled out onto an open green over
which the road twisted to a high arched bridge, and drew up before
a long abandoned, stone building.  The singing voice of a small,
rapid river talking to itself filled the air of the deserted valley
in which the ruin lay.

"It is the mill, madame," said Lucia.  "That way," she pointed to a
squat doorway from which stairs overgrown with ferns descended to
some green region below.  Maria looked.  A huge root writhing like
a serpent had ages ago taken charge of and embraced that threshold
so that nothing could now make it let go short of steel and fire.
"Watch," said Maria, handing the reins to her companion who looked
down at her almost enviously.  A wave of colour swept over the
young girl's face, tingeing for a moment her neck and shoulders.
Then she turned, and stepping over the threshold lightly,
disappeared into the green shadows of the door.

For a moment it seemed to Maria that she was descending into
darkness.  The steps made a complete turn.  She felt her way in the
uncertain shadows.  The wall grew smooth.  Then, almost as soon as
she became aware of the light ahead and below, her hand began to
brush over the cool and lacy texture of ferns that grew ever more
luxuriantly from the damp stone.  When she emerged again into the
daylight the whole tunnel of the ancient stairs of the mill tower
was a vault of faintly vibrant green.

She now found herself almost on a level with the stream.  Behind
her rose the mill a whole story to the level of the road to which
it served as an embankment.  Before her stretched a short natural
terrace bounded on the side of the stream by the abandoned mill
race choked with water-lilies and on the other by a high bank
crowned with huge trees.  The place was still dewy and smelt of
mallows.  From the road its existence, to any casual traveller,
must remain unsuspected unless he came by the stairs or cut his way
through the great trees and undergrowth that now flourished on the
top of the ruined dam.  The miller of times past, whoever he had
been, had chosen his site well.

It seemed to Maria stepping out upon the smooth, natural lawn of
this sequestered coign that by some magic she had suddenly
succeeded in leaving the world behind.  Surely neither man nor
beast came here.  Those delicate white flowers, tossing themselves
in hazy sprays above the grass, were meant for magic feet.  The
sound of the river bubbled itself monotonously into her ears.  She
stood, she did not know how long, listening to it.  The sensation
of having reached a spot where time had ceased slowly grew upon
her.  She remembered some dim, old Scotch story of a maid who had
strayed into a place like this and come back still young.  But the
names of the gravestones of her generation had weathered away.
Then she saw him.

He had been waiting by the bank under an overhanging branch of a
pine, watching her.  As long as he lived he would never forget her
standing there listening to the stream, gazing into another world.

There are certain expressions at times upon the faces of some women
that utterly confute the doctrine of original sin but confirm
predestination.  Such glances of the soul are to be overtaken only
when it does not know it is being watched and reveals itself
unconsciously as one of the elect, sprung from love and naturally
and innocently bound for it again.  Whatever else circumstances may
do to such a soul that has no part with evil, they can never alter
the essence of its being.  It remains clear as a flame does even
when fed by and consuming the most dreadful refuse.  Such a clear
glance from the depths of the young girl's being Denis Moore had
just had the good fortune of seeing.  It was not lost upon him.  He
had both sensitivity and experience enough to understand.  When he
stepped out from behind the branch which had concealed him, he had
already abandoned utterly the very simple rôle of the hunter.  It
would never be sufficient merely to bring that beautiful body to
the ground.  Now he had seen who it was that lived within it.  He
must live with her, alive, all of her.  That glance of hers had
revealed to him a kindred thing within himself which he had
forgotten.  It caused him to remember the clean fire of his youth
before he had begun to choke it with ashes.  It was that which he
desired to blend with her.  Some spiritual breeze seemed to have
blown the ashes away.

Perhaps on the whole it would have been better for them both if
this had not been so.  Better if she had found merely a cavalier
waiting for her.  Then they might have met, parted, and let pass.
For there was one thing that the experience of the captain had not
taught him.  The flame kindled by the mere clashing of two bodies
together is usually a flash; the fire engendered by the fusing of
souls consumes the body and cannot be put out.  Such things,
however, are not ordered by merely worldly coincidence.  They are
kindled by the great urge and turn out as they may.  So it was not
a cavalier who stepped out into the sunlight to meet Maria, but
Denis Moore stripped of all worldly regimentals, and reduced to a
man quivering like a boy.

It was thus that she saw him as he was for the first time.

For a moment they stood gazing at each other.  Then as if a magnet
drew them together the faster as they approached, they moved toward
each other, cries rather than words on their lips.

"Maria!"  "Denis!"--and a long silence while he wrapped his cloak
about them both.  Then too overcome to speak he led her to the edge
of the mill race where on the green they sat down.  She bent
forward and put down her face amid the cool leaves of water-lilies,
bathing her forehead and cheeks with one hand, for he would not let
go of the other.  She had not realized what would happen in her
when he actually held her in his arms.  For her it was the
discovery of a whole new continent of the emotions; to him a new
aspect of shores that he had long thought familiar.  She touched
her own lips, reflected in the water, affectionately, and drank.
When she looked at him again she was cool and white.

Now that she had surrendered unconditionally, womanlike, she began
to plead with him and to try to make terms.  So long and gallant a
defence of the heart's city as hers had been, implied, she thought,
that the garrison should withdraw with the honours of war.  At
least she had not been taken by storm.  She would never admit that.
"Is it," she said leaning her head against him, "is it for always?"

"Always," he replied after her as if exchanging vows.

"And you will never leave, never go away?"

"Never!"

"You will take me away from him?  Away--"  Her voice trailed out.

He had not thought of that.  He had not thought of her as his wife,
until now.  How could he?  How did he know that it would turn out
like this?  He would have to leave France, the army.  A tremendous
vista of change suddenly opened up before him.  Yet how could it
turn out any other way if he was to be what he knew himself to be?
He did not shrink from the change that yawned before him.  He was
not sorry that the adventure had turned into a great quest with the
lady won.  He was merely taken by surprise.  It remained only to
carry her off.

She grasped the hem of his cloak almost tearfully.  "In whose arms
was she folded?"  He read the question in her eyes.

"Yes!" he answered pressing his lips on hers, "I swear it."

"By the Madonna?" she whispered.

"By Mary, the Mother of God, by . . ."

She put her hand over his mouth.  It was enough.  In her mind's eye
she saw him holding his hand out over the figure in her little
shrine.  No oath could be holier than that.  From that moment she
felt herself to be his.  If the holy ones had registered those
other vows, how could they help hearing these?  Her lips moved and
the tears came into her eyes.

"Denis, Denis," she said, as if she had added him to her pantheon.

A moment of beatific oblivion enfolded them both.

Presently they were walking up and down by the little mill race,
talking.  There was so much to tell.  All the journey down from
Paris.  The terrible time at Bourges with the plague.  The new maid
at the château.  How he had followed them.  His "conspiracy" of the
night before at the inn.  She clapped her hands.  And so they were
safe here for a while!  No one would carry the news to Don Luis.
The officials, the mayor-postmaster himself--she pouted the title
delightfully--were on their side.  "Oh, how clever of you, Denis--
and that wonderful note!"--and how she had understood it right
away.  "But I was SO glad!  I did not know I could be so glad to
see you waving that evening."  The memory of the supper that night
returned and brought a cloud on her sunshine.  That cloud that even
now she felt was just over the horizon.  She trembled, and again he
must repeat his promises to take her away.  "Before--before Don
Luis was well!"  She told him her worst fear.  He comforted her and
promised, delighted to find that she might still be his as he might
have dreamed.  Her very confusion over it exalted him.

"But when, but where shall we go?" she kept asking now.

"You must trust me, Maria, I shall find a way.  It will take much
planning.  Your . . . the marquis has powerful friends.  We must
make sure.  It would never do to fail."

"No, no!" she gasped pale at the very thought.

"But let us leave that till again, till the next time," he hastened
to say.  "There will be many days now to talk it all over.  Let be
just for now.  I did not know before, could not be sure, you know,
that I must plan for this."

Seeing his face become troubled, she threw herself into his arms.
They would be happy now for this hour and in this place.  Let all
else go.  What more did she need than his assurance?  All would go
well with them--all would go well.

The afternoon fled away before they knew it.  They must tell each
other of all the things they had thought and felt since they had
met.  When they had first begun to love.  Of how wonderful it had
been that evening of the fête at the Court of Love at Versailles.
Of how she had known, how she had GUESSED, whom the roses were
for that he had laid on the altar.  How she had dared then in her
own mind, but not admitted it.  Of how Don Luis' suspicions had
first made certain to her that "the Irish captain" was her
cavalier.  He had actually made her happy in her pain.  She knew
that now.  They smiled over it together.  He at Don Luis, and she
at the little girl from Livorno.

How long ago it seemed.  How this afternoon had changed everything.
It was almost gone!  The sun was behind the forest.  It was getting
cool.  There was the voice of Lucia calling anxiously.  "Madame,
Maa-DAME!"  They must part.  It seemed impossible.  She must go
back to the other world and away from him.

There was a hurried consultation.  Unconsciously they talked in
whispers now.  Yes, she understood the arrangement of lights in her
window.  "ONE when Don Luis was going the next morning to the
springs, TWO when she could not see Denis next day.  THREE
would bring him to her immediately if need be, no matter what."

"MaDAME!" there was an almost frantic note in the maid's voice
now.

He made her cry out.  Then she had broken away and vanished up the
stairs.  There was the sound of voices, a neigh from the pony, and
the dwindling grit of wheels.  He turned and flung himself down on
the grass.  When he rose again the stars had begun to shine through
the branches.

He wrapt his cloak about him and took the road back through the
beechwood.  Despite the late twilight it was dark there and he did
not arrive at the farm Honneton till quite late.  When he did so a
cheery fire, most unusual for that time of year, and a good supper
awaited him.  Afterward he went and sat in his room looking out of
the window at a landscape that about ten o'clock began to grow
bright under the face of a waning moon.

It was May in Auvergne.  The scent of the vineyards drifted up to
him as they had the night before, but this time with a seductive
softness he would scarcely have thought possible.  A peace greater
than he had ever known, filled his heart and soul.  There was not a
doubt in his mind or body that he had found that without which
happiness would be impossible.  He was glad the die was cast.
Nothing could alter it now.  Over the road through the notch in the
hill, they would ride off together, some day, soon.  He would think
of that tomorrow.  America, perhaps, or Ireland, he had relatives
there.  But tonight let there be nothing, nothing to spoil his
dream.

He leaned out again into the fragrant night.  The lights in the
château were still burning.  But none upstairs.  An hour or two
passed.  He did not know it.  Then the light in her window blazed
up.  Presently he could see the dot of one flame placed near the
casement.  He watched breathlessly.  It remained, burning steadily.
So it was to be tomorrow then.  He got up, stumbled about headlong,
found the tinder box and lit a candle.  He brought it to the window
and raised the flame up and down.  Across the fields the candle in
her window repeated the motion of his own.  "Good night, good
night, my lover," said the two lights.  Then the candle at the
château went out.  He extinguished his likewise and tumbled into
bed.  Without knowing it he had been chilled sitting at the window--
for how long?  He looked at the moon.  She was riding high now.
The sleep of an infant engulfed him.

Don Luis had been carried to bed in the same state as the night
before.  The soaking in the hot water at Royat had relaxed him.
And he had never seen Maria so gay as she had been tonight at
supper.  Almost too gay!  He wondered if she could be acting, but
dismissed the idea.  Doubtless the château was a delight to her.
She had been driving, too, and had had a good time.  It was lucky
Besance had sent that maid down, otherwise he would have had to
drag Maria back and forth to the springs, and amuse her.  Oh, yes,
and there was the dog.  They were going to look for that tomorrow,
she said.  Well, he must get better now.  Two or three months the
physicians insisted, and no wine.  That was a long time, at best.
He moved his leg impatiently and was rewarded promptly by the
proper twinge.  Why not begin by staying a week at the springs and
get a good start?  An excellent idea!  He pulled the bell cord.

"Jean," said he, "pack my portmanteau tomorrow for several days'
stay.  Have it ready early, and tell madame I shall be gone for a
week.  If I need anything I can send the coach back."

The thought of not making the still painful Royat drive twice a day
was an immense relief.  Later on it would be easy enough.  He
wondered he had not thought of it immediately.  He took up his
book.  While the two candles nodded to each other across the
moonlit fields, Don Luis nodded to Rabelais over the counterpane.




CHAPTER FIVE

A PASTORAL INTERLUDE


Early the next morning after dashing a bucket of cold water over
himself in the courtyard to the amazement of the stable boy, and
looking after the comfort of Solange, who was now comfortably
ensconced in Maître Honneton's largest stall, Denis proceeded to
dress in his room with unusual care.  The time he spent on shaving
and the arrangement of his hair while looking at the bottom of
Maître Honneton's most highly scoured milk pan would have satisfied
a professional macaroni.  As he was giving the ruffles of his
finest shirt the final touch he had the ineffable satisfaction of
seeing the coach of Monsieur le Marquis de Carabas, with Puss-in-
Boots on the lead horse as usual, swing around the great drive of
the château and take the road for Royat.

So the field was clear!  Of course, it would be the mill again.  He
had forgotten to say so, he remembered now.  But surely she would
know.  He went out and saddled Solange, in the meanwhile
questioning Honneton.

"Yes, monsieur, you can reach the woods that way," said the farmer
walking out with him to the brow of the hill on which the farm
stood.  He pointed to a rut across the landscape lined by old walls
and hedges, more like a ditch than a highway.  "It is a very
ancient lane, mon capitaine, used only by the hay carts in summer-
time, and not much for that now since the fields have been put to
vines.  You will meet no one.  Nor, unless one stands on the height
here, could a person see you pass.  We still occasionally use it
ourselves when the salt carts from Beaumont wish to dodge the
gabelle, but that is only at night," and his eyes twinkled.

"Thank you, Honneton," replied Denis mounting, "you will not forget
how important it is that no one . . ."  "Have no fear, monsieur.
There are none but men here, except Marie, the cook, and--" he
extended a sabot significantly, and laughed.  The captain gave rein
to his mare and disappeared a few minutes later into the mouth of
the dark walls of hedge.

The lane, almost a tunnel under its sturdy hedges, extended across
the landscape like a ruled line.  Here and there the green way
stretched before him on a straight level and he gave the mare full
head.  She sprang forward under him, quivering with the joy of the
morning, and would have whinnied had he not checked her with his
voice.  "A bad habit, girl," he warned her, striking her across the
neck with his glove, a punishment she danced under.  On a steep
slope her shoes rang on a bit of hard pavement where the turf had
washed off.  He saw the regular cut flagstone.  A Roman road!  Some
of Caesar's work about Gergovia?  Presently, as he had expected,
the way opened out on the top of the hill into an old camp, an
oblong court of green in which a few sheep were straying.  Where
the praetorium must have been, a young lamb was nuzzling his
mother.  He dismounted and ran up on the wall.

The old fossa was only a faint hollow now, filled with daisies, but
he was much higher here than he had expected.  He could look
directly across to the hill of Gergovia.  The roof of the château
lay far below him in the trees.  On the other side the beech forest
began, and tumbled in waves of hills down to the river.  The clear,
cool, morning air, the glittering sunlight on miles of new leaves,
the height, and the silence except for a continual undercurrent of
faint birdsong from the woods, flooded him with a sensation of
fresh and ardent well-being, a sense of youth and of being new-born
in strength that almost caused him to shout.  How triumphant to be
alive, to have found his mate, to be above and beyond fear!  It was
a sheerly masculine experience.  The small fountains of life
stirred within him filling his frame with premonitory thrills of
the ecstasies to come.  He beat his gloves on his arm till it
tingled.  Wrapping his cloak about him in semi-bravado he strode
along the parapet like Caesar himself.  Down there, down there in
the forest, he was going to meet her at the old mill.

He whistled to Solange who was sniffing uneasily at the sheep.  A
few seconds later and the forest had engulfed them.  The mystery of
the place closed about him.  He missed his own shadow.  The hoofs
of the mare fell noiselessly on the moss.  He might be a ghost
riding under the branches.  Who knew after all the end of the
errand upon which he was bound?  He wondered about his own father--
when and where?  Presently the mare was hobbled in a glade in the
forest and he was in the sunlight again on the little green by the
mill.  But it had been rather eery descending the old stairs, and
the place was lonely, without her.  He wished that she would come
now.  How slowly the time passed here!  It was so still except for
the river.  Did it after all move?

When Maria came down the stairs and stepped out onto the little
terrace she was terribly startled to see the white body of a young
god flashing and swimming about in the mill race.  For a minute her
heart was in her mouth.  It was as if she had surprised the
youthful spirit of all these spring woods sporting in his secret
pool.  But the head thrust up through the lily pads was that of
Denis.  For a minute they both looked at each other with horrified
surprise, and then burst into a laugh.  The blood rushed to his
face.  "Wait in the tunnel," he cried, "I shall only be a moment."
He could hear her laughter echoed from the fern-clad walls while he
frantically slipped into his clothes.  "I did not expect you so
soon!" he called.  "I should hope not, mon capitaine."  The
laughter continued.  What a fool he had been, after dressing so
carefully, too!  Now look, there was mud on the ruffles of his
shirt.  And his hair!

But she loved his damp curls when she came to him at last.  He
could not hold her close enough.  "Let me go, Denis!" she gasped at
length.  "You goose, I have something to tell you.  Such news," she
cried flinging her arms about him again, and whispering into his
"driest ear."  "He is going to be away for a week, for a whole
week!  I shall be all alone, and my own mistress at the château.
It will be like a honeymoon.  Let us call it that," and she clapped
her hands like a child as she always did when pleased and excited.
"Lucia and I have packed luncheon and brought it along.  She
thought of it.  We might have supper here, too.  He will be gone,
gone all today, and tomorrow."

"And the day after that!" added Denis.

Her eyes grew large at the vista of endless happiness that was
about to ensue.  They began to plan out the time together,
interrupting one another.  He drew a little calendar in a patch of
sand.  Tomorrow they would drive out to a farm that Lucia knew of
and get the puppy.  "And the next day?"  She faltered bewildered by
the endless possibilities.

"We will go up on the high hill of Gergovia.  It is a wonderful
place that," and he began to tell her.  The old story of the brave
Gauls took on a new lease of life.

"And after that to the old tower on the hill I can see from the
château."

"Why not?" he said.  "Anywhere, anywhere with you!  We can arrange
it each evening and meet the next day.  Only we must not be seen
together anywhere.  That would cause talk and might get back to the
château.  Remember after all a week is NOT so long."

How short, how terribly short it suddenly seemed.  She had pictured
him riding by the side of the little landaulet.  It would have been
so romantic.  She could look back at him and drop her glove.  He
would dismount and bring it to her, and kiss her hand.  The tableau
enchanted her.  It was not often she could imagine a scene so
clearly as that.  It was like something out of Paul and Virginia,
more real than life and somehow more beautiful.

"It will be better to be very careful now, and so have many days
all through the summer," he was saying.

So he was NOT planning to take her away with him soon.  But why
not now, this week, while Don Luis was away?  They could be gone
for days before he knew, she said.

"No, no, that would never do."  He began to explain.  "He would get
the news in a few hours at most after she was missed."  They must
have some place to go to.  He was writing a merchant at Marseilles
about a ship.  It would take some days, a week or so perhaps to
hear.  He had thought of Ireland, but America would be better on
the whole.  He had heard those who had campaigned there and knew
the country.  He began to tell her about it.  By noon they were
still lost in an idyll of forest life beyond the seas when Lucia
called from the world above and reminded them of lunch.

She brought it down in a little basket; was charmed with monsieur,
with his gift also.  A brave gentleman, indeed!  Her interest in
the affair became quite enthusiastic.  She laid the luncheon out on
a white cloth under the trees and went back to keep watch.  "I have
mine in the cart, you know.  Not many pass this way but it will be
well to be with the pony.  Monsieur will know what to do if I call--
and madame?  Ah, she is picking water-lilies!"  She gathered a
few, placed them in the empty lunch basket by the side of the race
and departed to the world above.

They sat down under the trees and ate together.  It was their first
meal.  In her heart she thought of it as a kind of lovers'
sacrament.  She said a little grace closing her eyes, while he
looked on fascinated and remembered to cross himself just in time.

"Ah, it will be like this in America, will it not, Denis?  We shall
eat out in the woods this way often.  And you will not let the
savages nor the great beasts come near me?"

He protested again and again that he would not.  The tears came
into his eyes as he thought of what must be ahead of her in
hardships, of the long journey, the ship, a strange land, nowhere
to turn, and he a poor man.  For a moment his heart failed him.
Could he ask that of her?  She was so daintily lovely here, so
fragile it seemed to him now; almost artificially beautiful with
her face like a cameo against the dark convolutions of the roots in
the bank before which she sat.  Those little rosebuds and garlands
embroidered on the clear silk of her gown, what would become of
them in Canada?  Could he after all?  Ah, could he not!

That delightful little golden head!  He was mad about that, the
face that looked up at him with so much wonder and appeal, so much
hope, and innocence and abandon.  He must have that near him in the
future, forever.  The future?  Why, here he was dreaming when she
was near him now!  Who could tell about the far-off days to come?
God held them in fee.  But this NOW, this was his, and she was
near him.  As if he were drawing her back from the shadows of the
unknown and would save her from all that his mind might forebode
but could not certainly form, he suddenly caught her to him.  She
saw that he had been weeping.  An access of wonder, and unreasoning
pity overcame her.  She comforted him for she knew not what, for
some sorrow that lay within her, too.  A great tenderness engulfed
them both.  Of all the doors by which love enters pity is the
widest.  Passion, the incendiary, is always waiting close by in the
disguise of an importunate beggar to glide over the threshold and
set fire to the house.

The afternoon shadows slowly lengthened over the grass.  The river
fled away forever modulating a monotone.  The dead windows of the
mill with little pine trees on the sills looked out at nothing.  A
small bird flitted back and forth over the white table-cloth on the
grass.  He looked doubtfully at the two figures by the bank under
the pine trees.  They did not stir.  Finally he lit upon a thin
stemmed glass and tilting back his little head drank delicately.
It was a light, sweet wine but it made him a bad, bold bird.  He
began to scatter the fragments of Maria's cake wantonly.  Finally
he put his head under his wing in broad daylight and went to sleep.
Under the pine branches there was nothing to show that the two who
lay there were alive except the long, slow rise and fall of their
breasts.  The wind tangled their curls together as it would if they
had both been dead.  Caught in the full tide of spring they drifted
closer and closer together through the long afternoon.

When Denis rode home through the starlit forest that evening it was
as if he had discovered himself as an entirely new person.  He was
inherently one of those rare but strong and natural people in whom
the realities of passion actually experienced invariably transcend
expectancy.  Nor was this due to a lack of imagination.  It was
merely that his mind could not remember with a thought vivid enough
to compass the actual feel of the flesh.

For the first time as he went home that evening he began to realize
that he was in a predicament.  He had already been caught in the
eddy of a current that flowed through him and possessed him.  Once
in the main stream of it he could neither control nor direct.  As
his imagination had been unequal to his capabilities, so his will
might be found inadequate to the unexpected strain.  "Might be?"
He knew it would.  It came upon him like fate.  Yet what could he
do?  He could not go away now.  By every tie that his heart and
soul knew he was bound to her.  Yes, even despite her marriage, by
every tie of an honourable mind.  That her father had sold her with
good intentions was no reason why he should recognize the bargain.
Society, the society he knew, would scoff at such scruples.  Her
marriage was a circumstance to be circumvented.  He would do that.
He would make her, so far as the world knew, honourable amends.
Beyond the sea they would be man and wife.  That last small remnant
of his grandfather's estate and the sale of his commission would
enable him to . . . oh, yes, that was all quite possible, a matter
of correspondence and some little time.

Time, that was it!  Could he control himself, tomorrow, or the next
day?  They had been so near the verge this afternoon.  He knew it
now.  But he did not care when he was with her.  He had become for
a time, what?  Putty in the hands of some outside force that might
mould him as it desired, not as he willed.  But he would summon his
self-control again.  He ground his teeth together and gripped the
mare with his knees so that she started forward.

They came up out of the forest into the old camp again.  He forced
the horse onto the rampart and stood looking back.  A low
chattering of night birds and hooting of little owls trembled up to
him through the night.  The moon was just rising and a light breeze
that seemed to follow the path she laid over the miles of new
leaves rippled the forest like a lake.  The breeze increased in
intensity and pressed against him.  It was warm, damp, and
fragrant, moulding itself into every fold and hollow of his body.
Wisps of it blew like hair across his lips and the smooth hands of
the mistral caressed his cheek.  He was holding her in his arms
again.  For an instant the spell of the afternoon recurred in full
force.  Every nerve of his body shuddered toward her.  The past and
the future were forgotten.  His entire consciousness became aware
of the meaning, blent with, and seemed to pass on into the languorous
longing of the spring night.

When he came to again, the mare, as if she had seen a ghost, was
shivering under him in the moonlight, and the last fringes of the
mistral had passed over the ramparts.  The wood which the wind had
passed through was strangely silent.  He rode home with a fear and
doubt of himself knocking at his heart.  Of the young man who
strode so confidently along those ramparts that very morning
nothing but a vague memory remained.  There was only one thing that
was stronger than his fear and that was his longing.  When he got
to his room the single candle was burning in the window at the
château.  He lit his own and signalled.  But there was no answer.
Maria had evidently gone to bed.

And, indeed, she had.  Lucia had seen to it.  It was only by the
exertion of some tact and will power that she had prevailed on her
mistress not to go down to supper in the great hall.  With the
quick instinct of her kind she had realized that the girl was in a
state that might well attract the not unobservant eyes of Pierre.
Hence the evening dress, which with great trouble and some
impatience had been put on, was now with evident relief and no
trouble whatever taken off.  Supper was served in the room.  A
complete lethargy seemed now to have fallen upon Maria.  She had
resigned herself into the hands of Lucia as if it were a relief to
have someone else make even the smallest decisions for her.

The older woman had now long passed the point where she was
striving to make herself agreeable from pure self-interest.  All
her motherly instincts had been aroused, and it was plain from
every little motion and attitude as she waited upon Maria that she
was actuated by strong affection for her.  Indeed, she had been
completely captivated by her young mistress whom she now pitied,
admired and loved with all her heart.  The affair of madame had
consequently taken on for Lucia a new aspect.  It had become a
vicarious experience of her own.  She had not expected that it
would be so serious and absorbing either to Maria or to herself.
Denis was exactly the kind of person she would have chosen for
Maria, and with the sudden turn of the affair she was at once
delighted with the present and fearful for the future.  Absorbed in
the fate of the lovers, she scarcely paused to consider what might
happen to her should a crisis of any kind occur.  Her first loyalty
was to her mistress, beside that any other duty as a member of the
marquis' household was too pale and abstract to engage her
attention.  She was one of those persons whose actions were
controlled purely by likes or dislikes.  She loved her mistress and
she disliked Don Luis.

Being of a somewhat bovine temperament herself, it was a surprise
to Lucia to note the effect of an afternoon spent in the presence
of her lover upon the highly strung young girl whom she was now
trying in vain to soothe.  That this was not the effect of
surrender but of being tremendously aroused without full
satisfaction, she was wise enough in the ways of her own sex to
know.  The result of having for the first time been stirred to the
depths of her being was to Maria like the after effects of a strong
and over-stimulating drug.  She was now completely unnerved.  Had
she been a weak character she would have been hysterical.  She had
come away in a daze.  Her body and spirit were now in an
indescribable tumult.  Nowhere could she find rest or satisfaction.
The sense of the physical absence of her lover was devastating.  At
the thought of him she experienced a longing for which there seemed
no adequate human control.  She threw herself on her knees before
the madonna, but it was in vain.  The very passivity of the statue
and her own attitude was an aggravation.  It was now like a final
twist of the rack that the thought of Don Luis intruded itself upon
her mind.  For the first time she fully understood what that meant.
A spiritual nausea and darkness overwhelmed her.  She cast herself
on the bed and then leaped from it in loathing.  Finally she took
to walking up and down the room repeating, "Denis, Denis, where are
you?  Denis!"

"Hush, madame, hush, the servants will hear you."  Lucia strove to
engage her attention.  "See, I shall put the candle in the window
for him.  It is a single one.  You will see him tomorrow."

The girl took the candle from her and rushed to the window with it
herself.  She raised the light up and down several times, but there
was no answer.  Then she turned and burst into tears.

"Do you love him so much?" said the maid stroking her hair.

"Oh, Lucia, Lucia," cried Maria.

A few minutes later she had been put to bed and was asleep.  Lucia
bent over her.  Except for a faint spasm now and then in the throat
muscles, she was calm again, worn out.  Presently she sighed and
lay utterly still.

It was Lucia who managed next day that they should see each other
only for a short time, and then not alone.  In the morning she
drove into the country with Maria and they returned with a puppy
which was instantly taken home to the young girl's heart.  It was
at least a living and responsive being upon which she could pour
out some of the affection that now constantly overwhelmed her.
They stopped at the mill for luncheon where Denis was walking up
and down distractedly.  He had been there since early morning.  But
the good woman by the exercise of much harmless ingenuity contrived
not to leave them alone.  Long before sunset Denis had to watch the
two women disappear along the road into the forest with Maria
looking back, her scarf waving in the wind, and the small, brown
face of the little dog peering over her shoulder.  He was forced to
admit to himself that Lucia was both right and understanding.
Nevertheless, an indignation overcame him and a sick longing as
they drove away and he found himself alone again without having
taken Maria in his arms.  Tomorrow, tomorrow, despite himself,
despite Lucia, he would feel those lips on his.  That hope alone
made the night supportable.

Nor was he disappointed.  Before noon the next day they had climbed
the high hill of Gergovia and were standing alone together upon its
top looking down upon all that part of Auvergne.  It was the first
hot day of the season and from the valleys already the warmth
shimmered up to them to lose itself in the crystal heights.  These
in turn glowed up and away into a vault of deepest blue blown clear
of clouds, quivering and sparkling.

Up here the red volcanic nature of the soil was apparent.  From the
rows in the vineyards below, where the grass had been stripped,
emanated an almost violet hue.  The domes of ancient volcanoes and
little breast-like hills rolled all about them, dotted with white
villages caught in a network of roads.  From these came faintly but
clearly the thin voices of bells.  A large amphitheatre of hills
covered with masses of vineyards and forest stretched southward and
upward to the Puy-de-Dôme.  Even from Gergovia they looked up to
see the ruined temple of the Gallic sun god overlooking his ancient
domain.

The entire bowl of surrounding mountains seemed to be catching the
sunlight and flinging it back at them.  Over the flat meadow on the
top of the shoulder, where they were now standing, and where the
town of the Gauls had once stood, the bees were greedy amid the
clover as if they preferred the wild, clean sweetness of the
flowers on that great height to the more cloying honey of the
blossoms in the valley below.  Indeed, from this place still
exhaled the faint memory of a fresher fragrance as if the dawn had
lingered there before moving westward to the lesser steeps.  But
now that whole hilltop was murmurous with wings, and vibrant with a
passion of light and heat.

The arms of Denis closed about the body of Maria.  Had anyone
looked over the slight rim of that hollow mountain meadow to the
very centre of which they had wandered, so that it enclosed them
with a complete circle from all but the sky, he would have seen but
one figure apparently, so close were they standing.  Denis bent
over Maria, while her hands, as if they were tapping at the door of
his heart, fumbled at his breast.  They stood for an instant with
the spring concentrated in them.  Then he picked her up and carried
her over the rim of the slope.

A jumble of huge stones, once a gate tower that had hurled back the
legions of Rome, lay scattered along the brow of the hill.  He
picked his way amid these rapidly.  Where the foundations still
remained they now leaned outward, overhung with brush or vines, and
sheltering a ledge-like hollow filled with last autumn's leaves.  A
short distance below, the shoulder of the hill fell away at a
tremendous angle.  It was a place where in the winter the shepherds
of the neighbourhood remembered to look for lost lambs sheltering
themselves from the blast.  Brushing aside the long, trailing
tendrils like a veil, Denis laid Maria softly in the nest of dry
ferns and leaves behind them.  The veil fell again.  To the curious
sheep cropping near by it seemed as if the man and his burden had
vanished into the old wall.  Soon their bells continued to sound
again gently.

Only once more during that noontide were they disturbed; this time
by a soft, tremulous cry.

On the meadow above, the sound of the bees' wings continued growing
a little deeper in tone as the heat of the day advanced.  By far
the majority of these honey gatherers were of the ordinary neuter
and domestic kind for whom work was an end in itself.  Here and
there, however, amid this host of humble workers, who took good
care to avoid so dangerous a neighbourhood, cruised a large male
bumble-bee like a pirate or gentleman adventurer covered with the
gold dust of the treasuries he had robbed.  These for the most part
seemed to have their nests or robber lairs about the tumbled stones
of the old tower where a kind of white cornflower trailed through
the grass.

From a fracture in the stone immediately above the little ledge
where the lovers had hidden themselves a peculiarly beautiful
specimen of this blossom had put forth.  But a large black spider,
who had also fixed on the same cranny in the rock for his abode,
had fastened on this bud as a support for his web and had succeeded
in dragging it to the ground.  In the shadow of the rock, the
flower, which could open fully only in the brightest sunshine,
still lay even after the noon had passed with the small green tip
of its maidenhead fastening its petals at the end of the pod.

Attracted by so lovely and virginal a store of honey, a bumble-bee
lit upon this blossom and after stroking its petals for some time
as if he were in love, began to tear away the small green membrane
that still defended it from his assault.  The petals opened
slightly and began to curl.  Settling back as it were upon his
haunches, and raking his body back and forth over this small
opening the bee finally succeeded in inserting himself into the
flower.  Here, as if in ecstasy, he dashed himself about.  The
flower opening ever wider, trembled, and drooped upon its stem.  At
this moment the spider suddenly becoming aware of what was
happening, emerged from his nook and began to weave his web again
across the bee.

Some hours after this lilliputian tragedy had occurred, Denis and
Maria emerged from their place of concealment.  All considerations
except that of each for the other were now banished from their
minds.  The clear peace of the great height and the quiet of the
late afternoon woods through which they began to descend found an
answering echo in their own natures.  Strangely enough it was this
walk down the ancient road that approaches the plateau of Gergovia
from its least precipitous side which formed for them the crowning
experience of their love.  The same cool mood of completion and
benign contentment after having fulfilled the plan of creation that
breathed from the panorama of landscape before them as the day
verged toward its close, was for a few blessed moments their own.
For a half mile perhaps, certainly no farther, they walked together
in utter unity with each other and in complete harmony with the
world without.  It is this rare mood which perhaps more than any
other deserves to be called "happiness."  And it was this which
they afterwards remembered and desired to return to and perpetuate
rather than that "agony of pleasure," which, while it convulses the
body, cancels the mind.

To Lucia, who had long been watching anxiously as the sun dropped
toward the western hills, the lovers appeared to be subdued as they
came down the forest road.  It was difficult for the good woman to
refrain from a smile as she noticed the subtle air of possession
with which Maria now leaned against and held Denis' arm.  The
frantic welcome with which the young dog would have greeted her was
hushed by his mistress as out of keeping with her mood and the
place.  Upon her face the colour now began to show.

In Denis' manner, however, there was no sign of embarrassment.
Taking it as a matter of course that the maid must be in all their
secrets from now on, he turned to her, and with a smile the
undeniable charm of which was in itself a powerful appeal, confided
Maria again to her charge.

"You will take good care of madame, will you not, Lucia?" he asked.
Despite himself and to his surprise, his voice trembled.

"As if she were my own child!  Oh, monsieur, do not doubt me,"
responded the woman deeply moved, "I love her, too."

"I am sure of it, sure of it," he replied, and added in a low tone,
"You will trust me, also?"

She gave him a warm grasp of her hand.

Turning he clasped Maria to him murmuring, "Good-bye, good-bye."
They stood together for a moment by the little carriage and would
have parted with tears had not the dog in her arms insisted on
trying to lick both their faces at once.  His comfortable assurance
that all was meant for him tipped the scales of their emotion into
merriment.

"Oh, he IS a dear, Denis, isn't he?" said she as he helped her
into the cart.  Under the guidance of Lucia the pony started
forward.  Riding for an instant on the step he had just time enough
to snatch a kiss.  Maria turned and tossed something back at him.
He picked it up.  It was a white cornflower whose petals, although
it was now nearly evening, were not yet fully blown.  As he raised
it to his lips there floated from it the wings of a bee.

He picked both of them up out of the grass and folded them
carefully along with the petals of the flower in his pocketbook.
That night when he looked out of the window in his room at the farm
there were two lights burning in the upper room of the château.




CHAPTER SIX

THE MUSE OF TRAGEDY


The marquis had returned unexpectedly.  From half-way up the
heights of Gergovia Lucia had caught sight of the great coach
coming over the ridge from Clermont.  By urging the little horse it
had been possible to reach the château about half an hour before
Don Luis arrived.  Maria came down to meet Don Luis with the puppy
in her arms and noted with consternation that he was able with only
a cane to negotiate the front steps alone.  She had, however,
presence of mind enough to welcome him with congratulations on his
improvement.  To her surprise he seemed almost childishly pleased.
Even the little dog received a reassuring pat.  But that sagacious
young animal from the start evinced a very evident doubt as to the
good intentions of the man with the cane.

Sitting in the hot springs at Royat with a half dozen other
invalids, after three days the marquis had become enormously bored.
He had actually begun to miss his young wife and to long for her
company.  Immensely cheered by his remarkable progress in so short
a time, he had somewhat overrated his powers of locomotion and
visualized himself as already walking about the gardens of the spa
and sitting with her in the various pavilions.  Not exactly a
thrilling existence after Paris, he admitted, but perhaps not so
completely rustic as the château.  After all, Clermont was a
considerable place for the provinces, and they might meet some of
the local noblesse.  It was not in vain that he drove in state with
two footmen and the big coach.  Without doubt the impression
already made was a good one.  With a pretty young wife by his side
in a court gown of the latest mode, several doors might soon be
open.  Hence he had returned to fetch her back the next morning.

"A stay of a week, my dear."  She could not wholly conceal her
disappointment at leaving, but of course acquiesced.  Under the
rouge which Lucia had wisely applied she turned pale, but managed
to summon a smile.  Somehow she must get word tonight to Denis.
Don Luis noticed her hesitation.  He was somewhat nettled, but glad
on the whole that she had found the château so pleasant.  At the
best she would have to spend considerable time there, he thought.
Perhaps most of the summer.  That night they packed for the stay at
Royat.

Once in her room Maria could not refrain from tears.  She could not
see Denis at the mill tomorrow; she would be driving to Royat in
that horrible coach.  For a moment she had an impulse to put three
candles in the window.  Lucia restrained her.  To do so might have
fatal results.  She reasoned with Maria.  "There is no need to
bring Monsieur Denis here tonight, madame.  No danger threatens.
You will return in a few days and he will still be here."

"But how will he know what has happened?" the girl cried
desperately, lighting the second candle and placing it on the sill
with tears in her eyes.  "Ah, if it had only been one!"  The
answering signal seemed only to increase her woe.  At last it was
arranged that Lucia should carry Denis a note.  She slipped out
without difficulty and made her way to the farm.  To Maria lying in
bed listening it seemed Lucia would never return.  When she did, it
was with good news.

"I spoke to him through the window, madame.  His light was out, but
I tapped on the frame.  Monsieur is so grand wrapped in a blanket!
He does not even wear a night-cap."  She rattled on while the girl
sighed.  "He will wait for you till you return again no matter how
long, he said.  When you do, put the candle in the window as
before.  Also he said, madame, that if anything went wrong to
address to Maître Honneton at the farm in care of the mayor-
postmaster at Romagnat.  He will arrange that with the postmaster.
After you fold the letter put a cross on the OUTSIDE, too."
Lucia giggled.  "But do not write unless you must.  No news will be
good news, and he will wait."  She paused.

"Was that all he said?" asked the girl after a little.  "Come,
Lucia, was that all?"  She stamped her foot as the maid smiled
provokingly.

"Lucia!"

"No, madame, that was not all.  He sent you this."

It was a small chamois skin bag with a cord from it like a scapula.
She went to the window and by the light of the two candles opened
it with eager fingers.  Inside was a gold ring worn thin.

The two women laughed and cried themselves to sleep.  Lucia's
merriment was taking, yet in reality she did not feel as much as
she expressed.  She was by no means a fool, and the possibilities
of the situation were more vividly before her than she cared to
indicate.  Come what might, madame must be kept calm and collected.
A repetition of the emotional transports of the evening before
might be difficult to explain to the marquis.  From her trundle bed
beside her mistress, Lucia continued in a tender way to rally and
to soothe Maria until the deep breathing of the girl gave place to
her last sleepy answers.  Lucia now arose, took a candle and looked
at her.  The new ring was on her finger--she must remember to take
THAT off!--and there was a smile on her lips which the woman,
turning to the madonna, prayed might remain.

Early the next morning the dust rolled behind the coach as it
dashed along the highway toward the springs.  Don Luis was buoyant
but Maria had little to say.  Had the marquis looked very closely
he might have found that the rather ponderous wedding ring which he
had conferred upon his wife in Livorno had just below it a narrow,
worn, gold band.  On that point alone Maria would not listen to
Lucia.  She had been obdurate.  But Don Luis did not notice.  He
was not thinking just then of wedding rings.

From the brow of the hill on which the farm Honneton was situated
Denis looked down gloomily.  A violet thunder storm later on in the
day served to relieve his feelings by expressing his mood in a
larger language than he could command.  That evening he sent for
the mayor-postmaster and, as he expressed it, "perfected the plot."
But no letter with a cross came.  A week dragged by.  The captain
was forced to take his exercise at night.  He swam at the mill.
Yet to be there without her was torture.

It was now ten days since!  He was about to saddle Solange and ride
over to Royat for news, when on the tenth night the candle, and
only a single one, glowed in the window at the château.  Maître
Honneton was somewhat surprised to be aroused after midnight by his
guest who forced him to swallow an enormous quantity of brandy.
When the farmer awoke it was late in the morning and the captain
had already been gone several hours.

Maria had returned and left the marquis at the springs.  As early
as possible without causing comment she had taken the little
carriage and driven over to the mill.  Denis, however, had been
there a long time before.  The feel of her heart throbbing against
his own caused him to lean back against a tree so that he might not
seem to stagger with her.  The sight of his mother's ring on her
finger as he kissed her hands moved him greatly.

"You will always wear it?"

"Always," she whispered.  "To the grave, and beyond."

"Hush!  Do not say that, Maria."

She looked up at him with a trust and adoration that went to his
heart.  He cursed the ten days that they had been parted.
Otherwise . . .

He began to tell her of his plan.

"I have been thinking while you have been away.  We must lose no
more time, after . . ."

"Yes?" she said.

"After what has happened."  He held her closer.  "I must go back to
Paris, make my arrangements, which will take some days, and then
come back for you."

"O Denis," she cried, "oh, you are not going away, going to leave
me now!  No, not for even a little while!  I need you here.  I must
have you.  I . . ."  Her hands were beating at his breast again.

He explained, and even argued.  "It is necessary.  We shall require
money.  I cannot desert!  I am an officer.  I must sell my
commission, make all our plans.  We shall need money to leave
France.  Can't you see?"

"You can have my jewels," she said, "all but this," and she clasped
the ring.

"Ah, that would not do, my little love.  One may run off with a
man's wife and still remain a gentleman, but one does not also make
off with his jewels.  Is it not so?  You must come with me even in
the gown which I shall give you."

"What colour will it be?" she asked trying to laugh.

"White, like the cornflower you gave me," he said and kissed her.
"But can't you see that it is as I say?"

To his surprise she could not.  The very thought of his leaving
reduced her to nervous despair.

"A week then," he said, "then I MUST go.  Must, or the summer
will be over before we know it.  And we must leave from here.  In
the cities as an ambassador the marquis would have every
assistance.  Here, the simple officials are on my side.  You see
how it is?  I am coming back, coming back to take you away
forever."  He took her again and held her close in his arms.

So they had their week.  The new moon came again, and with it, for
the season strode rapidly that year, not only days but long, warm
nights.  Then he had ridden off for Paris and the marquis was back
again at the château.

Don Luis made the trip to Royat every day now.  With the rapid
subsidence of all pain in his leg, he enjoyed it.  For the new
coach he bought some superb horses from M. de Polignac.  It had
provided him with as fine a turnout as the province had ever seen.
So he dashed back and forth in fine style and every day or so took
Maria along with him.  There was little else talked about over the
countryside than the Marquis de Carabas with his enchanting Puss-
in-Boots for a postilion, and the adorable little wife.  To the
wives of the petty noblesse, and to those unfortunate great ones
who could not afford to be at Versailles, the presence of Don Luis
and all that was his was a positive boon.  A round of suppers and
small garden fêtes began.  The marquise, it was whispered, was not
of high birth.  But after all with Puss-in-Boots in the saddle
Cinderella might well ride in the coach.  Undoubtedly too, her foot
was small.  Several eyes noted that, and not since the Chevalier de
Boufflers had come that way had anyone heard such conversation as
Don Luis'.  What if his wife were silent?  She herself was a golden
little mouse.

Maria was, indeed, silent.  It was now well on into July and Denis
was not yet back.  At last there was a letter.  The arrangements at
Paris had taken much longer than he supposed.  He might even have
to go to Havre to arrange about the ship.  "Patience, I love you.
All will be well."

The days slipped by.  The motion of the rapidly driven coach began
to make her seasick.  Lucia began to be anxious.  She questioned
madame.  She observed.  Yes, there could be no doubt of it.  There
was already the difference of one eyelet in lacing.  Kneeling on
the floor dressing her, she clasped the girl about the knees and
looking up with tears told her.  Maria blanched.

But to Lucia's surprise a look of joy and triumph then irradiated
her face.  It was as if suddenly while looking up Maria had caught
the gleam of some bright vision looking down at her.  Her eyelids
drooped.  Behind them there stood in the green haze of an
illimitable wilderness a log hut.  A woman with a golden-haired
child in her arms came to the door.  The blood crackling in Maria's
ears rang like the sound of an axe in the forest.  "Denis, Denis,"
she whispered.  She saw him coming, running toward her.

"It is our child," she cried aloud throwing up her arms, "ours!"
Presently she was sitting by the window again at the château.  She
began to pray to the madonna to bless her baby.

Three months ago she would not have been able to meet Don Luis
under such a burden of anxiety without collapsing.  Despite the
anxiety of Denis' continued absence and the perplexities and risks
of the future, she found herself in her now fast growing maturity
possessed of a fund of firmness and strength she had never known
before.  The delicate lines of girlhood had already begun to alter
in her countenance subtly.  From her eyes no longer looked a shy
and virginal spirit.  The glance, the widened archness of the eyes,
the chin and throat, but above all the breasts began to proclaim
the woman.  Nor was this change entirely physical.  Come what might
she had determined to bear her child.  Her longing for Denis had
also altered.  It was now more tender, deeper, but not so
necessitous.  Nor could even the fear of the steady recovery of her
husband entirely quell the fierce joy which surged over her.  At
the springs, and at the evening affairs at various châteaux she
began to take a part in the conversation, dropping her shawl over
one shoulder and letting it fall loosely as she talked, instead of
holding it with one hand tightly before her bosom and answering
questions respectfully as she had before.

Don Luis was delighted.  Without analysing it, he noted the change
with satisfaction.  She was growing up.  His marriage after all
would hold elements of companionship to which he had scarcely dared
look forward.  With him she determined to be gay.  And she
succeeded with an ease which astonished her.  He could in certain
moods be fascinating.  She began to understand him and to evoke
them.  It was Lucia who was now subdued and fearful.  Only at
nights a blind fear would settle upon Maria.  She would think she
heard her husband coming to her room.  Lucia would do her best to
console her.  But for the most part Maria would lie at those times
with her eyes wide open staring into the gloom.  Here was a burden
which she knew she would after all have to bear alone.  Every
night, and every night they looked for the candle in Denis' window.
There were no more letters.  It seemed aeons since she had seen him.
It was beginning to be difficult now for her to recall his features
when awake.  In her dreams they came clearer than ever and left her
weak and distrait in the morning.

Don Luis was now walking about without a cane at times, still
limping, but visibly recovering mentally and physically.  He would
come home in the evenings, lead her out to a seat in the garden and
caress her.  At these times sheer terror made her passive.  The
strength of his hands made even his lightest touch seem
threatening.  "O God!  If Denis would only come and take her away!"

It was well on into August when one midnight as she sat by the
window while Lucia slept the candle suddenly burned again in Denis'
window.  A great trembling came over her.  It was some time before
she could kindle her own.  For a minute the two lights fairly
danced.  He had scarcely hoped to find her awake.  Then she
remembered.  There were to be guests at the château next day!
Still trembling she lit another candle and placed it beside the
first one.  It was with difficulty that she refrained from lighting
a third.  She might bring him to her.  In a few minutes he might be
in her arms.  She took the third taper in her hand.  Then she threw
it away and wakened the maid.  While she dressed, Maria poured out
her heart in a note to Denis.

He must meet her at the mill as soon as it was safe.  She had
something of all importance to tell him.  But wait for the signal.
She could not come to him tomorrow, would tell him why later.  "Oh
you are back again, back again," rang her constant refrain.  The
pen kept saying it over and over.  She did not realize how often.
Lucia took the paper and disappeared.  It was almost morning when
she returned.  The great dog at the farm had kept baying.  "If
monsieur had not come at last, come to meet her . . ."  But Maria
did not hear Lucia.  She was reading Denis' letter, the long
absence was explained.  All was well.

The guests at the château stayed for several days.  Denis had come
back on a Monday.  It was not until Thursday morning that Don Luis
finally departed for Royat, somewhat disgruntled that Maria's
headaches prevented her from going with him.  She was becoming
necessary to him.  He would send the coach over for her next day.
He even thought of deferring his own departure until then.  Her
solicitude that he should not miss his regular treatment at the
springs secretly touched him.  Well, it should not be long now.
She would soon find him all that a husband ought to be.  She was
right about the cure.  He would follow his regimen closely from now
on.  He would soak himself for half a day in the hot water.  Sancho
was surprised how alertly and easily he mounted into the coach.  In
his own mind Don Luis was already well.  It was nearly noon when he
drove off at last.

At the mill Denis waited for her from early morning, pacing up and
down uneasily.  "What was this 'all important thing' she had to
tell him?  It was?--if it was THAT--it would enormously complicate
their plans."

It was the wait at some seaport that he feared.  They must if
possible so time their departure as to arrive when, and not before,
the ship sailed.  Otherwise he would have to go ahead and make
arrangements.  Don Luis would stir officialdom to its depths.  He
had the means of doing so.  They must arrive ahead of the posts.
Give him no time for warning.  Be gone and beyond recall.  The long
journey made the northern ports impossible.  It must be Marseilles.
If she had risked all, so had he.  Given up his post at Versailles,
his whole past, wiped it out.  All that represented it now was in
his saddle-bags.  Heavy enough to gall the mare.  Poor lass, he
would miss her.  Suddenly he realized with wakeful keenness like
one aroused from a dream that he was leaving forever all that he
knew.  The thought overpowered him as if he had been suddenly told
by a physician of the certainty of immediate death.  It was
poignant, it was undeniable.  He fell into an hour of reverie
listening to the stream.  A foreboding note in its many voices that
he had not heard before kept recurring.  Then her face glimmered up
from the water-lilies as it had that morning when she had stooped
to drink.  He stretched out his arms to the vision.  It was some
time before he realized that she was really standing above him
looking down.

They had both imagined the transports of this reunion but it was
not so.  They were too near together when once in each other's arms
to strive any closer.  She leaned back and looked up at him in
great peace.  The new strength in her face, seen now for the first
time after his absence, amazed and thrilled him.  Her lips began to
move silently so that he leaned closer.

"Do you know what it is that I have to tell you, Denis, my Denis?"

Something of her own great tenderness as she told him overcame him,
too.

Through the valley the stream rushed on as if madly prophetic in an
unknown tongue.  Sometimes merely colloquial, giggling, flashing
into a low laugh of sheer joy, always unintelligible, this child of
the mist which came apparently out of nothing, hurried headlong to
the limitless sea.  Beyond its gamut of musical tones that
expressed so often for those who listened the moods which most
moved them, moods for which there were no words, was now an
undertone and now an overtone of mystery, as if in the course of
geological ages the river had learned something of eternity which
it was trying to reverberate amid the stones.

"Does it understand?" whispered Maria.  "No," said Denis, "but we
hear."

The next day she was at the springs with Don Luis again.  Denis had
ridden off headlong at night for Marseilles.  He would be back
again as soon as he could arrange a passage for America and horses
for the trip down.  The next time his light burned in the window
she was to leave the château, come over to the farm, and they would
be gone.  That would give them at least six hours' start, even a
full day probably.  It would take the marquis some time at best to
discover which way they had gone.  The mayor could also be counted
upon temporarily to put him on the wrong track.  In the meantime
the days passed swiftly.  It was now the end of August.

Maria received one letter from Denis.  There was a ship sailing
from Marseilles for New Orleans the second Monday in September.  He
had arranged a cabin on board for "his wife and maid."  So it was
finally settled that Lucia was to go.  "I shall be back on the
night of the third.  Watch!"  Maria packed a few things in a small
bag, not forgetting the little madonna.  Lucia with the aid of her
mistress wrote a long letter.  She would never see her parents
again.  Both women wept.  The calendar slipped over into September.

On the first Don Luis rode horseback to the springs and felt the
better for it.  It was with some difficulty that Maria persuaded
him to allow her to follow in the coach instead of riding with him.
On the second she was still trying to be gay outwardly with the
wives of the invalids at the spa.  On the morning of the third she
sat alone in one of the pavilions half distracted with anxiety.
Would they return in time to meet Denis?  If not, what then?

Don Luis sat all that morning with the water above his knees.  Over
a small iron table set in a shallow part of the pool he and M.
d'Ayen indulged in a hand of loo while the bubbles came up through
their toes.  The place was hot, the cards stuck to the damp table,
and the game progressed slowly.  The duke was a dabbler in
chemistry and began to discuss the properties of the waters, the
history of the baths, water clocks, time measure, classical music,
and the opera of which he was a devotee.  He was known as an
"amiable conversationalist."  Opera was a pet aversion of the
marquis'.

The morning thus wore away rapidly in a spirited discussion as to
whether or not opera could be regarded as a separate art.
According to Don Luis opera was a mere pot-pourri of music,
painting, and bad drama.  The libretto was a poor fly of poetry
buzzing in the transparent web of the plot.  D'Ayen on the other
hand maintained that, given a fine performance with great artists,
all the arts employed blent into a unity of effect which in itself
was unique in artistic experience.  The degree of beauty, because
it was compounded from so many sources, was the greatest known.
Theories of aesthetics were thus involved.

M. d'Ayen had started to explain his own at great length when Lucia
appeared at the railing and announced that it was long past the
hour of luncheon.  Madame had been waiting in the pavilion outside
and was faint.  The two rose from the water and hastened to dress.
They were much pleased with each other.  It was not to have been
expected that at a place like Royat such a morning of talk could be
found.  They met at the door going out with mutual compliments.
Maria was still seated in the pavilion some little way down the
path.  The duke looked at her keenly.

"Monsieur is not only to be congratulated on his present wonderful
recovery but for an event of the future, I see.  Allow me to
anticipate the usual felicitations.  There is a certain expression
of the face in women, you know!  I happen to be familiar with it.
Tomorrow, then.  We shall finish our discussion?"

"I hope so!" replied Don Luis so emphatically that the other bowed.

"Au revoir."

Don Luis turned to his wife.

That these remarks had greatly disturbed him, he could not deny.
He studied her carefully as she came toward him.  She flushed under
his steady and appraising glance.  But the marquis was not so
simple as to suppose that every blush was a confession of guilt.
With her heightened colour, standing in a simple gown under the
shade of the trellis she appeared more beautiful to him than he had
ever known her.  How mature she had grown!  That was all, he
thought with relief, a little more mature.  Doubtless d'Ayen
thought himself as great an authority on women as on the opera.  He
had felt angry with him for a moment.  Yet the remark had been well
meant.  He now forgave him.  How much--how much he wished it were
TRUE.  Well . . .

"What were you two talking about so long?" she said.  "I am nearly
dead with hunger sitting here.  Was it a religious discussion?"

"Hardly that, my dear," said he, "although M. d'Ayen did venture to
assume the rôle of prophet and foretell a miracle.  By the aid of
man it may come true."  He took her arm and held it closely.  They
walked up on the terrace together and had lunch.  They were
returning to the château that night.

On the way home that evening the marquis galloped on ahead of the
coach like a veritable cavalier.  The regimen at the springs had
made him vigorous again.  What with a careful diet, no liqueurs
after supper, the hot water, and exercise regularly adhered to for
many weeks, he was not only recovered but actually felt younger
than he had for years.  A good bout with the foils tomorrow would
have been pleasant to anticipate.  How he missed that!  When he
arrived home he would have his old fencing-master up from the
garrison at Florence.  That raising of the hilt that seemed to
lower the point, the fatigued retreat, and the sudden clever rally;
that was a movement worth knowing.  And the fellow had other tricks
in his bag that he could teach as well.  Like a good pedlar he had
always one more.

Don Luis galloped up to the château a mile ahead of the coach and
dismounted with a spring.  He hurried to his room, and calling the
valet had himself shaved for the second time that day.  It was
already past the usual hour for dinner before his wig was properly
adjusted.  A white satin suit with gold frogs and lacing caused him
to glitter under the chandeliers and candlelight.

To Maria, who had been awaiting him for some time, his now almost
jovial presence seemed to pervade the room.  She could scarcely
bring herself to realize that this was to be the last meal with
him.  There was now an assurance and robustness in his mien and
gestures, a certain sardonic vigour in his locution that made it
seem impossible she should ever dare to think of casting him off.
Yet even as the courses proceeded she knew that Lucia was putting
the last things for the journey that night in her servant's
reticule.  It must be small enough to go on a pillion, Denis had
said.  They would ride as far as Issoire tonight and take coach at
three in the morning.  She thought of him waiting for her now at
the farm and the colour leaped to her face and her heart began to
beat strangely.  Ah, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow!

Don Luis was saying something to her.  She became aware now that he
was also looking at her piercingly, that he must have been doing so
during her entire reverie.  Her heart seemed to empty itself and
become dry.  Far off she heard him saying:  "After you have retired
tonight dismiss the maid.  Tell her to go to her own room and not
to disturb you till morning.  Do not be alarmed," he said, taking
her hand which was stone cold, "you will not be sleeping alone."

The supper proceeded in silence.  She ate nothing.  Don Luis
gradually became angry.  He had expected some shrinking, perhaps.
But his wife's face over the candles was now a clear, transparent
white, and he found himself looking into a pair of eyes so shadowed
with an agony of fear that they reminded him of a dying deer's.  He
had often cut their throats that way--after the chase was over.
This one was.  He smiled.

As she left the room, he leaned forward in his chair to watch her.
She turned as usual at the door to say good night, then stood there
as if in a daze.  "Remember," he said in his peculiar way.

His mind flashed back to the last time he had said that to her, in
the coach just before their arrival here.  That young captain!  The
remark of M. d'Ayen recurred to him again.  He started uneasily.
"No, no, impossible!  Nothing had occurred at Versailles!"  But he
sat thinking.  Pierre waited silently to remove the glasses.
Finally he poured out some more wine.  But the marquis sat
abstracted.  Unconsciously he played with his coffee spoon.  A
certain grim tenseness began to lift the black tuft of his beard
and tighten the lines of his close-shaven jaws.  Finally his teeth
clicked and his mouth took on the appearance of a closed trap.
"Pierre," said he, turning around upon the man almost violently.

"Monsieur!" said the man startled.

"Send Sancho to me immediately.  I shall be in my own room."

A few minutes later that worthy knocked at his master's door.  The
voice of the marquis could be heard within for some moments giving
earnest and emphatic instructions.  At the end of that time the
servant reappeared.  Holding a candle before his curious
countenance, the man walked down the corridor with a light
noiseless tread.  As he did so his animal-like shadow sneaked after
him along the wall.

                            -----------

Once beyond the paralysing presence of her husband, Maria's first
impulse was to flee immediately.  She came up the stairs on the
wings of fear and sped to her room.  Had the maid been there they
might have left instantly and have been gone into the night.  But
Lucia had gone to supper.  As Maria closed the door calling her,
and no answer came, an access of terror and trembling overcame her
and she was forced for a moment to sit down.  The dim light of one
candle left burning before the mirror on the dresser served only to
deepen the gloom of walls and curtains, and the young girl saw her
haggard face peering at her from the glass with an expression of
horror.  The absence of Lucia, upon whom she was so dependent,
temporarily deprived Maria of will power.  She felt it impossible
to leave without her.  At any moment Lucia might return.  But the
thought that at any moment Don Luis also might appear made her sick
and faint.  A low cry escaped her and she gasped.  Her state of
indecision was more than she could sustain.  At last she seized the
bell tassel and pulled it violently.  But Lucia did not answer.  A
conviction of fatality amounting to despair overcame Maria.  Then
she rallied.  Without Lucia then!

For a moment she was all activity.

She seized the candle and rushing to the window held it there
waiting beat by beat of her pulses for an answering light.  But
there was no light whatever at the farm.  Where was Denis?  Not in
his room!  Perhaps he was already waiting at the cross-roads below
the farm with the horses.  Hardly yet, though.  It was still early
and they were not to leave the château till after midnight.

No, she knew he was not waiting at the cross-roads.  That was the
desperate prompting of false hope.  It had all been SO well
understood.  They were to go to the farm and leave from there.  In
no other way could the horses be so well concealed.  And they were
to change into their new clothes there before the fire, and ride
off.  It was all so easy.  But he had promised to answer the last
night--not till later, of course.  If she could only make him see
now!  Where was he?  She waved the candle to and fro excitedly.  It
went out.  In the darkness she stood pressing her forehead to the
window.  Above the edge of the hill where the farm loomed darkly
came only the cold glitter of stars.

Nevertheless, she could not stay here.  She lit the candle again
with shaking hands.  Then she hastily tore open the bag which Lucia
had packed and extricating from it the statue of the madonna and a
dark riding cloak, she threw the latter over herself concealing her
white dress.  The bag was now nearly empty and seemed, to gape at
her widely.  Then she tiptoed to the door, opened it gently,
listened, and stepped out.

The long, gloomy corridor was empty.  Except for the slight beam of
light through her own keyhole and a thin radiance from either end
of the hall it was almost black.  At regular intervals the tall,
white, locked doors of the château guest chambers glimmered duskily
like the portals of so many vaults.  She hesitated.  To her left
the corridor led to the main staircase of the château; to the right
to the servants' stairs.  It was from these two stairways that the
light glimmered up at either end.

Pierre would have locked the front door by now, and the marquis'
room was in that direction.  She might meet him coming up!  Her
scalp crept at the thought.  She had never been in the servants'
wing, but they were probably quiet now.  She might slip out that
way.  She might still find Lucia there.  At any rate HE was not
that way.  She turned to the right and crept slowly and softly down
the corridor holding the small shrine in her arms like a doll.
Presently she found herself by the railing of the servants' stairs.
From a lamp placed on a table in the hall below a faint glow was
cast upward throwing grotesque shadows.  Very carefully she peeped
over.  The stairs were circular and it appeared to her that she was
looking down a deep well with a lantern at the bottom.

She put her foot on the first tread and started to descend
noiselessly.  Then she was arrested in mid-air by the sound of a
yawn and a scraping noise.  She looked down through the banisters.
Curled up in the shadow on the last step was Sancho.  He was
scratching himself under the arm with a peculiarly persistent
motion.  His head with the curious, dark grey tufts behind his ears
was now and then projected into the light and she caught a green
glint from his eyes.  No mouse ever crept back more stealthily into
the shadow than Maria.  So that was why Lucia did not come!  There
could be no doubt about it.  The man was watching.  She must get
back to her room instantly.

But it was not so easy to find.  There were many doors down the
long corridor.  She started trying the handles.  In her desperate
haste she must have passed her own.  Somehow she was too far down
toward the main hall.  She must go back, be methodical, and miss
none.  She listened for an instant.  Someone was coming up the big
stairs.  She turned scarcely able to stifle a scream.  She saw a
candle-glow through the keyhole of the next room.  She opened her
own door, and darted in.  For one second only she stood in the
faint light before she closed the door softly.  She even remembered
not to let the latch click.

For a few instants excitement sustained her and cleared her mind.
For the first time in her life her movements became precise and of
lightning rapidity.  She tore the cloak off, wrapped the statue in
it, thrust the bundle into the open bag, and the bag under the bed.
Gathering three candlesticks from her stand and dresser she placed
them in the window.  She lit them from the one already kindled and
threw that into the fireplace.  Then she turned facing the door
with her back to the wall against a long yellow curtain.  Her hands
were clasped behind her.  For an entire minute no one came.  It was
that delay which at last shattered her.

Don Luis had turned into the corridor just as Maria was closing the
door.  Against the opposite wall he had seen a dim square of light
and a shadow there like that of a cloaked woman carrying a child.
It vanished like a spectre.  Don Luis was carrying a candle
himself.  The hall beyond was dark, silent.  He could not be
certain.  It was a very old house.  He was not superstitious.  But
he was sufficiently startled to stop where he was for a full
minute.  Then he too saw the ray of light from the keyhole of his
wife's room.  A solution of the spectre dawned upon him.  He strode
forward angrily and flung open the door. . . .

While the marquis had for a moment been stayed by a shadow, Denis
three leagues away at Le Crest was knocking persistently and
hallooing at the door of a blacksmith who presently stuck a frowsy
head through an upstairs window and inquired with sleepy insolence
what was wanted.  A short interchange of views on the subject of
shoeing horses at night decided the point of whether the smith
should come down or wait for the gentleman to come up and fetch him
at the point of a pistol.  Under the double impetus of threats and
promised rewards the man made what he considered to be haste.
Monsieur meant business, there was no doubt about it!  But it was
almost an hour before the fellow could blow up his fire, take the
shoe off the foot which had gone lame, and fit a new one.  Denis
watched the man working over the cherry-coloured iron while the
time passed mercilessly.  In his terrible anxiety the dark shed
seemed like a prison chamber and the smith some black-browed jailer
who was about to put him to the question.  Would he, when the iron
was thrust into him, be able to remain firm?  He was half dead with
fatigue as it was.  The smith passed close to him with the sizzling
metal and he felt the heat through his sleeve and flinched.  "How
much pain could a man stand before he would tell?" he wondered.
Tired and nervous as he was, he felt how weak he might be.  He
roused himself.  He had almost gone to sleep.  Solange had gone
lame early that afternoon.  He was hours late.  Tossing the man a
full day's wage, he spurred out of the town striking sparks from
the cobbles. . . .

Don Luis stepped through the door and looked at his wife standing
with her back to the wall.  Her attitude was so tragic, her
background of the yellow curtain with the three candles burning in
the window so theatrical, that he thought for a moment she was
staging a scene.  He drew a chair up between his knees with the
back before him and sat regarding her.

"The illumination I take it is in honour of the event?"  Her lips
moved but no words followed.  "I cannot say I ever heard so ringing
a line," he sneered.  "Come, come, don't you think this is rather a
cold welcome for your husband?  The Muse of Tragedy, the three
lamps, curtain and all.  Magnificent!  But--considering the scene
to follow--aren't you perhaps a little over-costumed?  I expected
to find you in bed."

Her eyes rested on him for an instant like those of an accused
person seeing the state tormentor approach for the first time.  He
became aware that there was no art in this.  He was looking at the
face of terror in nature.  Why was it?

"Come here!" he said softly.

She flattened herself against the wall as if waiting for him to
spring.  It was provocative.  A gust of fury lifted him from the
chair.  With one stroke he ripped her gown from neck to heel.  She
clung desperately to the curtain.  It came away falling over both
of them.  The candles wavered.  He had not expected her to fight
him.  She cried out once bitterly.  He wrapped her head and arms in
the curtain, and stripped her like an Indian husking maize.  Then
he carried her to the bed and threw her down there.  She had ceased
struggling now.  She did not know anyone could be so strong.  She
felt and looked like a bird blown on to a ship by a hurricane.  Her
breast rose and fell quickly, but at intervals.  Between breaths
she lay as if dead.  Only her eyelids quivered.

The last vestige of pity had vanished from the breast of Don Luis.
His wig had been torn off and he had happened to see himself in the
glass while he was struggling with Maria.  So this was the
dignified approach to the marriage bed he had so fondly planned!
Marriage bed?  He looked at her lying under the shadow of the
canopy.  It was quite dark in that end of the room.  He crossed to
the window and taking one of the candles came back and stood beside
her.  Holding it above his head so that the yellow light washed
over the pale body of the girl, he studied her carefully for some
time.  Then with a terrific imprecation he dashed the light to the
floor.  The two candles remaining on the sill continued to burn
softly.

Presently she became aware that he was sitting on the bed beside
her.  She opened her eyes slightly and saw that her own hands were
completely lost in his.  His huge fingers curved around her arm
again reminded her of the paw of some monumental lion.  He was
holding her hands so gently though that she almost felt sorry for
him.  A little harder now.  She opened her eyes as the clasp became
firmer and found herself looking into his very close to her face.
She felt him breathe.

"His name?" said Don Luis whose grasp now began to hurt her.  She
looked at him again and bit her lip.  Her fingers began to ache
intolerably.

"HIS NAME?" repeated her husband.

She closed her eyes and braced herself.  Her hands now seemed on
fire.  She lost all sense of anything except the intolerable pain
that began to shoot up her arms to her shoulders.  Had the pain
been less she might have answered, but her whole mind was now
preoccupied with it.  The reiterated demand of the insistent voice
became only a senseless buzz.  Then she fainted.

Don Luis had not meant to carry it quite as far as that.  He dashed
water in her face.  It startled him to see the print of his own
fingers on hers, which she kept contracting spasmodically.  Finally
he bathed them in a bowl of cold water.  At that she came to, but
remained in a kind of daze.  She was now lying as if not only her
hands but her entire body had been crushed in his grasp.  Indeed,
from that moment on he never saw her in any other attitude.  Those
masterful hands had done their work more thoroughly than he
intended.

He sat down and began to ponder.  A long time passed.  He was
annoyed with himself for having allowed his rage to reduce him to
so rudimentary a procedure.  He had forgotten how fragile youth
was.  How sensitive he had been as a boy!  Pshaw!  That was a long
time ago now.  Well, he had forgotten.  He looked at her again.
The cold of the hours before dawn was beginning to penetrate the
chamber.  He started to cover her with the counterpane, but paused.
She was like the living dream, the pale counterfeit of which the
sculptor occasionally detains in stone.  By that body he intended
to have an heir.  What had happened should not swerve him from his
goal.  Also, it would be the most exquisite revenge possible.  He
would bide his time.  In the meantime--this thing which she held
from him?  He could arrange about that!  Don Luis covered her up as
if putting something away for safe keeping.  He sat down again and
in a calm, methodical manner perfected his new plans.  There was
only one link still missing in a carefully welded chain.  Even the
pressure of his hands had not been able to forge that, as yet.  But
patience!  There were other more subtle ways.

Toward morning she grew feverish and sat up.  Her eyes did not seem
to see anything in the room.  She choked and clutched her throat.
He began to fan her.  Then he threw open the window.  It was almost
dawn and deathly silent.  Suddenly as if a drum were beating, the
sound of hoofs at a furious gallop came in a sharp staccato over
the fields.  "Denis, Denis!" cried Maria, and fell back on the
pillow.  "Ah!" said Don Luis exhaling a long breath.

Denis galloped into the courtyard of the farm, threw a blanket over
his trembling horse, and rushed to his window.  In the upstairs
room of the château he saw two candles.  They burned steadily.  So
all his haste had been in vain then.  Something had interfered.
Well, he would hear from Lucia tomorrow.  There was no message yet
or Honneton would have given it to him.  Whatever it was he would
soon know.  Probably a late return from the springs had interfered.
He lay back for an instant on his bed without taking off his boots
and was instantly asleep.  Since morning he had ridden long
leagues.




CHAPTER SEVEN

THE FLY WALKS IN


Very early next morning the coach drew up before the door of the
château and the two footmen began loading luggage.  Don Luis sat in
the library writing a letter of fervent appreciation to his friend
the Comte de Besance.  He could see the two footmen strapping on
the leather trunks and putting bags in the hampers.  Presently
Lucia with a white, scared face ran down with something that had
evidently been overlooked.  It was a small, black bag which she
hurriedly put in the coach.  At her appearance Sancho stuck his
nose in the air and began to whistle softly.  She gave him a
vindictive look and went back.  The marquis' pen marched rapidly.


Not only have I to thank you, dear friend, for the hospitality of
your delightful roof which conceals, as I have discovered, an
excellent cellar, but for the restoration of my health.  I am now
entirely recovered.  At this moment I could take a creditable part
in an affair of honour, nor do I mean as a second, or with pistols.

All that you claimed for your springs here at Royat was true.
Their effect upon me has been one of rejuvenation.  Indeed, I am
almost superstitious about them.  I am forced to attribute even to
their vicinity a life-invoking quality.

Our stay here would have been even longer had not my wife, whom you
so much admired, unfortunately dislocated one of the small joints
in her finger which will probably require the attentions of a
chirurgeon.  One of that profession I hope will be found at the
first large town on our way down.

We pass by Marseilles to Florence, but leisurely.  I have purchased
four magnificent horses from your neighbour M. de Polignac and we
shall make as many detours as we list, thus seeing much of your
beautiful country.  I am in no haste.  Do not, I pray you, concern
yourself unduly about madame.  The accident is a slight one and
will soon be remedied.


He closed the letter with a host of salutations and a flourished
signature, sanded it, sealed it, and rang for Pierre.

"Send this to Paris by the count's agent.  I understand he leaves
with the rents shortly?  Good!  He will travel faster than the
post, I think."

"Yes, monsieur.  May I say," said Pierre respectfully, "that I . . .
that WE regret monsieur is leaving so soon.  He has been most
generous."

"It is only on account of this accident to madame that we are
hastened.  Otherwise we should have stayed some days longer.  You
have been very attentive.  I have said so in my letter to M. de
Besance."  Pierre looked relieved and pleased.

It was not the intention of the marquis to have any but the best
rumours of his visit at the Château de Besance emanate to the
world.  Even the man he had caned now considered himself lucky.  No
one but Lucia knew anything of what had occurred through the summer
or of the night before.  "And I am keeping her with madame!"
thought the marquis.  "It will be a pity if anything leaks out."
He smiled sardonically at Pierre disappearing with the letter to M.
de Besance.

Don Luis opened the window and called to Sancho.  Some conversation
in a low tone took place between them after which the marquis
handed him the gold-headed walking stick which he no longer needed,
his sword, his great coat, and a small strong box to put in the
coach.  He then walked upstairs and saw Maria and Lucia down to the
door.  No words were exchanged between them.  The suggestion of
something doll-like had again returned to Maria.  She walked like a
marionette.  Even to herself her life seemed only a semblance and
her actions corresponded.  They were both apathetic and mechanical.
As she passed between the lines of bowing servants at the door many
of them noted how pale she looked.  The face of Lucia was more
anxious than the slight sling in which her mistress carried one
hand might seem to warrant.  Don Luis saw to it that Lucia had no
opportunity to explain.

"Au revoir, monsieur le marquis, grand merci et bon voyage," cried
the servitors, genuinely sorry at the departure of a guest who had
proved so liberal.  "Adieu," replied the marquis with the ghost of
a smile.  He helped his wife into the coach lifting her under the
arms.  Then he took his sword from the seat, buckled it on, and
climbed in.  Lucia followed.  The footman folded up the little
stairs.  "Ready, your Excellency?"

Don Luis grasped one side of the seat firmly and waved his hat out
of the window.  There was a report like a pistol from the whip of
Sancho.  The four horses started forward so violently that the
front seat upon which Don Luis had motioned the two women to seat
themselves was nearly drawn out from under them.  A silent "Oh"
formed itself upon the lips of Maria.  She caught an amused gleam
in her husband's eye.  "It will be hard on the harness.
Fortunately it is new and strong."  Lucia broke out weeping.
"Leave off that!" said Don Luis fingering his cane.  The woman
turned deathly white and swallowed her sobs.

Don Luis was like an old general who after taking all the necessary
care to bring a campaign to a successful issue had been betrayed to
the enemy by his adjutant.  His surprise and defeat had
consequently been complete.  But he was also a general who never
abandoned the field.  Annihilation was the only way to deal with
him, as it was his own method whether in advance toward or retreat
from an enemy.  He was now seemingly in retreat after disaster.
But what might have seemed to the ordinary man an irretrievable
misfortune was to him merely a blow of fate to be circumvented, or
even taken advantage of in any direction that remained.

Sitting by his wife's bedside the night before, the furnace of his
soul had burnt at white heat under the enormous pressure of a will
that never relaxed.  The result of this incandescence was a hard,
clear diamond of unadulterated hate at the core of his being.  Such
jewels are rare as the moulds which produce them.  With them a few
names have been etched permanently on the window panes of the house
of fame.  Don Luis' diamond was for private use only.

His original purpose of enjoying Maria and of having an heir on her
body remained unaltered.  Indeed, it was now fixed, in the diamond,
as it were.  The elements of pleasure had merely been transmuted.
His enjoyment would now be that of hate instead of love.  This
fixity of purpose had been announced to himself the night before
when he had looked into the glass the second time and put his wig
back into place.  What had been put askew by emotional circumstance
was now rearranged.  The wig did not at first feel the same as
before, but it looked it.  No one would ever know, presently not
even the man who wore it.

While adjusting his wig Don Luis had also readjusted circumstances.
This he had done to his own satisfaction.  Every revolution of the
wheels of the coach, he imagined, was still taking him toward his
goal.  It remained merely to dispose of the contents of the vehicle
and to ward off possible interference from the outside.

About a half mile beyond the château the coach was overtaken by
Maria's little dog which had been left behind.  In the extremity of
the departure she had not even remembered it.  Having seen its
mistress enter the coach it had followed as fast as its short legs
would permit.  As the vehicle lumbered up a short hill, the dog
appeared, barking and whining.  It kept leaping for the iron step
and falling off.  In hopes the wheel would take care of it in a
natural way, Don Luis sat for some time ignoring it.  Seeing,
however, that it would surely follow them through the next village,
at the top of the hill he opened the door.  Maria could not keep
from calling it.

With a supreme effort the animal again made the step and started to
wriggle into the coach, wagging its tail.  With tremendous force
the marquis closed the door on its back.  The one sharp cry that
pierced the morning expressed so well for Maria her own agony that
she remained passive.  The coach was now moving too swiftly
downhill for the footmen to leave.  They expected it to stop at the
bottom on account of the dog but in this they were disappointed.
Sancho evidently had his instructions.  Over the worst ruts and
cobbles, through the long white villages, past the low, truncated
hills covered with vineyards they rushed southward into the valley
of the Allier.  The whip cracked and the splendid horses leaped.
The two men behind hung on grimly to their straps.  The two women
on the small front seat shot from side to side and collided with
each other.  Don Luis sat back in the deep, rose-coloured
upholstery and hummed an air from Italian opera.  As M. d'Ayen
would have phrased it, from one of those "perfect scenes."
Occasionally he treated himself to a pinch of Batavian snuff.

                            ----------

When Denis finally awoke the sun was high and streaming into the
room.  He was still staring up at the ceiling with his body flung
across the bed and his booted feet on the floor just as he had gone
to sleep.  He found himself stiff and unrefreshed.  In the hard
boots in which they had been encased for nearly two days his feet
were chafed and sore.  It was some time before he could recollect
himself.  As soon as he did so he went out to find the farmer.

It was the beginning of the grape harvest and his host was at a
neighbour's farm some distance away helping to tread out the first
vat.  It was almost an hour before he and the boy who had been sent
to find him returned.  Maître Honneton seemed surly at having been
thus interrupted.  He stood gloomily before Denis.  His bare ankles
where they protruded above his long sabots were dyed a rich, red
purple as if he had been treading in blood.

"Monsieur sent for me?"

"The message that came this morning!" said Denis eagerly.

"Message?  But there was no message, monsieur."

"What!  Are you sure?  Didn't the maid bring one?"

"No, monsieur, and if it was to come from the château, surely
monsieur knows that the marquis and his family have left."

"Left?  Gone!" cried Denis all in a breath.  "Why didn't you tell
me?  You mean they have driven off to the springs?"  His voice rose
with hope as this easy solution occurred to him.

"No, no, monsieur, by the road to Issoire, very early this morning.
From the vineyards we saw them pass with all the luggage strapped
on.  There were small-trunks on the roof.  It was for a journey.
They are gone."

"Oh, why, why didn't you tell me?" Denis kept asking.  Maître
Honneton had not thought it necessary.  Monsieur had left no
instructions.  He knew Denis was tired after so long a journey.  He
had heard him return late.

They walked back to the farm together while the good man's
apologies continued to flow.  Distracted as he was, Denis could not
help but be touched by his simple solicitude.  He sat down by the
well curb for a moment to gather his wits.

He was tired, desperately tired.  The trip to Marseilles had nearly
done him out.  There had been a thousand arrangements to make; the
ship, the relays of horses.  They should be on their way by now.
The mare's going lame yesterday had ruined it all.  And that signal
of two candles last night!  What had that meant?  To leave without
a word to him--it looked bad.  The disappointment and anxiety added
to his fatigue made him feel sick.  And he had slept all those
precious hours away!  God! he must do something.  Not sit here like
a fool.  He took the mare from the stable.  At any other time her
gentle protests at being saddled when still footsore and weary
would have touched him to the heart.  Now he pulled the saddle
girth tighter and swore.  Honneton stood looking on blankly.  He
scarcely knew monsieur.  "He who had been so debonair."

Denis ran to his room for his sword and pistols.  He renewed the
priming.  One curtain he noticed was blowing out of her window at
the château.  It seemed to be waving him farewell.  He knew he
would never see this place again.  He took his things out into the
courtyard and mounted.  Pressing a purse into the hand of the
farmer, he said, "Remember, should anyone ever ask about me, you
know nothing."  He clasped the man's hand warmly.  The sadness of
all farewells came upon them both.  What had he done that as the
man's hand left his own Denis seemed to have lost touch with life!
He felt older and alone.  He rode down over the slope.

It had rained the night before and there was a pool by the gate.
As the mare passed she left one footprint.  The water and sand
began to fill it in.  Maître Honneton stood looking down at it.
Presently the faint, smiling curve of the horseshoe disappeared.
The man hefted the weight of the purse in his hand with
satisfaction.  Here was something tangible.  "But how long would
even that last?"

With the motion of the horse and the fresh breeze in his face Denis
began to recover his powers of decision.  A thought struck him.
"Perhaps the marquis had remained at the château and sent the two
women on ahead."  If so, he had better find out.  He turned the
head of the mare toward the towers.  Then as he came to the
crossroads where the way branched to the south he saw the broad
tracks of the well-known wheels.  For a moment he was at a loss.
The wheel tracks drew him like a magnet.  He took after the coach
and hesitated no longer.

So far he had seemed in a dream.  Now he was thoroughly awake.  His
entire nature responded to the need for action.  Only in action
could he find relief.  Who had blundered?  Had she?  Lucia?  What
had happened?  He must know!  Solange felt the spurs and loped on,
in the opposite direction but along the same road over which she
had galloped so furiously the night before.  She was still slightly
lame.  No matter, what was a horse to him now?

At the top of the hill he found the dog by the road.  At first he
thought the coach had passed over it, but as he looked down at it,
shaken by a tempest of memories, something in its forlorn attitude
caused him to dismount and examine the little animal.  How that
unresponsive thing had once welcomed him and quivered at his touch!
At hers!  But the coach had not passed over it.  It was not
crushed!  Yet what an attitude, not fit to be seen!  He began to
kick a hole in the bank with his boot.  Presently he forced himself
to pick the thing up.  Its back had been broken.  By a blow, a
cane!  Whose, he thought he knew.  His mind obligingly presented
him with a scene.  Murmuring something which choked him he covered
the puppy up.  The hollow bank caved in and he stamped the turf
down.  He was surprised to find how rage weakened him.  His knees
trembled as he swung into the saddle.

What a fool he had been!  He cursed himself.  He had been too
careful.  He should have taken time by the bridle and ridden off
with Maria two months ago.  He might have known what kind of a man
he was dealing with in Don Luis.  Well, he knew now.  Yet, would
she have gone with him at first after all?  Ah, the enchanted
forest, the magic pool by the mill, that day on the hill!  It was
springtime in this volcanic country that had detained them.  They
had been bewitched.  The thought of her in his arms swept away
regrets.  It was an answer even to his self-reproaches.  At worst
he had tried to plan too well.  But what HAD happened?

He hoped to find them at Issoire but they had passed through hours
before.  This brought him to himself again.  He must husband his
own strength and that of his horse.  He saw to her himself;
unsaddled her, gave her a rest.  He took a cup of wine and forced
himself to eat.  Through the afternoon he nursed the mare along
with a hundred little attentions that a cavalryman knows.  He
walked up the hills, loosened the girth, rubbed her down, gave her
a little water carefully.  It was now near sunset and the wheel
tracks, those broad unmistakable tracks, still led forward
relentlessly.  It was a problem of one tired horse and a heavy man
against four tired horses and a heavy coach.  At last he topped a
rise from which several miles of country beyond could be seen.  The
mare stood with her head hanging down while Denis looked eagerly
ahead.  The road was empty and led straight away for some distance.
Then it disappeared amid clumps of trees, the remains of a wood.
Fatigue and disappointment overcame him.

                            ----------

It was just after sunset when the coach at Don Luis' command pulled
up before an inn.  It had been passing through a deserted strip of
country for some time; for the last mile or so between isolated
clumps of trees that were gradually closing in to form a wood.  The
long, rambling buildings of the inn with smoke and sparks pouring
out of the chimney against the darkness of the forest beyond was
the only habitation they had seen for some time.  Don Luis regarded
it with evident satisfaction and sent a man for the innkeeper.
When that worthy appeared the marquis stepped out of the coach and
proceeded to arrange matters to suit himself.

He saw Maria and Lucia upstairs into a room overlooking the
courtyard.  He gave it a brief inspection, and remarking that
supper would follow shortly, locked the door, pocketed the key, and
walked downstairs.  He held a short, emphatic conversation with the
innkeeper, but in a voice which was too low to be overheard either
by the servants or the lonely young guest in the worn garb of a
curé who sat by the fire turning a capon on the spit.  Greeting the
curé with the respect for the Church which a Spanish upbringing
made instinctive, Don Luis returned to the courtyard.

Sancho had already driven in and was preparing to feed his horses
when Don Luis approached him.  The master and man talked together
earnestly while a number of heads appeared at various windows and
loungers at the doors.  The curious little man with the tail was
already causing comment.  Then to the surprise of the onlookers he
mounted the lead horse, swung the coach in a circle, and drove off
up the road toward the forest.  Don Luis returned and sat down by
the fire.  The young priest was just taking the fowl from the spit
as he entered.

"Monsieur will do me the great favour of sharing with me?" he
asked.  "It is a gift from one of my flock and if shared with a
stranger will make a truly Christian feast."  The man smiled and
arranged a bowl of salad and a cup of wine invitingly.  The accent
of a gentleman and the face of a youthful ascetic allured Don Luis.
He thought he knew the type.  He would see if he had been correct--
there was time yet--and he sat down.  The simple feast proceeded.
To Don Luis' surprise so did the conversation.

He was a young man who evidently knew something of the great world
and had enjoyed it, yet he had bound himself out as a parish priest
in this remote spot.  Who was he?  Don Luis wondered.  Influence
might have done better for him than this.  But the priest was now
talking of his parishioners, unconsciously answering the questions
which the marquis could not ask.  The annals of his quiet
neighbourhood lived and took on a pastoral form; peasants, and his
life among them, became an idyll of primitive Christianity.  "Such
a delightful homily," thought Don Luis, "would make the man's
fortune at court, an antique style."  And how the man's face lit up
as he spoke of his poor.  But he was not asking for money.  He was
pleading that men of our rank--the "our" slipped out unconsciously--
should follow Christ and come down and help their brethren.  "Then
they would know what the love of God meant, because they would feel
as Our Lord had felt in his own heart.  So they would be like him."

Don Luis felt himself comfortable despite the man's earnestness.
The sermon was therefore a triumph.  He also caught himself
thinking that he would not care to hear a rebuke from the curé's
earnest lips.

"It is not liberty about which the philosophers are all talking
that men need," the young priest was saying.  "Even fraternity is
not enough.  That is an idea.  It must be a feeling, love.  Love of
each for his neighbour.  Love, I say, kindled by God.  That will
make us equal.  That will raise us all at the same time into one
highest rank."

"And the Church and State when we are all of the same rank--what
will become of them?" asked Don Luis.  He had heard of men like
this.  The times were uneasy.  The priest's face lit with the
reflected glow of the millennium.  For a moment it seemed near.
"The Church will then be universal and there will be no need for
the State.  God will be our king."

The Marquis pondered and took a pinch of snuff.  By God, he would
have to feed the starving then!  The women upstairs must be hungry.
This religious glow had made him forget them.  He rose and
listened.  From some distance up the road came the sound of a
trotting horse.

"I trust I have not bored, monsieur," said the priest.  "A thousand
pardons.  I have not meant . . ."

"Not at all," said Don Luis, "quite the contrary."  He gave the man
a reassuring smile.  "But I have cause to think that the person
approaching may be a former acquaintance of mine whom I may wish to
avoid.  If monsieur the curé would be so kind as NOT to call
attention to my presence?"  The marquis quietly pushed his own
plate under that of the priest, and bowed.

"Certainly," said the curé with a mild look of surprise.

Don Luis retired to a dark corner opposite the chimney and sat
down.  Presently a horse was heard on the cobbles.  Solange stood
there with her head hanging down.

Denis had seen the track of the wheels where the coach had turned
in, but he had also seen them still leading beyond.  So he
understood they had been there and had gone.  He could force
himself farther but not the horse.  Well, he might get another
horse here and press on.  At least he would ask.  He must rest and
eat, too.  He turned in and calling for the host began to question
him.

The host was a glib little man.  In the story which Don Luis had
paid him to tell he was quite pat.  Yes, the coach and persons that
monsieur described had been there that afternoon but had departed
about four o'clock.  It was a pity.  Yes, he was sure it was as
long ago as that.  No, there were no horses to be had until one
came to St.-Pierre--four leagues!  Would monsieur care to be made
comfortable for the night?

Denis was not sure about that yet, but he would take supper.  After
that he would see.  At this last disappointment, fatigue and
despair descended upon him like a pall.  He had not thought they
were so far ahead of him.  It seemed impossible.  Perhaps they had
left the château earlier than he thought.  He opened the door and
stepped into the public room.

He was too tired even to glance about the place.  He stood before
the fire and warmed himself.  From his dark corner Don Luis
inspected him closely.  He saw with great satisfaction the look of
fatigue and trouble on the countenance of the young man, and the
fact that he now limped slightly as if his boots chafed him.  He
noted his long reach as Denis dragged a chair up to the chimney,
and the style of his rapier.  The disarming nick on the hilt did
not escape him.  A handsome young dog and one sufficiently
difficult to deal with, he was forced to admit.  At least she had
had the good sense to choose a man.  So this was the hero who had
undertaken to provide an heir for the Marquis da Vincitata!  Very
quietly the possessor of that ancient title loosened his own sword
in its scabbard.  For something like eleven generations his family
had known how, where, and when to draw.  Don Luis was not going to
be the exception.  His cause was the best; the place was opportune.

But he was in no instant hurry.  He had in fact hoped that Maria
would have seen Denis from her window as he rode into the inn
courtyard.  In that case he had intended to tackle him on the
stairs.  But if that plan fell through, as it had, he intended to
detain him at the inn and take his measure exactly as he was doing
now.  But there was something more than this.  A certain element of
the spider in Don Luis permitted him to enjoy vastly the
opportunity of sitting back in his dark corner and watching the fly
walk in.  Thoroughly a Latin, he was not only an actor in, but an
author-spectator of his own drama.  Circumstances were now
collaborating with him to his huge satisfaction.

The priest meanwhile noticed the haggard look upon the features of
the newcomer.  The young curé was already familiar with misery in
all its various guises.  He was aware that the young man across the
fire from him was in great agony of soul.  He longed to comfort
him, but the inimical and secret presence of his recent guest
effectually restrained him.  Naturally sensitive, and by contact
with the primal substratum of life unconsciously, if not
preternaturally aware of the atmosphere attending emotion, the room
to the good curé had suddenly become unbearably tense.  He felt as
if he were sitting waiting for an execution.  So strong was this
irrational feeling that he began to reason himself out of it.

Of all this Denis was totally oblivious.  So far a reasonable hope
had buoyed him up.  But his mind and his body had now sunk
temporarily into a lethargy.  The comfortable warmth of the embers
made his fatigue more apparent to himself, and yet relaxed him.
Supper was long in coming.  His eyelids began to droop despite the
efforts of his will.  To keep himself from being overtaken by
oblivion he called for wine.  There was set before him a clear
glass decanter containing a liquid alleged to be burgundy.  He
removed the stopper and held the bottle up to the light suspiciously.
Instantly he saw a red liquid sphere through which drifted, tumbling
and eddying, shifting clouds of sediment.  There was a certain
hypnotic effect about thus gazing into those bloody depths which,
tired as he was, his mind did not instantly overcome. For some
seconds he continued to gaze with a blank expression.  It was only
for an instant or so but--

Through the wine a figure seemed to grow and advance upon him.  An
oval pot-shaped body began to shoot forth arms and legs that
wriggled up and down the sides of the bottle.  A face with a black
horn below the mouth grinned at him.  The grin expanded clear
across the bottle in a devilishly implacable smile surrounded by
familiar features.  Denis turned with the speed of thought and
dashed the contents of the bottle into the face of the man who had
stolen upon him.

"Death for that," said the marquis.  "You fool!"

For some seconds they stood facing each other.  They heard the wine
dripping onto the floor.  The consternation on Denis' face faded
into relieved joy.  So they had NOT escaped him after all.

He laughed like a boy.  "For THAT, monsieur?  Are you sure?"

"Draw!" blazed Don Luis.  His sword flashed.

As the steel flickered in the firelight there was a loud crash of
crockery at the door and the falsetto voice of the innkeeper began
to scream, "Not in the house, messieurs; messieurs, for the love of
God, not in the house!"  He ran back into the court crying for help
where a babblement arose while the wreck of Denis' supper smoked on
the threshold.

"For the love of God, not anywhere," cried the priest, rising up
now and laying hold of Don Luis' sword arm.  Thus beset and
hindered, the marquis beside himself with rage stood choking.  The
wine trickled down his face and bubbled on his lips as he strove to
speak.

"It is useless to try to interfere, father," said Denis in a calm
dry tone.  "You must have seen the insult which monsieur has just
received from me."

"The edicts, the ordinance of 'twenty-three!  Have a care,
gentlemen!" cried the priest.

