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Title: The Maker of Moons and Other Stories
Author: Robert W. Chambers
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605441.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
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The Maker of Moons and Other Stories
Robert W. Chambers



Table of Contents

The Maker of Moons
The Bridal Pair
The Case of Mr. Helmer
The Messenger
The Demoiselle d'Ys
Out of the Depths
A Pleasant Evening
The Purple Emperor
The Yellow Sign



THE MAKER OF MOONS

I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation
is--And I say there is in fact no evil;
(Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to
the land, or to me, as anything else.)



Each is not for its own sake;
I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky are
for Religion's sake.
I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough;
None has ever adored or worshipped half enough;
None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and
how certain the future is.--WALT WHITMAN

I have heard what the Talkers were talking,--the talk
Of the beginning and the end;
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.



Chapter I



Concerning Yue-Laou and the Xin I know nothing more than you shall
know. I am miserably anxious to clear the matter up. Perhaps what I
write may save the United Stares Government money and lives, perhaps
it may arouse the scientific world to action; at any rate it will put
an end to the terrible suspense of two people. Certainty is better
than suspense.

If the Government dares to disregard this warning and refuses to send
a thoroughly equipped expedition at once, the people of the State may
take swift vengeance on the whole region and leave a blackened
devastated waste where to-day forest and flowering meadow land border
the lake in the Cardinal Woods.

You already know part of the story; the New York papers have been full
of alleged details.

This much is true: Barris caught the "Shiner," red handed, or rather
yellow handed, for his pockets and boots and dirty fists were stuffed
with lumps of gold. I say gold, advisedly. You may call it what you
please. You also know how Barris was--but unless I begin at the
beginning of my own experiences you will be none the wiser after all.

On the third of August of this present year I was standing in
Tiffany's, chatting with George Godfrey of the designing department.
On the glass counter between us lay a coiled serpent, an exquisite
specimen of chiselled gold.

"No," replied Godfrey to my question, "it isn't my work; I wish it
was. Why, man, it's a masterpiece!"

"Whose?" I asked..."Now I should be very glad to know also," said
Godfrey. "We bought it from an old jay who says he lives in the
country somewhere about the Cardinal Woods. That's near Starlit Lake,
I believe--"

"Lake of the Stars?" I suggested.

"Some call it Starlit Lake,--it's all the same. Well, my rustic Reuben
says that he represents the sculptor of this snake for all practical
and business purposes. He got his price too. We hope he'll bring us
something more. We have sold this already to the Metropolitan Museum."

I was leaning idly on the glass case, watching the keen eyes of the
artist in precious metals as he stooped over the gold serpent.

"A masterpiece!" he muttered to himself fondling the glittering coil;
"look at the texture! whew!" But I was not looking at the serpent.
Something was moving,--crawling out of Godfrey's coat pocket,--the
pocket nearest to me,--something soft and yellow with crab-like legs
all covered with coarse yellow hair.

"What in Heaven's name," said I, "have you got in your pocket? It's
crawling out--it's trying to creep up your coat, Godfrey!"

He turned quickly and dragged the creature out with his left hand.

I shrank back as he held the repulsive object dangling before me, and
he laughed and placed it on the counter.

"Did you ever see anything like that?" he demanded.

"No," said I truthfully, "and I hope I never shall again. What is it?"

"I don't know. Ask them at the Natural History Museum--they can't tell
you. The Smithsonian is all at sea too. It is, I believe, the
connecting link between a sea-urchin, a spider, and the devil. It
looks venomous but I can't find either fangs or mouth. Is it blind?
These things may be eyes but they look as if they were painted. A
Japanese sculptor might have produced such an impossible beast, but it
is hard to believe that God did. It looks unfinished too. I have a mad
idea that this creature is only one of the parts of some larger and
more grotesque organism,--it looks so lonely, so hopelessly dependent,
so cursedly unfinished. I'm going to use it as a model. If I don't
out-Japanese the Japs my name isn't Godfrey."

The creature was moving slowly across the glass case towards me. I
drew back.

"Godfrey," I said, "I would execute a man who executed any such work
as you propose. What do you want to perpetuate such a reptile for? I
can stand the Japanese grotesque but I can't stand that--spider--"

"It's a crab."

"Crab or spider or blind-worm--ugh! What do you want to do it for?
It's a nightmare--it's unclean!"

I hated the thing. It was the first living creature that I had ever
hated.

For some time I had noticed a damp acrid odour in the air, and Godfrey
said it came from the reptile.

"Then kill it and bury it," I said; "and by the way, where did it come
from?"

"I don't know that either," laughed Godfrey; "I found it clinging to
the box that this gold serpent was brought in. I suppose my old Reuben
is responsible."

"If the Cardinal Woods are the lurking places for things like this,"
said I, "I am sorry that I am going to the Cardinal Woods."

"Are you?" asked Godfrey; "for the shooting?"

"Yes, with Barris and Pierpont. Why don't you kill that creature?"

"Go off on your shooting trip, and let me alone," laughed Godfrey...I
shuddered at the "crab," and bade Godfrey good-bye until December.

That night, Pierpont, Barris, and I sat chatting in the smoking-car of
the Quebec Express when the long train pulled out of the Grand Central
Depot. Old David had gone forward with the dogs; poor things, they
hated to ride in the baggage car, but the Quebec and Northern road
provides no sportsman's cars, and David and the three Gordon setters
were in for an uncomfortable night.

Except for Pierpont, Barris, and myself, the car was empty. Barris,
trim, stout, ruddy, and bronzed, sat drumming on the window ledge,
puffing a short fragrant pipe. His gun-case lay beside him on the
floor.

"When I have white hair and years of discretion," said Pierpont
languidly, "I'll not flirt with pretty serving-maids; will you, Roy?"

"No," said I, looking at Barris.

"You mean the maid with the cap in the Pullman car?" asked Barris.

"Yes," said Pierpont.

I smiled, for I had seen it also.

Barris twisted his crisp grey moustache, and yawned.

"You children had better be toddling off to bed," he said. "That
lady's-maid is a member of the Secret Service."

"Oh," said Pierpont, "one of your colleagues?"

"You might present us, you know," I said; "the journey is monotonous."

Barris had drawn a telegram from his pocket, and as he sat turning it
over and over between his fingers he smiled. After a moment or two he
handed it to Pierpont who read it with slightly raised eyebrows.

"It's rot,--I suppose it's cipher," he said; "I see it's signed by
General Drummond--"

"Drummond, Chief of the Government Secret Service," said Barris.

"Something interesting?" I enquired, lighting a cigarette.

"Something so interesting," replied Barris, "that I'm going to look
into it myself--"

"And break up our shooting trio--"

"No. Do you want to hear about it? Do you, Billy Pierpont?"

"Yes," replied that immaculate young man.

Barris rubbed the amber mouth-piece of his pipe on his handkerchief,
cleared the stem with a bit of wire, puffed once or twice, and leaned
back in his chair.

"Pierpont," he said, "do you remember that evening at the United
States Club when General Miles, General Drummond, and I were examining
that gold nugget that Captain Mahan had? You examined it also, I
believe."

"I did," said Pierpont.

"Was it gold?" asked Barris, drumming on the window.

"It was," replied Pierpont.

"I saw it too," said I; "of course, it was gold."

"Professor La Grange saw it also," said Barris; "he said it was gold."

"Well?" said Pierpont.

"Well," said Barris, "it was not gold."

After a silence Pierpont asked what tests had been made.

"The usual tests," replied Barris. "The United States Mint is
satisfied that it is gold, so is every jeweller who has seen it. But
it is not gold,--and yet--it is gold."

Pierpont and I exchanged glances.

"Now," said I, "for Barris' usual coup-de-théâtre: what was the
nugget?"

"Practically it was pure gold; but," said Barris, enjoying the
situation intensely, "really it was not gold. Pierpont, what is gold?"

"Gold's an element, a metal--"

"Wrong! Billy Pierpont," said Barris coolly.

"Gold was an element when I went to school," said I.

"It has not been an element for two weeks," said Barris; "and, except
General Drummond, Professor La Grange, and myself, you two youngsters
are the only people, except one, in the world who know it,--or have
known it."

"Do you mean to say that gold is a composite metal?" said Pierpont
slowly.

"I do. La Grange has made it. He produced a scale of pure gold day
before yesterday. That nugget was manufactured gold."

Could Barris be joking? Was this a colossal hoax? I looked at
Pierpont. He muttered something about that settling the silver
question, and turned his head to Barris, but there was that in Barris'
face which forbade jesting, and Pierpont and I sat silently pondering.

"Don't ask me how it's made," said Barris, quietly; "I don't know. But
I do know that somewhere in the region of the Cardinal Woods there is
a gang of people who do know how gold is made, and who make it. You
understand the danger this is to every civilized nation. It's got to
be stopped of course. Drummond and I have decided that I am the man to
stop it. Wherever and whoever these people are--these gold-makers,--
they must be caught, every one of them,---caught or shot."

"Or shot," repeated Pierpont, who was owner of the Cross-Cut Gold Mine
and found his income too small; "Professor La Grange will of course be
prudent;--science need not know things that would upset the world!"

"Little Willy," said Barris laughing, "your income is safe."

"I suppose," said I, "some flaw in the nugget gave Professor La Grange
the tip."

"Exactly. He cut the flaw out before sending the nugget to be tested.
He worked on the flaw and separated gold into its three elements."

"He is a great man," said Pierpont, "but he will be the greatest man
in the world if he can keep his discovery to himself."

"Who?" said Barris.