The marquis shook the man off with some difficulty.  Had he not
been a priest he would have hurled him into the fire.

"Come," said he to Denis, "we shall settle this in the court."

Protesting, the curé followed them to the door where he remained to
look on with gloomy anticipation.

It had been comparatively dark in the long, low public room, but
outside there still lingered the late, white European twilight.  It
was that hour when the sky reflects and completely suffuses the
last western rays, when very small objects in nature such as men
cast no shadow at all, when a certain eeriness as of the meads of
the departed settles down over buildings and landscape.  The sounds
of life are subdued.  To some melancholy temperaments it is the
most tolerable hour of the day.

In this calm light the two men in their shirt sleeves stood facing
each other a few paces apart on a short space of closely cropped
green near the center of the court.  The litter which surrounded it
marked off its limits in a roughly oval boundary.  The servants and
hangers-on about the inn had already crowded into the court at the
cries of the landlord whose anxiety that his place would be closed
for harbouring brawlers led him up until the last moment to beseech
someone to interfere.

No one, however, had cared to intrude upon the two determined
gentlemen who burst out of the door.  The red wine upon Don Luis'
face and clothes looked as if first blood had already been drawn.
That more was to follow none could doubt.  Doors, windows,
wheelbarrows, dunghills, and other points of vantage were now at a
premium.

"I think, monsieur the captain," said Don Luis in a low tone, "that
under the circumstances we can omit all formalities."  Denis
nodded.  "Since there are no seconds, do you give the word to draw,
I shall simply count three and engage.  The present distance is
satisfactory?  The end you understand?"

"Draw," said Denis.

"Monsieur the curé," cried the marquis aloud, "I call on you to
witness that all is fair and understood between us here."

They fell on guard.

"One, two, three!"

Their blades rasped and hissed together.  The clash of steel, the
stamp of feet, and the heavy breathing of the two men filled the
courtyard.  There was nearly a full minute of sword play in which
no very earnest attacks were made while each tried to feel out the
other's school of fence.

Denis' was a simple combination of the short sword fence at which
any gentleman about the court was more or less an adept, and of the
onslaught and mêlée taught in barracks for the heavier military
rapier.  It was simple but dangerous.  But there was a lack of
economy in his recoveries and a waste of motion in his attacks
which betrayed to the marquis that the arm behind the point which
now so persistently menaced him remembered the sabre.  It was upon
this that he counted.

So far Don Luis had in no way betrayed himself as a subtle
swordsman.  To Denis' riposte and remise his counter-riposte and
reprise had followed, a trifle slow Denis thought.  It was that
upon which HE counted.  The marquis, however, although he was no
believer in the bottes secrets of the old school of fence, had
learned as a boy from an ancient Spaniard, one or the last of the
"Captains of Complements" de la cienca de las armas, a mathematical
pedant of the sword.  Nor had the supple and baffling wrist
movements of the Italian school been neglected by Don Luis in his
later manhood in Tuscany.

Thinking it time now to bring matters to a conclusion Denis burst
upon his opponent with a furious assault, hoping by sheer speed and
energy to get past the guard of the "slower" man.  For a moment the
air about the marquis was full of the darting tongues of Denis'
sword.  But to the surprise of the young man, the older by slight
but deft motions of his body, which Denis had never seen before,
avoided the swiftest thrusts.  At the last Denis was not quite
quick enough in recovering.  The blood dyed his left arm from the
shoulder down.  To his joy, however, Don Luis now began to give
ground.

An expectant gasp went up from the lookers on.

The marquis stepped back with a peculiar motion of the feet as if
they were being planted on exact chalked circles and squares,
movements that forced Denis, if he was to continue the attack, to
move to one side and the other of his opponent in order to find
openings for his thrusts.  For with each motion of his feet the
blade of the marquis assumed the exact line which at once guarded
his body and advanced his point.  They had moved thus with
lightning rapidity to the other end of the green before Denis
realized that he was being led instead of pursuing.  He must change
his tactics.  "God!"

He was almost exhausted . . . the long ride . . .

Suddenly the marquis straightened up from the knees and leaned
forward.  His left hand, so far held behind him as usual, now began
to move forward as he parried, as if it too would thrust Denis'
blade aside.  Gathered up in, and holding a heavy cuff, this was
precisely what it did.

Fence with two hands, sword and dagger, had long been forgotten in
France.  Denis was sure his adversary was failing and could no
longer keep his balance.  He rallied his own last resources and
changing to a kind of half sabre cut, and half rapier thrust,
endeavoured to beat down this ridiculous new guard of his enemy and
to strike home.  The marquis lowered his hilt and retreated
swiftly.

To Denis, whose eye followed rejoicing, it seemed as if the
marquis' point were falling.  "So it was the end!"

He raised his own arm, unconsciously now that of a charging
cavalryman wielding a sabre.  The impulse to thrust left his brain.
He thought his hand leapt forward.  And so it did.  But the sword
fell out of it.

Passing one foot in front of the other as fast as the beat of a
duck's wing, and at the same time lunging forward from the waist,
the marquis had thrust Denis through the heart.  Almost two hundred
seconds had elapsed since he had counted "three."

Denis did not move.  Two spinning black discs collapsed into
whirling funnels of darkness in his eyes.

A blank silence for an instant held everyone in the courtyard.
Then the young curé ran forward and turned Denis over on his back.
He listened to his heart and a few seconds later looked up at the
marquis with an expression in which the emotion of a woman and the
indignation of a strong man struggled for mastery.  From the
upstairs windows came a long, muffled, shuddering cry.  Two white,
despairing hands were beating on the sill.

"Ah," said the marquis, wiping his sword, "Helen has come upon the
wall to see!"

"Monsieur," said the young priest, his face turning scarlet, "God
has also seen."

In the room above someone came and took the white face away from
the window.

"The provocation was mortal," replied Don Luis looking at the
priest as if he had suddenly remembered an unpleasant fact.

"And the sin also," said the curé, letting Denis' hand fall.  Don
Luis' eyes hardened.

"Monsieur, monsieur," cried the priest, rising up and facing the
nobleman, "'Thou shalt not kill!'  It is you and men like you that
are bringing a doom upon yourselves and your class."  His face
worked.  "Hear me, Holy Father, I witness against this man.  Hear
me, ye saints . . ."

Don Luis sheathed his sword and walked away.  The voice of the
priest continued for some time.  From the stable Solange could be
heard neighing.  No one had yet brought her her oats.

The courtyard had by now cleared itself as if by magic.  It was
some minutes before Don Luis could find the landlord, and a quarter
of an hour at least before he could drive "sense" into his head.
The edicts against duelling were enforced mercilessly in France.
It was not the intention of Don Luis to have to fall back upon
diplomatic immunity in order to avoid being hanged upside down in
chains.  He had other plans.  He took the man roughly by the
shoulder and convinced him that the less said about the matter the
better.  "If you want to keep your inn open, tell your people to
keep their faces shut, and do likewise yourself!"

"But if there are inquiries, monsieur?"

"Refer them to the curé and hand the horse and the dead man over to
him.  Get him out of sight now.  This is not your fault, and anyway
you can do nothing about it."

The presence of the marquis' two tall footmen made this fact
glaringly apparent.  The innkeeper decided to make the best of a
bad affair.  Ten gold pieces were in his pocket; the intendant was
at Clermont.  Parbleu! what could a poor man do?  He shrugged his
shoulders.

Don Luis went upstairs.  One of the footmen went out to the road
and waved a lantern.  Presently the jingling of harness was heard.
The coach returned, made a wide circle, and drew up again before
the inn.

Maria's room was almost dark.  After a little Don Luis could make
her out lying on the bed.  Lucia crouched by her side.  He called
out for the man with the lantern.  "We leave immediately," he said
to Lucia.  There was no reply.  Presently the lantern came.  "Take
this woman and the things downstairs," he said, "and see them into
the coach.  Leave the lantern."

Her room seemed empty and silent now.  Outside a tree stirred in
the night breeze and tapped at the pane.  He went to the bed and
held the lantern over Maria.  Looking down, he beheld her utterly
bloodless face with wide, still eyes staring out of dark circles.
Looking up, she saw his scarlet stained features apparently glaring
out of the ceiling from a circle of light.

He set the lantern down and took her hands to raise her.  Her mouth
that reminded him now of his grandmother's in her coffin twitched
slightly.  He leaned down to listen.

"I will tell you.  His name is Denis," she whispered, and went
limp.  He carried her to the coach.

Before the inn the bulk of the coach loomed up against the feathery
background of the dark forest like a hearse with plumes.  About it
twinkled several lanterns.  The curé and the innkeeper stood by
silently as Don Luis consigned his burden to Lucia and climbed in
himself.  The footmen began to fold up the stairs.

"Pardon, monsieur," said the footman, "but there is blood on your
face."

"Get water," said Don Luis calmly.  He had forgotten.  "Bring a
bucket."  He got out again and washed himself by the road.  The
young priest continued to look at him holding his lantern so as to
throw the light upon him.  Don Luis was annoyed.

"Have the goodness to recollect, monsieur the curé, that this is
wine not blood."

"I see blood," replied the priest.

"Where?" asked Don Luis.

"On your soul, monsieur."  The curé turned on his heel and went
into the inn.

Despite himself Don Luis suddenly went cold.  One of the horses
whinnied.  From the stable came the answering neigh of the lonely
mare.  "Drive on, Sancho, you simpleton!" cried the marquis.

"If monsieur will get into the coach?" replied the man.  It was the
first time he had ever known his master to be confused.  "Reason
enough, too," thought Sancho.  "It will be a terrible night and the
horses are nearly foundered."  His whip cracked viciously.  "Who
knows what will happen now?"




CHAPTER EIGHT

A HOLE IN THE WALL


The coach rolled and pitched along.  The road through the forest
was bad and the darkness of a moonless midnight engulfed it.  The
two dim driving lanterns danced and swayed across the inky
landscape like fox-fires.  Sancho used his whip mercilessly.  At
St.-Pierre early next morning two of the beasts were ready to die.
A wheel was strained and had to be replaced.  Don Luis was forced
to pause while men, women, animals, and material, as he put it,
"renewed themselves."  He himself was blithe.  He drove a flinty
bargain with the keeper of the post relays for some heavier horses.
He left his own, not without apprehension, and pressed on.  He was
sorry for the horses.

Don Luis could not know that Denis had severed all connections,
that no one would be expecting his return.  He supposed that after
the death of a king's officer there would sooner or later be some
hue and cry.  For the purely legal offence of killing a man in a
duel the marquis cared nothing.  At worst he could get out of it.
That Denis had first dashed wine in his face might prove fortunate
in case . . .  He ground his teeth at the thought of explaining
away his honour.  A Spaniard before a foreign tribunal!  His honour
required that the real cause of that duel should under no
circumstances ever become known.

No, he preferred to let the innkeeper, or the curé, answer
questions, should there be any to answer, and to dissever himself
and all that was his utterly and forever from the man he had left
lying in the courtyard of the inn.  As for the child that was with
Maria, he would somehow take care of THAT!

After his own child came, later, he would eventually take Maria to
Spain.  She should live and die secluded there.  In Estremadura
hidalgos did not inquire after the health or happiness of one's
wife.  All this might take several years.  In the meantime she
might see reason, reconcile herself.  In the meantime he had both
private and diplomatic affairs to settle before leaving Italy.  He
intended to arrive there ostensibly in the same condition as he had
set out.  He had already satisfied his honour, now he would have
the use of her body.  It would provide him with an heir and a means
of punishing her.  He might even repeat it.  As he thought about it
he knew now that he preferred it that way.  There was a certain
zest.  He looked across the aisle at her where she lay in the arms
of Lucia.  She did not move.  So these were the two women who had
thought to play the fool with him.  A fine clever pair!  There was
a little surprise coming to Lucia, too.  He drooped his lids and
smiled.  Sancho was heading due east into the Montagnes du Forez.

If they looked for him at all it would be by the roads down the
valley of the Allier or in the passes of the Cévennes.  No one but
a crazy man would take a great coach like this through the
Montagnes du Forez.  But at a little hamlet in the foothills they
stopped and purchased mules from the charcoal burners.  The smith
spent the afternoon forging two heavy chains.  At evening the long
clouds draped themselves against the massif and crept down into the
valley.  The wolves howled.  At dawn the coach started upward.

Sancho rejoiced as only a Spaniard can at finding himself on the
back of a mule.  The whip snapped damply in the morning mist.  The
coach advanced upward foot by foot.  The torrent beside the road
deepened into a dark gorge.  Where a waterfall could be heard
roaring below they hurled down the heavy luggage.  The two footmen
walked behind putting their shoulders to the spokes at especially
bitter spots.

By noon the coach had disappeared from the plains below as if it
had flown into the clouds.  Indeed, for much of the time a grey
mist actually wrapped it.  Three weeks later it descended with
chained wheels into the valley of the Rhône.  Sancho licked his
whiskers.  He would be able to indulge in fresh fish and cream
again.  They galloped south along the post road, pausing only for
relays, and trundled over the bridge into Avignon.  Here the
marquis was out of French territory in the enclave and had friends.
One of the towers on the walls had for some ages past been used as
a dwelling.  An old washerwoman lived there.  It tickled the
marquis' fancy and suited his purpose.  He sent Maria and Lucia to
the turret room.  In the evenings Lucia could walk on the ramparts.
Sancho followed her.  At night he slept by the stairs and watched.

The conscience of the Marquis da Vincitata was a curious blend of
himself, particular circumstances, and the times.  Had he been a
simple-hearted or romantic person certain short cuts to an
immediate oblivion for his recent and present difficulties might
have been found available.  They had, of course, occurred to him,
but only that.  He regarded such promptings as crude, open to
possible embarrassments later on, and beneath him.  In short, he
was not a murderer by direct action.  As far as a man could, he
merely intended to shape events.  It was here that his conscience
came in.

Whether he was religious or only fundamentally superstitious might
provide matter for argument.  Probably he was a blend of both.  At
least he had been piously brought up.  The words of the curé had
therefore made an impression upon him which that good man would
have been the last to credit.  But as a matter of fact Don Luis
already considered the "blood on his soul" as a burden.  His code
approved, but his religion disapproved.  Thus he was able to
balance one load exactly, but he would not add to the weight
against him.  Above all he was in both religion and ethics a child
of his own class and the century in which he was born, that is,
purely conventional.  In his ideals of conduct any analysis of
motive was lacking.  Hence his actions were merely an application
in unfailing practice of a technique acceptable to his equals in
rank.  In short, his conscience was a code of honour tempered by
some fear of the supernatural.  In this precarious balance hung the
fate of the unborn child.

In fact the balance was so very delicate that the marquis had come
to a temporary halt at Avignon merely to readjust the scales in
which he had undertaken to weigh out his own justice.  True, he had
already given them every chance of tipping in the direction which
he desired by throwing in the weight of the coach for good
measures; by driving over as heartbreaking mountain roads as he
could find.  The results, however, had not been so satisfactory as
he had hoped.  At present it seemed as if Maria would lose her mind
instead of the child.  A demented wife was not in the scope of his
plans.  Hence, there was to be a sufficient interval of quiet.

The opportunity of torturing several wives and so of improving
gradually upon the method, does not occur frequently to many men.
Don Luis was neither a widower nor a Bluebeard, hence his method
with his first wife was not above criticism.  The numbing mental
shock of having seen her lover done to death before her eyes was
greater than the physical misery which the violent motion of the
coach could confer.  It was from mental shock that she had nearly
succumbed, and it was here that her husband had miscalculated.  The
extreme physical exhaustion of the trip over the mountains in
addition to what she had already suffered reduced her to a state of
apathy in which for a time she could remember nothing at all.

This condition provided sufficient respite to allow Maria to
survive.  Left utterly alone, except for the constant and now
tender ministrations of Lucia, she gradually regained a grasp on
herself.  Her memory returned, but with it came the strength to
bear it.  After some weeks went by she began to sit in a chair on
the ramparts overlooking the placid landscape that sloped away from
the walls of Avignon.  The bravery of a great despair filled her,
and she determined, as she sat feeling the babe stir within her, to
match her own strength, her determination, and if need be her life,
against the will that strove to possess her body and soul.  Despite
Don Luis, she would bring this child of her love into the world.
Its future she must place in the hands of God.  She could do no
more.  The statue of the Virgin came forth from the black bag
again.  Placing it in a little hole in the battlements where the
coping had dropped away and made room for a flowering plant with
long green leaves, she sat facing it, praying quietly through the
long afternoons.

Every evening when the old woman returned to her tower she found
the young girl sitting with sorrow and rapture in her face before
the madonna.  That Maria's sorrow was a tragedy which only heaven
could heal, she understood.  She pitied her.  She brought her small
bowls of fresh goat milk, mushrooms from the pastures beyond the
walls, and wild flowers for her room.  Only once was this blessed
solitude interrupted--by the visit of a physician at Don Luis'
behest.  The kindly old man would scarcely have discovered in the
subsequent proceedings of his generous employer the results of
medical advice.

Don Luis had been engaged for some time in working out a mate in
five moves with the governor of the town who was a devotee of
chess.  He had also completed sundry alterations both in the body
and in the chassis of the coach which were not without a certain
sinister significance.  The body was painted a dull black, the
lilies of monseigneur were removed from the door and a blank
escutcheon substituted.  Heavier axles and wheels with larger hubs
were prepared.  The sling straps were removed, the springs
reinforced, and the body of the vehicle hung from chains.  Save
that there were no barred gratings at the windows, from the outside
the coach now resembled nothing so much as one of those vehicles in
which the unfortunate objects of a lettre de cachet were
transported from fortress to fortress.  No one would have
recognized it for the graceful equipage which had left Versailles
in May.

The cat-like postilion who drove the mules with a secret and
malicious joy was the only thing which remained unchanged.  For Don
Luis' conversations with the governor had not been entirely
confined to theories of chess.  About the end of October the
frigate Hermione sailing from Marseilles with replacements for the
Indies was joined by his two erstwhile footmen who had unexpectedly
changed the livery of the Marquis da Vincitata for that of the King
of France.  Whatever stories they might have to tell of their late
employer would scarcely intrigue the natives of Malabar.  When the
days were growing visibly much shorter the coach and its four
passengers set out for the Alps.  The endless wanderings of one of
them were thus precariously renewed.

Had someone from a great height been able to observe the progress
of the coach over the network of little roads spun like gossamer
across the landscape below, he would have been convinced that the
owner of the equipage was possessed of a vacillating if not a
captious mind.

For many weeks it appeared to advance and retreat, to seek the most
unlikely of byways, to make long detours and excursions, and to
pause briefly at the most remote and sequestered spots.  By a
series of preposterous zigzags and circumlocutions it drew slowly
near to, when it did not seem to be retreating from, the pinnacles
of the Maritime Alps.

The exact state of "circumstances" which Don Luis thus hoped as he
told himself "to achieve" had, however, not come about.  Although
he had indeed weighed his fist heavily in the scale, an unexpected
strength in the powers of nature implicit in the endurance of his
wife had prevented him.  Without imitating Nero he could not get
rid of that which he hated and retain what he desired.  It was now
nearly the end of December.  He must be in Italy early in the new
year.  An occasional scream from Maria which she could no longer
forbear and the indignation of Lucia that fear no longer entirely
controlled were also annoying him.  It would not do to have scenes
even in the smallest towns, and he must retain some degree of hold
on the maid.  The last was now most essential in any event.  The
delay at Avignon had been too long.  He had defeated himself.  As
they began to enter Liguria the calendar convinced him.  He gave
the order and headed directly over the best roads for the pass.

Maria had long ere this lost all consciousness of place or time.
She seemed to herself to be tossing endlessly on a pitiless ocean,
always in misery and discomfort varied only by crests of agony and
valleys of pain as the waves passed under her uneasy vessel.  Lucia
had woven and fitted her secretly at night with a small harness
made out of the strips of a blanket.  The traditions of generations
of peasant women expectant of lifting and ploughing till their time
was fulfilled, informed her fingers.  It was this simple
contrivance which had so far proved a life-saver in the midst of
prolonged and premeditated shipwreck.

The coach began to mount toward the clouds again, this time on a
road engineered by ancient skill.  The slowness and steadiness of
the first degrees of the ascent brought to Maria a freedom from
pain to which she had long been a stranger.  Leaning against the
shoulder of Lucia she looked out of the coach window and beheld the
pleasant villages of the world slumbering in the sunshine of the
plains below.  The fields and hills of Liguria unrolled behind them
like a painted map.  From the mouth of the gloomy gorge upon which
they were just entering it seemed like a glimpse into that toy
paradise of which she had so often dreamed.

She no longer knew where she was, or remembered what had happened.
The man who sat across from her was a stranger.  What a fine coat
he wore!  She would like some of the long lace drooping over his
hands for the skirt of her doll.  Her tired body seemed to be
floating in air.  She was a great distance from it.  She was a
sleepy little girl.  She had been lost.

"Thank you, signore," she said suddenly, with a smile in which all
her radiant beauty seemed to shine again from her face as from a
revived flower, "thank you for taking me home."  Then her features
sank.  She drooped and wilted into Lucia's arms.

So deeply was the marquis immersed in his own opaque nature that
for a while he thought she had been ironical.

They had left the summer below far behind now.  Through the high
pass as they slowly mounted swept the white, swirling skirts of
December storms.  The frozen fingers of sleet trailed over them and
flapped against the glass.  The road grew slippery and Sancho, as
if he were loath to wet his feet, went slinking through the snow
leading the mules.  Far above them in a coign of the cliff to which
the road staggered was a mountain hamlet.  Once the clouds parted
and far above the village flashed amid the shining atmosphere a
sheer and breathless pinnacle of glittering ice.

Inside the coach it grew bitterly cold.  Even Don Luis began to
regret his temerity.  Travellers at this season of the year had
been known to set out by this road and to fail fatally.  Maria
began to utter at more and more frequent intervals a sharp
spasmodic cry.  Her eyes were closed and she seemed to hear
nothing.  Lucia wrapped her as it grew ever colder in her own
cloak.  The marquis finally got out and walked.

It was a question now whether they would make the village ahead of
them.  In the gorge it would soon be dark.  Even the mules seemed
to understand.  They strained ahead desperately.  As the last
sombre twilight reflected itself down upon them they began to pass
through a region of vast, purgatorial rocks.  Don Luis shivered and
re-entered the coach.  Sancho began as a last resort to ply his
whip again.  The now constant wailing of the woman within was
answered by strange voices from the winds without.  Slowly the
coach struggled around a huge buttress onto another incline.  The
lights of the village came in sight.  An hour later they arrived in
darkness and in icy storm.  A thousand feet above them the wind
from Italy raved over the crest of the pass.

Roused by the yammering of Sancho, and the thuds of the marquis'
stick on the door of the largest house the reluctant portal finally
opened after considerable parley.  Maria was carried in and laid on
a bed in an inner room, a kind of cave-like place, the rear wall of
which was the living stone of the mountain.  Through a partition
the champing and lowing of cattle could be heard in the stable
beyond as Sancho made place for the mules.  A few lanterns began to
flit about through the storm and the women to gather as the news of
the arrival and the predicament of the travellers spread from house
to house.  Presently an old woman with a nose like an owl's and
tangled hair through which her eyes glared piercingly arrived with
a large copper kettle in her hand.  It was filled with snow and put
on the fire to thaw and boil.

The chimney, indeed, was the one comfortable feature of the
establishment.  It was wide and deep and fed by great logs.  Few
travellers stopped here and when they did, only by necessity.
There was not even a professional welcome.  Don Luis was forced to
content himself with some porridge, tough goat's flesh, and a stoop
of vile wine.  He sat in the only chair with a bare table before
him and Sancho curled up at his feet.  The latter was fast asleep
as near the fire as he could get.  His damp coat steamed while he
snored with a kind of continuous purr.  Outside the tumult of the
wind was incredible.

The old woman with several others had gone into Maria's room with
Lucia.  He could hear their feet moving about in the lulls of the
storm as if they were stamping upon something.  Sometimes it
sounded as if they were being chased by mice.  Maria's cries had
ceased now.  Presently the pot boiled over and threatened to quench
the fire.  He took it off and shouted.  The old woman came out
again.  She jabbered at him in a dialect he could not understand.
Her nose seemed about to touch her chin.  He laughed at her, and
she cursed him.  "Of what use are men!"  She spat into the pot,
made the sign of the cross over it, and threw in a bundle of dried
leaves.  Presently the pure snow-water turned a cloudy green.
Taking the kettle with her, she disappeared into the room again.
He grew tired waiting.  If the child was born it had not cried yet.
Perhaps after all . . .

He wrapped himself in his cloak and stretched out on the table with
his feet to the fire and his head on a small valise.  Hours passed.
It was after midnight.  He dozed fitfully.  The table was hard.
The wind had gradually died away.  Once he heard the women
whispering together as the door opened and someone came out.  They
seemed to be quarrelling over what to do.  Let them!  He turned
over.  Finally he slept.  Maria was lying in the next room staring
up at the ceiling.  The old woman was piling hot stones wrapped in
cloth about her extremities.  Despite these measures her feet were
slowly turning cold.

Lucia had come out into the room and was now sitting on the chair
which the marquis had lately occupied.  On her lap was a man child
which she now and then held up and turned over in the warmth of the
blaze.  He moved feebly and breathed.  A red darkness like a shadow
on his face began to fade.  Towards morning he gave a few feeble
cries.  Don Luis awoke and looked at him but said nothing.  He lay
for some time thinking.  Lucia wrapped the child up and settled it
across her knees.  It was sleeping now.  She herself soon fell into
an exhausted slumber.

Don Luis rose quietly and went into his wife's room.  He was
startled to see candles burning at the foot of her bed.  She lay
very quiet.  There could be no doubt of it.  Circumstances had
again defeated him.

He turned suddenly at a slight noise.  The old woman was standing
beside him holding out her hand.

The marquis smiled grimly.  So he must pay for it, too!  He began
to fumble in his pocket.  Then a thought struck him.  He reached
down, and taking the wedding ring from Maria's finger dropped it
into the outstretched palm of the ancient crone.  There was a worn,
gold band on Maria's finger underneath her ring which he had never
seen before.  Some childish trinket, he supposed.  The iciness of
his wife's hand seemed to remain in the palm of Don Luis.  Even the
ring had been cold.

The old crone rushed out into the morning light to look at it.  A
heavy snow had fallen in the night and under the first rays of the
dawn there was in that high, snowy atmosphere a frosty, pale blue
like the hue in the depths of a cold lake.  As she held the ring up
to the east its single stone seemed to have concentrated in it a
spark of fire that was surrounded but not quenched by blue ice.
She clutched it to her breast and trudged up the road with the dry
snow blowing like dust about her.  Jesù-Maria!  She was rich!

Don Luis strolled over to the fire to warm his hands.  Lucia was
sleeping deeply, her face marked with the heavy lines of sad
fatigue.  Her mouth drooped.  The child lay utterly still, its web-
like hands to its face.

The marquis very quietly pushed two logs closer together and
continued to warm himself looking down at the pair.  His face
retained a single inscrutable expression like a mask.  Behind it he
was solving what he considered to be the final problem of a
disastrous episode.  The two persons before him were in question.
Should he drive quietly on and leave them sleeping there?  Should
he take them both, or take only the child?  It must be baptized as
soon as possible.  It might not live long.  He did not care to have
that on his soul in addition to . . . his hands clenched uneasily.

A log burned through and fell in the fireplace behind him.

If this woman ever followed him, he would know how to take care of
HER.  The story must die, be buried here with the lovely and
faithless dust in the next room.  He hoped the glaciers would cover
it.  He had seen mountain churchyards like that--the ice wall
overhanging the tombs, moving slowly.  His was a great and
honourable name.  Woe to those who hissed against it!  He looked at
Lucia narrowly again.  Well, it would be wiser to give her the
opportunity to forget completely.  He stirred Sancho with his foot.
In the silent room they whispered together for a while.

The silence of a great height and a heavy winter morning after
snowfall now wrapped the whole village.  The tired women who had
toiled so long and desperately the night before had gone home for a
brief rest before returning.  Even the cattle in the shed behind
lay quiet, glad of their own warmth.  Sancho had given them hay and
their usual morning bawling was stayed.  Through the partition came
only occasionally the faint jingle of chains as if someone had cast
down a silver coin on marble.  With great stealth and skill Sancho
was harnessing the mules while they ate.  Presently he tiptoed into
the room with a small brass receptacle filled with charcoal.  He
dropped a few coals into it and blew them up.  Don Luis nodded
approval, and raised his eyebrows inquiringly.  The man nodded and
left his master alone.

Unlocking the small portmanteau which had served the night before
as his pillow, Don Luis drew from it an unusually long, tasselled
purse.  It was half full.  After a little search he found a small
bag and untying it proceeded without any noise to transfer from it
a sufficient quantity of gold pieces to stuff the purse like a
sausage.  At the top he placed a tightly folded note that he
scrawled, and pulled the strings tight.  He now opened the
portmanteau wide and placed it beside Lucia.  It was too small.

He closed it again, walked out to the coach, and returned with the
larger black bag which had belonged to Maria.  All this stealthily.
He now put the bag in the same place beside Lucia which his own had
just occupied and opened it.  It gaped widely.  Inside were a few
silver toilet articles and on the bottom Maria's black riding
cloak.  The toilet articles he deposited in the white heat of the
fire and then stooped down to rearrange the folds of the cloak.
A hard object which he felt underneath the cloth he pushed
impatiently to one side.  He then rose and bent over Lucia.  She
still continued in the sleep of exhaustion.  One hand clutched that
part of the blanket nearest to the baby's head.  With great care
Don Luis slowly withdrew the folds of the cloth from the woman's
fingers and gently laid across her palm the tasselled purse.  She
stirred slightly while her fingers slowly closed around it.  Don
Luis smiled and remained standing before her for some minutes till
her breathing again became regular.  In the fire the backs of
Maria's silver brushes began to melt.  White drops of metal began
to course down the faces of Cupids to mingle with small bullet-like
lumps of metal that had once been festoons of grapes.  They now lay
in the ashes.

Very swiftly, but equally as lightly, Don Luis lifted the child
from the knees of Lucia and lowered it into the bag.  He closed it,
and avoiding giving it the slightest jar, tiptoed to the door.  He
turned on the doorstep to look back.  Lucia was asleep.  Only the
top of her high comb showed over the back of her chair.  In the
other room the candles still burned at the foot of Maria's bed.  As
he closed the door the draught blew them out.  Moving silently
through the deep snow he lifted the bag into the coach, climbed up,
and closed himself in.

Sancho put the mules in motion.  Through the silent drifts where
even the iron hoofs were muffled they moved upward toward the crest
of the pass.  Presently the sun, which had already for some hours
been looking at the plains of Tuscany, dazzled their eyes.  Sancho
leaned forward gazing with his hand to his forehead.  The morning
clouds had not yet lifted.  All that was going on upon the busy
plains below still remained withheld from him by their ghostly
veil.  To one passenger of the coach at least the future was
equally mysterious.  He was still riding as he had been for many
months before, completely in the dark.  Indeed, it was not until
many hours later that the marquis was disturbed by the faint voice
in the bag.  Don Luis also slept soundly.  The small charcoal
footstove imparted a somnolent warmth to the coach.  It had in fact
slightly tainted the air.  But it was now burnt out, and they had
long left the regions of snow behind them.  By the time they began
to pass through the villages in the foothills the protests of the
young gentleman in the bag were too strenuous to be much longer
ignored.

At Aulla the marquis was forced to descend to attend to several
vital necessities.  They remained till next day, the marquis at the
inn, and the child with a wet nurse.  She found the baby nursed
vigorously, tended him, and wrapped him about with long bands after
the manner of her kind.  Some hours of the morning were passed
procuring four decent horses.  The marquis had no intention of
entering his own country drawn by mules.  Hearing the child
reported thriving, Don L'uis decided to chance deferring its
baptism for some hours.

Indeed, as they rapidly approached his own feudal domains his self-
confidence returned apace.  His bodily movements became more
confident, his gestures more imperious, and he no longer worried
much about his soul.  As they crossed the bridge over the Arno the
obsequiousness of the officer in charge of the Tuscan troops at the
little guardhouse reminded Don Luis forcefully not only where, but
who he was.  In short the Marquis da Vincitata was himself again.
The experience through which he had passed had shaken him more than
he cared to admit.  But for that reason his mind all the more began
to thrust the memory into oblivion.  Every revolution of the wheels
left it further in the past.

Into the future, to which every revolution of the same wheels were
also carrying him and the child, Don Luis did not need to look very
far.  After a few miles he would take care that their respective
paths in life should never be the same again.  And he would
continue to see to that.  Should they ever meet it would always be
at right angles, and on different levels.  The marquis felt sure of
his own.  But the probability of their meeting was, he assured
himself, and for excellent reasons, extremely remote.  When the
cries of the baby annoyed him he closed the bag.

They turned south at Pontedera from the main route to Florence and
took the road to Livorno.  Don Luis had two small items of business
to transact there before returning to the main highway from which,
he told himself, he had been turned aside after all only
temporarily.

Towards nightfall of an evening unusually warm for that time of
year the coach came to a standstill on a lonely piece of road on
the hills overlooking Livorno.  Presently it drove on for a little
and halted again.  But to the eyes of its driver, who could see
remarkably well in the dark, it was plain that a figure had emerged
from it at the first halting place carrying something in one hand.
The man with the bag turned down a quiet lane bordered by poplars
and proceeded rapidly through the dusk as if the place were
familiar to him.  Presently he was passing along the high white
wall of some ecclesiastical establishment.

The Convent of Jesus the Child was indeed familiar to Don Luis, for
his family had aided greatly in its establishment.  Of its present
financial condition he was not aware.  There was apparently no gate
into the lane.  The straight lines of the stone walls continued for
some distance.  At last he came to what was in fact merely a hole
in the wall.  He placed the bag upon the sill and fumbling about in
the blackness finally felt a cold metal handle and pulled it.  At a
seemingly vast distance within arose the jangle of a small bell.
He retreated some way off and stood listening in the darkness.

The child began to cry.  In the tense silence of the last twilight
its feeble voice continued minute after minute in a thin wail.  He
was about to return and pull the bell again when the noise of a
sliding shutter prevented him.  A light stabbed out from the wall
and across the lane.  The bar of it remained for some seconds as if
suspended in darkness.  Then it was withdrawn as suddenly as it
came.  With it the cries of the child were also extinguished.  For
some minutes Don Luis listened intently.  A bell tolled calling the
nuns within to prayer.  He sighed unconsciously and turned away.
It was, he knew, a custom of the pious souls who thus received
unfortunate orphans to baptize them immediately.  A great weight
was now lifted from him.

He returned to Sancho in a cheerful mood.  "You can light the lamps
now," said he, and continued speaking, while the lanterns were
being kindled, in low, familiar tones.

"Sì, sì, señor, I understand," said the curious little man coming
to the door and laying his hand sympathetically on his master's
arm.  "Always I shall serve you."  His whip cracked and they drove
away.

Don Luis leaned back and closed his eyes.  His hand felt the hollow
in the cushions where Maria had once sat beside him.  It would not
be easy to break the news of the death of an only daughter to her
father.  "Buried in the Alps, buried do you understand?" he said,
"buried!"  He repeated it aloud as though rehearsing a scene in
which he would soon have to take a difficult part.

Only Sancho remained.  One faithful servant!  But what more could a
man expect of life?  He shrugged his shoulders.  The sound of hoofs
and the grinding noise of the wheels died away in the darkness
toward Livorno.

The child in the convent awoke and cried out as the bag was opened
and the light dazzled it.  At the sight of a raw male infant one of
the nuns screamed and caught her breath.

What was to be done with it?


END OF BOOK ONE





BOOK TWO

In Which the Roots of the Tree Are Exposed




CHAPTER NINE

THE CONVENT OF JESUS THE CHILD


In the Convent of Jesus the Child, Contessina, the lay portress,
moved about the central courtyard of the place as quietly as her
wooden pattens would permit.  She came every morning and evening to
perform certain tasks for the nuns, and she was now as busy as
usual about the hour of matins.  Since she was the only able-bodied
person in attendance upon ten querulous old women and a boy infant
her work was exacting enough and would have exhausted the patience
of several men.

But to the young peasant woman, who had children of her own at
home, and had no inclination to question her lot, her acceptable
labours seemed merely a form of natural service in an immutable
scheme.  Her position as "lay portress" was hereditary.  It went
with the land upon which she dwelt.  The convent had always been on
the little hill in the valley; her husband's broad vineyards lay
just below it, and as long as anyone could remember there had
always been a wife or daughter from the white house in the vine-
lands to serve as a maid-of-all-work to the sisterhood on the hill.

Nor did it ever occur to Contessina to trouble herself that her
labours were somewhat monotonous.  On the contrary, she
instinctively felt a decided satisfaction in their unchanging
round.  Change, indeed, was the last thing that anyone would
immediately associate with the Convent of Jesus the Child.  The
very approach to it served to convey even to the most casual
passer-by a sense of antiquity, security, and somnolence.

It was situated in the exact centre of a small, oval valley planted
with vineyards that looked westward over the city of Livorno, the
hills opening in that direction toward a wide vista of wine-
coloured sea.  The buildings, for there were several that rambled
into a rough rectangle, were themselves built upon a little
eminence in the dale, and were to be approached on all sides only
by a series of deeply sunken lanes.  From the high banks of these
ancient, grassy tracks cropped out here and there, especially after
heavy spring rains, fragments of marble masonry; the drum of an
antique pillar or a mottled festoon of ivy on shattered stone.

In fact, the whole hill or mound upon which the convent stood must
have been seething under its turf-covered waves and trellised
terraces with the dim animal and vegetable forms of the pagan past.
Perhaps there were even gods and giants, heroes and demigods with
all their half-human, half-divine progeny buried there, the lost-
children of the ineffably beautiful and calm classic dream.  If so,
they remained now in a conceivably pregnant darkness, earthy
spirits affecting the roots of things, while from the low tower of
the convent on the hill above them fell the sound of the chapel
bell tolling away by matins, angelus, and vespers the slowly
passing hours of the Christian era.  These had for innumerable
generations been regularly marked not only by the prayers of the
nuns in the chapel itself but by the bowed heads of the labourers
in the vineyards below.

Yet despite the calm and serenity which undoubtedly surrounded the
convent, it was still evident, to any eye used to looking below the
surface of things, that even here the restless forces of change had
been at their usual work, albeit somewhat more calmly and with less
of a tendency to become visible in violent breaks and shattered
outlines than elsewhere.  Here the forms of objects and the
profiles of eras had quietly flowed; had simply mouldered one into
the other, while to each generation that beheld only a little of
this constant flux and weathering all things appeared to have
remained the same.

No one except a curious and perhaps pedantic antiquary would have
recognized in sections of the convent's whitewashed walls the dim
entablatures of a pagan temple or have paused to wonder about
certain fragments of friezes that emerged here and there into the
sunlight only to disappear again behind more recently erected
portions of the buildings or beneath ancient cloisters of vaulted
stone.  Here, as everywhere else in the vicinity, one thing melted
calmly into another; only in the convent itself the process had
been arrested and had congealed, if one cared to look closely.

The place where the running handwriting of time was most plainly
visible and carefully preserved was in the most ancient and central
courtyard or cloister.  Here burst forth with a continual humorous
lament, like the ironical laughter of Nature herself, a clear
fountain whose source was either forgotten or unknown.

Above it rose an immense plane tree that overlooked the red tiles
of the convent and all the countryside toward Livorno and the sea.
Its top was the home of a flock of bronze-coloured pigeons, fed and
regarded with secret superstition and reverence by the peasants for
miles about.  The huge, mossy roots of the tree, knotted and
writhing like a cascade of gigantic serpents, overflowed the brink
of the fountain, embraced the wide bowl of it, and disappeared with
static, muscular convulsions into the fertile soil of the hill
under the pavement.

Just at the foot of this eternal and apparently changeless tree
there had stood for many ages looking down into the fountain the
antique, bronze statues of the twins Castor and Pollux.  In that
anciently remote portion of Italy the change from paganism to
Christianity had been a gradual one, and in the course of time the
church had seen fit to consecrate a place which had never ceased to
be venerated.  The worship of the offspring of Leda and the Swan
was discreetly discouraged while another legend more orthodox in
its implications was fitted upon the statues.  The bronze twins
were said to be the youthful Saviour and his brother St. John, both
in a state of boyish innocence.  A church known as the Chapel of
the Holy Children was constructed out of fragments of the temple
and devoted to their worship.  The clergy attached to it had in
primitive times taken an active part in the harmless semi-pagan
festivals of the neighbourhood; immersing catechumens in the
fountain, and blessing the nobly responding vines.

Then, in some dim foray following the age of Charlemagne, "St.
John" had been carried hence upon a galley of Byzantium into parts
unknown.

The loss was a severe one.  For some time the vogue of the shrine
on the little hill had languished.  But the ingenuity of the clergy
was again equal to the occasion.  The name of the chapel was now
changed to that of Jesus the Child, while the illiterate memory of
the countryside was encouraged to forget that the bronze boy who
remained alone by the fountain had ever had a brother.

How the Chapel of Jesus the Child was afterward turned into a
nunnery of perpetual adoration, how that in turn became an
orphanage, and toward the end of the eighteenth century a convent
school for fashionable young girls, was only the final addition of
its quiet history, every chapter of which had left its mark in some
indelible manner upon the venerable pile.

The tree, the fountain, and the bronze statue alone remained
unchanged.  Their natural and pagan outlines were quite undisguised.
But the pillars of the court which had once formed the façade of the
temple of Castor and Pollux were now the supports of the convent's
inmost cloister.

The rest of the buildings clustered about it, a maze of corridors
and cells now for the most part long disused and in various stages
of desolation and decay.  The girls' school was kept in a more
modern wing at the extreme end of the building, and the chapel
alone was now used for worship.  Even the ancient custom of a
bride's strewing flowers upon the pool before the statue of Jesus
the Child on the night before her marriage had been given up.  The
courtyard was now exclusively the abode of a number of superannuated
sisters whose cells gave upon the place.  And it was no wonder that
Contessina, who clattered about in her wooden shoes merrily enough
at home, felt constrained to walk quietly there--for upon this
cloistered refuge of old age and antiquity there actually brooded a
serene and immemorial quiet, a green patina of light and leaf-shade,
a sequestered placidity that it was sacrilege to disturb.

The main impression of the place was a vision of light; a kind of
trembling and watery iridescence, a flow of leaf-shadows and
brilliant sunshine that filtered through the quivering leaves of
the plane tree only to be reflected from the broad basin of the
fountain and washed in turn along the marble walls.  That, and the
stream of water perpetually rushing into the fountain, lent to the
whole cloister a soft, molten voice and a golden-liquid colour that
endowed it with a kind of mysteriously cheerful life; with a vague
and yet an essentially happy personality.

The tree, probably the last of a sacred grove, and the well or
spring were long thought to have been endowed with miraculous
powers.  Even the conversation of the pigeons was once held to be
salubrious for young married women to hear.  But since the arrival
of the nuns all that had been forgotten.  Only the water, which
came from no one knew where, continued to fall with a sleepy noise
into a dateless, green, marble fountain hewn from a single vast
block.  The jet seemed to be wrung from the spongy mouth of a
battered sea-monster whose face, scoured dim by the ages, had once
stood between the bronze statues of the twins.  The bronze boy who
still remained was a naked child with a time-worn smile and eyes
that appeared to have gone blind from contemplating for centuries
the shifting changelessness of the pool.

In the very monotony of the changes which the bright fountain so
constantly mirrored was a certain hypnotic fascination.  All those
who entered the courtyard were forced by a subtle trick of
architectural perspective to look at the pool before noticing the
roots of the tree.  Perhaps the constant interplay of light and
shadow upon the water accounted for the fixed and dreamless
expression upon the face of the bronze boy, who had watched it
since the gods began.  Indeed, it was hard to tell, after regarding
them steadily even for a few moments at a time, whether the changes
in the fountain arose internally or were caused by something
working upon it from without.  In this its waters might be said to
resemble the flowing stream of events themselves.  To be sure, it
shadowed forth a perpetual interplay of reflected patches of blue
Etruscan sky and the verdant glooms and gleams of the plane tree
soaring above.  But the tree itself was obviously the prime example
of still-life in eternity.  And then the water, which at a first
glance appeared to be stagnant in its green basin, was soon seen
and heard to be flowing away at a rapid rate.

To anyone coming suddenly out of the gloom of the cloisters into
the honeyed light of the courtyard the huge trunk of the tree was
not at first to be discovered in the comparative darkness of its
own central shadow.  Raise the eyes above the line of its roots,
and the tree seemed to be let down into the place; positively to be
hanging in atmosphere as though aerially supported on the great
fanlike vanes of its own wide-spreading foliage, or drooping from
the flaring parachute of leaves at the top.  It was this effect in
particular which gave to the whole courtyard that peculiar,
paradoxical aspect of something immutable forever occurring without
cause or reason, which is as near perhaps to a true vision of
reality as the eyes of man can attain.

Most people were merely momentarily confused or idly amused by
these manifestations, but during the course of centuries one or two
sages and several simple-minded persons who had entered the
courtyard had been suddenly shocked back into their own original
and naturally mystical vision by their first glimpse of the place.
All the habitual nonsense by which their minds forced them to
construct a reasonable basis for reality was shattered at one blow
by the amazing miracle of the hanging tree.

Yet the world remained; the fountain giggled, and the tree hung.

For a lucky moment or two only, they saw it wholly with their own
eyes again.  It was as if like gods, or infants, they had stumbled
suddenly into a cloudy nursery where the forms of matter were
toyfully assuming various astounding outlines for the amusement of
the inmates.

And it was exactly in that mood or condition that a pair of eyes,
hung on a convenient wall peg, were looking at the courtyard on a
certain morning while Contessina walked about it quietly, hanging
up some baby clothes which she had just finished washing.

                            ----------

The pair of eyes in question were very bright ones in the head of a
boy something over a year old who was hanging strapped in swaddling
clothes to a back-board suspended from a peg in the wall under an
arch of the cloister.  He was quite used to hanging there for hours
at a time.  And as no one had ever paid any attention either to his
cries of indignation or wails of boredom--except at precise and
stated intervals when he was taken down--he had already learned the
futility of protest in an indifferent universe composed apparently
of vast, glimmering faces and shifting light and shade.

The world as he found it nevertheless permitted him to exist rather
satisfactorily.  With considerable internal discomfort at times it
was true, but then he was not as yet much cursed with either memory
or anticipation.  And he had early discovered, was in fact
fascinated by, the remarkable manifestations in the region of his
eyes.

He already used those valuable organs well; that is to say, he used
them both together.  Through them the world was already accurately
focused upon him, and he upon it; and he must, even in the course
of a few hundred days since his emergence from the waters of
darkness, have made many more profound inferences about it than
some adult philosophers would be prepared to admit.  His eyes no
longer merely followed something moving or stared, they were, as
often as not, directed from within and in such a manner as to
indicate that he felt he was in the courtyard and not IT in him.
In fact, he was already quite sure of it.

It had taken several months and certain alterations in the shape of
his eyes to enable him to arrive at this stupendous and not
entirely logical conclusion.

The light and shade had at first been wholly in him.  He was
submerged in it.  Then the light had brightened.  As he hung on the
wall and opened his eyes from the blank of infancy it was the first
thing that had awakened his mind.  And it had awakened it
accompanied with a sense of well-being and joy.  The golden
trembling of the leaf-filtered light in the courtyard had washed in
ripples of happiness over the closed head-of-consciousness while it
had responded slowly like the submerged bud of a water-lily in a
clear, sunny lake.  That bud had at last come to the surface,
differentiated itself from the surrounding waters, and opened its
matured and sensitive flower to find what was in the light.

At first there were only shadows that moved in it like clouds over
the waters of chaos.  Then greyly, gigantic static outlines began
to loom up in the mist.  The mist itself became mottled.  Patches
of colours stood out; mysteriously and disappointingly disappeared.
Spots of light dazzled; moved here and there like beams of a torch
on a wall; vanished.  Darkness resumed.  He slept.  Then the
process would go on again--always a little farther removed; each
day more distinct; not quite so deeply inside him.

And all these sights were for the most part accompanied by noises
in the head, taps and thumps as shadows approached and withdrew,
gurglings, chortlings, hisses, and strings of vowels.  An
occasional stupendous roaring or crash made him cry out.  Then,
lapped in his own voice, everything dissolved in sound.  As he hung
day after day under the arch he began to know that with the
sunlight other things always happened or were part of it.  These
were a continuous low gurgling sound, and warmth.  Sometimes the
gurglings grew louder and were accompanied by certain white
flutterings.  This excited him pleasantly and he imitated the
sound.  As for all the sensations that alternately soothed or
tortured him, as the wheel of life upon which he was bound and
destined to be broken began to revolve, there are no names for them
except legion.

Suddenly--for the instrument having prepared itself, he now
blundered upon the use of it as if by accident--all this chaos was
swiftly resolved.  His eyes came to a focus one day as he hung on
the wall.  And there lay the courtyard before him, basking in the
sunlight, awash with shade.  The fountain glittered and the tree
hung.  The pigeons fluttered.  Contessina, whose voice he
recognized, and other forms in white moved to and fro accompanied
by sound.  Once having realized space, the directions of sounds
next attracted his notice.  Time began to glimmer upon him.
Meanwhile the world beyond was every day more glittering, fresh,
and beautiful.  He lapsed into sleep regretfully and returned to
the light with joy.  He lived only in the light.  Let there be
light and there was light.  Out of it all the forms of things had
also been created from chaos for him as his own act of creation
recapitulated the great original.  The baby and the fountain sang
together in the beautiful first morning of life.

For months this sound of pure human joy like the distant crowing of
roosters had from time to time echoed from the walls of the
courtyard to be re-echoed apparently by the fountain and carried
off.  Contessina and the nuns had unconsciously thrilled to it.  It
was a voice they had forgotten but still recognized.  For the
second time since the child had come to them the great plane tree
was in full leaf again.

Contessina finished tying the clothes on a line and walked over to
the baby.  She was passionately fond of it.  She had three of her
own at home but they were all dark little girls with brown eyes.
The golden hair and blue-grey pupils of the man child hanging on
the wall seemed to her to belong to another and better world.  She
made certain feminine sounds to the baby, the elliptical grammar of
which conveyed to him a sense of her complete approval and a
decided encouragement to continue to exist.  In his own manner he
replied.  Contessina then walked away again.

He held out his arms to her but only tentatively.  For he had
already learned that affection was not always returned.

Contessina on her part was waiting for the nuns to depart to the
chapel for matins.  A number of the old women garbed in white with
wide head-dresses were now sitting upon a marble bench in the
sunlight pattering and murmuring their morning prayers with a sound
as eternal as the waterspout itself.

Presently the convent bell rang.  The nuns rose, formed in
procession, and disappeared down a corridor in the direction of the
chapel, raising a quavering morning chant.  The pigeons resettled
about the fountain and began to walk and talk expectantly.  More
and more kept coming down out of the air with the sound of tearing
silk.  The child cried out with delight.  Contessina now took him
down from the wall, and unwrapping him from the board, carried him
over to the brim of the fountain upon which she sat holding him
upon her knee.  He stretched and moved his limbs gratefully.  The
pigeons gathered about her, lit on her shoulders and covered the
pavement with a plaque of iridescent bronze.

She produced a bag from her skirt and began to toss them some
barley.  Waves of excitement ran through the living metal.
Contessina and the baby laughed.  He began to seek her breasts.
She opened her dress and gave him suck.  The sound of the falling
water and the soft talk of the pigeons filled the courtyard as with
one contented voice.

Contessina looked at the bronze boy on the other side of the basin
under the tree and began to make a little conversational prayer to
him in her heart.  Her lips did not move and into her features
crept the same eternal, blind expression that slept on the face of
the statue.


"Dear Christ who also fed the pigeons when thou wast a boy, thou
wast also once a baby, as thou art now in the chapel lying upon
blessed Mary's breast, Contessina is poor and can bring to thine
altar only a little wine from Jacopo's vineyards.  Nevertheless, it
is blessed by Father Xavier and becomes thy blood.  Have mercy upon
me.  Accept also the milk of thy maid-servant's breast, which I
share now between my own baby and this thine orphan.  Remember
them, thy helpless children.  Remember also my old mother who
Father Xavier says is still in purgatory and who suckled nine.  Ah,
dear Child, for thy own mother's sweet sake remember her."


Contessina's eyes filled with tears.  She removed the baby from her
breast, crossed herself, and dashed some water on her face.

The child was still hungry.

From the same bag in which she kept the grain for the pigeons she
now brought out a little cloth package and spread it out on the rim
of the fountain.  The pigeons which now approached she drove away.
The cloth contained some fragments of sausage boiled tender, some
goat's cheese seethed with flour, mashed pieces of carrots, garlic
and parsley all made into a kind of cake.  She crumbled these
finely, and mixing the meal with the fountain water in a clean
hollow of the stone to the consistency of sticky gruel, she let it
warm for a while in the sun.  Then she fed it to the baby with her
finger.  It was a dangerous food.  On it most of Caesar's veterans
had been fed in infancy as a supplement to what flowed naturally
from the teats of the Roman wolf.

Contessina now returned to her more usual tasks.  She laid the baby
on a pile of dirty clothes in the sun where he soon went to sleep.
The nuns always remained out of the courtyard till about noon.
Contessina pounded their linen garments with a paddle and soused
them in the fountain till they were spotless.  Then she laid them
out in the sun to dry.  By the time she came to the pile on which
the baby still lay asleep she was hot and tired, and it was almost
time for the old women to return.

She took the child up in her arms and went over to the fountain.
Glancing hastily at the shadow on the wall-dial, to be sure she
would not be disturbed, she slipped hastily into the pool with the
child in her arms and sank slowly into the shell-shaped bowl.  The
water displaced by her body rose and overflowed.  The baby gasped
and clung to her.  Then he relaxed and splashed comfortably as the
liquid atmosphere washed delightfully over his frame.  The pigeons,
the woman, and the child all made similar noises.  After a minute
or two Contessina hastily resumed her clothes while the baby dried
off in the sun.  She then wrapped him in clean linen bandages,
binding him to his back-board as far up as his chest.  Only his
arms remained free.  When the nuns returned he was hanging under
the arch on the wall again.

From the refectory the nuns brought him a piece of bacon on a
string which they tied to his wrist.  They took care of him through
the afternoon until Contessina returned in the evening.  She then
fed him again and put him to bed.

As he grew older he began to creep about the courtyard.  He played
with pebbles and twigs in the sunlight.  He began to stand up and
dabble in the fountain.  He shouted at the bronze boy across the
pool.  But that taciturn youth continued staring into the basin and
made no reply.  The days of the little boy who stood looking up at
him so hopefully flowed away like the water with an unbroken joyous
monotony.

Contessina would have liked to take the child home with her to the
farm.  As he grew older she saw that he was lonely.  And she would
have liked nothing better than to have had him trotting around the
farmyard with her baby daughter during the afternoons.  But her
diffident suggestions were firmly vetoed by the mother superior.

Several curious circumstances had combined both for good and for
evil to keep the boy, who had arrived so mysteriously and
inopportunely, confined to the cloister.  Indeed, it was largely
his own doing that he finally escaped at all and acquired a worldly
name.

                            ----------

The first thing he could distinctly remember was seeing his own
face in the fountain.  Someone like himself had at last come to
play with him.  He followed the "other boy" around and around the
basin.

"Anthony," said one of the old nuns who had smiled and stopped to
watch him in passing.  So the boy in the fountain became "Anthony,"
his best, and for a while his only friend.  The boy in the court
watched the boy in the water and spent hours talking to him.

It was more successful than trying to talk to the bronze boy whose
expression never changed.  The lips of the boy in the water moved,
and he laughed back at you.  He was alive.

Presently when the child in the courtyard moved his own lips he
said nothing aloud.  "Anthony" in the pool was talking.  Anthony in
the court listened.  And it was not long before he distinctly heard
what the voice of the boy in the fountain had to say.  They talked
about everything.  Their conversations continued for hours.  They
would even laugh together, a long rippling laughter.

The old nuns who sat in the court turning their breviaries or doing
embroidery nudged each other and smiled.  Their own conversation
was always more subdued than that of the water.  Unconsciously, in
order to be heard, they had fallen into a lower register than the
constant babble of the fountain.  Occasionally the pigeons and the
water accidentally harmonized like a musical accompaniment.

How long these talks by the fountain with the other boy went on it
would be hard to tell, At last what Anthony had always fondly
wished for occurred.  The bronze boy joined in, too.

It was now possible, since Anthony knew a great many words and had
heard stories from both Contessina and the nuns, to continue and to
make variations upon the most enchanting themes.  In all these
"Anthony" in the pool and the "Bronze Boy" now began to take an
active part.

Then there were the children of the ring who went dancing about the
rim of the fountain carrying a festoon of ivy.  They were somewhat
confusing, because they were all the same and it made him dizzy to
look at them.  If he looked at them for a long while they seemed to
blend into a misty ring as if they were on a wheel going at great
speed.  It was hard to stop them.  And it was hard to play with
them.  For if he once began to single them out he never knew where
to leave off.  He kept going around and around the fountain because
he could never tell with which of the marble children he had
started.  They worried him even in his dreams.  They kept spinning
and dancing around in his head till he woke up and shouted at them
to stop.

Sister Agatha would come in and look at him when he shouted.  She
said, "Say your prayers to the Madonna."  And there was some
comfort in that, because SHE was always standing in exactly the
same place.

He saw the madonna when he went to bed at night.  And when he woke
up in the morning she was still looking at him from the little
niche in the wall where she stood just at the foot of his bed.  It
was best to lie, he thought, so he could see her and be seen.  Then
he was sure just where she was when he wanted to talk to her in the
dark.  Perhaps she had brought him here?  If not, how had he come
here?

"Here" was the courtyard.  It was bright and sunny, the centre of
all things.  On all sides of it extended corridors, long, dark,
silent.  He had once lost himself down one of these.  He had been
gone for a whole half-day.  Contessina at last found him silent and
white, shuddering in an old cell.  There was a high window there
and he was crouching in its shaft of sunlight.  After that he knew
what being "lost" meant.  You were left alone with yourself in
darkness.  You couldn't get back to the light.  And there was no
madonna to talk to in the corridors.  She lived in his room, by the
bed.

All the world beyond the courtyard must be made up of these
endless, dark corridors and abandoned rooms.  They went on and
never stopped.  After a while he learned that there were other
courtyards.  Sometimes he was taken there for a walk by the nuns.

But the other courtyards were strange.  There was no bronze boy, no
tree and fountain there.  Only arches.  Only his own courtyard was
home.  A universe of endless corridors leading into strange hostile
courtyards surrounded him.

It was Contessina who told him about "heaven."  Heaven was up there
at the top of the tree where the pigeons went at night.  It was in
the sky into which the tree climbed.  He began to lie under the
tree in a bowl of its great roots near the bronze boy and look up.
Sometime, he made up his mind, he would get out of the courtyard
into heaven.  He would climb the tree.  The nuns stopped him now
for fear he would fall.  He began to wait until they were absent in
order to try climbing.

The nuns were kindly enough.  They were all fond of the child.
Through the long afternoons they talked; they even played with him.
They taught him his prayers.  They made him clothes out of their
old linen, stitched with the exquisite needlework that only they
could do.  He sat watching their embroidery growing on the frames.
He learned to help work a little hand loom for them.  They made him
a doll.

But Father Xavier, the confessor of the convent, who would
occasionally come into the courtyard, had taken that away.  He
brought him a wooden horse, a ball, some coloured stones and a
broken abacus instead.  With these the child was rich.  His life
now seemed crowded.  Through all his life ran the rhythm of the
convent hours; the times to eat, to pray, to rise and to go to bed.
It did not occur to him that this routine of existence could be
varied.  The bell that marked its periods was as much a part of
nature to him as was the rising and setting sun.

Some of the old women in the courtyard died and were buried.  To
Sisters Agnes, Agatha, and Ursula he clung all the closer.  For the
first time he became aware of mutability and a growing loneliness.
The occasional visits of Father Xavier, who took a growing interest
in the boy, were now attended with an excitement that the good
priest took care to restrain.  He pitied the child, whom he admired
for his intense vigour and eager intelligence.  He was at some
pains to improve his speech.  And he determined to speak to the
mother superior about his education when the time arrived.  In the
meanwhile, he made friends with him.  There was little difficulty
about that.  Even the careful Jesuit found it pleasant to be an
oracle and a hero.

On the whole, however, the best times little Anthony spent were his
mornings with Contessina.  For several hours after matins he was
left alone with her.  From her came many of his rugged phrases in
hill-Tuscan that so amused Father Xavier.  And she seldom stopped
him from doing what he pleased.  "Young rabbits will play," she
said.  She would let him plunge into the fountain and paddle about.
The old women would never allow that.  And it was pleasant
especially on hot summer mornings to splash naked in the pool.  In
the centre it was deep enough for him to swim like a dog.
Afterwards he would curl up in the roots of the tree and go to
sleep in the sun.  Contessina always wakened him before the nuns
returned.  She had long given up bathing in the pool herself.  For
a time he dimly remembered going into the pool in her arms.  Then
it seemed only one of his dreams of some vanished playmate who had
haunted the fountain long ago.  Soon he thought of it no more.

He was now able to climb up to the first low branch of the tree and
to crawl out on it and look down into the water.  From there he
could see the little school of minnows in a patch of sunlight all
with their heads toward the spout, breathing.  He and the fish
seemed to be bathed in the same golden atmosphere.  It was from the
limb that he talked to all of the dream playmates he had summoned
from the deep.

They were as real to him now as any other people who came into the
court.  All he had to do was to think about them and they appeared;
"Anthony" in the pool, the Bronze Boy, and the children from the
stone ring who danced so gayly about.  The pigeons were literally
his bosom friends.  They ALL came and talked with him.  The
dream-boy in the water would now come out of the pool.  Sometimes
when he himself was in the court he could see him lying out on the
limb of the tree watching the minnows.  The sunlight glimmered
about him in the leaves.  He would talk with him in a low tone of
voice like the water.

"Anthony," he would call, "Anthony."  And the boy in the tree would
reply.

Most of these talks ranged about the wonderful fact that they both
had the same name.  Presently the bronze boy would join in.  A
story conducted in the terms of an endless conversation would go on
for hours.  His visions had become real.  The Bronze Boy promised
him that he should be able to climb the tree.  At night he talked
to the madonna in his room.  She remained there.  Sometimes he
heard her voice coming down to him through the leaves.  But he
could never see her.  She was the image in his room.

On the whole he preferred "Anthony" in the pool to anyone else.
The stone children dancing in the ring were still confusing.  He
marked one of them with a scratch and that stopped them dancing.
Now they stood still.  He had killed them himself.  He looked for
the boy in the pool again.  Decidedly he was the best of all.  He
must play with someone.  A year-long reverie about the boy in the
pool began.  It was delightful, unending.  Anthony was at the same
time himself and the boy in the pool.

When he was a little more than three years old his world, which had
by this time become a hopeless confusion of reality and dreams, was
enlarged considerably by his being taken to chapel.  Father Xavier
celebrated mass there.  You walked down several corridors; you
crossed another court, and went into the church.  In some of the
Courts there were other things besides fountains and churches.  He
kept his ears open now and heard about these things surreptitiously.
But he could make no pictures for the words.

Livorno?  He heard often about Livorno.  People went there
sometimes.  Livorno was in another court, then.  But what was "a
Livorno"?  The Madonna was in the chapel, too.  The same as the
little madonna in his room.  He asked about her.  "Yes, she was the
same," they said.  But larger in the chapel.  She grew larger when
she went there.  So did Father Xavier.  He was much taller in his
robes, very long ones, when saying mass.

At first the child was intensely interested in the service but
after a while it grew monotonous.  He had no part in it, so he
began to make stories in chapel, too.  It was easy now, no matter
where he was, to escape.  All he had to do was to close his eyes
and think.  In the chapel he would lean against one of the stone
pillars even when on his knees, and be somewhere or somebody else.

He would be the bronze boy looking at the water.  He would even
smile like that lonely heavenly-twin.  The young lips had somehow
caught the trick of the ancient, metal ones.  Looking down at him,
old Sister Ursula thought him rapt in childish adoration with his
eyes fixed on the altar.

But to Anthony the incense was water spouting from the altar.  The
marble of the chancel shimmering with candles was the pool in the
court, a more miraculous one.  Father Xavier moving about was the
shadow of the plane tree.  And he, Anthony, he himself was swimming
without effort in the mist.  The boy in the pool would flash down
amid the fishes naked as the child in bronze.  How they dashed
about!  How cool, how beautiful it was there.  Then a bell would
ring and his own little miracle would be ended.  He would be back
in the chapel again.

It was in the mist above this miraculous pool in the chapel that he
first began to see the face of the madonna.  The business of church
was, he knew, in some way vaguely connected with her.  Now and
again during the responses he heard her name repeated.  From now on
she began to join the company of his dreams.  She herself, of
course, stood looking down at him always from her niche in his own
room.

It was a small, square, whitewashed chamber.  Besides a straw bed,
a few clothes on pegs, and a crucifix, there was nothing there but
"his madonna."  He understood that she in some peculiar way
belonged to him and he to her.  Before he could remember the
madonna had brought him there, Sister Ursula said.  Her image
dominated the place from its niche in the wall.  For many years she
was the last thing that glimmered in his sight as he went to sleep
and the first thing he beheld when waking.  All night she had been
watching him, he knew.  On long summer evenings when he seemed to
go to bed too early her white face faded slowly into the twilight.
Then the gold sun-burst above her features burned a little longer
before it too went out.  For a long time he said his only prayers
to her.  Then she became someone to talk to.  He spoke to her.  His
lips moved slightly as though reading to himself, whispering in the
dusk.

After he had once seen her in the chapel she came to join him with
the water-child in the court.  He saw her there now in the
sunlight.  The three of them began to talk to one another.  The
babble of the water falling into the fountain moulded itself easily
in his ears into soft voices and heavenly replies.  The other child
lay in the arms of the great tree half lost in the gloom.  The leaf
shadows washed over him.  Only his beautiful face stood out
clearly.  For many months these singular triangular conversations
sufficed.  The Madonna had thus more than answered Anthony's most
urgent prayer.  She had finally come into the courtyard herself.

No one would listen to his stories of the "other boy" without
laughing, no one except Father Xavier.  He seemed to take the
matter seriously.  He even shook his head.  Finally he pointed out
that the boy in the pool was only a shadow, like the dark one on
the ground.  Anthony had not noticed the shadow before.  That
followed, too!  Everywhere except to bed.  So it must be true about
the boy in the pool.  You could see for yourself.

But you did not need to see for yourself.  Everything that Father
Xavier said WAS true.  The child parted unwillingly from his
first friend.  The image still came to play with him, but its face
was somehow sorrowful now.  That was because it knew itself to be a
shadow.  Now the real boy was lonely again.  For a while there was
no one to play with.

Then at last he found a way.  He began to make "real" stories to
himself about all the children of the pool.  The children were
imaginary, but the stories were real.  After a while, if you made
good stories, and did not ask Father Xavier about them, the
children became real, too.  If you sat very still they would even
come out to play with you again.

There was no one to tell Anthony that there were any real children
in the world besides himself.  Everyone, of course, took it for
granted that he knew.  Yet how could he know?  He took the world as
he found it, and he had never been taken beyond the convent walls.

                            ----------

In absolutely forbidding Contessina or anyone else to take the
child Anthony outside of the convent the mother superior had her
own excellent reasons.  It was not that she wished to be harsh or
was narrowly bigoted; she had a duty to perform to the institution
of which she was the responsible head.  Both she and the boy
confided to her care were, like everybody else in the world, to
some extent the victims of circumstances.

Many years before Anthony had been thrust through the hole in the
wall by the tender solicitude of Don Luis, the Medici had turned
the little fishing village of Livorno, only a few miles below the
convent, into the privileged port which has since become known to
the world as "Leghorn."

The news of the "Livornina," as the grand duke's decree of free
trade and religious toleration was called, penetrated into remote
regions.  English Catholics, Flemings fleeing from Alva, Huguenots,
Turks and Jews found refuge at Livorno in great numbers.  The town
grew cosmopolitan and prosperous.  The country around shared in the
benefits.  But not wholly or enthusiastically.  Over the orthodox
hills that looked down on the thriving seaport, where the wicked
flourished according to Scripture, passed a suppressed but holy
shudder.

The decree of Ferdinand was not to be gainsaid.  Yet to snatch some
brands from the burning of the heretical bonfire that blazed so
merrily would assuredly be a work of merit.

Several pious, petty nobles of the hinterland combined in the good
work urged on by the local clergy.  Among them was a maternal
ancestor of Don Luis.  Endowments and legacies were soon
forthcoming, and the ancient Chapel of Jesus the Child, which had
almost languished away under an order of nuns devoted to perpetual,
silent adoration, was reconstituted as an orphanage under the
Sisters of Mercy.  The purpose of the charitable endowment was to
save souls, and the method of receiving orphans was simplicity
itself.

Anyone, without let or hindrance, might leave at the hole in the
convent wall provided for that purpose an otherwise unwelcome
infant.  They might ring the bell, also provided, and go away
serene in the knowledge that the sliding panel would open and the
child vanish inwards, to be baptized, nourished, and brought up in
the Catholic faith.

The sisters devoted to this charity had toiled faithfully.  Leghorn
had become a great seaport.  The bell rang more and more
frequently.  The numbers of the motley flock of orphans over whom
the nuns watched bore ample evidence that the reasonable hope of
the founders of the institution had not only been realized but
greatly surpassed.  Gifts consequently continued to be forthcoming,
and the convent flourished according to its needs.  All might have
continued to go well had not the Queen of Spain insisted upon
finding some spare dominions for her favourite younger son.  In
consequence of her maternal solicitude, one Christmas Day some
fifty years before Anthony was born, the combined English and
Spanish fleets had descended upon Livorno.

In the troubled times of the occupation that followed troops had
been quartered in the convent.  For a long time the sisters and
their flock had been hopelessly scattered.  When a remnant of the
nuns finally returned in their old age it was to find their house
dilapidated, their lands seized upon by tenacious hands, and their
lambs, who might have been grateful, scattered as lost sheep.

Lawsuits had further harassed them.  They lacked earthly guidance.
There was nothing to do but pray.  The place had been almost
forgotten and the bell seldom rang.  The few children who did come
were hastily sent elsewhere in sheer desperation.  Word of this
went about the streets of the town and for some years the bell had
finally ceased to ring at all.  It looked as if the last of the
sisterhood would soon depart in peace and poverty, when the Convent
of Jesus the Child suddenly took on a new lease of life and service
through the unexpected arrival of Sister Marie José.

She was not only very much younger than the other nuns, but
capable, ambitious, and full of energy.  What her former history
had been no one at Livorno ever knew.  She had been sent to
rehabilitate the convent, and she prevailed against great odds.
From the first by sheer force of character and circumstances she
had been recognized by the remnant of the sisterhood as superior in
fact.  With the death of the ancient head of the house she had also
become mother superior in name.

After some cogitation, her solution for the difficulties that
already surrounded the convent was to avoid importing any more into
it.  That is to say, she tacitly abandoned the scheme of continuing
it as an orphanage, which in fact no longer existed.  Instead she
started a convent school for prosperous young girls.

The license of the ecclesiastical authorities had not, under the
circumstances, been difficult to obtain.  Mother Marie José had
even succeeded in awakening their languid interest.  She was an
educated woman herself, and she had been ably seconded in her
efforts, by Father Xavier, a Jesuit, who upon the suppression of
his order had been removed from the court of the Duchess of Parma
and had gone to reside quietly near Livorno.

Father Xavier combined simple but cultivated manners with an odour
of sanctity and the smell of the lamp.  He was, in short, a
gentleman, a priest, and a scholar.  As he had acted circumspectly,
he was permitted to continue at Livorno, nominally as confessor to
the convent, while his real work took him into certain cosmopolitan
circles in the city that both required and appreciated diplomacy
and the watchful presence of an able and educated man.

In the new school at the convent he had felt a powerful spiritual
lever fall into his hands.  Largely through his efforts the
daughters of some of the best families of the town and neighbourhood
had been obtained as pupils.  Even some of the Protestant English
merchants in Livorno sent their daughters to "The School on the
Hill."  Five new sisters had been lately received to teach.  These,
together with the revenues which were again ponderable, sufficed to
conduct the establishment and to take care of the ancient women of
the old régime who still survived but whose duties were purely
nominal.

Over all this Father Xavier kept a constant and watchful eye.  In
most things he and Mother Marie José moved as one.  But the mother
superior was justly proud of the new school as her own creation and
jealous of its reputation.  It might in a few years come to rank
with those which received none but the daughters of the rich and
the nobility.  Such was her ambition.

It was, therefore, with no little consternation that on a certain
January evening in the year 1776 she was suddenly disturbed by the
unwelcome jangling of the long disused orphans' bell.

One of the nuns upon whom the habits of former years were firmly
fixed had answered it automatically.  A few minutes later Mother
Marie José was looking down into the gaping mouth of a black bag in
which lay a boy baby loudly lamenting his fate.  Besides the baby
and his meagre clothes, the bag contained the rich, dark riding-
cloak of a lady, an ancient figurine of the Madonna and Child in a
curiously worked shrine, and ten Spanish gold pieces.  There was
nothing else whatever.

Mother Marie José was now faced by a serious dilemma.  According to
the legal requirements of the founders of the convent she was bound
to receive the child.  On the other hand, she was now engaged in
running a fashionable girls' school the reputation of which could
never survive a revival of the orphanage.  The two were utterly
incompatible, and the baby was a boy.

It was also evident from the contents of the bag that the child was
by no means a mere stray brat from the town streets.  Persona of
quality were somehow involved.  The convent had already suffered at
the hands of the civil law, and this made Mother Marie José doubly
wary of a possible test case.  It seemed especially suspicious that
sufficient money for a year's nurture had been provided.

Besides, the statue of the Madonna that accompanied the child had
thrown about him from the time of his arrival a certain glamour and
protection.  The pious old nuns, who secretly looked with somewhat
hostile eyes upon the new school, regarded this orphan as their
sacred charge from the first.  If he were not received, trouble
within and without the walls of the establishment might reasonably
be expected to follow.

The mother superior consulted Father Xavier.  A policy of caution
and silence was agreed upon.  The boy was duly baptized "Anthony,"
the saint's name day of his arrival.  He was then relegated to the
most sequestered parts of the building to be looked after by the
old nuns skilled in the care of foundlings.

In another part of the establishment Mother Marie José and the new
sisters continued to teach school without mentioning their
involuntary charity.  Except for Father Xavier, Contessina, and the
few old sisters whose cells abutted on the courtyard, his existence
remained unknown.  No more unwelcome orphans came to trouble Mother
Marie José.  After a full year had passed from Anthony's arrival
she obtained the necessary formal permission; the bell was silenced
forever, and the hole in the wall bricked up.  The metamorphosis of
the Convent of Jesus the Child was complete.  What to do about the
young orphan who remained over from the old order of things was put
off from time to time.  The problem was not yet urgent.  It seemed
better and easier to let it alone.

Meanwhile the boy had begun his education.

One day Father Xavier unexpectedly came into the courtyard and took
out of Anthony's hands some yarn which he had been holding up for
Sister Agatha to wind.

"My son," said he, "from now on you are through with woolly things
and the distaff.  Come with me."

He led him down one of the long corridors and unlocked a little
door at the end of it.  They stepped out together into the bright
sunshine of the world beyond the walls.  The boy raised his little
nose and sniffed the breeze.  This for some reason or other caused
Father Xavier to laugh.

Even here though there was nothing much to be seen of the great
world outside.  They had merely emerged into a deep, walled lane
behind the convent.  They continued down it a little way.

Overhead Anthony could see the same sky that he saw from the court.
There were other trees there.  He was somewhat surprised by that.
So many of them!  But he was still too small to see over the top of
the high banks.  The lane, he told himself, was merely a corridor
without a roof.  That was at least amusing.  By and by, still
chatting, they came to the door of a little house and passed
through it into a marvellous room.

There was a charcoal brazier in one corner that kept the place
pleasantly warm.  A small window on one side looked into a court.
Another court with new things in it!  Birds huger than any he had
ever seen were pecking about and dusting themselves.  Pigeons were
not to be compared with them.  There were some old, high-backed,
red velvet chairs against the walls.  He could never admire the
frayed and dusty tassels of these enough.  Upon one of them he was
actually permitted to sit.  Father Xavier, a spare man in a tight,
black gown, sat opposite to him, smilingly hospitably.  He would
answer all questions.  He gave Anthony a small glass of something
clear and sweet.  Compared to this all else to drink was milk or
water.  Anthony could not find words to express himself.  Finally
he cried.

The narrow face of the priest worked with a surprised pity.  He
could, luckily for the boy, understand the fetters of the avid
young mind so overwhelmed by images without words.  The starved
vocabulary that Anthony had picked up from Contessina and the nuns
in the courtyard broke down even in this barely furnished room.
The priest began to touch things and name them.  They went to the
window and saw "chickens."  A cat Anthony knew, but not a goat.
Holy Mother! what a miracle was a goat!

Here was a real interest in life for the priest.  Father Xavier,
whose story was a tragic one, was somewhat ennuied at his present
post so different from his last, so dull.  He began to freshen in
the pristine glamour shed by the young mind just released in his
room and beating itself about the walls like a dazzled moth going
for the light.  Here at least was something he could catch with his
own hands and pin down, even if he had failed elsewhere.  He would
do it.  The boy should come often.  That day both his worldly and
his spiritual education began.  "It is fortunate," thought Father
Xavier, "that they can be combined."

Father Xavier, who as a young man had once been counted one of the
ablest instructors of youth in an order devoted to teaching, had
long since, by his varied experience at the court of Parma and the
world in general, acquired wisdom as well as knowledge.  He could
now look back upon his own career with discerning eyes and see what
was worth dividing in order to teach, as well as how to divide it.

The suppression by the pope of the order to which he belonged had
caused him to do a good deal more thinking for himself than he
might otherwise have found either advisable or necessary.  He was
devoted to rehabilitating the Society of Jesus, but not blindly so.
He, and the party to which he belonged, believed that new
conditions required other methods of propaganda.  Above all they
desired an infusion of new blood and a number of ardent young men
capable of coping with the modern world as they should find it.

In the orphan, whom adverse circumstances had so opportunely
deposited in the courtyard of his convent, Father Xavier thought he
saw a providential opportunity.  He was not at all sure that the
boy would develop into the kind of man, who, as he phrased it,
would be worthy of taking up the cross.  That would remain to be
seen; "in the hands of God."  But he might begin the good work by
laying the basis of a broad and general foundation in which he
determined that languages should play the principal part.  Not, of
course, that he meant to neglect the child's soul.

"For what," said he to Leucosta, his ancient housekeeper, whom he
was wont to address for confirmation of his own opinions, "what is
it at the present time we most need in the face of the breaking up
of the old order?  This oncoming generation is going to be
confronted, mind you, Leucosta, by society in a state of flux.
Why, then we need--self-realization accompanied by great self-
control, a genial outward humility accompanied by a sustaining
spiritual pride, and--a knowledge of the fundamental moral tenets
of Christ's religion instead of a mere sentimental respect or
romantic adoration for its founder."  Knowing that the father was
always talkative during Sunday dinner after chapel, Leucosta, who
was stone deaf, hastened to clear off the table and bring a bottle
of crusty port which Mr. Udney, the English consul at Leghorn, had
sent to Father Xavier.  Mr. Udney was much "obleeged" to him in a
certain matter.  The priest sampled the wine with approval.  "Fit
for the orthodox," he said, and poured out a glass for the old
woman as well.

Not the fecund imagination of John Knox could have surmised that
Father Xavier was mentally encroaching on his vows in the direction
of Leucosta.

"She looked like a mummy of the Cumaean Sibyl preserved in
vinegar," said Mr. Udney to his wife, after returning from an
interview with the priest preliminary to entering his young
daughter Florence at the convent school.  "As for the priest
himself, he is the personification of geniality and wise diplomacy.
My Protestant scruples were, I admit, set at rest rather too
easily.  I advise YOU to be watchful, however."  The port had
followed a month later and had something to do with mental
reservations and an oath of allegiance taken to King George by an
old Jacobite merchant at Leghorn.  Father Xavier sipped it,
reflecting.

"It will probably be a dangerous experiment and I must prepare
myself to be disappointed," he said aloud.  "But you agree with me,
Leucosta, that it will be best to keep this boy uncontaminated by
the world for some time yet.  I wish a virgin field for the sowing
of the seed, and the rooting up of tares is always confusing and
wastes the time of the gardener.  OF COURSE, you will agree with
me!  That is the reason I keep a deaf housekeeper.  You will
recollect, my good woman, that one of the chief virtues of the
Romans was that they consulted the Fates merely to have their own
opinions decently confirmed.  A deaf Sibyl is invaluable.  It
promotes the capacity for action, and that is the only way in which
any opinion can finally be tested.  In the end the Fates do answer.
Thou, Leucosta, art an invaluable one."

He waved to the old crone to bring him his hat while he continued
to address her.

"And what after all could we do better for the boy?  A love-child,
and as lusty a young pagan as I ever saw bathing in a heathen
fountain.  He is like the Angles that Augustine sent to Hildebrand.
Or let us hope that he will be.  Shall I turn that fine pair of
arms and delicate hands over to Pietro the blacksmith as a human
attachment to his bellows?  No.  There are more fitting ones in the
village below.  Or, shall I, as Monsieur Rousseau tends to advise,
turn him loose into nature to become the wolf-boy of Tuscany like
the little fellow in M. what's-his-name's pamphlet?  No, no.  One
or two intellects who dwelt about this middle-sea of ours have
thought of things that are worth propounding to the barbarians.
And every new generation, YOU will recollect, Leucosta, is a
fresh invasion of savages.  Well, what can a poor teacher do then,
my belle of three generations past, thou fate of all mankind?  Why,
I read it in thy wrinkled face.  Even as all teachers have always
done from the beginning of things; the best they can, under wicked
and adverse circumstances.  Now give me my hat, mother.  That is
right, brush it.  The nap went years ago, but the conventions of
respectability are thus observed."

And Father Xavier walked off down the closed lane to seize his
young pupil by his "delicate" hand.

They slowly began to educate each other.  They began first with
manners and personal behaviour.  One must know how to eat and drink
decently.  What words to say upon entering and leaving a room.
When to stand up and bow, and when to sit down.  There was, it
appeared, a kind of being in the world called a "gentleman."
Father Xavier said there were not many of them.  One must learn to
think and feel correctly about other people in order to become one.
Manners were a sign of this.  There was a certain ritual in the
house for men and women as there was for Deo in the chapel.  One
must also be clean, silent, and pay attention.  When you did not
pay attention Father Xavier took the lobe of your ear between his
sharp finger nails and pinched.  He finally left a mark there.

"Is that the mark of a gentleman?" asked Anthony looking in a small
glass.

"In a way it is," said Father Xavier.  "It is also ad majoram Dei
gloriam.  It would be better to have a small piece of your ear drop
off than never to learn what both of them are hung on your head
for.  They are meant to listen with when someone wiser than
yourself is talking."

In the course of several years the mark became permanent along with
the lesson it conveyed.

"You see, my son, I do not talk to you very long at a time," said
Father Xavier.  "And when you play I do not interrupt you.  You
must do the same by me."

They understood each other well enough.  Words began to expand into
languages as the "talks" became longer.  Anthony spent nearly all
his afternoons at the priest's house.  Languages began to expand
into literature, literature into understanding and enlightenment.
The old abacus had been repaired.  It merged slowly from numbers
into the beginning of the science of them.  Along with all this
went a growth of mutual respect and affection.  Father Xavier had
scarcely allowed for the latter.  It troubled his ascetic heart
sometimes as he came home to find the bright young head bent over
the copying sheets or peering out of the door waiting for him to
turn the corner of the walled lane by the little iron gate.
Perhaps he was coming to set too much store by it.  He searched his
heart.  No, he must not waver.  Surely in this case the end DID
justify the means.  If there were incidental rewards of human
companionship the Lord might still call Samuel and remember Eli.
"My son," he would say gently in Latin, and "Welcome to this house,
father," would come the reply.

About the outside world, which he now began to apprehend lay
around, but still beyond him, Anthony could never ask enough or be
tired of talking.  Forced to defend himself from the minutiae of
every particular in the creation, Father Xavier took refuge in
generalities when Anthony was six years' old.  He purchased a
second hand globe from some defunct scholar's library and began to
talk about "the earth."  Before he had even seen a field Anthony
was aware of the major divisions of the planet.  As long as he
lived a large crack of leaking plaster extended the length of
Africa from Capetown to Cairo.  Soon he was reading animal fables
and saints' lives in Latin and helping Father Xavier as a bare-
legged little acolyte in the chapel.

The perforated incense pot which he swung there bore some
resemblance to the many-nostrilled beast that spouted into the
fountain in the court.  At first he played he was the animal behind
it throwing spray into the pool.  He loved to make the smoke ripple
over the smooth floor of the chancel which reflected the lights as
if it were water.  Then he began to learn, and to understand, what
the responses meant.  He began to realize someone within himself,
who, as a being apart from his body, addressed words to some unseen
Presence who remained a mystery.  He was also taught the proper
words to say to the Madonna, and he preferred always to speak to
her.

For was she not visible, and real?  Did she not actually live with
him in his own room, not a mystery and a spirit, but close, and
familiarly beloved?  The thing they talked to before the altar
remained unknown, a name made of three black letters in a book.
But a name for which there was no image on earth, only a word.  So
it went for many a day with the good priest acting as father
indeed.  The rest of the boy's silent life was passed timelessly
among the old women pacing slowly up and down the corridors with
faintly rustling gowns and high, starched head-dresses.  Or he was
in his room, or playing in the court, or going every day down the
"roofless hall" to the priest's house.  Here only he expanded and
lived abundantly.

How many, many times was he to recall in all the countless things
that were touched upon there, and later revived in memory, Father
Xavier's gentle, patient, and yet insistent voice.  How many facts
and fancies lived forever for him in those tones alone.  Only of
the reason that he must not go forth to wander and see for himself,
of that alone, the priest would never treat.  He must not, and that
was all.  Nor was this as yet a burdensome denial.  The time for
his release would come, he knew that.  Lacking means of comparison,
the boy's life seemed to him full enough.

Sweet are the uses of adversity and always unforeseen.  The careful
shaping which Father Xavier had provided for the waif left in the
courtyard was not to be devoted to the end by which he had
justified the means.  Old Leucosta, if she had not been deaf, might
have told him so.  The resources of the mind and soul of Father
Xavier were considerable, but his foresight was by no means
infallible.  In the field he had so carefully fenced-in he had
overlooked something.  It was the giant plane tree which grew in
the midst thereof, which from ancient times had overlooked both the
pagan temple and the Christian convent.

                            ----------

Half-way up, until it topped the roofs of the convent, the tree,
sheltered from all winds, was a dense mass of foliage.  For a long
time Anthony had confined his exploits to these lower regions and
pretended to himself that he was satisfied.  But it was a half
satisfaction only, clambering about these lower limbs.  The best he
could do was to lie out on the branches like his friend the dream
boy and peer down into the shadows of the pool.  But even this was
tantalizing, for in the pool itself were to be caught now and then
reflected glimpses of the open sky.  Gradually as he became expert
with practice, and more fearless, the boy enlarged the extent of
his arboreal kingdom.

No one could find him there.  Even Father Xavier had come into the
court looking for him and had gone away.  Anthony was at first
surprised.  He thought the priest would surely know.  So it was
possible to escape after all, if you desired.  The sense of the
possession of a secure retreat, a world all his own above the
regions of the convent, aroused in the boy a feeling of independence
and adventure which was the most delightful and strongest impression
he had ever known.  He cherished it night and day as his greatest
and only private possession until it became, and remained, a
passion.  Behind it, gathered up now into an intensity which was
equivalent to the stored force of an explosive, was a curiosity
whose power could scarcely be calculated.  This was impelling him
farther upwards day by day.

As his skill in climbing increased, the bare, giant limbs that
soared away from him to break into a second green country in the
sky above appeared continually to lure him on.  He thought of them
for weeks.  One day after matins, and an extra prayer to the
madonna in his own room, he set out after making sure that the
courtyard was deserted before he crossed it.  Taking off his shirt,
for the day was already hot, he left the ground and swung himself
like a young ape onto the lowest branch of the tree.

The first familiar stages were easily accomplished.  He was soon in
the great centre bole of the tree and on a level with the gutters.
The leafy, sheltered area that shaded the courtyard spread out
below him like a cracked, green saucer through which gleamed glints
of the pool below.  He was utterly alone now, dangling his feet
above this flat top of polished leaves.

From here, like an inverted tripod, three great trunks split the
main stem, one of which, more upright than the others, might be
said to be a continuation of the tree below.  It rose grandly, with
here and there a few stumps of branches sheered off by the winds
above the roof line, to a second and higher fork.  Even beyond that
it could still be traced, provided now with a more shaggy coat of
shorn branches, and rising like a handle to support the dark ribs
of the leafy umbrella which floated triumphantly above.  Beyond
that were the clouds.

The boy began to climb toward the upper fork.  He did not seem like
a monkey now.  The sense of the importance of his own predicament
had lent a very human caution to his movements.  The slight angle
of the tree helped.  He hauled himself upward, placing his feet in
the holes left by vanished branches and clutching the stubs and
leaf clumps which remained.  It was breathless.  From the corner of
his eyes he could see the red tile roofs glimmering below him,
receding vastly at every higher step.  Presently with his breast
scratched and bleeding he lay panting in the last fork.  The handle
of the parasol now rose straight above.  He looked up.

He did not dare look out or down.  Should he go on, or return?
After all he had come to where the tree finally forked.  That was
something.  He might go back safely to the comfortable, sheltered
life of the walls below and remain there--always--or, he might go
on and see what he should see.  The boy sat for some time with his
head in his hands, wrestling with himself.  He prayed to the
madonna again.  At last he was able to look down without falling.

Along the edge of the roof trotted a cat with a dove in its mouth.
"So that was where they went!" he thought.  "They came and took
what they wanted and went away.  They climbed up as he was doing."

The cat looked over the edge of the gutter at old Sister Ursula who
was tottering across the court on her cane.  Through the maze of
leaves below him, Anthony could hear her clicking across the
flagstones.  That the picture of the court was in his imagination
made it the brighter.  He watched the cat watching the nun.  The
sound of the cane passed.  The cat turned, took a firmer hold of
the dead bird, and trotted on over the ridge of the roof.  Anthony
laughed and again began to climb.

The sun beat on the back of his neck, and his chest and belly hurt
him as he clasped the trunk.  But it was easier than he thought.
One hitch at a time, then the next.  He planned each move
carefully.  Suddenly, before he expected it, he was safe amid the
ribs of the parasol.  The pigeons, which he had often fed in the
courtyard below, now began to discuss his arrival in doubtful and
puzzled tones.  Presently the conclave, since he remained quiet,
decided in his favour.  A few cautious dissenters departed.  He lay
resting and listening to their tones, the very language of the air.

Presently he wriggled up the last stout branches and thrust his
head through the final fabric of the leaves.  The spread of them
just below him cut off his dizzy height from the ground.  On the
top of his gigantic umbrella he crooked his elbows and knees in the
last branches and looked out and beyond.

At that instant his eyes were probably the only pair in Europe
which beheld the world precisely as it was, a miracle of beauty
beyond rapture, hung in mystery, and smiling back at the miraculous
skies.

It was the colours of the world that most amazed him.  He had
expected to find it like the pictures in books, white and grey.  In
a state of pleasant rest after the exhausting climb he hung there
in the boughs for a brief period of ecstasy, the greatest he was
ever to know; time suspended, and all expectations surpassed.

Gradually he became conscious of himself again as the cool wind
played on his face and rocked him.  He began to fit pieces of
things together.

The view coalesced surprisingly well.  He could understand most of
it in the large; the sun flashing enormously on the sea to the
west; the dim blue outline that was an island; the far wavering
coasts hemmed with white where they met the sea; the white roads
all tumbling down to the town below.  He could never see enough of
it!  He longed to be able to fly; to swoop down and examine things
intimately like the pigeons; to cross over that blue line where the
water met the sky.

Already his mood of complete happiness had vanished.  A cosmic
curiosity overwhelmed him and made him unhappy.  He was like a
starving man with food dangled before his eyes.  He reached out as
if to clutch all that lay below.  The small pattern of his own hand
blotted out half the view.  He almost lost his balance, and burst
into tears.

That night he was back in his room again, worn out with fatigue and
excitement, but no longer a child.  Like the cats he would keep
this means of escape to himself.  Some day, soon, he would get out
and keep going, always.  He would see it all.  He would take no one
with him, no one!

The face of the madonna glimmered from the wall.  After the great
height and uncertainty it was pleasant to be back with her again.
She had brought him here, they said.  He began to ponder and
altered his plan.  He would take her along when he went away.  It
would be better not to be entirely alone.  There should be someone
to talk to.  He began to tell her about the world beyond, softly,
so no one but she could hear.  It was a relief thus to share his
secret.  He slept.

Once having discovered the way to such a vantage point Anthony
returned again and again.  To the visits to Father Xavier's room,
to the hours of reading and talking with the priest, there were now
added long periods of observation in the treetop.  The tree was
used to supplement and as a check upon the more formal instruction
received in the realms below.  But from the day he first climbed it
the dream companions in the courtyard below betook themselves into
the limbo of memory.  The boy by the spout retired with an archaic
smile into the bronze; the dancing children in stone remained as if
frozen forever by the chill world of reality.

Had the madonna not remained constantly in his room it is possible
that she too might have followed the others into the land whence
only the burning wand of passion or fever could afterward summon
them.  She stood fixed there, however, day and night.  Unforgettable,
immovable, part of the living furniture of his existence.  For he
was taught and commanded to speak with her; to bring his troubles
before her as a good and helpful act.  In the life about him he saw
others doing likewise and heard her name spoken by living lips.  The
madonna was not like the others of his dreams.  His dream of her was
accepted by other people as a reality.  It seemed to be the same as
reality.  The madonna had the advantage of still possessing a cult.
That of the bronze boy and his brother had disappeared from the
memory of men ages before.  So the madonna remained.

With Anthony she had already become a habit of thought.  There were
paths in his brain which belonged to her.  Strapping her carefully
on his back, he took her with him one day to the top of the tree as
if to tempt her with the kingdoms of the world.  Her silence in
regard to them when he went to sleep that night was a distinct
disappointment.

As time went on he began, as he lay in the treetop day after day,
to learn much of the life of the neighbourhood.  The houses and the
people that lived in them, the horses, asses, and oxen that plied
in and out to Livorno or from village to village became known to
him.  The very creaking of the carts as they passed by took on an
individuality; it was in this way that he became aware of the
presence of other real children in the convent besides himself as
one morning he watched a small fleet of carriages bringing the
pupils to Mother Marie José's school.