"Professor La Grange."

"Professor La Grange was shot through the heart two hours ago,"
replied Barris slowly.



Chapter II



We had been at the shooting box in the Cardinal Woods five days when a
telegram was brought to Barris by a mounted messenger from the nearest
telegraph station, Cardinal Springs, a hamlet on the lumber railroad
which joins the Quebec and Northern at Three Rivers Junction, thirty
miles below.

Pierpont and I were sitting out under the trees, loading some special
shells as experiments; Barris stood beside us, bronzed, erect, holding
his pipe carefully so that no sparks should drift into our powder box.
The beat of hoofs over the grass aroused us, and when the lank
messenger drew bridle before the door, Barris stepped forward and took
the sealed telegram. When he had torn it open he went into the house
and presently reappeared, reading something that he had written.

"This should go at once," he said, looking the messenger full in the
face..."At once, Colonel Barris," replied the shabby countryman.

Pierpont glanced up and I smiled at the messenger who was gathering
his bridle and settling himself in his stirrups. Barris handed him the
written reply and nodded good-bye: there was a thud of hoofs on the
greensward, a jingle of bit and spur across the gravel, and the
messenger was gone. Barris' pipe went out and he stepped to windward
to relight it.

"It is queer," said I, "that your messenger--a battered native,--
should speak like a Harvard man."

"He is a Harvard man," said Barris.

"And the plot thickens," said Pierpont; "are the Cardinal Woods full
of your Secret Service men, Barris?"

"No," replied Barris, "but the telegraph stations are. How many ounces
of shot are you using, Roy?"

I told him, holding up the adjustable steel measuring cup. He nodded.
After a moment on two he sat down on a camp-stool beside us and picked
up a crimper.

"That telegram was from Drummond," he said; "the messenger was one of
my men as you two bright little boys divined. Pooh! If he had spoken
the Cardinal County dialect you wouldn't have known."

"His make-up was good," said Pierpont.

Barris twirled the crimper and looked at the pile of loaded shells.
Then he picked up one and crimped it.

"Let 'em alone," said Pierpont, "you crimp too tight."

"Does his little gun kick when the shells are crimped too tight?"
enquired Barris tenderly; "well, he shall crimp his own shells then,--
where's his little man?"

"His little man" was a weird English importation, stiff, very
carefully scrubbed, tangled in his aspirates, named Howlett. As valet,
gilly, gun-bearer, and crimper, he aided Pierpont to endure the ennui
of existence, by doing for him everything except breathing. Lately,
however, Barris' taunts had driven Pierpont to do a few things for
himself. To his astonishment he found that cleaning his own gun was not
a bore, so he timidly loaded a shell or two, was much pleased with
himself, loaded some more, crimped them, and went to breakfast with an
appetite. So when Barris asked where "his little man" was, Pierpont
did not reply but dug a cupful of shot from the bag and poured it
solemnly into the half-filled shell.

Old David came out with the dogs and of course there was a pow-wow
when "Voyou," my Gordon, wagged his splendid rail across the loading
table and sent a dozen unstopped cartridges rolling over the grass,
vomiting powder and shot.

"Give the dogs a mile or two," said I; "we will shoot over the Sweet
Fern Covert about four o'clock, David."

"Two guns, David," added Barris.

"Are you not going?" asked Pierpont, looking up, as David disappeared
with the dogs.

"Bigger game," said Barris shortly. He picked up a mug of ale from the
tray which Howlett had just set down beside us and took a long pull.
We did the same, silently. Pierpont set his mug on the turf beside him
and returned to his loading.

We spoke of the murder of Professor La Grange, of how it had been
concealed by the authorities in New York at Drummond's request, of the
certainty that it was one of the gang of gold-makers who had done it,
and of the possible alertness of the gang.

"Oh, they know that Drummond will be after them sooner on later," said
Barris, "but they don't know that the mills of the gods have already
begun to grind. Those smart New York papers builded better than they
knew when their ferret-eyed reporter poked his red nose into the house
on 58th Street and sneaked off with a column on his cuffs about the
'suicide' of Professor La Grange. Billy Pierpont, my revolver is
hanging in your room; I'll take yours too--" 

"Help yourself," said Pierpont.

"I shall be gone over night," continued Barris; "my poncho and some
bread and meat are all I shall take except the 'barkers.'"

"Will they bark to-night?" I asked.

"No, I trust not for several weeks yet. I shall nose about a bit. Roy,
did it even strike you how queer it is that this wonderfully beautiful
country should contain no inhabitants?"

"It's like those splendid stretches of pools and rapids which one
finds on every trout river and in which one never finds a fish,"
suggested Pierpont.

"Exactly,--and Heaven alone knows why," said Barris; "I suppose this
country is shunned by human beings for the same mysterious reasons."

"The shooting is the better for it," I observed.

"The shooting is good," said Barris, "have you noticed the snipe on
the meadow by the lake? Why it's brown with them! That's a wonderful
meadow."

"It's a natural one," said Pierpont, "no human being even cleared that
land."

"Then it's supernatural," said Barris; "Pierpont, do you want to come
with me?"

Pierpont's handsome face flushed as he answered slowly, "It's awfully
good of you,--if I may."

"Bosh," said I, piqued because he had asked Pierpont, "what use is
little Willy without his man?"

"True," said Barris gravely, "you can't take Howlett, you know."

Pierpont muttered something which ended in "d--n."

"Then," said I, "there will be but one gun on the Sweet Fern Covent
this afternoon. Very well, I wish you joy of your cold supper and
colder bed. Take your night-gown, Willy, and don't sleep on the damp
ground."

"Let Pierpont alone," retorted Barris, "you shall go next time, Roy."

"Oh, all right,--you mean when there's shooting going on?"

"And I?" demanded Pierpont, grieved.

"You too, my son; stop quarrelling! Will you ask Howlett to pack our
kits--lightly mind you,--no bottles,--they clink."

"My flask doesn't," said Pierpont, and went off to get ready for a
night's stalking of dangerous men.

"It is strange," said I, "that nobody ever settles in this region. How
many people live in Cardinal Springs, Barris?"

"Twenty counting the telegraph operator and not counting the
lumbermen; they are always changing and shifting. I have six men among
them."

"Where have you no men? In the Four Hundred?"

"I have men there also,--chums of Billy's only he doesn't know it.
David tells me that there was a strong flight of woodcock last night.
You ought to pick up some this afternoon."

Then we chatted about alder-coven and swamp until Pierpont came out of
the house and it was time to part.

"Au revoir," said Barris, buckling on his kit, "come along, Pierpont,
and don't walk in the damp grass."

"If you are not back by to-morrow noon," said I, "I will take Howlett
and David and hunt you up. You say your course is due north?"

"Due north," replied Barris, consulting his compass.

"There is a trail for two miles and a spotted lead for two more," said
Pierpont.

"Which we won't use for various reasons," added Barris pleasantly;
"don't worry, Roy, and keep your confounded expedition out of the way;
there's no danger."

He knew, of course, what he was talking about and I held my peace.

When the tip end of Pierpont's shooting coat had disappeared in the
Long Covert, I found myself standing alone with Howlett. He bore my
gaze for a moment and then politely lowered his eyes.

"Howlett," said I, "take these shells and implements to the gun room,
and drop nothing. Did Voyou come to any harm in the briers this
morning?"

"No 'arm, Mr. Cardenhe, sir," said Howlett.

"Then be careful not to drop anything else," said I, and walked away
leaving him decorously puzzled. For he had dropped no cartridges. Poor
Howlett!



Chapter III



About four o'clock that afternoon I met David and the dogs at the
spinney which leads into the Sweet Fern Covent. The three setters,
Voyou, Gamin, and Mioche, were in fine feather,--David had killed a
woodcock and a brace of grouse over them that morning,--and they were
thrashing about the spinney an short range when I came up, gun under
arm and pipe lighted.

"What's the prospect, David," I asked, trying to keep my feet in the
tangle of wagging, whining dogs; "hello, what's amiss with Mioche?"

"A brier in his foot sir; I drew it and stopped the wound but I guess
the gravel's got in. If you have no objection, sir, I might take him
back with me."

"It's safer," I said; "take Gamin too, I only want one dog this
afternoon. What is the situation?"

"Fair, sir; the grouse lie within a quarter of a mile of the oak
second-growth. The woodcock are mostly on the alders. I saw any number
of snipe on the meadows. There's something else in by the lake,--I
can't just tell what, but the wood-duck set up a clatter when I was in
the thicket and they come dashing through the wood as if a dozen foxes
was snappin' at their tail feathers."

"Probably a fox," I said; "leash those dogs,--they must learn to stand
in. I'll be back by dinner time."

"There is one more thing sir," said David, lingering with his gun
under his arm.

"Well," said I.

"I saw a man in the woods by the Oak Covern,--at least I think I did."

"A lumberman?"

"I think not sir--at least,--do they have Chinamen among them?"

"Chinese? No. You didn't see a Chinaman in the woods here?"

"I---I think I did sir,--I can't say positively. He was gone when I
ran into the covert."

"Did the dogs notice it?"

"I can't say--exactly. They acted queer like. Gamin here lay down an'
whined--it may have been colic--and Mioche whimpered,--perhaps it was
the brier."

"And Voyou?"

"Voyou, he was most remarkable sir, and the hair on his back stood up,
I did see a groundhog makin' for a tree near by."

"Then no wonder Voyou bristled. David, your Chinaman was a stump or
tussock. Take the dogs now."