A small cloud of them emerged about the same time along the road
from the town just before the convent bell rang, he observed.  Once
in the lane by the convent wall he could not see what became of
them.  Before long he became familiar, nevertheless, with the
passengers of every carriage.  Every morning they were always the
same.  It was seldom that he missed watching at that time.

So far he had kept his vantage point an utter secret.  The joy of
sole possession, the example of the cats, and an instinctive
feeling of defensive reticence combined to seal his lips.  Yet
above all things he longed to speak with these other children who
were now, he knew, so close to him.  Even to ask about them would,
he also knew, serve to betray himself.  But he pondered the
problem, nevertheless, day by day.  He had almost come to a
dangerous conclusion about the matter.  He was going to wave to
them from the tree, when with the approach of summer the school
stopped.

For a long, dreary time Anthony considered himself to have been
left alone.  He moped.  Why did they not come back?  It was often
upon the tip of his tongue to ask.  He began to approach it
obliquely with Father Xavier, plying him with questions about the
world without which seemed to the priest to be surprisingly knowing
ones.  But the boy dared not come to the point and would fall into
silence and sulk.

Father Xavier felt that the time had come to settle something about
Anthony.  He had his own plans.  He would have liked to prepare the
boy for entrance to a seminary near Rome.  He must begin by taking
him about with him outside.  There was something about the cast of
the boy's mind which he did not altogether like.  His avid
questionings and the things which moved him most reminded the
priest too frequently of the idle curiosity of the age without the
walls.  He had tried to protect his charge from this in a way, and
yet perhaps he had also been to blame for awakening it.  Under the
circumstances though . . .  He spoke to Mother Marie José about it.
She agreed with him.

By all means the boy should be given his first sight of life beyond
the walls in the company of his ghostly tutor.  How better could it
first be brought home to him?  In fact she had almost forgotten
about Anthony.  She was very busy now about several things.  It
might be better, too, to wait until the pupils for the coming term
were secured before parading the unwelcome presence of this orphan
about the town.  Undoubtedly, that would be talked about.  She sent
for Anthony.  In her formal presence the boy froze within himself.
Her voice from long hours of instruction was unintentionally harsh.
Anthony remained silent.  She could find nothing in him of the
qualities Father Xavier had enlarged upon.  The misplaced
enthusiasm of the childless priest, she thought.  This could wait.
Anthony was remanded to the courtyard.  Indeed he fled there in
relief.  He climbed the tree and Father Xavier could not find him.

Another summer slipped by punctuated only by escape into the cool
heights of the boughs, the droning of the pigeons and of Father
Xavier.




CHAPTER TEN

THE CHICK EMERGES


It was a great day for Anthony when in the late autumn he once more
saw the dust of the approaching vehicles and the children returned.
Reality was once more brought home to him.  There were several new
girls.  One, who arrived nearly always a little late in a car
behind a lazy, fat pony, especially delighted him.  She was about
his own size and her wriggles were noteworthy.  He could not quite
make out her features.  The cart always disappeared when he was
just about to catch a full glimpse of her face into the lane behind
the wall.  It was impossible to look closer for the edge of the
roof cut off his view.  He tried to imagine her into the court but
she had no face.  Somehow, too, he had lost the trick of evoking
vivid dreams.  The reality was now so much plainer.  The glimpses
of her enchanting arrivals and departures grew more and more
tantalizing.  See her face, speak to her, he must.

He began to investigate the plan of the corridors beyond the huge,
half-vacant wing of the convent that he already knew.  He soon
discovered an important fact.  While the children were present, all
the nuns in the other part of the building were absent from their
rooms.  This gave him courage.  He began to explore more
thoroughly.

On the third day, he found the corridor that led to the door.
Breathless and on tiptoe, more frightened even than when he had
climbed the tree, he ventured to the threshold and looked out.  The
world lay before him on its own level.  All he had to do was to put
his feet upon it and walk out.  He did so cautiously, then
brazenly.  As the shadow of the roof passed from his head and the
full sunlight burst upon him, he ceased from half-crouching and
stood up manfully.  At last, and forever, he knew himself to be
free.  The spell of the place had been broken conclusively.  No one
had led him.  He had found the way out himself.

Even now, however, he still found himself in a lane with the
convent on one side and a high wall on the other.  In both
directions it made a slight curve and he could not see beyond.  He
turned to the right and started to walk.  He passed a place in the
wall of the convent that was filled up with new bricks of a
brighter colour than the rest, a blind window.  Then the trees
started to meet overhead and became vaguely familiar.  Suddenly he
found himself before the door of the priest's house.  "Come in,"
said Father Xavier's voice.

Anthony walked in and sat down.  He felt weak with apprehension.
It was some minutes before he could bring himself to believe that
the priest had not noticed the unusual direction of his approach.
Not to have been found out upon this occasion gave him a confidence
which he never lost.  That afternoon Father Xavier began to talk to
Anthony about his future.  To the priest's suggestion of the
seminary the boy made no comment.  He sat silent, puzzling over the
direction of the lane.  "In a few years if you are attentive and do
well, you can go to Rome," Father Xavier was saying.  Anthony was
wondering where the lane led when you turned the other way.  The
next day he found out for himself.

It was lucky, thought Anthony, that the little girl whose face he
could not see always came late.  He watched her one morning from
the tree approaching after all the others had arrived.  The pony
took considerable persuading.  The boy slithered to the ground and
darting through the corridors ran out and placed himself in an
offset of the wall until she drove up.  A half-grown Italian lad
held the reins.  Anthony was dressed in nothing but a long, ragged
cassock that flapped about his bare feet.  It had once belonged to
Father Xavier and the row of rusty buttons ran from the neck to the
ground.  The boy had a good view of the little girl.  Under a mop
of brown hair, she had a fair, chubby face and blue eyes.  Anthony
lounged close to the wall and said nothing.  Neither the little
girl nor her driver paid any attention to him beyond giving him a
glance.  The sight of acolytes lounging about near chapels was not
novel to them.  The little girl took her satchel and went into
school.  Beyond making a face at Anthony when he drove away even
the driver ignored him.

Morning after morning, whenever circumstances would permit him to
leave the court without being noticed, and regardless of the
weather, Anthony continued to wait by the same nook in the wall.
Some time during the second week he was rewarded by a smile.  A
little later he ventured to hold the pony while she left the cart,
and to strike up a friendship with the lad who drove her.  Anthony
was now rewarded with a "good morning" to which after some days he
ventured to reply.  Secretly, to both children, the sound of their
own voices thus exchanged was thrilling, but especially to Anthony.
The little girl was proud that he came to hold her pony.  No one
did so for the other girls.  Knowing that she would be teased about
it if she said anything, she held her tongue.

From Angelo the driver, Anthony gradually learned all there was to
know about his "puella."  The older boy laughed at his queer jargon
of convent Latin and Italian, correcting him loftily.  Anthony had
the good sense to be humble before this older boy and thus lived in
his good graces.  He, Angelo, worked for MEESTER Udney, the
English consul at Livorno.  MEES Florence was the consul's
daughter.  The Udneys had two great houses and were very rich.  All
of the Inglese were rich.  Most of them were heretics.  Angelo
crossed himself.  He lived in great fear of the evil eye.  It was
from the villa that they drove every day, only sometimes in town.
The pony was slow, and they had permission from the mother superior
to be late--when necessary.  It was always necessary.  Angelo
grinned.  Miss Florence, it appeared, usually had her own way.

One morning Anthony presented her with some pigeon eggs in a little
nest of woven leaves which he had made.  The gift was acceptable.
About Totnes she had once hunted for birds' eggs with her cousins.
Here at Livorno it was not permitted.  She was the consul's
daughter!  The eggs were adorable.  In return she brought Anthony a
pair of shoes.  They were too short for him but he cut out the toes
and after that refrained from meeting her in entirely bare feet.

He told her about the pigeons and how he had first seen her from
the tree where the birds lived.  The restraint gradually wore off
from their brief morning talks.  Every day they had some childish
news to exchange, usually about animals.  Anthony about his pigeons
and the cats; the girl about her pets at home.  Before the term was
over it was arranged between them that Anthony should come to see
her rabbits.  There were also several puppies that had become the
heroes of an animal epic recounted from day to day.

Angelo demurred to this plan at first.  Anthony would have to ride
to the villa in the pony cart.  It appeared slightly irregular.
Orders had been given by Mr. Udney that no one should be given
rides in the cart.  Miss Florence stamped her foot, however, and
argued her case.  After several days of appeal, cajolery, and
threats Angelo succumbed.  Anthony was to lie in the back of the
cart with a wrap thrown over him.  How he was to return did not
concern either himself or the other conspirators--as yet.

One afternoon he borrowed Father Xavier's hat and whisking himself
to the end of the lane stood waiting patiently till the rumble of
the departing carriages ceased.  Some minutes later the pony cart
with Angelo and Florence passed by slowly as had been arranged.
Climbing into it hastily, Anthony wriggled under the rug in the
back, and they were off.

It was a marvellous sensation bumping along by the efforts of
someone else.  Miss Florence was bubbling with suppressed
excitement and laughter.  Angelo put the pony through what paces it
might be said to have had.  He succeeded at least in making it
wheeze.  It is doubtful if Elijah enjoyed the triumph of his
chariot journey to Heaven as keenly as did Anthony his trip in the
pony cart to the modest villa of Mr. Udney.  Both were a transit to
paradise.  But to be able to peep out from the blanket and to see
the scenes which he had so often observed from the tree actually
passing before his eyes, to catch a glimpse now and then of a
laughing face, a real one, smiling down at him--what were the
rewards of a mere prophet compared to all this?  Besides, the
speed, particularly downhill, was prodigious.  He could scarcely
believe he was not dreaming when he closed his eyes under the
blanket.  The very pain of the bumps gave him pleasure.  They were
so reassuring.  Presently they turned into an avenue lined with
poplars.  Anthony was commanded to cover up and keep still.  After
some delay, strange voices, and the smell of a strange place,
Angelo uncovered him and the boy found himself in the stable yard
of the villa.  He was being shown the horses, huge beasts he
thought, when Florence came out and joined him.  She had changed
out of her school dress and was in a long, blue frock with ribbons.
She was more beautiful than anything Anthony had ever seen.  Miss
Florence was a very small girl but she was not too young to enjoy
being admired even by a ragged acolyte.  After giving him more than
sufficient time to recover his breath, they went to see her rabbit
hutch.

Confronted by such an ideal beast as a rabbit for the first time;
actually permitted to hold one in his hands, Anthony was reduced to
tears.  He could not help himself.  It was too much.

"They ARE lovely," whispered Florence.  "I like the white ones
best."

He nodded sympathetically, wiping his eyes on Father Xavier's best
hat.  They both agreed that the tweaking nose of the largest rabbit
was a miracle of rare device.  From the rabbits they passed out
into the rear courtyard which, it appeared, was the abode of the
pups.

By this time Anthony had forgotten his entire past, and the future
did not yet exist.  Lost solely in each other, and in the animal
riot about their feet, the sylvan voices of the two children
laughing uncontrollably at the comical pranks of dogdom floated
into the library window to the ears of Mrs. Udney.  She crossed the
room to look out, stood for a minute amazed, and then turned her
head to say in a half whisper, "Come here, Henry."  Mr. Udney--who
was perusing a document the last line of which averred, "your
petitioner will ever pray"--was glad to be recalled to life.  He
dropped the paper on the floor and joined his wife.  It was a
singular scene upon which they now looked down.

Standing in the middle of the yard was their daughter Florence with
her frock in the most admired disorder.  She was looking up with an
expression of extreme happiness into the face of a figure whose
grotesqueness passed belief.

Presented to the view of Mr. and Mrs. Udney was the back of a huge
triangular priest's hat clapped upon the invisible head of a young
body in a long, black, clerical gown that fell in one sheer line
from neck to bare, brown calves.  One point of the hat, which was
worn at the angle of a shed roof, was exactly between a pair of
shoulder blades that appeared through the gown as did two elbows
from their ragged sleeves.  The effect upon the spectator was that
of having been suddenly presented with the eye of Don Quixote, or,
that Lazarus had taken orders.  While the Udneys gasped, the
laughter in the court continued till the stable arches rang.

The laughter was the least bit hysterical now.  Mrs. Udney giggled.
"My dear," said she, "where do you suppose she found him?"  "I'll
be demned!" said Mr. Udney, changing the sound of one vowel out of
deference to his spouse.  "Let us have them up."  He cleared his
throat in a preparatory manner--"Florence!"  Laughter in the court
ceased.  The children felt they were seen.  Anthony felt an impulse
to run, mastered it, and turned toward the direction of the voice.
"Take off your hat," whispered the little girl, "it's mother."  The
boy removed his hat with an unavoidable flourish owing to its size
and tucked it like a picture frame under his arm.  He looked up.

The removal of the hat did not disclose an ecclesiastical gnome but
the fair face of an English boy rather deeply tanned, yet still
unmistakable, under delicate ringlets of yellow hair.  His features
were more than usually aquiline.  There was a firm little jaw, a
broad brow, and grey-blue eyes.  If anything, the face was perhaps
a little too thin.  But this not unpleasant hint of keenness was
tempered by far-looking eyes and half-parted lips into the
expression of one not fully awakened yet from a remembered dream.

The head sat upon a firm neck, while the narrow-waisted, black gown
with its long row of buttons made the boy look taller than he
actually was.  In the afternoon's sunlight he seemed to radiate a
certain indescribable lustre like the leaves of a fresh plant after
rain.  Mrs. Udney, who had no son as yet, felt her bodice move.
Her husband laughed unconsciously.  "Upon my word!" he said.
"Florence," he called, "bring up your prince of the church for
tea."  He turned away from the window chuckling.

"How do you suppose a face like that got to Italy?" he asked his
wife.  "Leghorn is a peculiar place.  King George seems to have
lost a subject somehow."  The consul in him felt a dim impulse to
inquire--at which Mr. Udney smiled.  His wife remained by the
window.  Their cogitations upon different lines were now
interrupted by the arrival of one Signore Terrini, a dandified
young painter, whose tailor aped English styles in an Italian way.

Florence took Anthony by the hand not engaged with the hat and led
him up to the library.  The boy could never forget that room; the
long white curtains rippling in and out through the shaft of
sunlight, the warm, brown rows of calf-bound volumes, Mr. Udney's
desk heaped with papers, the ink, sand, and black seals.  The smell
of sealing wax forever after served to summon it to view.  There
was Mrs. Udney in a soft, white, low-bosomed dress, seated by the
tea table, the silver, the sound of low, happy voices within, that
of poplar trees without.  That such places existed, he had no
inkling.  He had never seen a lady.  He stood entranced and showed
it.

They were talking Italian to the artist to whom Anthony was now
introduced.  Mrs. Udney took the boy by both hands, looked in his
face, and declared he was an angel.  He blushed, but liked it.
Florence was enormously proud of her acquisition who was soon
seated on a chaise longue eating a raspberry tart and drinking weak
tea, neither of which delights he had ever tasted before.  A mist
came over his eyes.  He experienced the sensation of being at home.

Terrini leaned forward.  He would give anything to catch that
expression for a copy of the young St. John he was doing.  The face
of the original he worked from was blurred.  The slight plumpness
of the lower part of the fingers and back of the hands--one should
remember that in portraits of little boys.  The children of
merchants were the artist's chief subject and stock in trade.  What
a model!  One could repeat it indefinitely.  He began to ask
Anthony about himself.

Miss Florence broke in and was permitted to help explain.  She did
so with giggles which were contagious.  The atmosphere grew even
easier.  They were gay at no one's expense.  Soon Anthony was
talking about himself.  His queer jargon of obsolete Tuscan
interspersed with learned and stilted phrases from Latin and French
amazed and secretly convulsed them.  In this lingo the brief annals
of his quiet existence were soon told.  Mr. Udney became interested
and led Anthony about the room talking to him.  The avid mind and
the starved curiosity of the boy were at once apparent to him.  The
audience looked on quietly, amazed at the lad's exclamations over
the ordinary furniture of domestic life and his familiarity with
classics.  A lecture on the use of the library globes, which Mr.
Udney's encouragement drew forth, was inimitable.  The gentleman
was "demned" again.

From the standpoint of the British consul the whole exhibition was
a confirmation of his own opinion as to the wrong-headed education
provided by the Romish clergy.  Probably his own daughter was
having much the same kind of stuff driven into her head by the
nuns.  It was a sore point between him and his wife.  To be sure,
there was no other school, but . . .  He would have enlarged, on
the subject to her had it not been for the presence of the Italian
artist who was, of course, of the "opposite persuasion."  Besides
it occurred to him again, as he looked at Anthony sidewise, that
the boy DID look English.  His own son, if he ever had one, might
look like that, he flattered himself.

Mrs. Udney, on the other hand, was quietly scheming behind the
teacups to have Anthony remain for the night.  Instinctively she
wanted him in the house.  By these vague prejudices and emotions
passing unrecorded through the hearts and brains of strangers the
future of the boy was irrevocably shaped.

Mrs. Udney advanced her proposition only tentatively, but she was
heartily seconded by Florence.  To her surprise, her husband seemed
amused and easily consented.  Even Signore Terrini entered into the
spirit of the occasion, as he always made a point of doing, and
sketched Anthony with his hat on while Mr. Udney wrote a note.  A
charming sketch of Florence followed as a slight hint of what might
be done.  This with a magnificent flourish the artist signed
"Terrini, Livorno, 1785," and handed to Mrs. Udney.  As for
Anthony, he was invited forthwith to late dinner which proved to be
the climax of a clearly miraculous day.

                            ----------

Mother Marie José was considerably disturbed when she was informed
about an hour before vespers that Anthony was missing.  It annoyed
her to find that old Sister Agatha was more worried about the child
than the consequences which might follow his disappearance.  The
woman was too venerable, weak, and frightened to be disciplined any
longer.  The mother superior blamed herself for not having acted
promptly upon Father Xavier's recommendation of some months before.
After another thorough search of the convent she sent for the
priest.  They agreed that if Anthony did not appear shortly,
inquiry should be made next day leading to his return.  There was a
difference of opinion between them as to how he should then be
disposed of.  Father Xavier was for continuing his instructions at
the convent until he could send him to Rome.  Mother Marie was for
placing him with some honest tradesman as an apprentice.

In the continued presence of Anthony at the convent she saw many
and increasing difficulties.  Above all she hoped that he might now
return without having caused any talk.  Her school was in too
flourishing a condition to be blown upon by gossip.  She
recollected that the boy was now ten years old and this worried
her.  On the other hand, she was infinitely indebted to Father
Xavier.  Without him she could scarcely have obtained her more
fashionable hopefuls.  The priest's securing of the English
consul's daughter had been especially satisfactory.  The patronage
of the English element in the town was essential.

It was with some reluctance, therefore, after carefully weighing
the matter, that she finally consented to the priest's plea, and
then only with the understanding that he would make himself
responsible for the boy's whereabouts and good behaviour if he
continued to remain at the convent.  Father Xavier was surprised to
find how relieved and happy he was at this outcome.  He had become
more interested in the child than he had realized.

Such was the state of affairs when Mr. Udney's groom arrived with a
note for the mother superior.  The messenger desired an answer.
Mother Marie turned pale.  The note was the confirmation of her
worst fears.  In her agitation she saw the work of a decade about
to tumble about her ears.


. . . Kindly carry my compliments to Father Xavier and inform him
that his hat has been very much admired here . . .


Mr. Udney had not quite been able to restrain himself.

Mother Marie did not understand.  She was scandalized she should be
asked to "convey compliments" from one man to another.  At the
thought of the ragged orphan riding "concealed in a carriage" with
the daughter of one of her most valued patrons the roots of her
hair crept.  It outraged every convention of a hard training and an
unimaginative soul.  She forgot the children were very small.  Mr.
Udney's "explanation" had only made matters worse.  She changed her
mind on the instant.  Anthony would have to go.

Father Xavier had never seen her so vehement.  He was secretly
somewhat afraid of Mother Marie.  It would never do to oppose her
now.  He could see that.  If he was going to do anything for the
boy, prevent him from being turned into a peasant or a carpenter,
for instance, he would have to act promptly.  He would have to act
that night!  So he agreed with the mother superior.

"And this note?" she groaned.

"Allow me to carry the answer myself," he suggested.  "I shall call
on Mr. Udney immediately--to get my hat."

"Your hat!" cried she indignantly.

"But I shall also take the opportunity," continued Father Xavier,
"of explaining matters there.  I can do so I am sure.  Also," he
hurried on, seeing her look of doubt still lingering, "when I
return I shall have disposed of your orphan.  I am well known to
Signore Udney, you know."  He spread his hands out appealingly, and
with a hint of caution.  "You will be well advised I think if you
leave the matter to me."  She nodded.  "It is a lonely life we
lead, sometimes, my sister, is it not?  We orphans, you know," he
said as he passed out.  She nodded again.  "Yes, sometimes," he
heard her reply in a low voice.  "Do as you wish with him."  But he
did not hear that.  He had gone.

She sat in a mist of recollection longer than she knew.  For the
first time in ten years they waited for her at vespers.  Before she
rose from her knees she had changed her mind again.  Father Xavier
should keep his pupil.

The priest in the meanwhile in his best gown but hatless was being
driven to Mr. Udney's.  He arrived there when they were half
through dinner to be welcomed warmly by all including Anthony whose
cup was now running over with happiness.

"I have come for my hat and for the young rascal who took it,"
Father Xavier declared as he sat down.

"In the meantime let this refurbish you internally as well," said
Mr. Udney loading his plate.  He was fond of the priest who did not
insist on his cloth.  "A wise and kindly man," thought the
Englishman cutting him a choice slice of mutton.  They had in fact
been able to help each other on several occasions.  It was not the
first time Mr. Udney had carved for the priest.  Over the wine--
while Mrs. Udney, Signore Terrini and the children gathered about
her spinet in the next room--Father Xavier related all that he knew
of the story of Anthony to Mr. Udney . . .

"And so, my good friend," he ended,--the genuine eloquence of
affection having already lent wings to his plea,--"I would I could
say my co-religionist, I want your assistance in this matter, just
as you lately were in want of mine."  Mr. Udney held up his hand.

"Have you any plans?" he asked.

"There is the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  I had thought of that."  Mr.
Udney smiled at the priest's evident familiarity with lay affairs
in the town.

"Yes, I could help you there.  Old Bonnyfeather is, or was a
Jacobite, yet in his trading here, and everywhere, he needs his
British protection.  You see I made certain concessions about his
oath of allegiance.  Nothing really irregular, you know," he added
hastily.  The priest smiled.

"I also made certain concessions."

"Ah, he is of your persuasion then.  You are his confessor?"  Mr.
Udney did not press that point.  The father sipped his port.

"In other words, if both of us should call on him, say, tomorrow,"
continued Mr. Udney, "he might find room in his establishment for a
promising orphan.  It would be difficult to resist both the
temporal and ecclesiastical authorities combined.  Would it not,
father?"

"Impossible, I think," smiled the priest.  "But why not tonight?"

"Why not?" echoed his host.  "Mr. Bonnyfeather will not be busy."

They came out and sat in the hall looking into the big room.  Mrs.
Udney was touching the keys while Signore Terrini twittered through
an aria in an affected tenor.  The children were sitting close
together, Anthony's bare toes gleaming out of his shoes.  They
seemed to be reflecting the warmth of his expression of happiness.
Suddenly they started to dance.  Mrs. Udney had caught sight of her
audience in the hall and cutting off Signore Terrini rather
mercilessly, had broken into the stirring strains of "Malbrouk s'en
va-t-en guerre."  The notes rang and the face of the boy became
exalted.  Mrs. Udney managed to beckon to her husband who came
near.  A smile passed between them quietly as they looked at the
rapt face of Anthony.  "Does he really stay tonight, then?" she
asked.  "Yes," said he stooping lower, watching her hands flutter
over the keyboard.  "Father Xavier and I are making final
arrangements for him, I trust.  Mr. Bonnyfeather!"

"Good," said she.  "Splendid!  I knew you would do something."

He rejoined Father Xavier in the hall.

Presently the sound of wheels was heard above the tune.  The music
ceased and Anthony returned to this world to find a strange little
girl seated beside him.  Mrs. Udney rose and took the children to
their rooms.

Between the cool, lavender-scented sheets, a totally new experience
for Anthony, his body seemed to be floating in the smooth water of
the pool.  From somewhere down the hall came the silvery voice of a
little girl wishing him good night.  As he sank deeper into the
complete rest of tired happiness, he looked in vain for the face of
the madonna over the foot of his bed.  Presently a soft glow
suffusing the white wall of his chamber, and the habit of his mind
combined to place her there where she belonged.  He began his
prayer.  His lips moved making a sound like the trees outside, and
like that dying away into the peace of the night.

Father Xavier and Mr. Udney trotted rapidly down the winding road
to Livorno.  The moon was rising.  The water and air about it
became visible and blent together in a pervading white shimmer.  In
this the whiter buildings of the town and the long harbour mole
seemed to swim.  The coloured lights of the shipping were caught
like fireflies in a dark web of tangled rigging and masts.  The
streets were silent, but from a Maltese ketch some distance out
came the ecstatic agony of a pulsing stringed instrument punctuated
by the beating of feet on deck.  An occasional weird cry arose.  In
the light warm air the music was alternately loud and soft.

"The boy is in good hands tonight at least," said Father Xavier
softly.  "I wish . . ."

"It is curious," remarked Mr. Udney, "that no men are too savage to
be affected by moonlight.  It is the same to us all.  Like
imagination it presents a familiar world in a new light."  Mr.
Udney was privately given to this kind of semi-profundity.  He
hoped Father Xavier would be impressed.

"I am wondering," said the latter, "how Mr. Bonnyfeather will take
the proposal of receiving so young a lad into his establishment.
Since the death of his daughter . . ."

"Tush, man!  That was a decade or so ago, wasn't it?  Never fear.
Secretly he may be glad to have this boy.  A Scot, though, would
never say so, you know."

They drew up before a long building whose arches looped along the
water front, and were soon knocking loudly at a high double gate.
The echo boomed through the emptiness beyond.  In the sombre
archway a streak of lantern light suddenly flowed under the gate.

"Wha be ye poondin' at sic a rate oot there?" grumbled a voice to
itself while a chain rattled.  A small grille opened and a head in
a red night-cap peered through.

"It's Mr. Udney, Sandy," said that gentleman reassuringly.  "And
Father Xavier," he added as the lantern was flashed on them both
suspiciously.

"Losh, mon, come in, come in!" replied the voice as the bolts were
shot back.  "To think I hae kepit the Breetish consul, and the
faither durlen withoot.  Mind ye dinna trrip ower the besom the
noo."

Mr. Udney chuckled as their footfalls wakened the stones of the
court.

Mr. Bonnyfeather was at home.




CHAPTER ELEVEN

BETWEEN TWO WORLDS


Anthony was driven back to the convent the next morning in the cart
with Florence.  He was received with tears by Sister Agatha.  There
was a message for him to report to the mother superior.  She had
already relented and had made up her mind to give the boy only a
sharp lesson and allow him to continue with Father Xavier.  That
the priest had already made other arrangements for bestowing the
lad, she did not yet know.

His room and the court seemed warm and pleasantly familiar to
Anthony.  It was home after all.  He was glad to see the madonna,
but it was with a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach that
he threaded the maze of long corridors leading to the mother
superior's room.  One was not summoned there for trifles.  Already
the outside world seemed distant and ineffectual.  His feet raised
stony echoes that might call a dangerous attention to himself.  He
began to walk on tiptoe.

Mother Marie José's cheek band had been illy laundered.  It was
rough and chafed her under the chin.  She had removed it and was
changing her head-dress when Anthony appeared silently and
unexpectedly at the door.  Looking in, the boy saw a perfectly
smooth-shaven head shining like a skull, a face unexpectedly broad
with two glittering, brown eyes staring out of it, and a birthmark
that flowed down over the woman's chin into the breast of her black
gown.  Between the chin and the eyes the face seemed terribly
vacant by contrast.  It was an almost supernatural countenance.  A
comet seemed passing beneath two burning stars.  Intense fear and
horror contorted the face of the boy.  Mother Marie José gave a
faint scream and snatched at her head-dress which covered the
secret of her life.  From its broad, linen band only her fine wide
forehead and her statuesque profile now showed.  She had indeed
taken the veil again, but from her eyes there still darted an
intensely feminine fire.  She approached Anthony deliberately and
laid hold of his arm.

"Never tell what you saw," she said through her teeth.  The grasp
tightened.  "Do you understand, you boy!"  She began to shake him.
Her face drew nearer.  With a sudden desperate jerk he tore his arm
free and dashed down the corridor.  He flashed headlong into his
room and stood there while a mixture of rage, fear, indignation,
and surprise clutched his throat in dry, hard sobs.  Presently he
saw the calm face of the madonna through his tears.  He snatched
her to him from her niche and peeped out of the door.  Old Sister
Agatha had gone from the court.  He took the statue, climbed with
it into the tree, and hid himself.

Mother Marie José was also trembling with conflicting emotion in
which anger and fear predominated.  She rang her bell and sent
urgently for Father Xavier.  She spoke to him imperatively when he
appeared.  Her one idea now was to get Anthony away.

"I am sorry he has been impudent to you," he replied.

She accepted his unconscious explanation eagerly.

"Take him to your house until you have made your arrangements for
him.  I will not permit him to stay here.  It is impossible.  Not
an hour.  I . . ."

"Recollect yourself, madam," said the priest.

She saw she had gone too far.  "Do as I ask you then," she said
beseechingly.  "I will send his belongings and a certificate of
character to you shortly, but get him beyond these walls."

The priest looked at her sorrowfully and turned away.  No matter
what had occurred, he thought her haste petulant to say the least.
He was surprised that she should show such feeling.  One never knew
what a woman would do.  He had intended to take Anthony to town
tomorrow.  So it must be today, then!  Today?  His heart sank.  He
tried to shut the image of the child out of his mind.  It would
never do to torture himself for a whole day longer.  Now, it must
be now.  Anthony was not in his room.  Father Xavier bundled a few
of the child's pitiful belongings into a pillow case.  A broken
wooden horse smote his eyes dim.  He turned to the door and called.

The boy did not answer at first.  Then he saw that Father Xavier
was weeping.  "I am here, father," he called.  His bright hair and
face peered out of the leaves half-way up the tree.

"Come down, my son, I have something to tell you that you must
hear."  He kept trying to smile.  The boy climbed down and
approached him bravely.

"You are to come with me," said Father Xavier, and took him by the
hand.  They went down the lane to the house together silently.
Anthony was still holding fast to the statue of the madonna.

The priest had intended to keep the lad with him all afternoon.  He
had carefully prepared in his own mind the things which he most
wished to impress upon Anthony, a last and memorable lesson as it
were, and he had also counted upon explaining some of the things
which would be required of the boy in the strange, new world where
he would shortly find himself.  Faced by the actual fact of
parting, and shaken by the unexpected violence of Mother Marie
José, the heart and nerves of the man had combined to drive his
excellent little homily from his head.  A genuine ascetic, Father
Xavier was also shocked to find himself yearning over this orphan
whom chance had thrown in his way as if he had been a child of his
own flesh.  "The flesh is indeed weak," he told himself.  Affection
shown at leave-taking would be weakening with himself.  To save
himself from that, he knew that he might become stern.  He did not
want to do that.  He could not be sure of himself either way.
Plainly it would never do to prolong things.  He had intended to
send out for a decent suit for the boy.  Well, he would have to go
in his ragged cassock now.  The priest walked up and down keeping
his face from Anthony.  "How long would the Mother Superior take
with her certificate and the other things?  One might think a
prince was departing with paraphernalia.  Did she know she was
torturing him?"  Presently the portress came with a black, mildewed
bag.

"Is that all?" said Father Xavier.

"There was a statue of the madonna in his room which is also his.
It is to go too, the mother superior said," replied the woman.
"Here is the certificate.  You will please be sure to have this
receipt signed for all of his things, father.  I was told to be
sure not to forget to tell you that."

The priest nodded, and pointed to the madonna lying on the chair.
"All here," he said.  The good Contessina turned to go.  Anthony
was sitting by the window watching the chickens.  Suddenly he found
himself in the woman's arms.  She was crying over him, hugging him.

"The saints be with you, my bright little pigeon.  May you fly far.
Mary go with you!--my God!  Good-bye, good-bye!"  Then she was
gone.  A natural phenomenon had dimmed the scene from Father
Xavier's eyes.  Pretending not to notice, he busied himself by
putting the madonna into the bag.  He now closed it and looked up.
Anthony was standing with a blank face.

"I am going away?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Now?"

The priest nodded slowly.

"Because of what I have done?"

"No," said the man in spite of himself.

"Tell me, then!" cried the boy.  A sudden hope leaped into his
eyes.  "Is it to Signore Udney?  Ma donna there is not like . . ."

"Like whom?"

The boy faltered.  "Thou knowest," he said finally.

"Come," said Father Xavier.  "I shall tell you as we go."  He took
the bag from the table and led the boy from the room.  As they
passed down the lane a certain bricked-up window in the wall gaped
at them like a mouth that had been stopped with clay.

It was a good two miles to Livorno, a hot day, and a dusty road.
The stones of the highway hurt the feet of the boy used only to the
smooth courts of the convent.  He limped, but he listened so
intently to what Father Xavier was telling him that he scarcely had
time to notice his feet.

The priest's voice was once more calm.  In affectionate tones he
was creating for Anthony a new vista in life.  "Apprenticed"--
Father Xavier had to explain what that meant.  Yes, he had arranged
it all the night before.  "While I was sleeping at Signore
Udney's," thought Anthony.  He looked back.  Nothing was to be seen
now of the convent except its red roofs and the pigeons circling
about the top of his tree.  They swooped down and disappeared.
Contessina was feeding them then.  So, they could get along without
him!  He pondered the fact.  "But I shall come several times a
week, my son," the father's voice was saying, "to continue your
instruction--for at least a while."  The man sighed.  "Then, who
knows?"  Anthony looked up as the tones faltered again.  "Often?"
he asked.  The priest nodded with a determined look.  The boy
smiled.  "I am glad," he said.

They walked on in silence.  Anthony did not look back again.  It
was a relief when he felt the warm, smooth flagstones of the
approach to the Porta Pisa under his feet.  There was a throng of
country carts lined up there from which two Austrian soldiers in
glistening, white uniforms, with muskets slung behind them, were
collecting small copper coins.  Anthony stared.  They passed by the
striped sentry boxes with the grand ducal arms, and turned toward
the water front.  The whirl and colour of a seaport dizened itself
into his eyes.  For a moment it threatened to engulf him.

He had never imagined there were so many people in the world, or so
many tongues.  Along the rivers of the streets poured in both
directions a mass of vehicles; wheelbarrows piloted by whistling,
bawling porters; creaking oxcarts.  Donkeys with huge barrels slung
on either side crowded pedestrians to the wall and swept all before
them triumphantly.  Army wagons like canal boats on wheels laden
with wine and forage for the garrison, jolted toward the Castello
Vecchio.  They often seemed to dam up the whole street.  As they
turned the corner of the Piazza d'Arme a flood of low-hung drays
piled with bales, or loaded with live cattle and poultry swept past
them, whips cracking.

Father Xavier and Anthony stood back against the wall to avoid the
whisking tails of horses and mules that slithered by with ears laid
back.  The dust rolled, streaked with pencilled sunlight at the
cross streets.  Porters jostled them, and merchants in laced coats
laughed.  Anthony could scarcely repress an impulse to take refuge
in the dark, cool alleyways, or to dart into one of the many
courtyards filled with bright, fluttering clothes.  At times he
seemed lost in a forest of legs, knee breeches, and the flapping
trousers of British tars.  Above his head their black glazed hats
sailed past, a yard of ribbon fluttering behind.  He tripped over a
beggar who cursed him horribly.  The stench of everything-at-once
overpowered him, and clutched at his throat.  Suddenly they turned
a corner and came out on the long cobble-paved water front of the
minor, inner port or Darsena.

As long as he lived Anthony never forgot that moment.  There was a
vividness about it which was, at the time, more than he could
appreciate.  For the first time the lenses of his senses now came
to a completely clear and perfectly blent focus.  Into the still
bare, and somewhat misty room of his mind burst the glorious,
light-flooded vision of reality.  There was not still-life only as
heretofore.  On this crowded water front there was motion and song.
He lifted his head to drink it all in.  He felt his heritage as one
of the swarm fully conferred upon him.  The vision beyond and the
beholder for the first time lost themselves in each other and
became one.

For years it was impossible, except at rare moments, or by the aid
of closed eyelids to separate them again.  That, as he came to know
afterwards, was both the reward and the stumbling-block of a good
mind in a healthy body.

But this first impression of Livorno was his awakening.  As he
thought of it years later, it seemed to him that at the convent his
vision of life had taken place mysteriously in the camera obscura
of a child's mind.  Indeed, as he looked back, there was even a
kind of charm about it, a rather dark, melancholy tinge with bright
tufts of colour standing out beautifully.  Looking at a street
scene reflected in a black, polished stone in a jeweller's window
at Paris many years afterward, he was forcibly reminded again of
his days at the convent.  Things grew and disappeared in the black
mirror in a vista without reason.  They moved by a totally
disconnected motion with a volition all their own.  One could be a
polytheist in a world like that.  It was lovely, dimly god-like and
beautiful, but entirely unreal.

The one exception to this had been his first vision from the
treetop.

Now--now as he stood at the street corner just where the land met
the sea--life became more than a mere proper focus of several clear
lenses.  It seemed as if the windows of his soul had suddenly been
thrown wide open.  He felt the air, he heard a clangour, the light
streamed in and flooded the room.  Whimsical circumstance decreed
that all this wealth of the senses, the very odour of it, should
forever be carried for him in a Fortunatus purse of orange peel.

For in the quay opposite, a felucca from Sardinia was unloading.
Piles of oranges lay heaped upon its deck.  Some had been crushed
beneath the feet of the crew and the air reeked with them.  Father
Xavier held up his hand and a dark sailor in a red jacket tossed
him a yellow globe.  As the two stood at the corner sharing it,
Anthony's eyes continued to wander along the water front.

Landwise stretched an apparently endless row of long, white
buildings facing the harbour.  Between them and the quays was a
broad, cobble-paved way crawling with jolting, roaring drays, piled
with sea stores and merchandise.  On the water side sharp bows,
gilded figureheads, and bowsprits pierced and overhung the roadway,
while a geometrical forest of dark masts, spars, and cordage swept
clear around and bordered the inner port.  Amid this, like
snowdrifts caught here and there in the boughs of a leafless wood,
hung drying sails.  The sun twinkled at a thousand points on
polished brass.  It seemed to Anthony that each ship was alive,
looking at him narrowly out of its eyelike hawseholes.  Farther off
was the flashing water beyond the molo, or outer harbour, with a
glimpse of the white tower on the breakwater and the dark purple of
the sea beyond.

Father Xavier also stood looking at it.  While he finished his half
of the orange he unconsciously permitted himself a few moments of
purely sensuous enjoyment by beholding the view as if through the
boy's eyes.  The spell was broken as a ship's bell suddenly clanged
out.  The strokes were instantly taken up and swept the harbour
front in a gust of molten sound.  The priest threw his orange away,
picked up the bag, and grasping Anthony by the hand continued along
the narrow sidewalk.

It was somewhat difficult now to make way there.  The sound of the
ship's bells had been the signal releasing a throng of clerks and
apprentices.  They poured out of a hundred doors and gates
laughing, bawling out, and chaffing one another.  Besides that,
certain Italian urchins of the crowd began to attach themselves to
Father Xavier and his charge.  In the tall, thin-waisted priest
with the huge hat who carried a peculiar black bag, in the tow-
headed acolyte whose ragged cassock flapped about his bare calves
there was something rare and too earnest, an air of visitors from
another world bound upon some destiny that smacked of strangeness
and drama.  Despite all they could do to hurry on, a small
procession began to form behind the backs of Father Xavier and
Anthony.  It grew like a snowball, but moved like a queue to the
accompaniment of whistles and catcalls.  At last they began to pass
under the cool arcade of a long, low building whose arches looped
for some distance along the water front.

Just above the head of Anthony large, oval windows heavily barred
peered out from under a heavy parapet like a row of eyes under the
shaded brim of a monstrous hat.  Under the arches these eyes seemed
to be staring through gigantic spectacles.  The total expression of
the house was one of annoyed surprise.  Since it had commenced life
as a nobleman's palace and ended as a warehouse, there was some
reason for that.  Indeed, what had once been known as the Palacio
Gobo now bore shamefacedly along its entire forehead, as if it had
been caught in the act and branded, a scarlet legend that could be
read afar from the decks of ships, CASA DA BONNYFEATHER.  Yet an
air of ill-used magnificence still continued to haunt it doubtfully
as if loath to depart.  It succeeded in concealing itself somehow
and eluded the passers-by in the deep grooves and convolutions of
the rusticated marble front.

Before the central bronze gates of this peculiar edifice, upon
which some vestiges of gilding could still be traced, Father Xavier
and his charge came to a sudden halt.  The crowd of youngsters
following became expectantly silent but finally hooted when after
some time no one came.  In the meanwhile Anthony peered through the
grille.

Beyond the dark, tunnelled archway of the entrance, he could see a
sun-flooded courtyard.  There was a dilapidated fountain in pie-
crust style, and behind that a broad flight of steps led up rather
too grandly to a great double door only one leaf of which was open.
As he leaned forward to peer in, someone from behind tweaked his
cassock violently.  It ripped up the back exuberantly.  There was a
shout of delight.  Another urchin laid hold of him.

"Cosa volete, birbante?" yelled Father Xavier shaking the culprit.

Matters were obviously approaching a crisis when one of the crowd
shouted that the facchino was coming, and a Swiss porter opened the
gate.  Holding his torn skirt about him, Anthony stepped through
after Father Xavier.

He was not quite quick enough, however.  There was a sudden rush
behind him and his cassock was this time ripped clear off his back
and whisked away.  A shower of rubbish followed him as the gate
clanged.  He ran a little distance down the archway and stood
shivering.  Father Xavier's face was still red, but both he and the
porter now started to laugh heartily.

It was thus, naked as when he was born, that Anthony first found
shelter in the Casa da Bonnyfeather.




CHAPTER TWELVE

CASA DA BONNYFEATHER


They turned to the left through a door half-way down the vaulted
tunnel of the entrance and found themselves in a vestibule provided
with black marble benches.  It had evidently once been the guard-
room of the palace.  Against the wall there was a rack for halberds
now occupied by a couple of mops and a frayed broom.  Anthony found
the benches too cold to sit upon.  He stood disconsolately in the
middle of the apartment with mosaic dolphins sporting about his
cold feet.  The porter departed to inform the Capo della Casa of
the unexpected guests.  Father Xavier reflected with some alarm
that the present costume of his charge was not that proper to the
introduction of an apprentice to his master.  Suddenly he
remembered something, and with great eagerness opened the bag.

From it he extracted a lady's riding cloak moth-eaten along the
folds.  He shook it dubiously.  Several small spiders scampered
away and the dried petals of a white flower lilted to the floor.
It would have to do--under the circumstances.  He dropped it over
the boy's shoulders who gathered it about him eagerly, holding it
with crossed hands.  Presently the porter returned and beckoned to
Father Xavier to follow him.  The priest told Anthony to wait.

To Anthony standing alone in the centre of the vestibule, it seemed
as if he had been left in a limbo between two worlds.  The chill of
the stone made his feet ache and crept up his spine like a cold
iron.  Somewhere, in another world, he could hear a clock ticking.
It went on and on.  Presently he could stand it no longer.  The old
silk cloak rustled eerily when he moved, and smelt mouldy.  He
followed where the others had led, mounted several steps, and
stepped through a doorway.

At the end of what seemed to be a vast apartment, Father Xavier was
talking to an elderly gentleman in black who was seated behind a
desk in a high-backed chair.  Anthony remembered now that Father
Xavier had told him to wait.  He therefore stopped and gathered the
old cloak about him holding it close at the breast.  He was afraid
to go back now.  If he moved they might see him.

What daunted the boy most was the fact that the portion of the room
where the two men were talking was raised several feet above the
rest of the apartment like the quarter-deck of a ship.  It even had
a rail across it.  Before the old gentleman, who wore an immense,
old-fashioned wig, was a large bronze inkstand full of quills.
From the railing to Anthony stretched a long aisle lined on either
side by a perspective of empty desks piled high with ledgers and
copy books.  The clerks had all left.  In either wall a row of big
oval windows admitted bars of sunlight.  Father Xavier and the
gentleman continued talking.  They were talking in English.
Anthony knew that.  He heard his own name several times.  It grew
tiresome.  He looked up.

In an oval panel in the ceiling a number of people in cloudy
costumes were gathered banqueting about a huge man with a beard.
Anthony was peculiarly intrigued by a slim figure with wings on his
heels.  "How convenient," the boy thought, "but how small the wings
are!"  He pondered with his chin in the air.

"You will understand, then, what has happened," Father Xavier was
saying.  "The mother superior was most insistent.  I had not
intended to bring the boy to you until tomorrow, as we had
arranged, but under the circumstances--"  He spread out his hands
in a comprehensive gesture.  "Were it not for her request I should
not bother you about signing this receipt.  There is nothing in the
bag of any value I am quite sure except the ten gold pieces.  We
have never quite fathomed this case, apparently one of desertion by
people of means.  The boy has some of the earmarks of gentle blood.
For that reason, in view of possible influential complications
later on, it seems best to be able to show that not only did the
convent care for the orphan as its foundation on the old status
required, but restored him to the world with the best of prospects--
I am sure!--and with every item of his property intact.  Bag and
baggage complete for his earthly journey, you see."

"But a not too extensive wardrobe as I gather," interpolated the
gentleman smiling quizzically.

"My dear Mr. Bonnyfeather," replied Father Xavier, "you will not
only gain merit for having sheltered the orphan, but for clothing
the naked as well.  A rare opportunity, I assure you.  Now, as to
the receipt?  Shall I get the bag first?"

"Tut, TUT, man, of course I'll sign it.  You act as if you
suspected me of thinking you had spent the money for drink on the
way down."  Mr. Bonnyfeather leaned forward to dip his pen, but
never touched it.  His fingers remained extended pointing at the
door.  A look of astonished recognition and extreme fear worked in
his countenance.

"Who . . . who is that?" he finally rasped.

Father Xavier turned hastily and saw Anthony contemplating the
ceiling with a seraphic look.

"Why, that is the young gentleman of whom we have just been
speaking," exclaimed the priest.  "He seems to be admiring your
frescoes.  I told him to wait in the vestibule!"

"The benches are hard there," observed Mr. Bonnyfeather, regaining
his self-control with an obvious effort, "we save them for our
minor creditors."  He laughed half-heartedly.  "The truth is," he
hurried on in an uncontrollable and unusual burst of confidence,
"the truth is, standing there with his face just in that position
he reminded me forcibly just now of--my daughter."  The phrase
passed his lips for the first time in ten years.  It aroused a
thousand silent echoes of emotion in the merchant's empty heart.
He wiped his forehead.  The priest remained silent for some time.

"Perhaps you will speak with the boy now?" he said at last.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather nodded.

"Come here, Anthony," said Father Xavier a little sternly.  The boy
advanced slowly holding his cape about him.  Mr. Bonnyfeather's
mind flashed back to a night ten years before.  In the chair now
occupied by the priest sat a bulky nobleman with a florid face and
black-pointed beard.  "Buried in the Alps," he was saying, "both of
them.  Buried!  Do you understand?"  The black beard punctuated the
remark emphatically.  Through the haze of this vision, as if in
warm denial, the bright, serious face of the boy intervened.  The
priest was speaking again.

"Shake hands with your benefactor, my son.  You are fortunate in
having so kindly and sheltering an arm extended to you."  Father
Xavier was in reality congratulating himself on a good piece of
work.  Mr. Bonnyfeather now recollected himself and took the small
palm extended to him out of the folds of the faded cloak with a
kindly pressure.  The boy's face still troubled him.  He cleared
his throat.

"Do you think you will like it here, my boy?"

"I cannot tell yet, signore," replied Anthony gravely.

"That is right," said the merchant evidently gratified.  "Be frank
and we shall have no difficulty in getting along.  HUMMMM!  I
shall arrange for some other--for some clothes for you directly."
Anthony coloured.

"Thank you," he said.

As if the matter were concluded satisfactorily, Mr. Bonnyfeather
now reached down, carefully read, and signed the receipt.  "The
indentures will be ready tomorrow, father.  You can stop in for
them then or the next time you come to town.  It will be best I
think to have our own notary.  No one outside need then know that
the convent has had anything to do with this case.  You yourself
can witness the mother superior's signature."

The priest bowed in assent.  "May I," said he, "attempt to thank
you again?  To me it is more than . . ."

Mr. Bonnyfeather held up his hand and rose from his chair.

They walked down the room together, Anthony trailing behind.  "That
is the bag," said the priest as they came into the vestibule.  "Not
a very heavy one, I see," replied Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "It is hard to
tell what there might be in it, though."  The old man's eyes
twinkled.  A small lock of grey hair had escaped from under his wig
on one side.  It conferred upon his rather austere and regular face
a decided touch of benignity.  "Will you be staying for supper with
us?"  The priest shook his head.  "No, it is time to go--now."  A
misty look came into his eyes.

"I shall be back to continue your lessons, you know," he said to
Anthony trying to be casual, and added softly, "my son."  The boy
flung up his arms.  Father Xavier stopped short for an instant,
hesitated, then seized his hat and almost fled through the door.
Mr. Bonnyfeather whose heart had for a long time kept the same beat
as the clock which regulated his establishment felt a slight
internal pause in time as he looked at Anthony.

"Come," he said, "let us have a look at your new home."  They
walked down the archway together into the courtyard.

Seated before the fountain with her back toward them while she was
milking a goat, was the largest woman in Italy.  She had flaming
hair, and from where they were standing her figure appeared to be
that of a huge pear with a ripe cherry on top of the pear.  A small
keg under her seemed to provide ridiculous support, and for every
quiver of her frame as she milked, the goat bobbed its tufted tail.
Anthony laughed till he had to clutch at his cape to keep it from
falling off.  At this sound the pear rose from the bucket, and
pivoting on what appeared to be two mast stumps ending in
dumplings, took hold of a green petticoat and quivered a curtsy to
Mr. Bonnyfeather.

"Angela," said he, "this is Master Anthony, the new apprentice.
Will you look after him in the kitchen till after supper?  I may
change my mind about his sleeping in the clerks' dormitory.  You
might lend him some of your son's clothes, temporarily.  He has
suffered a mishap."

The face of the woman of a fine olive complexion beamed broadly
upon the small figure before her.

"Benvenuto, signore," she said.  "I shall attend to your clothes,
sir, as soon as I milk.  Saints!  The goat has gone!"

She started after the animal much in the manner of a mountain
pursuing a flea, but holding up her skirt.  The goat had taken
refuge in some defunct garden-beds, the graceful stone outlines of
which on either side of the court now enclosed nothing but heaps of
rubbish.  As the mountain approached, the flea merely hopped away
and the process repeated itself.  Finally it shifted to the other
flower-bed.

Mr. Bonnyfeather, although he had emitted no unseemly noises, was
in no shape to aid even had he been so inclined.  He was, however,
still able to nod to Anthony who now joined in the hunt.  The
mountain was thus aided in its pursuit of the flea by a small,
napping blackbird with white, gawky legs.  Mr. Bonnyfeather could
no longer restrain his guffaws.  Anthony now approached.  The goat
lowered her horns, and the boy flapped his cloak.  At this ill
omen, Capricorna departed nimbly up a staircase to the flat roof.
Its bearded, female countenance appeared shortly afterward peering
solemnly over the low parapet.

"M-A-A-A-A, my friends."

The challenge was accepted and the chase moved heavenward.  The
small boy preceded the huge woman up the narrow staircase toward
the roof.  Suddenly, the goat appeared at the top.  Her pursuers
paused thoughtfully in mid-air, but not for long.  Gathering her
feet under her like a bird in flight, the goat descended upon those
below in the manner of an ancient battering ram.  Two sounds marked
the whizzing return of her body to the earth below; a small puff
when it hit Anthony, and a grunt like a startled sow when Anthony
hit Angela.  The goat passed over them.  They both rolled to the
bottom of the stairs where they were met by Mr. Bonnyfeather who
was trying to laugh and cry at the same time.

For a few breathless moments the mountain appeared to be in
travail.  Then it wheezed, groaned, arose, and departed to the
kitchen feeling itself below the timber line for broken bones.  An
enormous clattering of pots and pans later ensued.

Anthony had luckily been saved serious injury by being driven into
a soft place on the mountain.  Nevertheless, he was in a miserable
enough state.  Mr. Bonnyfeather carried his limp form into the
house and sat down with him by a table near the door.  The boy's
face was chalky and his white eyelids trembled.  He gasped
occasionally and there was blood on his lips.

"Welcome, indeed!" thought Mr. Bonnyfeather, "puir little laddie!"
He sat for a minute wondering what he could do.

"Faith, Faith," he called at last.  There was no answer.  "Drat the
woman, she'll be oot wi the clarks, brisket bonny, nae doot."  His
indignation rose with his anxiety.  The whole establishment had
availed themselves of his permission to go to a carnival
performance.  Gianfaldoni was to dance.  Only the cook, who had no
interest in that art any longer, remained in the courtyard.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather reflected with some bitterness that even Faith
Paleologus, his trusted housekeeper of a decade or more, would
desert him to see a mere ballerino.  Alone with the hurt child in
his arms in a huge, dusty, old ballroom seething with mouldy
frescoes and hung with cobwebbed chandeliers, he felt as if fate
had played him a scurvy trick.

It was in this baroque scene of departed grandeur that the merchant
habitually ate and entertained visiting ship captains.  As he
looked about it now in the fast-fading light, the moth-eaten
splendours of the high-roofed and too ample apartment seemed to be
mocking his loneliness.  There was not a human sound in the
generally thronged courtyard.  An occasional suppressed bleat from
the goat only served to lend a slightly demoniac quality to the
unusual quiet.  It was suddenly borne in upon Mr. Bonnyfeather
sitting in the silence and the twilight that every living thing had
deserted him--that life would leave him alone thus a helpless and
childless old man.  He looked down at the pallid face of the boy
and sighed.

It was some thirty years now since he had held a child in his arms
who resembled this one.  The similarity of their features was
undoubted.  It troubled him.  It stirred, and not vaguely, a sorrow
so deep as to be tearless, a grief lapped as it were in deep, damp
stone, but one from which great pressure or a sudden shattering
blow might still extort drops of moisture.  It was in this deep
vein that he was now penetrated.  It came upon him that even the
cloak looked familiar.  But all women's cloaks look the same.
Pooh!  He was a foolish old man alone in the dark, aegri somnia.
Stop dreaming!  He must do something for this child who was ill,
who had been flung as it seemed into his arms by the Church--and
that devil of a goat, Auld Hornie himself.

Well, he WOULD do something about it.  He WAS lonely.  He could
cheat the devil at least.  As if he had come to a sudden and
irrevocable resolution Mr. Bonnyfeather rose determinately and laid
Anthony on the big oak table putting an old leather cushion under
his head.  The boy stirred weakly, and half opening his eyes closed
them again with a shiver.

The great ballroom of the Palacio Gobo had once extended the entire
length of the lower floor, but in its second incarnation as the
Casa da Bonnyfeather this painted scene of much ancient,
ceremonious gayety had been divided like Gaul.  Stone partitions
had been thrown across either end and the space behind them divided
in turn into several smaller rooms.  Of the two new apartments,
thus laid off at either end of the old, one was occupied by the
cook with a numerous family, and the other by Mr. Bonnyfeather
himself.

It was toward his own particular section of the building that the
merchant now made his way.  Taking a large bunch of keys from his
bulging pockets, he unlocked the door in the partition.

Before him was a long hall floored with a carpet of deep pile upon
which his feet fell noiselessly.  In the daytime this corridor was
lighted from above by a skylight.  That, however, was only a
glimmer now above his head where a few stars appeared as if peering
through a hole in the roof.  All that part of the building would
now have been entirely dark had it not been for a subdued radiance
that escaped from a small Chinese lamp on a gilt stand at the
extreme end of the hall.

Set beside the wide, white door of Mr. Bonnyfeather's room, the
gilded and carved lintel of which it invested with important
shadows, the light of this oriental lantern seemed to percolate its
jade screen statically as if determined to tinge even the shadows
upon which it now shone with its own quiet serenity.  Behind the
partition he had reared, and amid these shadows, the merchant had
attempted to build for himself a refuge from the world.  Once over
the threshold of these precincts, Mr. Bonnyfeather shook off the
rather staid man of business that the world knew and became a mere
man.  He unbent and moved now, not only more at ease, but more
gracefully, as if he had cast off the habits of half a lifetime and
returned to those of his youth.

Besides his own room at the end of the corridor, there were two
others on each side of it as he passed down.  The two on the left
were empty and had been so for years.  One had belonged to his wife
who had died in childbirth, and the other to the daughter she had
borne.  The rooms on the right, which looked into the court, were
those of Faith Paleologus, the housekeeper, and Sandy McNab, the
chief clerk.

On this evening, while the living were absent, as he stepped into
the corridor the place seemed to Mr. Bonnyfeather unbearably quiet.
The sense of loneliness which he had experienced so vividly a few
moments earlier was now reinforced and increased severalfold, and
this time with a kind of stealthy eeriness inherent in the close
quarters and the silent carpet underfoot.

As he passed the long-locked doors on his left, there arose in him
a strong impression that the rooms behind them were still occupied.
The memory of voices, footfalls, and faces once familiar to them
surged up in him toward reality again.  They suddenly threatened to
force conviction upon him.  They succeeded.  A blind terror
overcame him and stopped him sweating before the last door on the
left.  His keys tinkled in his hand.  He had heard a sound in
there!  Had he?  He listened intently again.  A minute passed.
"Maria?" he called.

At the sound of his own voice his self-possession flooded back.
Nevertheless, to reassure himself, he tried the handle of the door
immediately across the hall on the right.  It was that of his
housekeeper.  It too was locked.  He had hoped after all she might
be in.  He mumbled something and stood baffled.  "Drat the woman!
Cauld she no trust the maister wi his ain linen!"  The dialect
rasped in his head when he grew excited.  He had intended to put
the boy in there for a while.

But how long it had been since there were any sounds of life in the
room across the hall!  If he WAS going to hear things there--they
had better be real ones.  Besides, that child was still lying out
in the big room ill in the dark.  Well, he COULD do it.  Open
Maria's room alone?  But who was there left to open it with him,
now?  No one.  He would put somebody alive in there.  It needed the
familiar face of that young stranger.  Something gay there,
laughter, life!  And he would do it before Faith returned.

He strode into his own room and dashed a shower of sparks into the
tinder box.  Presently a number of candles were blazing, all that
he had.  He felt reassured.  Their sudden cheerfulness seemed to
beam approval on his plan.  Taking a candelabrum with no less than
six tapers in it, he came back into the hall again, set it down on
the floor, and with determined fingers thrust a rusty key into the
lock of his daughter's room.  He winced as the ward rasped, but
steeled himself.  He turned the knob boldly, thrust back the door
on its faintly complaining hinges, and faced the past.

It was not so poignant as he had expected.  Through a window set
high in the wall at the other end came lively noises from the
street beyond.  A horse trotted by.  The empty bed under an empty
niche in one corner of the wall had dust upon it.  That was all.
There was a dressing table with a cloth hung over its mirror.  He
removed the cloth and set the candle before the glass as rapidly as
possible.  The room seemed to glare then.  Some faded, girlish
dresses hanging in an open wardrobe he did not try to look at.  He
dusted the bed off, returned to his room, and came back again with
covers taken from his own couch.  These he disposed rapidly in a
comfortable way putting the pillow at the foot of the bed.  Then he
took a candle and went for Anthony.

The boy had opened his eyes and was trying to remember where he
was.  His belly and his ribs hurt him.  He felt sick.  The effort
of recollection was just now too much.  Presently there was a gleam
of light on the ceiling.  He looked up dizzily and saw the outline
of a chariot drawn by plunging horses disappearing into a dark bank
of clouds.  The face of the driver had dropped out of the plaster.
Then he saw the old merchant leaning over him and felt himself
being gathered into the man's arms.  He remembered now.  But where
was he being taken?  If Father Xavier were only here!  "Father," he
called.  He felt the man who carried him tremble.

As he neared the door with the boy in his arms, Mr. Bonnyfeather
saw a lantern crossing the court.  Suddenly its owner tripped over
something and began to swear.  The language was Protestant and from
north of the Tweed.  Ignoring all intercessors, the man who was now
trying to relight his lantern, addressed himself exclusively to God
Almighty.

"Come in, Sandy mon, I want ye," said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "It's
argint," he called as he passed through the door with Anthony.  A
few seconds later, the boy was lying on the bed which had been
prepared for him.  Sandy McNab's florid countenance was soon
staring in at the proceedings of Mr. Bonnyfeather with astonishment.

"I'll no deny that it gave me a jert to see the licht from her door
the noo.  I couldna faddom it.  Mon, yon laddie looks forfairn!" he
exclaimed as his eyes fell on Anthony.

"You'd no be feelin' so gawsy yoursel' if you'd had the hourns of a
gait aneath your breastie, atwell," replied Mr. Bonnyfeather.

"Whaws bairn is he?" asked Sandy, ignoring the rebuke implied in
the merchant's tone of voice.  "I dinna ken thot--aiblins," replied
the merchant.  "He's the new apprentice."  Mr. McNab whistled and
grinned.  "Haud your fissle," said the merchant with some heat,
"rin and fetch me a ship's doctor.  The first ye can find aboot the
dock.  Dinna ye see the laddie's in a vera bad wa?"

"Ye maun busk him," countered the irrepressible McNab.

Mr. Bonnyfeather arose.  "Will ye stand there and bleeze the nicht
awa?" he asked icily.

"Barlafumble!" cried Sandy.  "I'll no try to argle-bargle wi ye
aughtlins.  Ye ken I'm too auld-farrant for thot.  But it's een
blank--new to a blinkie o' a dark like mysel' to find the maistre
o' this establishment singin' balow-baloo to a bit breekless
apprentice.  It gars me a' mixty-maxty.  You're a' the guid mon
agin."

"Bletheration!" said his master, laughing in spite of himself.
That was exactly what the man at the door had hoped for.  It was
unusual for Mr. Bonnyfeather to become excited.  It was several
years now since the chief clerk had seen the merchant's high cheek
bones with that faint flush on them and his eyes shining.
Something more important than appeared on the surface was toward,
he thought.  Besides, in this room!  He noticed that Mr.
Bonnyfeather's hands trembled.  He needed company.  That was
evident.  The boy on the bed began to gasp.

"Mind yoursel' he's aboot to bock!" cried Sandy.  Lacking anything
better he snatched off his hat into which Anthony "bocked."  "Puir
bairn, you maun be corn't wi crappit head.  You're donzie, but wha
will reimbarse me for your clappin' my headpiece like a coggie.
Dinna coghle ower it so.  I'm na feelin' sae cantie and chancy
mysel'.  Coomin' ower the coort, ye ken, I trippet ower yon clatch
of a bag and was like to clout oot me brain pan.  Wha would ken a
dorlach cauld cleek-it a mon by the foot?"

Mr. McNab took his hat to the window gingerly, opened the window,
and somewhat regretfully threw out the hat.  "I hope they keep to
the crown o' the causey oot there the nicht," he opined.  "And noo
I'll rin for the physeecian."  Glancing at his master with more
anxiety than at the boy, he sauntered out, indicating the offending
bag with his foot.  Mr. Bonnyfeather nodded helplessly.  For the
second time that day, he wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
He placed the bag on the dresser and sat down close by the bedside.
The silence of the house was once more audible.

Anthony alternately dozed and awoke fitfully.  When he opened his
eyes now, he seemed to be back in his room at the convent.  The
place had somehow altered.  There was a very bright light.  The
window had shifted its place and altered its shape.  The niche in
the wall was there, but the statue had vanished from it.  That
troubled him.  He closed his eyes once more and tried to collect
himself.  When he opened them again they inevitably fell on the
vacant niche.  The process repeated itself and grew irritating.  He
muttered about it to himself; talked as though in his sleep.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather leaned over him rearranging the covers.  He wished
McNab would come back with the doctor, or that Faith would return.
The boy seemed out of his head.  What was all this talk about the
Madonna?  It was some little time before the merchant could make
out that "the madonna" was missing from her niche.  Then he
remembered the receipt he had signed that afternoon.  Perhaps the
thing was in the bag.  He also remembered vaguely that there had
once been a saint's image or something in the niche when it was her
room.

There was some difficulty with the bag.  It seemed reluctant to
open after Sandy had tripped over it.  The old catch was bent.  The
boy cried out something and Mr. Bonnyfeather's hand slipped.
Inadvertently he ripped the old leather while tugging at it.  The
bag fell open and gaped like a mouth that had nothing more to say.
Out of it Mr. Bonnyfeather extracted a long red purse like a
tongue--and the madonna.  The sun-burst on her head had been bent a
little.  He straightened it gingerly and put the statue in the
niche where the boy evidently wanted it.  Somehow it too seemed
vaguely familiar.  He tried to remember.  But all madonnas were
alike, more or less.  Yet she did seem to belong there, to fit
nicely.  It was as if she had been there before.

The boy's eyes opened again and now found what they had sought.  An
expression like that of a little girl whose lost doll has been
found just at bedtime flitted over his face.  His eyes caressed the
statue and closed happily.  He began to breathe more easily.  Some
colour crept into his cheeks as he slept.

After a while Mr. Bonnyfeather ventured to wipe the blood from
Anthony's mouth.  He saw now that it had come from a small cut in
the boy's lip.  He sat by the bed and waited.  An hour slipped by.
As he gazed steadily at the lad's quiet face, the conviction of his
first impression of it again attained the feeling of certainty.  He
felt as though he were being haunted.  Below the nostrils the
resemblance certainly weakened.  There was a firmer and broader
chin.  He placed his hands across the boy's mouth so as to shield
it from his view.  Instantly from the pillow the face of his
daughter looked up at him.  The merchant sat down overcome.  His
head dropped forward into his hands.

His thoughts were still in a whirl when McNab came back with a
ship's surgeon.  Searching along the dock, it had taken him some
time to find one.  The doctor was an orderly soul and it irked him
to find the patient's head placed at the foot of the bed.  He
forthwith shifted Anthony about and Mr. Bonnyfeather was forced to
see the boy's face just where he had tried to avoid placing it.
The doctor's examination disclosed no broken bones.  He removed the
old cloak, and despite the fact that Anthony cried out, went over
him thoroughly.  Lacking his instruments for bleeding, the surgeon
prescribed rest.  He departed with the chief clerk after having
received one of the gold pieces from the purse that had come in the
bag.  It was a large fee.  Mr. McNab began to recollect audibly
that his hat recently sacrificed in the same good cause was of the
best quality.  Mr. Bonnyfeather, however, was obtuse.  In a short
while he was left alone again.

This time the face of the boy was exactly where that of the last
occupant of the bed had been.  In the mind of the man watching, the
two faces were already confused or combined.  It was hard to tell
which.  Only his reason refused to consent.  He began to go over
word by word the nocturnal interview with Don Luis of ten years
before.  The words, the very gestures of the marquis, precise,
formal, not to be evaded, came back now across the warmth of his
new yearning like a wind from glacial peaks.  He heard the heavy
wheels of the coach rolling away again into the night leaving him
standing dazed.  "Buried in the Alps."

His own wife had died in childbed, too.  It had been like that with
Maria!  If only her child had lived!  Whether it had been a boy or
girl he did not know.  Don Luis had done all the talking.  Futile
to ask!  The man seemed to be in a white rage that night about
something.  Not a word for Maria.  Only the cold facts, and a final
farewell.  Disappointment, no doubt.  Well, he could understand
that.  Don Luis had never married again either.  Gone to Spain.
Nothing had passed between him and the marquis afterwards--nothing
but the rent.  Ought he to write now?  About what?  A facial
resemblance?  Certainly not like Don Luis.  Mr. Bonnyfeather
thought of something and started.  Impossible!

Impossible any way you looked at it.  Why, he would have to begin
by doubting the marquis' word.  What a letter that would be.  And
what a reply!  He winced.

He must collect himself.  The events of the past few hours were not
sufficient to explain the state in which he now found himself.  He
should not have stayed here alone looking at the boy's face, nor
should he have opened her room.  That was a mistake after all.  If
the housekeeper had only not been out.  "Damn the woman, would she
never come home!"  It must be nearly midnight.  He drew out his
watch.  In doing so he became aware that someone was standing in
the doorway.  He turned about swiftly, terribly startled in spite
of himself.




CHAPTER THIRTEEN

THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN


A countenance so regular and aquiline as to suggest a bird of prey
in forward flight was looking into the chamber where Mr.
Bonnyfeather sat grasping his watch convulsively.  The face was so
pallid and so deep-set in a round straw bonnet that the light from
the jade lamp cast a positively greenish hue upon it.  It had a
broad, low forehead under masses of thick, blue-black hair, a
rouged mouth that would have been passionate had it not now been
contorted into a grimace of terror and surprise, and a pair of
black-brown eyes.  These seemed to have something staring through
them from behind like those painted on an Egyptian mummy case.  The
folds of the dress were in obscurity, and a high furbelow from the
bonnet seemed to run up like a plume into the night beyond.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather's grip on his watch tightened.  Several seconds,
answered by heart beats which he felt throbbing in his hand, passed
slowly before he recognized in the plan of the shadows the familiar
lineaments of his housekeeper, Faith Paleologus.

"Creest, woman!" said he, "why do ye creep up like that on a body?
It's fearsome."  He was glad to hear his own voice and continued to
talk as he slipped his watch into his pocket allowing the heavy
seals to dangle heedlessly.  "Whar hae ye been?  It's long past
midnight, ye ken.  Wha hae ye been doin' wee yoursel' the nicht?"
She knew he must be excited to question her thus and to lapse into
Scotch, to be so direct and familiar.  His voice stiffened her.
She resented it.

"I'm not so old yet but that I still like a bit of a fling now and
then.  It was carnival, you know, and I danced.  Do you really want
to know where?"

"Naw . . . no," he replied, recollecting himself.  "But if you had
been here I should not have had to put him in this room."

"Who is HE then?" she asked.  "I saw the light from this room as
I came in.  You wonder I made no noise?  It's over ten years agone,
you know, since . . ."

"Yes, but . . ."

"You opened it then?"

He nodded unwillingly.

"Why?"

He pointed to the boy on the bed.

"John Bonnyfeather," she whispered, "who is it that has come back
with her face?"

"Orr-h!  You saw it, too?"  He went forward and shaded the boy's
chin with his hand.

"Saw it!  Do you think I need to have you do that?  When I looked
in here, I thought I was looking at the past again.  And I am," she
added moving forward so rapidly as to startle him.  "Here is a
piece of it come back."  She snatched the madonna from the niche
and bore it to the light.  "It is the same, I know."  They bent
over it together.  "Do you think I could ever mistake that?  Look!"
Under the candles she showed him the almost invisible fracture in
the statue to which the knife of the marquis had once pointed so
unerringly.

"I gave it to her years ago, here, in this room, long before she
left!"  The old man reached out for the madonna like a child
assuring itself of the reality of an object by touch.  But his
hands trembled so that she kept the statue and looking at him
meaningly returned it to its niche.  "How did THAT come here?"
she again flung at him.

"I dinna ken!" said Mr. Bonnyfeather mopping himself where the edge
of his wig met his brow.  Trying to explain things to himself, he
recounted to her all that he knew of Anthony together with the
events of the afternoon.  They whispered to each other for half an
hour by the boy's bedside.

". . . and that's all I know and the rest is uncanny," he finally
ended.  A short silence ensued between them.

"An orphan, eh, and from the old place on the hill?" she said.  He
nodded dubiously.

"I'll have to sleep on it," he sighed rising.  "I'm worn out,
watching, and waiting for you.  You can take your turn now at being
a nurse again.  For a lad this time."

"He'll be staying on in this room?" she asked, laying her hand on
his arm so eagerly that he looked surprised.

"Yes," he said.

"Wait, then.  I'll mix some hot milk and wine for you.  You'll need
it."

He sat down again and waited while she crossed the big hall to the
kitchen and returned.  As he looked at the boy Mr. Bonnyfeather's
satisfaction with his decision increased.  His eyes travelled from
the figure on the bed to the figure in the niche.  He crossed
himself and remained for some minutes in prayer.

Faith returned with the posset cup.  He drank silently.

"You'll leave this light here?" she asked as he rose again.  "I'll
get some more candles.  He's sleeping soundly enough now."

The old man nodded and left.  A few seconds later she heard his
door close.  The woman took off her bonnet and gathering her wrap
closer about her began her vigil.

                            ----------

The candles were still blazing brightly in Mr. Bonnyfeather's room.
He looked about him with keen satisfaction.  A certain pride and
hauteur was visible in his countenance as he did so.  If, when he
entered the corridor which led to this retreat, he dropped the
merchant and became the man; when he finally crossed the threshold
of his own chamber and closed the door, a further transformation
took place.  He then, in his own mind at least, became a nobleman.
Nor was this a mere aberration on his part.  If Prince Charles
Edward Stuart had only been able to pass on from Derby to London
and had his father proclaimed at Westminster as well as at
Holyrood, Mr. John Bonnyfeather, merchant, would have been the
Marquis of Aberfoil.  Since George and not James III or his son was
now king, all that was left of the hypothetical Marquisate of
Aberfoil was a proud memory in an old man's heart, and a room in a
mouldering palace in Italy.

Unlike the other chambers in Mr. Bonnyfeather's immediate
apartment, his own room had been originally part of the old
building.  It extended clear across the end of the ancient ballroom
and had once been used as a retiring room.  At one end there was an
immense monumental fireplace where several hundred cupids went
swarming through the Carrara helping themselves to several thousand
bunches of gilded grapes.  The fruit appeared to be dripping like
gilded icicles from the mantelpiece itself.  Just above this,
propped out at a considerable angle to avoid a fat satyr carved on
the chimney behind, was a large oil portrait of James II in
periwig, sword, and very high-heeled shoes.  It had been done at
St.-Germain's in the latter days of the monarch when he had become
a "healing saint."  The lines by the nose were almost cavernous,
the corners of the mouth turned down, and the eyes looked puzzled
and weary.  At the apartment before him, King James squinted with
an implacably sullen and gloomy look.  Nevertheless, the picture
was cherished by Mr. Bonnyfeather.  It had been given to his
grandfather who had followed his king into exile.

On the mantel itself there was nothing but a handsomely wrought
silver casket immediately below the portrait with a heavy
candelabrum at either side.  In these were exceptionally large wax
candles that burned with a fine, clear light.  In the mind of Mr.
Bonnyfeather, here was the family hearth of his castle in Scotland.
It, with the portrait, the casket, and the candles, had attained in
his inherited affections and loyalties the status of a lay shrine.
Nor was the shrine without its relics.  In the casket before the
picture reposed his grandfather's useless patent of nobility, a
miniature of his daughter as a little girl, and an ivory crucifix.
When Mr. Bonnyfeather prayed, as he still did occasionally, he
placed the crucifix against the casket and knelt down on the
hearth.

The rest of the room had somehow taken on the air of that chamber
in nowhere that it actually was.  It was furnished with a kind of
blurred magnificence.  In one corner there was a painted bed with a
canopy over it.  There had at one time even been a railing about
it, but as this had caused amusement to the servants, Mr.
Bonnyfeather had had it removed.  Next to the bed was an immense
wardrobe, the panelled doors of which led upward like a cliff to an
urn on the top.

Seen from the door, set off by the gilded parallelogram of the base
of the vanished railing, the bed and the wardrobe resembled nothing
so much as a catafalque waiting beside the closed doors of a family
tomb.

Certain lugubrious, and ludicrous, aspects of this bedroom had in
early years impinged themselves even upon the mind of Mr.
Bonnyfeather to whom it was home.  For one thing a heaven full of
adipose goddesses romping with cupids through a rack of plaster
clouds had been ruthlessly scraped from the ceiling, and the oval,
to which for some esoteric reason their sporting had been confined,
had been painted a deep blue.  As a consequence, at night the
centre of the room seemed to rise into a dome.  The walls which had
once been the scene of dithyrambic landscapes had also been painted
over.  But this coat was now wearing thin and the original, wild
pastoral vistas were faintly visible in outline and subdued colour
as if seen through a light Scotch mist.  The effect was to
exaggerate greatly the size of the apartment.  It was like looking
in the morning into the vanishing dreams of the night before.

In this mysterious and all but mystical atmosphere, the old
merchant nourished his dreams both of the past and of the future.
In the daytime with the bright, Tuscan sun streaming through the
high, oval windows, not unlike the portholes of some gargantuan
ship, the place was warm, dimly green, with half-obliterated
forests and cascades slumbering on the wall; glinting with old
gilt, and withal cheerful.  But with the descent of night all this
was changed.  The catafalque of the bed seemed to thrust itself
forward.  The dome rose into the ceiling again.  King James
glowered.  And the family tomb in the corner seemed waiting
determinedly for John Bonnyfeather, the last of his race.  It was
not without a shudder that he could prevail upon himself to hang
his breeches there after eight o'clock at night.

To offset the Jacobean melancholy that threatened to engulf the
place at dusk, the old man had many years before covered the floor
with a bright red, Turkey carpet.  He set cheerful brass firedogs
to ramping in the fireplace under piles of old ship timbers always
ready to blaze merrily, and provided himself with several mirrors
and an endless number of silver candlesticks, candelabra of noble
proportions, and sconces.  Since the death of his daughter he might
be said to have developed a passion for light.  Mr. Bonnyfeather's
weekly consumption of candles would have furnished forth a requiem
mass for a grandee of Spain.  This room with its nightly
illumination together with some fiery old port which produced the
same result constituted the chief indulgences of his amiable soul.

Here he retired, laid aside his wig, and put on a velvet dressing
gown.  Here he pored over his accounts spread out on a huge teak-
wood desk under a ship's lantern; planned out a profitable voyage
for one of his several ships, or answered especially important
correspondence.  A large globe which he turned often, running his
keen Scotch eye with a canny glance over many seas and lands, stood
by the desk.  There was a drawer for maps and charts.  There were
compasses and dividers apt to his hand, and down one side of the
room a long bookcase was insufficient to hold his tomes.  Atlases,
almanacs, and port guides of recent dates had begun to accumulate
in little towers along the floor.

To stand at the door, as he was doing now, and to run his eyes over
the apartment with the candles burning, always had about it the
elements of a cheerful surprise.  The change from the dimly lit
corridor was an abrupt one.  A wash of silver light reflected by
mirrors, sconces, and other silver objects flooded from the walls
of the room.  The George flashed on the breast of King James.  The
comfortable, large, gilt furniture and the books twinkled.  Only in
the corner the bed remained in mysterious shadow with his slippers
beside it like two crouching cats.

The merchant began to undress.  He hung his clothes on an old pair
of antlers, all that remained of feudal rights in Scotland, put on
his wrapper, and drew up a comfortable chair before the fire.  He
was quite chilled through by his wait in Anthony's room, and the
last discovery of Faith Paleologus had shaken him quite as much as
his first sight of Anthony's face.  He had decided already to keep
the boy in the house but upon purely instinctive and emotional
grounds.  An explanation that would provide him adequate reason for
so serious a change in his fixed household habits at first seemed
to him an absolute necessity.  More important still, the status of
the boy was not clear to him.  By his actions it seemed as though
the old man were trying to extract the answer to these questions by
poking hollow places in the fire or by repeated applications to the
bottle of port.

But the longer he thought the less likely it seemed that any
reasonable and satisfactory explanation could be arrived at.  If
the marquis had been hiding anything, it was something which he
desired to hide.  It would be useless, and it would certainly be
dangerous even to attempt to follow things up there.  That last
interview was meant to be a final one.  Mr. Bonnyfeather knew that.
Mr. Bonnyfeather could not see himself accusing Don Luis of
abandoning his own child--even if he had had one that lived--which
he had denied.  "And if it had not been his child . . . if it had
been Maria's!"

The old man's own conscience, his honour, stopped him here.  His
daughter was dead.  The vista opened up for him an instant in a
certain direction was one from which he recoiled a second time that
night in sheer horror.  All the pride, all the intense loyalty and
belief in his own blood and family cherished through generations
almost to the point of monomania precluded for him further
explorations in that direction.  With what felt like an actual
muscular action in his head, he closed the door against even this
suspicion.

He meant to shut it out entirely.  But thought is swifter than
honour.  He had only succeeded in imprisoning the impression,
perhaps an intuition, in the cells of his brain.

So he would not inquire any further, at the convent, or at any
other place.  Whatever was mysterious about this happening might,
so far as he was concerned, remain so--far better so.  He checked
himself again.  "Buried in the Alps!"  The words came back to him
now in the cold accents of Don Luis with a positive comfort.  They
must be final.

The old man now reproached himself even for his thoughts.  How
lovely and how innocent that daughter had been!  It was a long time
since he had looked at the girl in the miniature.  He would look at
her again tonight.  The pain that her likeness never failed to
inflict upon him should tonight be his penance.  Its beauty and
delicacy should also be his comfort and assurance.

He unlocked the casket and took out the locket.  He snapped it
open.  Save for certain subtle feminine contours, there looked up
at him from the oval frame the face of the boy on the bed in the
next room.  Mr. Bonnyfeather grew weak and leaned with his head
against the mantel.  He FELT now beyond all reasonable doubt what
he would never admit to himself he wanted to know.

A small chiming clock on his desk struck four as he climbed into
bed.  It was answered by the town chimes and echoed by all the
ships' bells in the harbour.  Mr. Bonnyfeather felt at peace with
himself, his Maker, and the past over the decision he had finally
made while resting his head against the mantel.  Characteristically
for him, it was compounded out of an emotional conviction and a
reasonable doubt.  It took the middle way between the horns of a
dilemma.  The boy who had come into his house that night should be
received and brought up AS IF he were akin, but never acknowledged.
The tie between them that he felt to be there but could not
understand should remain without a name.  That would solve the
question by not asking it.  It would, it should suffice.

The merchant took a deep breath of relief.  From the cellar below
the odour of tea and spices permeated his room.  He breathed it in
with satisfaction.  For one who proved himself capable and deserved
it, there might be a good inheritance in the vaults of the Casa da
Bonnyfeather.  "And so we shall see," he thought, "what we shall
see."

"God be praised.  But you especially, Merciful Virgin, who have had
this child in your holy and mysterious keeping, and have brought
comfort to an old man's heart."

Outside the last of the ships' bells had just ceased to ring as
drowsiness fell upon him.

                            ----------

The same bells which had rung Mr. Bonnyfeather across the borders
of sleep had awakened Faith Paleologus in the next room.  She had
not meant to go to sleep, but she was tired after the carnival.  It
was only a few minutes after Mr. Bonnyfeather's door had closed
before she had forgotten herself entirely.  She awoke now with her
bonnet at a drunken angle, her clothes disarranged, and her body
slumped down in her chair.  Her first thought was that she must
look a mess.  Her second that the boy might see her.

She stole a look at him furtively.  He was sleeping soundly.  The
rosy tinge of healthy slumber had returned to his cheeks.  For some
time her eyes continued to drink at this fountain of youth.  There
was no chance of her being seen doing so.  Finally one of the
candles guttered.  She rose silently, straightened her bonnet, and
renewed the candles from the pile she had brought from the kitchen
earlier.  Then she took the candelabrum and tiptoed into her own
room.  There was a long mirror.

Before this she took off her bonnet and let down her hair.  It fell
in a dense black mass about her knees.  She brushed it and combed
it carefully, plaited it in two long, thick coils, and wound them
around her head.  The ends, after a manner all her own, she pulled
up through the loops of the coils and bound them tight with black
tape.  They stood up over her forehead like two small horns.  She
next rubbed her face with a soft camel-hair brush dipped in lemon
juice, patted her cheeks with a soft towel and noted the effect.
She bathed her eyes with cold water.  Then she unloosed her clothes
about the shoulders and slipped them all, with one simple movement,
to the floor.  From the middle of this pile, she stepped out of her
shoes entirely naked.  The carefully demure housekeeper lay behind
her heaped on the floor with the toes of her shoes turned in.

The rather splendid moth that had thus emerged from its best silk
cocoon now flew across the room to one corner where on the stone
floor reposed a ship's water cask that had been sawed in half.  It
was four feet high and two-thirds full of cold water.  Without any
change of facial expression the woman stepped into it and crouched
down until the liquid met over her shoulders.  She remained there
for about half a minute as if her head floating free from her body
were regarding the room.  Then she rose without splashing, dried
herself hastily, and began to move quietly but rapidly about.
Every trace of fatigue had vanished.  There was a certain panther-
like sureness, an inevitable grace to her movements that was
admirable.  At that moment, upon emerging from the cool water which
at once soothed her nerves and stimulated her muscles, her brain
was like that of a dancer, preoccupied with physical motion but
thinking about nothing at all.

Faith Paleologus was tall and appeared to be slender.  Her
shoulders if one looked carefully were too wide.  But so superb was
the bosom that rose up to support them that this blemish, if
blemish it were, was magnificently disguised.  A sculptor of the
old school might have seen in her an Artemis to the breasts and
above that some relation of the Niké of Samothrace.  Perhaps the
latter was also suggested by her straight profile that seemed to
cleave the element through which it moved as if she were standing
on the bow of a ship.  Yet there was something too strange about
her to name as a guilty one the quality that was uniquely hers.
She seemed designed by the inscrutable for a use that was
incomplete; for a purpose doomed to defeat by finding an end in
itself.  It was her hips.  They were not those of a woman but of
something else.  A lemure's perhaps.  Exquisitely capable for the
relief of lovers they were inadequate for anything more.  In their
image was implicit an obstruction to life.

Her presence in the house of so honourable, and in the final
analysis so religious, a person as Mr. Bonnyfeather was by no means
the enigma which this glimpse into the privacy of his housekeeper's
room might indicate.  The implications of her body were offset and
to some extent controlled by a cautious and clever mind.

On the stage of life Faith Paleologus was a consummate actress.
Her rôle was a minor one, during the daytime, but it was subtly
conceived.  When she resumed her clothes in the morning and
prepared to move about the precincts of the Casa da Bonnyfeather,
her carefully chosen costume, and it was nothing more, her motions,
her attitude, and the very tones of her voice proclaimed the staid
virgin of uncertain age.  In a household predominantly one of male
contacts her face afforded no opportunities for amorous
speculation.  By a stroke which fell little short of genius she had
contrived an artfully repulsive bustle to cover her inviting hips.
Furthermore, she was never seen outside, even in the courtyard,
without her bonnet, a long, perfectly smooth cylinder of black
straw.  It was worn sufficiently tilted up, and was tied under the
chin with a dull bow of such miraculous precision as to cause every
honest British seaman she passed to touch his cap with an automatic
and nostalgic respect.  She had, in short, learned by art the
basest note in the cheap scale of respectability.  "Never commit an
indiscretion at home."

Yet it would be a genuine mistake to suppose that Faith Paleologus
was one of the numerous and familiar who regard themselves as a
means of gain and find the marketing pleasant.  There were several
gentlemen in sundry places who congratulated themselves on still
being alive to regret having made that error.  Her need was as deep
as the gulf out of which it arose.  It might, if she had cared to
make it do so, have carried her far.  But for her own always
immediate purposes, she found Livorno an ideal place.

It was composed, at the time she trod the boards there, of several
physical neighbourhoods socially an astronomical distance apart.
Along the water front wandered avidly a cosmopolitan flux, keen
eyes, ardent souls, and bodies from many shores.  During the
daytime Faith chose to hide herself from this; to live within the
precincts of an orderly mercantile establishment, and to conduct
the simple domestic affairs of its owner and his resident clerks.
But on some evenings, especially about the full of the moon, she
left it, bonneted, and bound ostensibly upon some domestic errand.
A few minutes later would find her not only in other precincts but
in other purlieus.

There she laid aside her respectable bonnet and received in privacy
a male member of the world flux that she had chosen, and summoned
as she well knew how, up from the water front.  During such
interviews her face darkened and took on the rapt expression of
some sibyl brooding upon far distant events.  The brown iris of her
eyes contorted, the black pupils narrowed into an inhuman and
almost oblong shape as if she were threading a needle.  Then
suddenly they widened and grew clearer and calm again.  Whether it
was some impassioned spirit temporarily appeased or merely a
satisfied animal that now looked through them it would be hard to
tell.

A young poet, an outcast who had once tarried with her, thought
that he had recognized in her face, when the disguise of the bonnet
was removed for him, a portrait of that Fate who sits at the gates
of first beginnings and tangles the threads of life.  He had
wondered if this personage could be loose and wandering about the
plains of earth.  He had returned to Faith again and again,
fascinated, trying to read her secret, until she cast him off tired
of his impotent curiosity.

But she was respected and even feared at the Casa da Bonnyfeather.
Her work was not all "acting."  It provided her sufficient scope
for the exercise of other abilities.  In a town where all save the
German and English mercantile establishments were notorious for
their clattiness and confusion, she maintained her employer's as a
model of order and cleanliness.  The private apartments of Mr.
Bonnyfeather, into which no guest was ever summoned since the death
of his wife, were not only spotless but bordered on the luxurious.
Nothing was lacking which at any time Mr. Bonnyfeather or she
herself really needed.  The one exception to this was the room of
Sandy McNab, which was Spartan.  He slept there and nothing more.

The master's table, which was always served in the old ballroom
exactly under the skeleton of the huge central chandelier
immediately opposite the main door, was provided with an abounding
plenty.  This was more a matter of business acumen than anything
else.  Mr. Bonnyfeather himself was rather abstemious of both food
and drink.  Scarcely a day passed, however, without one or two
guests, generally ship captains, factors, a brother merchant, or a
traveller of note and distinction who bore letters of introduction
or of credit to the house.  In addition, most men of affairs,
bankers, and even priests and artists in Livorno made it a point to
drop in occasionally upon Mr. Bonnyfeather both for the good cheer
and for the conversation.

From the table talk that went on about his board the merchant
gathered not only entertainment but a curious and valuable
knowledge of affairs in general, from world politics to how the
tides ran in the Bay of Fundy, or why the pilot fees were so high
on the River Hoogli.  Many a profitable enterprise and many a
shrewd deal had its inception or consummation here.  There were few
rumours adrift on the trade winds of the world which passed him by.
The conversation was polyglot.  A stray Russian had so far been the
only guest who had been forced to discuss nothing but his soup.
Even ships with cargoes consigned to his rivals found their
captains dining in a garrulous frame of mind with Mr. Bonnyfeather.

This notable table was catered to by Angela, the fat cook, one of
the best in town.  The dishes proceeded in an orderly manner
through a hole in the kitchen wall.  Thence they were wheeled
steaming on a small wagon with manifold trays by Tony Guessippi,
the cook's husband.  He was a kind of wizened male spider whose
function in life was to convey the dishes which his wife concocted
to their ultimate destination and to beget children on her body.  A
flock of eleven semi-naked youngsters and an equally lavish
technique with knife and ladle testified that Destiny had not been
mistaken this time in her choice.

On fine days both leaves of the great central door leading into the
old ballroom were thrown open.  At the top of the wide, low steps
which now swept up with a uselessly superb flare, Mr. Bonnyfeather
and his guests were to be seen dining under the swathed chandelier.
The old merchant enjoyed this.  In his secret heart he was the
laird of Aberfoil dispensing feudal hospitality to more illustrious
guests.  Something of that feeling overflowed into his mien and
conversation and served to flavour the meal with both the salt and
pepper of an old-world courtesy.

In all this Faith Paleologus was essential to Mr. Bonnyfeather.
Not only did she oversee the smooth and profitable abundance of his
own board, but the more simple comforts of the rest of the
establishment as well.  The merchant conducted his business in many
languages, and there were no less than nine resident clerks, four
Swiss porters, and several messengers and draymen who both ate and
slept in rooms that overlooked the courtyard.  On one side of this
was a kind of small barracks for the "gentlemen writers."  A ship's
cook and two boys sufficed for them.  The scrubwomen, five of whom
appeared every morning, also made up the beds.  When the master's
own ships were in harbour the pursers were provided with their
rooms and table, and there were generally transient guests of the
establishment who came with some legitimate claim on its
hospitality.

Such was the "factory" as it was called of the House of Bonnyfeather
in which the housekeeper held unrelenting sway.  Over the cellar,
the warehouse, the stables, and the office itself hovered the eagle
eye of Mr. Sandy (William) McNab.

The one spot in the place exempt from all authority was the
purlieus of the kitchen.  Here in gargantuan disorder and simian
anarchy rioted the clan Guessippi; boys, girls, chickens, cats, and
goats.  No dogs had been able to survive.  It was only when Faith
herself appeared there at some crisis of uproar that silence and
dismay brought about a specious appearance of order.  At such times
all the children fled either into or under the family bed.  Tony
departed to the wine cellar leaving his wife alone with her own
bulk.  It was well known throughout the neighbourhood that Faith
had the evil eye.  For that reason no spoons were ever missing, and
the scrubwomen invariably reported early.  One angry glance, and
you might wither away; a stare, and the Virgin herself might not be
able to help you.

To a certain degree the authority of Faith had been inherited.
Inheritance indeed might account for much else that was peculiar in
her.  Her father had been a Florentine of Greek extraction.  The
family tree led back to Constantinople.  They were workers in
mosaic and had, with the extinction of the Medici, their patrons,
fallen upon evil times.  The last of them, a boy with a face like a
hawk and the mad lusts of a leopard, had fallen in with a
Scotchwoman in the house of Mr. Bonnyfeather's father at Livorno.
She, Eliza McNab, was one of several who had followed the fortunes
of the Bonnyfeathers into exile.  She was a true daughter of the
heather.  After a while the young Paleologus disappeared to
assemble mosaics in parts unknown.  He left his wife with a flower-
like pattern of bruises, a baby daughter, and the statue of the
madonna.  It was this daughter who had become the maid of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's only child Maria, and it was she, Faith, who had
succeeded in due time to the keys of his house.

                            ----------

At half past four on the morning after Anthony arrived the Casa da
Bonnyfeather lay wrapt in the profound quiet which precedes the
first stir of dawn.  The last of the clerks had returned from the
carnival.  The only light to be seen in the courtyard was the
faint, downward ray cast from the lattice of Faith Paleologus.
Presently, it disappeared.  She had crossed the corridor and gone
into Anthony's room again.  She placed the candles on the table and
sat down.  It was not her intention to remain watching for the rest
of the night.  The boy was sleeping utterly quietly and could need
no further attention.  But she, too, desired to study his face
again.  She had already formed conclusions of her own.  In her case
there was no point of honour beyond which speculation was taboo.
Quite the contrary.  The maid of Maria had no doubts about the
family resemblance.  She concluded that Mr. Bonnyfeather knew more
than he cared to tell.  Else why had the boy been placed in this
room?  Then there was the madonna, of course.  To Faith that was
simply a confirmation of what she had already surmised.  Well, she
would find out some day.  She had lived long enough to know that
one of the best ways to get to the bottom of a mystery is to hold
your own tongue.  Others invariably wagged theirs sooner or later.
Someone's long ears usually wagged at the same time.