"I guess it was sir; good afternoon, sir," said David, and walked away
with the Gordons leaving me alone with Voyou in the spinney.

I looked at the dog and he looked at me.

"Voyou!"

The dog sat down and danced with his fore feet, his beautiful brown
eyes sparkling.

"You're a fraud," I said; "which shall it be, the alders or the
upland? Upland? Good!--now for the grouse,--heel, my friend, and show
your miraculous self-restraint."

Voyou wheeled into my tracks and followed close, nobly refusing to
notice the impudent chipmunks and the thousand and one alluring and
important smells which an ordinary dog would have lost no time in
investigating.

The brown and yellow autumn woods were crisp with drifting heaps of
leaves and twigs that crackled under foot as we turned from the
spinney into the forest. Every silent little stream hurrying toward
the lake was gay with painted leaves afloat, scarlet maple or yellow
oak. Spots of sunlight fell upon the pools, searching the brown
depths, illuminating the gravel bottom where shoals of minnows swam to
and fro, and to and fro again, busy with the purpose of their little
lives. The crickets were chirping in the long brittle grass on the
edge of the woods, but we left them far behind in the silence of the
deeper forest.

"Now!" said I to Voyou.

The dog sprang to the front, circled once, zigzagged through the ferns
around us and, all in a moment, stiffened stock still, rigid as
sculptured bronze. I stepped forward, raising my gun, two paces, three
paces, ten perhaps, before a great cock-grouse blundered up from the
brake and burst through the thicket fringe toward the deeper growth.
There was a flash and puff from my gun, a crash of echoes among the
low wooded cliffs, and through the faint veil of smoke something dark
dropped from mid-air amid a cloud of feathers, brown as the brown
leaves under foot.

"Fetch!"

Up from the ground sprang Voyou, and in a moment he came galloping
back, neck arched, tail stiff but waving, holding tenderly in his pink
mouth a mass of mottled bronzed feathers. Very gravely he laid the
bird at my feet and crouched close beside in, his silky ears across
his paws, his muzzle on the ground.

I dropped the grouse into my pocket, held for a moment a silent
caressing communion with Voyou, then swung my gun under my arm and
motioned the dog on.

It must have been five o'clock when I walked into a little opening in
the woods and sat down to breathe. Voyou came and sat down in front of
me.

"Well?" I enquired.

Voyou gravely presented one paw which I took.

"We will never get back in time for dinner," said I, "so we might as
well take it easy. It's all your fault, you know. Is there a brier in
your foot?--let's see,--there! it's out my friend and you are free to
nose about and lick it. If you loll your tongue out you'll get it all
over twigs and moss.

"Can't you lie down and try to pant less? No, there is no use in
sniffing and looking an that fern patch, for we are going to smoke a
little, doze a little, and go home by moonlight. Think what a big
dinner we will have! Think of Howlett's despair when we are not in
time! Think of all the stories you will have to tell to Gamin and
Mioche! Think what a good dog you have been!

"There--you are tired old chap; take forty winks with me."

Voyou was a little tired. He stretched out on the leaves at my feet
but whether or not he really slept I could not be certain, until his
hind legs twitched and I knew he was dreaming of mighty deeds.

Now I may have taken forty winks, but the sun seemed to be no lower
when I sat up and unclosed my lids. Voyou raised his head, saw in my
eyes that I was not going yet, thumped his tail half a dozen times on
the dried leaves, and settled back with a sigh.

I looked lazily around, and for the first rime noticed what a
wonderfully beautiful spot I had chosen for a nap. It was an oval
glade in the heart of the forest, level and carpeted with green grass.
The trees that surrounded it were gigantic; they formed one towering
circular wall of verdure, blotting out all except the turquoise blue
of the sky-oval above. And now I noticed that in the centre of the
greensward lay a pool of water, crystal clear, glimmering like a
mirror in the meadow grass, beside a block of granite. It scarcely
seemed possible that the symmetry of tree and lawn and lucent pool
could have been one of nature's accidents. I had never before seen
this glade nor had I ever heard it spoken of by either Pierpont on
Barris. It was a marvel, this diamond-clean basin, regular and
graceful as a Roman fountain, set in the gem of turf. And these great
trees,--they also belonged, not in America but in some legend-haunted
forest of France, where moss-grown marbles stand neglected in dim
glades, and the twilight of the forest shelters fairies and slender
shapes from shadow-land.

I lay and watched the sunlight showering the tangled thicket where
masses of crimson Cardinal-flowers glowed, or where one long dusty
sunbeam tipped the edge of the floating leaves in the pool, turning
them to palest gilt. There were birds too, passing through the dim
avenues of trees like jets of flame,--the gorgeous Cardinal-Bird in
his deep-stained crimson robe,--the bird that gave to the woods, to
the village fifteen miles away, to the whole country, the name of
Cardinal.

I rolled over on my back and looked up an the sky. How pale,--paler
than a robin's egg,--it was. I seemed to be lying at the bottom of a
well, walled with verdure, high towering on every side. And, as I lay,
all about me the air became sweet scented. Sweeter and sweeter and
more penetrating grew the perfume, and I wondered what stray breeze,
blowing over acres of lilies, could have brought in. But there was no
breeze; the air was still. A gilded fly alighted on my hand,--a honey-
fly. It was as troubled as I by the scented silence.

Then, behind me, my dog growled.

I sat quite still at first, hardly breathing, but my eyes were fixed
on a shape that moved along the edge of the pool among the meadow
grasses. The dog had ceased growling and was now snarling, alert and
trembling.

At last I rose and walked rapidly down to the pool, my dog following
close to heel.

The figure, a woman's, turned slowly toward us.



Chapter IV



She was standing still when I approached the pool. The forest around
us was so silent that when I spoke the sound of my own voice startled
me.

"No," she said,--and her voice was smooth as flowing water, "I have
not lost my way. Will he come to me, your beautiful dog?"

Before I could speak, Voyou crept to her and laid his silky head
against her knees.

"But surely," said I, "you did not come here alone."

"Alone? I did come alone."

"But the nearest settlement is Cardinal, probably nineteen miles from
where we are standing."

"I do not know Cardinal," she said.

"Ste. Croix in Canada is forty miles at least,--how did you come into
the Cardinal Woods?" I asked amazed.

"Into the woods?" she repeated a little impatiently.

"Yes."

She did not answer at first but stood caressing Voyou with gentle
phrase and gesture.

"Your beautiful dog I am fond of, but I am not fond of being
questioned," she said quietly.

"My name is Ysonde and I came to the fountain here to see your dog."

I was properly quenched. After a moment or two I did say that in
another hour in would be growing dusky, but she neither replied nor
looked at me.

"This," I ventured, "is a beautiful pool,--you call it a fountain,--a
delicious fountain: I have never before seen it. It is hard to imagine
that nature did all this."

"Is it?" she said.

"Don't you think so?" I asked.

"I haven't thought; I wish when you go you would leave me your dog."

"My--my dog?"

"If you don't mind," she said sweetly, and looked at me for the first
time in the face.

For an instant our glances met, then she grew grave, and I saw that
her eyes were fixed on my forehead. Suddenly she rose and drew nearer,
looking intently at my forehead. There was a faint mark there, a tiny
crescent, just over my eyebrow. It was a birthmark.

"Is that a scar?" she demanded drawing nearer.

"That crescent-shaped mark? No."

"No? Are you sure?" she insisted.

"Perfectly," I replied, astonished.

"A--a birthmark?"

"Yes,--may I ask why?"

As she drew away from me, I saw that the color had fled from her
cheeks. For a second she clasped both hands over her eyes as if to
shut out my face, then slowly dropping her hands, she sat down on a
long square block of stone which half encircled the basin, and on
which to my amazement I saw carving. Voyou went to her again and laid
his head in her lap.

"What is your name?" she asked at length.

"Roy Cardenhe."

"Mine is Ysonde. I carved these dragon-flies on the stone, these
fishes and shells and butterflies you see."

"You! They are wonderfully delicate,--but those are not American
dragon-flies--"

"No--they are more beautiful. See, I have my hammer and chisel with
me."

She drew from a queer pouch at her side a small hammer and chisel and
held them toward me.

"You are very talented," I said, "where did you study?"

"I? I never studied,--I knew how. I saw things and cut them out of
stone. Do you like them? Some time I will show you other things that I
have done. If I had a great lump of bronze I could make your dog,
beautiful as he is."

Her hammer fell into the fountain and I leaned over and plunged my arm
into the water to find it.

"It is there, shining on the sand," she said, leaning over the pool
with me..."Where," said I, looking at our reflected faces in the
water. For it was only in the water that I had dared, as yet, to look
her long in the face.

The pool mirrored the exquisite oval of her head, the heavy hair, the
eyes. I heard the silken rustle of her girdle, I caught the flash of a
white arm, and the hammer was drawn up dripping with spray.

The troubled surface of the pool grew calm and again I saw her eyes
reflected.

"Listen," she said in a low voice, "do you think you will come again
to my fountain?"

"I will come," I said. My voice was dull; the noise of water filled my
ears.

Then a swift shadow sped across the pool; I rubbed my eyes. Where her
reflected face had bent beside mine there was nothing mirrored but the
rosy evening sky with one pale star glimmering.

I drew myself up and turned. She was gone. I saw the faint stars
twinkling above me in the afterglow, I saw the tall trees motionless
in the still evening air, I saw my dog slumbering at my feet.

The sweet scent in the air had faded, leaving in my nostrils the heavy
odor of fern and forest mould. A blind fear seized me, and I caught up
my gun and sprang into the darkening woods.

The dog followed me, crashing through the undergrowth at my side.
Duller and duller grew the light, but I strode on, the sweat pouring
from my face and hair, my mind a chaos. How I reached the spinney I
can hardly tell. As I turned up the path I caught a glimpse of a human
face peering at me from the darkening thicket,--a horrible human face,
yellow and drawn with high-boned cheeks and narrow eyes.

Involuntarily I halted; the dog at my heels snarled. Then I sprang
straight at it, floundering blindly through the thicket, but the night
had fallen swiftly and I found myself panting and struggling in a maze
of twisted shrubbery and twining vines, unable to see the very
undergrowth that ensnared me.

It was a pale face, and a scratched one that I carried to a late
dinner that night. Howlett served me, dumb reproach in his eyes, for
the soup had been standing and the grouse was juiceless.

David brought the dogs in after they had had their supper, and I drew
my chair before the blaze and set my ale on a table beside me. The
dogs curled up at my feet, blinking gravely at the sparks that snapped
and flew in eddying showers from the heavy birch logs.

"David," said I, "did you say you saw a Chinaman today?"

"I did sir."

"What do you think about it now?"

"I may have been mistaken sir--"

"But you think not. What sort of whiskey did you put in my flask
today?"

"The usual, sir."

"Is there much gone?"

"About three swallows, sir, as usual."

"You don't suppose there could have been any mistake about that
whiskey,--no medicine could have gotten into it for instance."

David smiled and said, "No sir."

"Well," said I, "I have had an extraordinary dream."

When I said "dream," I felt comforted and reassured. I had scarcely
dared to say it before, even to myself.

"An extraordinary dream," I repeated; "I fell asleep in the woods
about five o'clock, in that pretty glade where the fountain--I mean
the pool is. You know the place?"

"I do not, sir."

I described it minutely, twice, but David shook his head.

"Carved stone did you say sir? I never chanced on it. You don't mean
the New Spring--"

"No, no! This glade is way beyond that. Is it possible that any people
inhabit the forest between here and the Canada line?"

"Nobody short of Ste. Croix; at least I have no knowledge of any."

"Of course," said I, "when I thought I saw a Chinaman, it was
imagination. Of course I had been more impressed than I was aware of
by your adventure. Of course you saw no Chinaman, David."

"Probably not, sir," replied David dubiously.

I sent him off to bed, saying I should keep the dogs with me all
night; and when he was gone, I took a good long draught of ale, "just
to shame the devil," as Pierpont said, and lighted a cigar.

Then I thought of Barris and Pierpont, and their cold bed, for I knew
they would not dare build a fire, and, in spite of the hot chimney
corner and the crackling blaze, I shivered in sympathy.

"I'll tell Barris and Pierpont the whole story and take them to see
the carved stone and the fountain," I thought to myself; "what a
marvelous dream it was--Ysonde,--if it was a dream."

Then I went to the mirror and examined the faint white mark above my
eyebrow.



Chapter V



About eight o'clock next morning, as I sat listlessly eyeing my coffee
cup which Howlett was filling, Gamin and Mioche set up a howl, and in
a moment more I heard Barris' step on the porch.

"Hello, Roy," said Pierpont, stamping into the dining room, "I want my
breakfast by jingo! Where's Howlett,--none of your café au lait for
me,--I want a chop and some eggs. Look at that dog, he'll wag the
hinge off his tail in a moment--" "Pierpont," said I, "this loquacity
is astonishing but welcome. Where's Barris? You are soaked from neck
to ankle."

Pierpont sat down and tore off his stiff, muddy leggings.

"Barris is telephoning to Cardinal Springs,--I believe he wants some
of his men,--down! Gamin, you idiot! Howlett, three eggs poached and
more toast,--what was I saying? Oh, about Barris; he's struck
something or other which he hopes will locate these gold-making
fellows. I had a jolly time,---he'll tell you about it."

"Billy! Billy!" I said in pleased amazement, "you are learning to
talk! Dear me! You load your own shells and you carry your own gun and
you fire it yourself--hello! here's Barris all over mud. You fellows
really ought to change your rig--whew! what a frightful odor!"

"It's probably this," said Barris tossing something onto the hearth
where it shuddered for a moment and then began to writhe; "I found it
in the woods by the lake. Do you know what it can be, Roy?"

To my disgust I saw it was another of those spidery wormy crablike
creatures that Godfrey had in Tiffany's.

"I thought I recognized that acrid odor," I said; "for the love of the
Saints take it away from the breakfast table, Barris!"

"But what is it?" he persisted, unslinging his field-glass and
revolver.

"I'll tell you what I know after breakfast," I replied firmly.
"Howlett, get a broom and sweep that thing into the road.--What are
you laughing at, Pierpont?" Howlett swept the repulsive creature out
and Barris and Pierpont went to change their dew-soaked clothes for
dryer raiment. David came to take the dogs for an airing and in a few
minutes Barris reappeared and sat down in his place at the head of the
table.

"Well," said I, "is there a story to tell?"

"Yes, not much. They are near the lake on the other side of the
woods,--I mean these gold-makers. I shall collar one of them this
evening. I haven't located the main gang with any certainty,--shove
the toast rack this way will you, Roy,--no, I am not at all certain,
but I've nailed one anyway. Pierpont was a great help, really,--and,
what do you think, Roy? He wants to join the Secret Service!"

"Little Willy!"

"Exactly. Oh I'll dissuade him. What sort of a reptile was that I
brought in? Did Howlett sweep it away?"

"He can sweep it back again for all I care," I said indifferently.
"I've finished my breakfast."

"No," said Barris, hastily swallowing his coffee, "it's of no
importance; you can tell me about the beast--"

"Serve you right if I had it brought in on toast," I returned.

Pierpont came in radiant, fresh from the bath.

"Go on with your story, Roy," he said; and I told them about Godfrey
and his reptile pet.

"Now what in the name of common sense can Godfrey find interesting in
that creature?" I ended, tossing my cigarette into the fireplace.

"It's Japanese, don't you think?" said Pierpont.

"No," said Barris, "it is non artistically grotesque, it's vulgar and
horrible,--it looks cheap and unfinished--"

"Unfinished,--exactly," said I, "like an American humorist--"

"Yes," said Pierpont, "cheap. What about that gold serpent?"

"Oh, the Metropolitan Museum bought it; you must see it, it's
marvellous."

Barris and Pierpont had lighted their cigarettes and, after a moment,
we all rose and strolled out to the lawn, where chairs and hammocks
were placed under the maple trees.

David passed, gun under arm, dogs heeling.

"Three guns on the meadows at four this afternoon," said Pierpont.

"Roy," said Barris as David bowed and started on, "what did you do
yesterday?"

This was the question that I had been expecting. All night long I had
dreamed of Ysonde and the glade in the woods, where, at the bottom of
the crystal fountain, I saw the reflection of her eyes. All the
morning while bathing and dressing I had been persuading myself that
the dream was not worth recounting and that a search for the glade and
the imaginary stone carving would be ridiculous. But now, as Barris
asked the question, I suddenly decided to tell him the whole story.

"See here, you fellows," I said abruptly, "I am going to tell you
something queer. You can laugh as much as you please too, but first I
want to ask Barris a question or two. You have been in China, Barris?"

"Yes," said Barris, looking straight into my eyes.

"Would a Chinaman be likely to turn lumberman?"

"Have you seen a Chinaman?" he asked in a quiet voice.

"I don't know; David and I both imagined we did."

Barris and Pierpont exchanged glances.

"Have you seen one also?" I demanded, turning to include
Pierpont..."No," said Barris slowly; "but I know that there is, or has
been, a Chinaman in these woods."

"The devil!" said I.

"Yes," said Barris gravely; "the devil, if you like,--a devil,--a
member of the Kuen-Yuin."

I drew my chair close to the hammock where Pierpont lay at full
length, holding out to me a ball of pure gold.

"Well?" said I, examining the engraving on its surface, which
represented a mass of twisted creatures,--dragons, I supposed.

"Well," repeated Barris, extending his hand to take the golden ball,
"this globe of gold engraved with reptiles and Chinese hieroglyphics
is the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin."

"Where did you get it?" I asked, feeling that something startling was
impending.

"Pierpont found it by the lake at sunrise this morning. It is the
symbol of the Kuen-Yuin," he repeated, "the terrible Kuen-Yuin, the
sorcerers of China, and the most murderously diabolical sect on
earth."

We puffed our cigarettes in silence until Barris rose, and began to
pace backward and forward among the trees, twisting his grey
moustache.

"The Kuen-Yuin are sorcerers," he said, pausing before the hammock
where Pierpont lay watching him; "I mean exactly what I say,--
sorcerers. I've seen them,--I've seen them at their devilish business,
and I repeat to you solemnly, that as there are angels above, there is
a race of devils on earth, and they are sorcerers. Bah!" he cried,
"talk to me of Indian magic and Yogis and all that clap-trap! Why,
Roy, I tell you that the Kuen-Yuin have absolute control of a hundred
millions of people, mind and body, body and soul. Do you know what
goes on in the interior of China? Does Europe know,--could any human
being conceive of the condition of that gigantic hell-pit? You read
the papers, you hear diplomatic twaddle about Li-Hung-Chang and the
Emperor, you see accounts of battles on sea and land, and you know
that Japan has raised a toy tempest along the jagged edge of the great
unknown. But you never before heard of the Kuen-Yuin; no, nor has any
European except a stray missionary or two, and yet I tell you that
when the fires from this pit of hell have eaten through the continent
to the coast, the explosion will inundate half a world,--and God help
the other half."