She wondered about Don Luis.  What was his connection with all
this?  Of many who came to the Casa da Bonnyfeather he had been the
only one who had read her with a glance.  "What are YOU doing
here?" he had said.  But he also could hold his tongue.  She had
admired him for that, and other things.  Their one night together
had been memorable.  It had been her hope that he would take her
away with him along with Maria.  For that reason she had urged the
marriage on the girl.

So her pretty young charge had given the marquis the slip after
all!  She would never have given her credit for that.  Don Luis was
no simpleton.  It aroused Faith's reluctant admiration for Maria
for whom even when a girl she had felt little else than a well-
concealed envy that amounted almost to jealousy.  Maria had been
beautiful.  Faith had been glad to see her leave the house.

So by hook or crook this boy had come back for HER to look after--
with the Paleologus madonna.  She did not like that.  She had an
impulse to destroy the thing.  But she checked herself.  No, that
would be to give herself away; to cause questions to be asked.  She
looked up at the statue and glowered.  What had been its rôle in
all this?  Nothing, of course, nothing!  It was only a statue, an
old one at that.  Her eyes sank to the boy's face again.

There was the same unassailable loveliness.  How she had envied it
once in Maria.  It was the opposite with which her nature was ever
trying to unite.  In this present young masculine mould in which it
had been returned to her, it seemed possible that she might yet
come to possess it after all, to possess it even for an instant in
the only way she knew how, by the only approach to strength and
beauty which she had.  She was only thirty-two.

Presently her face darkened and her eyes contorted.

She rose silently, took the candles, and approached the bed.  She
listened, and bent over Anthony with an attitude infinitely
stealthy.  Her breathing deepened.  Her hands trembled unexpectedly
and a drop of hot wax splashed on his breast.  He moved
convulsively and opened his eyes.  She snatched the candles away
and began tucking him in again.  But she had not been quite quick
enough.  In the sudden glare of light as he first wakened the boy
had seen her eyes.

"This place is full of them!" he cried out.  He remembered where he
was now.  Then he saw her standing beside him.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"The housekeeper.  I'm here to make you comfortable."  She smiled
at him.

"It was you who covered me up just now?"

"Yes, the sheets had slipped off and you looked cold."

He pondered the information as if it had great importance.
"Doubtfully," she thought a little apprehensively.  He rubbed his
eyes.

"It's funny, but do you know just now I thought I saw that old goat
looking down at me again."

"You must have dreamed it," she said.  "Can't you see the door's
closed?  It can't get in here."

"No," he admitted doubtfully.  The impression had been a strong
one.  The door was closed, however.  He could see that for himself.
He gave it up.

"What's your name?" he finally asked.  Then as if in a hurry to
make a fair exchange--"mine is Anthony."

"Faith."

"Faith!"  He pondered that, too.  Then as if to himself, "Father
Xavier said faith was the evidence of things unseen."

"And who is Father Xavier?" she asked, an unconscious twinge of
contempt creeping into her voice.  She loathed priests.

"He is my friend," said Anthony, "and," he added, sensitive to the
tone of her voice, "I shall be lonely without him.  He is coming
here to see me again often."  He flung this as a kind of challenge.
Then as if to placate her, "You stay here?"

"I live here.  I shall be near you all the time."

"Oh," he said.  The conversation paused.  He closed his eyes again.
She waited for a long time now as if to pose her new question to
what lay so deep within him that it must answer truthfully when
spoken to.  But she must not let him go to sleep entirely.  Time
passed.  She spoke to him dreamfully.

"Do you remember any other good friend?"

"Yes, I remember," he whispered.

Instinctively she chose now a tone just sufficient to reach him and
no more.  She leaned nearer carefully.  "Who?"

But the effect was exactly the opposite of what she had hoped for.
He suddenly aroused himself, sat up and began to look about in a
puzzled way as if he missed someone.

"I thought I saw her here, last night," he said.

"I wonder who SHE was?" thought Faith.  "The old man said nothing
about her."

The boy's eyes continued to search through the room.  He remembered
it vaguely from the night before, but he was confused by having
been turned around on the bed by the doctor.  Presently he twisted
himself completely about.

"There!" he said triumphantly, pointing to the madonna in her
niche.  "There she is."

"If she had only destroyed that statue last night!  That would have
been the time," she thought.  It was always a mistake not to act on
a deep prompting like that, to reason herself out of it.  One
should listen to one's voices.  But it was too late now.  The boy
evidently set great store by the thing.  It, "she," she caught
herself saying, was a "close friend."  He thought he had seen her
here last night!  A convent child with visions!  Priest-bred, bah!
He would have to get over that.  Nevertheless, she felt herself
balked in some way or other.  Her first approach had been
frustrated.  She cursed herself for having given the statue to
Maria.  "I might have known it would come back to haunt me.  It
brought ill luck to my mother."  In spite of herself she went cold.

"Well, is there anything you want?" she asked preparing to go.

He shook his head and settled back under the covers.  It was a
comfortable bed.  Like the one at Signora Udney's, he thought.  He
closed his eyes.  Outside a cock began to crow.

Faith slipped back to her own room.  She must catch a wink of sleep
herself before her day began.  Silence wrapped the Casa da
Bonnyfeather for another hour.  Whatever moved then through its
dilapidated corridors stole through them as silently as the dawn
that was just breaking.




CHAPTER FOURTEEN

REALITY MAKES A BID


Next morning Mr. Bonnyfeather "communicated" his decision of the
night before to Faith.  She said nothing, but she approved.  Both
of them were aware that considerable comment might be expected in
and about the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  Positions were eagerly sought
after there, and the arrival of so young an apprentice and his
immediate translation to the sacred apartment of the Capo della
Casa would tickle curiosity.  Both of them sat at breakfast
thinking of this.

"Hum-um!" said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "How is he this morning?"

"A little dizzy yet, but quite all right again.  Three eggs for
breakfast," she replied.

"Keep him by you, in the room for several days," he went on.  "Tell
them he was badly shaken up.  You can stretch a point.  It will
then be natural enough that you should be taking care of him under
the circumstances."

"I had thought of it," she said.

"I knew you HAD," he smiled.  "But what after that?"

"You can tell McNab he is too young yet to be in the dormitory with
the grown men.  They will be glad enough not to have him about
carrying tales.  It would be miserable for him and them.  Also say
that no one's position has been filled or is threatened by his
coming here.  It is just a case of charity for Father Xavier.  Most
of the trouble here starts over fears or petty jealousies, you
know.  After a while it will seem perfectly natural for him to keep
on staying where he is.  It will also just have happened.  Trust
McNab to spread news."

"Exactly," said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  He was somewhat surprised by
having his own schemes put so eloquently.  His housekeeper
generally held her tongue.  "But it is natural enough," he thought,
"she was Maria's maid."  He was relieved and grateful to find that
he would not have to try to explain to her what he must never
explain to himself.  "This is just another orphan to whom we are
giving a start.  As you say, 'pure charity.'"  He looked at her
significantly.  She nodded and waited.  "Do you think anyone else
might notice the--his face?"

"McNab, perhaps.  He was here before Maria left.  He remembers her.
All the rest are new."

"Have the barber in and crop the boy's hair close.  It will make it
easier for me, too, in a way."  He sighed.  "Also, get him clothes.
Out of your household account.  I'll not ask you to save there.
One good suit.  For a gentleman's son."

"Or a merchant's grandson?" she asked suddenly.  She saw his cheek
bones flush.

"Woman," he said, "dinna propose it in words.  I dinna ken mysel'.
Let the dead stay buried!"  His face worked.

"Peace to you.  I'm no gossip.  Could you think that after all
these years?  I'll not whisper it this side of my shroud."

"It's not that," he said, calmer now.  "I wouldn't have you
think . . ."

"I think nothing," she said, "except that this is a new day and
it's time to begin it."

She walked over to a chest, unlocked it, and drew forth two flags
which she laid over his arm.  "Leave the boy to me now.  I'll see
to him."  He looked relieved and climbed to the roof intent on what
amounted to a daily ritual.

Arrived there he hoisted the two flags each on a separate pole.
One was the Union Jack and the other his house flag, a red pennant
with a black thistle.  In addition to this he always addressed a
short prayer to some member of the Holy Trinity.  He then unlocked
the small chest set into the parapet and took out a telescope.
From the roof of the house the entire inner and outer harbour and a
long vista down the coast was visible.  Steadying the glass on a
little bronze tripod, it was his custom every morning by this means
to study both the molo and the Darsena carefully and to sweep the
horizon.  In half an hour he would be thoroughly familiar with what
was going on at Livorno; what ships were coming and going, and what
business they were bound upon.  The glass was a good one.  He could
even recognize faces at a considerable distance.  It aided greatly
in eliminating from his affairs the disconcerting element of
surprise.  It would now be seven o'clock.

At precisely that instant Mr. Bonnyfeather could always be seen
descending the stairs from the roof.  At the foot of the stairs
Simon, the porter, handed him his gold-headed cane and a freshly
filled snuff box.  A large ship's bell which hung in the courtyard
rang out.  The gates were thrown open into the street.  The drays
began to rumble and the clerks to write.  The Casa da Bonnyfeather
was open for business.

On the morning after Anthony's arrival, Mr. Bonnyfeather was forced
to make one minor change in the ritual.  No one else knew it.  He
took the telescope out and swept the harbours as usual.  His
thoughts, however, were not upon the various swarming decks which
he passed in review but in the room just under his feet.  Through
the corridor skylight, which was opened every fine morning like a
ship's hatch, came the snipping of scissors and clear bursts of
laughter.  The barber was using his most humorous blandishments
while removing Anthony's hair.  Faith had lost no time about it.

Mr. Bonnyfeather smiled and turned his glass on the horizon.  A
cloud of mist seemed to cut off his view on a clear day.  "Dampness
in the glass!"  He unscrewed the eyepiece and wiped it assiduously,
likewise the large lens.  He looked again.  It was still dimmer.
Forced to admit the fact in spite of himself, he furtively wiped
his own eyes.  When he levelled the glass again the horizon stood
out startlingly clear.

Into a patch of brilliant sunlight sailed a full-rigged ship.  The
field of the glass covered her exactly.  He could see the
figurehead leaning forward and the slow rise and fall of the bows
as the waves whitened under the fore-chains.  Suddenly the ship
hesitated, the sails fluttered, and then filled out on the other
tack.  All the shadows on them now lay serenely on the other side.
In the crystal atmosphere of the glass the ship seemed to be
manoeuvring with supernatural ease in a better world.  It was his
own ship, long overdue, that was thus so calmly coming home again.
He descended the stairs in the rested mood that often follows
tears.

"Tell the draymen," said he, as the porter handed him his cane,
"that the Unicorn is coming in after all.  Be ready at the docks."

"A lucky day, sir," said Simon.

"VERY," replied Mr. Bonnyfeather.  His hand shook a little as he
took the cane.

In the corridor under the skylight the last of Anthony's ringlets
had just fallen to the floor.  Faith led him to Maria's mirror.  "I
am a man now," said he fiercely.  A very tall and slim, and a very
young, young gentleman dressed in a pair of plain, bow shoes and a
decent, dark green suit with buckles at the knees was trying to
frown back at him from the glass.  Even Anthony thought him to be
good-looking.  It annoyed him vastly to find that the barber was
taking all the credit for it as a result of his handiwork.  "I grew
these all myself," said the boy, turning upon the man angrily and
running his hand through his crisply shorn locks.  There was a
ripple of laughter from the door.  "Are you sure of it?" said Faith
Paleologus.  The barber clashed his shears and departed.

Three mornings later Anthony emerged from his seclusion to take up
his duties in the world of men.  He was anxious to do so.  An
overpowering curiosity, and a new, vivid sense of reality, totally
submerged any shrinking from the unknown which his temperament
might ordinarily have provided.  He accompanied Mr. Bonnyfeather to
the roof and was there permitted to raise the house flag which he
was given to understand was henceforth to be his first daily task.
Below him the mules were being hitched to the dray.  Big Angela and
her progeny were drawing water at the fountain.  The clerks were
making for the office.  Amid the garden-beds wandered his friend
the goat.  Mr. Bonnyfeather busied himself with the telescope.
Presently Sandy McNab beckoned to Anthony.  "Come down here,
laddie," said he.  Leaving the old man on the roof, Anthony
descended.

"How are you now?" said McNab in Italian, seeing that the boy had
understood only his gestures.  He also shook him by the hand with
so firm a clasp as to make him wince.  "Quite well, sir," replied
Anthony bravely.  Mr. McNab studied him for a minute.  "You'll do
now I guess," he said.  He looked at the short hair approvingly.
"Hold your chin up when you go about, and look out for goats."  He
grinned.  "But not so high as that," he cautioned, shoving the
boy's nose down with his thumb.  "I mean take your own part and
don't be afraid of anybody.  You understand?  That's what 'hold
your chin up' means."  Anthony nodded.  "Come on now, you're to eat
breakfast with the clerks.  The other meals you take with the
master.  And that's lucky for you," he added, taking the boy
roughly but not unkindly by the hand.  "There is a world of
difference in victuals."  He led the way across the broad
flagstones of the courtyard to the office which they entered
together in company with several clerks.

It was the big room where Anthony had first met Mr. Bonnyfeather.
But it was now a scene of great animation.  Down the aisle between
the desks had appeared as if by magic a long table at which were
seated a crowd of about twenty men varying in years from youth to
middle age.  They ate steadily and heartily of dishes strange to
Anthony.  No time, it appeared, was to be lost.  At the extreme end
of the apartment Mr. Bonnyfeather's desk rose impressively behind
its railing, majestic but lonely.

To the boy's surprise and delight little attention was paid to him
when he came in.  Those near by looked up and nodded perfunctorily
at McNab who sat at the head of the table near the door.  He drew a
stool up for Anthony next to him and rearranged some plates.  "This
will be your place now every morning," he said.  "Help yourself."

He set the example by pouring himself a large basin of tea and
heaping his plate with fish and scrambled eggs.  Out of the
coagulated mass a mackerel looked up at Anthony with a desperate
purple eye.  For a moment he could feel again where the goat had
hit him.  He turned his eyes up to the frescoed ceiling and for
some moments allowed them to remain there.  Just above him his
friend with the winged heels was taking off from a cloud, leaving
the banquet of the gods behind.  Perhaps he, too, felt dizzy.

"I see you are a man of sensibility," said a pleasant voice in
French next to Anthony.  Anthony took his eyes from the ceiling and
turned to find himself looking into a keen, youngish face with
sparkling brown eyes.  "I myself," continued the stranger smiling
in a friendly way upon him, "have upon several mornings preferred
to contemplate the banquet of the gods in the ceiling rather than
this breakfast of the English upon the floor."  Anthony summoned
his small stock of French to mind and replied with immense
precision, "Is it that in the ceiling they are not eating fish?"

"Never," cried his new-found friend fiercely, "never a fish!"  He
waved confirmatively toward a Bacchus just above him.  "Have you
not noticed," he rattled on, "the terrible Medusa-like stare of the
mackerel?  It produces in the pit of the stomach the sensation of
stone."  Anthony agreed.  He could not follow it all, but he felt
called upon to make a counter-reply.

"But at the breakfast of the English the food is real," he managed
to string together.  "True," cried his new friend, "your
observation does you credit, monsieur, it is a just one.  You have
named the chief advantage the English have over the gods.  But
consider, it is only a temporary one.  By tonight this breakfast
will have become food for an idea.  It will have become an idea.
That is the end of breakfasts.  And think," said he, suddenly
whisking about on the bench so that he sat astride of it with his
hands on his hips, "think what kind of an idea that mackerel will
become which is even now going into the head of Meester McNab."

Mr. McNab's eyes bulged out with indignation.  For a moment he
seemed doubtful himself as to the destination of the fish and
choked.  "Hauld your clack," he mumbled, and then turned to
Anthony.  "Eat your bun, my boy," said he, "and sop it in your tea.
Toussaint there is a Frenchman and a philosopher.  If you listen to
him you'll have naught but an ideal breakfast in your little basket
when the bell rings."  As if in premonition of famine and as an
example to the young, Mr. McNab, after clearing his own plate with
a piece of bread in spiral motion, departed for his desk.  Anthony,
who was embarrassed at thus finding himself the centre of a debate,
was relieved to see McNab grinning over his shoulder at Toussaint
who laughed back.  The latter now continued to regard him with his
arms akimbo.

"I can see that we shall get along famously," he said.  "You speak
French beautifully"--Anthony blushed with delight--"and you dislike
mackerel.  It is the basis for a firm, philosophic friendship.  You
look like a northerner.  Where have you been civilized?  You do not
speak English?"  Anthony shook his head.

"I would advise you to learn it," his friend rattled on.  "It is
the language out of which realities proceed, fish, tea, gold,
raiment--and finally power.  It will help you here greatly, for
that is the kind of thing they are after."  The boy nodded as if he
knew.  "Father Xavier has already said so," he interpolated.  "Ah,
yes, of course, the Jesuit.  He would know.  But he has already
taught you other things, I suppose?"  "Yes, monsieur, Latin,
French, and I know Italian.  I have read The Divine Comedy."

"Excellent," cried the philosopher.  "You have begun.  I myself
will continue your education, in French."  He held up a warning
finger.  "But say nothing about it.  Your desk is to be next to
mine.  Monseigneur McNab has in a way turned you over to me.  You
see I know where you come from."  For some reason the boy felt his
cheeks glow.

"Tut, tut, it is a great advantage.  You're not handicapped by a
mother.  It is THEY who make the world civilized and that is what
is the matter with it.  They want you for themselves.  Congratulate
yourself.  Also we shall circumvent Mr. McNab.  I am supposed to
teach you about invoices.  They are easy.  Afterwards we shall put
them by in a drawer and converse"--he pointed upwards dramatically--
"in the language which is useful up there.  You see those nine
women dancing about the gentleman with the lyre?"  Anthony nodded.
"We shall meet them," said he.  "Possibly even the gentleman
himself.  In the meantime, let me recommend to you the conduct of
this one, in so far as you see it portrayed there," he added
hastily, and pointed to the figure of a boy standing behind the
couch of Jove.  From the cup which he bore, the page was slyly
taking a drink behind the other man's back.  "Do you understand,
mon ami?" asked Toussaint looking down into Anthony's face.

Anthony nodded, "I think so," he replied.  "At least I shall learn
French."

"At the very least!" replied Toussaint.  "And now I shall prove to
you that McNab is wrong."  He pulled a fine gold watch out of his
bright yellow waistcoat and looked at it.  "You have seven minutes
before the bell rings to finish your breakfast.  You shall now see
what it is to be a natural philosopher."

He assembled some plates rapidly under the fascinated stare of
Anthony, placed upon them a fried egg with an unbroken yolk, a
piece of thin bacon beside it, a light, white roll and a piece of
butter which he cut into a square.  Then he poured out some tea
carefully straining out the leaves.  "It IS a little cold," said
he, "due to my causerie, but you see what makes it inviting is that
it is the combination of food and an idea.  It is déjeuner and not
merely the breaking of a fast.  Eat while you still have time."
They both broke into a laugh together.  The first of many.

"Five minutes till the bell rings," said Mr. McNab with his eyes
upon them from the other end of the room.  He was already at work.
Toussaint made a grimace.  Anthony stuffed himself.  Presently the
bell rang.

Instantly, all those who were still lingering arose.  The porters
seized the loose planks of which the tables were composed and
carried them out bodily with the remains of the breakfast upon
them.  The stools upon which the planks rested were each claimed by
a clerk who carried it to his desk and sat down upon it forthwith,
opened his ledger, and began to indite.  A man with a broom swept
the fragments down the aisle.  In a short time a complete silence
save for the scratching of divers pens reigned unbroken.

The sun streamed through the windows and only the gods in the
ceiling continued to dine.  Beneath them the figures of the
gentlemen writers bent over the desks, adding up columns or writing
letters.  Decorum from a niche in the corner smiled.  About five
minutes later the ferrule of a cane was heard clicking on the
mosaics in the vestibule.  Mr. McNab left his desk and took his
place by the door.

"Good morning, sir," said he as Mr. Bonnyfeather came through the
door.

"Good morning, Mr. McNab, good morning, gentlemen," said Mr.
Bonnyfeather.  A respectful murmur of welcome ensued without
interrupting the pens.  Mr. Bonnyfeather advanced one more step,
took off his hat, and hung it over the face of a dilapidated satyr
whose horns were worn giltless by this use.  From under the cocked
hat it grinned helplessly.  Mr. Bonnyfeather, the step, and the
simultaneous removal of the hat in the same place at the same time
each morning never failed.  It had gone on for thirty years.  The
Frenchman Toussaint Clairveaux was fascinated.  He had watched it
for seven.  The satyr was slowly becoming respectable.  There could
be no doubt about it.  Mr. Bonnyfeather now took a pinch of snuff
and advanced to his desk.  On this particular morning he made an
announcement.

"I shall need all hands at the quay this afternoon to take stock of
cargo.  The Unicorn has at last been released by the customs."  A
buzz of excitement followed.  All knew that it was a rich Eastern
cargo and premiums might follow.  Mr. Bonnyfeather believed in
prize money in peace as well as in war.

"He is a remarkable man, a gentleman, an honest spirit," said
Toussaint to Anthony who was now seated on a high stool near him.
The boy looked up to meet an encouraging smile from Mr.
Bonnyfeather sitting at the big desk.  He felt encouraged.  Just
then McNab came along and bade him follow.  They went over into the
corner to the chief clerk's bureau.  Mr. McNab took out a heap of
papers, spread them out, and looked at Anthony.  "These are your
indentures," he vouchsafed.  "You sign them here."  He handed a pen
to the boy.  At the place which McNab indicated the lad wrote very
carefully, Anthony.

"Anthony what?" asked McNab peering down at him.  The boy looked
puzzled.  "Your last name?"  The boy shook his head slowly.  It had
never occurred to him that he needed one.  Other people had them,
of course.  Mr. McNab grunted and began to look through the papers.

"A deposition by the Mother Superior of the Convent of Jesus the
Child situate in this Our Grand Duchy of Tuscany."  McNab grunted.
"In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost, greeting."
Grunt.  The rest was in Latin.

The chief clerk paused for a minute, gripped the paper more firmly,
and gave it a shake.  The text, however, remained in the same
language.  He cleared his throat and looked at Anthony.

"Can YOU read this?" he asked, handing the paper to Anthony.  The
boy looked at him uneasily.

"Let's see if you can," suggested Mr. McNab in a doubtful tone of
voice.  "Read it aloud."  As if reciting to Father Xavier, Anthony
began.

It was a simple recital of the facts of his own arrival at the
convent.  He had been, it appeared, "but newly born, a perfect man
child with a sore navel."  Why was that? he thought.  The contents
of the black bag were then enumerated, himself included.  He became
intensely interested and pressed on.  The corridors of the convent
at night with Sister Agatha walking along them carrying a bundle
through the shadows leaped out from the bare recital on the page.
He knew every turn she would take, the whole scene.  The deposition
in bad, bare, legal Latin took on for the boy the fascination of a
literary masterpiece of which he was the hero.  "And on the next
day following the said male infant, parents unknown, was baptized
Anthony . . ."

"Go on," said McNab.

"According to the rite of the Holy . . ."

"You have no last name," interrupted the man sternly.

"No, sir," said Anthony meekly.

"Also you seem to have entered the world in great adversity,"
continued his tormentor.  He drummed on the desk.  "Have you any
suggestions?"  Anthony shook his head.

"--and to have arrived here under still more adverse circumstances!"
Mr. McNab's eyes twinkled.  "Well," said he, "why not catch up your
past misfortunes into a name and give your good luck a chance?  Wait
a minute."

He went over to Mr. Bonnyfeather and for some minutes held him in
conversation.  Anthony could see them looking his way now and then
and laughing.  He felt uncomfortable.  Why was it curious not to
have a last name?  Finally, Mr. Bonnyfeather took up his largest,
plumed pen and wrote something with a flourish on a small piece of
paper.  He held it up before him considering it.  Then he nodded as
if satisfied and handed it still smiling to Mr. McNab.  The clerk
returned to his bureau and thrust the paper under the boy's nose.
On it was written--


                          Anthony Adverse


"THAT," said Mr. McNab with a Mede and Persian gesture, "is your
name."  And it was.  Mr. McNab pronounced it, "Advarse."  It was
thus that Anthony always thought of it.

The signing of the papers was now completed and Toussaint called as
witness.  Anthony watched anxiously to see if his friend would
laugh at the new name.  He remained perfectly serious.  The clerk
now drew up a small document of his own.  It was a draft on
Anthony's pay for nine shillings for a hat, payable to Mr. William
McNab.  This also the boy signed.  Mr. McNab was now satisfied.  He
stuck the quill pen behind his ear and looked at Anthony.

"There is only one advantage," he said, "in having a name.  It
prevents you signing other peoples' names to papers.  But as in
everything else this advantage is outweighed by a corresponding
disadvantage."  The boy opened his eyes as the man was evidently in
earnest.  A certain grim kindness now lurked about the folds of
McNab's heavy jowl which Anthony had not noticed before.  "A
corresponding disadvantage," continued McNab.  "You have to sign
your own name!  Do so as little as possible.  And never sign any
paper without thinking it over three separate times."  The boy
blinked.  "For example, this paper which you have just signed will
cost you two months' pay.  No, not quite.  Sixty days from now you
will receive one shilling.  You understand, sixty days!  If you had
not signed it, you would have received ten shillings. . . .  Come
with me," said McNab, "and I will show you."

He took Anthony over to a large iron till which he unlocked.  From
a drawer he drew out ten shillings and placed them in the boy's
hand.  "All of these would have been yours, BUT you signed a
paper, didn't you?  Hence," growled McNab, "these are mine."  He
counted nine shillings out of the boy's palms back into his own.
The one remaining seemed to Anthony to have no weight at all.  The
clerk let the lightness of it sink home.  "Sixty days from now," he
said, and put the single shilling back in the till with the fatal
paper.  The other nine pieces he poured into his waistcoat pocket
where they seemed to chime.  He pointed Anthony to his own desk and
walked away.

Pondering over the responsibility of having a name and the enormous
difference between one and ten shillings, the boy climbed back on
his stool.  The tears welled up in his eyes.  He was afraid they
might drop on the desk so that Toussaint would see them.  The
latter was writing.  Anthony looked up at the ceiling again.
Presently his eyes dried leaving them hard and clear.  He was soon
lost amid the painted clouds.

The young gentleman with the winecup was also a "perfect man
child."  His navel, however, was not sore.  Anthony noticed that.
The other things were all there too.  On the lady sitting next to
the big man with the beard they were missing.  You longed to
provide them.  His own, for instance.  The thought appealed to him
as an original one.  He cherished it carefully.  The group amid the
frescoes began to move.  A faint glow began to steal up his back.
The stool under him grew pleasantly warm.  "What if . . . that
woman who had helped dress him and bathe him when he had been ill.
How soft her hands had been."  It was the same feeling.  He
trembled.  Toussaint was shaking him by the elbow and laughing.
All the blood in Anthony's body seemed to rush to his face.

"Come, come," said his new-found friend in a kindly way.  "Do you
want to turn into one of those?"  He pointed to the satyr under Mr.
Bonnyfeather's hat.  "There are lots of them around here like
that."

"I could never be like that!" Anthony flung back indignantly,
irritated at finding his thoughts so easily read.  His face no
doubt had betrayed him.  He must be careful then in this place
where there were so many sharp eyes about.  It was not like the
convent where you could sit and let the shadows come and go through
your eyes with no one to see them.  No, no, he must never betray
himself by his expression again.  His face became so grimly
determined that Toussaint laughed again.

"Now, you look like Monsieur McNab," he said.

"Oh, dear," thought Anthony, "that is impossible, too."  But he had
no time to protest further, for Toussaint was spreading out before
him a number of blank forms.  On each one of them was engraved a
small black ship in full sail with something printed underneath
several times over in as many languages.


Take notice: the good ship .............. of ..............., God
WILLING, proposes to sail from ............. this .......... day
of ............  17... with the following cargo; to wit, item:


There now unrolled about a foot of paper with ditto marks under
"item" and a long line opposite each ditto.  On each of these lines
Anthony was shown how to copy the list of a ship's cargo from forms
already filled out by Toussaint.  The forms were duplicates and the
work must be accurate.  Each line must correspond exactly.  It was
to be checked later at the customs.  At first, no matter how
careful he was, he kept making mistakes.  Barrels of sugar insisted
on inserting themselves upon lines meant exclusively for barrels of
pork.  Whereupon Toussaint tore up the form.  At last Anthony
managed to complete a set exactly and felt elated.  Another was
immediately shoved under his nose.  He continued to write all
morning.  His hands grew cramped and his body tired.  Toussaint
permitted him to slip down once or twice from his stool and to look
on.

"Tell me," said Anthony, pointing to the phrase "God willing" on
the form, "what has God got to do with all this?"

"It is a pious word for wind," said Toussaint.

"Oh," said Anthony, "and God makes it blow?  Is that it?"

"I suppose so," said Toussaint.

"But he does, of course."

"Perhaps; copy these."

But the boy stopped in the middle of the form.  "Who does then?"

"No one," replied Toussaint without allowing his pen to pause.

Anthony had never thought of that.  The mistakes multiplied.  His
world was shivering.  Toussaint tore up so many forms that Mr.
McNab snorted.

Various visitors came in to see Mr. Bonnyfeather from time to time.
You could hear them talking at the desk, but it was better not to
look.  The room gradually grew hotter.  Anthony felt himself
getting hungry.  Finally, the bell in the courtyard chimed once.
A thunder of closing ledgers followed and the clerks rushed out.
Anthony and Toussaint were left alone.

From a cubbyhole in the desk, the Frenchman drew forth one of
several small, calf-bound volumes.  Here he cherished a microscopic
library, shifting, trading, and even buying second-hand books from
time to time.  In the course of seven years much literature had
passed through the cubbyhole but tarried in his head.  The
Frenchman had a memory for the printed word as though his brain
contained an acid which bit the reflection of the page on the
surface of a mirror.

"You are hungry now," he said to Anthony, "I know.  But it is half
an hour yet till dinner and if you will give me that half hour
every day, I shall be glad to share it with you.  I do not think I
shall be wasting my time--or yours.  What do you say?"

The man's eyes glowed softly as if within him a banked fire had
begun to break through the ashes.  He saw the reflection of it in
the face of the boy before him.  "It is a bargain, then!" he cried.
"See, I shall clinch it with this to remind you of it always."  He
opened up the little book excitedly, crossed out his own name, and
wrote Anthony's.  Then he handed it to the boy with a noble
gesture.  "Open it," he said, "let us lose no time."  It was a copy
of La Fontaine's Fables with little engravings.

They turned to "Le Corbeau et le Renard" and began.  They
translated carefully into Italian, and when this was not precise
enough, into Latin.  Then Toussaint began to correct Anthony's
accent.  Again and again he repeated the French.  The boy was
delighted.  Here were more words, and such words!  After his flat
Jesuit's Latin and soft Tuscan, his tongue seemed at last to have
found itself.  Finally, Toussaint recited the whole poem.  The
clean music of it, the caressing stroke of the rhyme, and the charm
of the story held Anthony on the stool as if he were looking at a
play.  He stared up into Toussaint's face with parted lips.

"Anthony," said a kindly voice from the other end of the room.  It
was Mr. Bonnyfeather.  They both rose instinctively.

"We were just having a little French lesson, monsieur," said
Touissaint apprehensively.

"Splendid," replied the older man, "but we are waiting dinner."

"I am sorry, indeed . . ." began Toussaint.

"You do not need to be, perhaps later on . . ."  Mr. Bonnyfeather
drew for a moment with his cane on the ground.  "Well, we can let
that wait.  In the meantime by all means go on here as you have
begun."  He nodded approvingly.  By this time Anthony had joined
him and they went out of the door together, the little book in the
boy's hand.

Toussaint Clairveaux remained leaning on his desk and dreaming.  He
saw a small garden running down to the River Loire, a bridge,
across the river, a white castle on a hill, and broad steps leading
up the steep street of Blois.  At a small pond in the garden a man
with a scholar's gown thrown over his arm was helping an urchin
sail a boat.  It drifted out of reach.  The man let it go after a
few half-hearted efforts to recover it.  The wind stranded it amid
the reeds.  The child began to cry.  "Ah, mon cher," said a woman's
soft voice behind them, "it has always been like that."  The man
shifted uncomfortably but said nothing.  Presently he took a book
out of the pocket of his gown, leaned back, and began to read.  The
woman picked up the boy and comforted him.  He snuggled in her
dress.  She began to recite "Le Corbeau et le Renard."

Tears ran down the face of Toussaint Clairveaux and splashed upon
his desk.  How delightful, how dear!  Oh how heavenly ravishing
were those accents!  Would to Christ he could listen to them again
if only for another instant now!  O fields of asphodel, over which
that woman's sad face is now looking, under what sunless rays do
you ripple and toss?  Are they as beautiful as that glimpse from
the garden across the Loire?--the washerwomen along the banks of
the river under the willows, the white château in a haze of green
buds, a bird singing?  He choked.

"Jean-Jacques Rousseau, it was you who tempted me to leave all
that, to go vagabonding for Arcadia," he cried aloud, raising his
hands dramatically to the ceiling as if appealing to all-seeing
Jove feasting away up there.  "You made me an émigré before the
Revolution began, an émigré to nowhere.  And now, I am caught
here."  He looked about him desperately.  He swept the papers off
his desk onto the floor.

"I am lost in a prison where a merchant's hat is wearing the horns
off a satyr," he shrieked.  "I shall never find the country of the
beautiful savages!"

By this time the poor man was nervously striding up and down before
the rail of Mr. Bonnyfeather's desk, gesticulating at the empty
desks below.  At every one of them sat a useless regret or a vain
desire.  That was his senate.

"Ah, if I could have reached those wild American forests I should
have suffused my soul as a true poet and have blent you all into
one."  He shook his fist at the nine separate muses who paid no
attention.  "All into one!  I should have charmed the savages.  It
was that woman with the great eyes who kept me here.  Ah, yes!  Ah,
it was not you, Jean-Jacques, after all.  The spirit of man is
truly noble as you say, as mine was.  Yes, I believe that.  This
boy, I shall lead into your beautiful pages.  He shall later cross
the sea and find that natural country for himself, unspoiled.  He
shall see how beautiful are the minds and bodies of men when left
to themselves with nature.  He shall feast like you up there in the
ceiling.  I, I cannot go, I am lost, bewitched.  And sacred blood
of a bitch!" he snorted, returning to what after all was his chief
grievance, "ever since I have followed that Paleologus to this
place she will not even speak to me."

Mr. McNab looked in and saw a little Frenchman apparently going
mad.  He grinned.  The bell in the court rang twice.  "To eat or
not to eat, that is the question," the Scot called cupping his
hand.  Toussaint Clairveaux cursed him, stuffed a copy of La
Nouvelle Héloïse into his pocket, and raced for his dinner with
McNab.  The mercurial Frenchman was now laughing, too.  Despite the
gulf between them, the two men had learned to admire each other.
They were both capable of utter concentration on the matter at hand
and were completely sincere.  Over the desk they ceased to clash.

Anthony and Mr. Bonnyfeather were ascending the steps into the big
hall just as the last prolonged resonance of the bell in the
courtyard died away.  The table under the muffled chandelier was
set for four.

The guest for dinner that day was Captain Bittern of the Unicorn.
He was a very thin man with a hatchet face and a perfectly
horizontal, thin-lipped mouth.  His hat from being perpetually
jammed down on his forehead in a high wind had left a permanent red
streak in the oily tan of his hide.  Deep-set in cavernous sockets,
his clear, cold, blue eyes looked out from behind puckered lids
past the vertical, bony ridge of a long nose.  It was a face which
seemed even in the mouldy stillness of the old ballroom to be
facing into a high wind.  Anthony sat directly opposite it.

He felt instinctively that it would be impossible to disobey or to
discount any command or statement that proceeded from those
absolutely positive, horizontal lips.  During the course of about
thirty years several thousand nautical men and "natives" in various
parts of the world had agreed with Anthony.  One expected to hear a
bass voice boom out, but the captain's pitch was a perfectly self-
possessed falsetto.  The effect of this from such a countenance was
startling.  The voice piped away steadily, monotonously,
unexhausted, like a constant gale keening through taut rigging.  It
never rumbled.  In the man's ears were two very small gold rings.
He had risen from the fo'c'sle to the quarter-deck.  The rings
remained.

The meal began by Captain Bittern tilting a plate of soup into his
transverse cavern at one fell motion.  The lips simply widened
toward the ears, and the soup, still on a perfect level,
disappeared.  The act, if such it could be called, was so
irrevocable as to be almost ridiculous.  Had it not been for the
captain's eyes still looking out over the horizon of the bowl as if
in search of distant icebergs, Anthony must have laughed.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather remembered that he had once seen a shark swallow a
child's coffin like that in the China sea.  Nothing could be done
about it.  The captain never laughed.  It was impossible to imagine
that the corners of those lips should ever be turned either up or
down.

Nevertheless, the merchant treated him with great respect.  He was
the oldest and most dependable of the four captains of the fleet of
the house.  The single horn of his ship's figurehead pointed into
far and dangerous seas, and pointed home again.  He was just back
from Singapore and the Islands, four months overdue.  The account
he gave of his cargo made Mr. Bonnyfeather rub his hands.  Several
long tumblers of raw rum innocent of any water followed the
captain's soup.  At every return to port Captain Bittern preserved
himself in the genial fluid.  In transit he abstained.  Rum had
absolutely no effect upon him except to embalm his body and to
heighten the eloquence of his falsetto.  He now began, after a
series of gastronomic vanishing acts performed with both liquids
and solids, to relate the story of his voyage.  He took not the
slightest notice of Mr. Bonnyfeather, Anthony, or Faith Paleologus.
It was exactly as if he were reciting a portion of his memoirs for
the benefit of the cosmos while in his cabin at sea.

Anthony longed now to understand English.  He resolved to lose no
time in learning it.  From the tones of the captain's voice and a
few words here and there he caught the emotional drift.  When the
captain was bargaining he did so with his hands.  Over one
successful deal, he squeaked.  He almost broke the spell he cast by
that.  Anthony started when he felt Faith grip him by the knee.
She managed to get him to lean closer to her and began in her low
liquid voice to translate what the captain was saying.

The typhoon which had forced Captain Bittern to refit completely at
Mauritius was epochal.  The low voice of Faith beside him seemed to
transmit to Anthony's eyes rather than to his ears the picture of
the Unicorn dismasted, staggering, with the little beast at the bow
waving his horn at the scudding clouds and then plunging for the
bottom, while ribbons of split canvas streamed from the futile
jury-mast rigged forward.  The captain's voice became the constant
piping and fluting of the wind.  For the first time some conception
of the power of the elements was projected into the boy's
imagination.  Anthony felt a mountain snatched away from under the
ship, and gasped as he slid with the vessel into a molten, lead-
covered abyss.  The effect of wind was intolerable.  By a peculiar
reversal of effect the storm which the captain seemed to be facing
now flowed out along with his words from his elemental face.  The
voice of the man piped like the wind; the voice of the woman flowed
and leaped with excitement like the sea.  The two mated in the
boy's mind and became one experience.

A large chest and a desk in the captain's cabin started suddenly to
slide about and enter into a monstrous combat with each other.  The
desk burst open and its insides gushed out as the chest leaped upon
it.  The bilge water and the paper were slowly ground into pulp as
the chest continued to celebrate its victory drunkenly.  The white
paste produced by this milling of water and paper gathered in the
panels between the beams.  The cabin lamp went out.  The stern
windows dazzled with blue lightning.  The sea rushed in.  It went
on for days.  He went up on deck with the captain and saw an
albatross sucked across the sky down into the funnel of the west
where the sun plunged drawing the atmosphere after him.  Suddenly
it was calm again.  The crew came on deck like ants out of the
earth after rain, and crawled about jagged stumps of masts.
Presently Anthony was tasting oranges and drinking from cocoanuts
in Mauritius.  In memory of the long drought during the six weeks'
calm which had followed that storm, Captain Bittern allowed a
fourth tumbler of rum to trickle soothingly through his teeth.  He
smacked his lips.  Mr. Bonnyfeather sighed.  It was this kind of
thing, he thought, that made it profitable for a nobleman to have
become a merchant.

That afternoon on the dock Anthony was able to understand why the
hull of the Unicorn looked so aged and battered while aloft all was
new with a varnished spick-and-spanness.  He fell in love with the
trim ship from the romping little horned-horse that sprang out of
her bows to the faded gilt of the taffrail.  From the yawning
hatches streamed up an endless succession of bales, chests, and
long mummy-like packages.  The odour of preserved fruit, spices,
sandalwood, and tar blent with all the rank smells of Christendom
along the docks.  He had never thought there could be so many
different kinds of things in the world.  Toussaint and the clerks
kept calling them off to one another hour after hour.  The odours
and the weight of materials and objects seemed to press inward upon
Anthony, to weigh upon his chest.  He breathed deeply to free
himself of the impression but could not do so.  It was there, it
was real.  It was as real as he was.  Even more so, harder and
firmer.

What a fine thing it must be to own all of this, actually to
possess all of these things.  He glanced with a new respect and
understanding at Mr. Bonnyfeather who was laughing and talking with
some other merchants on the quarter-deck.  They were congratulating
him; already beginning to chaffer and bargain.  Various bales went
their way from time to time.  The railing of the quarter-deck
stretched between Anthony and their world just as it did between
him and Mr. Bonnyfeather's desk.  There was a difference then
between men, which had something to do with all of these things.

He looked about him once more.  Nothing belonged to him.  He had
only his dreams.  He was a poor boy, an orphan.  He understood that
now.  In sixty days he would have only one shilling.  He had lost
nine by the first use of his name.  He looked at Mr. McNab standing
by the capstan with a pile of papers on it.  Toussaint was checking
off.  Mr. McNab was wearing his new hat.  "God willing," thought
Anthony, "I shall follow both their advices.  I will not write my
name on papers, and I shall certainly learn English."  He began to
listen to the English words for things.  His chest expanded.  In
the days to come he would prove himself.

He went over to the group by the capstan and began to help
Toussaint to check the invoices.  McNab nodded approvingly.
Anthony felt himself suddenly in the main current of real life.
The quiet pool of the convent courtyard lay far behind him.  "Where
was the drift taking him?" he wondered.

"Attention," said Toussaint, "thirty-four bolts of prime Manila
hemp."  "Thirty-four," said Anthony.  "Check," said McNab.




CHAPTER FIFTEEN

THE SHADOWS OF FAITH


Anthony was not detained very long by the copying out of invoices
and manifests.  His first promotion in the world of affairs was to
the desk of the correspondents or gentlemen writers.  A copperplate
hand that had been conferred upon him by Father Xavier, and his
proficiency in languages were responsible.  The arid years in the
convent were now to a certain extent a positive advantage.  He
could never get enough of the life about him.  He absorbed it at a
remarkable rate, in gulps.

No thirstier horse had ever been led to water.  So avid was he of
the words and the experiences, emotions, and facts which he
acquired through words that he was scarcely conscious of the
barriers between languages.  Words were simply the coins minted by
the tongues of men with which realization could be purchased.
Whether they were English, French, Spanish, or Italian he cared
little.  All of these, with an infinite variety of dialect, he
heard in daily use all about him.  The quays, the streets, the
counting houses of Livorno, and even the Casa da Bonnyfeather
itself were in a state of babel.

For a while language remained for him nothing but the common tongue
of mankind.  It was not until some months had passed that he began
to understand differences.  Now, without thinking about it, he
instinctively tasted the various savour of words and through them
life.  He found it good.

Slowly English began to displace in his thought his strange jargon
of hill-Tuscan and ecclesiastical Latin.  He heard English talked
constantly in the office.  It was dinned into his ears at the table
and in the house.  It corresponded to the new and real experiences
he was having.  It was also an advantage, he found, to use it when
employed as a messenger about the docks or to ship's officers.  It
got you instant attention.  He began to realize that his physical
appearance corresponded with it.  He began to use it when he had
some important problem to think out.  He spoke it with a slight
Scotch tang and a softening of the vowels.  The burr had been
softened to a purr.  The combined effect was musical and rather
arresting.  It was impossible to tell whence he hailed.  His verbal
messages seemed to come from some self-cultivated Arcadian nowhere.

Toussaint was a potent force in all this.  Mr. Bonnyfeather had
been quick to see the advantage of French lessons.  They did not
long continue to occupy only the half hour before lunch.  Before
long they were removed to the old ballroom after dinner had been
cleared away, and they went on in the afternoon.

Soon Toussaint and Anthony were reading books together.  Some
writing followed as a matter of course.  Later Toussaint put
Anthony to copying out correspondence with French firms.  In a year
he was able to answer letters that required no more than a
perfunctory reply.  Spanish followed.

At the table Anthony listened carefully.  He had learned when in
doubt how to resort to a grammar or a dictionary.  In the section
of correspondence in the office he would pass from stool to stool.
Of the several gentlemen writers each was glad to find the boy by
his side for the sake of his young and happy presence and for the
chance to impress upon him the superlative importance of a
particular department.  That Anthony was under the special eye of
the Capo della Casa all of them knew.

But Mr. Bonnyfeather was most careful about that.  He never
permitted Anthony to take advantage of it.  It was a nice piece of
tact.  On one or two occasions the merchant had condescended to
explain to the boy.  There he learned something valuable.

"See and hear everything, but be careful what you do and say,"
admonished the old man.  "Do not tell me that Garcia sleeps at his
desk, I know it, I see him nod.  If he thought you knew it, he
would hate you.  Knowledge which threatens anyone's bread and
butter should be concealed if you wish to get on."

But there was something more to it than just that.  Out of the
several occasions when Anthony had been thus admonished he began to
understand Mr. Bonnyfeather's careful, masculine sense of honour,
the indignity of eavesdropping to all concerned, the pettiness of
tattle.  In short, that to mind his own business meant he must
first possess his own tongue in dignity and peace.  A discretion
rather beyond his years was thus thrust upon him.

Once he had blurted out something he had heard at the big table
while he was walking along the street with McNab.  It was about the
unexpected arrival of a ship from Smyrna laden with oil consigned
to Mr. Bonnyfeather.  A smartly dressed young lad standing on the
corner had turned immediately and made his way through the crowd
into the near-by door of a counting house.

"Did you see yon laddie gang off wi' your tidings?" asked Sandy.
"He's Maister Nolte, the nevvy of a German marchant.  In ten
minutes they'll be sellin' oot a' their oil at the present prices.
If you're no keerfu' you'll be takin' your victuals in the kitchen,
laddie."  They walked on, Anthony's cheeks burning.

"You'll not say anything to Mr. Bonnyfeather, McNab?" he ventured.

"I always hold my tongue," was the reply.  It was a matter-of-fact
statement with no scorn in it.  But the boy wilted.

"And I'll tell ye this," added McNab.  "It's not only statements ye
maun be keerfu' aboot, it's questions, too.  Ye ask a warld too
mony.  Watch wi' yer ain eyes and see what happens.  Then draw your
ain concloosions.  Dinna pay attention after ye ken what is gangin'
on to what every zany may have to say."

They entered a warehouse and went to the desk of the shipping
clerk.  Anthony noticed that McNab let the clerk do all the
talking, using only an apt prod now and then to his volubility.  In
five minutes the man had contradicted himself twice and proved
himself in the wrong.  McNab collected his bill and left.

"Ye see?" said he, peering down at Anthony.  The boy never forgot.
Mr. McNab blew his nose loudly into a scarlet handkerchief large
enough to muffle a horn.  That afternoon to the sound of his
bugling they collected seventeen bills.

Distance had worked its inevitable negative magic with Father
Xavier.  For the first six weeks he had come rather regularly two
or three times a week.  Then for one reason or another his visits
became irregular, the instruction desultory.  It was finally
dropped.  The priest had done all he could.  He felt that himself.
New influences which he could not fully control were impinging upon
his pupil's mind.  The lives of saints, church history, Latin
fables seemed enormously remote to Anthony now.  Like the fountain
in the convent courtyard they sounded in his ears as something
speaking from a dream.  Finally he saw Father Xavier only when Mr.
Bonnyfeather confessed.  This was not often.  Then he heard that
Father Xavier had gone to Naples.  He received a letter and
answered it.  Another, and he forgot to reply.

Mr. Bonnyfeather's father had changed his religion to suit the
Cardinal of York.  Something of the old Calvinistic independence
remained in the son.  Secretly Mr. Bonnyfeather perused some of his
grandfather's books on theology.  The doctrine of predestination
fascinated him.  It was with a distinct struggle he persuaded
himself that he had laid it aside.  Several times he had been on
the point of asking Father Xavier about it.  Then he thought better
of it.

The old man was growing a little rheumatic now.  He was often cold
and his feet went blue at night.  The fireplace which caused so
much astonishment to the servants--its like was not in the
vicinity--roared constantly on cold, damp nights, which are not
unknown at Livorno.  Occasionally he would take supper in his room.
The warmth and the blaze of the many candles were preferable to the
chill and shadows in the great, hall.  At such times he began to
call Anthony in to dine.  Over the cover the story of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's family began to take shape in the boy's mind.  The
sudden flight from the old estate by the Scotch laird and his
family to King James at St.-Germain's, the long, loyal service at
the toy court of the exiles, the hope deferred, the honourable
poverty--all this was with Mr. Bonnyfeather a favourite theme.

Then there was the merchant's father, "the second marquis," as the
old man loved to call him.  He had been invaluable to the Stuarts,
a great stirrer-up of Jacobite intrigues.  Louis the Great had
settled a pension upon him.  "Ah, those were great days!"  As a
very little boy Mr. Bonnyfeather remembered Versailles.

As a lad he had been dragged about the Highlands during the "'45."
William McNab had come back with him then.  The McNabs were
faithful to the old lairds; had always sent the rent.  They were
family retainers.  Mr. Bonnyfeather extolled them.  Faith was half
Greek, to be sure, but her mother's blood would tell.  And then he
would tell over again of how his father had fought at Culloden and
barely escaped at Prestonpans.  His face would light up with the
old hope of the victory.  Or his eyes would flash as he told how it
felt to be the oldest son of a nobleman on his father's estates
hunting the stag.  At the last, fishermen had rowed them out to a
French ship with Cumberland's dragoons sweeping along behind them
over the reaches of a misty beach.  That was their last glimpse of
Scotland.  He would sigh and take another glass of port.

"And now," he would say, placing both hands on his breast in
agitation, "you see me here, the third marquis--in trade!"  He
would hasten on as if explanation were essential.

"It came about in this way.  When the prince returned again to
France my father still followed him.  He had become a Catholic in
all but name.  Then Charles Edward died.  We came to Italy to be
near the last of the house of Stuart.  My father was received into
the church with all his family.  He held a small place as
chamberlain to the Cardinal of York.  There he was still called
marquis.  His title and a small pittance from the cardinal was all
that he had.  The French pension was no longer paid.  I should not
forget the crucifix which the pope sent him.  I saw how things were
going and wrote to some of my Whig relatives in England.  One, my
mother's brother, smoothed the path for me.  I alienated my father,
however, by taking advantage of my uncle's offer.  I went to
England and attended college at Exeter.

"There I met the son of a cloth merchant, Francis Baring, whose
friendship has been invaluable and abiding.  You will see in this
Protestant Bible where he has written a number of things which we
then thought profound.  And it was he who drew these three clasped
hands on the flyleaf.  The third hand was for John Henry Nolte, now
a merchant at Hamburg.  We were inseparable and it is not often
that three people get on so well together.  Years later, just
before my daughter was married"--Mr. Bonnyfeather paused--"the
three of us took a long journey together through England and
Scotland.  I saw then for the last time the estate of which there
will be no fourth marquis.  But I was nobly entertained by both
John and Francis Baring in London.  I have since prospered greatly
as a merchant myself by remembering as a nobleman what a king once
said, 'L'exactitude est la politesse des rois!'  You should
remember that, too."

Mr. Bonnyfeather invariably ended his oft-repeated story in that
way.  Something in the intonation of the last phrase, something in
the man's attitude and expression as he rehearsed it, looking at
the boy over the candles with a supreme earnestness, gradually
impressed upon Anthony that for some reason or other here was a
tradition he was expected to follow.  Further than that Mr.
Bonnyfeather dared not permit himself to go.  Anthony remained
silent.  They would get up at last and go over by the fire.

It was at such times over his port that Mr. Bonnyfeather became
most genial.  He then jumped all doubts and scruples and secretly
permitted himself the luxury of feeling that he was talking to his
grandson.  He had been lonely for years and to have so pleasant and
bright a companion as young Anthony sitting before the fire sped
their association mightily.  He wrapped the boy in a haze of
carefully concealed affection, but as time went on gradually opened
his heart.

The intimacy and remote ramifications of his business and of the
personalities connected with it were discussed as if Anthony had
been years older and were the heir of the house.  The boy sat and
listened gravely.  But upon occasion Anthony could also delight
with a well-timed question, a smile of understanding, or a
surprising reply.  The voyages of ships were traced out on the map
and globe.  Anthony gradually became familiar with most of the
great harbours of the world; what was to be had in them, the names
and personalities of the merchants, market conditions; what, in a
general sense, from politics to planting, was afoot in Europe and
America.  Nor was it a hardship to listen.  With Mr. Bonnyfeather,
he became lost in it.  The little hectic spots glowed on the old
man's cheek bones and the boy talked too, or listened with open
lips and glowing eyes.  An hour of this after supper, and they
would sit down to write the letters resulting from the talk.  These
were of such a character that Mr. Bonnyfeather did not desire them
to go across the desks of the clerks.

Thus Anthony rapidly stepped into being the old man's secretary.
As time went on he was able and not afraid to suggest a better
phrase here and there or a more trenchant approach.  He strove
always to see the men to whom the letters were addressed.  He
learned all he could about them from the captains who had dealt
with them, or from the files of correspondence in the vault.  There
was a roomful.  But before he was sixteen he had read nearly all of
it.  The net which the firm of Bonnyfeather and those that it dealt
with cast over the waters of the world was surprisingly well
integrated in his mind.  Helping always to weave the meshes firmer
and closer was the constant talk of the harbour front that daily
flooded his ears.  But it was not all business by any means which
occupied these evenings.

In Mr. Bonnyfeather's room were his books.  They were a strange
assortment.  The intellectual, political, and spiritual adventures
of his family might be read in their titles.  The Covenanters as
well as the Jacobites were represented.  The conversion of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's father to Catholicism had not prevented his son from
bringing back from Exeter a collection at which the Librorum
Prohibitorum would have shied.

Anthony pored over these.  He became lost in the maze of the Faërie
Queene.  The illustrations, and afterwards the text of Fox's Book
of Martyrs first gave him some conception of the Protestant side of
the controversy.  He was amazed to discover it at all.  Baxter's
Saints' Rest scared him sick.  It required Toussaint to reassure
him.  Father Xavier might have been amazed, to say the least, to
have seen the pastures in which his pupil was not only wandering
but feeding.  Mr. Bonnyfeather had considerable Shakespeare by
heart and was given to a little rodomontade in its recitation,
especially of the first part of Henry IV, and The Merchant of
Venice.  It served to turn the trick for the boy who would scarcely
otherwise have been able to understand at first the nature of the
stage.  The lonely island in The Tempest haunted him.  Somehow he
thought Mr. Bonnyfeather in his black velvet suit, leaning over the
globe and conjuring forth cargoes, was like Prospero.

Before he left Livorno Anthony had whole passages of Religio Medici
by heart.  Milton's Italian poems first attracted him, then the
Latin.  It seemed perfectly natural to the polyglot nature of the
boy that a poet should write in many tongues.  As the music of
English became more audible to him he went on to L'Allegro and Il
Penseroso.  Paradise Lost made him drunk.  His own experience of
visions and dreams at the convent made the scenes and images of the
poem rise up for him as if fixed on his retina.  The incandescent
light, the lambent glooms of the blind poet's dramatic universe
peopled by even brighter gods and darker heroes remained for
Anthony always the supreme banquet of words in any tongue.  There
was nothing like the sound of it anywhere else, that great,
perfectly controlled, almighty organ vibrating and filling with
oceanic and cosmic harmony the cathedral of the mind.  It made the
Italian operas which he later went to hear at Livorno with Vincent
Nolte seem ridiculous.  Sometimes the contrast would come across
him as he watched a romantic little cockchafer in red tights
warbling and strutting melodramatically before his trilling
ladybird while brigands supplied harmony.  Or he thought of it when
the meretricious, saccharine roar of the finale sounded.  Then he
would laugh, and Vincent, whose syrupy German soul was congealing
into sweet crystals and beer, would hiccough with indignation.

Milton and Dante dramatized theology for Anthony.  For him it could
never be abstract.  Even the Holy Ghost had personality.  He had a
comforting smile.

It was with this life-endowing quality of the mind that Anthony
passed on from the poets and vivifiers of language to the
necromancers of words.  On the middle shelf was a long and daunting
array of Catholic and Protestant polemics, theological treatises,
works of piety and religion.  Anthony had made up his mind to read
all the books in the room.  So he read these, too; Augustine to
Calvin, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Origen, and the Reverend Adonijah
Parkhurst.  He strained his eyes over Kerson's Practical
Cathechisme, plunged into Bishop Burton, and heard the remote noise
of the sectaries through the years of James I to Charles II arguing
somewhere in space.  All were totally disconnected in time.  They
merely occurred on the shelf.  All were in words, all were
therefore about something.

A universe landscaped with the strange heavens of religious
utopiasters; full of maimed souls thrillingly rescued from or
delivered to the devil burst on his view.  Innocent and inane first
parents in delightful, tropical paradises; shining battlements of
the City of God on hills clouded by lightning gleamed like oases
amid the dark deserts of limbo, where old gentlemen with wigs like
Mr. Bonnyfeather's and terrific names gibbered and twittered moral
aphorisms and definitions while pouring dust on their own heads.
Or they threw worm-eaten tomes at one another.  Underneath, always
underneath, were the hot, the cold, and the dry, the wet, the
noisy, the silent hells.  These he could see were logical pictures
of indignant devices invented to punish in the other world ghastly
extremes of conduct in this.  In short, on the middle shelf of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's bookcase was a fair cross-section of the Western
mind which having lost its own religion was trying to confer Greek
order on Semitic nonsense.  All of these books were obsessed by one
thought.  They were perfectly sure that one God controlled
everything.  Yet Anthony read in one Nicole, "Dieu est la Diable,
c'est-la toute la religion."

Fortunately for him, most of this curious babble was lost on the
boy.  Yet his mind retained queer snatches of it, voices that later
on would shout advice about his conduct out of limbo.  It seemed to
him as if a troop of these disembodied theologians followed his
earthly experience arguing.  Occasionally some louder voice would
make itself intelligible, shouting a distinct message to him out of
the disputing crowd.  In the meantime the gods and demons, the
troops of angels, seraphim, and the apocalyptic landscapes were
certainly fascinating.

Lowest of all on the shelves, but in big volumes like foundations
of the edifice which they in fact supported, were the classics.
They were all in Latin for Mr. Bonnyfeather read no Greek.
Something in his accurate and precise Scotch mind loved Latin.  But
he was not scholar enough to carry this to a pedantic extreme.
Roman life did not come to an end for him when Cicero ceased to
fulminate.  It and Mr. Bonnyfeather went on.

In his old age he had come to like Claudian better than Virgil.
The hills of Sicily rolling their flowers close down to the sea,
but always in a "wildly cultivated" manner, the absurd panegyrics
of contemptible tyrants and defeated generals, which yet retained
the method of true praise; all this seemed to him as he read
Claudian to speak not only of Rome but of his own time.  He too
could feel the tang of something magnificent coming to an end with
confusion to follow.  The barbarians were so near.

In the pages of Ammianus Marcellinus the groans and weariness of
the great Roman machine rumbling to its end were audible.  Yet how
great were those heroes and emperors who repaired its disintegrations
with the bones of their bodies and the virtue of their souls!  How
terrible were the selfish tyrants feasting in the midst of
catastrophe!  Mr. Bonnyfeather would stride up and down reading from
the great book, intoning it, while Anthony leaned forward.  The
story of Julian fascinated them.  Ah! how much Europe needed someone
like that now, someone to thrust out the sick new things and bring
back the strong old gods as they were.  Prussian Frederick could not
do it, said the merchant.  But there was this man Buonaparte.  Some
people thought . . . at any rate from the roof they had seen the
cannon flashing one night over the horizon and ships on fire.  The
English did not want him.  The old man shook his head.  Perhaps they
are wrong, those islanders.  "I, you see, have had my feet on the
mainland for some time now," he would say.  Then he would end by
reading an ancient description of the valley of the Moselle:


Immemorial vines embower the pleasant, white villas.  The cup of
the valley receives the bounty of the sun god, the gratitude of man
rises in pious incense from the hills.  The dead are honoured in
the households of the living, and the spirit of the distant
emperors in the towns.  The magistrates punish vice with the
approval of the many virtuous.  The rich desire no roses in
January; they enjoy them with the peasants in the spring.  In the
amphitheatres the extreme rage of the barbarian provides spectacles
for the multitude and laughter for the cultivated; in the fields
his chained vigour enhances the crops.  The songs of the tenants
are heard upon the estates of great landlords.  Fortune is seldom
invoked, for no change is desired.  Through all the valley winds
the River Moselle in three reflecting curves.


Anthony understood from the tones of Mr. Bonny feather's voice that
he was yearning for something he had lost, trying to find a country
where he could be fully alive and at ease at the same time.  The
book of Marcellinus and that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau which he and
Toussaint were reading both placed that country in the past.  It
was also there in the Bible and in the theologians--that happy
garden!  Everybody seemed to have lost it and to be trying to get
back to it.  He himself at times already regretted the convent
garden.

The madonna had come from there.  He had brought her along with
him.  She was still in his room.  He could return to her at night
as an orphan wanderer from the old convent courtyard, or like an
exile from the garden or the valley of the Moselle--or whatever it
was he lost in the daytime--and be at peace again.  The madonna
understood.  She listened to him.  He could tell her of his
troubles during the day.  Books could not take her away from him,
let them say whatever they might.  All those crowds of people
talking about God stayed outside in the desert.  Those who argued
could not enter this oasis.  He knew!  They spent the night howling
outside, pouring dust on their own heads.  As though from the
living boughs of paradise he felt the bright face of the madonna
looking down upon him while he slept.

Faith would invariably be waiting for him when he left Mr.
Bonnyfeather's room and crossed the hall to go into his own.  It
was part of her routine to see that the house was closed and that
all were asleep.  At night she felt better and more awake than in
the daytime.  To watch all the others retire, leaving her to
darkness, gave her a sense of superiority and freedom in which she
revelled.  She prowled, silently.  She picked over a chicken and
sipped a glass of wine in the kitchen.  The embers of the dying
charcoal looked at her with small red eyes.  She sat in corners and
contemplated.

Anthony would find her sitting just behind her own door which was
opposite his.  He did not see her.  He became aware of her.  The
darkness there was slightly disarranged.  Its folds seemed to
blend, as the jade lamp burnt dimly, with the distorted shadows of
the wings and hour-glass carved above the lintel of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's door.  Whether she watched him or not he did not
know.

After he had gone to bed, she would come in, fold up his clothes,
rearrange the covers and bid him good night.  There was a hint of
affection when she touched him, as she did often, which he felt it
wrong to repulse but from which he almost shrank.  In the balance
he remained passive.  From the time she had nursed him just after
his arrival, she had thus speciously kept the key of his room as it
were in her apron pocket.  Sometimes she would sit down by the
candles on his dresser and talk.

There was a smooth quality in her voice that soothed him.  As she
talked, always of personalities about the office and yard, he would
watch a curious finger-play of shadows that took place at the foot
of his bed on the white wall.  Perhaps it was the shadow of the
curtain or the flow of the candle.  He and the madonna looked at
it.  Long, black fingers, semi-transparent here and there, kept
twitching wantonly at an inflamed point of light.  As this went on
and her voice accompanied it, he would slowly drift into sleep.
Sometimes he would awake a little after she had gone, rise, and
close the door to be alone with the madonna.  Another presence
interfered.  He found it necessary to keep it out.  As the months
slipped by and all became a matter of habit, he grew less sensitive
to such feelings.  He began to take the real world to bed with him.
Only the lashes when they at last rested on his cheeks finally
allowed nothing real to pass.

In the cope over the madonna's head the little stars twinkled as
the great ones did above the house.  The madonna kept looking past
the child in her arms into the shadows and darkness of the room as
if something were there.  Anthony had not noticed that yet.  To
discover it, her expression must be carefully studied in the light
as Don Luis had once done.  Don Luis had understood how to use
light and shadow only too well.

What was in the darkness bided its time silently.




CHAPTER SIXTEEN

PAGAN MORNINGS


Early in the morning, long before the flags were flying from the
roof of the Casa da Bonnyfeather, Angela, the cook, drove out in
her high-wheeled cart to collect fresh delicacies for the
merchant's table from all the country around.

The cart was nothing more than a strong, framed platform resting on
a high axle with an underslung rack behind it long enough to lie
down upon.  The rack with its dangling ropes was really for wine
kegs.  The shafts, which also formed the beams of the wagon
platform, ranged straight forward parallel with the ground but
pointed toward each other at the ends--as Anthony thought, like
parallel lines becoming intimate near infinity.  Between them there
was just room enough for the lean shoulders and fat rump of a happy
little mule.

To the animal's plump sides the padded shafts of the cart were
lashed by looped ropes that passed criss-cross over a yellow pack-
saddle.  The pack-saddle rested in turn upon a broad scarlet pad.
A brown leather collar resembling a huge horseshoe engaged bronze
rings on the shaft ends with two brass hooks.  It seemed to envelop
the forward part of the animal hopelessly.  Indeed, from this
encumbrance the head of the mule projected like a mounted hunting
trophy.  But its eyes were shielded by beaded straw blinders, it
wore a plaited hair bridle, and before its smooth chest dangled an
object like a small, brass umbrella shedding strings of parachutes.
These were bells.

To meet Angela and her cart in the early morning upon the country
roads about Livorno was a spontaneously exhilarating experience.
As the cart approached in a light cloud of dust and a swirl of
leaves, a mad rhythm shaking its bells, there was something
Dionysian about it.  One of the small Christian chapels of the
neighbouring hill country might, it seemed, have suffered a pagan
relapse during the grape harvest and be revelling along on a
heathen pilgrimage at a scandalous rate.

The clean, polished heels of the little mule kicked the pebbles out
behind him in a lateral hail.  The grey, olive-wood spokes were
frequently all but invisible.  Behind the mule, the car seemed to
float horizontally, or to be falling forward downhill in a mist of
speed.  It looked as if the mule were pursued by it.  And on the
platform sat Angela, a fat, abundant Earth Mother, leaning back
against a wine cask.

Her scarlet slippers, her bright green dress, her flashing smile
under her brilliant red hair matched the colour and design of the
ribbed canvas hood overhead embroidered with horseshoes, suns, and
shooting stars.  Her whip cracked merrily, and stung.  But no less
so than the pungent Tuscan drolleries with which she was given to
favour passing travellers and acquaintances on the road.
Franciscan fathers would by sheer instinct, and at the very first
glimpse of the cart, hitch the rope about their waist a little
tighter, and cross themselves as she passed.

"Christ may have died in vain," said Toussaint to himself one
morning, as he halted in the courtyard and ran his stick over the
spokes which gave out a muted harplike sound, "but here is a
perfect pagan thing made by the hand of man and acceptable to God."
Of course Anthony was wild to ride in it.

It was not difficult to assume an invitation.  He would simply
excuse himself from the flag-raising ceremony or deputize Toussaint
in his place.  Then having risen very early, he would crawl into
the wine rack under the cart and wait while Tony hitched the mule
and the family Guessippi performed its ablutions in the court.

This early morning cleansing was the only orderly procedure in the
riotous routine of their day.  Washing had been rigorously decreed
by Faith herself.  It was therefore enforced by the fear of the
evil eye and regarded by the juvenile Guessippis as a malign decree
of fate, without reason but inevitable.

As soon as the courtyard was thoroughly light the tribe emerged
from the kitchen door in that state in which it had pleased God to
deliver them to their parents.  They were lined up before the
fountain in the order tall to small, the younger ones whimpering in
a subdued manner.  Angela, the eldest, with an imperturbable
expression on her bright, olive face, then soused them each with a
bucket of cold water.  One muffled whoop apiece was permitted.
Just before the water descended Angela called aloud the name of the
victim.  After each baptism "M" or "N" was permitted to depart
immediately for the kitchen to dress.

Thus were daily cleansed and brought to physical grace and the
communion of men Arnolfo, Maria, Nicolò, Beatrice, Claudia,
Federigo, Pietro, Innocenza, and Jacopo Guessippi.  Luigi the
infant was mercifully permitted to remain in his cradle stewing
comfortably in his own juice near the kitchen fire.

After the last bucketful had descended upon the smallest, young
Angela herself would glide behind the clump of snarled tritons
composing the central group of the fountain, drop her frock, slip
in as deep as her firm, little, pearlike breasts, and wriggle out
again.  Then after a few moments' mystery with an old towel and
snaggled comb she would reappear, climb into the back of the cart
on the wine-rack, settle herself comfortably into the straw, and
smile at Anthony.

As often as possible especially in the spring and summer, Anthony
made it a point to drive out with Angela and to attend this lay
baptismal rite of the early morning.  The rigmarole of the
children's names captivated him.  The soft vowels and consonants
fell as liquidly from the lips of little Angela as did the water
from the bucket which followed them.  "Arnolfo--swish, Maria--
swish, Nicolò, Beatrice, Claudia, Federigo--swish."

As time went on these names burned themselves upon Anthony's
memory.  He would mumble over them at his desk like a priest at
prayer.  In the mornings he began to call them out with Angela.  It
added a new zest to the occasion.  They chanted them together.
Years afterwards he had but to repeat the formula and the scene
would rise before him.

There was to him something mysterious about it.  The early morning
shapes of the things about, the characters that composed it, the
event itself took on a meaning in another world beside reality.
It was like an ancient ritual the function of which had been
forgotten.  Life was full of things like that for Anthony,
happenings that seemed to hide their true significance in a mist of
impersonal memory always about to be clear.

If he could only remember what he had forgotten!  For a long while
he kept trying to do so.  Gradually as he grew older the feeling
wore away.  Then at times it would overcome him as if he were
homesick again.  Something would remind him of something better
somewhere else.  Perhaps in this case it was the repetition of the
scene in precisely the same terms, its inevitableness, that made it
take on an importance which could not be accounted for merely by
common sense.

The nine naked children lined up before the little girl--he should
have done something to lessen their discomfort, but he could not.
Their dismal expectation of the inevitable aroused his pity, and
yet it was ludicrous.  Gradually he came to understand how he could
remain merely a spectator.  It was because these children were
suffering what was to them mysteriously ordained, what was the
common lot of all of them.  It was in their different methods of
confronting the bucket of cold water that the interest lay.

The stoical Arnolfo thrust out his already faintly hairy chest and
allowed fate to run off him as from a roof.  Innocenza shivered,
the thin-legged Claudia wept, plump Beatrice pleaded, the sullen
Pietro dodged.  As spectator Anthony was each in turn.  He enjoyed
where the actors could not, but he also felt with them that fate
was unavoidable.  When their names were called the water descended
from on high.  It stifled the howls.  It descended upon those
forked, naked things, on Nicolò, on Maria, even upon the tiny
Jacopo who retired with a pair of cherubic buttocks twinkling under
a bucket that engulfed his head and shoulders.  From it floated
back faintly musical lamentations.

Unknown to himself, before that fountain in the courtyard of the
Casa da Bonnyfeather, Anthony lost most of his idle sensations
about and tendencies to dream curiously over the human form.  His
curiosity was surfeited, he saw that humanity was a shape, repeated
endlessly with minor variations, and that these minor variations
were unimportant in themselves.  All one could tell by them was the
way that certain kinds of people might act when the cold water
descended.  Thin people, he saw, acted differently from the fat
ones.  There was not so much difference between boys and girls.  He
learned this from what he saw rather than from what he thought.

Now he saw why the stone children that had danced around the
fountain at the convent had all been made the same.  They were
children of one idea and not each one a variation upon it.  They
were like the idea from which they sprang, all beautiful and happy.
But to sympathize with the Guessippi children he must in turn be
Tom, Dick, and Harry.  Only part of him was in them at any one
time.  All of him had danced with the stone children.

How long ago that seemed!  How old were the stone children?  Oh
very old!  He did not feel new.  He felt older than most people in
the world about him.  At least he thought so, lying in the cart
waiting for little Angela.

So he thought too lying in his room at night looking at the
madonna.  She remained.  She and he remained as they always had
been.  All that went on during the day passed in a space between
them which they both overlooked at night.  Some time he would creep
back whence he had come.  He would go back and be close to her like
that other child in her arms.  Other children ran back to their
mothers.  He longed sometimes to do that, too.  It was a need, a
desire he did not question.

As for the Guessippi children he made them tolerable to himself by
imagining them to be like the stone children in the ring.  All
alike, beautiful, dancing under the cold water.  Now he could be
happy with such beautiful things.  Their little individual
differences had vanished.  He did not have to sympathize with each
in turn.

As for little Angela she certainly belonged to the children of the
stone ring--to that time.  She had only stepped out of it into now.
He could see how smooth, how delightful and graceful, how self-
contained she was.  Impersonal.  Her being was equivalent to
affectionate and caressing sounds, coolness and softness thought of
warmly.  "Maea," he called her secretly.  This word simply bubbled
out of the feeling of the fifteen-year-old boy as he lay in the
"perfectly pagan" wine cart.

He was envied secretly by Toussaint who passed by with his basin in
the early morning with tired eyes to dash cold water upon those
windows of his disappointed soul.  He too would have liked to ride
in that cart back into Arcady with little Angela.  He would wink
knowingly, conveying by merely assuming it as adults do his own
immense experience and prophetic insight to Anthony.

Anthony would wink back, but it was with him only a greeting.  He
was not thinking about Toussaint.  He was waiting for little Angela
to finish her bath behind the fountain and to join him in the cart.

There was an assurance, a complete and happy naturalness about
"Angela Maea" that he liked from the first.  From the vast mass of
her mother she had sprouted like an unexpected, delicate bud from a
log.  The bud had grown into a slim, young branch.  When she joined
Anthony in the cart, drops from her bath in the fountain would
still be glittering in her hair.  Her breath was sweet and her face
was brown and firm with dark red lips.  It seemed as if she had
just been passing over a meadow gathering mushrooms before sunrise.
Her brown eyes appraised him frankly and liked him.  Before the
cart would start they would lie and look at each other with quiet
delight.

Then Angela the great would ascend the cart.  Looking up from the
little rack in which they lay at the enormous proportions of the
woman before and above them they would both laugh.  How different
from themselves!  "Angela," they would both whisper together as if
still calling the roll of those about to be cleansed before the
fountain.  The vision evoked convulsed them.

Then the whip would crack, then the mule would clatter along
through the still deserted streets, through the gate as the morning
gun was fired from the Castell' Vecchio--and out onto the long,
white road to Pisa.  It was that way they nearly always took.
Anthony abandoned himself on the hills to the sensation of speed.
He was going somewhere.  He felt free.  The hills of the world were
before him.  Of them he could never see enough.  The pungent smell
of burning olive wood, of myrtles, or of a slope of vineyards in
blossom seemed to fill his head.  It was good.  Somehow it was
often strangely familiar.  There was dew on the new-mown hay.  The
drops of moisture in Angela's hair drew rainbows.  From the
farmyards as they passed came the shrill cry of chanticleers that
ran over the hills into one far-off, continuous song of morning.
They answered the birds in shrill mockery together.  Great Angela
never looked back.  Her back was far too broad even to try to see
all that went on behind it.

Big Angela knew the countryside like a cookbook: where the best oil
was to be had, who had the fattest ducks, the farm where the
freshest cress grew, the most luscious broccoli.  As she made stop
after stop for bargain and purchase, they drew farther and farther
back into the hills.

To the sound of endless chaffer and the clink of small bronze or
silver coins the cart took on more and more the aspect of a bit of
the hanging market gardens of Babylon on wheels.  The small casks
behind were filled with wine, the hampers under the fat woman's
elbows grew loud with cacklings and quacks.  From between the
wicker bars thrust forth the snake-like, hissing heads of geese.
In his muffled basket a cock hailed a false dawn.  Bunches of
beets, garlic, onions, heads of lettuce, fruit were suspended from
the roof.  A small pig twisted on the floor bound by the heels.

On top of all this like a figure of plenty with the harvest about
her sat the mountainous woman, a flower thrust into her flaming
hair.  From behind, the happy faces of Angela and Anthony seemed to
mock at famine and the passer-by.  Sometimes they drove out far
enough to look down into the valley of the Arno with the river
twisting through the white villages and grey olive orchards that
swept away with it to the sea.  They could see the little people
tending their vines between the living posts of the mulberry tree.
White oxen ploughed and lowed plaintively.  Always to the west was
the blue flash from tables of sea.  Returning, Anthony could look
north where the Apennines shouldered away vaguely into the light
and haze, growing clearer and greener as the day gained on itself.

Once down a byroad he saw the red roofs of the convent.  His
pigeons were still circling about the tree.  How far off was that,
how long ago!  At the city gate there was always an argument about
the amount of the tax.  Then they would be home, cries of hungry
acclamation following them along the street.  In the noisy drive
through the town streets he and little Angela kept close.  In the
courtyard they slipped away from each other quietly.  She to the
kitchen, he to the office.

Mr. Bonnyfeather condoned these excursions, enjoyed them secretly.
McNab frowned.  Toussaint smiled.  A small package of cheese was
usually his share and a whispered description of the trip.  Then
the pens would scratch on.

Faith did not approve of these morning adventures, but she said
nothing.  Anthony, she thought, spent too much time with the
Guessippis.  She began to find work for little Angela whenever she
could.  The games of hide-and-seek, the romps with the children in
the kitchen wing grew somewhat more difficult and further between.
Anthony was fast growing up.  Somehow Faith made him feel this.
Her effect upon him was something of a paradox.  In her presence he
felt older, less embarrassed, yet she continued to put him to bed
like a child.




CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

PHILOSOPHICAL AFTERNOONS


Toussaint Clairveaux, Gentleman Writer,

Monsieur:--It is my desire that you will undertake the instruction
of the young clerk, Anthony Adverse, now apprenticed to me, with
the end in view of founding him in the following specific things,
to wit:  Easy and Legible Penmanship for both Letters and Accounts
(I provide you with models of the letters and figures I wish him to
use), facility in Arithmetic with particular application to the
accounts of this firm, Geometry with application to hoisting
machinery, tackles, and navigation, Geography (he already knows the
Globes), let him memorize the entire list of names of places,
natural features; in short the principal legend on the set of
English great-charts with which I shall provide you, Natural
History in all branches so that he may have a knowledge of the
first origins of various products and the localities from which
they come, a history of trade sufficient to understand the origin
and meaning of commercial regulations, agreements, usages, and the
laws of trade and exchange now generally in force, a knowledge of
the different classes and qualities of manufactured and natural
goods, products and materials (for this you will call in the
assistance of Mr. William McNab for three hours a week in the
storeroom, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Do not neglect this.  Let
the boy be able to tell the qualities of cloth by the feel of them
in the dark.  Let him educate his taste and smell in teas, wines,
and spices.  It is my desire that you supplement his practice in
commercial letter writing in French, English, Spanish and Italian
by instruction in the grammar of these tongues, calling in
assistance when necessary).  I shall myself oversee his Latin.  You
may draw on the chief clerk for buying what books you deem
necessary, first looking upon my own shelves to ascertain that you
do not duplicate unnecessarily.

Knowing you to be a man of liberal education and wide reading,
albeit somewhat unfortunate in your private financial ventures, I
have nevertheless confided A.A. to your charge.  Conduct your
instruction so far as possible in French.  Act (confidentially), on
the supposition that you are preparing this boy for the situation
in life of a gentleman-merchant.  In addition to this I recommend
to bring to his attention such works of the Modern Encyclopaedists,
Philosophers, and Savants as you can best present yourself, having
regard to the tender years of your pupil.  I exclude Voltaire.

You are to regard yourself in authority as the boy's tutor.  The
afternoons are made over to you until further notice.  Both you and
your pupil will be released from the office from dinner time to
five o'clock post meridian.  Waste not the time yourself nor permit
the boy to do so.  Your salary is increased during the time in
which you instruct him by twenty-five scudos the month and you will
take your noon meal at the big table.  Fear nothing in letting me
know wherein you cannot fulfil that I may call in aid.  I trust you
with much, a mind, and perhaps a soul.  May the Holy Trinity guide
you,

JOHN BONNYFEATHER.


So day after day and year by year the instruction went on.  The
maps crinkled on the big table while in imagination Anthony sailed
out through all the world.  "Pass from Hamburg to Pondicherry,"
Toussaint would say and the boy would begin.  "But you arrive first
off the coast of Coromandel," Toussaint would remark afterwards
with a slight hint of reproach as if a breach in etiquette had been
committed by Anthony's omission.  Then the Frenchman would start in
to talk of the countries, the towns, the cities, and the rivers;
their history, who traded there for what.  If there was a classical
legend or story about any blur of colour on the map which they
passed in these mythical voyages, Toussaint rehearsed it.  To many
of these places in the course of his hopeless search for Arcadia he
had been himself.

"At Malacca are settled many old Chinese merchants who sit smoking
opium by their lily ponds or sipping little cups of rice wine.
There is good quail hunting in the country behind.  In Cochin China
they allow fish to rot upon the roofs and from this they make sauce
for their dishes.  The liquor is brown and put in the center
compartment of the divided dish.  Only pretend to dip your bamboo
shoots in it when you dine with these merchants.  Make a delectable
noise when you eat.  It is good manners.  The charts of the
northern coast of Van Diemen's Land are cartographers' dreams,
Terra Australis Incognita.  Stand off from Bermuda ten miles and
burn flares for a pilot.  Nothing is to be had there but onions,
oranges, yellow fever, and trouble with the admiral.  At Malta the
drinking water is all brought from Africa and stinks.  Since the
Reformation most of the knights are French.  They choose only old
men as grand masters in order to keep things in their own hands and
have frequent elections which are profitable.  St. Paul himself was
wrecked there.  The inhabitants are really Phoenicians.  There is a
bad fever peculiar to the place."

Thus the maps took on reality, and what Toussaint did not know
Anthony heard sooner or later at the Big Table or in talking with
Mr. Bonnyfeather at night.

For two years the boy kept a set of ships' account books for McNab.
It was for the Unicorn.  At the end of that time Anthony attempted
to balance them with the hatchet-faced Captain Bittern.  In January
of the year before he found the captain had made a mistake.  The
captain himself pointed it out to him.  It was serious.  After four
hours continuous talk on the subject of Bottomry and agents'
commissions Anthony saw what was wrong, but he did not feel sorry.

Bottomry, indeed, was the boy's bête noire.  There was a young
lawyer in Livorno by the name of Baldasseroni who was an expert in
this terrible subject.  Assurance in general was his hobby.  For
several months he came once a week at Mr. Bonnyfeather's request
and lectured for hours at a time on the theory and practice of
Bottomry.  Toussaint finally tried to get rid of him by engaging
him in an argument as to the desirability of old age pensions as
lately suggested by the republican writer Thomas Paine.  In trying
to work out a scheme for the Island of Corsica the two quarrelled
over the possible number of old people in the island.  "Before the
French came," said Toussaint, "the feuds prevented anyone from
reaching old age."  The lawyer became enraged at this insult to
Italians and challenged Toussaint to a duel.

There was no way of getting out of it.  So one afternoon with McNab
as Toussaint's second they rode out to a lonely beach and shot at
each other.  Anthony was so thrilled as to be delighted.  The
bullet of Toussaint passed through the haunches of Signore
Baldasseroni.  McNab plugged him up with his handkerchief, for he
threatened to bleed to death.  Nevertheless, the laughter of the
Scot was Homeric.  "'Twas an aspect of Bottomry the signore had no
confarred suffeecint thoct upon you maun say," he remarked to Mr.
Bonnyfeather who smiled grimly and dropped the subject from the
"curriculum."

Toussaint strutted about like a peacock for days.  He felt himself
to be a gentleman again.  Signore Baldasseroni meditated for some
weeks on the bottom he had neglected to insure.  Anthony was
relieved.  Yet the primary facts of marine and other assurance
remained in the boy's mind flavoured with a curious reminiscent
humour and human connotations.

To a romantic like Toussaint assurance was a road to Utopia, for
the selfish and ruthless it was a method of cashing in on old ships
and drowned sailors.  This was what Mr. Bonnyfeather said about it.
To most Latins it was a form of the lottery.  Therefore, you
assured ships with honest, literal, and unimaginative persons.  The
British were best.  "The kind of people that meet in the little
room at Lloyds, for instance," said the old man.  "I once went
there with Francis Baring.  Those people were able to read figures
without lying to themselves or each other about them."  "This,"
thought Anthony, "is the final value of arithmetic.  It is why
McNab and not Toussaint, who is a much more brilliant mathematician,
is chief clerk."  Anthony had already begun to see around the
Frenchman a little.  Against the background of many others he began
to stand out in relief.  It was possible to see already that behind
him were certain shadows.

All that the boy learned, no matter how abstract, remained for him
in the terms of men.  Even the stars came down out of their spheres
to assume human meaning.

John Peel Williams, ex-mate of the ship Lion, living on his own
scanty savings and the bounty of Mr. Bonnyfeather, came down from
his garret in the slums once a week to give practical instruction
in the use of the instruments of navigation.  He had huge, steady
hands and the voice of a hoarse sea lion.  While the old house
shook to his rumbling and grumbling, the abstract geometry of
Toussaint was snatched down out of nowhere and suddenly became the
earth and other spheres around it.  Outlines of terrestrial and
celestial circles, zeniths and nadirs, of small ships crawling
through angles and degrees displayed themselves in blue chalk on
the floor of the ballroom from Friday to Monday when they were
finally washed away.  Navigation had been Mr. Williams' only
intellectual escape from his own dull soul.  His emotional exit was
by way of alcohol.  The first was his God and the second his demon.
A subtle combination of both evoked in him the inspired teacher.

He had read extensively in "navigation" but in nothing else.  His
admiration for the universe was due solely to his own comment upon
it, oft, and eternally repeated, "I tell you the stars cannot lie."
Mr. Williams proceeded by the method of the elimination of
negatives.  He showed Anthony that all other methods than the
particular one he proposed were wrong.  Thus with immense gusto he
orated into limbo the astrolabe.  He disposed vigorously of the
cross-staff with profound pity for those who had been forced to
discover new worlds by its doubtful aid.  He frowned upon the half-
arc, and he finally with enormous and dramatic emphasis produced
his sextant out of a shining leather case, extolled it with
infinite explanations, and ascending to the roof, roaring like a
bull in springtime, shot the astonished sun.  So much for latitude.

As to longitude there was still great difficulty.  "Owing," said
Mr. Williams, "not to the stars, which cannot lie, but to our own
unfortunate position on the earth.  The English Admiralty has long
offered a prize for the best method of solving it.  The log of the
day's run and the careful knowledge of drift due to winds,
currents, and the ship's habits are the best we can as yet do.  But
that is guess work, the rule of thumb.  I hear that the comparison
of clocks has been suggested, but I myself am at work on a bi-focal
mirror, two mirrors and an hemisphere.  With mirror '1' you take
the sun at sunrise, with mirror '2' you take the moon at moonrise.
You mark the path of their rays as extended upon the hemisphere.
The place," said Mr. Williams, leaning forward and lowering his
voice to half a gale, "the place where these rays intersect, will,
if properly calculated from the data provided by my table, that I
am preparing slowly, very slowly, and the degrees marked on the
hemisphere, give you your longitude.  The chief difficulty is owing
to the shifty nature of the moon.  However, let me show you this
astonishing instrument."

They ascended together the five pairs of stairs of his lodging.  At
the top floor a door across the hall half opened.  An old woman
looked out expectantly.  Seeing the mate she shoved the door shut
again.  "She is a decayed gentlewoman," said he in a whisper not
audible more than four floors away, "who makes her living by
astrology on the fifth floor and keeping girls on the first.  She
has written a book.  In it are all the old lies about the stars."
His voice growled with indignation.  He picked up a poor, cheaply
bound volume and commenced to read like a tremulous cannon.


It is said by savants that the angles of the three great pyramids
denote a shifting in the position of the North Star.  There will
come a time when Polaris will no longer mark the extension of the
axis from the northern pole of the earth.


Anthony saw the door across the hall open slightly and the head of
the old woman protrude listening.  She saw him, and put her finger
on her lips.

"Think of it, think of it!" roared the mate.  "Here is an old woman
who has written a book denying the whole truth of the beautiful and
eternal science of navigation.  She would have the pole star itself
shift.  What then would become of all the books and tables founded
upon the fact that Polaris remains forever fixed?  What would
become of them, I say?"  His rage was extreme.  The door across the
hall closed again.  The mate bellowed on now like a wounded animal.
The book shook in his hand.


The stars of the Dipper outline the womb of our universe.  Out of
the tail of the Great Bear were born the sun and the seven planets
that we see.  The ancient religions of the earth preserve this
essential tradition.  The era of Christianity itself can be read in
the dial of the stars.  We are now entering upon the last phase of
an epoch when man has worshipped himself.  God is about to become
matter.  Nature, God and man will be taken for one.  All things
will then become confused.  Words themselves will come to have no
meaning.  Babel will ensue.  When the sun enters upon the region of
the Water Carrier a new spiritual man will arrive.  The soul will
again recognize itself.  The cycle is repeating itself. . . .


The mate broke off and hurled the volume into the corner.

"Come up on the roof," said he, "and see my instrument.  It is a
waste of time to read such words."

They climbed up a ladder to a trap door.  On the tiles, resting on
a light platform was a half globe covered with quicksilver and
marked with degrees around the edge.  Two mirrors on rods shifted
about it.  "Now," said the mate, "we are getting back to facts
again!  But I will tell you something.  It is my own discovery.
Latitude and longitude are the same thing!  With these two mirrors
I shall prove it to you."  He proceeded to manipulate them.  Small
suns glittered on the quicksilver globe.  He became fascinated.
His voice boomed on as he continued for a full half hour to confuse
the astonished boy who tried to follow him.  Anthony could make
nothing of it.  The tone of the man's voice reminded him of
Toussaint's when he was reading or talking about Rousseau.  It was
what Mr. Bonnyfeather called "enthusiasm--an emotion without a
sufficient cause."

"How can anybody really get excited about quicksilver globes?"
thought Anthony.

His own instinct for words came to his rescue.  No one could ever
get anywhere, he saw, who thought that latitude and longitude were
the same thing.  He sat for a while apparently listening
respectfully, but swinging his feet over the edge of the roof and
looking out over Livorno.

The water he saw was exactly separated from the shore.  Hills were
the opposite of valleys.  The sky was not the earth.  On the
horizon they seemed to meet, but he knew when you got there there
was a gulf between.

After a while he crawled back down the ladder without disturbing
the mate.  Above him the stentorian voice rolled on.  As he slipped
down the hall the old woman looked out again.  She was laughing.
As he passed by she thrust her book into his hand.  A red card fell
out.


                          Signora Bovino
                        Explains the Past,
                               and
                      Elucidates the Future,
                Casts Horoscopes, and Reads Palms.
                     Her Art is Invulnerable
                       on the Fifth Floor
                         Strada Calypso
                             ------
                       Satisfactory Amatory
                    Entertainment on the First.


Anthony looked up again but the door had closed noiselessly.

He went home and tried to read the book.  A new meaning to religion
dawned on him as he turned its pages.  But between strange visions
of the past which the book suggested, shrieked out a shrill
feminine babel of nonsense in print.  His head spun.  He had had
enough of stars.

For a while Anthony had been induced to believe by Mr. Williams
that the stars could not lie.  It was impossible for him to
believe, however, that the art of Signora Bovino was invulnerable,
even on the fifth floor.  Yet Mr. Bonnyfeather who was now the
final appeal in most things confirmed the fact that the North Star
actually was shifting.  The news caused something to crack in
Anthony's head.  He blinked.  So there WAS something in the old
woman after all!  Both her art and the art of navigation were
partly right.  You could not trust anything too far, then.
Curious!

He began to wonder about Father Xavier, but that was past now.  It
was difficult to question what he had heard from him, very
difficult.  He had accepted it as truth for so long.  And then
there was Toussaint.  Perhaps Rousseau, then, was only Toussaint's
enthusiasm.  On the days when they walked out into the country and
read La Nouvelle Héloïse together Anthony began to listen with his
own ears rather than those which the eloquence of his tutor would
have provided for him.

They used to climb the hills back of the town on hot days and sit
down under the trees.  There was one place which Toussaint
particularly affected.  It was a small valley with a nondescript
ruin in it which peculiarly moved the soul of the Frenchman.  They
would lie down by a spring while the grasshoppers chirped in the
grass and Toussaint or Anthony read aloud.  In his excitement
Toussaint would occasionally mount upon a rock and give vent to his
feelings at some passage that aroused his enthusiasm.  Under the
spell of his eloquence the little valley became a charming glade in
an antique world.

Toussaint waved his hand.  He struck an attitude with his cloak
falling from his arm like a toga, and pointed dramatically to the
pile of stones covered with vines across the little valley that lay
before him.

"Do you see that ruin?" he cried.  Anthony could see it plainly.
"I shall cause it to rise before your eyes; to become once more the
home of simple and happy folk uncontaminated by the vices which a
cruel society would now thrust upon them.  I am about to show you
humanity walking alone, upright, free and noble; the beautiful body
and soul of man unfettered by the cruel irons of the fatal social
contract.  Religion has not been invented.  There is only the force
of nature reverently and happily worshipped.  There is no fear.
All is love.  There is nothing but the beautiful earth and the most
beautiful thing on it, man.  The more I think of him the nobler he
becomes."  With a single and simultaneous gesture of one foot and
two hands the philosopher now disposed of the entire Christian era.

"Roll back, you dull ages of slavery, pass three thousand years.  I
see before me a charming wattled hut.  It is near nightfall.  In
the doorway sits a woman with a distaff.  She manipulates the wool,
while her naked and beautiful children, while the lambs and kids
bound about her threshold.  The father returns.  Over that hill,
out of the beech forest, he appears, huge, noble, but graceful.  A
slaughtered deer is thrown over his shoulders.  A bow is in his
hand.  The dogs bark.  The woman and children run to meet him.
Their embraces are unrestrained.  The deer is roasted before the
fire.  Baked roots are raked from the ashes; a simple cake or two.
The power of nature is thanked in a simple prayer.  The family
quenches its thirst at the spring.  They leap in the pool and swim
in the moonlight.  They admire each other.  They are unashamed.
They lie down to undisturbed rest.  There is no care for the
morrow.  Nature will provide.  There are no priests except the
father, no taxes, no false manners, no conventions, no neighbours
to impose upon them or to be impressed, no books, no lessons except
that of husbandry, no, no, no . . ."  Toussaint swept away
everything with a final gesture.