Pierpont's cigarette went out; he lighted another, and looked hard at
Barris.

"But," resumed Barris quietly, "'sufficient unto the day,' you
know,---I didn't intend to say as much as I did,--it would do no
good,--even you and Pierpont will forget it,--it seems so impossible
and so far away,--like the burning out of the sun. What I want to
discuss is the possibility or probability of a Chinaman,--a member of
the Kuen-Yuin, being here, an this moment, in the forest."

"If he is," said Pierpont, "possibly the gold-makers owe their
discovery to him."

"I do not doubt it for a second," said Barris earnestly.

I took the little golden globe in my hand, and examined the characters
engraved upon it.

"Barris," said Pierpont, "I can't believe in sorcery while I am
wearing one of Sanford's shooting suits in the pocket of which rests
an uncut volume of the 'Duchess.'"

"Neither can I," I said, "for I read the Evening Post, and I know Mr.
Godkin would not allow in. Hello! What's the matter with this gold
ball?"

"What is the matter?" said Barris grimly.

"Why--why--it's changing color--purple, no, crimson--no, it's green I
mean--good Heavens! these dragons are twisting under my fingers--"

"Impossible!" muttered Pierpont, leaning over me; "those are not
dragons--"

"No!" I cried excitedly; "they are pictures of that reptile that
Barris brought back--see--see how they crawl and turn--"

"Drop it!" commanded Barris; and I threw the ball on the turf. In an
instant we had all knelt down on the grass beside it, but the globe
was again golden, grotesquely wrought with dragons and strange signs.

Pierpont, a little red in the face, picked it up, and handed it to
Barris. He placed it on a chair, and sat down beside me.

"Whew!" said I, wiping the perspiration from my face, "how did you
play us that trick, Barris?"

"Trick?" said Barris contemptuously.

I looked at Pierpont, and my heart sank. If this was not a trick, what
was it? Pierpont returned my glance and colored, but all he said was,
"It's devilish queer," and Barris answered, "Yes, devilish." Then
Barris asked me again to tell my stony, and I did, beginning from the
time I met David in the spinney to the moment when I sprang into the
darkening thicket where that yellow mask had grinned like a phantom
skull.

"Shall we try to find the fountain?" I asked after a pause.

"Yes,--and--er--the lady," suggested Pierpont vaguely.

"Don't be an ass," I said a little impatiently, "you need not come,
you know."

"Oh, I'll come," said Pierpont, "unless you think I am indiscreet--"

"Shut up, Pierpont," said Barris, "this thing is serious; I never
heard of such a glade or such a fountain, but it's true that nobody
knows this forest thoroughly. It's worth while trying for; Roy, can
you find your way back to it?"

"Easily," I answered; "when shall we go?"

"It will knock our snipe shooting on the head," said Pierpont, "but
then when one has the opportunity of finding a live dream-lady--"

I rose, deeply offended, but Pierpont was not very penitent and his
laughter was irresistible.

"The lady's yours by right of discovery," he said. "I'll promise not
to infringe on your dreams,--I'll dream about other ladies--"

"Come, come," said I, "I'll have Howlett put you to bed in a minute.
Barris, if you are ready---we can get back to dinner--"

Barris had risen and was gazing at me earnestly.

"What's the matter?" I asked nervously, for I saw that his eyes were
fixed on my forehead, and I thought of Ysonde and the white crescent
scar.

"Is that a birthmark?" said Barris.

"Yes--why, Barris?"

"Nothing,--an interesting coincidence--"

"What!--for Heaven's sake!"

"The scar,--on rather the birthmark. It is the print of the dragon's
claw,--the crescent symbol of Yue-Laou--"

"And who the devil is Yue-Laou?" I said crossly.

"Yue-Laou, the Moon Maker, Dzil-Nbu of the Kuen-Yuin;--it's Chinese
mythology, but it is believed that Yue-Laou has returned to rule the
Kuen-Yuin--"

"The conversation," interrupted Pierpont, "smacks of peacock's
feathers and yellow-jackets. The chicken-pox has left its card on Roy,
and Barris is guying us. Come on, you fellows, and make your calls on
the dream-lady. Barris, I hear galloping; here come your men."

Two mud-splashed riders clattered up to the porch and dismounted at a
motion from Barris. I noticed that both of them carried repeating
rifles and heavy Colt's revolvers.

They followed Barris, deferentially, into the dining-room, and
presently we heard the tinkle of plates and bottles and the low hum of
Barris' musical voice.

Half an hour later they came out again, saluted Pierpont and me, and
galloped away in the direction of the Canadian frontier. Ten minutes
passed, and, as Barris did not appear, we rose and went into the
house, to find him. He was sitting silently before the table, watching
the small golden globe, now glowing with scarlet and orange fire,
brilliant as a live coal. Howlett, mouth ajar, and eyes starting from
the sockets, stood petrified behind him.

"Are you coming," asked Pierpont, a little startled. Barris did not
answer. The globe slowly turned to pale gold again,--but the face that
Barris raised to ours was white as a sheet. Then he stood up, and
smiled with an effort which was painful to us all.

"Give me a pencil and a bit of paper," he said.

Howlett brought it. Barris went to the window and wrote rapidly. He
folded the paper, placed it in the top drawer of his desk, locked the
drawer, handed me the key, and motioned us to precede him.

When again we stood under the maples, he turned to me with an
impenetrable expression.

"You will know when to use the key," he said:

"Come, Pierpont, we must try to find Roy's fountain."



Chapter VI



At two o'clock that afternoon, at Barris' suggestion, we gave up the
search for the fountain in the glade and cut across the forest to the
spinney where David and Howlett were waiting with our guns and the
three dogs.

Pierpont guyed me unmercifully about the "dream-lady" as he called
her, and, but for the significant coincidence of Ysonde's and Barris'
questions concerning the white scar on my forehead, I should long ago
have been perfectly persuaded that I had dreamed the whole thing.

As it was, I had no explanation to offer. We had not been able to find
the glade although fifty times I came to landmarks which convinced me
that we were just about to enter it. Barris was quiet, scarcely
uttering a word to either of us during the entire search. I had never
before seen him depressed in spirits. However, when we came in sight
of the spinney where a cold bit of grouse and a bottle of Burgundy
awaited each, Barris seemed to recover his habitual good humor.

"Here's to the dream-lady!" said Pierpont, raising his glass and
standing up.

I did not like in. Even if she was only a dream, it irritated me to
hear Pierpont's mocking voice.

Perhaps Barris understood,--I don't know, but he bade Pierpont drink
his wine without further noise, and that young man obeyed with a
childlike confidence which almost made Barris smile.

"What about the snipe, David," I asked; "the meadows should be in good
condition."

"There is not a snipe on the meadows, sir," said David solemnly.

"Impossible," exclaimed Barris, "they can't have left."

"They have, sir," said David in a sepulchral voice which I hardly
recognized. We all three looked at the old man curiously, waiting for
his explanation of this disappointing but sensational report.

David looked at Howlett and Howlett examined the sky..."I was going,"
began the old man, with his eyes fastened on Howlett, "I was going
along by the spinney with the dogs when I heard a noise in the covert
and I seen Howlett come walkin' very fast toward me. In fact,"
continued David, "I may say he was runnin'. Was you runnin', Howlett?"

Howlett said "Yes," with a decorous cough.

"I beg pardon," said David, "but I'd rather Howlett told the rest. He
saw things which I did not."

"Go on, Howlett," commanded Pierpont, much interested.

Howlett coughed again behind his large red hand.

"What David says is true, sir," he began; "I h'observed the dogs at a
distance 'ow they was a workin', sir, and David stood a lightin' of 's
pipe be'ind the spotted beech when I see a 'ead pop up in the covert
'oldin a stick like 'e was h'aimin' at the dogs, sir"---"A head holding
a stick?" said Pierpont severely.

"The 'ead 'ad 'ands, sir," explained Howlett, "'ands that 'eld a
painted stick,--like that, sir. 'Owlett, thinks I to meself this
'ere's queer, so I jumps it an' runs, but the beggar 'e seen me an'
w'en I comes alongside of David, 'e was gone. "'Ello, 'Owlett,' sez
David, 'what the 'ell--I beg pardon, sir,---"ow did you come 'ere,'
sez 'e very loud. 'Run!' sez I, 'the Chinaman is harmin' the dawgs!'
'For Gawd's sake wot Chinaman?' sez David, h'aimin' 'is gun at every
bush. Then I thinks I see 'im an' we run an' run, the dawgs a boundin'
close to heel, sir, but we don't see no Chinaman."

"I'll tell the rest," said David, as Howlett coughed and stepped in a
modest corner behind the dogs.

"Go on," said Barris in a strange voice.

"Well sir, when Howlett and I stopped chasin', we was on the cliff
overlooking the south meadow. I noticed that there was hundreds of
birds there, mostly yellow-legs and plover, and Howlett seen them too.
Then before I could say a word to Howlett, something out in the lake
gave a splash--a splash as if the whole cliff had fallen into the
water. I was that scared that I jumped straight into the bush and
Howlett he sat down quick, and all those snipe wheeled up---there was
hundreds,--all a squeelin' with fright, and the wood-duck came bowlin'
over the meadows as if the old Nick was behind."

David paused and glanced meditatively at the dogs.

"Go on," said Barris in the same strained voice.

"Nothing more, sir. The snipe did not come back."

"But that splash in the lake?"

"I don't know what it was, sir."

"A salmon? A salmon couldn't have frightened the duck and the snipe
that way?"