After these outbursts Anthony was surprised to see that even the
ruin remained.  It had, he observed, after the mist of oratory
cleared away, an obstinate faculty of remaining a heap of stones
covered by vines.

Toussaint would then walk about a little.  Then he would throw
himself down in the grass again and eagerly begin to thumb over the
pages of some book which he had brought with him.  It was usually
one of Rousseau's.  He was especially fond of chanting these lines
by heart until he found the place he was looking for, whatever it
might be:


Emile was filled with love of Sophie.  And what were her charms
that bound him to her?  They were tenderness, virtue, the love of
honour.  But what most moved the heart of Sophie?  Those feelings
that were of the very nature of her love: respect for goodness, for
moderation, simplicity, for generous disinterestedness, a contempt
for splendour and luxury.

Frequently in their walks while admiring the beauties of nature
their pure and innocent hearts were exalted to their Creator.  But
they did not fear His presence, before Him they uncovered
themselves to each other.  Then they saw their own perfection in
all its beauty, then they loved each other most and conversed
charmingly on the subjects that the virtuous most appreciated.
Often they shed tears that were purer than the dews of heaven.


For some reason or other the recital of these paragraphs nearly
always brought tears to the eyes of Toussaint.  It brought a scene
to his mind as if Watteau had gone sketching in Japan.

It was also during these afternoon walks, readings and
"recitations" by Toussaint that the news of the French Revolution
had first been brought to Anthony's ears.  At first Toussaint had
been its prophet, if one could believe him.  As the boy listened to
him he thought at first his friend was talking about the Kingdom of
God which seemed close at hand.  Every day now was to be a little
better than the day before.  Things from now on were to go that
way, for some reason.  Because that was the way they went.  Anthony
had read a great deal about the Kingdom in the theological books on
Mr. Bonnyfeather's shelves.  Toussaint's kingdom was to be a
Republic.  But it was never clear to Anthony, no matter how much
Toussaint explained the "difference," what was the difference
between the Republic that the Revolution was to bring and the far-
off Kingdom of God, the reign of Christ and all his saints.

"But man will bring about his own perfect state by reason.  Can't
you see!" Toussaint would cry.  "What has God got to do with that?"

"Stuff and nonsense," said Mr. Bonnyfeather one night when Anthony
questioned him about all this.  "You are quite right.  The old
books were talking about the same thing.  Perfection is nothing
new.  It is just an old dream that had been forgotten for a while.
Now they are talking about it again with new words.  It is the
spirit of just men made perfect.  Don't you see if reason is to
make just men perfect, then reason must be God?  It is only a new
word for the Almighty.  If not, if it is human reason they are
talking about, how can an imperfect thing make a perfect one?
Besides," grumbled the old man, "find the just men.  Where are
they? . . .

"I will tell you something about all this talk of perfection, of
constant progress that is going on everywhere now," said the
merchant getting up and walking up and down.  "It is popular
because it is flattering.  And there is one great idea under it all
that I am convinced from both my own experience and my reading is
wrong.  It is this man Rousseau that your tutor is always reading
to you from, and talking to you about, who is mainly responsible.
Listen, this is it.  It is the idea that human nature is naturally
good; that by pulling on its own bootstraps it can raise itself to
God.  Do not believe that.  If you do you are lost."

The pit seemed to open at Anthony's feet.  He looked at his patron
amazed, not so much for what he said as for the earnest way he said
it.  Anthony had never seen him so determined before.

"No, no, the Church is right," cried the old merchant.  "I have
lived long enough to find that out.  Men are not so good as they
pretend to be, or like to think they are.  They are in fact evil.
Besides, I do not know anyone by the name of 'man.'  I meet and
deal only with men and women.  They are evil.  They do evil in
spite of themselves even when trying to do good.  You must be
humble in spirit to believe that.  That is what humility means.
You must not be too proud to ask for help for your evil self from
the outside; to pray, to try to commune.  It is the people who are
always trying to make the world better that are proud.  They have
no need of God.  Those who know they have a fatal lack in
themselves will not try to make others perfect.  They will only be
sorry for themselves and for others; perhaps they will be kind,
decent, affable if they can be.  They will hope that others will
find out how helpless and how liable to do evil they are, too.  A
thousand citizens like that gathered together in one place would
make a good town to live in.  You will never find it.  Do not look
for that town.  It is too much to expect on earth.  It is the City
of God.

"Remember it is only by a miracle that a man can escape from
himself.  By the power of something more than human.  That is what
our religion means with all its faults.  For it, too, is partly
made by man.  Can you understand?"

"I can follow what you say," said Anthony.

"You will feel it some time, you will understand it, after you are
vile enough, then you will know.  Now, good night."

The boy rose to go.

"Am I so evil?" he asked.

The old man stopped suddenly and came over to the door.  He put his
hands on Anthony's shoulders and drew him toward him.  He drew his
head back and looked down into his face.

"Not yet," he said.  For an instant he held the lad close to him.
"God keep you!" he murmured.

During the entire time in which Anthony remained under the roof of
the Casa da Bonnyfeather this was the sole positive manifestation
of affection which he received from the old merchant.  Sometimes he
felt restrained in the old man's presence.  Of Mr. Bonnyfeather's
great affection for him the boy was of course by this time aware.
At first he had accepted it with the calm, egotistic assurance of a
boy.  Naturally, people would like him!  But as he grew older he
realized that Mr. Bonnyfeather was, as he expressed it to himself,
"his earthly father."  Between them, though no words had passed on
the subject, it was understood that Anthony should some day succeed
to the old merchant's place.  A hundred little expressions and
phrases that the old man used showed it was that of which he was
thinking.  Then, too, his constant urging of the boy's ambition and
the careful preparation and planning of his instruction all pointed
that way.  Yet there was a reserve in each which the other
respected.  Mr. Bonnyfeather alluded frequently to his own past.
Anthony was finally able to piece most of it together.  But the
boy's past he never even touched upon.

"It is to save me embarrassment," thought Anthony.  Of the lost
daughter the merchant said nothing.  Faith had once talked of her
one night while the shadows danced, but carefully.  The boy had no
cause to connect himself with her.  Rather than ask about something
which he knew might give Mr. Bonnyfeather pain, he would have cut
off his own hand.

So they sat together in the merchant's room at night talking,
reading, going over business affairs.  There was in that room as
time went on a complete feeling of confidence and ease between
them.  The dim figures in the wall seemed to Anthony to be in his
past, the lost country out of which he had mysteriously come.  From
that company of dreams he had merely removed as it were into the
clearer, into the very clear and precise atmosphere of Mr.
Bonnyfeather's room in the bright candlelight.  He was now sitting
with the man who was a father to him, having the world as it
actually is explained and made understandable.  Some day he,
Anthony, would sit at that desk planning out the voyages of the
firm's ships, but not for a long while.  No, he would not, could
not bear to think of that.  But in the room he nevertheless felt
himself to be heir apparent.  Outside in the court, in the counting
house, and in the city there was a subtle difference in their
attitude to each other.  Mr. Bonnyfeather, he could see, did not
care to make plain to everybody what was understood between them
when they were alone.  And with this tacit arrangement the boy fell
in line and acted his part.  That was perhaps the crux of the
situation.  Anthony was sensitive and understanding enough to
accept it and not to presume.

Only once or twice in later years had that earlier feeling of
restraint fallen upon them.  It came at times when Mr. Bonnyfeather
seemed about to say something that weighed much on his mind.  He
would stand looking down into Anthony's face while he was talking.
Then a silence would overtake him for a minute as if his tongue had
been stopped by an overpowering thought.  Anthony felt sure at such
times that he was about to hear something of peculiar importance.
Then, as if Mr. Bonnyfeather had changed subjects with himself, he
would lower his eyes and go on just where he had left off.

Of all these things the boy thought as he went to sleep at night,
particularly after Faith had gone.  Then he would creep out and
draw close enough to the madonna to be able to see her in the faint
light that beat in from the hall.  He was thankful that he seemed
to have found an earthly father.  She herself, the statue, had now
become two things in one to him, things gathered up out of all the
dreams and experiences of his past.  She was that woman who might
take a child in her arms and comfort him, even a big lad, when, as
he went to bed again, he felt like a child in the dark, helpless
and alone; alone as the spirit of every man must be when he
attempts to commune with himself.  But she had also become that
power-beyond of which Mr. Bonnyfeather had spoken, something to
which he might appeal, which in his very efforts to talk with it
seemed to dictate its own reply within him.

So, creeping close to her by the wall in the warm Italian night,
the slim figure of the orphan out of habitude from old times came
close to the Virgin to whisper to her of that chaos of thought and
feeling that was already burning in his body and mind.  For a
while, crouched by the wall in the moonlight, he was at home again.
He had returned to the heart of that mystery from which he had
come.




CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

BODIES IN THE DARK


Toussaint had, as Anthony grew tall and took on the promise of an
early manhood, begun to talk to him of love.  It was always of
"love" and seldom of women.  Of women Anthony had heard much in a
coarse and generally good-natured way about the port.

Sailors who followed girls; clerks related their experiences.
These were sometimes strange or drôle enough.  Usually they were
merely muddled.  For a long time they had seemed to Anthony
adventures and experiences that could only happen to others, things
which could not, and need not, affect him.  Indeed, he felt a
little superior about it all.  He felt that he should pretend an
interest, yet secretly glad that he really cared so little.

But the stories of Garcia, the Spanish clerk, were graphic.
Indeed, that young correspondent was occasionally given to using
the firm's best stationery to draw pictures upon in which the
attitudes of human bodies when united with each other were so
accurately and intimately portrayed as to leave no room for
imagination between them.  It was for that very reason that
Anthony, who was allowed the privilege of looking at these graphti
from time to time, was, despite a few natural burning throbs,
finally disappointed.  There were too many of these pictures for
him.  It was being too prodigal with something rare.  You also saw
somewhat the same thing in farmyards when you drove out into the
country.  No one paid much attention to it there.  Why draw
pictures about it in town?  Big Angela could drive a flinty bargain
for sour wine while it was going on in the stables.  Only children
stared.

Nevertheless, from the Spanish clerk and anatomist the boy learned
certain intimate phrases and idioms which even the books of
Castilian grammar omitted by pure consent.  McNab had given the
final quietus to the drawing lessons by leaning over Garcia and
Anthony one day during a more than usually erective bit.

"Mon," said McNab suddenly extracting the paper from under the
artist's pencil and holding it up, "if you're in that state of mind
I'll lend you a hae crown mysel'."  Cornering Anthony later he had
remarked with a lift to his nostrils, "'Twas bad enough gazin' at
the ceilin' when ye first came.  Now you're crawlin' under and
lookin' up."  The lad wilted.  Then he felt sick.  After that he
confined himself and Garcia to letters in Spanish and nothing more.
Behind his desk McNab looked at the pictures, laughed and threw
them in the waste bin.

The passage about Emile and Sophie did not move Anthony.  He said
so.  Toussaint was hurt.  According to him "love" was allowing the
soul to expand.  It was important to find someone with the
qualities of soul with which one could--expand.  Emile and Sophie
had been able to expand together, he pointed out.  Together their
souls had filled the whole world for them and made it beautiful.
Yes, they had loved each other's bodies.  The human body was
beautiful and pure.  "Notice," said the philosopher, "when they
revealed themselves to each other, when on those charming walks
they were naked and lay down in the grass together,--it was then
that from the sight of their beautiful bodies their souls most
caught fire.  Then they had the most beautiful and truly virtuous
thoughts.  The finest things were said then, their purest tears
would flow."

"Why was that?" asked Anthony.

This irritated Toussaint.  A Gallic wriggle of his shoulders was
really his best answer.  To find words to explain it, he was forced
again to hunt some place in the pages of Rousseau which was
peculiarly "expansive."  There it was all clear.  One felt that it
MUST be so, he insisted.  One could weep and be pure with those
lovers in the book.  In reading the book Toussaint seldom thought
about Faith Paleologus.  The book and she belonged to two different
worlds.  He preferred not to confuse them.  Yet sometimes . . .

"All those children in the stone ring about the fountain were
beautiful," thought Anthony.  "Bodies in most books and some
pictures are also like that, especially in novels and poems.  But
real bodies are not all beautiful.  Some are disgusting.  Not all
those Guessippi children are beautiful.  Innocenza, she is like a
double radish under a smooth little onion.  And there is Arnolfo.
No, certainly he is not ugly, but he is not beautiful.  What could
you think about Arnolfo?"  There was something about Arnolfo which
Anthony would like to have talked about with Toussaint.  But
Toussaint was always reading from a book.  This was about something
that had really happened.

Arnolfo had taken Anthony upstairs one day into the warm, empty
room over the kitchen.  Then he had closed the door mysteriously
and locked it.  Then he had let down his clothes.  "Look," said
Arnolfo, "Look!  I can do that."  After a few fascinating moments
he proved that he could.

"Can YOU?" he asked.

"Could he?"--Anthony wondered.  Arnolfo was both triumphant and
incredulous.  The boy was smaller than Anthony.  Anthony felt
inclined to lie to him or to boast.  He mumbled something,
sweating.

"I don't think English clerks CAN," sneered Arnolfo.  "Straw
hair!"

So phrased it was now a dilemma of embarrassments.  He must either
retire or prove himself.  Besides, could he, COULD he?  Something
must be done.  In behalf of himself, his race, and his class
Anthony accepted the challenge.

There were a few moments of terrible doubt.

Then he forgot Arnolfo.  The walls of the room and the glimmering
window retreated to a vast distance.  He was left alone, absolutely
alone with a new and enchanted self.  It seemed as if someone else
were touching him; he and himself.

A vision of the fountain in the courtyard at the convent appeared
to him.  It became clearer and clearer.  The water in the pool was
bubbling.  The bronze boy was capering along the rim like a monkey.
The stone children beneath were dancing madly around and around.
Suddenly they blurred into a misty ring of speed.  The water rose
of itself, overflowed, and engulfed the bronze boy.  He saw the
roots of the great tree entirely exposed.  Then it was over.  He
wilted.  The mist cleared.

He was back in the mean, hot little room again.  He, Anthony
Adverse, awfully naked!  Arnolfo was laughing at him!

THAT little monkey knew it was the first time!  He had been with
him, peeping at the fountain in the temple.  He had seen it!
Another great emotion surged over Anthony bringing his strength
back to him again.  It was anger.  His leg shot out by itself.  The
foot on the end of it kicked Arnolfo soundly.  Arnolfo had laughed!

In the face of the elements the Italian boy collapsed and lay white
and still.  He saw tears of fury in the steely eyes of the boy
above him, who, he felt sure, was going to kill him.  Arnolfo kept
very quiet.  His legs and arms relaxed and quivered like the limbs
of a sleeping rabbit.  His olive skin blanched.  Anthony looked
down at him.

He understood now the meaning of the form of Arnolfo.  It was like
a little animal.  What had happened to it did not matter.  Arnolfo
had never found himself.  Arnolfo was "lost."  What he did to
himself was purely physical.  It did not concern anyone else nor
did it concern anything living in Arnolfo.  But to Anthony, ah, to
Anthony!  He drew his belt tightly about his waist and rushed
downstairs out into the cool air and light.

But reminiscent twinges of ecstasy and hot glows of anger continued
to flow up and down his spine.  For the first time in his life he
loathed himself.  He ran back through the hallway and peered into
Faith's room.  She had gone out.  The big ship's tub in the corner
stood alluringly with its circle of water gleaming.  He locked the
door, dragged off his clothes, and plunged in.

There, that was better now!  It was good to wash yourself, to come
out clean and cool.  How wonderful water was!  He felt that somehow
he had been forgiven by it.  He went back into his own room and lay
down.

Many things suddenly became clear to him in the light of this
tremendous experience.  Now, he knew.  By finding out about himself
he understood so much more about others.  No, it was not all bad,
this experience.  Not by any means.  Love must be something like
that.  So this was what it was all about.  He forgave Arnolfo.  He
would make up for having kicked him.  Yes, it was very pleasant.
It was wonderful.

Then an alarming thought occurred to him.  Perhaps, after all, he
might be like Arnolfo.  No, he did not look like Arnolfo--that
little beast--and yet how like him, too.  After a while he fell
into a dreamless sleep.  Faith came and looked at him but he did
not know it.  She saw he had been using her water.  The marks of
his feet had not yet dried from her floor.

The fascination of this experience did not overwhelm Anthony.  That
was because in his inmost thoughts he never felt himself entirely
alone.  It was that with which he spoke intimately, particularly at
night.  When he called it anything at all it was "the madonna."
God as yet was something remote.  He was the spirit which Father
Xavier had addressed, the force of nature which Toussaint talked
about, the creator of everything ages ago, but hardly present now,
hardly something intimate.

But the madonna was always there in his room.  She always had been
there.  She was a habit.  She had a shape and a locality.  In
addition to her form visible in the statue, which he had long
understood to be only a representation, only a statue of her, there
was an actual presence of her in his mind which from early time he
had been able to evoke in dreams.  Lately she had become more of a
voice.  He would pray to her in the dark.  It was not necessary to
light a candle before her any more to see her.  It was rather
helpful not to have a candle.  You addressed her first in the
regular prayer, Ave Maria.  Then you talked to her.  When you did
wrong she talked to you.  When he became like Arnolfo, for
instance, when he did that, he lost her.  He was left alone with
himself.  He was afraid.  He could not bear to be utterly alone.
That was what it meant to be lost.  It was like that time long ago
before anybody had come to play with him, dark, terrible.  He
prayed to her to stay with him, to help him.  Sometimes she did so.
Sometimes he drove her away.  Then he could not find her again for
days.  And on those days he was unhappy, he was miserable.  He
sulked.

At last he made a discovery.  When you did nothing but feel you
were left alone.  It was only your body you had then.  The voice
lived only in your mind.  "She" was there.  To the orphan this
voice, which had the form of a woman who cherished a child in her
arms, was a necessary comfort.  He was completely miserable without
her.  He instinctively felt that he could not speak to Mr.
Bonnyfeather about this trouble that was sometimes stronger than he
was himself.  As for Arnolfo, he could only feel.  He saw that boy
was all body, he was like an animal.  That was why they said
animals did not have a soul.  He understood it now.  They had no
voices in them.

Anthony did not want to be "like an animal."  He was afraid too
that his own body might come to look like Arnolfo's.  Undoubtedly
after such times when you looked in the glass your face had
changed.  Others might not be able to see it, but you could see it
yourself.  He began to take great trouble with himself.  He would
disguise that.  The clerks noticed that "Mr. Adverse" as they half
humorously, half affectionately called him, was getting to be a bit
of a dude.  They wondered who the girl was and twitted him about
her.  His pride was aroused.  Everybody had a girl or said they
had.  He believed them.  What would they think of him if they
really knew!  After a long struggle, by the help of the voice and
the opinion of the outside world, he was able to remain a man.  And
he was so proud of it, happy about it.  He was master of himself.
He longed to tell someone that he was, Toussaint, for instance.
But how could he go about that?  Yet his triumph became visible.

A new and manly confidence showed in his speech, in the way he
carried himself, acted and moved.  He felt himself at home now in
the world of men.  He was almost grateful to Arnolfo.  He could be
kind to him when he saw him now.  He, Anthony, knew, and he had
triumphed.  "No," he thought, "I am not evil, not as evil as Mr.
Bonnyfeather thinks.  I am strong.  I have proved it."  He did not
always feel it necessary now to talk with the madonna as he went to
bed.  He was so firm in his own new-found strength.  No, he did not
really need her--any more.  Only sometimes.  The crisis had passed,
he thought.

Besides, he would soon be a full grown man now.  It troubled him a
little that at the age of sixteen his soul still seemed to be the
same as the one he had always had.  Would that never grow up?  The
child inside of him!  His body now was tall, broad in the
shoulders, long in the legs.  His face was keen.  He was proud of
that strong, merry yet thoughtful fellow who looked out of his
eyes.  And it was something to be able to control that body now.
It was no longer the soft, fragile, tender thing it had once been.
It was swift, eager, warm, strong, and overflowing.  He was master
of this glorious animal, he, the child inside of him.  He was proud
of it.  Hence the swagger.

Also he knew a thing or two, he thought.  Toussaint had a hard time
of it in arguments.  It seemed doubtful at times if Anthony were
going to be an apostle of Rousseau, an Emile to be matched with
some glorious Sophie, as the little Frenchman so ardently hoped.

"Ah, if Faith had only had the mind of a Sophie," thought
Toussaint, "with that glorious body of hers how happy Toussaint and
Faith might have been together!"  Even now from the body of this
death of his love, from the living tomb of his hope, he could not
bear to be parted.  He must be near her.  It was some comfort to
see even the embodiment of his disappointment.  His eyes followed
her.  She never looked at him.  Her eyes were elsewhere.

As she sat in Anthony's room now at night her eyes seemed to be
resting upon that curious shadow play at the foot of the boy's bed.
If it had not been physically impossible it might have seemed that
it was her eyes that somehow caused these shadows to shift and
dance.  In her deep inexpressive pupils, had you looked closely
under the sun-bonnet even by daytime, the same mysterious kind of
ghostly nothings might be seen at play.  Anthony had noticed that.

The eyes of this woman were often upon him, he began to discover.
He had been uncomfortable under her scrutiny at first, but now in
his new-found strength he felt superior to her.  He was a man.
Then what she had to say at night gradually grew more and more
interesting.  She began to tell him revealing little bits of the
biographies of those who moved under the same roof as he did.  They
could laugh together now over certain foibles of others which they
discussed.  Some of the facts of life were revealed to them in the
same way.  He would lie watching the shadows and listening to her
talk.  The tones of her voice, he discovered, thrilled him.  They
did not send him to sleep any more.  It was a new kind of
companionship.  Physically, she served him in endless ways.  She
knew his bodily habits uncommonly well and catered to them.  She
had also been there a long time.  She began to recount some stories
of the women about the place.  It was flattering to know that he as
a man could understand.  Also it was quite all right to close the
door so that Mr. Bonnyfeather need not be disturbed by their
voices.  Indeed, he never had been.  He did not know.

It was now that a series of events occurred for which even long
afterwards Anthony was unable to fix the blame.  He could not tell
whether they were due to Fate, the Virgin, Faith, or what.

"Chance," said Toussaint.  "The auld deil," said McNab without
hesitation.  "Human nature," said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  But none of
these gentlemen ever knew ALL the story or they might have been
as perplexed as Anthony.




CHAPTER NINETEEN

THE NUMBERS OF THE VIRGIN


Anthony had made up his mind he was in love with little Angela.  It
was high time, he thought, that he should have a girl.  It was not
very difficult to persuade yourself that you were in love with
Angela, who, heaven knows, was good-looking enough.  Anyway, he did
not as yet really know any other girl sufficiently well even to
pretend to himself that he could be in love with her.  "Angela
Maea" he still called Angela.  It was close enough to Angela mia to
pass muster when whispering to her without causing him to explain
how much deeper than that the name really went.

It was not quite so easy, however, to make Angela understand that
you were in love with her; in love, that is, in a really formal
way, a situation to be publicly, although very quietly, made
apparent to everybody.  Angela merely preferred to like you, to be
fond of you, and not to be formal about it.  In other words, you
had such a good time with her, you enjoyed being with her so much,
it was difficult to remember to stop to make love to her in the
proper way by talking about it as Emile did to Sophie; by letting
your soul "expand" as Toussaint had explained.

When you made a speech to her almost as fine as those in the books
she would never take you seriously.  In fact, she did not seem to
know what you were talking about.  She laughed.  You saw it was
funny and you had to laugh, too.  That was hardly fair.  It stopped
your love-making.  If you continued, and insisted you were serious
about it she finally sulked.  Then you had to put your arm around
her and explain.  After a while she would kiss and make up, but
only after a long while.  No, it was simply impossible to make love
to Angela.

But the kisses of Angela--how cool they were!  How happy, and yet
how calm!  How you forgot yourself when you kissed her!  How soft,
and friendly, and comfortable were her brown arms about your neck!
Oh, how Anthony was to remember them afterwards, those kisses, in
thirsty, and hot, and bitter places!  Maea's kisses of peace he
called them.  The cool haze near snowbanks in the spring where the
first flowers began to grow--that was to remind him afterwards of
the kisses of little Angela.

So if she would not really be his in a way that he could flaunt
before the whole clerks' row in the counting house, still it was
pleasant, it was delightful, to drive with her back into the hill
country in the early morning.  Big Angela was glad to let them have
the cart now.  It was more and more difficult for her to climb into
it, for impossible as it might seem, as she grew older she grew
even larger.  The plump mule was also delighted.  These tall, slim
youngsters who drove behind him and shook the reins on the hills
were nothing to pull.  He sped along gayly, shaking the loud bells
merrily to the peals of laughter from the cart.

Little Angela remembered all the old places to call and the
dainties with which to load the cart.  Its advent now in various
farmyards was more the signal for gayety than for bargaining.  What
the two young people who drove it lacked in powers of haggling they
made up in the sense of youth and happiness they carried with them.
The country gossip they picked up and their talk of the town were
vastly appreciated.  They learned to retail this gossip with
considerable skill and not a little collaboration.  The new
vintages would be brought out, the new-born lambs exhibited, or
they must taste of the most remarkable sausages and cheeses.  Boys
and girls always gathered around wherever the cart stopped as well
as the old people, and Anthony would orate to them of the latest
news from the French wars.  Then they would drive on to the next
place.

Yes, decidedly, even the pleasure of bargaining could be dispensed
with for the joy these young people brought, thought the farmers'
wives.  You could afford to be a little generous in the light of
such eyes, the blue ones of the tall, gay, golden-haired English
lad who spoke your own language so uncannily well; of the brown-
eyed and statuesque girl with the ringing laugh.  The hampers that
returned to the Casa da Bonnyfeather did not suffer although old
Angela pretended to grumble.  The geese, she said, were never fat
enough and the prices were extortionate, she insisted.  Yet
secretly in her heart, like all the other wives of the countryside,
she blessed the cart and those who now rode upon it.

Then these pagan mornings were suddenly ended.  It was when only
three of the Guessippi children still remained small enough to be
doused in front of the fountain before the cart left.  Now it was
only, "Innocenza, Jacopo, Luigi."  The other names remained, but
only as part of the ritual.  Just at this particular time it
pleased God to make Papa Tony Guessippi, the waiter, rich.  As
usual Providence moved mysteriously.

In the first place, one morning as Anthony climbed down from the
cart on returning from an especially enjoyable drive with Angela,
out of sheer braggadocio and exuberance he kissed her.  He hoped
somebody would see him, and someone did.  It was Faith.  After
that, but not too soon afterward, Faith began to make it her
business to look after things in the kitchen herself.  They were,
so she said, not going to her satisfaction.  Big Angela was
scarcely to be moved by anything but an earthquake, but little
Angela and Tony found it quite difficult to bear her presence.  Do
what they would, they could not avoid the eyes of Faith.  She was
there in the kitchen often.  They shivered and crossed themselves
secretly.

Thus matters stood when, secondly, there was a great thunderstorm
and a bolt of lightning fell in the street just behind the Casa da
Bonnyfeather.  No less than nine copper pans were fused in Angela's
kitchen.  In Anthony's room the madonna herself was thrown to the
floor.

The consternation produced by these events had hardly died away
when, thirdly, Count Spanocchi, the Governor of Livorno, in order
to repair the defences of the city, announced by proclamation the
establishment of an official lottery with several very large
prizes.  It was already rumoured that the French were coming.
That, however, really did not worry anybody very much except the
English merchants.  Little else was talked of day after day in the
streets except the best numbers to bet upon.  Everything, even an
event, has numbers.  But which were the lucky ones?

Big Angela remembering that nine saucepans had been destroyed by
lightning bet 9.  Now 10 is the number of lightning.  So the good
woman squandered nearly all her savings in procuring ten tickets
upon each one of which 9 appeared in some combination.  Speechless
at the cleverness of his wife in reading omens, Tony sat down in
the corner of the kitchen and gave vent to his jealous spleen.

"It was not for you to have done that, Angela," said he.  "You
should have told me and allowed your husband to bet upon those
numbers.  He is a man and has more money than you will ever have to
risk in the lottery."

This was a sore point with Angela.  Despite her great bulk and
herculean labours, Tony, the insignificant, received more for
carrying the dishes to the table than she did for preparing them.
He was a man, was he?  She determined to dispute that.

"You, a man!" she shouted.  "You are a worthless, hot little mouse.
Get out!"  She descended upon him with the remaining pan.  Faith
watched without comment, but she followed Tony out.  Fixing him
with her eyes she said something to him in a low voice that Angela
could not overhear.  The huge cook was much troubled.  Bad luck
would follow, she felt sure.

A little later Tony approached Anthony hat in hand.  "Is it true,
Signore Adverso," he asked in suppressed excitement, "that the
madonna in your room was also struck by lightning?"

"Also?" said Anthony puzzled.  "Oh--yes, it is true.  That is she
was not struck.  She was merely thrown to the floor and not even
broken."

The man crossed himself.  A look of great relief shone on his face.
"Ah, then," he said, "I will do it!"

"Do what?" asked Anthony.

"You shall see," he said.  "If I win you shall share in my luck."

That evening in the crowd before the counting house of Franchetti
adjoining the mayoralty, Tony spent all he had and all he could
borrow on the numbers of lightning, saucepans, and the Virgin.  The
tickets he finally displayed were numbered 10, 9, 6, 8, 15.  In
order to obtain these he had to do some costly trading with other
ticket holders in the crowd.  But he was happy.  He had plunged for
the cinquina.

He left nothing undone in order to win.  He said the Crielleisonne;
he said thirteen Ave Marias in as many churches, he invoked
Baldassare, Gasper, and Marchionne, the three wise men.  Then he
went home and quarrelled with his wife.  She told him he was "peini
di superba, debiti, e pidocchi."  After this he went outside
without answering back.  This is hard to do, but it is almost bound
to bring good luck.

Even little Angela bet.  She dreamed her mother was dead.
Nevertheless she played that number, 52.  The lottery had been
heavily subscribed.  It was not only popular, but patriotic.

Two days of terrible, breathless waiting now followed.  Then
delirium descended upon the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  "Signore Antonio
Guessippi" had won 40,000 scudi.

The news came in the morning.  Before noon it was necessary to shut
the street gates to keep out the acclaiming populace.  Poor Tony
was beside himself.  At luncheon he was drunk.  Little Angela had
to wait on the table in his place.  While she brought the dishes
her father's head was thrust through the serving window from time
to time alternately bidding Mr. Bonnyfeather a tearful farewell and
exulting over him.

"Not once again will I, Tony, bring the soup to thee, thou grey-
headed old man.  It is I now who am rich.  Many persons will
henceforth bring soup to me."  Just then he was snatched back into
the kitchen.

A noise of struggling, the smashing of dishes, and big Angela's
remonstrances convulsed those sitting about the table.  But it was
incredible to Tony that a man so rich as he should any longer be
dominated by his wife.  His head, somewhat the worse for wear,
reappeared through the window.  He was weeping now.

"Thou knowest what I have suffered, O best of patrons.  It is over
now.  It is not from thee I would part but from that huge hill,
that mountain to which I am married.  It is not I who would have
had all these children.  I could not help myself.  I . . ."  Here
he was pulled into the kitchen again and a pail shoved down over
his head.  He sat weeping under it, shouting that he was rich.
When he attempted to move, his wife held him down.  After a while
he gave up the struggle and sat quiet.

He seemed to have gone into eclipse under the pail, but it was not
so.  In its serene darkness bright visions of freedom and affluent
grandeur glowed intensely.  The money he knew would make him more
powerful than his wife.  He would leave this scene of his lifelong
defeat immediately.  Tonight!  He would snatch his entire family
out of this ignominious kitchen, her field of victory.  He would
return to Pisa, the scene of his illustrious nativity and the home
of his ancestors, in unimaginable triumph.  There should be a coach
for every single member of his family--except for her.  A coach
even for Bambino Luigi, who was a prince now.  As for fat Angela--
that mountain--she should ride with him and watch him throw his
money out of the window to the crowd.  It would kill her.  Not a
stick or a dish would they take away of their poverty, nothing but
the clothes on their backs.  He would bury her in things, choke her
with pearls, hire cooks for her--that was a master thought.  And he
would have a small thin mistress.  Never would he be held down on
that hill again, never!  They would leave tonight, with cavalry!
He would ask the governor for an escort.

Seeing him sit so quietly Angela removed the pail and smiled at
him.  He looked at her with baleful eyes.  "Thy home is no more,
woman," he said, and spat at her.

She was amazed.  It did not seem to be her husband that she had
uncovered.  Who was this little man who gibbered at her?  The day
had been too much to bear anyway.  She began to cry out and wring
her hands.  Presently she was surrounded by her brood all weeping
hysterically except little Angela.  They could feel their world
dissolving.

At three o'clock McNab took Tony in hand and went to receive the
purse from the governor.  Tony could not be trusted alone, of
course.  A flowery speech of presentation by His Excellency dressed
in his gala uniform of a white coat with red vest and breeches, the
huzzaing and pandemonium of the crowd completed the nervous
devastation of Tony.  It was only by the grace of God, McNab, and
the hired coach that he got home with the money.  It was promptly
locked up in the strong room.  The rich man's wife did not get a
scudo.  A few minutes later Tony was gone again, having taken a
considerable sum along with him.  Big Angela cooked supper as if
nothing had happened, as if she were not the wife of a rich man.
Little Angela served it.  Anthony could see she had been weeping.
He managed to press her hand as she took his plate.  Faith smiled.

In the middle of the meal a tremendous clamour arose at the gate.
An enormous crowd in carnival mood was serenading its lucky hero
who was returning in state from the mayoralty.  There were shouts,
the indecent sounds of wind instruments, the trampling of many
horses.  The courtyard was invaded by twelve coaches and the guard
of honour which had been furnished by the helpless governor.  The
troopers had some difficulty in keeping the mob back.

In the first coach, the most sumptuous that could be hired in
Livorno, sat Tony.  A case of fine Florentine wine was opened
before him, and he was smoking a tremendous cigar.  He was now in a
thoroughly truculent state.

"I have come for my wife, my children, and my money," shouted he at
Mr. Bonnyfeather who was standing on the steps with Anthony and
Faith beside him.

"Scotch woman, with the evil eye, my good fortune will save us from
you.  Do not envy us at THIS hour."  He crossed himself.  Then he
began to demand his money in an insufferable manner from Mr.
Bonnyfeather who stood looking on rather shocked.  The corks popped
in the coach and Tony raved out of the window.

"You had best let him go, sir, I think," said McNab working his way
through the crowd.  "He has been to the governor again and got an
escort for as far as Pisa.  You had better clear the whole family
out now.  There is a carriage for everyone, you see, even for
little Luigi."

The crowd outside which was peering through the gate thought there
was some dispute about the money and began to howl.  Without
waiting for further orders McNab began to carry the bags out of the
strong room and to put them in the coach.  As each one appeared a
roar followed.  Presently Angela and her brood were brought out by
Faith.  The younger children were weeping, carrying a few broken
toys.  Tony shouted to them to throw them away.  Luigi clutched his
dirty doll.

"Good-bye, Anthony," said a quiet voice behind him.  He turned,
startled, from watching the silly scene below.  It was little
Angela.  Angela was going!  Maea would not be near him any more.
He stood stunned.  He could not say anything.  Where?--Why?  She
stood for a moment waiting for him to speak to her but he could
not.  Then she turned away wearily and marshalled the preposterous
brood of her parents down the steps.  In the courtyard for the last
time she began to call their names.

At this unexpected element of order in the scene of riot and
confusion, a sudden silence settled on the crowd and the
apprentices and clerks looking on.  For the first time, as if by
general consent, it seemed to be realized by all present that there
was an element of tragedy in the farce.

"Arnolfo, Maria, Nicolò, Beatrice, Claudia, Federigo, Pietro,
Innocenza, Jacopo, Luigi," chanted the soft, clear, sane voice.
Anthony's lips followed mechanically.  But now the water did not
descend.  As each name was called, that child was bundled into a
separate coach.  Into the last crept little Angela and burst into
tears.  Her father and mother were already quarrelling in the first
carriage.

"No!" shouted Tony to his wife, "no!"

Suddenly with surprising agility, the huge woman descended again,
and despite her husband's veto, seized her goat which was
innocently looking on.  A struggle followed.  Cries, screams,
acclamations, and the bleatings of the animal rent the air.  The
goat was dragged into the carriage and the door closed.  Then its
head appeared at the window looking out beside that of Tony who was
now too far gone to object.  He mouthed at Mr. Bonnyfeather with a
foolish grin.

"Get them gone, Sandy," said the merchant to McNab, "there is
something obscene about this."

"Aye," said McNab and signalled violently to the sergeant in charge
of the troopers to move on.  The procession, long remembered in
Livorno, started.

There was, as Mr. Bonnyfeather had said, something obscene about
it.  A kind of evil grotesqueness, as if the twelve carriages were
the happy funeral of an idiot, endeared it to the mob.  From the
first carriage, where sat the mountainous woman with flaming hair,
and from the window of which peered a bleating goat, a madman was
flinging out coins.  Scrambles, shrieks, fights, and hard-breathing
riots, as if society were disintegrating before it, marked the
progress of this vehicle of prodigality with its attendant soldiers
down the streets.  Behind followed a procession of scared gnomes
with small, pinched faces against the gawdy upholstery of their
grand carriages.  The passengers dwindled in size until the now
frantic little Jacopo and Luigi passed.  In the last vehicle was a
young girl sobbing her heart out.

Big Angela did not dare to restrain her husband.  The rain of
silver continued.  Every coin lost filled her with despair.  She
groaned aloud.  It was thus that the procession finally passed
through the Porta Pisa and disappeared into the darkness beyond.

In the courtyard of the Casa da Bonnyfeather Anthony sat alone on
the dark steps with his head in his hands.  He had been sitting
there for over an hour.  It was very quiet now.  The noise of the
riot had long died away.  Under the shed he could just make out the
outline of the cart.  Its shafts seemed to be extended up to the
stars like empty, beseeching arms.  He choked.  He could scarcely
understand the feeling of tight, dry despair that hindered his
breathing.  What was it that had happened?  Something over which
none of them had any control.  For the first time an arrow had
penetrated his soul.  Angela was gone.

He turned and blundered up the steps blindly.  There was a light in
the kitchen.  From old habit his heart leaped out to it.  Angela
used to be there.  He looked.  Faith was preparing something hot.
The place was in frightful disorder.  Amid the broken dishes, cast-
off clothes and fragments of food she moved calmly, even a little
triumphantly, while the charcoal watched her expectantly with its
small, red eyes.

He went in and threw himself down on his bed.


END OF BOOK TWO




BOOK THREE

In which the Roots of the Tree Are Torn Loose




CHAPTER TWENTY

APPLES AND ASHES


It was a warm night.  A faint streak of moonlight came through
Anthony's window and fell across the foot of his bed, splashing
itself against the wall.  He lay with his eyes wide open in the
darkness.  An occasional shout from passers-by returning from the
crowds that had followed the procession echoed in his vaulted
chamber.  These calls grew fewer and finally ceased at last to have
individual significance.  They blent themselves with the general,
low, musical monotone of the city's life that murmured now as if
mankind were at last getting what it desired under the full moon
while the trees sighed about it doubtfully.  On the wall at the
foot of the bed, as the moon climbed higher, a faint outline of the
shadow-play began.  Anthony looked at it wearily and closed his
eyes.

He had never felt so lonely.  The realization of all that Angela
meant to him grew upon him.  He longed for her intensely.  He
wanted to have her now in his arms, to press her firm little
breasts against his chest, to fondle and comfort her, to be boy and
girl together.  That was what "being in love" meant!  But he had
always kept putting that out of his mind about Angela,--because of
Arnolfo, perhaps.  But she was different.  It would be right with
her.  He had seen her once when she went behind the fountain.
There had seemed to be a light about her.  He would like to see her
that way again--now!  He would make her come back by dreaming her
into his room.  He opened his eyes to find her.  In the full gust
of a now manly passion, strangely enough, his strong childhood
faculty of evoking vivid visions returned.

For a minute he saw Angela lying beside him in the moonlight.
There was a faint, tender smile on her parted lips.  Her eyes
looked at him wide, and solemnly, as they had sometimes done when
she sat on the seat of the cart beside him.  She loved him!  Why
had he not known that before?  For an instant her whole form
glimmered into a bright, ivory light, glistening.  He trembled
toward her, the light, quick fire of his youth's desire flowing so
that it possessed him.  He half sat up and stretched out his hands
to touch her.  A mist began to curl about her ankles.  It seemed to
rush up her limbs and vanished with her like smoke into the
moonlight.

Suddenly on the other side of the room he saw the table clearly
standing against the wall.

He felt as if he were falling and dropped back on the pillow.  An
agony of grief, disappointment, and insufferable sorrow filled him
and overflowed from his eyes.  And he had not even spoken to her
the last time!  "Good-bye, Anthony."  It rang through his brain.
He put his hands over his ears.

What a dolt of a boy he had been to let all that time go by without
. . . to let Toussaint persuade him by words out of a book what
being in love meant!  He tore at his clothes as he thought of that.
He shifted uneasily.  One thing though, the self, the thing that
lived in his body was growing up.  After tonight he was not a boy;
the life inside him was not childish any more.  How fierce and
determined it was.  How it WOULD have its way.  He could hardly
imagine denying it now.  How could you?  It owned you.  The voice
seemed to have gone.  He listened.  It had nothing to say.
Faintly, perhaps.  So faintly you could not be sure.  But what was
it compared to this thing within him that demanded and clamoured
and burned?  Nothing!  Something to be dismissed.

And he had thought he could tell Angela how to make love like Emile
and Sophie!  To TELL her that!  And so she had laughed at him.
She had known.  Had she?  How did she know?  Just as he did now.
Now, after it was too late.  She had known all along!  He
understood now why it was that he had been so happy with her when
she had looked at him like THAT.  THAT was being in love.  They
had been.  They were!  And he had thought it had something to do
with words.

There was only one kind of words that could give him any
satisfaction now--oaths.  He had always shrunk from them a little
when he heard them along the docks.  They had secretly hurt him,
the terrible, coarse ones particularly.  Now he needed them.  A
string of them rolled out of his brain through his lips.  He
whispered them huskily in his throat.  He cursed himself.  It was a
relief.  He shifted his head onto his other arm.  That cheek was
not wet.  It felt hot against his muscles.  How cool and smooth his
arm was.

Then he heard Faith coming down the hall.  He forgot everything for
a moment but her footsteps.  Would she come in?  He hoped not.  He
did not want her to see that he had been in torment, weeping.  She
would understand.  He knew she would.  What was it she had
whispered to Tony about the madonna?  But how could she know those
numbers would win, that Angela would have to go?  How could she?
But would she come in?  He hoped not.

Her footsteps passed down the corridor to Mr. Bonnyfeather's door.
He heard her knock and give the merchant his hot, night drink.  The
door closed.  Faith returned to the kitchen again.  After all she
might have come in.  He might have liked to talk to her--in the
dark.  How hot it was!  He was clammy.  Even the bedclothes were
drenched with perspiration.  He began to throw off his clothes now.
The thought of the tub of cool water in the room just across the
hall occurred to him.  Quick!  He would run across and cool himself
off before Faith returned.  On noiseless, bare feet he sped through
the door.

The reflection of the full moon from the courtyard turned the walls
of Faith's apartment into a dull, silvery grey.  The various
familiar objects of her furniture seemed to be faintly luminous.
What a night it was!  He could see the disk of the water in the
cask faintly gleaming around the edge.  There seemed to be a film
of quicksilver on it.  He discarded his last garment to step in.
At that instant a crisp rustling sound as if someone were drawing a
silk drapery over stone, the very faintest of hisses, caused him to
turn.

In a patch of moonlight near the door stood a naked woman.  He was
just in time to see the folds of her dress rustle down from her
knees into coils about her feet.  She stood poised there for a
moment, with her head drawn back, before she stepped out of them.
He saw she was beautiful.  For some seconds he did not realize that
it was Faith.  Then he gasped.

In the moonlight she was another person.  She continued to look at
him.  He could feel that and looked down.  Then he looked at her
again.  He stood still, rooted.  The faint aroma of her body
floated to him.  A sudden tide of passion dragged at his legs.  He
could not help it.  He swayed slightly, away from her.  Then he
felt her arms wind around him in the dark.  They were smooth and
cool, smoother than his own.  Her hand pressed his head onto her
breast.

He was half blind, and speechless now.  All his senses had merged
into one feeling.  She seemed to be carrying him somewhere.  As he
stepped through the moony darkness his legs had lost the sensation
of weight.  "I shall think it is Angela," he said to himself.  But
he soon forgot all about Angela.  He could remember nothing but
himself.

To lie face downward on smooth, soft water with warmth lapping you
about, that had always been delightful.  How easily your arms and
legs moved in such an element.  The whole surface of the body felt
its soft, exquisite touch.  To be supported and yet possessed by an
ocean of unknown blue depths below you and to cease to think!  Yes,
it was something like swimming on a transcendent summer night.

Although his eyes were tightly closed, he was looking into dim,
moonlit depths where blue and green flashes of light and long
silver shafts wavered down to the darker depths below him.  On the
subliminal floor of this ocean in which he was now submerged, the
same shadow play that had haunted the walls of his room seemed to
be going on.  Translucent monsters, giant growths dimly opaque,
were alive and moving down there.

Now he began to rise and fall with the waves that washed over him
and yet lifted and lowered him, carrying with them as they passed a
tide of tingling feeling from his neck to his heels.  After a while
he was just drifting in a continuous, rippling current of ecstasy
that penetrated him as if he were part of the current in which he
lay.  He was completely alone again, but happy, completely happy.
"Are you?" something from beyond him seemed to ask.  "Yes," he
answered, "be quiet . . . not thinking now . . . let me alone."

He drifted on with the current.  Wherever it might be going he
would go with it.  It was moving fast now.  He was being borne
along more swiftly.  Faster yet.  The entire ocean was rushing down
a slope.  He was being whirled around and around, dying with a
delicious giddiness that drew on his brain.  He was in a whirlpool.
He was being drawn into the centre of it.

There began to be something just a little terrifying in the
pleasure of the descent.  The sensation divided.  "Be careful!"  He
opened his eyes and thrust up his head like one stretched on an
exquisite rack.  In the blur of moonlight and darkness a vision
shaped itself.  He saw he was not in the ocean but swimming in the
pool under the tree.  He was moving around with the water in it.

The water in the pool was bubbling and whirling at enormous speed.
It was shrinking down into a funnel-shape toward the middle.  He
would be drawn into that.  A curious, dim, white animal could be
seen at play as the water shoaled toward the floor of the pool.  He
looked beneath himself.  The monster with a pale, smooth belly lay
looking up at him.  Its eyes were terrible.  He began to struggle
to avoid it but his limbs were possessed by the lethargy of a
dream.  He saw that his own movements were reflected in every
motion by the bronze boy that stood at the edge of the pool.  There
was a terrible, mad pleasure that convulsed that boy by more than
pain.

There was something in the hollow statue causing that.  He must get
rid of it; fill up the hollow in the pool and rest again!  The
bronze boy grew still, trembled.  Suddenly from the mouth of the
beast below him a flood burst forth and filled up the pool.  It
overflowed gently now and washed Anthony clear over the brim.

He was lying on his back now looking up at the moonlight filtered
through the leaves of the great tree.  All was well.

He lay, for how long he did not know, in a timeless trance of
relief and release.  When he opened his eyes he saw that Faith
Paleologus was lying beside him.  Her bosom rose and fell softly.
Then he remembered Angela.

He was sorry he had forgotten her.  As the lethargy passed he made
a little mourning within himself for the memory that had been
Angela.  But he saw that it was for a memory, an ideal, not for
Angela herself.  Perhaps after a few days that ideal would return.
The desire would return and he would dream of it as Angela.  He
looked at Faith who lay there breathing as if she were asleep.  He
did not blame her.  No feeling of rage overcame him as it had that
day in the room with Arnolfo.  Yet this was a much more important
thing that had happened.  It had merely happened to him, there
could be no doubt of that.  Yet not because of some person, not
because of Faith.  It was the blind, overpowering feeling that had
come upon them both.  That was what had done it.  A slight noise
from the courtyard disturbed his half-dreamful, easy reverie.

He began to become fully conscious of who and where he was.  He had
better not stay here any longer.  He looked at the woman beside him
again.  She did not open her eyes.  There was a blank look of
relaxation on her face that the grey moonlight accentuated.
Somehow it was a little funny to see a countenance completely the
slave of feeling.  A mouth should not register mere contentment; be
so relaxed.  Something inside should make the muscles behave and
hold it shut at least.  He laughed silently.

Then he was completely aroused.  He noticed he did not care whether
he had any clothes on or not.  What if she did see him now?  There
was no bravado about it.  He simply did not care.  It was purely a
matter of indifference.  Come, this was getting dull.  It was over.
What he wanted now was a wide bed to himself and a sleep.  He
stretched himself.  He felt completely well and indifferent about
things in general.  What a relief it was not to be so sensitive
about everything.  Well, why should he care, or say anything to
Faith?  She understood.

He got up quietly and walked across the hall into his own bedroom.
Then he suddenly remembered he had left his clothes in Faith's
room.  Some of the possible practical implications of the affair
now thrust themselves upon him.  It would not always be dark and
private as it was now.  In the daytime people awoke.  They went
about seeing and saying things.  His shirt was still lying by the
water butt in the housekeeper's room.  He stopped before his bed.
He would like another bath, too, more than before.  What should he
do about it?

On her bed Faith stirred slightly and put out her arms in the semi-
darkness.  Her young lover was gone.  The shock of the disappointment
aroused her.  She sat up.  Her many experiences with men ashore
after a long voyage had destroyed in her a certain subtlety of
apprehension which she had once possessed.  She now expected the
comforting embraces of the aftermath of the first time to verge into
the return of warmth of the second.  She had forgotten it was not
always so.  For a moment a sense of loss overwhelmed her.  To solace
herself she began to think about what had just occurred.  From this
she derived comfort; over certain details an immense satisfaction.

He had, she felt, belonged to her completely for a few moments.  It
was the fruit of years of planning.  As the boy had grown into a
youth, blossomed into first manhood, his presence had obsessed her.
He possessed that curious freshness, an aloof beauty that seemed to
her to be the essence of innocence in itself, the very tag of it.
He was like his mother in that.  It was what she had always
desired, needed.  In Maria it had of course been unapproachable.
It was that of which she had been jealous.  Now she had possessed
it, she felt; crawled within the circle that fenced it off, made it
a part of her.  She felt she had triumphed over the dead woman,
too, the girl who had been carried off by Don Luis.

Ah, THERE would have been a mate for her!  There was something
hard, unbreakable, unconquerable about that man.  She pressed her
breasts back upon themselves, her virginal breasts, and trembled.
They could bear a great weight.  The thought of it possessed her.
Her eyes narrowed in the moonlight.  Just then a light footfall
disturbed her.  She looked up.  Anthony was coming into the room
again.

He passed her bed without a glance, and calmly and methodically, so
as to make no noise, stepped into the water cask and immersed
himself.  Even his head went under.  The water overflowed and ran
sparkling in patches of moonlight over the floor.  He emerged,
dried himself, and picked up his clothes.

"Now," she thought, "he will come to me again."  As though she did
not exist he started for the door.

It was more than she could bear.  Before he reached it her arms
were about him again.  He kept going.  She threw herself down and
clasped him about the knees.  "Stay with me," she begged him, her
mouth writhing in a whisper, "I will make you die with pleasure."

He reached down and seizing her by the wrists, unclasped her
fingers with a strength that she had not suspected in him.  His
hands were like a man's.  She fell forward on the floor with the
palms of her hands on his feet.  He withdrew them as if her touch
hurt him.  She lay there alone for a long time.  When she finally
looked up the full moon already grey with the opposing dawn was
looking in at her.  Its mouth seemed to be drawn down like her own.

It was some time before Anthony could orient himself to all that
this experience implied.  Most of his attitude about it was
instinctive.  For a long time he did not even care to look at the
madonna.  She was still in his room.  He felt her there.  But there
was nothing to be said between them.  He had trusted himself too
far.  He was essentially weak.  That was plain.  Yet he could not
bring himself to ask for help.

Indeed, it was a curious kind of self-balance which he now
attained.  Mr. Bonnyfeather might be right after all.  Perhaps he,
Anthony, was essentially sinful, but in the light of that fact he
would act with caution.  He would not allow himself to be surprised
again.  With possible pitfalls revealed to him, he walked
circumspectly, and yet more confidently and with a new completeness
of knowledge.  The swagger disappeared, but he stood upright like a
man, looking around him, aware and beware.  Into the life about him
he entered as one initiated.

What indignation he came to feel over the occurrence was gradual
rather than of sudden growth and quick ebb.  He disliked Faith more
and more as time went on.  He would not let her come into his room
any more, and he resented her eyes which he now felt upon him.
That she had long lain in wait for him was plain.  He shivered at
that.  There was something puma-like in her patience, he saw.  Yet
it was not entirely unpleasant to have been desired.  Only he did
not want her to desire him any longer.  He did not belong to her.
That was all.  He could not.  When he had been with her he had been
left alone.  He desired someone that he could share himself with.
There must be two.  The trouble with what Arnolfo had taught him
was that when you did that you tore yourself apart.  You became
two, divided.  You were trying to be you and yourself.  You touched
you.  It was a strain, a rending of the person.  What you should
love, your own dear body, you ended by loathing.  That he had found
out would never do.  You would end by hating yourself, be unhappy,
desperate.

Even with Faith it had been better.  Not entirely wrong, he
thought.  But he had still found himself alone.  Then there was
something too simply avid and sheerly physical about her.  What
lived inside of her you could not really meet.  Was it there at
all?  With Angela it would have been different.  With her he felt
he would not have been left alone.  He longed for her more now.  He
continued to miss her as the full significance of his loss became
apparent.  It was on that account that he finally came to hate
Faith.  She, he felt in his bones, had arranged the departure of
Angela.  It was Faith who had put that idea of the numbers of the
madonna into Tony's foolish head.

Even his madonna, he felt, had something to do with it.  He was
still unconsciously idolater enough to feel that.  It was one of
the reasons he delayed returning to her; why the voice was stilled
for so long.  A hush had fallen upon it.  Sometimes at night he was
frightened by this.  Yes, it was all very complicated.  He longed
to talk to someone about it.  Never could he approach Mr.
Bonnyfeather about it all.  His solution would be one of action, to
dismiss Faith.  That would accomplish nothing for Anthony.

And then, added to all this, was the knowledge that in what had
happened he had not at all directed himself.  He had not willed it.
It had merely come upon him.  The woman had known that.  The male
in him rebelled.  He should have taken the lead.  Yet he did not
hold Faith directly responsible.  She, he saw, had merely taken
advantage of the way the world was arranged.  She had merely caught
him up in the force which she personified.  That was what he must
be careful of, the blind force.  So he began to avoid her, even to
avoid the house.  The whole Casa da Bonnyfeather began to become
irksome at times, dangerous through familiarity with what lurked
there.  He began to go out and to be about the town more and more.

                            ----------

For the first time the afternoons with Toussaint, and the lessons
with various other people began to pall on him.  He struck up a
vivid friendship with young Vincent Nolte, the nephew of a Hamburg
merchant at Livorno.  A rather heedless round of gadding about and
tasting life as it offered itself began.  It was soon necessary to
draw on some small savings from his clerk's salary.  They were soon
gone.  McNab looked serious when he asked for a month's advance.
"Gang and ask it o' the maister," he said.

Somewhat diffidently Anthony approached Mr. Bonnyfeather.  In a
rush of embarrassed confidence he explained the new turn his
interests had taken.  To Anthony's surprise Mr. Bonnyfeather not
only took it as a matter of course but looked pleased.  He refused
to advance Anthony anything on his "salary."  Instead he provided
him with a generous allowance from his purse.  Of this Anthony was
to say nothing.  The old man was glad to hear that Anthony was
waking up, as he expressed it.  He had even thought of hastening
the process, it appeared.  But he had let well enough alone.
Anthony squirmed to think what that "well enough" had been.  But he
was able to obtain what leisure he desired.

"After the noon bell, then, your time will now be your own," said
Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "It is harder to spend time and get full value
for it than for money," the old merchant continued somewhat
sententiously.  "You do not believe that now, but you will soon
find it true.  I shall expect you, however, to go on with your
studies, particularly mathematics.  You should by this time begin
to be interested enough in some subject to begin to pursue it and
to plan your work yourself.  What would you think of going to
England to complete your schooling as I did?  To Exeter, say.  I
still have connections there.  It would unify what you already know
mighty well.  You would also be acquiring the idiom which is your
birthright."  The old merchant stopped himself suddenly.

Anthony scarcely noticed his expression.  He was thinking of the
opera that night with Vincent and some companions.  He only aroused
himself sufficiently from the dream of affluence which his new
allowance evoked to promise to consider Exeter.

How often afterwards he wondered with what a different die his life
might have been stamped if he had really considered that offer
seriously.  How different would his path have been?  As it was, he
considered it only briefly, only with his lips.

Toussaint was hurt to find his pupil straying away.  He had
regarded him already as a silent convert to Rousseau and the new
doctrines.  It was especially important to hold him, he felt, now
that the Revolution was about to descend upon Italy.  Nevertheless,
their afternoons together grew fewer although more intimate and
intense.  For Toussaint realized he was not talking to a boy any
longer.  He began to open his last reserve.  As he looked at
Anthony his heart beat with pride, his face glowed with affection.
There was an emotion now about their meetings over the table or by
the ruin as though each time were to be the last class.

But from Toussaint's intense monologues and exhortations Anthony
would now break away with a feeling of relief as soon as he
decently could.  The little man's great enthusiasm was often funny
to him now.  Anthony could not share in this intense emotion over
abstractions.  Above all he disliked having his own feelings probed
and made reasonable.  The Revolution and the Rights of Man were all
well enough, he supposed, but what did Toussaint think about a
woman?  How would he feel about Faith, for instance?  Several times
as he listened to some philosophical exhortation it was on the tip
of his tongue to say something about Faith, or even about Angela.
Toussaint might really know something important after all.  At
least it would be interesting to find out and to watch his
expression.  Yet from embarrassment he still refrained from asking.
As time went on, however, the temptation grew.

If Toussaint would only let him say something sometimes!  He wanted
to explain but he got no chance.  The other's voice went on.
Anthony would fling out exasperated at last to find amusement and
distraction where he could beyond the now irksome walls of the Casa
da Bonnyfeather.

He took to fencing after a while with a little Spaniard who kept a
place near the Porta Colonella.  But he did not care much for it.
The polite conventions of the art bored him.  Then he and Vincent
Nolte with some other youths hired a retired Austrian lieutenant to
teach them the pistol.  That went well for Anthony.  But Vincent
was awkward.  He could never get over shying at the report.  He
finally dropped out while Anthony kept on.  In six months Anthony
developed into a fair shot with several types of handguns.  He
learned not only their use but how to care for them.  Then the
bottom fell out of pistol practice, too.  Nothing was so pleasant
at last as going about town with Vincent.  The dandy state was upon
them both.  They idled magnificently in new clothes along the
Corso.  They patronized an English tailor and met other young
bloods.  A pistol, Anthony soon found, was the only thing that
Vincent was shy about.

Vincent Nolte was, as McNab once remarked, "a little too large for
his size."  He had very light, curly, brown hair that he was
conscious of as his chief attraction, and an open, rather sweet
countenance.  He had light-blue eyes and a firm chin under large,
pink, sensual lips.  His nose was keen and straight.  But it flared
out so much at the nostrils as to make the beak of it seem to be
just about to recover from a flattening blow.  His ears were very
small, a little ridiculous, and somewhat porcine.  But you seldom
saw them.  Indeed, if anything, it was their absence you felt.

It was only when Vincent turned his back to you that you saw that
his neck and the back of his head formed one and the same plane.
It was a racial peculiarity in Vincent accentuated that lent him a
fascination.  On the pivot of his spine, his head, a little bulging
at the brows and crowned with its flaring mass of curls, turned
with an unreasonable majesty.  His was a pride that could scarcely
be allowed in one so young.  Still it was impossible to escape the
keen, blue darts of his glances.

Yet despite the fact that nature seemed to have tried to make a
masterpiece of Vincent Nolte and had then marred it and tweaked it
out of proportion at every turn, despite that, the boy had an
undeniable charm.  There was, for instance, his warm, clear German
voice, and there were the bright things and incidents with which he
continually managed to surround himself.  In their innumerable and
unexpected combinations the delight of him lay.

He was the son of a Hamburg merchant, the same with whom Mr.
Bonnyfeather and Francis Baring had wandered through Scotland years
before.  It was for that reason at first, and later on for himself,
that the young man in spite of his harum-scarum escapades was
constantly welcomed at the table of the Casa da Bonnyfeather.
Besides, he was the nephew of Otto Frank, or rather of Otto Frank &
Company, a most successful German firm in Livorno.  At one time
they had been a dangerous rival of the House of Bonnyfeather.  But
since Mr. Bonnyfeather had outdistanced them many years before he
could now afford to look upon them complacently enough.

He could even be glad to see, as he secretly told himself, with an
eye to possible future advantages and mutual understandings, the
heirs of the two houses dining together and a friendship growing up
between them.  With the French army liable to swoop down at any
time on the town it was quite possible that the business of all the
English firms at Livorno might be wiped out at one stroke.  In that
case an intimate connection with the branch of a neutral Hamburg
house might be invaluable.

In fact the canny old merchant was already pulling in his financial
horns, transferring large credits to his friends the Barings in
England and Holland, and trying to collect long outstanding debts.
He was simply quietly putting his affairs in order in case the
avalanche that had already slipped down into Lombardy should
suddenly dam the rivers of trade in Tuscany.

Part of his policy consisted in shifting what business he still
carried on overseas into the names of German merchants.  Now and
then he also began to employ a Yankee ship.  The new gridiron
ensign had lately begun to appear with a surprising frequency in
the Mediterranean.  He had sometimes even thought of transferring
his still reluctant and purely practical allegiance to King George
to the Grand Duke Francis and of flying the flag of Tuscany from
the roof of his commercial stronghold.  But his long connection
with the English was notorious.  The subterfuge would have been too
transparent.  There were not wanting in Livorno those who would
have been base enough to point it out if the French did come.  The
presence of the British fleet near by still heartened the old man,
and he continued to hoist the Union Jack every morning as of old,
but more thoughtfully and prayerfully as the war clouds thickened
about him.

He called in Signore Baldasseroni, by now the best commercial
lawyer in Livorno, and made his will.  He remitted to the marquis
in Spain two years' rent, renewed his lease in advance, and
registered it with a notary.  Above all he feared being turned out
of his beloved rooms in the Casa da Bonnyfeather in his old age.
He desired to die there even if it were necessary to close out his
business entirely.  He kept the Unicorn and faithful Captain
Bittern close by in case of emergencies, sending the vessel only on
short coasting voyages that followed the movements of the British
fleet and convoys.

In short, as might have been expected, Mr. Bonnyfeather acted
wisely and circumspectly; secretly, and with great forethought.  In
this scheme an increased allowance conferred upon Anthony to enable
him to go about with Vincent Nolte was only one item in his general
fiscal policy.  It was not, had Anthony only known it, conferred
for purely sentimental reasons.  None the less Anthony spent the
money merrily.  In this way the time went on well enough, it
seemed; whole months of it.

For to all outward appearances the placid pool of Anthony's
existence continued to reflect unbrokenly the animated but
essentially unchanging scenes about him.  Of the shifting shadows
in its depths the surface at least showed nothing.  Only the
gentlest of winds seemed so far to have rippled it pleasantly.
Perhaps it was this light, animated change playing over deeply
troubled waters like breezes and sunlight on the surface of a
geyser waiting to erupt that lent the latter days in Livorno all
the diversity and fascination which they had.  Suddenly, however,
the smooth surface of the pool was broken as if by the plunge of a
meteor.  It was a long time before the rings of so violent a
disturbance spread themselves out and calm reflections returned.
The meteor was a quarrel with Toussaint.  It came, instantly, as if
out of the blue.

It all happened because he had overcome his reluctance to speak to
Toussaint about Faith.  In the little meadow, while they sat
together looking down at the ruin one afternoon, the meteor fell.

It had been very warm.  They had taken a bottle of light claret
along and consumed it.  Toussaint had talked for a long time about
a perfect state.  All Europe was to be included.  How heavenly
would it be in the halcyon future just ahead to withdraw to some
earthly paradise with a beloved, with a perfect woman.  In words
that glowed with a faintly golden, poetic tinge through the
soporific mist of their mutual afternoon laziness, and the wine,
Toussaint painted the scenes of an ideal, platonic honeymoon on the
shores of Lake Léman.  No place was quite so beautiful as Lake
Léman, he said.

". . . the reflections of snow peaks in water!--but do you hear
me?" he asked, looking at Anthony, who was leaning back against the
trunk of a tree with his eyes closed.

"Yes," said Anthony.  It was not exactly a lie.  He HAD heard him
over the chirp of the grasshoppers.  He had even seen himself going
out in a skiff on Toussaint's beautiful lake--with Angela.  They
would row out together to an island where no one could talk to
them--no one!  Be alone!

In the mind of Toussaint a woman with the conversational powers of
Madame de Staël and the body of Faith Paleologus was gathering
flowers with him in a meadow by Lake Léman.  The white, cool
mountains towered above them.  They looked at the lake and talked.
"If that Paleologus were only . . . if she only would . . ."

"Yes," said Anthony, "I heard you."

Both their dreams were shattered.  They looked at each other and
laughed.  Somehow they understood what each was thinking.

"Who would you take with you?" said Toussaint, for the first time
dropping completely his rôle of mentor and speaking man to man.

For an instant it was on the tip of Anthony's tongue to say
"Angela."  Yet he could not.  Toussaint was laughing a little.
Toussaint evidently enjoyed the embarrassment of the lad before him
who sat against the tree blushing.  That was obvious.  Then it
occurred to Anthony that this was his opportunity.  He would ask
Toussaint about Faith.  He would get the advice and comfort of a
friend.  He wanted that.  He wanted to get it off his mind.  He
began in an awkward and blundering way.  It was hard to break down
his own reserve.  Finally he blurted out the story baldly enough.

It seemed more terrible now that he had put it into sound.  Perhaps
it was a mistake after all to have let it slip into words.  They
sounded bad.  During the misery of this recital he kept his eyes on
the ground.  Now he raised them to the face of his friend.  There
would be sympathy there at least--wouldn't there?

Over his tightly wound stock the face of Toussaint glared at him as
if he were being choked by his own neckwear.  It was convulsed and
livid with fury.  He put his fingers up to his neck.  Suddenly he
leaned forward and without an instant's warning struck Anthony in
the face.  A stroke of lightning could not have been more
unexpected.  For an instant Anthony put his hand to his cheek in a
kind of dumb surprise.  Then he felt the sharp smart of the
insulting fingers.  Blinding tears spurted from his eyes.  With a
roar of rage he threw himself upon the little Frenchman and shook
him unmercifully.

Toussaint made no resistance.  He seemed paralysed by what he had
done.  Anthony stopped after a while, frightened by his own
strength.  What was it that had happened?  Why?  He leaned back
against the tree again, exhausted by rage.

"Mon Dieu!" said Toussaint, reassembling himself painfully on the
ground, "vous m'avez tué."  He groaned, weeping.  Anthony looked at
him now in silent misery.

"I love her," shouted Toussaint at him suddenly.  "I love her--and
it was you!  You boy!  Meldrun!"  He began to get up.  "Go away!
Leave me!"

Anthony snatched his hat and ran.  He got to the Casa da
Bonnyfeather breathless.  Toussaint came in later much the worse
for wear.  His coat was tattered.  They said nothing.  They passed
each other and went on as strangers.  They both hid it from all the
others.  They were outwardly polite.  But both were heartsick at
what had happened.  There were no more meetings by the ruin now.
In the afternoons Anthony went out.  Faith, he saw, had guessed.
Damn her!  Her eyes smiled.  The place was growing unbearable,
especially at meal times.  It was better at the Franks'.

So Anthony was often at Otto Frank's dining with Vincent Nolte.
The counting room and apartments of "Otto Franco," as he was
called, were in the great house of the Franchetti on the Piazza
della Comunità at the corner of the Piazza d'Arme.  From the door
of it and from its street windows there was an excellent view of
the piazza, where the troops of the garrison occasionally paraded,
and of the town hall or mayoralty close by.  It was the official
centre of both commercial and governmental activities of the town.
Something was always going on there.  There were sights to be seen,
news, and rumours to be picked up.  After several years of the life
along the docks Anthony was intrigued by the piazza..  It was the
opposite face of the life of Livorno.  To him a new one that he was
glad to look upon.  He began to go nearly every noon as soon as the
work at the office was over to dine with Vincent Nolte.

He would make some purely formal excuse to Toussaint about not
being able to spend that afternoon "as usual," hastily change into
a new, bottle-green suit, dampen his curls, and dash out of the
gate.

To the right of the Casa da Bonnyfeather a long alley led directly
from the quays along the Darsena through a maze of high tenements
to emerge finally on the wide Strada Ferdinanda.  After threading
his way over refuse piles, under flapping multi-coloured clothes,
past goats, and long strings of spaghetti hung out to dry, Anthony
would thus emerge suddenly as if coming out of a shadowed tunnel
into the brilliant sunlight of the strada.

By this short cut he had left the world of ships and the sea behind
him.  By it he seemed to have become at once and at one stride the
citizen of a more sophisticated world.

The Strada Ferdinanda ran in a direct line from the Porta Pisa to
the Porta Colonella.  Alone among the streets of the town at that
time it was swept daily.  A double line of poplars ran down the
middle of it, and it was lined with white marble fronts and bright,
stone houses where considerable brasswork twinkled in the sun.

Here the officers of the garrison exercised their horses.  Governor
Spanocchi was frequently to be glimpsed rolling along in his high-
backed equipage of state with gilded harness, outriders, and an
escort of cavalry.  The landaus and phaetons of the well-to-do
dashed back and forth.  About noon the gigs of merchants brought
them home for the day, the flower vendors from the country made
their last desperate effort to dispose of their fast wilting wares,
and a golden dust hung in the air from one gate of the city to the
other.  The flag could then be seen drooping on its staff at the
castle.  Exactly at a quarter after twelve the diligence from Pisa
flashed down the long street with a tooting horn and four horses,
to draw up on the piazza before the mayoralty.  Here the passports
of travellers were examined while a crowd gathered to view the
arrivals of the day.  The Pisa diligence was probably the only one
in Italy that made a point of leaving and arriving on time.  So far
at least had the influence of English travellers prevailed over the
native indifference to the clock.  The entire city was nevertheless
proud of this daily miracle of punctuality elsewhere unknown.

Anthony always timed himself by the infallible diligence.  If it
had arrived before he turned into the Strada he could consider
himself late for the noon meal.  If not, he was sure to find
Vincent's uncle, "Otto Franco," at the corner of the Piazza d'Arme
strutting up and down before his office entirely bareheaded.

The singular little man would be without a cravat, his linen shirt
open so as to allow the breezes to wave the hair on his chest.  His
morning gown flapped in the breeze.  In a pair of huge, red,
crescent-shaped, Turkish slippers he slithered along the sidewalks
while he gesticulated violently.  He was followed by a train of
goods and money-brokers and a few clerks from his own establishment
ready to grab and carry the luggage of strangers.  The reason for
this bizarre show was to advertise the importance of the Capo della
Casa to the strangers just dismounting from the diligence across
the street.  There a hired runner announced the merits of his
master in several languages and pointed him out to travellers
desirous of changing their money or of obtaining passage for
themselves or their goods to other lands.  And it was seldom that
someone was not thus inveigled into his net.  Nor did they ever
have cause to regret it, for Otto Frank was both able and honest.
He differed from his rivals only in not hiding his light under a
bushel of dignity.  Others who had tried his methods had failed.
As he himself explained it, they lacked the courage of Turkish
slippers and a naked breast.

When Anthony passed this personage he would invariably receive a
loud invitation to dinner.  The entire menu was always loudly
rehearsed.  He would hide his amusement and accept respectfully,
going into the counting room where Vincent was usually to be found
at his desk looking gloomy enough.  For as long as Uncle Otto
continued to drum trade in this manner the social aspirations of
Signore Vincent Nolte as the representative of a dignified merchant
firm were kept in dark eclipse.  Vincent's father, Herr Johann
Nolte of Hamburg, was, indeed, the head of the house and supplied
the capital for Uncle Otto.  The uncle's noisy advertising was
therefore the more difficult for the son of a long line of Hanseatic
merchants to swallow.  Nevertheless, there were compensations.
Vincent's position in the house gave him considerable freedom.  As
he grew older more and more of the business of the firm was being
concentrated in his hands by Hamburg.  Vincent was no fool.  Even
though his uncle was still consul for Hamburg at Livorno and wore
the red coat with one silver epaulette, his nephew was already
beginning to rule the roost.  In reality it was Vincent's invitation
to dine which Anthony accepted.

Vincent would put his hand on his friend's shoulder and tow him
upstairs to the long dining-room where the family ate.  Although
the windows gave onto the Piazza d'Arme the room was in Germany.
There was a great Nuremberg stove at one end, a long rack with
steins and cannikins against one wall and little, carved hanging-
shelves on the other.  The table was long and massive, supported by
wooden Corinthian columns ending in claws.  Set about it were dark,
high-backed, Gothic chairs with a wealth of meticulous carving in
which a frieze of bears pursued by men in medieval costume armed
with crossbows predominated.  For some reason or other the pursuit
of the bears was not occasionally interrupted by an angel blowing a
trumpet out of a wooden cloud.

The effect of this room and of the chairs in particular was
peculiar.  Anthony had never seen anything like it.  It was
astonishing to see a Corinthian column ending in claws.  Evidently
things beyond the Rhine rested upon a different pediment.  It was
somehow like the German language.  His Latin, all the past he knew,
did not help him much here.  Also there was a peculiar cheerfulness
and cleanliness about the apartment.

Under the windows, in which a hundred brilliant flowers bloomed in
boxes, sat a pale-faced little girl in a kirtle, with straw-
coloured hair peeping out under her white, starched cap.  She was
knitting, although she was only about eleven years old, like any
hausfrau.  Beside her a doll sat looking at her with large china
eyes.  The name of the little mädchen was Anna.  She was Vincent's
cousin.  When the two young men entered the room she would come
forward, curtsy, and put up her cool little cheek to be kissed.
Anthony was charmed with her.  While the servants were laying the
long, white table-cloth he would sit down on the floor beside her
and listen to her talk.  At first it was all in Italian but as time
went on and he began to understand her she lapsed gradually into
broad Hamburg Deutsch.

German, indeed, was the chief thing which Anthony acquired from his
long intimacy with Vincent and the Franks.  That he should pick up
another language without thinking about it was merely a continuation
of the normal order of his existence.  Little else but German was
spoken at the table in the Frank establishment and Anthony could
soon join in boldly.  Occasionally he aroused a good-natured laugh
and Anna would correct him.  From her he learned most of the German
he knew, and he never heard it spoken without recalling the gentle
tones of her voice.

While Vincent was donning some gorgeous attire for the afternoon
sally, Anthony listened to stories of Hamburg from Anna; to tales
of a never-to-be-forgotten visit to Helgoland in the company of one
Tante Rachel Rickmers of Bremerhaven.  White cliffs were there.
How green the pastures were above them!  The sea gnawed at the land
like a bone!  Vincent had once taken her to the Gymnasium of
Professor Carl F. Hipp.  She herself had actually sat on his august
knee while he "with condescending illustrious eyeshine" talked to
so small a girl.  Ach, how beautiful were those days!  When would
they be going back to Germany?

Meanwhile she was feeding her birds, and dressing her doll for
dinner.  Meanwhile Uncle Otto had appeared at the door, kicked off
his Turkish slippers and roared for a stein of beer, which he drank
at a gulp to cut the Italian dust out of his throat.  "In hot
countries the best brew lacks zest," he would exclaim, spit, and
dive into his own chamber to change into bright raiment which like
his nephew he particularly affected, or, if guests were expected,
into his consular uniform of which he was inordinately proud.

After a short Lutheran grace, in which it seemed strange to Anthony
that no one crossed himself, the meal began, usually with a
buttermilk soup with boiled cherries floating in it of which Uncle
Otto was very fond.  The smell of beer and sauerkraut would always
have penetrated the apartment.  There were various pickled meats,
Rhine wines, sausages and pfannkuchen, boiled vegetables with
vinegar on them, and, as a slight concession to the locality,
always a smoking dish of spaghetti with liver sauce.  There was
about this German meal a certain acid tang which Anthony had not
met elsewhere.  At first he disliked it, but it was not long before
both its quantity and its bittersweet flavours often rendered the
food which he had been used to somewhat insipid.  Still he could
never really like sour things nor control his face when he met
them.  Anna laughed.  For this her mother never failed to reprove
her.

It was truly remarkable the quantity of beer which the firm of Otto
Frank & Company, both uncle and nephew, could stow away.  At least
a shipload a year, thought Anthony.  He looked at them with
astonishment.

"The most profound difference between men on the continent of
Europe," said Uncle Otto, wiping the foam from his lips, "is
between wine drinkers and beer guzzlers.  Religion is nothing to be
compared to it.  Religions change; beer and wine remain.  Make up
your mind before you are forty where you intend to spend your
declining years, whether in a beer or in a wine land.  It will make
all the difference between a vivacious and a complacent old age."

"What are you going to do with that vivacious wardrobe of yours
then, Uncle Otto, if you go back to Germany?" asked Vincent.  "It
would only be tolerated on an old man in a wine-drinking place.  It
is, I should say, decidedly a product of the joyous grape; to be
conceived of only by an Italian tailor in his cups."

"Ach!" replied his uncle.  "Herr Gott!  I am not old yet, neither
have I gone back to Germany already to beer alone.  Besides, when
that time comes it will be so distant as to make all these fine
costumes out of date."

"Fine costumes, indeed!" continued Vincent who knew that the
vainglory of his uncle's raiment was a weak point in his armour.
"You should see them, Anthony, the glories of our Capo della Casa;
six embroidered and laced coats from azure to sunset-glow, a
bottle-green, gold-frogged wedding coat, satin breeches to match,
rhinestone buckles in filigree, a sword with a snakeskin hilt and
an emerald.  Du Lieber! and all of French make, all out of fashion
already."

Here his uncle fairly snarled at him.

"I told you so," continued the incorrigible nephew, "I told you
that the English cut was coming in.  If you had only taken my
advice and had your tailor copy the wardrobes of some of the young
milords who dine at your own table you would now be in the swim as
I am."

Here he leaned back and displayed his London watch fob, his neat
but gorgeous vest, the broad, double-breasted coat that was just
coming into style.  Herr Frank roared at him.  All that Vincent had
said was true.

It generally took the soft voice of Frau Elisabeth to smooth over
these occasions.  To her this mere ruffling of the surface of her
husband's complacency was a stirring of her own depths.  Her voice
was like oil.  Presently Uncle Otto would tell his one and only
joke.  Something about a Dutchman who swallowed peaches whole and
complained that the stones hurt his throat.  They would all laugh
at him, and pleased at the success of his joke he would rise
smiling.

A bell was struck, the servants cleared the remains of the meal
rapidly.  Another cover was laid.  Frau Frank again took her place
at the head of the table for the "second cover," and as Uncle Otto,
Vincent, and Anthony walked out the paying guests of the
establishment trooped in.  Anthony would look back.  The face of
the German woman would be solemn with a silent grace, the heads of
the travellers, mostly English, bowed, and little Anna would be
sitting in her chair again knitting, with the birds hopping about
above her.

Uncle Otto would lead the way to his desk.  "Do, my good nephew,
have a look at this correspondence," he would say.  "I need your
advice about it--and thine too, Herr Adverse, the Spanish is
difficult."  Then he would go away leaving Vincent to settle all
the pressing problems of the day.

The two young men would work together over the letters.  Vincent's
trust in Anthony was absolute.  There was no question here of the
old rivalry of the two commercial houses.  Knotty problems were
discussed on their merits, as if confidences could never be
betrayed, and in the process both of them learned respect for each
other's experience and powers of decision.  After the replies to
the piles of correspondence had been written and various directions
noted, they would look up at each other and laugh to think how
helpless and pompous Uncle Otto was in the face of the simplest
difficulties--and how able they were themselves.  How pitiable was
the vain old man!  Vincent would shoot the ledgers back into their
racks.  Then they would both take up their hats and gloves, give
each other a whisking, take a last reassuring glimpse into a small
bit of mirror, and sally forth into the Strada Ferdinanda canes in
hand.




CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

ADVENTURES OF A SHEPHERDESS


It was fashionable to walk in the strada from half past three to
five o'clock.  But you must appear to be going somewhere, about to
make a call, or at least prepared to meet up with friends to make
supper engagements and rendezvous for the evening.  All the world
made it a point to know just exactly where it was bound for while
walking on the Strada Ferdinanda between half past three and five.
Hence, if you did not have an engagement you assumed one.

At first Anthony would have had to assume one had it not been for
Vincent.  But with that popular young gentleman's arm linked in his
own he was always sure of a supper engagement before the castle
clock struck five.  For there was no one more certain of getting a
promising party of young bloods together for the evening than
Vincent Nolte.  At worst you could always turn up at the galleries
of Signore Terrini, the painter, now grown prosperous and fat,
surrounded by the phlegmatic portraits of the purse-proud or the
originals of them eating cakes and sipping wine.  Signore Terrini
was now the only painter in Italy who could still make his nudes
look absolutely naked.  "True to life" in every particular.  For
that he was admired by the foreign merchants who composed his
clientele, and his studio, which contrived to hint of naughtiness,
with some canvases turned to the wall, yet remained at the hour of
cake and claret, or gooseberry wine, "elegant."  In Livorno it was
even taken for a salon.

Here on any afternoon two well-dressed young men introduced by "the
master" were sure of not being permitted to look forward to a
lonely evening.  This was an unfailing resource.  But after a while
it was unnecessary.  Social prestige like any other ponderous body
when once set in motion acquires momentum.  Attracted into the
orbit of Vincent, sometimes an eccentric one, Anthony was soon
whirling by his own proper motion.  It was pleasant, he found, thus
to glide along.

Several of the impressive doorways along the strada were in a few
months' time quite familiar.  It was soon evident to both Vincent
and Anthony that the daughters of bankers provided not only the
most substantial collations but the most luxurious transportation
to the opera.  To call on anyone whose father did not at least keep
a coach was soon, unless other attractions were unusual, voted
beneath their mutual dignity.  Theatre nights particularly were
those upon which they chose to shine.

When there was a company at the opera or a band of actors in town,
THAT afternoon they would only walk the length of the street once
merely to be in good form.  Then they would turn back to the
piazza..  There one of them would stand in line for a few minutes
chatting with other young dandies while waiting for the half-blind
clerk at the little booth like a sentry box to make out their opera
tickets.

The old clerk wrote a beautiful hand but naturally very slowly.  It
was also necessary to mark down every assignment to the boxes in a
book and to call out the name of the purchaser.  Thus it was
possible to take exception to anyone who was not qualified.  There
had at one time been duels over certain seats.  But times were
changing now.  The old clerk merely carried out a ritual.  A great
many people now were vulgar and rich enough merely to send a
footman for the pink slip.  Knowing and ardent young gentlemen,
however, still saw to it that they got a box due their rank.

"The Stall of the Angels, tonight, Signore Adverso."  How it
thrilled Anthony to be unexceptionable as he folded the long, pink
slip three times precisely, counted his change into his tasselled
purse, and stepped aside with a slight bow and flourish.  Provided,
of course, that the next in line was a gentleman.  If it was a
footman you held your place and permitted a gentleman to step up.
Of late there had been a good deal of grumbling about that from the
lackeys.  Like a first rumbling of revolution among the lower
orders there seemed to be some tendency among these fellows to
combine.  The gentlemen, of course, became even more punctilious.
Buying a ticket was now like attending a Spanish levée.  At last
one afternoon a burly Swiss footman was positively insolent and
required a touch of Vincent's cane to settle the matter while
Anthony held his place.  There was to be a double bill that night
and the queue was a long one.

"The Revolution has not yet arrived here, my fine fellow," said
Vincent.

"But soon," muttered the Swiss rubbing his arm.  His fellow
servants seemed about to make the prophecy come true.  The young
bucks gathered about Vincent.  He laughed and stood the man off
while Anthony coolly bought the tickets and handed his place over
to Luigi Pontrovo, the bishop's secretary.  After that there was no
more trouble.  But class feeling was already beginning to run high.
The story of even so trivial an incident spread.  That day the
names of Anthony and Vincent were passed about from lip to lip on
the Corso.

That evening they were pointed out in the Stall of the Angels
sitting with Maddalena Strozzi, the daughter of a Florentine
banker, and her friend Mlle. de Rhan visiting her from Nantes.  In
the sconces at the side of the stall, and in the two high
candelabra provided extra, burned the best French beeswax candles
which the Casa da Bonnyfeather imported.  It was considered by all
present to be an extravagant and nice little attention to the young
ladies.  The tallow dips provided by the management in the other
stalls guttered in drafts and dripped sadly.  One had to be careful
how one used one's fan with only a tallow dip just above.  In the
Stall of the Angels the fans fluttered merrily and carelessly as
fans should, and from the front of the box shimmered a peculiarly
clear, yellow light.  Farther back in the shadows sat Donna Anna
Montefeltro, the duenna of the banker's daughter.  Her fat,
powdered face like a white mask had a huge laced and ribboned
coiffure above it that disappeared into the darkness of the box
curtain.  Her eyes, which never seemed to take time off even to
wink, glittered like brown, polished wood.

The bill that night was a double one, La Veillée et la Matinée
Villageoise out of compliment to the large number of French émigrés
in the audience, followed by Schröder's comedy of Die Unglückliche
Ehe aus Delicatessen.  The latter was given at the request of a
number of German merchants who had not often in Livorno the
opportunity of hearing a play in their own tongue.

Vincent was forced to translate the German for the two girls and
Donna Montefeltro.  "From too much refinement come unhappy
matches," he whispered, touching Maddalena on the arm when he
thought no one was watching, and looking wise.  She looked at him
with mock surprise over her fan.  The powder creases in
Montefeltro's face assumed a conventional, shocked design.

"There is no chorus I hope to this German play with the revolting
title, Signore Nolte," she said.  "Maddalena is not permitted to
view the ballet as yet.  You promised me, you know."  Vincent
hastened to reassure her.

"There will be little or no dancing, signora.  You know this is not
the local staff on the stage this evening but the company which has
been thrust out of Brussels and is on its travels.  They will go by
way of Vienna to Hamburg, avoiding Buonaparte.  Nothing could be
more genteel than that.  In addition all the chief figures in the
plays tonight are men.  You see I have even been too careful.  But
Mees and Bergamis are both famous actors.  The main event, indeed,
is the fact that Debrülle who acts Count Klingsberg in the German
comedy has borrowed my uncle's uniform coat for the part and it
will undoubtedly be recognized.  My uncle and his wife are sitting
just across from us there.  Watch the fun."  Vincent bowed to his
uncle who somewhat pompously replied.

Uncle Otto was not aware that his coat had been "borrowed."  He sat
bored enough beside his frau through the rather short performance
in French which came first.  He looked somewhat puzzled at the
polite applause which followed and from which he refrained.  Not
having been able to find his consul's uniform that evening had made
him a bit glum.  He sat waiting for the German play to begin,
sullenly, dressed in his most gorgeous, pink, French costume.

Already he was conscious that what his nephew had said about his
clothes was true.  In the long, frogged paletot and knee-breeches
he already felt somehow a little out-of-age.  Secretly it was as if
he were going about in a dressing gown and drawers.  He looked over
the audience for consolation.  About half of it was still in wigs
and velvets, the more distinguished half, of course!  What was
coming over the world?  All these young men in their own hair,
wide-breasted coats, and breeches half-way down their calves!  And
the women with those thin, Greek night-gowns, a tight ribbon under
their breasts!  Uncle Otto snorted.

A vague feeling of uneasiness, of unexpected and undesired change
in all the ways of life and the familiar habiliments of things sent
him suddenly cold.  He wished he were back in Hamburg; that he had
on his consul's uniform, the long, red coat with the gold buttons
and the silver epaulette on one shoulder.  In that he looked like a
British general.  The feeling of authority and position which it
gave him would have warmed his heart.  Where was it?  He turned
again to his wife, who was breathing heavily in her stays, to renew
his reproaches.  At least she might keep his wardrobe in order!
The dispute grew loud enough to amuse those sitting near by.
Across the theatre Uncle Otto could see young Vincent whispering
into the ear of the banker's daughter.  What did that young dog
care in his high choker and loud, English watch fob.  The thing
flashed in your eyes clear across the pit.  Wax candles for the
mädchens, moonstone cufflinks!  He leaned back and fanned his
purple cheeks.  The curtain went up for the entr'acte.

For Anthony this proved to be the event of the evening.  It was one
of those little plotless pieces in which poetry, moonlight,
sentiment, and music waked the old court tradition of shepherdesses
and the sylvan village in the background to a brief charming life.
Something just a little old-fashioned about it now gave it a hint
of yearning.  This was announced by the low, full-throated overture
of the fiddles and the baritone singer Debrülle.  He, dressed as a
shepherd, warbled a melodious reveille to his love still asleep in
a village wrapped--behind a gauze curtain--in the mists of morning.

A low, happy reply of girls' voices, the high, feminine note of the
violins, and the clever imitation of a cock's crowing brought a
ripple of pleasure and amusement from the audience.  Anthony had
managed to secure Mlle. de Rhan's hand and an electric thrill from
the returned pressure of his fingers caused him to breathe deeply.
The gauze curtain was withdrawn.  A few more candles in rose-
coloured lanterns contrived to throw on the painted, rustic
village, now plainly revealed backstage, the illusion of sunrise.
The music quickened into dance-time with the theme of a song
emerging.  Anthony leaned forward.

The great apron of the stage swept out into the semi-darkness of
the audience, ringed round by its half-mystic, mellow candle
footlights.  The little hood for the head of the leader of the
orchestra cast a wide fan-like shadow across it.  Down there you
could dimly see the white, upturned faces of the audience, wigs,
and the flutter of a fan, the twinkle of women's jewels.  Debrülle
was standing in the middle of the stage with outstretched arms,
pleading in a rich baritone for his love to


     "Come forth, come forth,
      Into the morning light,
      The dew is on the rose,
      The rose, the birds begin . . ."


when from the preposterously bucolic houses on each side of the
grass-painted street emerged a troop of milkmaids in green
stockings and red bodices.  Half of them carried milking stools and
the others bright, silver buckets.  They advanced now, clicking
their heels, and performing various evolutions with the stools and
buckets in that kind of a dance which it is well known that all
milkmaids indulge in just at sunrise.


     "The dew is on the rose,
      The birds begin, begin,
      The milkmaids rise . . ."


Insisted the now impatiently impassioned voice of the baritone--



     "But where is she, the charm--
      The charming shepherdess
      My morning love . . ."


It seemed as if the music had reached the crest of yearning.

"Ah, where indeed?" thought Anthony.  He had forgotten her for a
moment.  Where had she gone, his dear, little girl?  The very word
"girl" sent a thrill through him.  He lingered over it as if it
tasted sweet.  Would there never be any answer to all his useless
inquiries?  She had driven through the Porta Pisa--and disappeared
into the great world beyond.  Would he never see Angela, Angela,
Angela again?  The trembling fibres of his fresh, boyish body
stretched to the last, high, pathetic fall of the shop-worn chords.

How much greater his sorrow for her loss, his need of her, had been
than he had ever known before!  The music opened new depths in him.
It was all dark and lonely there.  The strange, pallid memory of
Faith moved slippery about there in the shadow-play.  He shuddered.
"Angela!"  Angela could save him.

In a little village like that they might have had a house together;
be happy forever.  Why not?  He could forget everything there, even
the madonna.  He would have Angela.  Have her!  He choked.  Unknown
to him the poetry of his own longing had transposed the cheap
little scene before him into the most exquisite art.  How beautiful
it was!  "The dew is on the rose."  He could smell it; feel it on
his own bare feet as on the grass those lost, lovely mornings out
on the road.  In love with Angela!  "Gone, gone, lost, lala, lala
la-a," the fiddles wailed.  "O God, even a poor convent child can
pray to you!  Listen to me."  There were tears in his eyes for
himself.  He could not see Uncle Otto over there any more.  He
dropped Mlle. de Rhan's hand to dash them away furtively.  Her lips
curled in surprise.

Then the violins, as violins do, surpassed themselves.  What had
seemed the summit of ecstasy proved only an overture after all.
They went up and up into a madrigal of pure happiness.  The
baritone paused.

The boy was beside himself now.  The warm air and perfumes from the
stalls below poured up and intoxicated him.  Someone just
underneath must be crushing lime leaves in her hand.  His temples
and wrists throbbed to the music.  From behind the wings came a
girl's voice, fresh, but rich and full-throated as a song from the
orange groves of Sicily heard far up on the slopes in the early
morning.

A little shepherdess with her crook, in red, high-heeled shoes and
a short apron-skirt, now advanced down-stage answering with high
thrilling notes the amative welcome of her swain.  Their mutual
warblings moved the audience to applause.  But Anthony could only
SEE that.  In his own ears the blood was crackling.  That voice,
the way she pointed her toes, the movements of her limbs were
deliciously familiar.  Could it be . . . ?  He felt the sweat
running down his back under his coat.

She was wearing an absurd little straw hat, wide-brimmed at one
side, curved up archly at the other.  As yet he could not see under
it.  Then she turned her face upward into the light.  It was
Angela.

He was afraid it was a dream.  It would escape him.  His knees fell
apart and he leaned further forward clear over the front of the
box.  He would have called out to her but his voice failed.  Then
he remembered where he was.  Surely she would see him.  She was
looking directly at him now.  He made his arm move.  Someone else's
hand on the end of it seemed to take out his handkerchief and shake
it.  Presently in the middle of the dream he became aware that
Angela was lifting up her arms toward him and singing at the box.
Oh, yes, he and Vincent--and the other girls were in it.  It was
real!  He smiled and moved his lips in their old formula.  He knew
she would hear what he was saying.  He laughed aloud.

Some of the faces in the audience now began to be turned toward the
Stall of the Angels.  It was plain that between the young
shepherdess on the stage and the young man hanging over the railing
with a trembling handkerchief in his hand there was an understanding.
The baritone gladly took up the local lead and the song was finished
off obviously addressed to the good-looking young folks in the box
with the clear wax candles.