"No--oh no, sir. If fifty salmon had jumped they couldn't have made
that splash. Couldn't they, Howlett?"

"No 'ow," said Howlett.

"Roy," said Barris at length, "what David tells us settles the snipe
shooting for to-day. I am going to take Pierpont up to the house.
Howlett and David will follow with the dogs,--I have something to say
to them. If you care to come, come along; if not, go and shoot a brace
of grouse for dinner and be back by eight if you want to see what
Pierpont and I discovered last night."

David whistled Gamin and Mioche to heel and followed Howlett and his
hamper toward the house. I called Voyou to my side, picked up my gun
and turned to Barris..."I will be back by eight," I said; "you are
expecting to catch one of the gold-makers, are you not?"

"Yes," said Barris listlessly.

Pierpont began to speak about the Chinaman but Barris motioned him to
follow, and, nodding to me, took the path that Howlett and David had
followed toward the house. When they disappeared I tucked my gun under
my arm and turned sharply into the forest, Voyou trotting close to my
heels.

In spite of myself the continued apparition of the Chinaman made me
nervous. If he troubled me again I had fully decided to get the drop
on him and find out what he was doing in the Cardinal Woods. If he
could give no satisfactory account of himself I would march him in to
Barris as a gold-making suspect,--I would march him in anyway, I
thought, and rid the forest of his ugly face. I wondered what it was
that David had heard in the lake. It must have been a big fish, a
salmon, I thought; probably David's and Howlett's nerves were
overwrought after their Celestial chase.

A whine from the dog broke the thread of my meditation and I raised my
head. Then I stopped short in my tracks.

The lost glade lay straight before me.

Already the dog had bounded into it, across the velvet turf to the
carved stone where a slim figure sat. I saw my dog lay his silky head
lovingly against her silken kirtle; I saw her face bend above him, and
I caught my breath and slowly entered the sun-lit glade.

Half timidly she held out one white hand.

"Now that you have come," she said, "I can show you more of my work. I
told you that I could do other things besides these dragon-flies and
moths carved here in stone. Why do you stare at me so? Are you ill?"

"Ysonde," I stammered.

"Yes," she said, with a faint color under her eyes.

"I--I never expected to see you again," I blurted out, "--you--I--I--
thought I had dreamed---"

"Dreamed, of me? Perhaps you did, is that strange?"

"Strange? N--no--but--where did you go when--when we were leaning over
the fountain together? I saw your face,--your face reflected beside
mine and then--then suddenly I saw the blue sky and only a star
twinkling."

"It was because you fell asleep," she said, "was it not?"

"I--asleep?"

"You slept--I thought you were very tired and I went back--"

"Back?--where?"

"Back to my home where I carve my beautiful images; see, here is one I
brought to show you to-day."

I took the sculptured creature that she held toward me, a massive
golden lizard with frail claw-spread wings of gold so thin that the
sunlight burned through and fell on the ground in flaming gilded
patches.

"Good Heavens!" I exclaimed, "this is astounding! Where did you learn
to do such work? Ysonde, such a thing is beyond price!"

"Oh, I hope so," she said earnestly, "I can't bear to sell my work,
but my step-father takes it and sends it away. This is the second
thing I have done and yesterday he said I must give it to him. I
suppose he is poor."

"I don't see how he can be poor if he gives you gold to model in," I
said, astonished.

"Gold!" she exclaimed, "gold! He has a room full of gold! He makes
it." I sat down on the turf at her feet completely unnerved.

"Why do you look at me so?" she asked, a little troubled.

"Where does your step-father live?" I said at last.

"Here."

"Here!"

"In the woods near the lake. You could never find our house."

"A house!"

"Of course. Did you think I lived in a tree? How silly. I live with my
step-father in a beautiful house,--a small house, but very beautiful.
He makes his gold there but the men who carry it away never come to
the house, for they don't know where it is and if they did they could
not get in. My step-father carries the gold in lumps to a canvas
satchel. When the satchel is full he takes it out into the woods where
the men live and I don't know what they do with it. I wish he could
sell the gold and become rich for then I could go back to Yian where
all the gardens are sweet and the river flows under the thousand
bridges."

"Where is this city?" I asked faintly.

"Yian? I don't know. It is sweet with perfume and the sound of silver
bells all day long. Yesterday I carried a blossom of dried lotus buds
from Yian, in my breast, and all the woods were fragrant. Did you
smell it?"

"Yes."

"I wondered, last night, whether you did. How beautiful your dog is; I
love him. Yesterday I thought most about your dog but last night--"

"Last night," I repeated below my breath.

"I thought of you. Why do you wear the dragon-claw?"

I raised my hand impulsively to my forehead, covering the scar.

"What do you know of the dragon-claw?" I muttered.

"In is the symbol of Yue-Laou, and Yue-Laou rules the Kuen-Yuin, my
step-father says. My step-father tells me everything that I know. We
lived in Yian until I was sixteen years old. I am eighteen now; that
is two years we have lived in the forest. Look!--see those scarlet
birds! What are they? There are birds of the same color in Yian."

"Where is Yian, Ysonde?" I asked with deadly calmness.

"Yian? I don't know."

"But you have lived there?"

"Yes, a very long time."

"Is it across the ocean, Ysonde?"

"It is across seven oceans and the great river which is longer than
from the earth to the moon."

"Who told you that?"

"Who? My step-father; he tells me everything."

"Will you tell me his name, Ysonde?"

"I don't know it, he is my step-father, that is all."

"And what is your name?"

"You know it, Ysonde."

"Yes, but what other name?"

"That is all, Ysonde. Have you two names? Why do you look at me so
impatiently?"

"Does your step-father make gold? Have you seen him make it?"

"Oh yes. He made it also in Yian and I loved to watch the sparks at
night whirling like golden bees. Yian is lovely,--if it is all like
our garden and the gardens around. I can see the thousand bridges from
my garden and the white mountain beyond--"

"And the people--tell me of the people, Ysonde," I urged gently.

"The people of Yian? I could see them in swarms like ants--oh! many,
many millions crossing and recrossing the thousand bridges."

"But how did they look? Did they dress as I do?"

"I don't know. They were very far away, moving specks on the thousand
bridges. For sixteen years I saw them every day from my garden but I
never went out of my garden into the streets of Yian, for my step-
father forbade me."

"You never saw a living creature near by in Yian?" I asked in despair.

"My birds, oh such tall, wise-looking birds, all over grey and rose
color."

She leaned over the gleaming water and drew her polished hand across
the surface.

"Why do you ask me these questions," she murmured; "are you
displeased?"

"Tell me about your step-father," I insisted. "Does he look as I do?
Does he dress, does he speak as I do? Is he American?"

"American? I don't know. He does not dress as you do and he does not
look as you do. He is old, very, very old. He speaks sometimes as you
do, sometimes as they do in Yian. I speak also in both manners."

"Then speak as they do in Yian," I urged impatiently, "speak as--why,
Ysonde! why are you crying? Have I hurt you?--I did not intend,--I did
not dream of your caring! There, Ysonde, forgive me,--see, I beg you on
my knees here at your feet."

I stopped, my eyes fastened on a small golden ball which hung from her
waist by a golden chain. I saw it trembling against her thigh, I saw
it change color, now crimson, now purple, now flaming scarlet. It was
the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin.

She bent over me and laid her fingers gently on my arm.

"Why do you ask me such things?" she said, while the tears glistened
on her lashes. "In hurts me here,--" she pressed her hand to her
breast,---"it pains.--I don't know why. Ah, now your eyes are hard and
cold again; you are looking at the golden globe which hangs from my
waist. Do you wish to know also what that is?"

"Yes," I muttered, my eyes fixed on the infernal color flames which
subsided as I spoke, leaving the ball a pale gilt again.

"It is the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin," she said in a trembling voice;
"why do you ask?"

"Is it yours?"

"Y--yes."

"Where did you get it?" I cried harshly.

"My--my step-fa--"

Then she pushed me away from her with all the strength of her slender
wrists and covered her face.

If I slipped my arm about her and drew her to me,--if I kissed away
the tears that fell slowly between her fingers,--if I told her how I
loved her--how it cut me to the heart to see her unhappy,--after all
that is my own business. When she smiled through her tears, the pure
love and sweetness in her eyes lifted my soul higher than the high
moon vaguely glimmering through the sun-lit blue above. My happiness
was so sudden, so fierce and overwhelming that I only knelt there, her
fingers clasped in mine, my eyes raised to the blue vault and the
glimmering moon. Then something in the long grass beside me moved
close to my knees and a damp acrid odor filled my nostrils.

"Ysonde!" I cried, but the touch of her hand was already gone and my
two clenched fists were cold and damp with dew.

"Ysonde!" I called again, my tongue stiff with fright;--but I called
as one awaking from a dream--a horrid dream, for my nostrils quivered
with the damp acrid odor and I felt the crab-reptile clinging to my
knee. Why had the night fallen so swiftly,--and where was I--where?---
stiff, chilled, torn, and bleeding, lying flung like a corpse over my
own threshold with Voyou licking my face and Barris stooping above me
in the light of a lamp that flared and smoked in the night breeze like
a torch. Faugh! the choking stench of the lamp aroused me and I cried
out:

"Ysonde!"

"What the devil's the matter with him?" muttered Pierpont, lifting me
in his arms like a child, "has he been stabbed, Barris?"