Anthony sat back dizzy with happiness and lax with relief.  She had
come back to him out of the country where she had been for a while.
In that delightful little village. . . .  Of course!  How could he
have ever doubted it?  He had found her again.  Angela had come
back!  Far down on the stage he saw two white hands toss him a
kiss.  The handkerchief replied.  The curtain fell on a round of
laughter and applause.  People kept looking up.  Now for the first
time Anthony felt terribly embarrassed.

Across the pit Mrs. Udney raised her glasses to examine the box
which had been receiving so much attention.  She was sitting with
her husband the English consul, her daughter Florence, and a young
Scotch merchant, David Parish, the scion of a rising commercial
house at Antwerp.  David, she hoped, was the young man to be.  Mrs.
Udney smiled as she watched the obviously fluttered party opposite
and started somewhat as her focus finally fixed upon Anthony.  She
thought she had never seen a face so completely happy.  And yet
where had she seen it before?  Just then Anthony happened to look
up, a streak of light gilding his hair.  Mrs. Udney suddenly
remembered him looking up at her from under a priest's hat while
she stood at her library window years before.

"My dear," she exclaimed giggling with excitement, "look who is in
the box there!"  She handed her glasses to Florence.  "Do you
recognize your prince of the church?  An old sweetheart of
Florence's," she continued, smiling on David Parish and touching
him on the arm with her fan.  It suited her plans quite well to
claim a fashionably dressed young man in a box with two bankers'
daughters as her own daughter's first conquest.  Florence looked.
Her small chin took on a serious angle for a minute under the
binoculars.  She blushed.

"Yes, I remember."  She might have said more, her mother thought.
Mr. Parish and Mr. Udney had each his turn.  The former smiled
complacently.

"My word!" exclaimed Mr. Udney, "Father Xavier and I made no
mistake.  Mr. Bonnyfeather has certainly done well by his appren--"
a tight squeeze from his wife stopped him--"ahem, by his ward."

"Decidedly," chimed in Mrs. Udney.  "We must have him in to tea
again," she looked sidewise at Parish.  "What do you think,
Florence?"

"Certainly, mother.  Will he sleep in the spare bedroom this time?"
asked Florence seemingly out of a reverie.  Her mother could have
pinched her.  The consul chuckled.  Mr. Parish looked at him a
little uncomfortably.  The curtains went up on Too Much Refinement
Makes Unhappy Matches--in German.

Anthony sat in a trance through the comedy.  He had even forgotten
that Mlle. de Rhan had a hand, that she existed.  Mademoiselle felt
her throat tighten a little with jealous chagrin.  She would
scarcely have credited the young creature in mouse-grey who sat
next to her with having known an actress.  He was deeper than she
had supposed.  Donna Montefeltro was outwardly scandalized and
inwardly pleased.  The box of her charges had been pleasantly
prominent that night.  It might pay to cultivate this young
Englishman.  How innocent he looked.  She grinned over her fan,
remembering.

With Vincent, Anthony's stock had soared.  The young dog! and never
to say a word about it!  He pawed his friend excitedly but was only
shaken off.  Presently he and Signorina Strozzi were leaning
forward breathlessly waiting for the cue when Uncle Otto's coat
should appear.  Presently "Count Klingsberg" strutted out.  For a
few minutes nothing happened.  Then someone giggled.  A whisper
began to run about.  "The coat of El Signore Consolino di Amburgo,
ah!"  Then Uncle Otto became aware of it.  He snorted and shook his
stick.  His nephew bowed back.  Even those who could not understand
German could understand this.  Gusts of applause shook the house.
The actor played up to it.  The curtain went down on a great hit--
and the audience filed out laughing and talking.

Vincent's friends waved at him.  The boy's little ears tingled with
excitement.  He and Anthony had contrived to be the most popular
young men in Livorno that night.  The girls fluttered their fans in
the gay light of public approval and looked pleased and excited,
even a little impressed.

As they filed out Anthony looked down on the crowd surging toward
the door below.  A long poke bonnet with a prim, black bow was for
a second turned up toward him.  At the bottom of it, as if at the
end of a shadowed tunnel, he saw the face of Faith.  It was pale,
he noticed.  Always she seemed to be looking out from shadows.  He
went cold for an instant.  Too bad SHE had to spoil an otherwise
perfect evening!  But how wonderful it had been.  Angela!

On the way out he forgot Faith.  The Udneys stopped him.  He saw
Florence standing behind her mother.  How lovely and fragile she
had grown!  Only the brown, golden hair and the deep grey eyes of
the plump little girl remained.  "Anthony, mother is asking you to
tea."  She laughed as she withdrew her hand.  It was true.  And she
had called him by his first name.  He drew himself together to
reply in almost too perfect English.  Vincent was now included in
the invitation.  "This is Mr. David Parish," said Florence.

"How do you do, MR. David Parish?" said Anthony.  Everybody
laughed except Parish.  "Yes, indeed, they would both come."

"Delighted," added Vincent, telling the literal truth and looking
with rapturous approval at Anthony.  His friend seemed to know
everybody.  The English consul's daughter!  Vincent whistled under
his breath as he drew on his gloves.

They went out and bowed Maddalena and Mlle. de Rhan into their
carriage.  Donna Anna was by this time completely persuaded of the
eligibility of the two young men.  The English consul's wife was
impeccable.  Yes, they might call on the two signorinas tomorrow.
The carriage rolled away.

Anthony and Vincent turned to join the crowd of young men standing
behind them.  There was considerable chaffing to be endured.  "Who
was she?"  "How did Anthony know her?"  After some minutes of
hearty German backslapping and heavy jokes, they managed to put
them off.  The two were left alone at last standing on the curb.

Anthony clutched Vincent's sleeve.  "How can I speak to her--now?"
he cried.  Vincent laughed.  After all there were some things this
English friend of his did not know.

"That's easy enough," he exclaimed, "follow me."  He led the way
toward the dim lantern over the stage door.  Moonlight pricked out
the pictures and messages scrawled upon the bricks of the old
theatre.  It was a warm, calm night.  The noise of carriage wheels
died away through the streets.  By this time everybody would be
taking the air on the Corso.

Vincent would have liked to be walking there, too.  By this time
the news of the doings of the theatre would be noised about and it
would be pleasant to be greeted knowingly by acquaintances.  But
this adventure of Anthony was also alluring, worth following up
just to see what would happen.  Anthony was proving to be somewhat
mysterious he felt.  Nevertheless, one would like to walk on the
Corso, be in two places at the same time.  Besides it would never
do to go home till Uncle Otto had cooled down about the coat.  No,
he would have to make a night of it.

They gave a small coin to the man at the door and went in.  Behind
the curtain the theatre seemed vast and dark.  A few lanterns hung
here and there in the wings lighting up bits of stacked scenery
like autumnal glimpses of a valley seen through the clouds.  The
wreck of the little village lay strewn about.  They stumbled over a
pile of the milkmaids' buckets making a ferocious din.  Finally
someone emerged from the wings shouting, "This way, this way,
messieurs," and led the way down a narrow, brick stairs in the wall
to the cell-like dressing-rooms.  A door opened letting out a wash
of light and revealing a man standing there stripped to the waist
and washing the grease paint off his face with a coarse towel.  It
was Debrülle himself.

"Come in," he half shouted, "I thought you would come for it."  He
handed Vincent his uncle's coat with the silver epaulette.  "I am a
thousand times obliged to you, my dear fellow," he hurried on, "it
was the hit of the evening.  Ah, your friend!  The young man in the
box."  The actor murmured his pleasure.  "We are also greatly
indebted to you, signore,--I suppose," he added seemingly not as
enthusiastic over Anthony's part as he was over the coat.  He
continued to address himself to Vincent.  A flat, stale smell of
old cigars, sloe gin, and damp cellar permeated everything.

"Can you tell me, sir, where I can find Angela?" said Anthony after
a while, unable to refrain any longer.

"Angela?  Ah! the little shepherdess, I suppose?" said Debrülle.
"No," he continued dubiously, "she has gone to her lodgings by this
time.  We are a very genteel company, VERY strict, you know."  He
winked at Vincent.  Anthony could not hide his disappointment.  So
she had not left him any message and it would not do to inquire.
"They were very strict."  Presently Vincent rose to leave.
Debrülle shook hands with Anthony with an amused gleam in his eyes.

"It was a great pleasure, sir, to hear you sing tonight," the young
man gasped.  He was sincere enough in this and he had to say
something.

The face of the actor lit up radiantly.  "I am glad to hear you say
so, my dear boy," said he.  "It is not often we receive a
compliment so genuine, after teasing our admirers--and so well
deserved," he added laughing again.  "Of course, she left something
for you.  Unless the girls go home early, you know, they are
bothered to death.  Here it is."  He rustled about among his paint
pots and cigar stubs and produced a small red card.  Anthony
grasped it blushing.

They stumbled up the brick steps together, Uncle Otto's coat on
Vincent's arm.  There was a ripping sound.  "Heavens!" said
Debrülle striking a spark, "you have tramped off the epaulette."
It was true.  Vincent turned a little pale.  "Gott!  I shall be
sued by your uncle, the consul, now.  I do not envy you either."
Debrülle went on up, laughing, his voice rumbling through the
wings.  At the door he stopped under the smoking lantern and
scribbled something on a card.

"There," he said, handing it to Vincent, "come to the matinée
tomorrow.  Thanks again!  I wish you both luck.  You with your
uncle and the coat, and you, monsieur, with--a happy pastoral
night!"  He flourished his gold-headed stick and went clicking down
the sidewalk toward the Corso.  A stave of the song to the
shepherdess drifted back through the moonlight.  The gin made him
place his feet carefully.  He stopped to look back once and raised
his hand.  It looked like a blessing.  They both laughed.


                      Chez Signora Bovino


"But what AM I going to do about it?" asked Vincent, anxiously
examining the coat from the shoulder of which the epaulette drooped
disconsolately.  To Anthony the predicament of his friend seemed
trivial.  He went close to the lantern and by its smoky light
examined the little red card.


                        Signora Bovino
                       Explains the Past
                             and
                    Elucidates the Future,
              Casts Horoscopes, and Reads Palms.
                   Her Art is Invulnerable
                      on the Fifth Floor
                        Strada Calypso
                            ------
              Satisfactory Amatory Entertainment
                         on the First.


Underneath was a dainty sketch of a small shepherdess with angel's
wings and a ribboned crook.  Anthony laughed.  He thought of the
longitude machine on the roof at Signora Bovino's.  Well, he would
take care not to waken Mr. Williams.  Doubtless he would be taking
the moon.  Let him.  His pupil would have a different use for it
tonight "on the first floor."  A recklessness and warmth
intoxicated the boy as he stood looking at the card.  It was his
first adventure--all his own.  A faint haze came between the card
and his eyes.  He felt suddenly competent, by "the art of Madame
Bovino," to foretell the immediate future.  He grasped Vincent by
the arm.

"Come on," he said.  "Forget that small trouble."  Vincent kept
fingering the rent in the coat.  "I'll tell you what we'll do.
Tomorrow we will take it to a tailor and have TWO epaulettes
sewed on it.  You can tell your uncle it is a compliment from his
friend the actor who knows what the uniform of a consul ought to
be."  He linked his arm in Vincent's sweeping him along by his own
recklessness.  In the moonlight it was as if they were both a
little drunk.  Anything seemed possible.  Vincent felt his friend
to be inspired.  Recklessness was always the mood most contagious
for Vincent.

"I think there might be someone waiting for you, too," whispered
Anthony excitedly as they swept along.  "I know it!"  He had
completely taken the lead now.  Vincent gave a low whistle.  He
felt the warmth and tenseness of his friend's arm.  The two
hastened even faster.

As they turned into the street of high, narrow houses with flat
roofs where Anthony had so often come by day to work out his
problems with the stertorous ex-mate, he looked upward by habit.
Sure enough, on the house of Signora Bovino the outline of the old
sailor could be seen against the skyline "shooting the moon."
Anthony cautioned Vincent and they began to walk softly.  It would
never do to have that enormous voice hail them from the roof.  They
crossed the street quietly, and keeping close to the wall arrived
safely at the door.  A few lights glimmered from the lower
shutters, but the door was barred and the house was silent.  It
would not do to arouse the mate by using the bell pull.  He would
be peering over the parapet instantly.  Vincent tapped at the
lowest shutter.  He was beginning to take the lead again.  After
another tap it was opened.  A white hand came forth.  Vincent
slipped something into it.  "The signora," he said.

"Have you been here before?" asked Anthony feeling indignant.

"No, no, it is always the way, you know," answered his friend
offhand while tossing the consul's uniform over his shoulder
nonchalantly.  "When you see a hand, put something in it."  A
mischievous smile pre-empted Vincent's lips.  "I have a notion to
put Uncle Otto's coat on."

"Oh, don't, Vincent, you are in trouble enough with your uncle,"
whispered Anthony.

Just then the door swung back noiselessly, revealing Signora Bovino
in a loose, linen wrapper.  She started to laugh, but Anthony put
his finger on his lips, and pointed upward.  She nodded and
beckoned them in.

"So you have come for a lesson in navigation, Meester Adverse.  No!
What can it be, then?"

Anthony looked so confused that she laid her hand on his arm.  A
senile giggle escaped her.  "Come, I know.  She has told me.  Madre
Maria!  I do not blame you.  She is a dear piece, and in the best
front chamber.  Clean linen!  And she will let no one else come up
now these two nights since she came.  A lady!  But your friend
here.  Is he with you?"

"Yes, oh, NO!" said Anthony seeing what she meant.  "I thought
perhaps you could . . . at least . . ."

"But yes!  The whole troupe is staying here.  You know, signore,
I do not keep a regular house, though."  A look of fierce
respectability stiffened her.  "Only transients.  They usually have
their own gentlemen."  She held up the candle inspecting Vincent.
The epaulette caught her eye.  She looked pleased.  "Ah, of the
military I see."  Vincent swaggered.  "You do not need to be
afraid, sir, and hide it.  Everything here is of the greatest
discretion.  I merely tell fortunes."  She winked.  They went
upstairs very quietly.  A smell of garlic and perfume permeated the
passage.  Presently the old woman swung her candle up.

"Her room," she said to Anthony.  "Good night, Meester--" she laid
her finger on her lips and laughed.  In the dying candlelight as
she led Vincent down the corridor Anthony could see there was no
paint on the panels.  Could this be the door to happiness?  It was
dark now in the hall, but there was moonlight flowing under the
threshold.  He leaned against the door-post, a lump in his throat.
How long it had been!  He took a deep breath.

"Angela!"

There was the sound of someone stirring but no answer.  Silence.
He tapped lightly on the door.  The sound of padding feet.

"Who is it?--you?"

He leaned close to the panel whispering, "Arnolfo, Maria, Nicolò,
Beatrice, Claudia--Angela Maea."  Someone caught her breath.  The
door opened suddenly.  He stumbled forward into the moonlight and
found himself in her arms.

"Oh, I thought I had lost you, Angela Maea!"

"Then you DID care, you never forgot me," she cried low, clinging
to him.  "Anthony, how you are trembling!  Let me see you."  She
led him to the window.  "Oh, yes, it is you, YOU.  I thought I
might never see you again."  She looked up at him in the moonlight
with a half-doubt and trouble in her face.

"What is it?" he whispered.  "Aren't you really glad to see me?"

"I am only half as happy as I expected to be," she said, hiding her
face against his shoulder, "I cannot see you for the tears."  Her
thin night-gown fluttered about her and he wrapped her closer.

They went over to the bed and sat down.  She lay back, breathing
dreamfully and contentedly with her hands under her head, looking
up at him.  In the moony twilight of the room it was like a dream
to both of them.

"Let me come behind the fountain to you, Angela.  I saw you that
way once.  Did you know?  Both of us that way now!  There is no one
else but you and me now."

"No one," she sighed.  "You are all that is left of those days.
They are all gone but you, did you know that?"  He felt her tears
again.  "Only 'Anthony' and 'Angela.'  There is no use saying the
other names any more.  No one will answer."

"Angela!"

He felt himself overcome by an access of pity for her.  It merged
into passive tenderness, then into a kind of wild weeping passion
for what he did not know, something he felt through her.  Presently
they were utterly quiet.  A deep, pagan peace slowly and surely
enveloped them.  He closed his eyes.

Down an immense vista as if a poke bonnet had been elongated into a
straw telescope he saw the gloomy face of Faith Paleologus looking
at him hungrily out of the shadows.  It was an immense shock, the
reverberations of which echoed through Angela.

"Tell me, tell me!  Anthony, what is it?"

He raised his head from her breast.  "That woman, Faith!  She is
here in the room.  The night after you left.  Angela!"  He was
crying to her for help.  She soothed him, smoothing the disturbing
vision away with her soft hands, putting her mouth to his.  Her
breath permeated him.  It was well again.  Only Angela could do
that, he knew, only Angela.  With her he could forget everything.
And she was his now, forever.  His strength flooded back at the
thought.  An undisturbed and perfect pleasure of both the inner
life and the body perfectly shared, all else forgotten, rest, and
comfort as of a divine blessing freely imparted and necessarily
given engulfed them both.  Outside the moonlight died from the
street and slowly paled into day.  On the bed the youth and the
young girl slept as one in being, their curls and legs tangled
together as if they lay on an island beach washed by the ocean of
Nirvana.  Towards morning he began to dream.

He saw a wave run up a beach, leaving a faint, lacy trace on the
sand.  Then another, and another.  Each destroyed the trace of the
one preceding and left its own.  All the outlines they left on the
sand were different.  Yet they were all the same, all pictures of
the wave of waves.  It went on forever.

Then the noise of the waves merged slowly into the murmur of the
leaves on the great plane tree in the court of the convent.  He was
lying in the pool of that place, looking up into the moonlit
branches of the tree.  The pigeons were faintly awake.  Like the
blood murmuring in his ears he could hear their sleepy love-making.
He lay and floated, happy in an ecstasy of calm.  The waters were
troubled no more.

Then in the shadows he saw that both the bronze boy and his lost
brother were there.  The lost twin had come back!  Their limbs
seemed to melt into the roots of the tree in a quiescent embrace.
The madonna was there, too.  She emerged slowly out of the light of
the tree.  It was the woman of the statue he knew so well, her
features and her grace, but much younger, naked.  Her hair seemed
caught in the net of leaves and of the stars behind them, and the
smile on her lips was without sorrow.  There was no child in her
arms.  Slowly she merged herself in the pool.  The water rose and
he felt himself washed over the brink.  But he could still see
himself there.  He looked down upon himself over the brim as he had
when a child.  His own utterly happy face came up to meet him as it
used to do--the eyes wide with a dream, the hair burning and
golden, laughing, dazzling.

He opened his eyes to see the vision better.  The sun was streaming
in through a chink in the shutter.  Angela lay beside him brown and
rosy, covered with little glints of the dawn as if the sun were
shining on her through the leaves of the great tree.  He drew her
even more closely to him.  She looked at him out of innumerable
centuries with his own completely happy smile.  For an hour they
lay so.  Then the noise in the streets began.

Someone in the room below them began to stir.  They could hear the
mumble of talk, movings around, slaps, small outcries, and
laughter.  Presently the door banged and a man with heavy boots
departed.  A bed creaked once again and all was silent.  Then there
were funny little snores.

They laughed themselves, and began to talk in low voices.  How easy
it was to talk to Angela, like having thoughts with another self.
Half of the things you said were already answered.  She asked
eagerly about the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  He told her all that had
happened, also about Faith.

"I knew last night," she said.

The quarrel with Toussaint, Mr. Bonnyfeather, the new friend
Vincent, the life about town--how clear and meaningful it all
seemed now as he told it to her.

"But you, Angela, where have YOU been?  Here I have been telling
you all about myself."   She tossed her curls at him.

"Even you, Anthony.  They always do."

"They, who are THEY?" he asked.

"Men," she said whimsically, "all of them."

It was the first shock of disillusion after the dream.  So she had
known others before him then!  His mouth went hard . . .

"But you had Faith," she said.

"No," he replied indignantly, "she had me.  I . . ."  he stopped,
colouring and ashamed.  It was true.  She drew him down to her
again.

"Listen, I will tell you," she whispered.  "Do not blame me.  I
loved you.  But I thought I would never see you again when we drove
through the Porta Pisa that night.  You remember!  We had not gone
five miles before the carriages stopped in a lonely place.  It was
dark by then.  One of the soldiers came back and took all of us
children up to the front carriage.  They had dragged father out on
the grass and he was lying there shivering and singing.  Then they
began to take out the money bags and divide them up.  Mother tried
to fight them but they tied her hands behind her back, and a rag
around her face.  We were too frightened to say anything.  She sat
by father rolling her eyes.  Some of the soldiers and drivers
started to quarrel over the money but the sergeant drew his pistol
and made them take what he gave them.

"'If you come back to Livorno,' the sergeant said, 'you will get
this.'  He gave Arnolfo a terrible kick and pointed his pistol at
mother's head!  'The guards at the gate understand.  Do you see!'
He threw one small purse in mother's lap.  Then he herded us all
into one carriage and made that man drive off with us toward Pisa,
swearing he would cut our throats if we made a noise.

"After about an hour the new coachman stopped and made us all get
out again.  He took the small purse from mother that the sergeant
had given her.  She begged and held up Luigi, but he only laughed.
'Pisa is there, not far,' he said, and whipped up his horses back
to Livorno.  Father was dead drunk.

"We got mother's hands untied and waited till morning.  We started
toward Pisa.  Arnolfo and I tried to carry father.  He became
violent.  We could see he was not drunk now but out of his mind.
He cursed mother for hours.  Finally some men with hay carts came
along and took us into the market at Pisa.  They had to tie father.
We arrived at the door of my grandparents weeping, hungry, and
without a scudo.  They are very poor.  My father who still thought
he was rich had to be locked in the cellar.  A few days later some
men with staves and irons came for him.  He shrieked and called
out.  We did not see him again.  He is always going to be mad.

"My grandmother went to her priest about it.  After a while he told
us that word had come back from Livorno that our story wasn't true.
It was the governor, I guess.  He and the sergeant.  We could do
nothing and we were very hungry."

Angela put her hands over her face as if to shut out the memory.
He saw tears trickle through her fingers.

"There is more yet.  Shall I go on?"  He nodded.  She waited a
while before she could begin.

"At Pisa the smallpox came.  Luigi, all the younger ones, died.
They would not let us leave the house and there was nothing to eat.
One goat.  After a while we ate her.  Big Angela--her loose skin
hung around her like rags!  Arnolfo got out one night and ran away.

"At last no one but my grandmother and two of the girls were there.
One day the old woman took a broom and beat me with it!  'Go out,
big girl, and bring us some money,' she said.  'We starve!'  I
could not give myself to the soldiers.  I was afraid.  I begged
only enough to keep us alive.  My grandmother continued to give me
many blows.  At last one day I was sitting on the steps of the
Duomo when Debrülle, the singer, came along.  I went with him.  Do
you see how it was?"

Anthony lay stretched out going hot and cold.  He was dry-eyed now.
So it HAD been that big German with the baritone voice.  "I hate
him," he said simply.

"Do not.  He has been very kind to me.  He took me to Milan with
him, bought me some clothes, put me on the stage with his company
as a flower girl.  He taught me to sing.  Anthony, I have a lovely
voice, they say.  I am the shepherdess now.  I shall be a great
actress some day.  The lights, the people!  I shall have beautiful
clothes, jewels, and see the world.  No, he is very good to me,
Debrülle, he has been like a father."

"Do you love him?" he asked.

She shook her head.  "Not like that, you know.  He, he is not with
me often," she whispered.  "I bear him."

"Then you will not marry me, Angela?" he said.  He looked at her
with a terrified determination and drew her to him.

"Once," she said, "but not now.  It is too late."

"But what are you going to do?" he cried.

"I am going on," she said.  "Now I have had you, I am going on."  A
smile of triumph and tenderness lit her face.

He pleaded with her, but she merely turned her head away and closed
her eyes.  "Come," she said after awhile, "lie on my breast again."
Thus they strove to forget together.

Later in the morning the signora knocked at their door.  She
finally put her head inside the room.  "Pardon, last night I forgot
to bring you the napkins of pleasure.  Here they are now.  When you
dress yourselves come up to my room.  There is a charming breakfast
there.  Your friend, the man with the great voice, has had it
brought in.  And you are to come, too, Meester Adverse.  Ah! how
generous is the noble singer to his shepherdess!  Yes, I have heard
about you both from his lips.  It is true love then.  You will
bring luck to my house.  Come, I will tell your fortunes for
nothing.  Jesù! how beautiful you are."  Her eyes rested on them
burning with admiration and regret.  "Do not be ashamed," she said.
"I was young once.  Now there is nothing left but the pleasure of
the eyes."  She closed the door reluctantly and went upstairs
sighing.

They lingered for a while but presently from upstairs the full-
chested tones of Debrülle rolled down to them:


     "The dew is on the rose,
      The birds begin, begin,
      The milkmaids rise,
      But where is she, the charm--
      The charming shepherdess,
      My morning love?"


And there was something so whole-hearted and good-natured about
those tones that they hastened in spite of themselves to rise and
dress.

"You will like him, you see if you don't!" said Angela.  Anthony
shook his head.

"Yes, yes, you will.  For my sake anyway, promise!"  She pouted and
kissed him.  They moved toward the door and opened it.  A great
pencil of sunlight washed down the stairs.  The smell of German
coffee and frying sausages rolled down to them.  They heard a gay
laugh and a cork popped loudly in the apartment of Signora Bovino.
The colour heightened in her cheeks.  They stood for a minute at
the threshold.  He caught her to him madly.

"Good-bye, Angela, my own Angela Maea.  Oh, you do not know how I
love you!"


     "But where is she, the charm--
      The charming . . . my morning love?"


trolled from upstairs.  It was from that voice that he would hold
her fast forever.

"You do not know."

"But I do, Anthony, dear, I know.  I have found out.  I love you.
I thank the Virgin I found you again.  And now we shall always be
like this."  She flung her arms around him choking, giving him a
long kiss.  "Boy, mine, dearest always, some time you will know,
too."

"But where is she . . ."  began the voice again upstairs.

"Coming, coming, papa mio," she cried; dashed the tears out of her
eyes and dragged Anthony over the threshold.  The wind banged the
door behind them.  She ran laughing up the stairs to Debrülle.

She had thanked the Virgin.  Well, so would he, the beautiful young
Virgin without the child who had come to him last night in the
dream.  To her then!  He stretched out his hands to her.  A great
peace and calm of completion was on him.  He could have, or be, no
more than that no matter how long he lived.  With or without Angela
then!  He blew a kiss back at the closed door.  Then he went up the
stairs.

The apartment of Signora Bovino was a great surprise.  It was awash
with sunlight that fell through a skylight now wide open.  Bright,
blooming plants waved in the windows and a far door led out onto
the roof where there were tubbed flowers.  A great yellow cat lay
spread-eagled in the sun out there.  And there was a table set with
a snowy cloth that flapped lazily.  In one corner the signora
busied herself over a small charcoal stove.  In the other sat
Vincent looking happy and foolish with a large German girl on his
knees.  Debrülle was doing some dance steps and humming to Angela
as she copied him, one foot after the other, daintily.  The whole
room hailed Anthony with a shout.  It was impossible not to accept
such a welcome.  The last bit of ice left for Debrülle thawed under
his ardent captivating humour.  He clapped Anthony on the back with
an undeniable affection.

"You, my prince charming, and your shepherdess have nearly starved
us.  Didn't you hear me singing to you?  In another moment the
sausages would have been in flames.  Come now, not a minute longer.
Herr Nolte, fräulein . . . ? ahem."

"Anthony, Anthony, it is to be OUR breakfast," cried Angela,
dancing up.  "You and I are to sit at the head of the table."  Her
eyes were still shining like skies after a rain.  She led them all
out and they sat down.  The old woman beaming and grinning, rapidly
set the dishes.

"When you have finished, signora, be pleased to sit down with us,"
Debrülle said.  "Thou, too, wast once a lady I see."  From
somewhere in the past she summoned a grand curtsy.  They all
applauded.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Debrülle, pausing and looking around
for anybody who might dare to contradict him, "Ladies and
gentlemen--This is a kind of impromptu and unofficial wedding
breakfast for the charming couple at the head of the table.  It is
the best under the circumstances," he continued, looking at Anthony
significantly, "that we can do.  May they always be as happy as
they were last night.  Always," he added as if by an afterthought--
"wherever they are."

They drank with a shout.  Over his steaming bowl of coffee Debrülle
broke into a German love song that clutched them all by the heart.
At the second chorus Vincent chimed in, carried away by the sheer,
rank sentiment of it.


     "One night at least a wandering knight may have,
      Though disinherited from all the past,
      And bear the memory of that burning love--
      And bear that memory with him to the last."


The high, clear voice of Angela trilled in.  The boy next to her
felt his breath pause as if that moment were too poignant and clear
to require an earthly atmosphere to live it.


     "And bear that memory with him to the last."


All their voices blent in a long, sentimental, drawn out, dying
chord that left them sitting astonished with their own harmony.
Indeed, it seemed as if they had not made it themselves.  It had
been drawn upon an unexpectedly rich account of pleasure, a draft
that left happiness undiminished.

Debrülle now opened small brown jugs of Asti Spumonti that foamed
like Normandy cider.  It was clearer and lighter than champagne, a
noble morning drink, bringing a glow of joy without heat or thirst.
Anthony could see by the way he looked at Angela that Debrülle
loved her; loved her with a kind of fatherly pity as if care of her
happiness had been conferred on him as his part in life.  Anthony
understood now the expression on the actor's face the night before
in the dressing-room.  It was his greater knowledge and his pity, a
wise generosity beyond a purely possessive male instinct that had
allowed Debrülle to let Angela have her young lover.  And this
gayety now?  It was partly to drown regret, regret that Debrülle
was not the same age, was not Anthony.  And yet there was wine and
music and happiness this morning!  It was as if Debrülle had shared
in the joy of the night before by some occult transference.  Angela
and Anthony would have to take him in.  He was there.  How strange!
How could he have ever imagined an association like this?

Anthony shook his head.  He had possessed her completely, and she
him, yet somehow he was going to lose her again.  He looked at her
now beside him putting a little flower into her hair, joyous and
cool.  He thought of the young madonna in the dream who had slowly
blent herself with the cool water.  Perhaps Angela was like that--
something that overflowed, that ran away like cool, clear water, a
natural thing that one could not possess by clutching with hands.
One could only be in it a while and be washed over the brink when
it overflowed--and look back upon one's own happy face, glorious
like the sun beating across the parapet through the green cool
leaves of Signora Bovino's plants.  He walked over to them a minute
to be alone.

The calm and deep joy of the night before leaving his blood cool
and his limbs relaxed in well-being, the present gayety and sunny
happiness, the harmony of dear voices searching his soul, the
strange premonitory loneliness of the days to come without Angela,--
all blent and existed simultaneously within him in a mood so far
beyond thought that he stood for a minute like a god among the
leaves lost in an indescribable flood of bright, imageless feeling.
Then they called him back.

The instinct of aloofness on his part made the occasion become even
a little gayer if possible.  It was as if the others in order to
confirm their own mood became more abandoned so as to take him
along.  Not the least element of a spectator could be tolerated.
Nor was it now hard for them to prevail.  Now that he understood it
all; had thrust it down past words and argument and resolved it
into pure feeling, he let himself go.  The wine helped.

Presently he was singing too, whenever he could, with a better
voice than he ever had thought he had.  After even the professional
repertoire of Debrülle was exhausted, Vincent's girl proved to be
able to make convulsing faces.  All the past was forgotten now.
Only the present existed.  Then Signora Bovino began to tell
fortunes.

She cast their horoscopes and they bent breathless over her books
and queer charts where zodiacal animals swarmed amid the stars.

"You have an immense fortune in diamonds coming to you," she
promised Angela.  Debrülle would never have any children.  He
clapped his hand tragically to his forehead.  Vincent would be rich
but would die poor.  A long life but a merry one!  A hard dark man
with a huge beard was to be the lot of the fräulein.  "'Küche,
kochen, und kinder.'  Ach!"  The fräulein sulked.  For some reason
the signora had left Anthony to the last.  She now turned her
piercing eyes upon him and began her formula again.

"What day and hour were you born?"

He had sat suddenly frozen when she began to ask the others that.
The mood of the morning passed.  The wine died in him.  A look of
embarrassed misery now crept into his features.

"I do not know, signora, I--you see . . ."

He coloured to the brows.  In the name of God, who was he?

There was a moment of silence.  Then the kindly Debrülle stepped
in.  He sneezed and made them laugh.  "Doubtless the illustrious
signora," he went on with the tears of the sneeze still in his
eyes, "has other methods of foretelling the future."

"Oh, yes, holy saints and angels!"  There were other ways.  "Yes
indeed!"

How much did Debrülle know?  Anthony wondered.  How much had Angela
told him?

The signora opened an old, black box and took out the ancient
shoulder blades of sheep, and a black veil embroidered with faded
stars.  She sat down at the table and throwing the veil over her
head began to click the sheep bones mysteriously behind it.  An
ancient Tuscan chant with gibberish come down from the days of
Etruria mumbled from her gums.  They looked at her, awed in spite
of themselves.  The dark veiled head now had the outlines of a
sibyl and the power to stir something in them, they knew not what.
Click, click, went the bones.  A voice began.

"You were born at midnight between a lucky and an unlucky day.  I
see many ships.  A crucifix is speaking.  You will see the King of
the World and serve him.  There is a great fire by night.  I cannot
make this out.  There is a veiled woman, a mountain very far away,
a great tree, stars."  She threw off the veil and looked at Anthony
with interest and surprise.  "I am only sure of two things," she
said, "you will travel far, the earth turned under you; and you
must beware of cold steel.  You will not always be very happy, my
son."  She looked at his palm and nodded confirmingly.  "Now," she
said, "put something in mine."

It occurred to Anthony, as he felt in his pocket, that Signora
Bovino might be performing a function which the world could not do
without and yet would never acknowledge.  One should pay well for
that.  He would owe her a great memory.


     "And bear that memory with him to the last."


The stave seemed to sing itself for him.  He gave her his best gold
coin.  Debrülle and Vincent pressed forward.  The old woman soon
had cause to be pleased and showed it.  Seeing her auspicious
expression the fräulein thrust her palm under the signora's nose.

"Have you nothing better to tell me?" she asked wistfully.

A long line extended right across the girl's hand like the hinge of
a leather box.  Her fingers closed on her wrist like a lid.  There
were no vertical lines from the wrist.  The old woman looked at it.

"Go along with you," she said, throwing the girl's hand aside like
an object.  "You are not one of us.  Your grandfather must have
been a Chinaman."

It was true, the whole room burst into laughter.  They had not
noticed it before, but there was something Mongolian about this
girl; an almond creep to her eyes.

Debrülle rose and took his cape.  Angela hurriedly got her things
together.  "The matinée, you know," he said, and held out his hand.
Anthony took it and paused.  He owed the man much.  "Thank you, I
know, now.  Thank you!  Take care of Angela," he whispered.  The
man caught both his hands and squeezed them hard.  "By God, I
will."  He went out first.

With a low cry Angela ran across the room and flung her arms about
Anthony.  For one instant he felt her warm cheek beating against
his.  He crushed her lips with a cry.  Then she had gone.

He was left standing in a universe deserted, alone beyond all
sounds, undone.  He could see nothing.  "Madonna, sweet Mother of
God, come to me now!"

As if his inner life were a plant that flourished in the soil of
his body he felt it sicken down to the most remote and delicate
roots.  The nerve tips which are always in motion bathed by the
rich liquor of the blood upon which they draw for nourishment and
warmth ceased for a moment to move and became numb.  He felt them
dimly loosen.  He grew cold.  Then the heart throbbed again
overcoming the shock as if by sheer energy.  But living was for a
little a great misery.

Another aspect of life had confronted Anthony.  Existence might be
painful!  For the first time the thought flashed upon him that
escape from it might be a relief.  There was a gate out of this.
How dark the garden of the world could suddenly become, how
scentless the flowers.  The clear, sheer joyous morning light was
over.  What would hot noon be like?  Thus the man's soul was first
torn loose within him.  He stood leaning on the table with one
hand.  He tottered a little.  The figures of things had become
confused.  A cool sweat burst out just above his eyebrows.  He
looked ill.

The old woman, mumbling something kindly, thrust him into a chair
and gave him a fiery drink.  When he could see clearly again the
German girl was projected before him just across the table, sitting
there with tears in her eyes still looking hopelessly at her palm.
Poor soul!  Life was sad for her, too!  Something had happened to
her before she was born.  A pity overflowed the boy, warming him
again.  For the first time he understood what it was to be a simple
child, a lost angel caught in a body without hope.  A look of
understanding passed between them.  There was comfort in it.

"Come, come," said Vincent, who did not understand exactly what had
happened, but could see that his friend looked white.  "If you are
ill, I will go home with you.  It is time to leave anyway, I
guess."  He picked up his uncle's torn coat.  They went out onto
the landing.  A door opened across the hall.

"Ahoy there," said a voice in a tone that was just now to Anthony
ghastly with heartiness.  "Do you think you can get away from me
like that?  I have been listening to you all morning."  It was the
navigating Mr. Williams.  They both stopped helplessly.  He came
down to them with his sextant in a bag.  "I'll go over to the casa
with you now," he roared.  "We can work out that new way of
plotting the longitude this afternoon."  He followed them like
fate.

"Oh, my God!" said Vincent, "he's coming!"

Anthony felt too far-off to resist.  They turned up the street
together.  The immense voice boomed on, causing cart drivers to
stare.  It was warm and sticky outside after the cool breezes of
the roof.

"I tell you the stars cannot lie . . . they . . ."

Yes, it was true.  That was the worst of it.  If you could only
decide these things for yourself.  Then . . . then Debrülle would
not go off with Angela, for instance.  But there was something
else, something beyond your own will and desire, that did the
deciding.  All your plans were as nothing to that.  He, Anthony,
had felt it at work this morning, fate, something beyond appeal.
Things had happened.  The little cottage with the garden around it
would never rise from Toussaint's old ruin as he had pictured to
himself.  Never!  It would remain a heap of stones.

Toussaint was a fool, a fool!  Mentally Anthony took out his grief
that now lapsed into anger on that little man.  It was foolish and
sentimental, he knew.  But he had been hurt, sickened.  Someone
must be at fault.  Would that great ass of an ex-mate never stop
roaring at him?  He was sick of them all.  Of every one of them.
Of the casa, of Mr. Bonnyfeather, of Faith.  Damn her!  He couldn't
stand her any more.  To take his boy's body that night!

"The admiralty is right after all.  They will have to agree on a
line of longitude and keep one clock to that time.  Then you will
have another clock that . . ."

"Christ deliver us!"

They turned into the vaulted archway of the Casa da Bonnyfeather.
The three pairs of feet echoed hollowly.  The bell rang releasing
the clerks for luncheon.  They streamed across the yard, glad to
escape.  So would he be, he thought.  He was tired of it all, the
whole familiar scene.  There was no one by the fountain either.
Angela!  After a while as though at a distance he saw they were all
sitting down to lunch.  Vincent was trying to be merry as usual.
Toussaint was still looking sorry.  Mr. Williams rumbled.  The old
merchant sat more quietly than usual as if there was something
troubling him.  It all went on.  How hot the day was.  Suddenly he
felt someone's hand under the table laid on his knee.  Even through
silk it felt cool, but it trembled slightly.  With her other hand
Faith was fingering a spoon.

"Let me alone," he cried leaping up so that they all stared at him.

"What is it?" said Faith.

"You . . ."  He turned and ran to his room.

"Anthony is a bit ill today," said Vincent after an awkward pause.
"We had . . . er, a rather--somewhat of a go last night."

"Does he need a leech, do you think?" asked Mr. Bonnyfeather.

"I'm thinkin' ye can spare yoursel' the expanse," said McNab,
looking at Faith.  So was Toussaint.  For the first time she turned
slightly pale.

Once in his room Anthony locked himself in.  He paid no attention
when Vincent came to the door later.  He was dry-eyed now.  He
wished only to be left alone.  He walked up and down.  Then at last
he cast himself down on the bed before the madonna.  Of what good
was the outside world?  It intruded upon your own only to give
pain.  It had taken years, but now, now at last he could open his
heart up to the madonna again.  She and he were left alone as they
had been when he first came there.




CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

ICONS AND ICONOCLASTS


In times of great change it is a question whether the restlessness
of the human heart is due more to individual dissatisfaction with
experience than to the drag and flux of the age.  The two play upon
each other, reverberate, and are inextricably intermingled.  In
this interplay there is no rest to be found anywhere.  No
adjustment suffices.  Few can attain equilibrium.  The pendulum of
the time is felt trembling at one extreme, high above all heads,
and threatening them.  Men dash about underneath it like disturbed
ants.

Yet every rational being desires a "home" of some kind for body and
mind.  Men cannot act spasmodically for ever.  They finally gather
together about some standard bearer and press in some definite
direction always labelled "Forward."  No matter what the vista
ahead may be they must come to some decision at some place, be it a
battlefield marked by graves.  Here at least is a rest, an end.
Perhaps, who knows, a beginning.  The normal symptom of such times
is the feeling of the approach of war.  Usual things, moods, modes,
interests, and passions, even lusts, lose their zest.  The familiar
becomes unreal.  Foundations hitherto taken as eternal begin to
crumble.

In the last days which Anthony spent in Livorno he was intensely
possessed by, if not wholly conscious of the sensation of something
new impending.  Remembering it afterwards, his attitudes and
actions--which then and for some time later seemed inexplicable--
became plainer to him.  He could see that along with the vast
majority he had unconsciously temporarily suspended his own will in
order to drift with a new tide in the affairs of men.  Whither he
did not seem to care.  It was a relief; easier just to watch and
see what would happen to him.  Who could expect to direct, control,
or even understand so titanic a thing as the European current?  The
frantic outbreak of gambling in society everywhere, which
overflowed into the very streets of the town and obstructed the
gutters with card players and dicers, was one expression of this.
"Let fate decide."  The universe was thrown back to its original
state.  The Guessippis had been merely some of the first lambs to
be shorn.  The crowds roared now every night before the lottery.
The governor became ridiculously rich and the government bankrupt.

Against this background the patient habits of mercantile industry
as a gainful occupation began to appear silly and to disintegrate.
Minor firms began to close their doors as if by premonition.

Almost alone, in a scene that was already trembling toward chaos,
the sedate Mr. Bonnyfeather continued calmly to hang his hat on the
horns of the satyr every morning.  The counting house hummed.  To
some plan, to which he and McNab alone were privy, the store-rooms
began to empty themselves.  At Nantes, Hamburg, Rotterdam, and
London the accounts of "John Bonnyfeather, merchant," began to show
snug balances.  The grim Captain Bittern came and went with the
Unicorn upon mysterious errands under the protecting guns of
Nelson's fleet.

Anthony worked over a flood of papers, which seemed to him to have
lost all vital interest.  He made his eyes and hands do things.  He
answered and filed mechanically only to escape at noon with Vincent
Nolte.  Sometimes he looked at Toussaint working beside him.  They
no longer exchanged anything but necessary words.  He too was
feeling the electric weather of the time.

The face of Toussaint Clairveaux had become a military and
political barometer.  As the news of the successes of the French
continued to arrive, as he felt the "glorious revolution"
approaching, his countenance became more and more radiant.  He
seemed to have secret sources of information.  At the thought of
seeing the personification of all his hopes and ideals, the
invincible Buonaparte in the streets of Livorno, he glowed with an
almost ethereal enthusiasm.  Even Faith was temporarily forgotten.
He thought he did not care what might become of himself or her when
Mr. Bonnyfeather should no longer hang his hat on the horns of the
satyr.  The new age would have arrived before it was too late.

He looked at the satyr.  A small remnant of gilding still glimmered
on its horns.  It might not be too late after all.  Anthony he now
regarded as lost.  Rousseau, Toussaint now saw, was merely a John
the Baptist.  The messiah of the age was about to enter Jerusalem
in the person of Buonaparte, on a war horse.  Anthony had been
worshipping Venus.  He would not be among the elect.  His one
favourite pupil!  How he yearned over him.  "Ah, he had failed
there--that woman again!"  He sighed.  He longed to talk with
Anthony.  He was utterly alone.

The French émigrés who had settled at Milan and Florence now began
to troop through Livorno, lingering a little before going
elsewhere.  English families came and embarked.  Otto Franco did a
roaring business.  Some of the beaten Austrian battalions hustled
onto transports with the grand duke's treasure.  The town throbbed
with drums.  In the night the garrison departed.  License revelled
by moonlight while the watch tactfully proclaimed that all was
well.  Provided with letters of marque from Mr. Udney, the Unicorn
departed from the now empty quay before the Casa da Bonnyfeather,
"bound for Gibraltar."  The dray mules were sold at public auction.
On the old courtyard a strange silence had fallen.  The clerks soon
wondered what they were going to do.

It was now that Mr. Bonnyfeather began to employ Anthony on
constant trips to Mr. Udney for the execution of various documents.
Among these was a copy of his will which had been carefully drawn
just before the final departure of the Unicorn.  It was witnessed
by McNab and Captain Bittern.  It was the old merchant's care to
register it with both the local and British authorities.

Had Anthony known the contents of the document the sudden renewed
cordiality of the British consul might not have caused him so much
personal satisfaction as it did.  Mr. Udney was a practical man.
The prospect of property in a young man's future by no means
darkened it for the Englishman.  After the will was filed a slight
shade of deference crept into his attitude toward Anthony, which,
if inexplicable to that young gentleman, was none the less
flattering.

He and Vincent had of course long ago availed themselves of the
invitation to come to tea at the Udneys'.  It was not at the old
villa but at the consul's rooms over his case.  The Union Jack on a
staff and the gilded royal arms over the door gave it a certain
"dash."  Upstairs, due to the participation of the consul in the
recent satisfactory condemnations of certain prizes, the apartment
was furnished in the latest Parisian style.  Amid the heavy
travesties of Greece and Rome, shining brass wreaths and republican
fasces, Mrs. Udney's old English spinet remained with both the
voice and the appearance of a charming ghost.  Here, seated on a
great "X"-shaped chair that might have supported the bulk of Tully,
from a huge urn surmounted by a Roman eagle she poured tea.

It was the first almost English tea that Anthony had seen, or
drunk.  David Parish, who still remained constant and took Miss
Florence driving every day with her mother, passed the gingerbread,
Mrs. Udney's specialty after a youthful sojourn in Jamaica.  She
talked of the island often.  It and Nevis were the nicest places in
the world.  Florence argued for the country about Totnes in Devon
while Mr. Udney, consuming bowls of hyson from the bottom of the
urn, nodded his approval.

He loved his moors.  Please God, he would soon see them again!  He
was fifty-three and all his teeth were out.  It was time Florence
was marrying.  This chap Parish was attentive enough, good
prospects, too.  Yet there was something about Anthony that
attracted him.  Evidently the boy had crept into old Bonnyfeather's
heart.  To a good tune at that!  Unknown origin, of course.  But
good stuff, look at him.  Well, well, things would have to take
their own way, he supposed--or his wife's.  Unconsciously she and
fate had become for him, in his domestic affairs at least,
synonymous.

They had never had a son.  He had given it up.  It made him too
tired now.  He remembered that day at the villa years ago when
Florence had brought Anthony.  How the boy had moved his heart--and
that priest's, poor fellow!  They had both done well by the boy.
It was those secret impulses that counted.  They shaped the world;
made plans.  He looked at Florence talking to Anthony with a
mixture of pride and happiness.  Oh, well, let HER have a son.
He turned to his wife.  "My dear, another cup of tea, from the
lees, strong."

"Why, Mr. Udney, since when did you start to take it off the lees?"

"A long time since," he replied firmly with the immense capacity
for self-pity of the older male in his voice.

Florence was all of girlhood that Anthony had missed.  The kind of
person from the kind of family that he felt somehow he belonged to
and had been robbed of.  How easy it was to talk to her.  It was
something like talking that night to Angela but less intense, more
assured, more casually satisfactory.  Her frocks were so
fashionable--neat and clean, NOT like Angela's--softly unusual he
thought.  She was wearing a white, high-waisted gown of the new
Greek cut with a cross-ribbon binding in her waist under her
breasts.  There were little ribboned puffs on the sleeves which
covered her arms just halfway to the elbow.  She was not too plump
any more.  Long, and slim, and cool with firm legs.  Those white
sandals!  One could see her pink toes through the thin net
stockings and straps.

Florence was "Miss Udney," too.  Someone to be proud of knowing.
One's equal--or more?  A new, a right, and a nice experience, safe
from the dark magic of Faith.  His kind!

In addition, unbelievable as it might seem, Miss Udney had eyes,
nose, and lips.  And it was probable that she continued under her
dress.  But he did not care to think of that just now.  She used a
faint violet perfume.  From her emanated a fragrant coolness as of
a lush spot about a thawing spring in early April.  It was that
which caused him to lean near her and to talk in a hushed way.  And
it was difficult, he felt, for both of them not to keep on looking
at each other's eyes.  Parish evidently did not care much for this.
He kept passing the gingerbread a little too frequently.

They talked of England, mostly.  Florence had been home to school
for several years since she had seen Anthony.  Her description of
Devon made him "homesick."  He felt the same way about Florence's
country as Mr. Bonnyfeather felt about the valley of the Moselle.
It was dreamland and Utopia, only real.  England was on the map.
He and Florence were often there together, alone.  It was a comfort
to know that Angela could not come there.  No one could disturb
them as they played under the huge stones of the bridge at Post
Bridge, or looked for white heather where the moor ponies fed above
Widdecombe and watched the rabbits playing about the tors.
Florence was more graphic than she knew.  He could see it all.
Together they lingered over it in conversational dreams.  Florence
found it pleasant and effortless to talk with such a listener.
With Anthony she talked about what interested her; with Parish
about what was supposed to be interesting.  She sighed.  Yet she
had come to make herself like Parish.  He was touchingly attentive,
generous, and in love.  Her mother liked him too, she felt.

Mrs. Udney was secretly a little alarmed now over the arrival of
Anthony.  She almost wished she had not brought him around.  Parish
was getting too restive.  She had merely meant to spur him on.  He
might shy off.  She wished Anthony would join in the talk more
generally.  Finally she would go to the spinet and looking back at
them both, touch the chords of "Malbrouk s'en va-t-en guerre."
That tune always brought the colour to Anthony's face.  He felt a
boy again and awkward.  Yet it touched a chord of sympathy.
Florence remembered, too.  So for a good many afternoons it went
on.

Vincent had dropped out entirely.  The plump, Florentine banker's
daughter was more to his mind.  She had surrendered to him
furtively.  Taking tea to Vincent now seemed a waste of time.
Anthony had gone to the Strozzi's once or twice, too.  He found
Mlle. de Rhan quite intriguing.  But she had soon gone back to
Nantes.  He had promised to write and he did so once.  Vincent's
intimate details about Maddalena began to revolt him.  One did not
care to think of Vincent that way.  There was something between the
pig and the rabbit about the German.  He was kin to Arnolfo,
Anthony thought.  Smooth!  He remembered the big blonde at Signora
Bovino's crying.  So they saw less of each other.  Vincent was
troubled about this separation.  What had happened?--he wondered.
He intended to speak to Anthony about it.

But upon all this stirring about of tea leaves in cups, and
drifting of rose petals in casual breezes blew the strong wind of
war.

One afternoon Florence had seemed particularly gay and attractive.
Her face shone from some inner excitement.  Mrs. Udney had been
careful to thump the spinet more than usual.  She gathered them all
around her and made them sing.  As Anthony left Mr. Udney entered
suddenly and beckoned to him.

"Give this to your guardian," he said.  It was a sealed letter.
"Be SURE not to forget," he called.  "It is urgently important,
hurry home!"

That was the last Saturday of June 1796 when Mr. Udney's letter
apparently began to act as a solvent on the world which Anthony had
known as "Livorno" and the "Casa da Bonnyfeather."

Mr. Bonnyfeather opened the letter with his carving knife when
Anthony came in late to supper.  "As I expected," he muttered.  He
sent the waiter out and leaned forward a little pale.  McNab,
Toussaint, Faith, and Anthony sat waiting.

"The French are at Florence, the consul informs me," he finally
said.  "Buonaparte will certainly be here by Tuesday if not sooner.
That gives us about forty-eight hours to close this factory."  He
paused painfully.  The happy excitement on the face of Toussaint
died out.  They were all looking at the old merchant with pity now.
A slight flush tinged his high cheek bones as he went on.

"Not a word of this to anyone.  I shall want you, Mr. McNab,
Toussaint, and Anthony, with me in my own quarters tonight.  The
clerks must all be gone by Monday.  Everyone--but those present,"
said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "Keep the cook and one porter.  Make your
arrangements accordingly, Faith, and no delay."

They ate hurriedly.

"May I tell Vincent and the Franks?" asked Anthony as they rose.

"That is well thought of.  They should know," said Mr.
Bonnyfeather.  "But hurry back."  The Franks were enormously
grateful for the tip.

By the time Anthony returned the lights were burning in the old
merchant's room.  Piles of papers and cash bags were on the table
with McNab and Toussaint hard at work.  They made out a discharge
and a letter of recommendation for each employee, counted out the
total due each clerk plus a quarter's pay, and made a pile of the
coin.  Mr. Bonnyfeather answered any queries while he burned
correspondence steadily.  They worked all night.

Early next morning rioting broke out in the piazza.  The lottery
was closed and the money gone.  Rumours of the French advance flew
about.  The town throbbed.  At noon the British fleet anchored off
the molo under Commodore Nelson.  Save for the now frantic activity
of English departure along the docks of the Darsena the town lay
quiet under the British guns.  In the court of the Casa da
Bonnyfeather all hands gathered after lunch looking rather glum.
Mr. Bonnyfeather appeared on the steps.  The little crowd below him
uncovered.  He began haltingly but then went on gallantly enough.

"Gentlemen, Buonaparte will be in this town in a few hours.
Although England and France are not apparently at war, all British
property will undoubtedly be confiscated.  Trade is at an end.  The
gates of this establishment will never be opened again in my time
for business.  The Casa da Bonnyfeather has ceased to exist.  I
have retired."  He paused with all eyes upon him.

"I have not forgot any of you.  You will receive immediately from
Mr. McNab your full pay plus a quarter's salary gratis, also
letters of recommendation to other mercantile firms, and your
passports.  Those of you who are British subjects had best go
aboard the fleet tonight.  Do not on any pretext delay.  There are
many things I would say now but cannot.  This sudden decision is
due to the act of a tyrant who comes proclaiming liberty.  I have
done all I can for you who have served me faithfully.  Receive my
thanks, and may God be with you!"

There was a moment's dead silence.  Then the English gave a cheer.
There was a rush to pack belongings.  In a few hours the place was
as quiet as the courtyard of a ruined castle.  Outside only the
slap of a brush on the front of the establishment as a sailor
white-washed carefully over the legend "Casa da Bonnyfeather"
disturbed the silence of its now deserted quay.  Mr. Bonnyfeather
beckoned to Anthony.  They went up on the roof and hauled down both
the flags together.

"My son," said he with emotion as they locked them in the chest,
"if anyone ever raises them again it must be you."  He snapped the
lock.  Anthony stood by feeling a lump in his throat.

"And what shall we do now?" he asked.

"I shall talk about that with you later," the old man replied.
"Just now--"  He broke off and went to his room.

For some moments Anthony stood there.  The past seemed locked in
the chest.  Then he remembered the present and hastened over to the
Udneys'.  The consulate downstairs was in an uproar but Mrs. Udney,
Florence, and Parish were upstairs.

"Oh, I am so glad YOU came," Florence cried.  "We are leaving
tomorrow with the fleet."  She checked herself suddenly colouring
to the eyes.  "I did want to say good-bye, you know."

Of course, THEY would be going!  He knew that, and yet until the
last moment he had hoped not.  How much he had hoped he was aware
of only now as he looked at her standing so near him.  So Florence
was going away, too.

"All the world is going away!" he blurted out looking miserable and
depressed before he could recollect himself.  "I wish you were
staying.  Is it England?"

Her eyes suffused with tears.  "No," she said, "Rotterdam!"

"Rotterdam!" he mumbled.

"I think you had better tell Mr. Adverse, my dear," broke in her
mother.  "Florence, don't turn your back on us that way.  It isn't
polite."

"Good-bye," said the lips of Florence to Anthony though no sound
was heard.  When she turned to her mother and Parish she was gay
again with bright colour in her cheeks.

"Isn't she a little goose about it, David?" said Mrs. Udney.
"Florence wants to tell you, Anthony, that she and Mr. Parish are
engaged.  It will be announced shortly."   She looked at him
keenly.  But his face did not change now.

"Rather wooden," thought Mrs. Udney.

"I hope you will like Rotterdam as well as Totnes, Miss Florence,"
he managed to say.

"Believe me, she will," said Parish sitting down beside her with
the air of a proprietor.  "It is a fine town with lots of English
and Scotch merchants."

Anthony nodded.  He sat on his chair with his knees straight out
before him and drank his tea alone.  For the life of him he could
not think of anything to say.  He felt unaccountably sad.  Parish
talked on confidently.  As soon as he could Anthony bade them all
good-bye.  On the way down he met Mr. Udney coming up.  Anthony was
surprised by the heartiness of his good-bye.  "Good luck, my boy,
write us.  I want to hear from you!"  He caught him by the arm as
if to keep him.

"Mr. Udney, I have a great deal to thank you for.  I . . . I shall
miss you sadly.  It will be very lonely . . . with all the English
gone . . . very . . .  I--"

"Cheer up, my boy, we English always come back, you know.  You are
staying on with your guardian I suppose?"

"No, I am leaving!" said Anthony, and looked shocked.  It seemed as
if someone else had made the decision.  But he was sure of it,
sure!

"Hadn't you better consider your . . ."  began the consul.

"No, sir, I AM LEAVING LIVORNO!"  He flung out of the door.

"Humph!" said Mr. Udney and went upstairs to his wife, who was
alone now.

"Our young friend seems to be badly cut up over the recent trend of
events here."

"Does he?" she said doubtfully.

"Yes, he is going to leave.  I should think he would stay on and
look after Mr. Bonnyfeather's interests--and his own."

"His OWN?" she put down the teacup.

"Yes, didn't you know he is Bonnyfeather's heir?"

"Henry!" she cried.  "Why didn't you tell me?  Oh, you . . . you
old fool!"

She turned and began to play violently on the spinet.

"Well, I'll be damned!" muttered Mr. Udney.

Just as Anthony turned the corner of the street the strains of
"Malbrouk s'en va-t-en guerre" reached him faintly like an echo
from a past life.  He winced and clenched his fist.  Mrs. Udney
might have spared him that.  THAT settled it.  He WAS going.

With a heave of his shoulders as if he had cast off a load, he
raced to Otto Frank's.  They had a merry supper there.  That night
they watched the post-chaises and carriages dashing away southward.
Everybody, everybody was going.

About one o'clock there was a ringing bugle call at the Porta Pisa.
A few minutes later the high, clear, thrilling strain burst out at
the end of the long street.  Down the Strada Ferdinanda with a
clicking of sabres, sparks streaming from under their horses'
hoofs, and the wind whipping in their pennons streamed a squadron
of French cavalry.  The old days were done.  Only the English
finished loading goods under the guns of the fleet.

In the great hall of the mayoralty the French major swore.  Cavalry
was no good on the sea.  That had not occurred to the major before.
He was a cavalryman.  He could do nothing to stop the British.  But
he began to arrest people right and left as a relief to his own
feelings and as a proof of his zeal.

Uncle Otto was led off protesting, in his uniform coat despite the
two epaulettes now sewed on it.  Thus was the neutrality of Hamburg
wantonly outraged.  With many other important merchants of Livorno
Uncle Otto spent a miserable night locked up in an old banquet hall
at the mayoralty.  But on the lists of merchants taxable, which the
French officer conveniently used for arrests, the name of John
Bonnyfeather no longer appeared.  He had retired and was now listed
as "widower tenant of the Marquis da Vincitata, age 76, one female
housekeeper, and four servants."  The French were not arresting
"widower tenants."  Mr. Bonnyfeather slept at home.

                            ----------

He and Anthony lingered long over their breakfast next morning.  It
was pleasant in the cool of the summer morning with the great door
wide open with the long shadows in the court and the murmur of the
fountain now plainly audible in the strange quiet.  Everyone else
but he and Anthony had left earlier to watch for the arrival of the
main body of the French.

Mr. Bonnyfeather was pleased to find himself contented and relieved
at having "retired."  He would never have been able to do so
himself without the aid of circumstances.  He would have died in
harness.  Now he would have the beds in the court planted with
flowers, keep a carriage and pair and drive out when the French
departed.  He would rest his soul and die in peace here.  He had
plenty, well secured.  He would have in a few old friends to very,
very special little dinners and play chess.  Ah, he had never
permitted himself the time for that.  He must get out his notes on
combinations again.  McNab and Toussaint could stay on a little and
look after the few loose ends of things that remained, discreetly
of course.  The faintest premonitions of physical and spiritual
lethargy were pleasant this first, lovely summer morning of his
retirement.  He relaxed, stretching, with his feet under the table
and musing.  A rooster in the old mule stables crowed dreamfully.
Mr. Bonnyfeather looked at Anthony.

The lad was musing, too, but with a troubled face.  "What a strong,
lithe, young blade he had grown to be," thought the old man.  "And
how much, how much he still looked like Maria!  Ah, he would forget
that now, it was long ago.  Let the dead bury their dead."  He
started.  With his business gone this youth was the only vital
concern he still had.  Well, he would not have to conceal that any
longer, now that he was alone.  He put his hand gently on
Anthony's.

"You look troubled, my son."

"Yes," said Anthony looking up with the expression of frank
affection and confidence that had long been customary between them
in privacy, "I am greatly troubled.  I do not seem to be able to
find any comfort anywhere."

"At your age I was restless, too.  It is in the blood."

"No, it is not exactly that.  I hardly know how to begin to tell
you.  I have been thinking . . . I have been troubled by things
that have been happening to me.  I do not know just what I should
do, where I should go.  You see . . ."

"If it is about the future you need not be greatly troubled about
that.  I have made sure provision for you there, and in the
meanwhile.  This has been your home since . . ."

"Do you know anything before that?" Anthony asked by an impulse he
could no longer restrain.  "Who am I, where did I come from?  I do
not even know my birthday!  My father!"

The old man withdrew his hand suddenly.

"Oh, do not think me ungrateful, please, sir, do not think it.  It
can never be told you in words what I feel.  I know I was a
miserable orphan, a--  You have been my father.  I have read those
convent records, the day I got my last name, you remember.  But is
that all?  Don't you know--anything?"  His voice trailed off.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather sat looking into the distance.

"I have been thinking about it a great deal lately," Anthony
plunged on.  "I didn't used to, but now lately.  I will tell you
why."

Before he knew it he had plunged into the story of the horoscope at
Signora Bovino's, the whole story of Angela, the loss of Florence,
his decision to leave Livorno, even the quarrel with Toussaint.
The world seemed crumbling about him.  If he did not know who he
was he must go out and become somebody.  He even spoke of his
comfort in the madonna that seemed to link him with a past.  "To
give me some roots as if I had not just happened, been an original
creation.  I have never told anybody all this.  No one, only you.
I needed to tell you.  Don't you see?  That is all.  There is
nobody else who would understand me, man or woman."  He then
remembered Faith and stopped.

How did he instinctively know that she would understand?  He had
not thought of that before.  The thought reminded him that he not
only disliked her but feared her.  She knew, evilly!  No, he could
not speak to her, or of her.  No one should ever know about that,
only himself and the madonna.  Toussaint!  Too many knew already.
He looked at the old man anxiously.  What they saw in each other's
faces now made them both pale.

Mr. Bonnyfeather leaned forward, pondering long.  At last he spoke.

"I will show you something," said he.  Then after another long
pause--"but you must promise me on the honour of your soul, as a
gentleman--you must know what I mean by that now--never to ask me
any more questions or to try to inquire further.  Nay, I MUST ask
you something more, for my own sake.  If you are grateful to me and
love my honour, do not, even if in the future you should
accidentally find out more than I can tell you, permit your
discovery to be known.  Keep it close.  Die with it safe."  An
expression of fiery pride, that for a few seconds made Mr.
Bonnyfeather look years younger, quickened him.

"Will honour be equal to the fundamental curiosity I have aroused?
Do you understand what you promise, Anthony?  Give me your hand."
They looked at each other steadily.

"I promise you," said Anthony.

"Come," said the old merchant, and rising from the table he gravely
led the way to his room.

Under the picture of the exiled James he opened the little casket
with some difficulty.  It was years now since he had looked there,
he reflected.  In fact not since that night when Anthony had been
brought to him.  He took out the miniature of his daughter and
holding it cupped in his hands looked at it again.  It was almost
like having her come back from the dead.  A tremor shook him.

Whatever might come now, he reflected, he had protected her memory.
Even her son, if son of hers he was, should never know, should
never try to find out.  Perhaps it was a cruel promise to exact
from the boy, but he had exacted it of himself, and kept his
promise even in secret thought.  The Bonnyfeathers had preferred
ruin to disloyalty, always.  This boy--  The boy owed him much.
This should be the price, the test of loyal gratitude.  And he had
tried to teach him what "honour" was--the honour of a Bonnyfeather.

He gazed with avid eyes on the face of his child and bowed to kiss
the picture as sometimes in the night, when he knelt by the dying
ashes of his fire, he kissed the crucifix.  And by the rigid code
of his feudal soul he had no doubt but that he was doing right,
now, and to the past.  The name of Bonnyfeather was going out.  Let
it die in honour--and rest.  He turned with his icon in his hand.

"My son," he said, "come here.  I am putting our honour in your
hands."

He laid the picture in Anthony's palms.

"I believe," said he, "that she was your mother.  I am not certain,
but I think so.  That is all I can say."

Looking up at him from the locket Anthony beheld the same face that
he had seen reflected from the fountain of his dreams.  It seemed
to him as if he were peering down again as a child upon his other
self.  It was the same face that had gazed back at him that night
with Angela when the young madonna came to bathe in the pool, his
own face, and yet more lovely, tender and hazily radiant.  That was
the way his soul thought of itself, if the world would only let it
be.  As if a shadow had fallen on the water the image glimmered
away from him still laughing innocently through his tears.

"Mother, beautiful mother.  I know what I am like now.  Let me not
forget."

It was for that reason that he did not turn with an inevitable and
instinctive, "Who was she?" on his lips, despite his promise.  It
seemed to him that he already knew her as he knew himself.

He gave the picture back again, silently.

"Wait for me outside," said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "I wish to be alone
for a little."

From the ashes he began to rake together a few bits of unconsumed
branches to make a small fire.  Presently by the aid of the bellows
the coals became white hot.  He did not look at the picture again.
"Farewell, Maria, may it be soon."  He stooped low and half closed
his eyes.  The bellows sighed; the gold melted.

When Mr. Bonnyfeather returned to the old ballroom the only
material likeness of Maria which existed was that which was still
traceable to a knowing eye in Anthony's face.  The eyes which could
best trace it there were already growing dim.

"So much for the past," said the old gentleman gallantly.  "Have I
answered your question?"

"You have given me your best gift, I know it," said Anthony.  Mr.
Bonnyfeather felt his old blood warm him again.

"That was understandingly said, I think," he replied.  "I am
repaid.  We are even!  In the future you will remember that
whatever you may do for me will be in your own interest as well.
Do you understand me?"

"It has always been so before, sir!"

"It is a little more certain now."  Yet some shreds of his long
reticence were so firmly rooted in precaution that Mr. Bonnyfeather
could not bring himself to mention his will.  He preferred to
delegate the bald mention of it to another.

"Ahem . . . if I were you I would not let these youthful love
affairs make me melancholy," he went on.  "It is very seldom that
one finds happiness that way.  Our loves are both our joy and our
undoing.  Remember, it is that way life is evoked, and life is both
happy and full of sorrow.  In youth we think only of the pleasure.
I did.  I was undeceived.  Do not think that these first light
shades can darken your soul.  You are restless, too.  The times are
disturbed.  I have thought of that.  You need to change this place
for another, to go out and prove yourself on the world."

"I should not care to go to England, to college, just now," said
Anthony--thinking that Florence would not be there.

"No, I have thought of a better school than that for you.  I mean
the age itself.  Also I need you now.  It so happens that you are
the only one left who may be able to carry out a certain plan of
mine successfully.  Neither McNab nor Toussaint will do.  It is the
collection of a large sum of money long due me, about nine thousand
pounds.  It will take you to Cuba.  What do you think?"

Anthony leaned forward too eagerly to permit his interest to be
doubted.

"It is like this," continued the merchant, "you may have noticed
from our Spanish correspondence that with the firm of Don Carlos
Gallego & Son in Havana we have long had extensive dealings.  Owing
to the nature of our transactions, which were somewhat peculiar,
their payments have been in kind as well as in cash.  We would ship
them, for instance, cargoes of brass wire, calicoes, toys,
millinery, Brummagem muskets, chain shot and handcuffs, together
with horse beans, German beads, Manchester cottons, gewgaws, and
kegs of Austrian thalers coined under Maria Theresa.  It is that
last item in particular which has been costly.  Such things, you
are aware, are eventually destined for trade in Africa, and there
can be no doubt but that the firm of Gallego conducts slave
operations, both hunting and selling, on a large scale.  They in
their turn send us cargoes of palm oil, ivory, various fine woods,
and so forth.  They also remit at various times bills to our
credit.  Thus, although we were forced to extend a large credit to
these people and to carry them for long terms, the profits in the
end were so high as to warrant even the risk of the loss of an
entire cargo by pirates or guarda costas.

"As matters now stand it so happens that we have in the last three
years shipped them three cargoes and received only one in return.
A debt of an unusual amount is therefore due us, the largest
remaining on our books.  With the disturbed conditions now existing
on the high seas, and this port in the hands of the French, it will
be impossible for the Gallegos to ship us any more ivory.  We must
collect from them in cash or by bills on France or Spain, or not at
all.

"Furthermore, for over a year we have had no answer to our
correspondence, although I know our letters were delivered at
Havana.  The old Señor Gallego is honest by long proof.  He is very
old, and it is possible that he may have lately died.  Of his son I
know nothing, nor of the present condition of the firm.  There is
no way at present in Havana to collect this large debt legally.
Spain forbids all direct trade with her colonies.  Everything,
therefore, depends on the attitude of the colonial officials,
frankly upon our finesse in bribery, if we are to realize even our
own outlay.  You will therefore have to act as a private diplomat
on a ticklish mission rather than as an aggrieved creditor.  But
you speak and write Spanish, you have been instructed carefully in
the ways of trade according to my own plans, and I think I do not
flatter myself in having confidence in your intelligence, ability,
and eventual success.  A reasonable accommodation would do.  I
should expect to dispatch you with funds, and letters to my agent
in Havana.  He is an Italian, one Carlo Cibo, amply capable of
instructing you in all the villainous indirections necessary to
conduct honest business in a Spanish colonial capital.  The
temptations of the place are said to be curious--"  Mr. Bonnyfeather
then added as if by afterthought, raising his eyebrows and
twinkling--"something like Livorno it would seem.  Do you care to
hazard yourself in the enterprise?"

"It will be a dream coming true, sir.  I could not imagine anything
more to my mind."

"Perhaps?" said the old man.  "Well, well, prepare yourself for the
journey.  Consult McNab about what you will take.  He knows Havana
from old times.  We shall take the first opportunity of getting you
off.  A neutral ship would be best now if one happens along.  The
neutrals will profit by these troubles.  But we shall see.  Here
comes your friend Vincent bubbling with news."

Vincent was indeed afire with excitement.  The French were entering
the town in full force now.

"They expect Buonaparte directly.  I thought you might both like to
come over and watch from our windows when he arrived.  Uncle Otto
has been released but he has been badly scared and is in bed."

Mr. Bonnyfeather would not go, however.

"I shall not go so far as to imitate your uncle but it will be
wisest for me to stay here.  You go, Anthony."  He waved them out
and remained sitting in his chair while Vincent and Anthony
hastened to Otto Franco's.  The streets and the piazza were
thronged.

Mr. Bonnyfeather took a book from the sleeve of his wadded dressing
gown and began to read.


                       Britannia Rediviva

A Poem on the Birth of the Prince, Born on the tenth of June, 1688.


How different it would have been for John Bonnyfeather, for
instance, if that prince had reigned.  The old Jacobite, a compound
of feudal sentimentality and commercial acumen, read on, allowing
his dreams of what might have been to warm his heart with ghostly
comfort in the silence of the deserted house.  Suddenly the pomp of
the courtly verse seemed to take on for him a peculiarly personal
meaning.  A good omen for Anthony's voyage, he thought, a light on
the past.  He lingered over the lines:


      Departing spring could only stay to shed
      Her blooming beauties on her genial bed,
      But left the manly Summer in her stead,
      With timely fruit the longing land to cheer,
      And to fulfil the promise of the year.
      Betwixt the seasons came the auspicious heir,
      This age to blossom, and the next to bear.


Well, he had seen the blossom.  And he would not have to bear the
next age.  Thanks to the Virgin that would rest on other, younger
shoulders!  "Anthony, my son, my son."

The thunder of the cannon of the departing British fleet saluting
the Tuscan flag still flying on the castle startled him and made
him drop Dryden to the floor.  So they were going!  All safe.  The
pulse of the French drums could be heard answering coming through
the Porta Pisa.

Half an hour later there was a roar from the crowd.  The tricolour
had taken the place of the grand duke's ensign.  But John
Bonnyfeather had not heard that.  He was sleeping peacefully an old
man's nap in the afternoon sun.  Only the echoes of the outside
world whispered in the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  On the shadowed wall
behind the merchant a faded Sisyphus was trying to roll a huge rock
up an impossible hill while various imps were laughing at him.
About two o'clock the gate clicked and Faith came stealthily across
the court in her bonnet.  She looked down at the old merchant
sardonically, smiled, and passed on to her room noiselessly.

Meanwhile from the upper windows of the Casa da Franco Anthony,
Vincent, Toussaint, and the Franks, with the exception of Uncle
Otto, were watching the arrival of the French.  When the castle was
seized Governor Spanocchi had been found there and was now brought
to the mayoralty at his own urgent request under guard.  The crowd
howled at him for its lottery money, which he was shrewdly enough
thought to have shipped off with the town treasure chests.  About
two o'clock the cannon from the castle were heard firing vainly at
a few English ships just steering out of the roads.

Shortly afterwards a column of French cavalry came galloping down
the Strada Ferdinanda with a magnificent horseman at their head.
He was at first taken for General Buonaparte and was cheered by a
radical mob.  It was Murat.  He dismounted and began to arrange a
fitting reception for the conqueror.

The governor and his staff were forced to get into gala uniform.
The various foreign consuls were assembled.  Uncle Otto was made to
get out of bed and put on his official coat.  His pallor was
extreme.  It took a great deal of beer and the reassurances of both
Vincent and Anthony to get him across the narrow street.  Amid the
crestfallen group of city officials and important merchants dragged
out for the occasion and standing uneasily on the steps of the
mayoralty just opposite, his shoulders sloped most disconsolately.
His nephew waved to him from the window, but in vain.

As usual with all military occasions an interminable delay now took
place.  The crowd grew restive, insolent, and was squeezed against
the walls by the French horses for its trouble.  Cries and curses
arose, the screams of a child.  Presently a little girl was carried
away gasping and moaning.  She had been trampled by a horse.
Toussaint looked down pale and shocked.  He could not bear the
noise the child had made.  Just then the police knocked at the door
ordering every house to illuminate that night.  "Liberty" had
officially arrived.  One must rejoice now or go to prison.

Anthony laughed and began to quote Rousseau at Toussaint.  Then he
was ashamed of himself for his thoughtless cruelty.  The face of
his old tutor was haggard with disappointment.  For the first time
in months Anthony took him by the hand and with quiet remorse
begged his pardon.  He could see that it was a real crisis for the
idealistic little Frenchman.

"Toussaint, mon maître, you who were so sweet to me when I was a
little boy--how could I be so cruel!  Do you not know I love you?
What has just happened, do not think of it.  The child!  It was a
cruel accident.  The hero is yet to arrive.  Be yourself, a
philosopher as always."

The little man looked up at him with so great a thankfulness in his
face as to touch Anthony infinitely.  He could never forget that
bland, sweet look.  How foolish their misunderstanding had been.
About what?  About Faith!

"You forgive me that blow, then, mon vieux?" Toussaint asked.

Anthony reached over and rumpled the short curls on the little
man's head.

"There," he said, "an insult for an insult!  Now we are even."
They walked back to the window again arm in arm.

The drums in the piazza had begun to roll.  A sharp command could
be heard.  As they looked out together a thousand sabres flashed
out as one.  In the late afternoon sunlight it seemed as if the
arrival of Jove were being announced by a steel lightning and
thunder.  A noise of galloping horses and wheels was heard in the
distance.  The world craned its neck.

Down the Strada Ferdinanda a plain carriage drawn by grey horses
and followed by a few mud-splashed guards careened into sight.  It
was moving at great speed.  A small, hatless, pale man with his
lank hair blowing in the wind was leaning back in the middle of the
rear seat reading a book.  He paid no attention whatever to the
roars of the crowd.  As the carriage turned into the piazza the
heavy, rear artillery wheels with which it had been fitted
described a quarter circle on the cobbles, grating hideously.  The
man in the carriage sat up at the same instant and tossed his book
out into the street.  Some urchins scrambled for a treatise on
ballistics which fluttered and fell among them like a hurt
butterfly.  Another flash of lightning, the sabres came to salute.
The carriage stopped with a jerk before the mayoralty.

The pale young man, who now seemed, as he sat bolt upright to
occupy not only the entire carriage but the piazza as well, put on
his hat and saluted.  Flash, flash, and the sabres grated back in
their scabbards.  The men sat at attention like ragged, equestrian
statues with bronze faces.  Murat came down the steps to meet
Buonaparte.

"Well, general," said a high clear voice which would have been
feminine had it not been so crisp and accusatory.  "So you were too
late!"

"The ships had already gone, mon général . . ."  began Murat when
he was cut short.

From the carriage an accusatory finger pointed at the group on the
steps.  It was fixed on Uncle Otto.

"Is that an English uniform I see?"

"No, padrone," moaned the terrified little German.  "No!  Questa e
l'uniforma di Amburgo!"

Even the troopers grinned with their general.  "PADRONE!"

"HAMBURG!" said Buonaparte as if he had already abolished the
place, and got out of the carriage.  He ran up the steps and took
the governor's sword which was held out to him like a bodkin.

"I shall expect you to provide my troops with ration, fodder,
clothing and shoes, especially shoes," shouted the little man
looking at Spanocchi like a small eagle.  "That is what you exist
for now.  See to it that the requisitions are filled."

"The dearth is extreme, Highness," faltered the poor man used only
to addressing Austrian superiors.  "The prices . . ."

"Tut, tut!  Omelettes are inflated due to the extreme scarcity of
eggs.  You talk like a merchant, now GO!  Hullin," said he
turning to a tall major of grenadiers, "I appoint you city major.
Comb out the place.  Do not be such a simpleton as you were at
Pisa.  If they have let the English go, make them pay.  Money!
Take the shoes off their feet.  Court-martial the governor.  Act as
if you were still taking the Bastille again."

He swept his eyes about the piazza, as though noting who was there
to see and hear.  For ten seconds or more he seemed to be looking
directly into the Franks' window at Anthony and at Toussaint whose
face worked with emotion.  He whispered something to Hullin, who
glanced up and shook his head.

"A fine welcome you give me here," he continued turning now on the
quaking merchants.  From the window across the narrow street
Anthony and Vincent could see him clearly and hear every word.  His
voice rose to a high pitch.

"Do not doubt it.  I shall give the English a final lesson.  I
march on Vienna and then northwards.  Hamburg, every hiding place
of these water rats shall be ferreted out, swept clean.  Then their
island next."  He beat his left leg with his gauntlets.  The leg
trembled.  Livorno was a bitter disappointment.  He had seen the
sails of Nelson glimmering away as he entered.  Beckoning to an
adjutant he reseated himself in the carriage.

To Toussaint it seemed as if Buonaparte had turned on the crowd the
unseeing glance of a mummy.  There was no speculation in those
eyes.  Only dull flashes as from the fires of Stromboli over the
horizon at night.  He was pallid, yellow.  His long, sleek, jet-
black hair dangled around his face like the locks of a Seminole
Indian threading the swamp.  He sat there diminutive, youthful, in
a worn simple uniform with gloom on his brow.

"No light," thought Toussaint.  "Bon Dieu! no light!"

The sabres flashed only lightning once more.  Hullin stood on the
carriage steps in an attitude of profound respect listening to some
last muttered admonitions.  Then as suddenly as he had come, and
with the same ominous rumble of wheels, Buonaparte was gone.

To Anthony looking down from the window, watching all this, there
had come that inexplicable feeling that his own fate had somehow
been laid in the hands of the little man whom he had watched
getting in and out of his carriage.  How and why?  Out of what
immense ramifications of events had the threads of his own
existence been laid in those hands?  One thin thread to be sure,
but it was bound up and woven into that thick rope of Europe, those
millions of other gossamers tangled into a strong strand by which
the world was to be towed along for a while; towed out of stagnant
waters into new.

It was a curious thing, but of all the thousands of eyes that had
looked on Buonaparte that day in Livorno there was scarcely a pair
but took this for granted.  For a few moments Anthony had actually
watched a section of that strand running through those nervous,
white hands.  It was a relief to have them gone.  He felt as if he
had to recapture the skein of his own life again.  He did not know
where it might lead, but at least he could follow it now himself,
even if blindly.  "To Havana," Mr. Bonnyfeather said.  Anywhere, as
long as it led away from Livorno.

For months past all the threads in the town had been warped out of
the normal blocks and pulleys through which they ran.  All the
world now seemed out of gear.  His own thread had slipped clear off
the familiar pulley where it had been running in what might have
become a ceaseless round.  Now it flapped free, was hurtling off
into the unknown.  He was glad of that.  It would not be his hands
only that would rig it to the tackle of life again.  No, there was
a strong mysterious drag on it, he felt.  He would see the world
now.  Never could he see enough of it.  The void of his first ten
years was still deep as a well.  One lifetime was not sufficient to
fill it.  He turned from the window with an unconscious gesture of
hail and farewell to find himself in the Franks' room with
Toussaint sitting on the sill beside him.  The little man sighed.

"It was the gloomy face of a tyrant, Anthony," he said.

Uncle Otto came in trying to recover face and exclaiming
"Birbante!"  His wife and the little girl and Vincent did their
best to soothe him.  The small ego of Uncle Otto had met something
so cosmic that he looked shattered.

Anthony and Toussaint walked home together, the latter gloomy.  But
that night at supper Faith began to talk with Toussaint and
actually smiled at him.  Sunlight burst in upon the little man and
shone again from his face.  To Anthony there was something sinister
about it all.  Yet he was surprised to find that much as he
disliked Faith he did not care to have her kind to Toussaint.  He
was enraged with himself at this.  What strange unknown depths were
in him?  Actually he could not tell himself what kind of person he
was.  What would he do under new circumstances in other worlds?
Who and what was he?

He sat half-undressed on the edge of his bed pondering.  Now he
knew why Mr. Bonnyfeather had said, "God keep you."  You did not
even know who you were yourself.  The face in the miniature came
back to him now with comfort.  That was what he wanted to be like.
Only this morning he had felt he was like that, his mother!  Part
of him.  Who and what was the other part?  He wondered.  But he
could never ask now.  His father!

"Father, mother, father, mother," he kept saying the words over
again trying to give them some reality, shape, and memory.  He was
somebody's son.  He would some day be a father.  Angela might have
a child!  He had not thought of that.  What did it all mean?  These
human words had always had a sound of prayer about them, still had.

"Mother, son, father--Holy mother," he turned to the Madonna on the
wall.  The old formulas sprang to his lips full of new meanings.
It was a relief to be able to pray that way again!  He had not been
able to do so for so long.  Not until the other day.  Whatever he
might do he was not to be left alone.  The misery, restlessness,
and youthful despairs of the past hectic months rushed from his
lips in a whispered confession to the Virgin.  All doubt had
vanished with the blessed relief.  Was she not there, on the wall,
in heaven, as always!  Had she not come to him in his dream with
Angela, young and beautiful?  He and the Virgin were very old, very
old together.  He had seen her that night as his soul remembered
her, looking back through ancient doors of birth and death made
transparent by the light of eternal passion breaking through them.
Before, now, and forever, he had seen her merging with the waters
at the root of the great tree as he remembered her in the
springtime of the world.

"Ah, they called her mother, mother of sorrows.  But she was mother
of joy as well.  Yes, he believed that.  She was sitting there now,
as always, with the child in her arms.  But in the dream there were
two of them.  The other heavenly twin had come back.  Who was he,
that lost one?  Was he like Anthony lost for a while on earth?  Was
he Anthony?  Anthony who could return to her knees, in dreams?  Ah
God! if he could only lay his head on her breast!  Be rocked to
sleep there as he never had been, forget and forget, already he
would forget."

He drew near to her in a dreamful mood in which the life within him
seemed to leave his body sitting breathing, while he drew closer to
her against the wall.  He laid his head there and kneeled looking
at her head lost among the stars.  Silence and peace and silence.
To be and not to think, only to know and feel.  Ecstasy.

At last he opened his eyes again and found that he really was
kneeling against the wall.  By the dim light that burned before
her, very dim, except about the little shrine, he seemed to see her
now more clearly than ever before.  His eyes were wide awake and
rested.  They were made to peer into far spaces.  It was not
necessary even to wink.  He looked steadily and easily at the
statue.

It seemed to him as he saw her there now as the madonna of his
dreams, but older, sweeter, with something more tender, more human,
the mystic woman of the fountain touched and wafted by some
ineffable experience into a being far more beautiful, sympathetic,
and divine.  And it seemed now to him, too, that for the first time
he saw she was holding the child out to him as if he should draw
near and touch it.  He had been like that once.  Was he now?
Partly perhaps.  The child was her son.  Father Xavier had told him
the story.  Born in the rocky stable amid the oxen under the stars.
And there had been more to that story.  It was about the babe after
he became a man.  He had thought very little about that.  Perhaps
he should think more.  Why did she hold him out that way?  Should
he really draw near and touch him?  He put out his hand.  Then he
saw that the child was still sleeping on her breast.  He dared not
awaken him.  Not yet.  "After a while," he thought.  It was as
though his lips went on speaking another's words.  "After a while
when you find him again."

Late in the night he awakened cold.  He was still leaning against
the wall, but the light had gone out.  It was dark now.  He
slipped, half dressed as he was, under the covers and slept
exhausted.  Next morning the room for the first time for months
seemed washed with a happy light as he woke.

"There will not be many more mornings here," he thought.  How quiet
and how home-like it was.  He pressed his cheek against the pillow
enjoying it and whistling softly.  How wonderful, and after all how
happy his days had been here!  A light tap sounded on his door.

"Anthony, are you awake yet, my boy?" said the kindly voice of Mr.
Bonnyfeather.  "Get up and dress yourself.  I have news for you."

Anthony smoothed out the dent on the pillow where his head had been
and put on his clothes.  In the big room they were already at
breakfast.  The court lay quiet and serene in the morning sun with
the shadows withdrawing from it as if by magic.




CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

FAREWELLS AND EPITAPHS


"Your ship has come in, Anthony," said Mr. Bonnyfeather.  "At least
I hope it has," he added hastily, smiling at the involuntarily
prophetic nature of the remark.

"Nolte sent word this morning.  It is an American brig and he and
his precious uncle will be taking advantage of this neutral to get
rid of some of their anxious travellers.  Frau Frank must have had
her hands full feeding a dozen or more at once.  You and McNab go
down and look her over.  If it is necessary you might ask her
captain to supper tonight.  I might persuade him to make your
voyage direct.  But be careful, arrange everything if you can,
yourselves.  We do not want to attract notice here just now.  So
far the French have ignored us.  You will have to avoid all
clearance papers."

The old man turned to his latest London newspaper which he scanned
anxiously.  A month ago war seemed inevitable, he noted anxiously--
over his chop.

Anthony and McNab hurried through breakfast and went down to the
quay at the lower end of the Darsena.  A trim little brig was
warped in close to the dock but not into the slip.  She had springs
on her cables, and running his eye aloft McNab noted that, while to
an unprofessional glance the canvas might seem snugly furled, it
was stowed so as to be let go if necessary with a run.

Anthony liked the ship.  He had never met anything quite like her.
She appeared a little more frail and bird-like than any other craft
he had seen.  From her sharp bows blew back the carved eagle
feathers of an Indian chief's head-dress.  His hooked nose seemed
to snuff the surges.  The masts raked aft at a sharp angle and were
stayed so tautly that the standing rigging hummed in the morning
breeze.  Her deck was spotless.  Between the two masts was a "long
tom" carefully covered with canvas.  Aft, the box over the
captain's cabin rose above the quarter-deck.  Even in port her
hatches were battened down.  Except for these, and her polished
wheel and hooded binnacle, there seemed nothing else on deck.

"All a-tanto and not a soul aboard?" grunted McNab.

They walked down past the brig a little farther giving their eyes a
sailor's treat.  The wind whipped the ensign out over the water.
It flowed out into the breeze curling with long tiger streaks.  On
a blue field a circle of stars seemed whirling about nothing.  It
was the first time Anthony had seen the Stars and Stripes.  Then,
just around the corner of the galley, they saw what ever afterwards
he thought of as the spirit of the ship.

Seated in a sea-chair lashed to two large wooden half-moons sat
rocking contentedly, and with an air of self-possession that only
she herself could convey, a prim, bony woman with extraordinarily
pointed lips.  She was knitting a positively gigantic stocking with
the heaviest yarn imaginable, and for every stitch and click of her
needles she twisted the extreme tips of her lips.  It looked as if
she silently whistled.  At the distance of a few yards they stood
looking at her over the water as at an apparition.  On McNab and
Anthony she did not bestow a glance.  For a while they watched time
being destroyed while the stocking grew.

"Ahoy, the brig there," said McNab at last tentatively.

"EE-lisha," said the woman without missing a stitch and
continuing to rock, "Ee-LISHA!"

"Comin' on deck," said a deep voice from the cabin with a restraint
so abject as to make McNab grin.  A red-faced man with an iron-grey
beard and cold blue eyes stuck his head through the aft sliding
hatch and looked at them.

"Ahoy, the brig," said McNab again.

"Ahoy, the dock there," said the man and glowered.  The woman
continued to knit.  It seemed to Anthony as if they had reached an
impasse.  McNab cleared his throat.

"If you'll waft us a wee bit o' a skiff, captain," said he, "I'll
put that in your lug will belike warm your pocket."

"Aye?" said the man.  "Philly!"

A darky stuck his head out of the galley.

"Fetch the gentlemen."

"The crew are ashore," he bawled.  "Ye won't mind having the cook
get ye, I hope," he continued, evidently to Anthony, who was
dressed like a merchant's clerk.

"Not at all," said Anthony, "if he's a good cook."

"Best 'tween here and Boston," replied the captain.

"He ain't," said the woman.

The little boat sculled by the negro danced to them over the few
yards of harbour.

"It's na miracle the French hae no seized yon brig," said McNab as
they were ferried across.  "Yon carline wi' her knittin' needles
would stand off Buonaparte I'm thinkin'."


                             WAMPANOAG
                         Providence, R. I.


gleamed across the duck-like stern as they passed.  They climbed up
the dangling ladder and found themselves on deck in the tremendous
white light that beat about the rocking chair.

"Good morning, ma'm," said McNab touching his hat, despite himself
a little sneakily.

The woman missed one stitch.  "Ee-lisha," she said.

"Come below," roared the captain.

At the foot of the ladder they found themselves standing in the
most peculiar captain's cabin imaginable.  It was neither a ship's
cabin nor a New England parlour.  It was both.  There were four
bunks built into the ribs of the ship.  Two of these like Dutch
beds were provided with folding shutters.  The two, round stern
windows were curtained with an effeminate lace.  Under each of
these eyes was a chest painted pure white, labelled respectively
"Jane" and "Elisha."  Between the two chests the great keel beam of
the ship curved out like a nose and widened toward the floor as if
it were trying to expand its bolted nostrils.

The effect of all this was to give the aft end of the cabin with
its half-curtained eyes the appearance of a peculiarly bestial face
trying to be coquettish in a lace night-cap.  As he looked at the
two chests standing out like white, bared tusks from the cheeks of
this sinister countenance, Anthony felt as Red Riding-hood must
have when she first began to realize that her grandmother was a
wolf.

But if the cabin was sinister toward the stern it made up for it by
being safely domestic forward.  Lashed to the ship's ribs by a
perverse puzzle of beautifully intricate knots was a mahogany
sideboard of undoubtedly genteel lineage.  Its gracefully curved
limbs seemed straining outward.  The lady was plainly being held
there against her will--facing the wolf.  A sturdy, manly sea-desk
near by watched this perpetual crisis indifferently.  It was
stuffed with ship's papers to the point of self-importance and it
wore a plume pen in its inkstand hat with an air of "business or
nothing."

Anthony and McNab sat down upon two chairs spiked to the deck while
the captain seemed to preside from the chest labelled "Elisha."

"Captain Ee-lisha Adonijah Jorham of Providence Plantations, New
England," said the red-faced man looking at them with level eyes.
"Gentlemen, at yer service.  She," he continued jabbing upward with
one thumb, "is my wife, Mrs. Jorham.  She was a Putnam--ONCE."
He lowered his voice slightly.

Having no means of controverting this McNab and Anthony introduced
themselves.  It was not long before the captain and McNab had taken
each other's measure.  Yankee had met Scot.  Both were interested
in each other and fenced carefully.  Ten minutes went by and
neither had learned anything.

"I'm thinkin'," said McNab, "that the deil will soon be dizzy
gangin' aroond the bush.  Let's talk till the point."

Captain Elisha opened his chest and took out a bottle of rum.  As
he did so, as if by prearrangement, his wife came down the ladder
and stood knitting.  She would not sit down.  The captain sighed.
Nevertheless, the discussion went on.

After an hour it appeared that the captain would be glad to
consider a voyage to Havana on charter terms, provided he was
allowed to make certain ports of call on the way.  Yes, he knew of
course of Mr. Bonnyfeather, and of the conditions at Livorno.  On
their mutual dislike of the French he and McNab almost clinched the
bargain.  Then the captain sheered off.  He would prefer to sign
with Mr. Bonnyfeather himself.

But there were to be no papers, reminded McNab.  It would not do
now.  Mr. Bonnyfeather was no longer in business.  It might
compromise him.  This was to be a purely private affair.  Merely to
take the young gentleman to Havana.  It could all be arranged
verbally.