Chapter VII



In a few minutes I was able to stand and walk stiffly into my bedroom
where Howlett had a hot bath ready and a hotter tumbler of Scotch.
Pierpont sponged the blood from my throat where it had coagulated. The
cut was slight, almost invisible, a mere puncture from a thorn. A
shampoo cleaned my mind, and a cold plunge and alcohol friction did
the rest.

"Now," said Pierpont, "swallow your hot Scotch and lie down. Do you
want a broiled woodcock? Good, I fancy you are coming about."

Barris and Pierpont watched me as I sat on the edge of the bed,
solemnly chewing on the woodcock's wishbone and sipping my Bordeaux,
very much at my ease.

Pierpont sighed his relief.

"So," he said pleasantly, "it was a mere case of ten dollars or ten
days. I thought you had been stabbed--"

"I was not intoxicated," I replied, serenely picking up a bit of
celery.

"Only jagged?" enquired Pierpont, full of sympathy.

"Nonsense," said Barris, "let him alone. Want some more celery, Roy?--
it will make you sleep."

"I don't want to sleep," I answered; "when are you and Pierpont going
to catch your gold-maker?"

Barris looked at his watch and closed it with a snap.

"In an hour; you don't propose to go with us?"

"But I do,--toss me a cup of coffee, Pierpont, will you,--that's just
what I propose to do. Howlett, bring the new box of Panatellas,--the
mild imported;--and leave the decanter. Now Barris, I'll be dressing,
and you and Pierpont keep still and listen to what I have to say. Is
that door shut tight?"

Barris locked it and sat down.

"Thanks," said I. "Barris, where is the city of Yian?"

An expression akin to terror flashed into Barris' eyes and I saw him
stop breathing for a moment.

"There is no such city," he said at length, "have I been talking in my
sleep?"

"It is a city," I continued, calmly, "where the river winds under the
thousand bridges, where the gardens are sweet scented and the air is
filled with the music of silver bells--"

"Stop!" gasped Barris, and rose trembling from his chair. He had grown
ten years older.

"Roy," interposed Pierpont coolly, "what the deuce are you harrying
Barris for?"

I looked at Barris and he looked at me. After a second on two he sat
down again.

"Go on, Roy," he said.

"I must," I answered, "for now I am certain that I have not dreamed."

I told them everything; but, even as I told it, the whole thing seemed
so vague, so unreal, that at times I stopped with the hot blood
tingling in my ears, for it seemed impossible that sensible men, in
the year of our Lord 1896, could seriously discuss such manners.

I feared Pierpont, but he did not even smile. As for Barris, he sat
with his handsome head sunk on his breast, his unlighted pipe clasped
tight in both hands.

When I had finished, Pierpont turned slowly and looked at Barris.
Twice he moved his lips as if about to ask something and then remained
mute.

"Yian is a city," said Barris, speaking dreamily; "was that why you
wished to know, Pierpont?"

We nodded silently.

"Yian is a city," repeated Barris, "where the great river winds under
the thousand bridges,---where the gardens are sweet scented, and the
air is filled with the music of silver bells."

My lips formed the question, "Where is this city?"

"It lies," said Barris, almost querulously, "across the seven oceans
and the river which is longer than from the earth to the moon."

"What do you mean?" said Pierpont.

"Ah," said Barris, rousing himself with an effort and raising his
sunken eyes, "I am using the allegories of another land; let it pass.
Have I not told you of the Kuen-Yuin? Yian is the centre of the Kuen-
Yuin. It lies hidden in that gigantic shadow called China, vague and
vast as the midnight Heavens,--a continent unknown, impenetrable."

"Impenetrable," repeated Pierpont below his breath.

"I have seen it," said Barris dreamily. "I have seen the dead plains
of Black Cathay and I have crossed the mountains of Death, whose
summits are above the atmosphere. I have seen the shadow of Xangi cast
across Abaddon. Better to die a million miles from Yezd and Ater
Quedah than to have seen the white water-lotus close in the shadow of
Xangi! I have slept among the ruins of Xaindu where the winds never
cease and the Wulwulleh is wailed by the dead."

"And Yian," I urged gently.

There was an unearthly look on his face as he turned slowly toward me.

"Yian,--I have lived there--and loved there. When the breath of my
body shall cease, when the dragon's claw shall fade from my arm,"--he
turned up his sleeve, and we saw a white crescent shining above his
elbow,--"when the light of my eyes has faded forever, then, even then
I shall not forget the city of Yian. Why, it is my home,--mine! The
river and the thousand bridges, the white peak beyond, the sweet-
scented gardens, the lilies, the pleasant noise of the summer wind
laden with bee music and the music of bells,--all these are mine. Do
you think because the Kuen-Yuin feared the dragon's claw on my arm
that my work with them is ended? Do you think that because Yue-Laou
could give, that I acknowledge his right to take away? Is he Xangi in
whose shadow the white water-lotus dares not raise its head? No! No!"
he cried violently, "it was not from Yue-Laou, the sorcerer, the Maker
of Moons, that my happiness came! It was real, it was not a shadow to
vanish like a tinted bubble! Can a sorcerer create and give a man the
woman he loves? Is Yue-Laou as great as Xangi then? Xangi is God. In
His own time, in His infinite goodness and mercy He will bring me
again to the woman I love. And I know she waits for me at God's feet."

In the strained silence that followed I could hear my heart's double
beat and I saw Pierpont's face, blanched and pitiful. Barris shook
himself and raised his head. The change in his ruddy face frightened
me.

"Heed!" he said, with a terrible glance at me; "the print of the
dragon's claw is on your forehead and Yue-Laou knows it. If you must
love, then love like a man, for you will suffer like a soul in hell,
in the end. What is her name again?"

"Ysonde," I answered simply.



Chapter VIII



At nine o'clock that night we caught one of the gold-makers. I do not
know how Barris had laid his trap; all I saw of the affair can be told
in a minute or two.

We were posted on the Cardinal road about a mile below the house,
Pierpont and I with drawn revolvers on one side, under a butternut
tree, Barris on the other, a Winchester across his knees.

I had just asked Pierpont the hour, and he was feeling for his watch
when far up the road we heard the sound of a galloping horse, nearer,
nearer, clattering, thundering past. Then Barris' rifle spat flame and
the dark mass, horse and rider, crashed into the dust. Pierpont had
the half-stunned horseman by the collar in a second,--the horse was
stone dead,--and, as we lighted a pine knot to examine the fellow,
Barris' two riders galloped up and drew bridle beside us.

"Hm!" said Barris with a scowl, "it's the 'Shiner,' or I'm a
moonshiner."

We crowded curiously around to see the "Shiner." He was red-headed,
fat and filthy, and his little red eyes burned in his head like the
eyes of an angry pig.

Barris went through his pockets methodically while Pierpont held him
and I held the torch. The Shiner was a gold mine; pockets, shirt,
bootlegs, hat, even his dirty fists, clutched tight and bleeding, were
bursting with lumps of soft yellow gold. Barris dropped this
"moonshine gold," as we had come to call it, into the pockets of his shooting-coat, and
withdrew to question the prisoner. He came back again in a few minutes
and motioned his mounted men to take the Shiner in charge. We watched
them, rifle on thigh, walking their horses slowly away into the
darkness, the Shiner, tightly bound, shuffling sullenly between them.

"Who is the Shiner?" asked Pierpont, slipping the revolver into his
pocket again.

"A moonshiner, counterfeiter, forger, and highwayman," said Barris,
"and probably a murderer. Drummond will be glad to see him, and I
think it likely he will be persuaded to confess to him what he refuses
to confess to me."

"Wouldn't he talk?" I asked.

"Not a syllable. Pierpont, there is nothing more for you to do."

"For me to do? Are you not coming back with us, Barris?"

"No," said Barris.

We walked along the dark road in silence for a while, I wondering what
Barris intended to do, but he said nothing more until we reached our
own verandah. Here he held out his hand, first to Pierpont, then to
me, saying good-bye as though he were going on a long journey.

"How soon will you be back?" I called out to him as he turned away
toward the gate. He came across the lawn again and again took our
hands with a quiet affection that I had never imagined him capable of.

"I am going," he said, "to put an end to his gold-making to-night. I
know that you fellows have never suspected what I was about on my
little solitary evening strolls after dinner. I will tell you. Already
I have unobtrusively killed four of these gold-makers,--my men put
them underground just below the new wash-out at the four mile stone.
There are three left alive,--the Shiner whom we have, another criminal
named 'Yellow,' or 'Yaller' in the vernacular, and the third--"

"The third," repeated Pierpont, excitedly.

"The third I have never yet seen. But I know who and what he is,--I
know; and if he is of human flesh and blood, his blood will flow to-
night."

As he spoke a slight noise across the turf attracted my attention. A
mounted man was advancing silently in the starlight over the spongy
meadowland. When he came nearer Barris struck a match, and we saw that
he bore a corpse across his saddle bow.

"Yaller, Colonel Barris," said the man, touching his slouched hat in
salute.

This grim introduction to the corpse made me shudder, and, after a
moment's examination of the stiff, wide-eyed dead man, I drew back.

"Identified," said Barris, "take him to the four mile post and carry
his effects to Washington,---under seal, mind, Johnstone."

Away cantered the rider with his ghastly burden, and Barris took our
hands once more for the last time. Then he went away, gaily, with a
jest on his lips, and Pierpont and I turned back into the house.

For an hour we sat moodily smoking in the hall before the fire, saying
little until Pierpont burst out with: "I wish Barris had taken one of
us with him to-night!"

The same thought had been running in my mind, but I said: "Barris
knows what he's about."