All the more reason then for seeing the merchant personally, said
the captain.  It was McNab's turn to sigh.  Mr. Bonnyfeather, he
knew, would not drive so close a bargain as might be.  Nevertheless,
he was forced to play his last card and invite the captain that
night to dinner.  In the presence of the lady Anthony thoughtfully
added her to the invitation.

"What do you say, Mrs. Jorham?" asked the captain.  All realized it
was a final appeal.

"I won't mind some shore fixin's--if they're turned out right," she
added noncommittally.  "Ye might send Philadelphy along with that
Bank tartle to help out.  I'm plum worn out watchin' the critter
tryin' to get away."

"Like the sideboard, ma'm?" said Anthony unable to restrain
himself.  The captain laughed.

"Young man," said she icily, "where might YE be expectin' to
spend etarnity?"  Her mouth pointed.

"Wall, wall," cried the captain trying to move them out before the
threatened gale could break.  "At eight then, after dark.  I'll
mind the patrols.  So long now."  He looked with an approving but
anxious eye at Anthony.  The knitting had stopped and his wife was
watching.

"I don't care if I do," said McNab pouring himself a drink from the
square bottle and tossing it off.  "A wee doch-an-dorris, noo. . ."

But no sooner had his hand left the bottle the first time than it
was seized by Mrs. Jorham and deposited in the chest marked "Jane."
It was the first drop that had passed, and the last for any of
them.  A parched twinge wrinkled the lips of Captain Elisha, but he
waved them out as his wife locked the chest.  They went.

"A watched bottle never gurgles," said McNab as they went down the
ship's side.  In the cabin the typhoon had burst.

"'Twas an ill jest o' yours, laddie.  If you sail in yon ship
you're no like to hae heard the last o' it.  Losh!"

The captain, his face more fiery than before, was hailing them.

"I'll send the nigger with the tartle," he shouted at the dock.
Then he must have heard the voice of his mate calling him, for he
dived below.

                            ----------

The dinner for the Jorhams was to be an unusual feast; one not for
business alone.  Indeed, McNab had been instructed to return to the
brig and to arrange for Anthony's passage on the captain's terms.
He had done so.  He and Philadelphia had returned with the turtle
which was killed in the courtyard amidst immense curiosity.  Dinner
was to be a memorable, final feast.

Mr. Bonnyfeather had planned it with a double motive.  As a
farewell to Anthony it was to be a merry one.  He would spare
Anthony the sadness of a sorrowful parting and he would also spare
himself the lonely, private agony of a good-bye that he scarce
dared to face.  "The last, the dear last of us all," he thought
looking at the boy's golden head.  They sat in his room together
talking, making last arrangements, pausing, and reverting to
familiar topics as one goes back to look at something for the last
time.

Faith was very busy outside packing Anthony's chests.  They could
hear her moving about in the hall.

"I suppose you will be taking the madonna with you, Mr. Anthony,"
she said coming in suddenly.

"Oh," said he getting up.  He had almost forgotten her.  "YES,
wrap her up carefully.  Put her in the big chest."

Faith nodded.  So she would see the last of THAT, she thought.
She turned the thing face downward and closed the lid.  "Farewell
to the bad luck of a Paleologus!"

In the room Anthony and Mr. Bonnyfeather sounded very merry.  But
it seemed to both of them at times that the misty landscapes on the
wall were hazier than usual.  The old man lighted his candles.  He
wiped his spectacles and put them on again several times.  Thus
they both talked through the long twilight as if they would always
be able to do so till evenings were no more.  At eight o'clock the
guests arrived.

It fell to Anthony that evening to do the honours.  He found
Captain Elisha and Mrs. Jorham, the latter assisted gingerly by
Philadelphia, climbing down in the court from a high-wheeled cab.
The captain was dressed in a homespun suit so tight that it gave
him the cherubic outlines of an overgrown cupid.  Mrs. Jorham
trailed behind her a long sea-green skirt of a mid-century,
colonial vintage.  Into this ocean of faded velvet a pointed bodice
thrust violently like the bow of a ship.  Above it her head rose
like a teak figurehead.  She carried a canvas umbrella with
whalebone ribs and what appeared to be a spar for a handle.  On the
end of the spar was a yellow ivory ball like a doll's head.  The
whole affair, which had a belligerent air about it, flapped about
the point, bulged in the middle, where its hips might have been,
and was tied about the waist with a rope.  As Mrs. Jorham stood in
the court holding it maternally close to the folds of her skirt it
appeared to be her bashful replica in miniature and might have been
her female child.

"Philly," said she, "take my umbreller."  The captain laid his pea-
jacket over the darky's other arm.  Holding these objects
majestically before him, Philadelphia ushered them up the steps.

The Americans seemed to have learned from the Indians the savage
custom of shaking hands.  They shook hands with Mr. Bonnyfeather,
with Anthony, with McNab, with Faith, solemnly and with malice of
forethought.  It looked as if Captain Elisha would shake hands with
himself when his eye fell upon the dinner-table already set with
many glasses.  He and Mr. Bonnyfeather disappeared to talk business
while Anthony was left alone with Mrs. Jorham and the umbrella.

They sat facing each other on two heavy gilt chairs.  Seemingly at
a vast distance from them in the great apartment the white round of
the table, much enlarged for the occasion, lay in a cheerful glow.
But by contrast all the rest of the room was in darkness.  The
folds of the angular woman's skirt swept around her and into the
shadows.  Above them in the twilight gleamed the bony ribs and the
pale ivory knob of the umbrella.  She seemed to emanate a kind of
masterful, yet maternally-virtuous disapproval of everything, whose
only softening influence was a touch of lugubrious woe.  Having
said "how" to this chieftainess in whalebone, Anthony was now at a
loss.  He could not shake hands again.  At the very thought he
started to smile.  The woman's lips pointed indignantly.

"I trust," said she, "that ye haven't spent the arternoon jokin'.
Ye seemed in an idle mood this mornin'.  It was not that I object
to what ye said about my sideboard!  It was yer levity in comparin'
it to a woman."

"I have been getting ready to leave home all afternoon, Mrs.
Jorham.  I can assure you there was not much levity in that, and I
was not idle."

Mrs. Jorham looked somewhat mollified but nevertheless shook her
head doubtfully.  "Mere earthly consarns are not sufficient.  You
should cast your eyes above."  Anthony looked surprised.  "Unless
you have devoted some time during the day to prayer you may
consider it wasted, you know."  She laid her umbrella across her
knees and folded her hands in her lap.

Embarked thus on the pursuit of her favourite quarry, the soul, she
began to feel more congenial.  In the semi-darkness her outline
lost much of its rigidity.  She cuddled the umbrella.  It no longer
seemed likely that she might open it in the twilight and flit off
on the wings of a bat.  There might even be shelter under it for
two.  Anthony wondered about the captain.

"Whenever I'm fixin' to make a v'y'ge," snapped Mrs. Jorham, "I go
in for extensive prayer.  V'y'ges are solemn things.  Ye can never
tell.  I pack my duds in the mornin', all but the scriptures, and I
usually goes to the ta-own churchyards in the arternoon and takes
the good book along for reference.  There's nothing like a few
chice epitaphs and a little solemn scripture to put you in a frame
of mind fit to go to sea.  It makes your petitions gin-uine, the
kind that goes straight through to the marcy seat.  I tell ye I
know it.  Have ye any clever graveyards here?" she inquired
suggestively.

"Several," said Anthony, "but most of the clever epitaphs are in
Latin."

"That's the way in heathen parts," she went on.  "I am glad to tell
that it's dyin' out at home.  I must say Latin's Greek to me,
although I was a Putnam."

"Do the Putnams speak Latin like the Jesuits?" asked Anthony.  He
wondered if they were tonsured, too.

"Nope, they don't need it to git along in Bosting, and most of my
family round Nuburyport went in for rum and ile.  But all of 'em
got fine epitaphs.  Granite stones, too.  Not a soapstone in the
lot.  No, siree."  The lady paused triumphantly.

"Ye ever been to my pa-arts?"

Anthony shook his head regretfully.

"Well, sir, there's a fine parcel o' ta-owns in New England.  A
feast for Christian eyes with white churches and neat houses.  The
snow comes regular and kills off the roaches.  We don't have
critters except what comes in ships from Jamaiky and other foreign
pa-arts.  But the best thing about the ta-owns is the clever
graveyards.  I've seen a sight of 'em all up and da-own the cyoast.
But they Southern planters sleeps too proud o' their own private
plots!  You'd think Gabriel was goin' to call ra-ound and give some
souls a separate toot.  No, sir, there'll be just one long, common
blast, and them that sleeps late'll fry.  One o' the slickest
churchyards I ever see was at Bridgewater, Mass.  I spent a hull
week there.  Visitin'!  I got them inscriptions pat.  Some of 'em
was poetry.  Here's one:  'Here lies buried Mrs. Martha Alden, the
wife of Mr. Eleazer Alden, who died 6 January, 1769, aged 69
years.'"  Mrs. Jorham broke into song.


     "The resurrection day will come,
      And Christ's strong voice will burst the tume;
      The sleeping dead, we trust, will rise
      With joy and pleasure in her eyes,
      And ever shine among the wise.
      A-men."


The nasal tune twanged its way about the mouldering frescoes.  It
seemed to curl up among the clouds that had once been rosy with a
false dawn but were now like rolling billows of blue and grey smoke
through which the chariots of the gods plunged in a growing
twilight.

"It'll do the heathens good," said Mrs. Jorham rolling her eyes
aloft and askance.  "And that naked man rolling his barrel in hell.
Well, I cala-late their clothes WOULD singe off, but it don't
seem right.  I wouldn't allow even the damned to expose
themselves."

Anthony sat silent in sheer amazement.  The woman was evidently
having a good time.  He remembered having read about persons like
this in Mr. Bonnyfeather's Protestant books.  There was, for
instance, "The female Saint of Wimbledon."  What was it, that
phrase the old author used, a classical scholar, he was, oh, yes,
"That chaste Diana of endangered souls,"--something, something,
rolls--


     "The heat of pious ardour lit her face
      As through the wood of error roared the chase,
      Acteon-like the heretic was torn
      While scornfully she wound her Christian horn."


And so on ad infinitum.

O lord! he wished Vincent would come.  He could hear the snatch of
harmony at Signora Bovino's ringing out now as if his mind were
defending itself automatically.  Undoubtedly he was being chased.


     "In memory of Capt. Seth Alden--
      The corpse in silent darkness lies
      Our friend is gone, the captain dies . . ."


"Thar she spa-outs, and thar she bla-ows," roared the voice of

Captain Elisha who emerged just then from the corridor with Mr.
Bonnyfeather.  They had clinched their bargain over a bottle of
rum, at least the captain had, and he was not what might be termed
his better self.

"Has that old cachalot been spa-outin' dirges to ye, young man?
I'm sorry for ye, plum sorry!"  He clapped Anthony on the back.  "A
little sea-vility, a little sea-vility is what you Putnams need to
larn, Jane.  I allers said so.  I'm the man to larn yer.  The
idear.  I kin smell them tumes right through the tartle soup."

"Ee-lisha, ye've been drinkin'," said his wife sniffing something
else than turtle soup.

"I hev.  And what's more I'm goin' right on for the rest of the
evenin' and ye can belay yer temperance drip and MO-lasses."  He
looked approvingly at the table.  "Philly, is that potage
perfected?"

"It air, suh!"

The captain made a gesture which in its generous expansiveness
included the more remote members of the solar system.  "Come on,"
said he, and led Mr. Bonnyfeather by the arm to his own table.

"Mr. Adverse," said Mrs. Jorham in a voice now so subdued that
Anthony felt sorry for her, "don't forget what I have been tellin'
ye.  Do a graveyard or two, before . . ."

"Belay them sepelchrees, Jane," called her husband.

But Anthony promised and saw that he had made a friend.  Slipping
her arm in his they advanced to the table.

"Madame," said Mr. Bonnyfeather escaping, "you will also permit me
to do some of the honours."  He seated her on his right.  All the
gentlemen now took their chairs, and with this display of manners
Mrs. Jorham was obviously touched.  She permitted herself a dab at
her eyes.

"Ye make me feel at home," she said to Mr. Bonnyfeather.

"I regard that," said he, "as a touching compliment."

Mrs. Jorham began to rally and to remember who she had once been.
"I do miss the fixin's sometimes," she sighed running her eye over
the glass and silver and fingering the tablecloth.  "And land's
sake the napkins!  We do live like Injuns on the Wampanoag!  I
often says to Elisha, says I . . ."  but the captain was looking at
her.  "Anyway it's nice to be settin' with gentlemen and a
respectable female again!"

"I'll say it is," slipped in the captain, also looking with
approval at Faith.

Suddenly an electric thrill ran through him.  He had seen Faith
flutter her eye at him.  There could be no doubt of it.  It hadn't
happened to him for years.

"Woman," said he, tossing off a glass of wine to her with a loud
smack, "it's a tarnation wonder someone didn't marry ye years ago.
Years ago! I say."  He banged his fist on the table so that the
soup jumped.

Mrs. Jorham's eyes narrowed.  The landscape did not seem so
respectable as she had thought a moment before.

"There's some things a woman can wait too long to change her mind
about," she said dryly.  Faith's throat rippled.  There was an
awkward pause.  Toussaint jumped into the breach gallantly.

"Madame, I can assure you it has not been for lack of opportunities,
or want of a philosopher to persuade mademoiselle that she remains
a . . . er, single.  Monsieur," said he catching Mr. Bonnyfeather's
eye, "may I be the first to propose a toast--TO THE LADIES."

"Gaud bless 'em," added McNab with a sardonic twist looking at the
two women glaring at each other.  "What would we do without them?"
The crisis might have continued but just then Vincent dashed in
late shaking the rain off his curls.

"Well!  Elisha, I told ye it would rain," said Mrs. Jorham.

"Aye, ye're a clever barometer, I'll give ye that," said the
captain.

"Vera sansitive to dampness in any form," muttered McNab to Faith.
But Faith was proposing the return toast.

"I propose something we can all drink to," she said smiling at Mrs.
Jorham, "and I with as much hope as any of you, perhaps more, who
knows?  'The future.'"

"But not without faith," amended Mr. Bonnyfeather who could not
avoid the obvious.

Mrs. Jorham hesitated.  She had been trapped.

"Come on, Jane," said Captain Elisha appreciating the housekeeper's
finesse.

"I'm a temperance woman," she snapped.

"Madame," said Mr. Bonnyfeather, "allow me.  A very light wine, a
remedy for the climate, never intoxicating, in small doses.  The
custom of the country."  He bowed, his eyes twinkling, and from a
decanter filled Mrs. Jorham's glass with a fiery burgundy.  He
stood waiting.

Mrs. Jorham arose with a stiff yet coy reluctance.  She hesitated
but finally clinked her glass against Mr. Bonnyfeather's as if she
had already been seduced and nothing could be done about it.

"The future," she murmured, her cheeks tingling at her inconceivable
abandon.  Then she swallowed the burgundy with a gulp.

"The auld deil," whispered McNab to Anthony.  She sat down slowly.
Her hands remained spread out on the table as if placed on a
faintly pleasant electric contact.

"Well, darn my mother's socks!" said the captain.

Everybody laughed and broke out talking at once.  The ice had been
broken.

Anthony glanced at Mr. Bonnyfeather.  He was sitting with a look of
great satisfaction at the success of his ruse.  As for Mrs. Jorham
there was no doubt that she was wrapt in a deep spiritual
experience.  The end of her nose was slowly beginning to glow.

Vincent was as full of news and as merry as ever.  "Have you heard
the new song the gamins are singing?  It throws the French out of
step when they pass."  He broke out with his full tenor.


     "Io cledevo di veder fla pochino,
      Che se n'andasser via questi blicconi:
      Dia Saglata! ne vien ogni tantino
      Quasi, quasi dilei, Dio mi peldoni!
      O che anche Clisto polta il palticcino,
      O che i Soplani son tanti minchioni!"


The happy, careless voice transported Anthony again to the molten
hours they had wasted delightfully together along the Corso.  In
the gay mocking lilt was concentrated the life of the streets of
Livorno.  How he loved it all.  Now that he was going, how homesick
for it he was already.  Could it, could it be possible that so much
happiness, and dear sorrow, could pass?  "The future?"  What was
it?  Let them always sit listening about a table like this.  The
voice ceased.  The silence seemed unbearable.

"Sing again, Vincent, sing again.  The song we sang that morning
together, do you remember?"

Vincent burst out with it.  Anthony joined in.  On the surge of his
own notes he recovered himself.  His voice rang out clearly.  He
could blend it with Vincent's beautifully.  For another moment he
was gayly happy.  But this time with a new poignance.

He looked at Mr. Bonnyfeather.  With the music and the words he
poured out his boundless gratitude and at the end reached over and
filled his glass to the old man.  They all understood and drank
with a shout.  The table rose, Captain Jorham grunting.

The bright red flush appeared on the merchant's cheek bones.  He
was much moved.  The young voices had gone home.  He rose slowly
and held out his glass with an air that the world had already
forgotten.

"Anthony, my dear boy, God bless you."

They drank it silently.  Anthony caught Faith's eye.  He was aware
that behind her serious expression she was amused at all this.  A
minute ago he could almost have forgiven her.  But not now, not
ever.  It would be war between them to the last.  Poor Toussaint!
He wished Faith would make up her mind to leave Leghorn.  They were
sitting down now.  He would have to reply.

Heavens, what was that strange noise?

Captain Jorham had also been moved by the occasion, and his
potations, to the point of song.  His face glowed like a bonfire.
A husky roar proceeded from his chest.


     "Yankee skipper comin' down the river
      Yankee skipper, HO . . ."


He had forgotten the rest of the words.  He hummed the tune,
rumbling like a cart going downhill.  Then a look of inspiration
came into his eyes.  He had remembered the last line just in time.


     "Yankee skipper comin' down the river."


He ended triumphantly, gurgling.  Then he filled his glass till it
spilled and slopped over as he raised it.

"To the v'y'ge!"

The success of the toast was disturbed by a sound as of dry sticks
crackling.  It proceeded from Mrs. Jorham.  Mr. Bonnyfeather was
about to pat her on the back when it became evident that she was
laughing.

"Why, Jane," said her husband, "ye ain't gorn off that way since ye
was a Putnam."

"Ain't I?" she spat back.  "How do ye know?"

For some reason, perhaps because a small bright bead seemed about
to leave the fiery tip of Mrs. Jorham's nose but miraculously did
not, they all laughed.  She joined in heartily.  A whole brush-fire
seemed to be alight, crackling and snapping.  Suddenly in the
middle of it a hen was disturbed and went off cackling.  Wine is a
marvellous playfellow.  They all lay back and roared.  McNab nearly
split his tight waistcoat.  At this he suddenly looked serious and
they went off again.  Captain Jorham was still standing like a
nonplussed colossus with his glass poised questioningly.  He
glanced at his buttons uneasily.  They were all right.

"Whar's the joke?" he rumbled.

Then they all wondered.  Something, something that nobody could
quite remember now had been so funny.  Anthony still wheezed but it
was purely physical.  His stomach seemed to have collapsed with the
joke.  A cold voice stilled them all.

"Elisha, be ye fixin' to go to Havaner?" demanded Mrs. Jorham.  She
seemed to have accused him of a crime.  They all looked at him.
How would he defend himself?  He put his glass down defiantly.  "I
be," he said.

"Then," said she, "who's goin' to do the navigatin'?  That's what I
want to know."

She looked at them all appealingly.

"The last time we come over we started for London.  Do ye know
where we fetched up at?  Lisbon!" she shouted.  "Lisbon!"

"Woman," he said sitting down heavily, "I forbid ye."

She had touched him to the quick.  For the past two years something
terribly wrong had overtaken the navigation of Captain Elisha
Jorham.  He could not fathom it.  Secretly he had taken to coasting
from port to port picking up what he called "cargoes of notions."
He had turned many a lucky penny.  But the cargoes of the Wampanoag
had become as eccentric as her course when she took to the high
seas.  He had hoped to conceal his difficulties.  Only Mr.
Bonnyfeather's exceptional offer of an hour before had finally
screwed his resolution to the point of heading for deep blue water
again.  That Lisbon landfall had shaken him terribly, and now his
wife had betrayed him.

He sat looking crushed, shaking his head at her.

"Ye've taken the bread out of yer own mouth," he muttered, "I
KNOW the way back."

"I'm sure you do, captain," said Mr. Bonnyfeather, "besides Mr.
Adverse here is by now an excellent navigator in theory.  All he
needs is some actual practice.  You and he can work your reckoning
together.  You can give him his final polish in the art.  Just what
he needs."

Captain Jorham looked much mollified and relieved.

"When do you plan to get under way?" continued the merchant.

"Thar's a strong land breeze usually picks up about dawn on these
coasts," said the captain in his own element again.  "If Mr.
Adverse can come aboard at about two bells we'll leave first thing
in the mornin'.  Better not delay and risk trouble with the
authorities."

Mr. Bonnyfeather looked at Anthony.  A glance of understanding
passed between them.

"Get your chests down while it's dark and then keep below till you
are out of the Darsena.  Your passports might be an awkward
question now with Mr. Udney's visà.

"Vincent," he added, "I regret to interfere with any of your
uncle's plans, but I'm afraid your aunt will have to entertain some
of her refugees a few days longer.  I have engaged Captain Jorham
to take Anthony to Havana.  He goes north to Genoa first to pick up
cargo.  There is nothing for him here, as you know.  If Genoa suits
any of your travellers' plans, they will have to be aboard
tonight."

"I'm only sorry for one thing, sir," said Vincent.

He put his arm around Anthony.

"Aye," said the old man, "we're a grieten sair o'er that!  And noo
let's hae a stirrup cup tigether for the last time, and no more
goodbyes, for I canna bide them."

All their cups touched.  Anthony felt very proud and tall and
straight.  Excitement he knew would now lend him wings to clear the
threshold.  He thought of his old friend Mercury taking off from
the cloud with the banquet behind him.

They broke away from the table.  Anthony looked up just in time to
see Mr. Bonnyfeather vanish into the door of his corridor.  He did
not look back.  The door closed.

"Faith," said Anthony, "will you do me a favour?"

"Yes, Signore Adverse," she said trying to look through him it
seemed.  He met her glance.  "Certainly."

"Fetch my hat and cape and the small bag on the table from my room.
I do not care to go back there any more."

"I'll take care o' the chests," said McNab.

"Good night, Captain Jorham, I'll see you directly," he called
after him.  It helped thus to be doing ordinary things.  Vincent
still sat at the table turning a glass about in his hand.  Their
eyes met affectionately.

"Good night," bellowed the captain from the court.  "Two bells,
mind ye.  The tide won't wait.  A clever evenin' it was, fine and
dandy.  Philly."

"Yes, suh."

"ON them chests!"

"I'll swan if it ain't rainin'!" said Mrs. Jorham.  She raised the
immense umbrella over them.  They disappeared under it.

"Yankee skipper comin' down the river," trilled the captain.  The
echoes awoke in the old court in a kind of jargon.

"Land's sake, 'Lisha, ye'll wake the dead," they heard his wife
say.

"Anthony," said Vincent turning to him.  "Is it all right between
us?  Lately I have thought, sometimes, you know . . . I didn't want
you to leave without being sure.  I . . ." he choked.

All that was best in his nature shone in his face.

Anthony grasped his hands.

"Yes, yes, all right for always, Vincent."

"Let's swear it," said the German looking dramatic and sentimental
but earnest as ever.

"The same old Vincent," said Anthony laughing.  Then he grew
silent.  "But we'll call it an oath."  They exchanged grips again.

Just then Faith returned.  She also smiled.  The little bag was
very heavy and as she gave it to Anthony she said, "I see you are
leaving with more than you brought."

"Are you sorry?" he asked.

"No," she said.  She brought her hands up half-way to her breast
tensely and then let them fall.

"No, I'll tell you something.  It belongs to you!"  Then she turned
and began to gather the silver together on the table.  It bore the
Bonnyfeather mark.

He saw his chests go out.  "Did you put the madonna in, Faith?" he
asked just to be sure.  She had always looked after his things.
His voice suddenly sounded boyish again.

"In the big one with the books."

For an instant he caught her eyes burning at him over the table
like wells of night.  Then she blew out the candles.

He and Vincent stumbled down the steps together.  The rain was over
but clouds were still scudding across the moon.  The courtyard was
awash with writhing shadows.  He stood looking at it for the last
time.  The fountain dripped musically like a faint bell.  As he and
Vincent turned into the street the only light in all the harbour
was on the Wampanoag.  It moved very quietly.  They were bringing
her up to her anchor.

Anthony remembered the Darsena that day that he and Father Xavier
had first come to the Casa da Bonnyfeather.  All the busy life of
the place, the bells, the voices, and the ships had departed.
Something had dragged them away as if upon an invisible tide.  The
tide was ebbing from these shores.  He, too, felt it tonight.  It
clutched him strongly.  He was going out with it.  He would not
remain here looking at the past.  It and Mr. Bonnyfeather would
remain closed up together in the room with the misty walls.

Here just on this corner he had stood as a little boy first looking
at the bright, new world.  Right here Father Xavier had caught the
orange that he had shared with him.  How sweet it had tasted then.
Now he would catch the whole orange for himself, the whole round
world of it, press it to his lips and drain it dry.  It was only
the rind of it that was bitter.  "Golden fruit of the Hesperides
growing in the west, I shall find the bough."  On the quay he
parted with Vincent.

Two bearded Yankee sailors rowed him out to the Wampanoag.  They
looked at him curiously, sitting in the stern sheets with a coat-
of-many-capes falling over his shoulders.  He had bought a knitted
cap for the voyage and under this his hair, now just beginning to
turn brown, struggled out about his cheeks.  His eyes looked widely
into the darkness and his lips were parted with happy expectation.
He had seemed very tall and straight as he stood for a moment on
the thwart.  There was something pleasant and strong about him.
Something of the sweetness that had been Maria and the passionate
strength of Denis Moore, a wide, clear, Scotch forehead and a
provoking Irish smile.  The man at the stroke oar winked at him as
they shoved off.

"Be you the young gentleman we're takin' to Havaner?" he asked.

"Yes, do you want to go there?"

The man laughed and spat over the side.

"Not that we're ever axed.  But westward bound IS homeward bound,
and that suits ME."  He brought the boat around with a long sweep
under the stern.

"Ho, it does, does it?" said Captain Jorham looking over the
taffrail and lowering a lantern so that it cast a smudge of light
on the black water.  "Wall then, lay forward with ye, and bring the
anchor to the peak.  Stand by to cast loose on the jibs.  Did ye
slush them blocks like I told ye?  Belay your jaw tackle now, and
no stampin' and caterwaulin' round the capstan.  Pipe down and a
quiet getaway.  Pass the word for that again.  Mind YE, Collins."

"Aye, aye," muttered the sailor, and went forward.

"Ye'd best go below now for a while," said the captain to Anthony.
"Yer dunnage hez been stowed in the cabin and Jane's made the
starboard bunk up for ye.  Ye'll be snug enough.  Don't mind her.
She do snore."

Anthony went below.  A lantern was burning and cast a dim radiance
over the place.  His chests were already neatly lashed to the
stanchions.  He started to hang up some things.  Just then over the
chest marked "Jane" one panel of the closed bunk opened and the
head of Mrs. Jorham in a night-cap looked out.  She pointed her
lips.

"That's right," she said, "that's yours.  Elisha sleeps over there
behind tother shutters.  This is mine.  But don't mind me.  I'm
used to it.  I'm glad to have you with us."  She beamed on him,
pointed her lips, and closed the panel.

He sat down and laughed silently.  She reminded him of a picture of
a toucan he had once seen, "extraordinary female bird walled in."
What a beak it was!  The thought of Elisha and Jane billing and
cooing through that panel sent him off again.  He lay back and
enjoyed himself thoroughly.  He felt the anchor thump gently.
Ropes dragged on deck.  Then through the side of the ship came
mysteriously the low laughter of ripples as she began to glide.  He
laid his ear to the planks rejoicing in that hushed, half-merry and
semi-sad chantey of farewell.  "Good-bye, Livorno."  Feet stamped
over his head.

Half an hour later his now sleepy reverie was disturbed by Captain
Jorham lighting a rank pipe at the lantern.

"Ye can come on deck now.  We're out o' the Darsena and passin' the
molo.  Now's the rub."  He stumped on deck with Anthony.  The brig
was slipping along very quietly in a following wind with nothing
but her jibs set.

"They don't stand out like a squaresail against the sky," said the
captain, eyeing the molo with its row of cannon and the flagstaff
still bare before sunrise.  "In ten minutes we'll be by.  The
tide's with us."

 Suddenly Philadelphia emerged from the galley beating a pan.
"Breakfus is re-ady!"

"God DANG ye!" howled the captain plunging at him and smothering
the pan.  They watched the shore breathlessly.  There was a spurt
of fire on the sea wall by the molo . . .

"ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX," counted the captain.

BANG, drifted to them the report of the sentry's musket.

"Make sail," he ordered.  "Over two thousand yards.  We'll make it,
Mr. Adverse."

The Wampanoag surged forward.  Both her masts were now blossoming
out sail after sail.  As yet there was nothing more from the fort.
Then they saw some lanterns glimmer behind the embrasures in the
morning twilight.  The captain gave the ship a sudden wide yaw to
port.

Flash, flash, flash.  Along the molo smoke and thunder.  The round
shot smacked just to starboard and astern.  Captain Elisha whistled
as he twisted the spokes of the big wheel again and brought the
Wampanoag back on her course.

"The trick is not to spill more'n half your wind," said he calmly.

"They are old Spanish pieces, captain," said Anthony.

"Aye, aye," said he, "and sleepy gunners behind 'em."

Flash, bang, smack.

"Kind o' vicious about it, be'n't they?  But the stern of a ship
ain't much to hit at nigh a mile in the glimmerin' dawn.  Tide
hasn't half ebbed yet and we'll keep our backside pinted at 'em
clear over the bar."

"Lay aloft and douse them sails down, all hands.  Philly, God dang
YE, buckets, buckets!"

"The canvas is still wet from the rain last night, sir, isn't it?"
asked Anthony.

"Yep," said the captain looking not too pleased.  Then he laughed.
"By God, ye're right, young man, ye're a cool one! . . .  Belay
that," he bellowed.  "Collins, h'ist the grand old gridiron, let
'em see what they're shootin' at."

Well out from the lee of the land, the ship gathered way rapidly as
she flashed down the roads with a bone in her teeth and the morning
light tingeing her topsails.  It was a long and lucky shot that
would catch her now!  But the French were evidently annoyed and
continued to burn powder.

Thus with the fort thundering behind her and the Stars and Stripes
snapping at her peak the Wampanoag rushed forward into the open
sea.



END OF VOLUME ONE



ANTHONY ADVERSE by HERVEY ALLEN



VOLUME TWO

THE OTHER BRONZE BOY




BOOK FOUR

In Which Several Images Travel Together




CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

THE TABLE OF THE SUN


That great continental knee that curves southward to thrust the leg
of Europe into the boot of Italy also encloses its gulf with a
twinkling garter of mountains.  These are not always clearly to be
seen, but once glimpsed are provocative beyond most vistas, even if
the traveller is an experienced one.  In winter and other doubtful
seasons the gulf hides itself in rain, or mists which sweep down
like the swirling skirts of cosmic dancers from the slopes of the
Maritime Alps.

But in early summer before a sirocco blows it is quite another
thing.  Then the sky over the gulf is turquoise, and the
Mediterranean Homeric blue.  By night the planets appear to lower
themselves and burn nearer to the earth, and the stars to march
higher as they do in tropic latitudes.  Dawn comes from Italy, and
if you are so lucky or so wise as to be on deck at that early hour,
you need have no fear of an anticlimax in your destination, for
before you lies Genoa rising unbelievable, white marble terrace
above white marble; red tiles, churches, towers, villas, orchards,
and castles ringed in by a noble amphitheatre of hills.

It was thus that Anthony Adverse first beheld it from the deck of
the Wampanoag one summer morning while the ship's cutwater slipped
contentedly through the untroubled seas.  Never since his first
bright sight of the world from the top of the tree at the convent
had he seen anything quite so beautiful.  Something of that first,
fresh exaltation now returned to him as he leaned over the rail,
gazing his eyes full.

They were tacking in slowly against a land breeze, now on a wide
reach to port and now close hauled to windward, while the crew
slowly took in sail.  The sweet, heavy scent of orange groves and
the intangible coolness of jasmine and new-mown grass rolled to him
across the water.  Only now, after nearly an hour of light, the
olive orchards were beginning to stand out greyly amid the brighter
green of the pink-topped oleanders.

The light widened and the sea grew bluer.  Just a few minutes
before it had been dark violet.  How could he ever sleep; miss a
moment of it?  Why did men have to die and leave a world like this?
Life could not be long enough on a star so beautiful.  He wondered
if Captain Jorham, who was at the wheel while the steersman helped
take in sail, saw or felt anything similar.  Philadelphia called
them below to breakfast.

Anthony had slept like a child every night since leaving Livorno.
His senses were keen, yet soothed and washed limpid by the clear
sea air.  There was a tang and a zest about everything--about the
movements of his arms, of his hands and fingers.  He could feel the
most delicate surface texture of things.  In the quiet ship he
could hear the slightest sound.  Captain Jorham looked at him and
grinned.

"Feelin' pretty keen, eh?  I used ter myself.  Glad to get away?"
Anthony had to admit that he was.  All the little objects of
furniture, houses; people that had annoyed him; the pain of
familiarity with a thousand things that he wished instinctively to
avoid but that had possessed some irksome claim upon him had
vanished.  He was no longer accountable to them.  He need be sorry
for nothing.  Just now he was too happy to regret even those he
loved--had loved!  What a magical thing was this, the mere
transporting of the body!

He within, he felt, remained the same.  He himself had not moved.
It was merely the outside world that had shifted.  The encumbrances
about him had vanished.

So he sat in the cabin that morning inhaling his coffee slowly,
feeling the surprisingly healthy warmth of it, watching the green
water slip by outside the porthole and enjoying one of the noblest
of illusions immensely.  Travel had set him free.

The blocks rattled on the deck as the ship came about again.  Mrs.
Jorham galvanized by the smell of coffee opened her panel and
thrust her head, dressed in brown curl-papers and a night-cap,
through the narrow aperture.  Captain Jorham, seating himself upon
the chest marked "Jane," began to feed his wife biscuits and bacon.
From the biscuits from time to time he gallantly knocked out the
weevils.  It was a sign that he was in the best of good humour.

"'Strordinary female bird walled in," thought Anthony.

The lips of Mrs. Jorham pointed, came out of the slot, and
surreptitiously pecked her husband on his leather cheek.  Then she
looked at Anthony and rearranged her cap.  Properly embarrassed by
such intimate domestic details and endearments before a stranger,
she smiled, pecked her husband once again, and closed the panel
with an overpowering air of virtue and dignity.  Throughout the
entire meal her manner had been that of a lady-Putnam.  That was
it.  She was not a toucan, she was a Putnam!  Anthony saw that even
on shipboard, in the intimate presence of strangers and of the
ocean itself, Mrs. Jorham contrived to remain elegant and refined.
It was a perfection which knocked out the weevils in their own
dust.  It was "Putnamism."  Captain Jorham, who participated in it
distantly by marriage, was proud of it, too.  He set down the mess-
kid in which only the wriggling weevils remained, triumphantly.

After Philadelphia cleared the board the captain took some papers
from his desk and spreading them out on the table with a knowing
air, dipped his pen, and beckoned to Anthony.  As he sat down
beside him he noticed that Captain Jorham not only reeked of
tobacco but was also redolent of rum.

"Sign here," said the captain, without previous palaver.

Anthony leaned over the paper, which he found to be a roster of the
crew.  The captain's stubby finger pointed to the vacant line
marked MATE.

"Died o' smallpox at Lisbon," vouchsafed Captain Jorham.

But Anthony still hesitated with McNab's first lesson in mind.

"It's all fair and above board," continued Captain Jorham a little
anxiously.  "Didn't yer old man tell ye about it before ye left?
He and I arranged it all before supper that night.  Ye're to be
carried as second mate.  That'll keep the Frenchies from askin' any
questions about ye at Genoway.  I'll tell ye how it is.  It's
mighty ticklish work these days bein' a neutral and tryin' to make
ports and pick up cargoes with the French lordin' it on land and
the king's navee on the water.  It all depends pretty much on what
cargo ye carry.  But if I can git a nice cargo of fryin' ile over
to Havaner it'll sell high.  That's what I'm pushin' into Genoway
fer.  There's a sight of it piled up there now.  Cost nothin'!
It's worth the chance.  It would go plum against the grain to run
empty to Havaner.  I'm layin' to pick up some fine blocks of marble
for ballast, tew.  I expect even the British ul have a hard time
calalatin' THAT as contraband.  And the French 'll let us clear
all right if we don't have English refugees aboard.  Na-ow if ye
just sign on as mate, between ye and me sort of ex-officio--no
wages, of course,--ye can pass tolerable fer Yankee born.  Better
say Virginny, though.  Your talk's a lot more like that.  Ye don't
use your nose proper to Bosting way.  I'll tell ye another thing,
tew, if the British board us at sea it may save yer bein' pressed,
ye bein' a mate.  Look here!"

He pointed out on the roll the names of six seamen with the
notation, "Pressed at Sea off Ushant, February 6, 1796, by H. M. S.
Ariadne."

"A fast frigate or she'd never have done it.  Most chasers we just
sink in the blue, but there's a few on 'em can overhaul us with a
followin' wind.  That leaves us six hands forward to git home on.
Old 'uns all.  That English snotty that boarded us did know how to
pick his men.  Even the babies now have practice in that, dang 'em!
Still it ain't such a bad berth bein' a mate on board with a lady
in the cabin."

More than convinced by this time Anthony signed.  The captain
looked pleased and relieved.  He opened up "Elisha" and taking out
a bottle poured out a double tot.

"Wall, MISTER," he said with a twinkle, "here's luck to ye, and a
fast first run."

The panel opened slightly as the lady-Putnam sniffed through the
orifice.

Anthony saw trouble come into the woman's eyes.  Her mouth trembled
a little, but she said nothing.  At last with a look of unhappy
resignation she closed herself in again.

The captain drew his hand across his mouth and went on deck.  As
the ship beat in toward the harbour he descended twice again for a
spiritual interview with "Elisha."  Before they passed the Molo
Vecchio he was in a genially prophetic humour and moved with a
superbly confident roll.  It was in this semi-rapt condition that
the skipper felt himself most able to cope with a bargaining world.
"Well iled."  But the precise amount of lubricant necessary to fill
the Wampanoag with a profitable cargo was hard to gauge.  There was
one curious thing about it, however.  Liquor had brought the
captain luck.  A cargo of parrots once proved remunerative beyond
all sober expectation.  He gave a slight hitch to his trousers.

"Goin' ashore, MISTER?" he asked with a grin.  That a young
gentleman like Anthony should be his mate tickled him immensely.
In his present mood the joke seemed colossal.  "Get yer togs on."

Anthony dived into his chest hastily to get his purse and coat.  As
he opened the chest for the first time since leaving, he found a
letter addressed to him in the engraved strokes of Mr.
Bonnyfeather.  He opened it very impatiently now and read hastily.
He reproached himself for this, but with the early morning noises
of the new city coming through the port he could not control his
impatience.

It was a prolix letter of instruction how to proceed about the
collection of the debt.  Mr. Bonnyfeather had apparently foreseen
all possible contingencies.  They were under nine heads.  Bother!
This could wait till Havana.  How coldly it was written.  The old
man addressed him as if he were nothing but an agent.  There were
several enclosures, some drafts on Spanish bankers, and two other
letters.


           Il Signore Carlo Cibo, Regla, Habana, Cuba.


That could wait, too.  How cramped the old man's signature was
getting now.  Well, his hand . . .  Then his eyes fell on a
postscript.


P. S.  I have not cast this epistle in terms of affection lest I
should have no eyes left to see with as I write it.  Wherever you
are when you read this, remember the hand of him who writ it is (as
ever in the past) extended to you in blessing (and even from the
grave).  I have put this in your chest myself.  Do you look under
your great-coat for further remembrance, my son.  Thine,

J. B.


He sat down on his bunk holding the letter which swam grey before
him.  How had it been possible for him to forget all past benefits
in a few hours?  He felt he should like to stab himself to make the
hard heart in his breast capable of feeling as it should.

Yet, perhaps gratitude was like sorrow, you could not feel it all
at once or it would overwhelm you.  He looked at the open chest.
He could see the madonna wrapped up there in something that made
her look like a mummy.  Preserved, eh?  So the past was still with
him.  But he would not disturb her now.  And he would look under
the great-coat later on.  He could not bear to receive anything
more from that hand "extended even from the . . ."  Oh, for just
one day without any past behind it and no future before!  The old
man must still be well in Livorno.

Livorno?  Where was that?  Was there such a place?  It was the
noise and smell of Genoa that were coming in through the port.

He roused himself.  In order to act it would be necessary to shake
off the past, to remember it only in its proper place.  Be
grateful, yes!  But not now, not this morning--in Genoa.  He closed
the lid of the chest with a bang right on the nose of the madonna
and all the rest.

But he had forgotten his purse.  He had to open the chest again for
THAT.  As he put back Mr. Bonnyfeather's letter which he had
unconsciously clutched in one hand all the while, the other
enclosure fell out before him.


To the Reverend Father Claude Aquaviva Xavier, S. J.
At the Palazzo Brignole, Genoa.

A. A., Deliver this in person.  'Tis the old summer school of the
Jesuits in the suburb Albaro.  Fail not in this if time permit.


So Father Xavier was in Genoa!  Here was the past with a vengeance.
How long it had been since he had thought of him!  He had sent him
his last childish letter to Naples years ago, and he had not
answered the last from the priest.  Meant to, of course.  Naples?
These priests of the suppressed Jesuits moved about now from pillar
to post.  Probably Father Xavier had had no easy time of it.  His
heart smote him.  He might have written him.  But it was just after
Faith . . . damn it all!  How much there was in that chest!  Well,
he would try to see him.  The direction was in Mr. Bonnyfeather's
hand, his last request as it were.  This time he closed the chest
deliberately and locked it, clapped on his hat and went on deck.
Captain Jorham eyed him.

"It ain't sea-vility for the mate to keep the captain waitin',
mister," he said as they stepped into the boat.

Philadelphia, grinning and sweating, rowed them through the crowded
shipping of the old semi-circular harbour.  Looking up, Anthony saw
the tricolour waving on the massive Fortress of Sperone towering
above them on Monte Peraldo.  Bugle calls floated down faintly.
Here and there along the miles of walls inland the sun glinted on
cannon or flashed on bayonets.  All the churches were built of
black and white marble.  There seemed to be any number of their
striped façades and towers.

They landed at the Porta Lanterna and it was four mortal hours
before the French officers in charge of the port were finished
examining papers and quizzing Anthony who had to translate for the
captain.

It was not easy to convince the military authorities that a neutral
ship was not a legitimate prize of war.  They rowed out and made
sure she was empty.  But they looked disappointed.  Captain Jorham
had cause to be grateful for his "mate."  Finally with his papers
reluctantly signed permitting him to purchase "ship's stores,
olive-oil, marble, and statuary," he was allowed to go.

"Stat-uary," rumbled the captain, "statoo-ary?"

Anthony laughed.  The French had been slow to understand about the
marble blocks for ballast.  Statuary was made out of marble, marble
was statuary.  Meldrun! let them buy them both, neither was
contraband.  The captain kept looking at the document.

"By God, mister, I got an idear!" he suddenly roared.

It was some minutes before Anthony's back stopped stinging between
the shoulders as they walked along.

Genoa was a welter of small, crooked streets with narrow, high
houses, hunchbacked, twisted, and set at all angles.  A perpetual
dank shadow lived here as if at the bottom of an old well.  Even
the stones seemed to be rotten.  An odour as of old cheese wrapped
in a goatskin weighed on the senses.

The streets swarmed with half-naked urchins, women with baskets of
fish or equally redolent dirty clothes on their heads.  Soldiers
slouched by on unmilitary errands, and every fifth or sixth person
was a dark, scurvy-looking priest with a sallow, grimy countenance.
Here, about the Porto Franco, where their errands lay that morning,
Anthony could scarcely believe that he was really within the walls
of the noble city set in green hills that he had seen from the
ship.

They passed under endless arcades where the plaster walls had
turned black with ages of grime.  Festering piles of rubbish and
garbage, rag piles, and unspeakable refuse piled against the walls.
Yet between the outward-facing arches along the curb the merchants
of macaroni and polenta kept their stalls, especially where the
sword-like streaks of sunlight descended upon their heads.

The quantity of oil which the captain desired seemed unheard of.
Even with his new mate to do the talking, the bargaining took them
well past noon.  The Ligurian dialects were often difficult, and
the Genoese laughed at Anthony's Tuscan.  When at last all was
completed it took another hour or two to assemble carts to haul the
jars to the quay.  Captain Jorham was too wise to take his eyes off
his purchases for a minute, or to pay until the last jar wrapped in
straw ropes was safely deposited in the official confines of the
Porto Franco.  Then he was forced to see that the custom officials
there had good cause to remember him.

But even at that the captain could rub his hands with satisfaction.
Since the French had come, trade in Genoa was at a standstill.  For
that reason he was able to purchase supplies and provisions for the
voyage at less than cost.  His eyes sparkled, and to Anthony's
alarm he showed some signs of being about to clap his newly
acquired mate on the back for the second time that day.

Under ordinary circumstances Captain Elisha would have now returned
to the ship to take his grub and save his pennies, but the liquor
he had taken that morning was already dying out in him by noon.
And he had secretly embarked on a long sipping wassail which
engaged him for about four months every three years, when he began
to hear the stealthy approach of certain footsteps overtaking him
out of the past.  It was his peculiar habit during the approach of
the shadow feet, to mix wine with rum and porter into a potion
known as "A Dog's Nose" for the reason that there are no whiskers
on it and it drips.  Rum and porter he had, but little or no wine.

Also he desired to purchase marble for ballast and to sell that
usually unprofitable item at Havana for tombstones.  It could be
replaced there by ordinary stones, said to be abundant in Cuba.  As
a cautious measure he desired holes to be drilled in those marble
blocks to secure them when once aboard.  Then he was pleased with
his "mate" for slinging the lingo so well.  He intended to use such
abilities further.

For above all there was the great "idear."

This was nothing less than to take full advantage of the permission
to purchase statuary, so accidentally conferred upon him that
morning, and to fill the vacant bunks in the fo'c'sle of the
Wampanoag with "idols," to wit: various examples of life-size
ecclesiastical statuary, saints, madonnas, and bambinos
manufactured at Genoa in vast quantities cheaply, and hence
doubtless salable at substantial profit to the less-artistic
faithful in Havana.  Indeed, the churches in Cuba, as Captain
Elisha assured himself, although his data was based on only a few
visits of irreverent curiosity, were lamentably bare of "idols."
Some Protestant qualms assailed him, but the idea he felt was truly
inspired.

Standing on a sunny corner he mopped his brow with a green duster
while all this passed rapidly and somewhat confusedly through his
troubled old mind.  He was hungry, likewise he was very thirsty.
Mrs. Jorham was safely "on board."  Well, he would get her a
present.  He would get himself plenty of wine, see the ta-own and
make his macaroni mate do the talking.

"Come on, mister, let's find victuals and drink.  Lead the way.
Captain's and owner's charges."

Anthony was willing.  He had been afraid they would go back to the
ship.  Now he might be able to get time off to see the town--and
Father Xavier.

He hailed a French officer passing across the way, an amiable
fellow, who led them gayly along a decent, little side street under
wrought-iron balconies into a trellised courtyard covered by one
huge vine.  A party of French officers sat at a big stone table in
the centre, their sabretaches, swords and sashes heaped up like
tangled trophies on the stone benches.  There was a litter of
bottles, half-devoured salads, cheeses, loaves, and the remnant of
a fine ham garnished with cloves on the wine-stained table-cloth.
Corks popped and flew about with oaths.  They raised a shout when
their comrade appeared.  Captain Elisha's eyes brightened.  He
sensed distraction.

He and Anthony sat down in a corner.  A woman with a red petticoat
flapping about her bare calves came and placed a small wooden table
before them.  On this she set a bowl of grape vinegar, a dish of
fresh young garlic, salt and a brown loaf.

"Onions," remarked Captain Jorham, "are a sovran remedy for
scurvy."

He forthwith fell to and proceeded to eat the entire bowl of
garlic, dipping each pearl-like bulb in the vinegar, sprinkling a
little salt on it, and then plumping it into his mouth where it
disappeared slowly, wagging its green tail nearly to the end.  But
just before the end, each tail was bitten off at precisely the same
distance and spat out upon the floor.  After the "onions" he
inserted a piece of bran bread off the edge of his knife and rammed
it home as if to keep the bullets in place.  He looked about him
complacently and noted that he was sitting in the centre of a demi-
lune of tender garlic tips all pointing outward.  He counted them;
one to forty-three.

"Scurvy's an awful thing if it gets to you," he said, "makes your
fangs loosen."  He spat experimentally through his own front teeth
again.  They were firm.  Still he looked a little uneasy about
something.

"Liquor, mister," he said, "somethin' hot and stirrin'!  I feel
them onions prominent in my midst.  Ugh! that's better!"  The
captain plugged with his spoon thoughtfully.  "I heard of a
schooner from Bermudy what started oncet with a cargo of cedar
casks and onions for the whalin' grounds off the South-Shetlands.
Them onions was sealed in they casks to keep.  That was where
trouble started.  Afore that ship reached Jamaiky the casks swelled
up like a cargo o' newfangled French balloons.  Onion gas!  The
ship went skiddin' along on her side.  They couldn't tack her.
They had to stave in them casks or they'd a floated clear o' the
water and made leeway clear to Afriky.  Well, sir, I'm beginnin' to
feel like that schooner now.  Whiroosh!"

One of the French officers, a man with a long, red beard smeared
with salad oil and particles of cheese, looked at him in disgust.

"I'm floatin'," said Captain Elisha, "I'm risin' like bakers'
bread.  I'm like a bloater when he's tickled, a dead cachalot in
the sun.  Nothin' but strong cordial will belay it."  He reached
for the vinegar.  Anthony stopped him alarmed.  Just then the woman
returned with a jug and a large smoking dish.  Captain Elisha
applied himself to the jug.  His throat rippled.

"Coolin'," he said, "but nigh as sour as vinegar."  He put it down.
Anthony tasted the wine.  It was Lachryma Christi.  His teeth went
on edge.  He ordered the sweetest thing available, Mountain-Malaga.
The captain gulped a glass of it.  He still rumbled but looked more
comfortable.

"That's the antidote, mister, now let's sample the grub.  I'm blown
up fer full capacity."

It was a large basin of rice and boiled chicken.  They polished
this off between them.  It was enough for Anthony.  He ordered some
muscat of which he was very fond.  The captain was captivated with
it.  After two bottles he looked around on a new world.  The
"onions" were hopelessly buried.

"Na-ow I allow I'm beginnin' to be hungry."  He looked at the empty
dish regretfully and at his mate expectantly.  Anthony called the
woman and ordered further refreshment.  Having now some gauge upon
the captain's capacity and being enthusiastic with burgundy
himself, he commanded a feast.

The captain cut himself a large quid of tobacco, which he stuffed
into a round place in his cheek, while he continued to look on
approvingly.  The woman somewhat awed departed.  They heard her
giving excited directions in the kitchen.  Meanwhile the captain
extracted what solace he could from the tobacco, evolving in the
process great quantities of saliva.  Presently he had attracted the
notice of the party of French officers who began to bet on his aim.

At some distance on the pavement before Captain Jorham a small
lizard was basking innocently in the sun.  The captain's front
teeth were bared from time to time and immediately afterward the
universe of the lizard dissolved in brown juice.  It moved each
time like a flash.  The eye could not follow it.  At a distance of
about four feet nearer the wall, and farther away from the captain,
another and browner lizard seemed to appear.  It was about twenty
feet to the wall.

The bets began to become interesting.  At each saurian remove the
stakes became higher and the odds against the captain rose.  But
the major with the red beard and salad oil, looking at the mahogany
tinge of the captain's teeth, bet a meagre fortune upon him.  The
major was an artilleryman.  Two more shifts of the devastated
lizard confirmed the major's faith touchingly.  He now staked his
watch and placed it on the table.  The trajectory he hastily
calculated was then about four and a half metres, allowing for the
curve of the parabola.  It was a long chance.  But the captain
fetched the lizard.  The unfortunate, and by now suspicious, animal
paused once more, but this time near a hole in the wall.  Whatever
happened it had only two inches to flinch, and it was now nearly
twenty feet away from the captain.  The latter ruminated slowly,
accumulating ammunition with a lacklustre look.  The stakes were by
this time reckless even from a military standpoint.  Captain Elisha
straightened himself, every eye upon him.  Suddenly the lizard was
washed into its hole.  A yellow rainbow had collapsed accurately
upon it.

The consequent enthusiasm was loud and prolonged.  The major, who
had won a month's pay, insisted that the captain should join him
and his companions in celebrating so remarkable an event.  The
artillery, he maintained, had been gloriously upheld.  Anthony
participated in the reflected glory.  The whole party gathered
about the big stone table while Anthony translated for the captain
the round of congratulatory toasts that followed.  Outwardly
unperturbed but inwardly ravished, Captain Jorham sat grey and
bleak as Plymouth Rock in a gale of laughter.  Nevertheless he was
adequate to the international occasion.

"Confusion to the British."

The table roared back at him with delight.  The major would have
embraced him but even Captain Jorham renigged at the salad oil
beard.  Instantly he was more popular with the others, captains and
lieutenants who had only moustaches.  In the offing much more food
now appeared.  The captain resumed his seat and began to feed.
Between dishes they plied him with wine.  He drank all and
everything, setting down his empty glass each time with obvious
regret.  For the first time in his life, surrounded by enthusiastic
friends, he became entirely gay.  Into the frozen swamp of his
feelings burst a warm April light.  He began to croak and to bellow


     "Yankee skipper comin' down the river
      Ho, ho, ho, ho HO."


"Incroyable, magnifique!  Allons, enfants de la patrie!"

The little courtyard rocked with song.  Taking the cue from his
mate the captain waved his glass, too.  The woman in red petticoats
stood by loyally.  Shouting something to a mysterious "Batcheetcha"
in the kitchen she produced a stage thunder there amid the pans.
Things were pounded in a pestle.  The two timbres of sizzling
denoting roasting and frying arose simultaneously.  Chickens died
noisily several times.  The major was a generous man.  Cloths
whisked and dishes clicked.  Everybody began to eat and drink all
over again as if their stomachs had expanded as the generous wine
enlarged their souls.

They ate tagliarini, they ate ravioli, they ate cocks' combs and
sheep-kidney minced with mutton chops and liver.  They imbibed
tender pieces of shredded veal fried and heaped upon a vast platter
like a miraculous draught of shrimps.  They ate chickens and
spaghetti and mushrooms and ducks.  When all the others were
satiated Captain Jorham continued.  He polished off a heap of
sausages fried with garlic, topped that with a dish of green figs,
and washed it all into place like a glacial drift that finds the
worst is over and warmer times have come again--with waves of
Madeira.

A happy silence compounded of satiety and pure human affability
settled down upon the party.  They looked at one another with
complete approval and admiration.  A Gascoigne major whose
forefathers had been petty, brawling, and carousing nobles gazed
into the eyes of Captain Elisha whose grandfather was an English
regicide, and belched little nothings into his ear.

"Surely," thought Anthony, looking at a rat-like quartermaster
opposite him, "no more gallant band of heroes has ever assembled to
do honours to strong souls from the sea like Captain Jorham and his
mate."

It mattered not that nothing which Captain Jorham said could be
understood intellectually.  What was the intellect?  Indeed, where
was it?  The very sounds the old sailor made were enormously
popular.  He who had overwhelmed the lizard!  Mark you, at six
metres!  When he told a joke and laughed, the courtyard howled.
Two brown, dirty little boys sat in a crook of the great vine
looking down from the pergola above.  They chattered like little
monkeys with their arms about each other watching a feast of lions.
Yet even they, Anthony felt, and all the rest he thought felt with
him, were part of this pleasant perfect society.  To be approved,
included, and considered.  Yes, everything was perfect.  Everybody
was delightful.  He was.  They all were.

He had never drunk quite so much or enjoyed it so greatly before.
Wine ran in his blood.  He was absolved from all responsibility.
The world, though slightly hazy, sparkled like a thicket in the
sunshine.  The pattern of vine leaves and the shadows on the floor
under the trellis were revealed to him as beautiful beyond hope of
imitation.

For the first few bottles he had still felt himself as a spectator,
at times even a disapproving one.  Then, as he had returned again
and again to the scarlet glass, he seemed to emerge completely into
another atmosphere.  Delight, warmth, a delicious lightness and a
complete identification with a perfect world ensued.  He was
convinced that this was the way things really were.  A sober vision
simply did not reveal them or put one in touch.  Everything now
became very clear, a little enlarged.  The edges of things were
framed in amber and the vistas beyond became supernal; bathed in
auriferous light.  Never had he felt so at home with his fellows as
with these men in this courtyard.  All of these people, all of
them, men that he had never seen before today, were friends.  The
capacity for trouble had been removed from the universe.  He was
one in a brotherhood of a paradisiacal company.

Wine, the sun and vines had done this.  The sun?  He looked up at
the sun through the vine leaves.  This delicious wash of grape
shade and shifting light under the trellis was like being at the
bottom of a lake, a lake of air.  So he was!  He remembered that
now.  And it was in this kind of light under the plane tree that he
had first come to life.  No one could remember original darkness.
He remembered the full, simple, unquestioning joy of light now.
The clear light and the warmth and joy that had become part of him,
that was still in him.  Nothing could ever destroy that.  It was
what he was.  Like the face in the miniature, that face!  He crowed
like a child again, moving his hands and feet slowly, feeling them.
He thought; he dreamed.

It was the sun that brought all of this food and wine and joy out
of the earth.  That gave light, that made the eyes live.  In that
light moved shadows, men and things that ordinarily seemed to be to
the light what shadows were, projections of something else.  You
could never quite understand what was throwing these shadows when
you were sober.  You forgot the origin of them and so you did not
see things, and men themselves.  But now, now he felt near to these
fellow beings and things at last.  He could see them as they
actually were.  You could draw close and know them.  The darkness
between them was gone.  In the sunlight all were of one substance.
All were part of this glory of heat and light beating down into the
little courtyard.  The very food and wine they had eaten came from
it.  They ate it and it became part of them.  All were of one
substance, men and things.  All of it came out of the light.

Everybody was always eating and drinking everywhere.  He longed to
tell them about it but he could not.  It was the sun that laid this
daily table around which humanity gathered.  Or something that made
the sun. . . .  He rose to his feet overpowered by so sublime a
thought, striving for words.  Only thick, lowing sounds came from
his lips.  He could not tell them.  They shouted back at him but he
did not understand.  He felt sad.  He wandered off somewhere.  The
world seemed to open out before him.  The light became brighter.
It flashed; streamed.

A vast table whose gleaming cloth stretched out like a white road
to the horizon lay spread out before him thronged by all the
nations of men.  He could see them coming and going.  Beyond the
horizon there was nothing, nothing but clouds rising out of an
abyss.  He too could draw near to the table and partake with
everybody.  He dragged his feet a few steps farther and seemed to
be standing on the table himself.  He sat down on it.  The table-
cloth shone like the sun on water, dazzled.

He did not want to eat after all.  He felt dizzy.  He put his hand
to his head and leaned against something.  An hour passed, another.
After a while the horizon cleared enough to see again.  The monster
table of the sun had vanished.  He was sitting on the curb before
the door of the restaurant looking up the Strada Balbi, long,
white, blinding and silent in the late, hot afternoon.

Oh, yes, he knew now where he was.  It was Genoa!  He had been
thinking about something.  About a sacrament?  Something like that.

An ancient love feast?  Oh, well, nonsense!  How long had he been
sitting here?  Where was the captain?  They had something to do.
What day was it now?  But what did he care about time!  He turned
and walked back into the courtyard steadying himself.  He had a
great drink of water.  It tasted flat.  The woman was laughing at
him.  Everything was clearer now.  He must have slept a long time.
Only a sense of tremendous well-being and a little irresponsibility
remained.  After a while the floor grew steady.  Bon!

Captain Jorham lay sleeping, leaning back in a chair propped
against the wall.  A fly was crawling over his bald head slowly.

Those princes, those best of all good fellows, where were they?
Vanished.  Yet there was something tangible about them.  The major
had paid the bill.  "'For the honour of the French Army,' signore,
he said," thus the woman pocketing Anthony's coin.  He felt
relieved.  All that for a tip!  Now he knew he was sober.

Inside the skull over which the fly was crawling the captain was
not really asleep.  His brain had merely slipped the cogs of time
backward some twenty years and transported him hence.  He was
sitting on a bench before his door in Scituate, Massachusetts.
Just across the bay over there was Abner Lincoln's house and mill
by the stream.  The mill wheel was turning.  The swallows dipped
and left rings in the shallows.  It was sunset.  Overhead Jane was
putting their child to bed.  He could hear her singing and the feet
of the child padding about on the floor.  Now his wife was humming
and rocking the baby monotonously.  A note of foreboding crept into
her voice.  Suddenly the mill across the stream started to grind.
It seemed to be uttering the letter "R" for minutes at a time.  It
was grinding up something.  His child!  Run, do something about it!
If only he could move his feet.  "Rrrrrrr."  He reached up and
brushed the fly out of his ear.

Better!  The mill had stopped.  Dreaming?  Why wake up?  How happy
he and Jane had been until . . . let him hear the child's feet
again.  Dead!  Oh, yes, he had forgotten!  He was afraid he MIGHT
hear them again, at night.  No, no, not dead!  Yes, DEAD!  Good
lord!  "Do not cry, Jane.  We will go to the cemetery tomorrow."
But it is already tomorrow.  "Come, you can take your knitting."
He started for the cemetery, and woke with his feet slipping.
After a few minutes he remembered.  The child was dead years ago.
Poor little baba!  But he must forget that, not hear the feet, on
the deck, anywhere. . . .  Shove it down, put the lid on it, live
only now.  "Remember, Elisha, it is pleasant here now, better now,
better NOW," insisted one part of him to the other.  "You can
always take a drink and make it NOW.  Take a drink, take a
drink!"  Captain Jorham arose from his chair roaring for liquor.

"This is the way I put soft shoes on my baby's feet, mister," he
said as he downed a glass.  "Can't hear 'em then."  Anthony was
sure the captain was still very drunk.  Yet he looked sober.

They stayed the rest of the afternoon at the Café of St. Lawrence
the Martyr.  They had another little nap while it rained.  Felt
better, all well.  The time seemed to have come to sally forth.
The captain, Anthony was relieved to find, was now in a gracious
Madeiran mood.

                            ----------

At six o'clock of a particularly, fine June evening the City of
Genoa was already beginning to bestir itself smoothly for the
moonlight night that was to follow.  After the shower it was very
clear, cool.  Long, deepening shadows lay across the streets.  Yet
the sky was suffused with the red light of the approaching sunset.
The air was blue and sparkling, just exhilarating and soothing
enough to be grateful as an aftermath to the wine which still
warmed them.  Responsibility had nobly died.

Scarcely caring where they were going, they threaded their way
through a maze of streets so narrow that no vehicles could pass.
It was far too late to think of going after the marble blocks.  In
the mood in which he found himself Captain Jorham was willing to go
anywhere and readily fell in with Anthony's suggestion that they
should visit Father Xavier in the suburbs.  Afterwards they could
have supper, more wine, return late, or make a night of it.  Yes,
the marble and statuary could go till tomorrow.  Everything could
wait until tomorrow.  Just at present they were like two fish
swimming indolently and without particular direction, suspended,
and suspiring in a golden, liquid atmosphere.

Bell-jingling strings of mules going home, sedan chairs for hire,
painted private chairs for the nobility preceded through the dark
tunnels of streets by carriers with linen lanterns on poles, passed
and crossed and recrossed each other in all directions as if a
festa were going on.  Tall, narrow houses frescoed in glowing
colours with pictures of saints, gods, and angels rose all about
them, flinging their balconies half-way across the street.  Beneath
streamed a medley of motley costumes whose weird, cloaked fashions
and screaming colours blent with the voluble soft voices and
grotesque street cries into the total spectacle of the life that
thronged and flowed, gathered and dispersed, gestured and hurried
onward.

It was with some difficulty that Anthony prevented the captain from
climbing into a gorgeous but lousy sedan whose bearers kept turning
up at every corner and offering themselves.  God knows where they
would have got to in that.  He linked his arm through the
captain's.  He occasionally wobbled a little yet.  Keeping a sharp
eye on their pockets, they passed on.  Suddenly they left behind
them the zone of premature evening in the narrow streets and
emerged by pure chance on the Strada Nuova where day was dying
brilliantly.

The endless street stretched on up into the hills above, narrow,
clean, lined with rows of marble fronts where a few lights were
already beginning to twinkle on the balconies.  The long rays of
light struck along it like a cañon.  Only illustrious people could
live on a street like that.  Beggars were out of place there even
in Genoa.

They shook off a man with sore eyes who had followed them holding
his inflamed lids apart.  Calling a gay little carriage drawn by
two mules with pompons and bells they left the beggar toiling and
cursing after.  The fat driver on the tasselled box was in no more
hurry than his team.  They trotted on indolently inland toward
Albaro, rising every moment a little higher and gradually leaving
the crowded port behind.  It was now that to his great joy Anthony
rediscovered the noble city which he had seen from the ship like a
happy morning dream.  All day he had lost it amid the narrow
streets of the stinking water front.

Although the approach to the suburb of Albaro itself is through
ribbon-like lanes giving entrance to long, silent villas painted
with vast frescoes which the sea air has dimmed--subjects holy,
profane, and grim--yet there are many spaces where the main road
passes in an arc over crests and opens upon sweeping vistas of the
heights above and the sea below.

It was a little after sunset when the mules and driver as if by
mutual consent came to a halt at one of these spots.  The breathing
of the animals, gradually becoming more regular after the labour of
the ascent, as they slowly and more slowly inhaled the restful
quiet of the evening air, finally seemed to die away altogether and
to become one with the silence of the evening.  All in the carriage
were in unconscious sympathy with this relaxing rhythm, and the
process continued to penetrate even further into their minds as
they looked about them.

Lofty hills with fortresses on their crags from which banners of
evening mist were already flowing leapt above them.  On the lower
slopes white villas smouldered in the sunset, set deeply in an ever
darkening green intaglio of gardens and lawns.  The twelve miles of
the city's defences streamed and tumbled like the wall of China
across the heights.  In the valleys of the Bsagnio and Polcevera an
opalescent fog had already begun to gather.  Out of it flowed the
dark rivers under their bridges into the still flashing bay.

Genoa, the wide far-flung city, lay there at their feet, encircling
the light-twinkling harbour with the beautiful curve of its white
arms, gathering the ships to its breast from the ruined Chapel of
S. Giovanni Battista on the rocky seashore to the Porta Lanterna.
Beyond all this, limitless and smooth with distance, stretched the
violet tables of the open sea.  Westward it glowed with submarine
fires that reflected themselves upon the sky, and as they cooled
and went out, blotched the long horizon with glazed patches of
floating scarlet veiled by narrow clouds touched by the lingering
pencils of the sun.  Slowly even these melted showing stars behind.
It seemed now as if everything earthly were dissolving into the
sky.  It was like the hood over the Virgin's head, thought Anthony.
Even the hills slowly expanded and blended into the same engulfing
shadow that was swallowing the sea.

At the centre of all this dying world sat Anthony.  Only the mules,
the dim outline of the driver on the box above, and the captain
beside him still remained outside of his mind as another reality.
The wheels had for a while been holding him up, he felt, but soon
he knew himself just to be floating in the body of the carriage on
a sea of twilight.  Then no carriage.  He and the outside world
merged.  Or he held it all within him as a slowly darkening image.
The place where his eyes ended and the world began had again been
swept away.  It was a timeless, spaceless levitation . . .

Only a moment ago his being extended thus had felt limitless.  Now
as darkness grew he was slowly withdrawing himself again into a
point bounded by stars as they came out one by one and grew
clearer.  Soon he would be back within his head again.  Something
already had begun to remain outside.

The mules stirred.  The carriage moved forward a few inches on
solid ground.  He looked down and saw his own hand on his knee and
felt it.  He looked around at the face of the captain.  He also had
lost himself Anthony could see.

His face had grown wide and peaceful, glimmering.  The lines of
stress and hard care and sorrow were relaxed on his forehead and
cheeks.  His lips framed themselves wonderfully about the smile of
a younger man.  Much had been forgotten and caressed away as though
Elisha Jorham had once participated in vivid happiness and the
vision remained, one which he only needed to be reminded of to
resume.

"This is Elisha himself," thought Anthony.  "I hope that he can see
me as I am, too."  He moved slightly.  They looked at each other
long and silently in the low twilight.  They were both at home
with, and comforted by the unspoiled glory of the world.  That was
an important discovery for friendship.  Then the captain suddenly
resumed the mask which experience had provided him.  His face
hardened.

"Well," said he, "what little thing happens next, mister?  I'm
trustin' my events to you now, see?"

"Nothing that matters much, sir, I suppose," replied Anthony
shaking the stars out of his head.

"Wall, na-ow ye never can be sartain I calalate.  Let's make sail
anyway.  We've got to be goin' somewhere."

The captain was getting sleepy.  He began to nod shortly
afterwards.  A quarter of a mile farther brought them to the door
of a small inn.

"I'll turn in here while you drive on and see yer friend," said
Captain Elisha.  "It's bed and not victuals I want now.  But be
sure to call fer me in the mornin' even if you make a night of it.
That's orders, mister.  Don't leave me stranded, mate," he added
anxiously, "I can't swing the lingo, you know."

Anthony reassured him.  He would call him for an early breakfast.

"Good!  It's marble and statoo-ary tomorrow, and that may take
longer than buyin' ile.  They're never in any hurry around
cemeteries."  The captain yawned.  "But you can't live that way; do
business."

Anthony left him comfortable enough in a bedroom under the eaves
where the moonlight was already beginning to filter through the
tiles.

"Looks like one of Jane's crazy-quilts," murmured the captain
fingering the covers dreamfully.  "Say, mister . . ."

But Anthony had already driven on.




CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

THE VILLA BRIGNOLE


Half a mile across the valley from the inn Anthony was driving
along the endless garden wall of the Palazzo Brignole.  It had once
been a summer school of the Jesuits but was long since deserted, as
most of that suppressed order had fled to Russia or Poland.  The
hoofs of the mules echoed against the cracked and peeling stucco of
the outbuildings in the empty moonlight.  The driver turned in
reluctantly enough through a rusty iron gate, and unhitching under
a shed, began to make himself and his team as comfortable as the
fleas would permit.  Supper seemed remote.  He was heard to wish
fervently that il signore would not be long.

"An hour or two at most," replied Anthony, who then began to pick
his way gingerly across a weedy terrace, fingering the letter to
Father Xavier.  The address upon it now seemed improbable, for in
the moonlight he stumbled over piles of rubbish and old stable
litter while tribes of owl-eyed cats fled wailing before him.

Even in Genoa Father Xavier could scarcely have found another
dwelling which expressed so well the departed grandeur and the
present desolation of his order.  The vast uncompromising façade of
the Palazzo Brignole stretched itself before Anthony on the crest
of a series of terraces.  Its flat face looked blindly at the moon
as if it too were oblivious to change.  Its lower apertures were
stopped with rubbish like gagged mouths.  From its upper windows
the cracked and wrinkled shutters, like so many grey cataracts over
innumerable eyes, told of nothing but seething darkness in the
cells behind them.  Two ruined arcades, extending from the house at
right angles, stumbled with collapsing arches down the giant steps
of the terraces and enclosed within their shattered arms the long
approach that had once been a landscaped garden but was now a
melancholy wilderness.

It seemed to Anthony as he looked up at the great house, from which
not a light shone nor a sound emanated, that the garden was rushing
down upon him over its arcades in tangled masses of shrubbery and
flowing outlines of serpentine vines.  It was a river of dark
vegetation in sinister spate.  What made it worse was that it had
once been meant to be as artificial as a canal and neat as a priest
with a new tonsure.  It was some moments before he could force
himself to follow the cats and plunge into its moon-shadowed mazes
toward the house itself.  At this hour it was a garden fit only for
those that could see in the dark.

He tripped over roots that had forced their way through an old
pavement cracked in a thousand directions.  At other places the
walks gave oozily under his feet.  Everything was overgrown with
weeds, gaunt, or blackly flamboyant.  Frogs croaked in the stagnant
stone basins, and as he rose turn after turn up the ruined steps,
statues with mossy faces started out at him from their vine-tangled
niches or lay prone with leprous spots upon them as if dead in the
moonlight.  Once he thought he saw a lantern gleaming far before
him.  But it was only a solitary firefly signalling vainly for an
answer.  The house remained pale and lampless, and grew even huger
and more lonely as he approached it.

At last he stood upon the last pleasance, peering in through an
open portal whose doors had long lost their hinges and were now
leaning drunkenly against the pilasters of the cavern-like
vestibule.  Into this he did not care to venture.  Indeed, he would
have ended his mission here had it not been that now for the first
time his ears were saluted by a sound other than that made by frogs
and crickets.

At first he thought it was water dripping musically into some
abandoned well, but as he stood listening intently the ghost of a
tune emerged.  Someone was negligently touching the strings of a
harp.  The sound grew louder.  It seemed to emanate from the
silent, wandering barracks before him.  For a while it had come
from nowhere, and the effect of the soft music in the moonlight had
been so eery as to halt him where he stood.  But to the notes of
the harp were now added the slightly flat tones of a feminine voice
practising the bravura.  One, the highest note, was a dismal
failure and made him laugh.  It was an entirely human anticlimax.
He strode through the vestibule eagerly and almost immediately
found himself in the inevitable littered courtyard beyond.

From a porter's lodge in one corner of the quadrangle came a few
gleams of light and the sound of the harp although the heavy
shutters were closed.  There were even heavy bars on the windows.
He walked over and knocked at the door but there was no reply.  The
music had stopped instantly.  He heard a few stealthy footfalls
behind the shutters and the light went out.  At first he was
inclined to be angry at this reception, but then he could not help
but grin.  He knocked again.  Silence.

After a long interval a queer voice said softly, "I am not at home.
I went away years ago.  Let me alone."

"Signora, or ma donna," he said, "I am not a brigand, I do not wish
to disturb you.  I am looking for a priest, Father Xavier.  Do you
know him?"  He waited anxiously but still there was no reply.  Some
time passed.  Then he knocked again, this time impatiently.

"You must call for him in the court.  Call loudly," said the tired
voice within.  "He is getting a little deaf I think.  He no longer
cares for my music."  That was all.  After a while the light
reappeared and the harp resumed.

He turned away again.  The four walls of the high villa frowned
down upon him with tightly-barred windows.  The moon looked over
one corner of the roof a little tilted.  Best do as he had been
told!

"Father Xavier, oh, Father Xavier!"

"Ier, ier, ier," mocked the echoes, dying away into a solemn
gibberish.  The harp dripped and tinkled, and the flat voice in the
lodge ran through an eery, windy bar or two again.  Somewhere in
the shadows a chorus of cats began insultingly.  He felt enormously
irritated.  It was warm and damp here, too.  He was sweating.  The
place was decidedly . . . decidedly so!

"Father Xavier!" he roared again in a sane determined tone.

"What is it, my son?" said a familiar voice so close to his
shoulder that he wheeled about, startled in spite of himself.

A few feet away stood a slight, emaciated figure with a black robe
fluttering in the night breeze that sighed through the archway.
There was a small crucifix hanging from its belt.  This, and a
shining tonsure of thin, grey locks glinted in the moon.  Only the
face was the same.  At the sight of those familiar features, which
standing out above the shadows seemed to be glowing with a quiet
light from within, Anthony was transported by the fascination of
fond memory into the past.  He seemed to be standing again in the
court of the Convent of Jesus the Child.  Each looked at the other
searchingly.

"My father, is it possible you do not know me?" said Anthony.

"Anthony, my son, my son!" cried Father Xavier.  "I would rather
see you here tonight than an archangel.  Where have you fallen
from?"

He came forward and put his hands on Anthony's shoulders and looked
up into his face.

"I used to look down at you.  You remember?"

Anthony could feel how old his hands were.  A feeling of pity swept
over him.  An irritating cadenza of the woman's voice interrupted
them.  Suddenly he felt embarrassed.

"I have a letter from Mr. Bonnyfeather for you," he said awkwardly.

Father Xavier laughed.  "A formal introduction I trust--'Anything
you may be able to do to further the fortunes of so estimable and
prepossessing a young gentleman will be esteemed as a service
rendered to your obedient servant'--eh?  So, we are on the formal
basis of manhood.  Come, my son, I shall receive you as I am sure
you deserve, letter or no letter."

He laid his hand on Anthony's arm and led him across the court to a
little door with a grille in it, a door so narrow as to be
successfully concealed behind a large pillar.  Taking a candle from
the niche where he had left it, Father Xavier extended a shielding
hand before the flame and they began to ascend a series of narrow
stairs.

The ramifications of the old house were unimaginable.  A thousand
closed doors loomed mysteriously on a hundred corridors going
nowhere.  Anthony suddenly felt an overpowering sensation that he
had been here before.  It seemed improbable that the priest could
ever find the way to his own room again.  The silence was
oppressive, but somehow as they went higher it was not so hostile
as it had been on the ground floor.  Inside, the house was merely
asleep, not dead.  People could come back here and be happy again.
It was not like the garden.  In summer the house was warm and dry,
dusty.

They had both unconsciously fallen into their old step as if
sauntering again through the corridors of the convent.  Father
Xavier walked as though he had a child beside him.  Anthony's steps
became shorter and faster.  He did not notice it but the priest
did.  The light from the candle made the enlarged, blue veins on
Father Xavier's hands stand out in knots.  A still, porcelain light
filtered through his thin, shielding fingers and fell upon his face
as if the glow upon it were from within.

As they walked on through endless corridors and up confusing
flights of well-like stairs, Father Xavier gave the impression that
with all this paraphernalia of the building about him--with the
glimpses of frayed frescoes starting up before the candle and dying
away into the darkness like the gliding fringes of a delirious
dream--the priest had nothing whatever to do.  He alone, in all the
passing phantasmagoria of vaguely glimpsed scenes of nature and the
works of man, held the light which revealed them--and let them go
again.  Only his face shining as from within remained.  Yes, Father
Xavier looked that way tonight.  Anthony wondered what such
impressions might mean.

At last they paused before a door apparently no different from a
hundred others they had passed but to which Father Xavier
unhesitatingly applied his iron key.

It swung open upon a small apartment under the leads.  The
moonlight poured in through a dormer window.  Beyond was a glimpse
of a few pale stars.  Even with only one candle and a little
moonlight Anthony felt at home in the place immediately.  Father
Xavier motioned him to a shadowy chair, and when some more candles
were lit, he saw it was one of the old, red ones with tassels that
had so intrigued him as a child at the convent.  Through what
vicissitudes had it been since then, he wondered, to come here?

It was marvellous how with the closing of the door the very memory
of the labyrinthian chaos of a house that was below and around them
had vanished.  They might have been in a comfortably furnished,
opaque bubble hung somewhere in space, utterly safe from and
independent of the outside universe.  A few embers from the faggots
which had cooked the priest's supper still glowed and made the
place, if anything, too warm.  Father Xavier threw the window wider
and they heard the notes of the harp at a great distance below
them.

The priest turned and touched his forehead significantly.

"She is composing an opera which will never be sung," he said.  "An
old cousin of the Brignoles who has been permitted to live on here
in the lodge these ten years now.  It is a little weird at times.
Let us close it out tonight.  What do you say?"

He shut the window again and going over to the fire poured some
water on the embers.  As the last hissing died away he extended his
arms along the mantelpiece, leaning back and looking at Anthony.

"Do you remember my old room in the little house?"

"I now feel as if I had never left it, father."

"Here are some of YOUR books, the ones with the pictures in
them," said Father Xavier smiling and running his hands affectionately
over the backs of the leather bindings, without turning to look at
them.  "That was where your world began, was it not?  Ah, those were
good times at the convent after all.  Better than we knew.  And now,
to think of it, we have ten years or more to talk away between us.
Why, a life-time would not be long enough for that!  Have you not
found it so, Anthony?"

"I remember some days I think it would take ten years to tell
about.  I do not think I shall live long enough to find out what
really happened in some of them, father.  And yet looking at you
now it all seems as though I had only dreamed them all.  I could
almost imagine that harp down there was our old fountain in the
court splashing away under the plane tree.  That sound of water
comes often at night.  I hear it then."

"So, does it go that way with you?  Yes, we often return to
ourselves at night, to what we were, or are.  Tell me all about
yourself, my son.  It is long since we have had a good talk.  Do!"

He took down a long pipe from the mantel.  "Do you smoke?  No?  I
do.  It is one benign, fleshly indulgence to which I have finally
succumbed."--He began to rummage around in various curious
receptacles for another pipe, carrying his guest's attention from
one thing to another, but giving him no chance to speak.--"You must
inure yourself to the weed before its true virtues can be evoked.
Try this.  Just one or two whiffs at first, if you do not really
care for it.  Real Virginia, very light and sweet.  Old.  I keep it
in this jar with a little damp sponge."  He lifted the pipe rapidly
and brought a lighter.  The stem was in Anthony's mouth and he was
drawing in the sweet smoke almost before he knew it.

"I AM a little cold after all," said Father Xavier, looking at
the fire regretfully.  "A second till I change into my wool."  His
voice now came floating in from his little bedroom just beyond.  "I
am quite luxurious here you see," he added as he secretly put on a
stole under his gown.

Anthony had taken a few whiffs of the pipe.  The first few were
pleasant but he did not care to go on.  He felt himself to be
floating just a little free in space, his feet not quite on the
floor.  It was not dizziness but the beginning of levitation.  He
was no longer connected with anything in space--with nothing except
Father Xavier's voice.  That was the only reality--and himself.

"Now tell me about yourself, as you said you would," said Father
Xavier coming back into the room and seating himself opposite with
an air of one who has come to listen to a moving story.  He wrapped
the loose gown a little closer over his chest.  "Tell me
everything.  What DID happen that day I brought you to the Casa?
You had an encounter with a goat, didn't you?  I remember something
about that."

"Ah yes, the goat!" Anthony began, and without being aware of it
launched forth into what gradually and surely grew into the minute
autobiography of the years since he had left the convent.  If there
was anything that he omitted he could not remember it.  All the
people, the house, the books, the benign and sedate Mr.
Bonnyfeather, Toussaint, Faith, and Angela crowded into the little
room under the eaves of the Villa Brignole where Father Xavier sat
with two fingers across his breast holding his woollen gown.  At
which two fingers somehow Anthony could not help but look as he
went on and on.

At first he was aware only of a certain pleasure in the sheer
narrative of his own affairs with so good and trusted a listener.
Then a kind of exaltation overtook him on the wings of which his
story began to move, but always inward toward the core of his
being.  He was scarcely conscious of the little exclamations,
encouragements, and an occasional query from Father Xavier.  Their
voices seemed to blend, and it seemed to have been suggested to
Anthony that he should ask certain questions of himself rather than
that he might answer another person's.  He even took a certain
vague pleasure in inflicting pain upon himself as he related his
struggles and doubts, or discussed the perplexing books on Mr.
Bonnyfeather's shelves, the curious philosophy of Toussaint, that
day in the room with Arnolfo.  Now, strangely enough, he could tell
everything, even the burning of that night with Faith.  It was a
relief.  Somehow it did not seem so terrible now that he had told
it.  Father Xavier said nothing disturbing.  So he could tell him
of his love for Angela too, and the vision afterward.

As he began to speak of the madonna, HIS madonna, he began to
understand that all he said, all his story of the days he had lived
and the nights he had dreamed, were bound up and made one
intelligible thing to himself by the feeling about a picture of her
that he carried within him.  It was inexplicable but it was so.

She was the one permanent thing he had known.  How could words
compass it?  It was not the little statue.  That was only his
particular familiar image of her, an inheritance from childhood.
Into what had she grown?  How could he tell it to Father Xavier?

"You see what she is lives in me, yet that is what I can speak to
when I must speak to something beyond me--or be left alone--or die
I guess.  Shall I say that in her I, and the world, and what she is
meet?  At her feet!  That is not it, but it is how words put it.
It seems to me now I came here just to tell you that.  I know it
now!  I came up from the sea, and through that evil, tangled garden
with the dead statues, and into the court tonight.  And I heard the
music of the mad woman, and then I called to you, and you were
there.  We are not alone in this deserted house, are we?  Tell me
we two are not alone, my father.  There is something beyond us and
yet in us and with us.  I believe you know.  It is not all like
walking up through those meaningless corridors tonight, my father.
Thou knowest?"

His voice ceased and the candles burned steadily upright.  There
was not a sound except the tick and tock of the pendulum over the
mantel.

Then he saw the two fingers on Father Xavier's breast move.  His
hand was moving in the air and his lips in absolution.  His gown
fell apart where the fingers had been holding it, revealing the
stole.  Neither said anything for a while.  On both of them had
fallen a great peace.  It seemed to Anthony that now he was free of
the past forever.  But the clock went on.  It was after midnight.
It was the morning of July 14, 1796.  The clock and the calendar
both said so.  But in the souls of the priest and the young man it
was no time at all.

After a while Father Xavier got up and going over to a cupboard
took out some white wine.  Anthony now remembered he had had no
supper.  They both felt stiff.  A small blaze in the grate and some
wine and bread brought them back to the warm room again and the
present.

Father Xavier then made up a pallet in one corner of the chamber
and insisted that Anthony should lie down.  He pulled up a chair
close to the fire, and wrapping his gown about him again, stuck his
slippers up before the little blaze.  Propped upon one elbow
Anthony watched the firelight glancing across the priest's strong
but sensitive profile.  There was something exquisite and smooth
about it, but a strength there that might be stern.  His eyes were
a little sunken and the grey locks of the tonsure gave him the look
of a venerable youth.

"I am sure," said Father Xavier at last, "that we are NOT alone."
The clock seemed to interrupt him again.

"You must tell me about yourself, father," said Anthony.  "Here I
have taken up the whole long evening about my own precious
affairs."

The priest smiled a little sadly.

"I have been busy upon the errands of my order.  For a while at
Naples, then in Sicily.  A starving time there.  These are very sad
days for us.  We Jesuits no longer whisper into the ears of kings.
It is very difficult to bear the scorn of the world and to
reconcile the bull of the Holy Father against us with obedience to
the order--and the service of Jesus Christ.  It is difficult in
practice, that is.  I have stayed in Italy, but I have been hunted
at times.  Indeed, I lately have been very ill, sick in body and
mind."  He leaned his head on his hand.

"I was educated in this house, before I went to Rome.  Did you know
that, Anthony?  In the old days it was the summer school for the
novices.  Please God, it may be so again!"  He seemed to be seeing
things in the coals and went on in a lower tone.

"Many years ago in the days of the Colonnas it was the Villa
Brignole.  My mother was one of that family.  Now that the Jesuits
have been driven out it has fallen into their hands again.  I have
relatives here.  They have let me stay on in these rooms quietly
until I am stronger and times are better.  Since the French have
come things are so disturbed I need hide no longer.  There is food,
an old servant, and my books.  I am writing one myself about our
holy martyrs for the faith.  It has meant more than I can tell you
to have you come here tonight.  Most of the work of my life seems
to have crumbled.  But I take courage in you as I see you now."

"Then so do I, father," said Anthony.  "You first encouraged me.
Indeed, without you . . ."  He could not go on.

They were both silent a little again.

"Perhaps, you had better give me the letter from Mr. Bonnyfeather
now," said Father Xavier smiling.

"I had forgotten all about it!  Forgive me.  I seem to have been
interested only in myself tonight.  Believe me, it is not entirely
so."

Father Xavier reassured him.  "You can in part blame me for that
tonight.  But give Mr. Bonnyfeather some of the credit for having
brought us together again," he added as he broke the seal and began
to read.

As he read further his brows wrinkled.  It was as he had thought.
All had gone well with Anthony in the matters of this world.  More
than well.  But Mr. Bonnyfeather was in doubt as to his ghostly
state of mind.  "I have not neglected it," wrote the old man, "I
have done what I could, but my ignorance is great and in your
absence I have, alas, felt myself somewhat helpless.  Sir, you will
forgive me, but I am old.  Some things have fallen through my
hands.  Perhaps I should blame myself for having turned the boy
over to the Frenchman.

"Perhaps?  Yet I would have you remember, too, that he was to be
prepared for the world, and that is not a seminary . . .  In the
matter of first communion I have been most remiss.  He is going on
the long journey I mentioned above, so to your care and wisdom I
leave the matter.  Also in the matter of the will I would have your
wisdom exercised as to whether he is to be told now the full extent
of his benefits.  Do as you think best."  So the priest read on for
several pages.  "And this enclosure to you is only an earnest in
advance of that other money matter of which I have spoken."  Father
Xavier sat pondering for some time.

"Anthony!" said he.

"Yes," replied Anthony sleepily, "sir?"

"Rouse yourself.  I have some things I must talk to you about.  How
long will you be in Genoa?"

"Not over a day or so at most.  The ship must sail . . ."

"Yes, I see," said Father Xavier.  "Then you must take the
sacrament at my hands tomorrow.  At least I am still an ordained
priest," he added with a proud melancholy half to himself.  "I know
a chapel where we can go together."

Anthony was sitting up now clasping his knees and thoroughly awake.
Somehow he felt a little reluctant.  He was not sure.  It seemed
hurried.  He recoiled somewhat.

"I have never taken the wafer, father,--you know?"

The priest nodded and tapped the letter.  "So I am told."

"I must pick up the captain too at an inn near here.  We have much
to do tomorrow--and my confession?"

"It was tonight, have you forgotten already?"  Anthony winced.  No,
he had not forgotten.  That was it.  Somehow he felt that the
confession had been drawn from him.  It was unpremeditated--and
yet?

"I would not put pressure on you, Anthony--but you are going on a
long journey," said Father Xavier looking into the fire.  His
expression was very sad.  He continued after a while.  "God knows I
would give you more preparation.  There are many things I would
talk about with you.  There is one thing I must say to you tonight
lest in my weakness I forget it.  There is God and His son as well
as the Madonna.  No, I would not disturb you in what I may call
your faith, in the comfort she has brought you.  Continue, but let
it lead you on.  I would put it this way for your peculiar case.
Do you from now on consider that which she holds in her arms."  He
paused to consider his own phrases.  "So Christ came into the
world, but so did he not go out of it."

Their concentration on each other was again intense.

"Tomorrow early then," said Anthony after a little, and felt
himself relax.  He lay back gladly again.

Father Xavier rose.  "You have made me very happy," he said.  He
put a little crucifix on the table and left a candle by it.  "There
is a piece of worldly news which I was also bidden by Mr.
Bonnyfeather to convey to you if I thought it wise to do so."  He
snuffed the candle carefully.  "Well, I DO think it wise.  You
are to be his heir."  He stayed a minute looking fixedly at
Anthony.  Then he turned and went into his bedroom.  The candle
remained burning by the crucifix.

After a while Anthony got up and put it out.  He found it
impossible to do anything more than say a Pater Noster.  He was in
a sleepy tumult within.  The night had been an exhausting one.  He
tried to feel grateful in his heart--and went to sleep.

                            ----------

They were awakened next morning by the lusty bellowing in the court
below of the man who had driven Anthony the night before.  He was
much worried about the disappearance of his fare.  Anthony stuck
his head out of the window and a hearty exchange of divergent views
as to the advantage of spending a supperless night in an abandoned
shed went on.

"But you always sleep in your carriage," remonstrated Anthony; "why
should I pay you extra for it?"

"Si, signore, but always under a dry archway and with wine in my
own belly, and hay for the mules.  Last night there was famine,
fleas, and fog.  The cushions are soaked with dew and I in agony
from rheumatism.  I shall catch the miasmic fever, I shall die.  My
wife and ten children, my aged mother, my two aunts . . ."

Anthony laughed and tossed something down to him.  "I hire you for
all day, with meals at restaurants, wine included," he said.

The man picked up the coin and kissed his hand toward the window.
"Pardon, signore, I did not understand I was retained by a
nobleman.  I remain then till you appear."  He looked ridiculous
bowing there in the court so far below.  An obsequious mouse,
Anthony laughed again.

"Will it all go as easily as that did?  The heir is feeling
generous this morning, eh!" said Father Xavier from the next room.

"Very," said Anthony, "and awfully hungry."

"I am afraid you have forgotten something, my son," smiled Father
Xavier, standing by the door with his hat under his arm.  "We could
not eat now, you know.  There is holy food for us this morning."

An inexplicable reluctance swept over Anthony.  His promise!

"I am sorry.  In the joy of the bright morning, after last night,
after finding you, I felt like a boy again.  I had forgotten."

They emerged into the court and took their way rapidly to the
garden.  Along the lower terraces a few wisps of mist were still
smoking.  The rest of the place lay flashing with dewy laurel
thickets, flower-beds a riot of colour, and living green steeples
of cypresses pointing up through the tangled vines.  The sunlight
glinted from a hundred little ponds and rain-filled basins.  Down
at the far gate tossed the scarlet pompons on the mules' bridles.

Anthony stopped and took a deep breath of the cool air just
beginning to be tinged with the heat of the coming day.  It was, he
felt, right, and a fortunate thing to be alive this morning; just
to be alive.  Then he remembered their errand again and looked a
little guiltily at Father Xavier.

"Rejoice," said the priest, "it is not sinful to be gay and happy.
We are not bound on a sorrowful errand.  Do you not suppose that I
am happy about it too?  Ah, yes!  I am afraid from Mr. Bonnyfeather,
and from those books of his you have imbibed a sombre tinge about
the matter.  The northern races, you know, do not have a talent for
religion.  It is, after all, an affair of the heart, liable either
to sour or to effervesce if it goes too much to the head.  It is
between the heart and the head that the church mediates.  But come!
You would not have me making a homily to you here with that
shattered Calypso grinning at us from the grass!"

They began to descend the sweeping steps of the approach.  Through
the gaping gateway behind them came the distant notes of the harp.
Father Xavier shook his head.  Anthony wondered if she had been
playing all night.

"Sometimes for two days and nights at a time, then she sleeps--and
so do I," said Father Xavier.

It was a little uncomfortable, thought Anthony, to have his
thoughts replied to this way out of the thin air.  There was
something in the tone of the harp that had reminded him of the
garden the night before, damp moon shadows and dripping moss.

"But very beautiful here this morning," continued Father Xavier,
"in full day or by the light of memory it can be very lovely even
in its ruin.  And I remember it when it was kept to the old
marchesa's taste.  I spent my childhood here and by a curious
chance my novitiate, too, after the fathers took it over, years
ago.  A long time ago now it seems."

They had descended somewhat into the shades of the vegetation and
dense paths.

"To that little pool over there I can remember coming with my
mother and sailing a toy boat, a divine little Argo, I assure you.
And it was in this grotto I spent a year alone as a novice.  You
see, Anthony, this is my--my convent."  He lifted a heavy branch
and they stepped through into a space of open green with an
artificial grotto in the rocks behind it.

Before this cave staggered pitifully enough even though in dull
green bronze a large figure of a water carrier.  Once from the
mouth of his receptacle had gushed a refreshing stream into the
basin before him.  But that now lay cracked and empty with a few
plants struggling in its many fissures, dependent for their
sustaining moisture solely upon the accidents of heaven.  Already
in the growing heat of the morning they were beginning to droop.
Yet the eye scarcely noticed their small and ordinary tragedy.  It
was inevitably fixed by the terrible predicament of the water
carrier himself.  Above his patient human limbs the empty, lead
pipe that had once conducted his secret supply was now uprooted and
writhing like a snake determined to trip him.

They stood for a minute looking at this.  Father Xavier picked a
small flower from the basin and put it in his pocket.  His lips
moved.  Then they went on along the terrace and down a flight,
along another terrace and down, and still another--and climbed into
the carriage at the gate.




CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

THE STREET OF THE IMAGE MAKERS


The hard road, dustless with the damp of night still on it, and
shining before them, clicked cheerfully under the wheels.  Under
the spell of the exhilarating miracle of motion an enchanted
seascape opened itself before them.  The Mediterranean sparkling
from headland to headland rolled away northward toward France.  The
still, white town at the foot of the distant hills with the sun
upon it might have been an eternal one.  For a moment the mood of
the day-before possessed Anthony again.  He could apprehend the
vision of the table.  He could not see it any longer, but he felt
that he was united again with all men in the bounty of that feast.
The feast of the sun and wine!  "It was an affair of the heart."
The words recurred to him with startling clearness.  The head had
nothing to do with it.  Why meditate?

What was this that Father Xavier was trying to tell him about the
holy communion as they drove along over these ineffable hills?
What of sorrow and pain and mercy; of the meaning of certain words?
It was true that he could not really hear them.  Meaning should be
attached to words like these.  What was it he was about to do?
Something for Father Xavier!  It would be his pupil who would do it
then; who would take the wafer.  Not Anthony, not Anthony Adverse.
He would not do it.  No, that was it, that was it exactly.  He,
Anthony, would NOT do it.  Presently he would have to tell Father
Xavier that he would not.  That was going to be hard.  He sat back
for a minute against the seat and felt the grit of the road crunch
reassuringly under the wheels.  Clip, clop, clip, clop, rang the
iron shoes on reality.

"Thus the communion of saints . . ." said Father Xavier.

"Father," said Anthony suddenly, interrupting him, "I must talk to
you now.  I must tell you that I cannot take the wafer this
morning.  It is impossible.  It would not be I.  You would merely
be giving it to me.  Don't you see, it would be neither the head
nor the heart?  Not now at least."  His eyes widened.  "Not now . . ."

Father Xavier had gone grey.  He looked as if something within him
had crumbled.  He sat very still.

"In the house," he thought, "in the house, before we left this
morning.  Now it is too late.  I had prayed for this but it is not
to be given to me.  The work of my own hands . . ."

They were climbing a hill again, with no visible ending.  The mules
began to walk dragging the weight behind them slowly upward.

"Will it always be like this, I wonder?" thought the priest--and
then bit his own tongue.

"Forgive me, forgive me, my father.  I am sorry to have given you
pain," said Anthony.  "I would not be so sudden in telling you
but . . ."

"In God's time and not mine," replied the priest.  The colour
slowly came back to his face.  "Let us say no more about it.  Now
where are you going today?  Perhaps I can help you.  At least I
know something about Genoa."  He smiled, still quite pale.

It was not until many years later that Anthony understood that he
had been present at a miracle that morning after all--a miracle of
self-control.

At the top of the hill he unexpectedly found himself driving past
the inn where he had left the captain the night before.  A hearty
"Avast there, mister," apprised him of the fact and revealed
Captain Elisha gesticulating from the door with a napkin, while
wiping egg from his moustache.

There was something about his portly figure poised on its thick
legs like a tree that has gripped the rocks and withstood tempests,
which caused Father Xavier to appraise the mariner with approval,
nor did a slightly puzzled twinkle in the captain's steady blue
eyes escape him.  He had seen a deeply concealed but unsolved
trouble effervesce in humour like that before.

Captain Elisha on his part soon ceased to regard the kindly priest
as a "foreigner."  Anthony was more relieved than anyone.  It had
been impossible for him to imagine upon what grounds these two
could meet.  It was simply to be as man to man over the breakfast
table.  Their legs were soon under it.

"I swan to Jesus, mister," said Captain Jorham pouring a little
coffee into his rum, "ye're the first mate I ever did have servin'
under me that spent his shore leave with the clergy.  Beggin' yer
pardon, father.  Not that I have any pec-OO-lar objectshune.
There's wus ways of killin' time I heard tell on.  Didn't know Mr.
Adverse was of the persuasion."  He grew more offhand as he felt
himself getting into deeper water.

"You see, Mr. Adverse was a pupil of mine a good many years ago,"
vouchsafed Father Xavier, "I used to teach him geography and
Latin."

"Wall now then," said the captain glad of so naturalistic an
explanation of his mate's intimacy with the priesthood, "I did hear
him tell ye was by way of bein' an old friend.  Sort of a reunion,
then eh?"

"Exactly," said Father Xavier.

"I met a priest in Canton oncet that had a whole school o' Chinee
orphans.  He was a good man for all they might say at home.  Heard
he was murdered afterwards.  One of them slow demises they devils
goes in for.  Begin with yer fingers and toes and work in."  He
began to cut up a piece of potato graphically.  "It's wonderful how
little holdin' ground the soul needs.  I've seen a Chinee shaped
like an egg and his eyes still bright.  Fact! . . .  Course it's
different with children.  They just up anchor and goes."  He looked
troubled.

"What was the priest's name?" asked Father Xavier.

Captain Elisha could not remember but Father Xavier did.  It had
been one of his own order.  "I have his story in my book."

"Wall, I swan--to man!" said the captain.  He began to tell them
about his voyages to Canton.  They all felt at ease with one
another.  "Seemed like that poor fellow died jes' to make us better
acquaint," he averred finally.

"That has been one remote result," said Father Xavier half to
himself.  "Who knows?"

Anthony observed that the captain was doing well with his "coffee."
The mood of the evening before seemed likely to continue.  After a
while they got up and smoked a pipe outside.  Anthony indulged in
one, too.  He did not care much for it yet.  But after the
experience of the night before he had made up his mind to go in for
tobacco.  It might pay to investigate it as well as wine.  He felt
just a little light in the knees as they climbed into the carriage.
The captain had Anthony interpret while he paid his bill.

"And you might ask the woman," he said, "if they have a child in
the house."

"Si, signore, just learning to walk.  I trust its cries were not
disturbing.  She is very little yet."

The captain looked relieved.  "'Taint the cryin'," he said.  His
face seemed to forbid curiosity about his inquiry.

Soon they drove on, merrily enough, it seemed to Anthony.  He
glanced at Father Xavier curiously.  All seemed well there, too.
But it had been profane food that morning after all.

"Is your hunger fully satisfied, my son?" said Father Xavier
quietly in Anthony's ear.  His face did not change.  Anthony did
not answer.

Not one to neglect any aspect of opportunity, Captain Jorham had
been quick to see in the accidental presence of the priest that
morning an expert aide and adviser in the purchase of church
statuary.  As they drove down the hills back to Genoa he began
without further ado, or any sense of embarrassment, to unfold his
scheme for improving the condition of the church in Cuba.

Somewhat to Anthony's surprise Father Xavier consented to serve in
an advisory capacity.  Indeed, as the priest listened to the
captain's rather remarkable plan unfold an amused smile seemed to
be hiding itself in the deep shadows under his eyes.  But his mouth
remained grave.

Yes, he could undoubtedly aid the captain in making the proper
purchases.  "It is in the Street of the Image Makers that you will
find what you are looking for, I think.  As to the marble blocks--I
do not know whether I can help you, but I suggest that you ask some
of the masons and sculptors at the place that I spoke of.  Do you
want to go there now?"

Captain Jorham assured him that he did.  The less delay the better.
Father Xavier directed the driver.

Just where the Albaro Road approaches the city gate they passed a
small chapel with a fresco upon its outside walls so striking as to
cause Captain Jorham to stop and descend to examine it.  Outside
the door there was a little money box for the benefit of souls in
purgatory.  Just above it on either side of the grated portal,
behind which an altar could be seen, was an enormous picture of
souls frying in hell.  The sympathy of the artist had evidently
been with the devils who were undoubtedly enjoying themselves.  A
small baby for the extreme trespass of not having been baptized had
had both its thumbs cut off and could find nothing but a hot coal
to put in its mouth.  This seemed to hold the captain, although the
main exhibit was an old-man-soul with a grey moustache and
carefully parted hair who was being put feet first into a furnace
vomiting flames.  Various minor activities of a somewhat frank and
painful nature were being carried on in the background.  These
occasionally caused Captain Jorham to "swan to man."  He paused for
some minutes, thoughtfully.

"I hope, father," said Anthony taking the opportunity while they
were left sitting in the carriage, "that you are not shocked at the
captain's scheme for taking the saints to Cuba.  I am not
responsible, you know."

Father Xavier smiled.  "Far from it," he rejoined.  "I regard
Captain Jorham, and men like him, as respectable means to higher
ends.  Sailors, soldiers, shopkeepers, and the like are usually
commendable in themselves.  One should consider what is using them
and why.  In this case I have my own idea that the end may be a
worthy one.  But let us say no more, he is returning."  They heard
a small coin fall in the box.  The captain climbed in tilting the
carriage slightly.  For some distance he seemed inclined to get the
priest's views on infant baptism.  From these he could derive small
comfort.

"Er--na-ow that picture," he went on, "is that your idee of the
hereafter?"

Father Xavier was non-committal though not reassuring.

"I'll tell ye some o' the parsons on the Cape could get p'inters
from it," he resumed.  "It would fill a church down Truro way every
Sunday.  It's not wasted here I guess.  Nope!  Do you know I
calalate we're all like to be surprised by the way etarnity really
is.  'Nearest I ever come to it was oncet off the Andamans when a
bolt of fire fell into the sea right plumb off'n the starboard
quarter.  Left me blind for a week, it did."  He paused dreamfully
as if remembering something, closing his eyes.

"What did you see on the other side of the lightning, Captain
Jorham?" asked Father Xavier very quietly.

The captain opened his eyes and looked at him.  "I'm not giving
away etarnal information for nothin' ara-ound here," said the
captain.  The thought of the coin he had dropped in the box for the
baby remained with him.  With it he had secretly bought a little
comfort and was now indignant at himself for having done so.

They were now well within the town again driving through crowded
streets.  A seemingly endless number of twists and turns finally
landed them in front of an apothecary shop that was built into the
side of a hill.  They told the driver to wait and entered.

As they did so a number of shabby men who were waiting near the
door hurried forward to meet them.  "We want medicines only," said
Father Xavier.  Whereupon these physicians, for such they were,
sank back disconsolately into their chairs.

They left the light of the street behind them and continued to walk
along a bottle-lined passageway that gradually grew darker.

It was some seconds before Anthony's eyes became used to the
deepening shadows or comprehended the meaning of a bright patch of
sunlight some distance ahead.  The air became dank and cool.  They
ascended a few rock steps, where some white mushrooms flourished,
and then suddenly came out of the long tunnel into a drench of
sunshine just beyond.

"This," said Father Xavier, "is the Street of the Image Makers.
Without me, my son, I do not think you could have come even so
far."

"Swan to man, if we ain't come clean through the hill into a lot of
old stone quarries," exclaimed the captain shoving his hat back.
"Thar's the sky."

The captain was correct.  The Street of the Image Makers descended
straight before them into a huge, rocky pocket in the hill which
had once been an immense stone quarry.  From the surrounding white
cliffs tall, forbidding houses turned their bleak backs upon it,
and from dizzy ledges goats looked down indulgently upon the place.
In fact, the only entrance, that through which they had just come,
had been mined in ancient times.  Hence, where the tunnel ended the
street began.  It was merely a gash in the living stone, a
gradually widening continuation of the tunnel now open to the sky
like the bed of a dry canal.

In the walls of this marble prism shops and dwellings had been
hollowed out from time to time, and their fronts carved in the
various styles which the caprices of the owners had dictated.
Before several doors an arcade rested upon Ionic pillars, one solid
piece of stone.  Another shop affected a classic façade with a
temple-like entablature resembling a rock tomb.  Some had severely
plain fronts pierced by doors and windows only, but even around
these openings skilful chisels had traced wreaths of flowers and
vines.  Farther on the street widened away and descended into the
heart of the abandoned quarry, where at the end of its gleaming
vista sparkled a dark blue pond.

Completely removed from the noise and sweaty confusion of the city,
the first impression of this little community was that of a
sepulchral place set apart from the living interests of mankind.
It seemed to brood upon its peculiar affairs exclusively, as if the
inner moods of its troglodytical inhabitants were reflected by the
single eye of the pool in the marble at the end of their curious
avenue.

"This is where most of the holy images, shrines, and ecclesiastical
carvings in this part of Italy are made," said Father Xavier.
"Look, that is a forge over there."  He pointed to a hole in the
rock topped by a little chimney pot from which smoke and flames
were issuing.  "There are also several small potteries scattered
about.  Sculptors work here in both stone and wood.  Those who
apply colour are a separate fraternity and live farther down the
street.  I would not be surprised if the images of the gods had
been made here when Genoa was a Roman town.  Some of these places
you can see from the weathered carvings escape the memory of man."

The priest's remarks had by now brought them before the arcaded
shops.  From these a continuous muffled thudding proceeded.
Looking in, they saw a number of workmen with wooden mallets
beating upon chamois skins.  Stepping to the first window Father
Xavier called loudly for "Messer Stefano."  An artisan in a leather
apron appeared at the door.  Tall, thin, and very dark, there was
something Egyptian about the man, as he stood peering out into the
sunlight with hawklike eyes, small gold earrings, and a short
leather apron.  "Stefano, I have brought you some customers," said
Father Xavier.  The man hastened to lay aside his tools.

"This is the potentate of the whole street," whispered the priest
to Anthony.  "A rather remarkable fellow.  You will have to do all
your bargaining through him.  Humour him.  He regards himself with
some justice as an artist and a philosopher."

The thudding in the shop had ceased.  Only from the forge down the
street a thin troll-like clinking could still be heard.  As Father
Xavier explained the nature of their errand to Messer Stefano at
some length it seemed as though not only the padrone but the place
itself was listening.

"Go on with your work in there," said Stefano after a while.  The
hammers of the gold beaters resumed.

"Since the captain here speaks nothing but English," concluded
Father Xavier, "you will have to conduct your negotiations with
Signore Adverse.  You will find him not without a natural insight
in this affair, a young gentleman of honour and sensibility, a
former pupil of mine."  The workman bowed slightly.

"And now," said Father Xavier, turning to Anthony unexpectedly and
with a smile that was almost tremulous, "you see I have brought you
as far as I can.  It is time to say good-bye.  Let it be here
then."

"To see you again, and when, my father?"

Father Xavier wrung Anthony's hands and hurried up the street.  At
the mouth of the tunnel he turned.  Anthony raised his hand in
farewell.  He saw that the priest was blessing him.  Then he
disappeared into the shadow of the tunnel behind.

"If the signori care to, I will show them about the street," said
the voice of Stefano smooth but not obsequious.  He led the way
into the shop.

"All the shops here are now under my direction," the man continued
a little proudly, "but the gold leaf is my special care.  Would you
like to see?"

He drew aside a chamois skin revealing the beautiful, yellow metal
underneath spreading out from a lump in the middle in one shining
sheet.  He showed them the process.  "Under a skilful hammer, you
see, there will be no holes."

The captain was much impressed.  "Wall, sir, I used to think my dad
could make gold spread further than any living man.  It would have
hurt his pride to see this.  He was pretty talented though.  When I
was nine years old he brought me a penny after a successful v'y'ge
to Nassau.  Sir, I had to show him that coin every Thanksgivin' for
ten years.  I've kept it so durned long I larned the only Latin off
it I ever knowed.  'Expulsis piratus, resti-too-shia commercia.'
Kick out the pirates and reopen the stores," he translated, flushed
with his own learning.  "And that penny was only copper, and here
it is."

Stefano had managed to catch the Latin.  "We are not pirates here,"
he said grievously displeased.  Anthony was forced to explain.  The
man summoned a vague laugh from somewhere and laying down his
hammer led them out again.

"You will find each little place given up to its own specialty,
signore," he explained.  "Trade in images has not been very good
for nearly a hundred years.  My grandfather remembered a better
time.  With the makers of holy images it now goes hard.  War, it is
always war!  Few churches or shrines are being built.  No one makes
vows.  It is mostly the women and antiquarians who buy now.  I have
been forced to control things here in Genoa.  I buy up even the old
figures and retouch them.  Only a few of the most popular blesséd
ones still sell.  In here we make nothing but bambinos."

He threw open a door for them at the side of the street.  Inside a
number of boys and girls were preparing plaster and pouring it into
moulds.  From a drying kiln at one end of the room a girl returned
with a tray full of white baby dolls and laid them before an old
man who sat with brushes and various paints before him.  They
watched him a while.

"Do NOT vary the smile, Pietro," said their guide.  "How often
must I tell you?  It is that one beatific expression of
Buonarrotti's which I desire you to repeat.  What do you know of
ecstasy?"

"Si, si, padrone," said the artist deprecatingly as he retouched a
few cherubic lips.  "But memory plays me tricks with these smiles.
I once had children of my own.  You should have let me stay
moulding resignation into holy hands.  I was good at that."

"Not so good as you think," said Stefano as they went out.

"It is very difficult to have to make these artists always do the
most perfect thing and keep repeating it," he continued as they
went along further.  "So many of them have their own ideas.  And
that would be well enough, signore, if this street were given over
to secular art.  But you see, in my case, in what _I_ have
undertaken to do here, the perfect examples both in life and art
have already been given.  It is restraint therefore and imitation
that are needed . . .

"Si, I have thought much and often as to the effect of these
statues upon those who will acquire them.  They are to bring to
mind the very image of the holy one whose intercession is sought or
whose example is to be followed.  In that, as in everything, a
certain technique is necessary.  Have you ever thought of that,
signore?  Without a technique, a bodily method for faith, morality,
religion itself would perish.  Without the church as one immortal
corporation, without the methodology which it inculcates and even
turns into a habit, the memory of divine things would be lost.  Or
it would be left in the minds of women to be told to babies.  It is
true most vital things ARE remembered that way from generation to
generation.  But our religion is not so simple as that.  There must
ever be images, concrete moulds into which it can be poured."  He
flung up his hands excitedly.  "But, pardon me, I do not wish to
bore you.  You see this is my life work, my enthusiasm, this small
street.  It is not altogether that I live by it.  I live IN it."
He checked himself somewhat embarrassed.

"Tell me what you think," said Anthony.  "It is seldom that people
will do so.  I have often thought about what you are speaking of.
Tell me, you would not have them worship the image itself?"

"I would not stop them," said Stefano.  "What can you do with such
minds as that but give them something outside themselves to adore?
Let them play in their divine doll house.  Let them dress their
saints and be happy.  Those who plague such people with abstract
ideas about God are foolish.  Is it not better to leave them with
an image which may lead to something beyond?

"I am not speaking of philosophers and savants, my friend.  They
are idolaters of ideas.  With them both the image and the technique
of the ways of life they would inculcate are always lacking.  Hence
their dreams must be renewed every generation in adults, by the few
who can read and understand.  God forgive me, I hope I utter no
heresy," he crossed himself, "but I have often thought it is not
such a mystery after all that God should have embodied himself in
human form.  Otherwise he would have remained to us unknown,
imageless, a vague voice in the winds, mystery in the landscape,
the theory of some teacher, or the beautiful dream of an artist in
some idol ugly or beautiful as sin.  In Christ he became a body,
the way, and the life.  I believe; I know that."  He wiped his brow
with his sleeve.

"What is the man saying?" asked Captain Jorham, a little alarmed at
being left out so long.

"He is talking about the image of God," said Anthony with secret
enjoyment.

"Holy smoke, resti-too-shia commercia, let's be gettin' on!"
snapped the captain.

"I see that your friend does not fully understand," said Stefano.

"What I was trying to tell YOU, signore," he hurried on in a
lower voice, "is that in all my images here I have, for reasons
that you can now surmise, tried to embody nothing but the most
perfect attitudes and gestures.  I have studied the works of the
old artists in the days of great faith, and have chosen for each
saint or bambino or madonna, even for Christ himself, those
features which have been found to have the most appeal.  Each one
of these images is a lasting and a silent preacher.  Come, let me
show you something wonderful now."

He took out the key for the door before which they now stood.
"These are too precious to be worked on except under supervision.
The model here is of great value.  It is part of the French spoil
from Milan.  Not now, not of this Buonaparte, but of the French
kings many generations ago."  He threw open the door.

"Only I and my assistant work here," he said.  "All of these models
are from my hands.  See, here is the original."  He pulled a cloth
off an almost life-sized figure in the centre of the room where the
light fell upon it from the door.

It was a Virgin and Child carved in some soft grained stone.  Just
the head and bust of a peasant woman wrapped in an ample medieval
garment.  The stone had been coloured and gilded and a great blue
fold of the virgin's cloak swept down over her breast.  In the
folds of the deep hollow slept the child.  It could not be seen
from the front.  It was completely concealed in the hollow.  Only
the folds of the cloak and the position of the woman's hands
conveyed the fact that something infinitely precious was concealed
there.

Stefano pointed to the hands and paid them the compliment of saying
nothing at all.  Then he turned to the models.

"You see we could not afford to reproduce this in stone," he said.
"These are clay replicas.  When they are first baked the colour is
a little garish but if properly placed in the shadow the effect of
the lines and the whole figure is admirable.  I think we have
caught what those hands are saying . . . and the wonderful sweeping
fold!"  He ran his hand over the bulge of the blue scarf with
satisfaction.

"It is well reproduced, Messer Stefano," said Anthony, "but not so
durable as the original I suppose."

"No, signore, but light, even porous, and easy to transport," said
Stefano lifting one of the images.  "See!"

"The biggest thing we've seen yet," said Captain Jorham.  "You
might start with one of these, mister."  He peered over the edge of
the fold.  "Just as I thought, she's got a baby, too!  The hul
thing's complete.  Better start in and make your dicker now.  This
is the kind of thing we want.  Nothing small and cheap.  How about
some o' they life-sized figurines?"

With some censoring of the text Anthony translated.

"If it is large figures," said Stefano, "come this way."

He led them directly across the street and up a few steps into a
kind of stone lean-to with its rear wall in the rock itself.  Here
standing in solemn tiers were twenty or thirty life-sized figures
of saints and a large thorn-crowned Christ with the conventional
anatomy of the bleeding heart exposed.  Its expression of agony was
so intense as to make a large St. Lawrence stretched out on his
gridiron over terra cotta flames comparatively genial.

"That's the stuff," said Captain Jorham.  "Some of them are a
little cracked, too.  They ought to be knocked down reasonable.
Git busy, mister.  Why not the hul lot?"

Stefano was surprised at the wholesale gusto of his customer.  A
little disgusted, too, Anthony could see.  For that reason he began
by bargaining for one of the fine clay figures of the Virgin they
had just seen across the street.  The man seemed somewhat mollified
by this.  After all the young gentleman did understand the pride of
an artist.

"As your masterpiece," said Anthony, "we will give you for the
model ten crowns less than you ask.  And that, as you know, is more
than meeting your expectations.  For that reason, and because we
shall be taking all of this old stock, you must make me, on worn
figures at least, a more reasonable rate."

After an hour and a half of chaffering, by which time the captain's
hat was shoved clear back on his head and his hands deep in his
pockets, an agreement was in sight.  Another half hour and it was
agreed that Stefano should retouch and repaint where necessary.
All of the "old holy ones" were to be made bright and new.  It
would take two days for the paint and gilding to dry.  Anthony
would call for them then and take them to the Wampanoag.  It was
also arranged that they should be transported in carriages.  "Every
respect must be shown them," explained Stefano.  The excitement in
the streets at so extensive a flitting of saints would undoubtedly
be considerable.  After some demur Captain Jorham agreed.  He had
once seen a religious riot at Lisbon.

"Tell him we'll even put 'em to bed when we get 'em aboard," he
said.  "I mean it.  It won't do to have any of these people
breakin' loose in the hold.  Besides somethin' might shatter 'em if
the cargo shifted.  Now how about them marble blocks for ballast?"

But this could not be arranged.  It would take weeks to drill the
holes.

"Never thought of that," said Captain Elisha.  "Ask him about some
plain marble slabs.  I can batten them down I calalate.  We want
weight, weight!  There ain't profit in water ballast.  The crew
drinks it."

It was possible to arrange for the slabs.  Captain Elisha looked
very pleased.  The total outlay had not been large and he had
obtained more statuary than he had thought possible.  They
adjourned to Stefano's hut and sealed the bargain over a bottle of
bad wine.  By sunset they were back on board the brig.

"And a couple of days will just give us time to load stores, water
the ship, and do a little calkin' along the water line where that
Portegee bumboat rammed her," mouthed the captain through a
mouthful of Philadelphia's grub, "and lay in a few kegs of wine,"
he added looking his wife in the eye.  "Say, Jane, don't 'e look
solemn about that.  Wait till you see who's comin' aboard to keep
you company.  Taewsday mornin'.  Whew!"  He paused for a minute
with his fork and knife held bolt upright.

"Right on that Putnam sideboard is going to be a heathen idol--with
a baby.  It's the prize o' the hul lot.  It goes to Havaner in the
cabin!"  He cut a piece of salt pork at one blow.  "As for the rest
of 'em, there's five empty bunks in the fo'c'sle.  I'd like to see
the British come aboard now with a press gang.  They'd have to
prove Jesus Christ was born in Sussex.  Still," said he rapping on
wood, "some of them post captains could do that all right.  It ud
take God A'mighty to stop 'em.  That it would."  He poured some hot
water into his rum.

"Mister, you're a macaroni mate and you can't hand, reef, nor
steer.  But you're goin' to have a hul starboard watch with haloes,
and a cargo of tombstones for ballast.  There's only one thing I
got to say to you as captain of this HOLY ship.  I don't want no
miracles occurrin' when I'm below.  Do you hear? THAT GOES!"  He
left the fork quivering in the table.

"Now you get your charts and we'll lay out the course."

The lines about Captain Jorham's mouth began to be a little more
drawn as he imbibed a large pitcher of "dog's nose."  He gradually
became silent and morose as the evening wore away and his wife
knitted and knitted.

"More baby clothes?" said the captain at ten o'clock by the
chronometer when they prepared to turn in.  She nodded and closed
the panel.  The captain drew off his heavy boots.

"Mister," said he, "YOU'LL do the navigatin'?  You kin?"  He
looked anxious.

Anthony felt sure of it.  He took out his new sextant that Mr.
Bonnyfeather had given him.  The latest London make, he noted.  By
degrees and by degrees he would soon be slipping over into new
latitudes.  He went on deck for a while and looked again at the
city.

In his room at the Palazzo Brignole, Father Xavier fumbling in his
pocket for his pipe found the flower he had picked from the empty
basin in the garden that morning.  It seemed to him as it lay in
his palm that he had also permitted that to wither.  His hand shook
slightly.  But what could one do with wild flowers?  Leave them to
the winds of God?  A sorry argument about predestination failed to
comfort his soul.  His dreams were sorrowful.

On the Wampanoag next morning they began to bend on a suit of new
sails.




CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

THE PILLARS OF HERCULES


Captain Jorham had miscalculated.  Nearly a week passed before the
Wampanoag could put to sea.  Much against his better judgment,
because he was so short-handed, he was forced to ship some "Spanish
riff-raff" and a few "select" British deserters hanging about the
docks at Genoa.  The latter, after they sobered up, proved willing
hands enough.  At least they could be counted on to keep a weather-
eye peeled for king's ships.  And above all else Captain Elisha was
anxious to give British cruisers a wide berth.

At last the brig was watered and her cargo stowed.  Five saints
were lashed in the fo'c'sle bunks and the grumbling men told to
swing hammocks.  Late one afternoon they hoisted the anchor merrily
enough and a few hours later sunk the peaks which gird in the Gulf
of Genoa under the northern horizon.

Under a complete suit of new sails the ship bowled along famously.
Philadelphia, happy with an ample supply of olive wood, his
favourite fuel, sang at the door of his little galley now
surrounded by chicken coops.  Forward, two pigs, a milch goat and
her kids, and a number of ducks and geese swelled a bucolic chorus
that sang of good fare to come.

Captain Jorham had reverted to a kind of man-o'-war discipline for
his now motley crew, a discipline with which as an ex-privateersman
he was familiar.  One Jeb Collins, a middle-aged down-easter with
iron-grey hair and a rasping voice, had been appointed "quartermaster"
with the authority but not the wages of a second mate.  Under the
press of sail which the brig was carrying, both of the watches were
kept pretty constantly on deck.  Captain Jorham had not seen fit to
appoint Anthony to either.  He took one himself and gave the other
to Collins.  In the strong and continually freshening breeze pouring
out of the east he carried sail till the weather shrouds sang a
higher note.

Mrs. Jorham was the only member of the crew who persistently kept
below.  She sat in her cabin and contemplated with an indignation
which only she could control the large terra cotta figure of the
Virgin Mary that now occupied the place of her copper coffee urn on
the Putnam sideboard.  A little less than life-sized, the statue
seemed to have thrust aside the urn, which was Mrs. Jorham's chief
pride, in wanton intrusion.  It occurred to Mrs. Jorham that the
Virgin kept wrapping the folds of her ample, blue cloak about her
with a calm aloofness that amounted to provocative disdain.

It was only an added exasperation to the captain's wife to find
that in the deep fold over the statue's right shoulder a baby lay
concealed.  Aside from sectarian scruples about "idols," she had
also certain personal reasons which made even the statue of a woman
with a child in her arms, especially when it was snugly ensconced
in her own cabin, peculiarly hard to bear.  Besides, as she
continued to look at it--and she could scarcely avoid doing so--in
the atmosphere of her lonely reveries the thing began to take on
the elements of a living personality.  She caught herself giving it
from time to time a caustic piece of her mind.

That her husband had inflicted this reminder upon her seemed a
piece of deliberate cruelty and reproach.  Her only consolation
was, if he had not been drinking he would not have done so.  But in
the obstinate state which the captain had now reached, and took
care to increase from day to day, remonstrance would be useless.
His only reply would be to mix himself another dog's nose.
Furthermore, with the primary cause of her husband's drinking Mrs.
Jorham was to some extent forced to sympathize.  Indeed, she
reproached herself in a Biblical manner with having been
responsible for it.

Up until now the captain had kept the deck.  But the delay at Genoa
had advanced his potable calendar considerably, and she foreboded
his early and complete retirement to the cabin in no very
complacent mood.  Meanwhile she sat there reduced to silence,
minding her knitting, and brushing away an occasional mist of
stinging tears.  Under these circumstances she felt it would have
been some company and no little protection to have had the new mate
keep to the cabin more than he did.

Anthony, however, kept the deck early and late.  He was anxious to
pick up every item of nautical lore that might come his way, and
that in as short a time as possible.  His position on the ship was,
he realized himself, somewhat ridiculous.  To the crew as well as
to the captain he was already known as the "macaroni mate."
Neither the captain nor the men paid much attention to him at
first.  He was, as Captain Jorham had said, strictly "ex-officio."
He had been inclined to accept this position more or less, but
during a dog watch at Genoa Collins, the quartermaster, had leaned
over the bulwarks with him one evening while they watched the
lights of the city coming out one by one, and unburdened his mind.

"Before we git into the trades, Mr. Adverse, you'll find yourself
in real charge," said the quartermaster.  "I know the skipper, and
he ain't d-ue to last tew long as things are going na-ow.  Ye're
mate on the roster, and ye'll find that mate ye'll have to be.
Na-ow I'll clew all _I_ can, but you might keep that in mind.
Authority's authority, and ye either are, air ye ain't."

So Anthony kept it in mind.  To be lost on the Atlantic with a ship
and crew--to be lost there!  It haunted his dreams.  He could only
pray that Captain Jorham would last.  But wishes soon became
ridiculous.  Already it was a miracle how Captain Elisha could keep
going as he did.

"He counts on gittin' us through the Straits," said Collins.  "And
then--"

"Ah, and then!" thought Anthony.  He was glad he had spent his life
more or less about ships around the docks at Livorno.  The
nomenclature and the lingo were familiar.  He began now to memorize
commands.  But above all he began to furbish up his navigation.  He
even wished he had listened to the mad Mr. Williams' theory of
lunar longitude.  The Wampanoag's chronometer was obviously a joke.
He made a few friends among the older members of the crew.  Once at
sea he went up on the yards to shake out or take in sail.  Collins
at least was for him.  That was one comfort.  And he had learned
the ship from trucks to keelson at Genoa while she was lading.
After a week he felt the men respected him even if they laughed.
He laughed with them, and kept the deck.  The first noon out he
brought up his sextant but the captain would have none of it.

"Lay off that, mister, till I give the word.  I don't need that
contraption to tell where we're at na-ow."

"The old man's awful techy about shootin' the sun," whispered
Collins.  "He'll try to go by dead reckonin' when he kin."

So the new sextant went back to the cabin.  But the men had seen
it, and some of the old hands who had sailed with Captain Jorham
before looked pleased.

The captain's method of navigation, since his faith had been
shattered some years before in his pet sextant, was, although he
did not condescend to explain it, abundantly plain.  In the
Mediterranean it consisted in coasting from one well-known landfall
to another.  In wider, ampler oceans of late years his progress had
become truly wonderful.  Each voyage had rivalled that of Columbus
in view of the possible mysteries ahead.  One grand fact had
consoled him.  Sailing east from Amurakee one was bound to reach U-
rup.  Undoubtedly the converse might also be true.  At any rate he
was about to put it to a pragmatic test.  In the meantime in a
comparatively small place like the Mediterranean he felt at home.
With two ex-whalers for lookouts he continued to crack on sail
unmercifully.

Once the bend in the coast by Genoa was out of sight he took a long
southern slant till he raised the peaks of Corsica.  A day later
the fishing boats making for Ajaccio allowed him to mark himself
down as about 42 N. and 8 E.  After that it was comparatively easy
going for a while.  The east wind, which held and continued to
freshen a little every day, suited him well.  On that tack the
Wampanoag was at her best.  He merely squared away a little to be
sure to pass to leeward of Asinara and then ran down the coast of
Sardinia as far as S. Pietro.

"Call it thirty-nine North," said Captain Elisha.  "Gib is just
thirty-six and away, and away west."

But he frowned a little as he looked at the chart.  The bulge in
the coast of Africa was somewhat confusing.  He wanted to give Port
Mahon and the Balearics a wide berth on account of British
cruisers.  To make, as he put it, "a good southing" before he
squared away before the wind for the Straits.  Part of Africa,
however, appeared to be in the way.  And Algiers was an unhealthy
neighbourhood.  Between the horns of this dilemma, Algiers and
Minorca, he lingered over the chart for an hour or two.  The
application of a third dog's nose he was glad to see had
straightened out the coast of Africa.  "Well, he would hold on
south; take a good plenty south."  And he did so.

Next day the wind showed every sign of freshening to a blow.  With
some difficulty Collins got permission to reduce sail and finally
to send down the royal and t'gallant masts.  Not only the ship but
its new mate now rode much easier.  Watching the yards roll against
the sky while the spars came down had given Anthony his first
serious qualms.  Nothing, however, could persuade the captain to
follow the example of several other ships and head west.  Collins
was obviously worried at this obstinacy.

"Git a sight today if ye kin, Mr. Adverse," he managed to say while
the men were lashing the lower topmasts to the shrouds with extra
precautions.  "This here weather looks like a little patch o' clear
before a big blow.  For God's sake take advantage of it.  I'll try
to keep the skipper below at noon.  Seems like I could smell
Afriky."

When Anthony came up with his sextant a few hours later both the
deck and the horizon were momentarily clear.  Taking advantage of a
patch of clear sky just at noon, when the scud which had been
driving for some hours luckily opened out overhead, he made his
first observation at sea.

When he worked out his position he made it to be much farther south
than the captain's longest guess would admit.  Africa must be not
far over the southern horizon.  He said so, but somewhat too
diffidently.

Ordinarily Captain Elisha would have given heed and taken the
credit to himself.  Under influences more potent than the
calculations of his merely titular mate he now argued and held on.
He was convinced at dawn by a frantic voice from the masthead and a
not too distant glimpse of a long beach dead ahead where breakers
bared their fangs and endless sand dunes smoked in the gale.  For a
few hours he was somewhat sobered.  The ship was instantly put
before the wind which swept her westward.  The trend of the coast
soon caused them to man the port braces and give the brig a safe
northern slant.  After that they all breathed easier.

"Drunken man's luck it wasn't a lee shore," muttered Collins to
Anthony.  "We'll git more wind sure before tonight."

The incident proved a fortunate one for Anthony.  In the estimation
of all hands he advanced considerably.  A certain subdued humorous
tolerance with which he had so far been treated now gave way to a
more serious acceptance and respect.  From that time on his
appearance on deck with a sextant was hailed by the older members
of the crew in particular with a secret sigh of relief.  The
vagaries of the captain's navigation even when sober were only too
well known.  It was not long before Anthony discovered the cause.

The captain's sextant, he found after a little checking, had once
been repaired and its angle altered.  Evidently it had had a fall
some time prior to the American Revolution.  Consequently the more
accurate the observation the more certain the error.  It was only a
few seconds--but at the end of a voyage!  To amuse himself he
worked out a table of compensation.

But of all this he determined for the time being to say nothing.
In the captain's present mood it would do no good.  And knowledge
was power.  Excellent seaman as Captain Jorham ordinarily was,
should the mixing of dogs' noses continue, Anthony was by no means
certain how much responsibility might not yet rest on the
inexperienced shoulders of his mate.  It would be well to keep safe
what little claim to authority he had.  With this Mrs. Jorham and
the now greatly perturbed Collins agreed.

Indeed, from the time of their brief glimpse of Africa dead ahead
Anthony worked out the course daily with the aid of the
quartermaster.  The captain was already moving in spheres without
parallels, a diviner ether and an ampler air.  The cabin itself had
begun to take on a peculiar air of unreality which Anthony could
scarcely account for.  In this both the captain and his wife seemed
to have an equal share.  He took the charts out of this realm of
speculation into the more sober and ecclesiastical fo'c'sle.

"Necessity makes strange bedfellows, indeed," Anthony thought as he
and Jeb Collins fumbled over the charts, laying out the compass
bearings for the day while surrounded by several bunks full of
Christian martyrs and saints.  The whale-oil lamp overhead swung
with the motion of the ship causing murky shadows to chase over the
face of the map like little clouds over a miniature landscape.  The
face of St. Lawrence who was lashed on his gridiron to the forward
bulkhead grew alternately dark and pale.  Beneath him the terra
cotta flames continued to flicker.  Someone, Anthony noticed, had
put a tarpaulin over Christ.  St. Catherine's wheel was hung with
oilskins and gear.

"It's a turrible time on this little ship when the skipper begins
wallerin' in grog," remarked Collins looking about a little
apprehensively.  "Luck's usually with him even then, I dew allow,
but it don't seem right to tempt it tew far by lashin' all these
heathen people in a Christian fo'c'sle.  'Sides, 'tain't shipshape.
I kivered that awful bleedin' heart myself.  Looked like murder and
mutiny on board."

He turned to the chart again with a distinct look of relief.

"Lay it a good deal north of west, Mr. Adverse.  Ye'll be wantin'
to give them Sallee rovers a wide berth and yet not nose tew near
Minorca.  Call it nor'west by north, that's about right till
tomorrow allowin' fer what you said the variation is.  She logs
about ten knots in this breeze.  Ye can see where that ul git you
tomorrow noon.  Hope ye can git the sun then.  Maybe?  But as I've
been sayin' all erlong it's comin' on to bla-ow.  We're not far
enough off the coast yet to suit me."

They went up on deck together.  Astern, between the low slate-
coloured cloud that covered them like the roof of a cave, and the
leaden floor of the sea below, was a long bright streak, green,
intensely clear, and apparently gaining on them fast.  A flock of
gulls streamed past screaming, going downwind.  Beyond the clear
streak Anthony thought he could see land.  A long range of sombre
hills wrought with a freedom that only ruthless nature could attain
were lifting sullen, tortured peaks above the horizon.  Suddenly a
hellish glow of sunset flashed redly from peak to peak.  As if
returning an answer their dark battlements lightened and winked
with sheets of internal flame.  Their pinnacles started to wither
away.  From beneath them endless lines of mad cavalry with white
tossing manes came galloping down on the ship.  The rumble of
distant artillery rang around the horizon, a volley of bullet-like
hail spattered the sails and deck.

"Land O," roared the lookout.

As if warned by instinct Captain Elisha instantly appeared on the
quarter-deck.

"Ready about, take your stations for stays," he roared through his
speaking trumpet.

"Stations!" howled Collins.  "Git 'em up, Mr. Adverse, don't lose
no time.  There's no chance to strip her now."  His whistle
shrilled.

"Put the helm da-own," bellowed the captain.

The Wampanoag shot around into the wind her canvas slatting and
thundering.  Warned by the pother overhead as much as by Collins'
now profane encouragements the men were at their stations before
the ship teetered into the eye of the wind.  As if she had received
a sudden blow from a furious fist the Wampanoag was taken aback.

"Haul taut!  Mainsail haul!" bellowed the enormous trumpet.  The
aft sails moved around together and filled with a loud report.  The
yards were braced up.  "Let go and haul," commanded the trumpet.
Anthony saw the foreyards come round and the canvas bellow out.
The jibs were sheeted home.  With a great bound under the first
full impulse of the gale the brig dashed off on the opposite tack.
The men went about coiling up ropes as if nothing had happened.

The cause of all this had been a glimpse of Cape Carthage to
leeward.  The manoeuvre was repeated again several times that
night.  The captain remained on deck for hours until he had worked
well out to the northward into the open sea.

Under the outward buffeting of the elements and the internal
refreshment with which Philadelphia constantly supplied him, the
captain seemed that night to surpass the usual limits of human
personality.  He stood behind the steersman with his legs braced
far apart in what appeared to Anthony to be seven league sea boots.
The foam and spume streamed off his oilskins that fluttered in
occasional wild glimpses of moonlight like infernal rags.  As the
night wore on his voice took on more and more of a brazen quality.
He drove his crew and his ship hour by hour clawing off the coast
of Africa, thrashing along now on a short, mad stretch to leeward,
and now beating up into the teeth of the wind.  The rigging
shrieked and the bows of the Wampanoag thundered and foamed.  In
the tireless figure on the quarter-deck at home in the storm,
Anthony thought he could glimpse a more colossal emanation of the
man who had been at one with the world when he sat in the carriage
at Genoa watching the sunset.  It was the curious quality of this
man that he seemed during the night to grow in stature, to be an
antidote for fear.  Perhaps it was the immense brazen voice from
the trumpet that all obeyed.  Perhaps?  When the dawn broke Anthony
was surprised to see again that Captain Jorham was really not so
tall.  A rather short figure if you looked closely.

About dawn the brig was put before the wind again.  From now on it
would be a straight run for the Straits.  During the night she had
been stripped of canvas and was driving with nothing but a reefed
foresail, a spanker, and a jib to keep her from yawing.  There were
two men at the wheel, for the seas were now coming on so fast from
behind as to kick her stern at times almost clear of the water.
The drag when she settled back again was terrific.  Four arms on
the spokes were none too many.  They shook out a reef in the
foresail but it was not enough--another.  She continued to plunge
more determinedly.

"It'll never do to broach to na-ow," shouted the captain in
Anthony's ear as an unusually large wave rose and combed just aft
of the taffrail only to break and go hissing by.

"Na-ow's the time to get a little more drag on her for'd.  Do you
see, mister?" he roared, pointing to some of the crew busy rigging
preventer stays to the foretopmast, "I'm going to give her a double
reefed foretops'l."

Presently there was a report as if a small cannon had been fired
and streams of ripped canvas whipped about frantically, beating the
crew off the yard.  Collins drove them back and made them cut it
loose.  It was snatched to leeward.

"The old sail," said the captain.  "Thought we'd try that first.
Na-ow watch.  Ye might have to do this sometime."

He went forward banging on the scuttle for the other watch who came
tumbling up.  The new sail was hoisted and bent on slowly with
extra lashings.  When it opened out they let it blow away clear of
the lower yard.  For a moment it stood out flat and clear like a
horizontal banner streaming forward.  At that instant the captain
roared and it was sheeted home to the lower yard with an even pull
on both tackles.

The brig leaped ahead.  The men at the wheel wrestled with the
spokes over a brief "S"-shaped course that soon flattened out into
a clear wake of bubbles left straight behind.  Aft, the waves still
rose now as before, followed, but fell astern.  Captain Jorham
returned to the quarter-deck and spat over the side.  He cupped his
hands to shout.  "Never let 'em slat back on ye.  Ye hev to sheet
home JES' so.  If ye let the blocks whip back and tangle, ye're
gorn!"

They stood together a while watching the ship tear through the
crests and race down into the hollows beyond as if in mad pursuit
of some invisible prey.  But she rose now and seemed to be lifted
ahead, the sails booming as they came up out of the valleys of
water into the full force of the wind.

Under the pressure of her increased canvas the Wampanoag was
whipped forward at startling speed.  Anthony could feel transferred
to his own body her wild desire to twist and lay-to which the men
at the wheel constantly checked.  It must be certain, he thought,
that something would go.  In reality it was only a good hearty
gale, but to his inexperience it seemed a hurricane.  When the
gusts came he waited for an ominous crack overhead, having no
adequate idea of the relative strength of yards, cordage, and
ship's timbers.  So he stood for hours, watching, but nothing
happened.  The ship had been made for this, he had to admit at
last.

The bell was struck with the spray and rain streaming off it.  The
men at the wheel and the watches were relieved regularly.  Old
Collins heaved the log.  The wind keened through the rigging, and
the turmoil of waters raced by.  As the sun sank at last in a red
mist and the horizon narrowed to the ship's dimensions he began to
feel confident again.  Soon even the ship disappeared except for a
few feet of deck and a dim tracery aloft.  He was alone in the
universe standing on something.  A few feet aft the bearded face of
a sailor smoking a pipe seemed to be floating without a body over
the feeble glow of the binnacle.  Only when the ship rolled could
you sense the man's body eclipsing a few misty stars.  A faint
glimmer from the stern windows followed and followed over the
tossing wake.  The sound of hissing and foaming was muffled by
monotony.  An endless, meaningless story told in a mad liquid
tongue, it was.  Its constant narrative was unimportant, only its
cessation or a complete change of tone could be significant.  It
was the same with the sails.  They would go on that way and go on--
till the wind changed.  He turned and went below.

As he slid the scuttle hood over his head and descended into the
cabin the piping of the gale and the song of the rigging was
suddenly cut off and made infinitely remote.  It was a relief to
escape it.  Then the curious face at the aft end of the cabin was
looking at him.  He paused half-way on the ladder listening,
missing the noise of wind and water, only to become aware gradually
of the internal life of the ship.

It was a kind of suspended motion accompanied by muffled
cracklings, strainings and squeaks, groans and the hushed swishing
of water under the keel.  The floor of the cabin tilted always to
another angle, poised, tilted again, slid, and climbed.  A long
gurgle of bilge water bubbled and stopped like a drowned flute at
every subsidence.  Clothes suspended from hooks pointed to the
middle of the floor only to find the ship's sides nuzzling them.
THEY had not moved.  And to all of this there was a kind of
inexpressible rhythm, a repetition which no one could predict or
remember.  But it went on.

Yet the main impression of the cabin bathed in its smoky yellow
light was that those who sat there were waiting for something
inevitable to happen.  As Anthony stood on the ladder and looked
about him he was instantly aware of it.  Yet he could not account
for it at all.  It was like listening behind a closed door for
someone he knew was there but who made no sign.  Mrs. Jorham was
knitting.  She did not even look up.  Philadelphia was laying the
table, noiselessly.  Captain Jorham was nodding with his mouth
open.  Yet they were waiting--not for him.  The shadows slipped
slowly from side to side.  The lamp hummed as if a moth were in it.
The Virgin wrapped her cloak about her and looked in its folds.  He
came down slowly, peeled off his heavy wet coat and sat in his
bunk.  The air was not so fresh down here.  He was tired and
perhaps a little dizzy.

The same impression that he had going to Genoa came over him.  He
was not moving at all.  The sea outside, the shadows, the events in
the cabin were all coming out of somewhere and going past him.  He,
watching this vague panorama, remained still.  Yes, the long
corridors in Father Xavier's house with all the frescoes in the
wall had gone past him.  It was all like walking in a treadmill.
The convent, the days at the Casa and the streets of Livorno,
Faith, Angela, Vincent, Genoa--tonight in the cabin was going by
like that.  It had all come out of the darkness into the light of
his eyes and returned into the darkness again.  Dreams of it
remained in memory.  There was more, more to come.  You could not
stop it.  You walked to the last rung in the treadmill--and then?
Travel!  He laughed silently as the side of the ship pressed itself
against him.

Mrs. Jorham beckoned for him to come and eat but he could not.  He
felt decidedly dizzy and tired after the long day.  He wished the
ship would stay still.  It kept moving about HIM as the centre of
everything, sickeningly.  He began to talk to Mrs. Jorham in a low
voice through which now and then over his own monotone he could
catch the loud ticks of the clumsy chronometer.  It sounded like a
treadmill.  What she replied he could not remember.  After a while
he went on deck again.  In the darkness--he was glad of the
darkness--he was very sick.

The fit passed.  For a day or two he was dizzy, then very clear
again.  The motion of the ship no longer troubled him.  He was
going with it now.  He forgot it although the wind had increased if
anything.  Captain Jorham had added a storm staysail in the teeth
of it and the brig rode steadier.

Anthony often wondered what would have happened to them if Captain
Jorham had taken to his bunk before they were clear of the Straits.
For days now it had not been possible to get a sight of the sun.
The ship had been swept steadily westward in a smother of spume
half the time with a pall of rolling, dark clouds driving over her
and billowing down so low sometimes as to seem about to touch the
masts.  Through all this pother of the elements Captain Elisha
carried his ship by dead reckoning and sea instinct.  To him the
currents, the tides, the very colour of the water were guides.
They scarcely had a glimpse of the stars.  At last there were some
signs of a break in the gale.  The men in the tops watched eagerly
for a landfall.

It came suddenly, and unexpectedly to starboard.  One day at noon
the pall overhead lightened, the sun struggled through.  Before
them the wind seemed to be tearing the clouds to rags.  Without the
least warning, as if a curtain had been raised, long lines of snow-
capped mountains were seen marching on their right.  Sixty miles
inland the wild hills of the Sierra Nevadas rose above the brown
plains of Granada with continental fragments of dark cloud-bank
breaking against them, clouds rolling up in white mist, filing
through the passes, and being driven and harried westward along the
slopes.  An interplay of swiftly moving titanic shadows turned the
long coasts of Spain fading away before them to the southeast into
a Satanic country lit inland by infernal gleams.

"That's Cape Gata," said Captain Jorham, indicating a point of land
with a few white houses and a fierce surf leaping up about a small,
stone battery.  "And it's darn lucky if there ain't a British
frigate anchored under its lee."  He gave the Wampanoag a sharp
sheer to the south.  "We're too far north this time.  Sartin we
DID miss Algiers all right, by about two hundred miles, and
there's a nasty current along here that helps the British right up
to Port Mahon.  We'll jes' hev to run for it now.  Gib is about a
day's sail away."

He turned and whistled loudly through his fingers.

"Lord send this wind holds.  Mister, do you know what gettin'
through the Straits means?  Sounds simple na-ow, doesn't it?  Wall,
sir, in 'ninety-two I was hangin' out at Luff's boarding house at
Gib with five other skippers, mostly British, for six 'tarnal weeks
while the west wind bla-ew and bla-ew.  There's alers a five to six
knot current settin' in through the Straits but a long westerly
bla-ow makes it worse.  There's eddies then that jes' swallers
fishers and small craft.  Wall, the seventh week I says to myself,
''Lisha, you're gittin' barnacles on the sole o' your trousers,'
says I.  So I ups anchor and in two days I beats out after p'intin'
back and forth between Tarifa and Tangier till I thought I'd wear
out the gudgeons.  Y' see I knowed all o' them five other skippers
was up on O'Hara's Folly with glasses lawfin' like loons.  Y' see?
Na-ow somethin' happened to the current and one arternoon I jes'
sailed up to Trafalgar.  Nor that ain't all.  I got a cargo at
Cadiz and took it round to Lisbon.  'N I filled up with wine and
shoes there for the garrison and come back on the same wind, and
there was all five o' them Britishers still settin' ra-ound the
table at Luff's with corns on their tails.  'Officer, give me one
penny for de bread, I say, officer, give me one penny for de
bread,' says I, stickin' my knot in over the geraniums.  Wall,
SIR, there was enough crockery come through that winder to
furnish an admiral's galley.  And that's true, and that's the
Straits."  He whistled again through his fingers shrilly.  Collins
laughed.

Next morning Calpe and Abyla, the two immortal pillars, rose
superbly before them towering above the surrounding mountains.  The
gale was blowing itself out.  But there was a choppy sea tossing in
the Straits.  They passed a British ship of the line wallowing
drunkenly into Gibraltar with her topmasts housed and only her
courses set.  The great rollers swept her sides, now exposing her
gleaming copper and now leaping to her third line of gun ports,
smothering her in spray from time to time.  The Wampanoag fled past
her and down the narrow gulf with a line of mountains on either
side and the strong wind behind.  The topmasts were being sent up
again.  Before the Rock lay behind them the brig was once more a
tall ship.

They burst out into the Atlantic with long curtains of rain
overtaking them as the gale finally blew itself out in a succession
of dying squalls.  A rare display of rainbows grew and withered,
arching away into the hills toward Tangier.  Land birds came and
perched on the masts.  Gulls cried peevishly behind till a fierce
lanner came and drove them away.

"Golondrina, señor," said a Spanish sailor to Anthony, scooping up
a tired bird from the deck and warming him in his hands.  "From my
country, over there."  The man had a young, ardent face and
sensitive fingers that trembled over the bird.  Anthony felt sorry
for him.  The sailor stood leaning over the bulwarks gazing at the
white villages among the mountains.  Suddenly he pointed toward a
lighthouse with a small, red-roofed town clustered about it; orange
trees, and barren hills behind.  He took off his red, tasselled cap
and his eyes shone.

"My town," he cried, "Tarifa!  Pardon, señor.  Ah, the girls of
MY town!  They have the true gracia.  Have you seen the
Andalusian women yet?  No!  Your eyes have not yet then been
completed!"  He leaned over the bird in his hand.  "See, its head
is small but it has true wisdom there, señor.  It knows enough to
fly home.  El saber nunca ocupa lugar.  Fly, golondrina, to the
little house under the tower," he whispered.  Anthony could not
hear the rest.  The man smiled and cast it into the air.  It
circled and made off for Spain.  "The last point of Europe!" the
sailor cried stretching out his arms, "my town!  You return,
swallow, and I, I, Juan Garcia, I go to Cuba and there are no
graciosas there.  Ah, adiós, hermosa, bendita sea la tierra que tu
pesas."

"It IS a beautiful place," said Anthony looking after the
departing bird, "Europe, old and noble."

"Sí, sí, señor, sí, sí!"  The young sailor's face glowed.

"Pipe down, onion," shouted Collins from the wheel, glaring with
his cold, blue eyes.

The man's face darkened.  He turned with a magnificent gesture to
Anthony.  "Señor mío, le beso a usted la mano; y sí hay algo en que
le puedo servir tiene usted--aquí!"

"Belay that," thundered the voice.  But the youth stalked forward
ignoring the quartermaster.

"Don't let 'em hornswaggle ye, Mr. Adverse," warned Collins.  "I'm
tellin' ye.  A louse like him has enough garlic on his breath to
start a kippered herring fer home let alone a bird.  For a peso
he'd stick a knife in your back."

"It's a beautiful morning, isn't it, Collins?" said Anthony
suddenly, and looking him in the eye.  "I'm proud to be the first
officer of a ship on such a day.  Did you ever hear this, Collins?


     'Loud uttering satire, day and night, on each
      Succeeding race and little pompous work
      Of man.'


That you, Collins?"

"Not egg-ZACTLY, sir, not day and night, sir.  I wouldn't say
that."  The man shifted his quid.  "Sartainly not to the FIRST
officer on a beautiful mornin'."

He twisted his lock.  They looked at each other and laughed.  "All
right, then," said Anthony, "all RIGHT!"--and went below.
Collins gave a slight whistle, but not for more wind.  They were in
the Atlantic now and the only man on board who could use a sextant
was to be respected.  A little later Captain Jorham came up with
his glasses and swept the horizon.  His legs were behaving
independently and that was a bad sign.

Another bad sign was the topsails of a great English convoy coming
down from the direction of Cadiz.  Captain Jorham had no desire to
bring down some fast sloops of war to investigate his intentions.
He soon lost the convoy by cracking on every yard of canvas the
Wampanoag could carry.

The little brig bloomed out sail after sail till she towered from
deck to royalmasts with everything that would draw.  The stu'nsail
booms were got up and rigged.  The jibs were guyed out.  Above the
royals were skysails.  A balloon sail was the skipper's especial
pet.  It fluttered now and then when she luffed a little.  The
skipper sat on the bulwarks and kept his eye on it and, "Ease her,
ease her," and "now a rap full," he would say to the man at the
wheel, "and hold her there."

"Aye, aye," muttered the hand, nervously turning his quid.

"Yankee skipper, comin' down the river," hummed the captain to
himself, unconsciously patting the ship's rail.

"Now you're walking out like a flea onto the belly of the world,
old gel.

"There's nothin' but blue water between here and Bermudy.  Mister,
it's clearin' fine," he said, turning suddenly to Anthony.  "You
can take all the sights you want to na-ow.  That there promontory
to the south is Cape Spartel, and yonder north over the convoy is
Barbate.  We're just about the middle o' the entrance to the
Straits and that's so nigh exactly thirty-six North and six East
that you can mark that off on the chart and take it as your jumpin'
off place for the v'y'ge.  Na-ow lay a course for jes' west o' the
Azores, say, thirty-two--forty.  You might sight Corva.  Keep
nor'west of it if you do.  You'll pick up the Northeast Trade
thereaba-outs this time of year, and from then on it's plain dumb-
fool sailin' to the Indies.  You jes' let the wind push you.  Run
from any sail ye see and don't borrow no trouble.  Me--I've got a
good deal of trouble on my mind.  Na-ow I'm goin' below, and don't
you call me unless you're chased or it comes on to bla-ow.  Short
of suthin', call it nothin', and LEAVE ME WITH GOD!"

He collapsed his telescope with a final snap, and hitching a little
sideways scuttled below like a crab.

"Sounds to me like Old Stormalong's resignin'," said Collins as the
captain's shoulders disappeared into the cabin followed soon after
by Philadelphia with a steaming pot of coffee.  "But it'll take
more than coffee and a dog's nose to sniff us safe past the Azores
unless we want to fetch up on one o' them palmy isles.  I remember
oncet in the Pacific, when the skipper went off on a long spell
like this.  We jes' drifted round like the ark for a month, and no
doves never came back neither.  What do you Noah about that?"
chuckled the quartermaster closing one eye solemnly.  "Wall, he
finally sobered up and brought her round the Horn.

"Mr. Adverse, if I know the signs of the skipper's weather, 'n I
ort to, arter sailin' with him since 'eighty-two," continued
Collins hemming and hawing a little at having to discuss his
captain's vagaries, "it's goin' to be right wet from here to
Havaner.  And that leaves it pretty well up to you and me."  He
took a turn or two considering.

"Na-ow," he took another turn and hitched his trousers.

"Na-ow, how would it be if you left the deck to me and I left the
navigatin' to you, 'cept fer heavin' the log and markin' up the
slate and sich like.  I'm askin' you since you're mate now O-
fficially."

"Is it orders you want?" asked Anthony admiring the wise little
bantam of a man with a black silk handkerchief knotted dapperly
about his tanned neck and a silver whistle thrust in his pocket.

The quartermaster nodded.

"Very well then, take charge of the deck," said Anthony.  "I think
I can find out where we are.  I have my own sextant, you know."

"That's ONE blessin'," said Collins.  He tugged at his forelock.
"I'm glad you realize the sitooation, Mr. Adverse.  But I wonder if
you dew?  Let's git rid of ears yonder and I'll partikilarize."

He went to the wheel, and sending the man there forward, began to
con the ship himself, running his eyes over the sails constantly
and taking advantage of every puff and slant to get the most out of
her.  Presently he had Anthony in his place, directing him with one
hand on the wheel himself.

"Ye have to develop a feel for the thing and that comes slowly.
Steady na-ow, bear da-own, sir.  Ye keep a kind o' constant balance
against the pull.  It would never do to be taken aback carryin'
everything as we are now.  It might yank all the sticks out of her.
Ye have to watch like a hawk for squalls, tew.  A small cloud on
the horizon and white water comin' down fast, that's trouble!  I'm
going to strip some of the canvas off soon as we're sure the
skipper and the Almighty are tetertate like he indicated they would
be soon.  Less hurry the more speed when ye're short-handed like we
are.  The old hooker's a fast one though!"

Feeling the ship as it were in his grasp, Anthony stood fascinated
but with every sense alive, watching her sway over the long grey
seas; hearing the wash and gurgle about the rudder behind.  To the
quiet voice of Collins which continued in his ears the sea was
providing a half-musical accompaniment.

"Na-ow as I was sayin', when I sent the man for'd--every sailor has
ears and eyes in the back of his head, ye know--as I was sayin',
our sitooation AIN'T comical.  It's like this.  The skipper's off
again.  He usually goes on till he has the SQUEEGEES.  That may
take two weeks, or yet a month.  'Tain't snakes.  It's his dead
baby what comes back.  He hears her.  Na-ow it won't do to let the
crew get wind o' that, cause they'd SEE her.  Ye see I know.
This here is my 'steenth v'y'ge with the cap'n.

"He's a kind o' curious one.  There ain't a better skipper afloat.
He made a fortune or two on some Canton runs.  Then he married him
a wife--below now--and built a fa-ine house at Scituate, lookout
and all.  Meant to settle down.  Wall, they lost their only little
gal.  About three years old, she was.  And after that he started to
go to pot on land.  They dew say his house was baby-haunted.
Nobody won't live there since.  But I dunno.  Anyway him and his
wife up and cleared out.  He left her to home for one v'y'ge and it
was then I heard tell her baby came back.  Anyway the Missus
wouldn't stay on, and he'd drunk up his money or lost it on some
venture or other.  The Wampanoag is all he's got, for the house
can't be sold or rented.  There's lots of skippers laughs at him
for havin' his Missus aboard, but believe me, he needs her, and
I'll say she DEW look after him wonderful.  Besides, she never
said it, but I'm sure she's scairt to stay behind.

"Wall, you see how it is.  I said fer ye to look after the sun and
the charts, but you'll have the cabin on yer hands too, Mr.
Adverse.  That won't be easy.  YE GOT TO KEEP THE OLD MAN BELOW.
Give him liquor and humour him.  Git him over it.  If he gits on
deck there'll be hell to pay.  Wait till he begins to hear that
baby walkin'.  Paddlin' footsteps on the deck, Mr. Adverse!  Mrs.
Jorham'll do the rest.  She knows how to peter off after the
horrors.  A little less every day.  As fer me na-ow, I'll get the
ship to Havaner if ye can give me some notion where we are every
day or so.  Na-ow then I'll take her over, I expect."

He resumed the wheel and squared his shoulders as if he felt the
mantle of authority settling on them.

"Coil that loose end up, you swab," he roared at one of the
Britishers who was sitting on a pail near the galley.  "And git
for'd.  Step lively.  Ye're dead from yer ankles up and yer feet
are asleep.  Do you think ye can put yer bum on a bucket and let it
DRAW barnacles on this ship?  Send that man aft to the wheel
again."

The sailor slunk off shuffling his bare feet uncomfortably.
Anthony went below.  Already the cabin seemed more eery.  Now he
knew what they were waiting for.

When he came on deck some hours later to take the sun Collins had
already reduced sail considerably.  The skysail and royals were
gone and the balloon sail had vanished.  It was a clear day and he
managed to get a good sight.

"I forgot to tell ye that the nigger knows about things in the
cabin," said Collins looking on over the figures.  "He's been with
'em fer ten years.  They own him.  I don't want yer to mistake me,
Mr. Adverse, in sayin' what I did about the skipper.  Ye won't,
will ye?  I'm no sea-lawyer, ye know."  The man looked at him with
some doubt and anxiety in his honest eyes.

"You can depend on it I understand, Collins," said Anthony.

"Then we'll say no more unless we have tew.  Na-ow where do ye make
it today?"  They fell to over the chart with perfect understanding
of each other.

The seriousness and sheer necessity of the work they were doing and
the manifest trust and regard of the seasoned old sailor caused
Anthony to ponder a little as he went below to check over his
figures again and again.  This was the first bit of work he had
ever done which seemed vitally important, for a moment an end in
itself as well as a means.  Over that little sheaf of figures he
had completely forgotten everything else.  There was not anywhere
even a little rainbow of play lurking about it.  On that basis,
then, he and Collins had met.  Here was a platform that he could
stand on with many an honest man.  "With many another honest man,"
he corrected himself.

He was a man.  "By God," he thought, "I've grown up!  What a lucky
thing Mr. Bonnyfeather put that sextant in the chest.  What a
gift!"  Suddenly he saw that old gentleman from an entirely new
angle.  He HAD worked.  "I am his heir."  He made sundry good
resolutions.  On the chart of the Atlantic Ocean he marked down the
exact spot where he had overtaken his majority.




CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

THE SEED OF A MIRACLE


The passing of time on a long voyage Anthony soon discovered was
not announced to the inner-self by bells, chronometers, or even by
days and nights.  He could apprehend its duration only as a
succession of varying moods superinduced by the weather and the
latitude.  And in these moods, he also noticed, the ship herself,
as a positive personality with a certain will of her own, one to be
humoured rather than baldly controlled, seemed to participate.

The mood on starting from Genoa, for instance, had been a briskly
busy one gradually relaxing into routine and habit until the gale
had overtaken them.  Then from somewhere off the coast of Tripoli
to a spot in the Atlantic southwest of Gibraltar they had been
harried by the storm.  It was true they had profited in distance by
that harrying but the sky had been leaden and down-billowing, the
ship had been plunging and wallowing; rain, spray, and green water
had delayed them.  No one could be comfortable for a moment.  A
kind of business-like melancholy and glum endurance punctuated by
anxiety had gripped all alike.

But as they turned northward for the region of the trades, an
entirely new mood held the whole ship.  The wind piped only a
little, and quite merrily.  The brig still swept along but paused
now and then to dance a bit and to dash a capful of spray back
playfully.  The air was cool and the sun was bright.  Melancholy
had vanished.  A certain active ease and happy relief could have
been noted in the Wampanoag's log.  This, as they pressed west, and
the air became gradually hotter, lost its mercurial quality and
threatened to end in a vague feeling of sloth.  The wind faltered.
Off the Azores in late July one moved like the ship--reluctantly.
As yet they were not in the refreshing track of the trades.  A
sticky south wind came in puffs over the port bow.

Meanwhile--the time consisted mostly of meanwhiles--with no direct
responsibility for the ship, and with the course for the day agreed
upon, Anthony found time to ransack his chest from top to bottom
and to improvise a splendid, solitary mode of existence which was
so pleasing to his natural soul that it eventually caused him
alarm.  He left the madonna swaddled just as Faith had packed it.
Under the great-coat where Mr. Bonnyfeather had asked him to look
was a tight canvas roll containing one hundred guineas.  There was
also a large box of beautiful calfskin quartos which Mr.
Bonnyfeather had had newly bound for him.  These he proceeded to
devour from Addison to Zeno.

Now he was able to read what, when, and as long as he wanted to,
and to think things out even if it took half the day.  With an
almost complete cessation of events, and with no new people to meet
and adjust himself to, he had opportunity to think over his whole
existence; to arrange and to classify; to trace cause and effect;
and to evaluate.

His entire past now lay behind him in a distant perspective out of
which he could pick and choose.  In it he thought he saw himself as
he actually was.  Out of it he began to reconstruct himself as he
thought he would like to be.  Hence resolutions and resolves, heart
burnings and yearnings, regrets, hopes, a few tears and not a
little laughter as he lay in the shadow of a boat; lulled by the
slow motion of the ship, the sound of the wind and water, and the
disappearance of time.  All the sorrows and delights of comparative
solitude had become his.

Of a few things in his own nature he became acutely aware.  He no
longer merely accepted them as unchangeable.  Some things he would
change.  There was, for instance, his difficulty in seeing clearly
the difference between his own visions and the outside world.  Was
this because his senses laid hold of things so fiercely and yet so
delicately that the images of them were burned into and transformed
by his own nature into something else?  If so, how did that world,
that something else always becoming within him, correspond to
events without?  On what basis of reality could he proceed?  Which
world should he accept?  Was there a working compromise that he
could find?

So far there seemed only one place where the two worlds met.  It
was in that ideal, or state of being, which was represented to him
by the madonna.  He could see now that it was a personal accident
that she, his particular image of her, had become his visualization
of the being in which both inner and outer worlds met and by which
they were controlled.  Something must control both life and
reality, he saw, vision and fact, man and nature.  To that
something he felt akin as if some portion of it were in him.  Yet
HE was also in nature; yet the material world lay without!  It
was not only the motion of the ship which now caused him to reel as
he tried to understand all this.

He would not worry himself any more over the fact that his private
image of that in which his own nature and the world met was wrapped
up in a rag in his chest.  That might be absurd, or it might not.
It was convenient to have some image of this necessity.  He did not
have to be literal about it; he could accept it as his habit, as an
aid--and, as Father Xavier had suggested, the image might hold in
its arms further developments.

It was a very ancient image that men had found pregnant for
millenniums.  If he tried to make a new one it might become
mathematical, he felt, and he feared that.  Why? he wondered.
Figures represented thoughts only.  There was more to life than
thought.  Feelings!  A figure of a figure--zero was that!  So a
mathematical madonna would be more ridiculous than a clay madonna.
He could not apply even a pronoun to a mathematical image.  A word?

Could he make it a word?  Perhaps THE Thing WAS a word.  "In
the Beginning was the Word."  Ah! he had almost forgotten that.
The Word, eh?  But a man had written that?  Had God written it?
Suppose he had, what would be the difference in understanding it?
A man would have to understand it.  And a word must stand for
something.  This word then had no Image.  THE Word had no Image!
Why had it been said that way?  "In the Beginning was the Word and
the word was light."  What did, what could light have to do with
it?  In the shadow of the boat he stood up and prayed to be able to
see.  He groped, drawn by a great necessity to try to know all
things; all things in one.

All things in one!  In that idea there was some glimmering of hope,
he thought.  In his mind he marshalled what he had already thought.
He tried to put it together and go on.  Suddenly in his intensity
of feeling he felt that he had ceased to think by stages,
logically, one thing after another.  All of this process was
collapsing; telescoping as it were into one, a toneless, colourless
state of apprehension in which he understood without making
sentences for himself why the Word had no image.  In it objects and
what reflects them meet.  "IT IS" is alive, it is "I AM."

An intense feeling of exaltation accompanied the process of this
discovery and then a flashing shock.  He stood leaning against the
boat, tired, with his eyes closed.  Dazzling fire images chased
themselves over his darkened eyeballs as if he had been looking at
the sun.  "Some minute copy of this force that resolved both the
inner and the outer world into one must be inside myself.  Or I am
indeed undone," his lips moved.  The fire streaks on his retina
began to arrange themselves into a pattern like that of the
sunburst behind the madonna's head.  "That image again, always
that!"  He opened his eyes and looked at the sea to rest them.

"If the light hurts yer eyes ye ought to wear a sunshade," said
Mrs. Jorham, who, he now discovered, was sitting near and watching
him.  He had been absorbed in himself, he knew, but she must have
brought her rocking chair on deck almost noiselessly.  She must
have been sitting there a good while.  He resented it.

"It's NOT the sun," he said.

"Oh!"  She stopped rocking a minute to look at him.  "Jes' seein'
things, eh?  Didn't know ye was troubled that way."

"Well, I am, Mrs. Jorham," he replied a little tartly.

"Um!" she mumbled.

He hated to be questioned this way.  "Good Lord!"

"Wait till ye HEAR 'em," she said suddenly, dropping her
knitting.

Oh, yes, SHE heard things.  The woman had her troubles.  He
remembered now.  She took up her knitting again.

"I find a lot of comfort in this."  She held up the big socks with
the needles in it.  "It's kind o' like makin' the sheep go over the
stile, ye know.  Ye jes' keep countin'.  I'm sorry for ye, Mr.
Adverse, 'deed I am."

"Oh, thank you, Mrs. Jorham," said Anthony.  But she would not be
repulsed.

"Want to come and hold the yarn?" she said.  He shook his head.

"It's real bad then?  But sakes alive, I know something better than
this.  Come on down and I'll show ye my sewing."

At first he thought he could not, but she turned and looked at him
expectantly.  He laughed at himself and went.  After all why should
he, Anthony Adverse, be so superior?  Wasn't it only last night
that he had seen himself climbing into a bed with Miss Florence
Udney?  She had been there perfectly plainly.  Florence!  He had
touched her on the hips.  Round and smooth.  He could still feel
her by him today.  Very soft, well--  Perhaps he could afford after
all to look at Mrs. Jorham's sewing.  Anyway she was getting it out
of the basket.

"How wonderful women were!"  The basket was full of beautiful
things:  A quilt cover all puzzled together out of little triangles
of silk stitched microscopically; baby clothes; a fragment of lace
work on pins, showing a spider spinning its web.  What a design,
very delicate, quite spidery!  "Made with rows of single Brussels'
stitches," said Mrs. Jorham.  More baby clothes, a small cap
embroidered with tiny violets; that must be for a doll.  You could
hardly say.  Some babies were very small.  Table things worked with
blood-red roses and tawny leaves.  Doll clothes, undoubtedly doll
clothes, hemmed.  They must have been hemmed in Lilliput.  And
Captain Jorham's shirts having buttonholes worked in them and a big
"E. J." on the neck.

"Marvellous!"  What a good way this was to forget God.  "In the
beginning was the Word . . ." his mind seemed to echo.  Oh, bother!
Look at the sewing.

Mrs. Jorham put a worn, silver thimble on her finger and began to
select various needles and coloured threads out of her neat little
basket where ribbons and the eyes of four pairs of scissors stared
at one from the lid.  She laid out some square patches and began a
sort of monologue to herself about the art of sewing which Anthony
was allowed to overhear.  A man could be interested in it if he
wanted to be. . . .

"And the Word was God."  Ah, yes, he had forgotten THAT!  "The
Word was God."  That was where a personality, an image for the
Word, came in.  It was God said, "Let there be light.  And there
was light."  What did light have to do with it?  For goodness'
sake, Anthony, can't you listen to the poor woman?  She's talking.
Listen you . . . you . . .

"Sewin' is kinda like playin' on the harpsichord.  Ye got to get
yer fingers used to it jes' by plain practice.  There's the needle
and there's the thread.  Some of the stitches ye make look like
notes.  After a while ye can run 'em together without thinkin'
about it, and that's when ye begin to enjoy it.  That's when ye
begin to play whole tunes.  Looks like a melody, doesn't it?"  She
held up a pillow cover.  "Larned that out Canton way.  Them
butterflies are the same both sides.  This here vine's done on
linen with flax flourishin' thread.  Land, ye'd think that vine was
growin' there, wouldn't ye?  I used to do samplers, but that's too
easy.  Straight-stitch embroidery on tammy-cloth's nice.  But it's
appliqué work I like, flat stitch and outlining with back-stitch.
A few corded outlines and fancy stitches, or the ground with back-
stitch settin' in.  Some uses a goose or a weighted cushion but I
jes' hold my hands like this.  See!"  She made the needle fly and
the flower began to grow. . . .

"But what DID light have to do with it?" the obstinate voice
demanded.  "Hell's fire, wait and find out," he answered himself.
"Mrs. Jorham is doing the talking."

"Did ye ever think how many kinds of stitches there are?  Look
here, I'll show ye some on these patches.  Here's a plain running-
stitch.  Everybody tries that, even children.  Next is back-
stitchin'.  You take up six threads, draw it out, then you go three
threads back and pull it through six beyond.  Real fast!  This
way!"  Her needle seemed to devour the cloth.  "Right to left, of
course, only crazy people and Chinee go contrary.  Then there's
hemming.  You have to know how to fold the cloth.  There's plain
hems, and ornamental hems what runs along the edges and in and out
zigzagging over the sides, and then stitches with a loop.  And you
ought to know how to fasten threads off-and-on.  That patch is done
for.  Now give me two more.  This is sewing.

"An antique seam, and an open work seam, and you can make an open-
hemmed-double-seam.  Now let me have a big patch.  Gathering is
what I like."  She wrinkled the cloth and flashed the needle
through the little waves on the patch so fast he could see only a
darting point of light with the thread following.  "Na-ow ye pull
it together.  Ain't that nice?  WHEE!  Now if ye want ye can just
pick out yer crinkles into couples or fours and start smockin' 'em.
I used to make curtains for doll houses that a way; made some
for . . ."  She stopped.  "Land sakes, I've bruk the needle!  Give
me another, the big one.  I'll show ye how to galloon, but first
here's whipping. . . ."

"Whipping?" said the voice of Captain Elisha who raised his head
from the table where he had apparently been asleep.  "Whipping is
what ye ought to have.  It's ye that's temptin' her aboard this
ship na-ow with all yer makin' of doll clothes.  I know!  She'd
never have followed us if ye hadn't come along.  It's her mother
she wants.  Y're turnin' this cabin into a nursery.  Can't fool me.
I know y' aren't makin' them baby clothes for Abner's brats.  It's
for her.  Where's that doll?"

He got up and began to hunt around peevishly.

"Elisha, ye go and lay da-own.  It's bad enough without havin' ye
on my hands, TEW.  Ye know very well ye asked and begged me to
come.  And I told ye what would happen.  I told ye.  Didn't I?"

"Yes, woman, I ain't blamin' ye for losin' her.  But ye oughtn't to
be temptin' her on with that doll.  It's waitin' for her to come
fer it that does me in.  Give me a drink.

"God!" said he freezing to the spot where he stood.  "What's that
on deck now?"

"Only a rope end, Captain Jorham," said Anthony.  There was a stir
up above.  They heard the sheet and its tackle drag across the
stern bar.

"Sounds as if the wind's shiftin'," said Captain Elisha.  He
started for the door and then shrank back.  "YE go up and take
charge, mister.  Get on with ye.  Ye're in the trades now.  I got
real trouble da-own here."  He collapsed into his chair.  In a
great hurry Mrs. Jorham began to mix him a drink.  Anthony left the
atmosphere of terror which had momentarily gripped him too and
gladly ran on deck.  It was true.  The ship had already come about
and was headed due west with a steady, sweeping breeze behind her.
The trade winds at last!

"There's nothing ahead of us now but blue water for days and days,"
said Collins coming up looking relieved.  "We can sort of settle
da-own now.  It's wonderful how different jes' a few minutes of
these breezes makes a man feel!  A few minutes ago my shirt was
stickin' to my back, now look--" he let it billow out behind as he
stood looking astern with satisfaction.  "The old slant jes'
petered out.  I saw the jibs flap, and the next minute she was all
a-flutter.  Just had enough way on her to pay off.  Wall, the
skipper was about right.  We picked 'em up south a bit o' where he
said.  I'll lay her dead west till ye get yer sight tomorrow and we
can set the new course then.  If this wind holds, Mr. Adverse, we
won't have to start a rope till we git nigh to Barbados."  He
lowered his voice.  "How's things in the cabin?"

Anthony told him.

"'Pears to me like it's comin' on sooner that I expected.  So she's
givin' him liquor, eh!  Only does that when he's right nigh the
wust.  Ye can expect that baby aboard almost any day now I'd say.
Don't let it wear ye da-own.  Las' time I got so I was listenin'
for her myself.  Near the Andamans that was.  And a crack of
lightnin', tew.  Oh, the skipper told ye, did he?  Wall, ye can
stay on deck most of the time and jes' keep an eye down the
companion.  He's about paralysed na-ow I s'pose.  Na-ow I'll go and
git all sail set.  We can crack it on right."

Under the urge of Collins' voice the Wampanoag began to burgeon
again with stu'nsails and royals.  The jet before the cutwater
leaped high and higher as each new sail was flung out.  The brig
swept forward with a swift even motion.  All noises blent to an
even monotone.  They had entered upon the long, stable mood of the
western passage.

                            ----------

Collins had been too sanguine.  The captain showed few signs of
having reached a crisis.  He slept, awoke, grumbled; pretended to
turn a few pages of a large Bible laid open before him; drank
again, and laid his head on his arms.  A low sound like a saw in
difficulties drifted up the cabin ladder all day long.  Mrs. Jorham
knitted her sixth pair of socks and waited with a fixed, blue fear
in her eyes.  Before the heels of the next pair were woven she
expected a visitor.  When no one was looking she went to a drawer
in the sideboard, unlocked it, and took out a diaphanous doll.  On
its clothes she had lavished the last scintilla of her skill as a
needlewoman.  She hid it in her bunk and resumed knitting slowly.

To escape the tenseness of the cabin Anthony now spent most of his
time on deck.  He had a mattress brought up and slept by the cabin
door.  A good deal of the time he took the wheel.

It was a joy to con the ship over the smooth tables of sea towards
the dark line that receded ever before her.  There was scarcely any
perceptible motion to the water.  He became aware of the movement
of the ocean now as a rhythm felt rather than movement seen.  The
earth itself might have been breathing and the ship rising and
falling on her breast.  A mile ahead a long field of weed would
slowly rise and then sink again.  Many minutes later the ship would
answer in her turn as the horizon like a vast disk tilted slightly.
For days a great, white bird, whose name Anthony did not know,
followed them on motionless pinions hour after hour, as if it knew
the future and were waiting for something momentous to happen to
the ship.  One evening with a strange cry it departed swiftly over
the edge of the world in answer to a call.

As they drove westward the patches of weed increased.  Then there
would be great lakes of clear, blue water twinkling with a cobalt
light across which the ship seemed to hurry faster.  Out of one of
these virgin spaces, like motes out of an eye of space, a school of
porpoises suddenly rose one morning and began leaping in a
succession of infinite arches before the bow.  Jolly fellows with
mottled bellies, they preceded the vessel like heralds of her happy
royal progress across the depths.

When Anthony looked at the weed-patches with the small-glass he saw
crabs and strange urchins gesticulating there like fiddlers of the
ship's transit through their unknown realms.  All seemed calm and
happy in these latitudes.  A tunny that one of the men gaffed from
the chains, as though he had speared the spirit of these seas, died
in spasms of rainbow colours as if its fishy ghost could only
manifest itself exquisitely even in departure.  All day the flying-
fish scudded before them.  At night he heard them flop in the water
or fall with a bony clatter on the deck.  When someone with a
boathook fished up a branch of tree with nuts on it, it seemed to
be the herbage of another planet.  So far behind them now, so
infinitely remote before them was even the dream of land.

But if the ocean was beautiful beyond Anthony's utmost capacity to
feel, it yet furnished only half the mood of that super-equatorial
aisle of the earth-star.  Above them and above rose and towered the
unthinkable limpid and liquid with its lights appointed; glowing;
darkening; ever shifting against sameness, the impalpable womb of
clouds.  Islands of shadow, glittering groves of slanting rain shot
with rainbows appeared and vanished; shifted and melted on the
level, molten plains around about.  Once a waterspout trailed its
smoking skirts uncomfortably near, only to go spinning away to
leeward like some cosmic dervish weaving its wasp-like waist up
into the dark funnel of the pall above it.  Then there would be
days of intolerable blue with only wisps of cloud at dawn and
nothing but the noise of the sails and the whisper of the sea
punctuated startlingly by the clang of the ship's bell.

The men sat about the decks picking oakum or spinning rope yarn,
washing damp bundles of old clothes and hanging them up to dry,
singing now and then brief snatches, and talking in subdued lazy
tones.  Even Collins could not find enough for them to do.  All the
old sails were patched.  All the boats and bulwarks were painted,
the brasses polished, and the anchor chain made rustless.  The
standing rigging was slushed down.  And still they were only a
little over half-way across.

A small fiddle was permitted to squall away in the fo'c'sle and
even to come on deck.  But after a week it gave up.  The presence
of the vast silence through which the ship was moving made it too
absurd to be tolerated.  A game of banker began under the lee of
the galley and went on.  To Anthony at the wheel eddied back now
and then a whiff of burning olive wood from the galley fire,
bringing mornings in the cart with Angela vividly to mind.  Indeed,
the plains about Pisa sometimes seemed to mirage themselves before
him when the smoke was strong.  Mixed with it were vivid whiffs of
tobacco from the sailors' pipes.  In that weed he now began to find
a solitary solace himself.  Tobacco made his body content to be
still.

The intolerable vastness of things was now eating itself into his
mind.  At first it had been oppressive but now he began to feel as
if there were a window in the top of his skull that gave on
irreducible nothing.  A certain element of terror accompanied this.
In the vision of the universe which it opened up there was a gaunt
possibility of madness, a terror of space, that had drawn a little
too near.  He could not quite close it off.  He had once made the
mistake of climbing into the maintop and looking up too long at the
stars.  Suddenly direction had vanished and he found himself
clutching the mast.  The circles and circles beyond circles of his
geometry had for a while been a comfort.  But now he could no
longer bound nothing with a compass.  Always there was the maw of
more and more.  No compass opened wide enough.

The constant taking of observations and the necessity to think in
terms of arcs and spheres gave him, as he watched the horizon
before him, a palpable sense of the huge ball across which the ship
was slowly crawling.  That was tremendous enough.  But to recollect
that this frightful sphere was hurtling eastward, and that he was
going with it at a speed really beyond thought, made him feel like
clinging at times to the wheel, waiting as it were to be thrown off
into space like a drop of water from a grindstone.  Once under the
rising full moon as he looked astern he thought he saw the long,
silver streak of water racing; streaming steadily east into the
very mouth of the dead planet.  Slowly it rose above the line of
ocean, serene, but terrible.  And then he was being hurled along
under it going around again toward the sun.

That night he took a lunar for longitude.  Despite all he could do
he could not divest himself of a sense of horror as the disk of the
moon swept down over the fixed star he had chosen.  Through the
glass he saw the edge of the moon was sawtoothed.  There was
something about the motion of all these bodies in the sky,
especially at night, that was a little mentally sickening.  Strive
as he would he could not divest himself of an emotion about them
even when, as he had to assure himself, it was merely mathematics
he was practising.  Even to take a shy look at the infinite seemed
to cut him off from the entire ship's company.  To glimpse the mood
of it even for a few hours had, he felt, changed him somehow
permanently.  Something within him that he had not known was
imprisoned there had been fed with the raw meat of heaven.  It was
now aroused and clamouring for more.  Along with this went a sudden
increase in his apprehension of geometrical problems.  Theorems
which he had once been forced to prove to himself ponderously now
suddenly became axiomatic.  He became ambitious as a navigator and
determined to check his longitude by an observation of Jupiter's
satellites.  This was a matter of some little difficulty as it was
necessary to rig an improvised tripod for the captain's little
telescope and to wait for a perfectly calm night.

Collins accomplished the tripod.  But it was harder to persuade the
captain to let him have the glass, a good one once taken from a
prize.  He did so only after considerable cajoling.  Captain Jorham
had not been sleeping lately.  He was now very restless.  From time
to time that day Anthony had heard him and his wife talking.  When
he came into the cabin they always stopped.  There was an air of
great tension about both of them, Anthony noticed.  But he was now
so engrossed in his own little experiment on deck that he paid no
particular attention to it.  Matters had gone on so long in the
cabin he had come at last to take them for granted.  Besides--
tonight it was calm!  And tonight he was going to observe the
immersion of Jupiter's inner satellite.  How grand that sounded!
As he began to focus the glass the nice intricate reasoning behind
the observation and the way to use the tables kept running through
his head.

The planet hung like a distant lamp half-way to the zenith.  In the
glass at first he saw nothing but black, then a few sparks of
stars.  Now he was on it!  It was a great, grey, moon-shaped thing.
Out of focus of course!  He twisted the eye-piece toward him.  Now!
There it was, the whole beautiful system!  An intensely shining,
little disk with three bright sparks arranged in a line to the
right.  If the ship would only stay perfectly still!  That was a
little better now, clearer.  There was the other spark on the left.
Much farther out than he had thought.  God!  How beautiful they
were, silver, but silver that was alive.  Calm, orderly,
perpetually reordering themselves in repetition endlessly repeated
and shining that way forever, glorious, lovely--calm!  He could
never drink in enough of that light.  Let it keep sliding into his
eyes and become part of him.  This was mental drink.

He let Collins look.  "Four of 'em, eh!  Four moons!  That doesn't
seem right, does it?"  He went back and unlashed the wheel again.

It would take almost an hour yet before that little moon would
touch the planet's disk, if his calculations were anywhere near
right.  He began to walk up and down the deck stopping once in a
while to refocus.  "Why not hurry it up and be done with it?"
something prompted him.  "You fool," someone else replied.  He
laughed.  Yet his little moon evidently was moving.  And the sea
was very, very calm.  Almost no wind tonight.  The sails flapped.
She was just keeping way on her.  That was lucky.  They had had
only a few really calm nights.  This was one.  Very silent too.  He
rearranged the screened light near the chronometer so that he could
see the hands better.

Philadelphia went by carrying some hot water to the cabin, spilling
a little as he passed.  Anthony saw him return to the galley later.
He was sitting there with his hands on his knees, shaking a little
as if with a chill.  A big fire was going.  Two lanterns were
burning.  He was sorry for the darky.  The captain was wicked
enough in speech these days.  The man looked positively yellow,
Anthony thought.  As he passed the cabin door he heard Mrs. Jorham
crying monotonously; subdued.  She had not done that before.
Perhaps he had better take a look.  But he would try not to disturb
them.  He went around and looked through the starboard light.  No
sounds came to him there, only movement below in the clear
lamplight, a picture in a glow.  There was something cosmic about
this one, too.

The old man seemed to be up to some mischief.  He was going about
looking for something.  Evidently he could not find it.  Mrs.
Jorham slid into her bunk and closed the panel as if she were
afraid.  What was it all about?  Mere drunken folly?  Now he was
rearranging the things in the cabin meticulously.  All the plates
on the rail.  Exactly, just so.  He stood back to admire the
effect.  Now he put the tea canister on the sideboard in front of
the Virgin and bowed.  "Was the drunken ass saying his prayers to
her or making fun of her?"  You could hardly tell which.  He made
sacerdotal gestures.  It was funny and horrible at the same time.
Now he was peeping over the Virgin's cloak.  He was talking to the
baby!  Somehow he had recaptured the very look of a proud young
father.  His face had gone smooth.  He snapped his fingers and bent
down tenderly.  It seemed terrible enough now, poor old devil!
Better not spy on him.  But just then the whole implication of the
scene below shifted.  Captain Jorham had lifted his face out of the
big fold of the clay cloak with a look of preternatural cunning.
This was the man who could sell Spaniards their own tombstones at a
profit.

He looked about him like a cat about to jump on the table and lap
cream.

Then with an elaborate drunken cunning that would have defeated
itself if Mrs. Jorham had been peeping out of instead of crying in
her bunk, he tiptoed over to "Elisha" and took out of that chest a
long, narrow bottle of red wine.  He grinned knowingly at its ruby
flash as he crossed the cabin, reeling.  Good Lord, he was going to
smash the statue with it!  No, he was going to give it to the baby!
He slid the bottle down into the deep fold of the Virgin's cloak.
It was completely concealed.  Once again that evening Captain
Jorham stepped back with his head on one side to admire his nice
arrangements.  Then his real motive emerged.  With a look of grim
triumph he turned and shook his fist at the closed panel of his
wife's bunk.

Anthony could only laugh now.  He wondered if Captain Jorham would
remember that bottle when his wife began to cut down on his liquor
after the spree.  Hardly.  Perhaps it was just drunken cunning?
Then his grin suddenly faded.  The observation!

He ran to the telescope and began to readjust it frantically.  But
it was too late.  While he had been watching Captain Jorham hide a
bottle in the bosom of the Virgin another equally important event
in the cosmos had taken place.  The inner satellite of Jupiter had
immersed.

"You'll make a good first mate yet," said Collins with a touch of
admiration in his voice as he listened to Anthony's remarks.  "What
was that last language, Portegee?"

Anthony closed up the telescope and reduced his meticulous
preparations to debris.  He did not deign to reply.

"As for immersion," Collins went on, conning the ship elaborately
as a brief puff bellied out the sails, "I never did hold by it
nohow.  Nor feet washin' neither.  My family was Antipoedabaptists
and I sucked the milk o' pure doctrine from my mother's knee.
Better not kick the chronometer, sir."

A loud crackling sound came from the cabin.  The captain was
evidently demolishing something brittle.  They listened
forebodingly.

"I expect tonight's the night," whispered Collins.  "Na-ow I'll
send the watch for'd and ye hold the cabin da-own, Mr. Adverse.
Tain't helpful to discipline fer the crew to see the skipper bein'
chased.  Yep, I'll keep the wheel.  Philly can help if he has to."

Anthony gathered his paraphernalia and went below.  How important
it had seemed, and how serious about it he had been!  He could
chuckle now.

Fragments of a chair were scattered about the cabin but the captain
had disappeared.  Anthony stood looking about him.  The cabin was
absolutely silent.  The ship was just drifting before the lightest
of airs.  He heard the ripple along her keel as she picked up for a
moment.  Then it died away in subterranean gurgles.  Suddenly his
heart almost stopped.  A growling beast was trying to bite his leg.

From between the legs of the table the captain's head projected and
he was now barking like a dog.  It was an eerily perfect
performance.  Captain Jorham WAS a dog.  It went on for a while
and ended in three long death howls.

Despite himself Anthony's flesh crept.  With some ado he finally
enticed the captain to his feet again.  The commander of the
Wampanoag now began to walk about shuffling and reeling, doing a
nervous, spasmodic little clog each time he turned the corner of
the table.  He was trying to catch Anthony to see who he was.  His
face twitched and his limbs jerked.  An endless stream of talk
flowed from his mouth, now drawn to one side, as if all