This observation neither comforted us nor opened the lane to further
conversation, and after a few minutes Pierpont said good night and
called for Howlett and hot water. When he had been warmly tucked away
by Howlett, I turned out all but one lamp, sent the dogs away with
David and dismissed Howlett for the night.

I was not inclined to retire for I knew I could not sleep. There was a
book lying open on the table beside the fire and I opened it and read
a page or two, but my mind was fixed on other things.

The window shades were raised and I looked out at the star-set
firmament. There was no moon that night but the sky was dusted all
over with sparkling stars and a pale radiance, brighter even than
moonlight, fell over meadow and wood. Far away in the forest I heard
the voice of the wind, a soft warm wind that whispered a name, Ysonde.

"Listen," sighed the voice of the wind, and "listen" echoed the
swaying trees with every little leaf a-quiver. I listened.

Where the long grasses trembled with the cricket's cadence I heard her
name, Ysonde; I heard it in the rustling woodbine where grey moths
hovered; I heard it in the drip, drip, drip of the dew from the porch.
The silent meadow brook whispered her name, the rippling woodland
streams repeated in, Ysonde, Ysonde, until all earth and sky were
filled with the soft thrill, Ysonde, Ysonde, Ysonde.

A night-thrush sang in a thicket by the porch and I stole to the
verandah to listen. After a while it began again, a little further on.
I ventured out into the road. Again I heard it far away in the forest
and I followed it, for I knew it was singing of Ysonde.

When I came to the path that leaves the main road and enters the
Sweet-Fern Covert below the spinney, I hesitated; but the beauty of
the night lured me on and the night-thrushes called me from every
thicket. In the starry radiance, shrubs, grasses, field flowers, stood
out distinctly, for there was no moon to cast shadows. Meadow and
brook, grove and stream, were illuminated by the pale glow. Like great
lamps lighted, the planets hung from the high-domed sky and through
their mysterious rays the fixed stars, calm, serene, stared from the
heavens like eyes...I waded on waist deep through fields of dewy
golden-rod, through late clover and wild-oat wastes, through crimson-
fruited sweetbrier, blueberry, and wild plum, until the low whisper of
the Weir Brook warned me that the path had ended.

But I would not stop, for the night air was heavy with the perfume of
water-lilies and far away, across the low wooded cliffs and the wet
meadowland beyond, there was a distant gleam of silver, and I heard
the murmur of sleepy waterfowl. I would go to the lake. The way was
clear except for the dense young growth and the snares of the moose-
bush.

The night-thrushes had ceased but I did not want for the company of
living creatures. Slender, quick darting forms crossed my path at
intervals, sleek mink, that fled like shadows at my step, wiry weasels
and fat muskrats, hurrying onward to some tryst or killing.

I never had seen so many little woodland creatures on the move at
night. I began to wonder where they all were going so fast, why they
all hurried on in the same direction. Now I passed a hare hopping
through the brushwood, now a rabbit scurrying by, flag hoisted. As I
entered the beech second-growth two foxes glided by me; a little
further on a doe crashed out of the underbrush, and close behind her
stole a lynx, eyes shining like coals.

He neither paid attention to the doe nor to me, but loped away toward
the north.

The lynx was in flight.

"From what?" I asked myself, wondering. There was no forest fire, no
cyclone, no flood.

If Barris had passed that way could he have stirred up this sudden
exodus? Impossible; even a regiment in the forest could scarcely have
put to rout these frightened creatures.

"What on earth," thought I, turning to watch the headlong flight of a
fisher-cat, "what on earth has started the beasts out at this time of
night?"

I looked up into the sky. The placid glow of the fixed stars comforted
me and I stepped on through the narrow spruce belt that leads down to
the borders of the Lake of the Stars.

Wild cranberry and moose-bush entwined my feet, dewy branches
spattered me with moisture, and the thick spruce needles scraped my
face as I threaded my way over mossy logs and deep spongy tussocks
down to the level gravel of the lake shore.

Although there was no wind the little waves were hurrying in from the
lake and I heard them splashing among the pebbles. In the pale star
glow thousands of water-lilies lifted their half-closed chalices
toward the sky.

I threw myself full length upon the shore, and, chin on hand, looked
out across the lake.

Splash, splash, came the waves along the shore, higher, nearer, until
a film of water, thin and glittering as a knife blade, crept up to my
elbows. I could not understand it; the lake was rising, but there had
been no rain. All along the shore the water was running up; I heard
the waves among the sedge grass; the weeds at my side were awash in
the ripples. The lilies rocked on the tiny waves, every wet pad rising
on the swells, sinking, rising again until the whole lake was
glimmering with undulating blossoms. How sweet and deep was the
fragrance from the lilies.

And now the water was ebbing, slowly, and the waves receded, shrinking
from the shore rim until the white pebbles appeared again, shining
like froth on a brimming glass.

No animal swimming out in the dankness along the shore, no heavy
salmon surging, could have set the whole shore aflood as though the
wash from a great boat were rolling in. Could it have been the
overflow, through the Weir Brook, of some cloud-burst far back in the
forest? This was the only way I could account for it, and yet when I
had crossed the Weir Brook I had not noticed that it was swollen.

And as I lay there thinking, a faint breeze sprang up and I saw the
surface of the lake whiten with lifted lily pads. All around me the
alders were sighing; I heard the forest behind me stir; the crossed
branches rubbing softly, bark against bark. Something--it may have
been an owl--sailed out of the night, dipped, soared, and was again
engulfed, and far across the water I heard its faint cry, Ysonde.

Then first, for my heart was full, I cast myself down upon my face,
calling on her name. My eyes were wet when I raised my head,--for the
spray from the shore was drifting in again,--and my heart beat
heavily; "No more, no more." But my heart lied, for even as I raised
my face to the calm stars, I saw her standing still, close beside me;
and very gently I spoke her name, Ysonde.

She held out both hands.

"I was lonely," she said, "and I went to the glade, but the forest is
full of frightened creatures and they frightened me. Has anything
happened in the woods? The deer are running toward the heights."

Her hand still lay in mine as we moved along the shore, and the
lapping of the water on rock and shallow was no lower than our voices.

"Why did you leave me without a word, there at the fountain in the
glade?" she said.

"I leave you!--"

"Indeed you did, running swiftly with your dog, plunging through
thickens and brush,--oh---you frightened me."

"Did I leave you so?"

"Yes--after--"

"After?"

"You had kissed me--"

Then we leaned down together and looked into the black water set with
stars, just as we had bent together over the fountain in the glade.

"Do you remember?" I asked.

"Yes. See, the water is inlaid with silver stars,--everywhere white
lilies floating and the stars below, deep, deep down."

"What is the flower you hold in your hand?"

"White water-lotus."

"Tell me about Yue-Laou, Dzil-Nbu of the Kuen-Yuin," I whispered,
lifting her head so I could see her eyes.

"Would it please you to hear?"

"Yes, Ysonde."

"All that I know is yours, now, as I am yours, all that I am. Bend
closer. Is it of Yue-Laou you would know? Yue-Laou is Dzil-Nhu of the
Kuen-Yuin. He lived in the Moon. He is old--very, very old, and once,
before he came to rule the Kuen-Yuin, he was the old man who unites
with a silken cord all predestined couples, after which nothing can
prevent their union. But all that is changed since he came to rule the
Kuen-Yuin. Now he has perverted the Xin,--the good genii of China,--
and has fashioned from their warped bodies a monster which he calls
the Xin. This monster is horrible, for it not only lives in its own
body, but it has thousands of loathsome satellites,--living creatures
without mouths, blind, that move when the Xin moves, like a mandarin
and his escort. They are part of the Xin although they are not
attached. Yet if one of these satellites is injured the Xin writhes
with agony. It is fearful--this huge living bulk and these creatures
spread out like severed fingers that wriggle around a hideous hand."

"Who told you this?"

"My step-father."

"Do you believe it?"

"Yes. I have seen one of the Xin's creatures.

"Where, Ysonde?"

"Here in the woods."

"Then you believe there is a Xin here?"

"There must be,--perhaps in the lake--"

"Oh, Xins inhabit lakes?"

"Yes, and the seven seas. I am not afraid here."

"Why?"

"Because I wear the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin."

"Then I am not safe," I smiled.

"Yes you are, for I hold you in my arms. Shall I tell you more about
the Xin? When the Xin is about to do to death a man, the Yeth-hounds
gallop through the night--"

"What are the Yeth-hounds, Ysonde?"

"The Yeth-hounds are dogs without heads. They are the spirits of
murdered children, which pass through the woods at night, making a
wailing noise."

"Do you believe this?"

"Yes, for I have worn the yellow lotus--"

"The yellow lotus--"

"Yellow is the symbol of faith--"

"Where?"

"In Yian," she said faintly.

After a while I said, "Ysonde, you know there is a God?"

"God and Xangi are one."

"Have you ever heard of Christ?"

"No," she answered softly.

The wind began again among the tree tops. I felt her hands closing in
mine.

"Ysonde," I asked again, "do you believe in sorcerers?"

"Yes, the Kuen-Yuin are sorcerers; Yue-Laou is a sorcerer.

"Have you seen sorcery?"

"Yes, the reptile satellite of the Xin--"

"Anything else?"

"My charm,--the golden ball, the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin. Have you
seen it change,--have you seen the reptiles writhe--?"

"Yes," I said shortly, and then remained silent, for a sudden shiver
of apprehension had seized me. Barris also had spoken gravely,
ominously of the sorcerers, the Kuen-Yuin, and I had seen with my own
eyes the graven reptiles turning and twisting on the glowing globe.

"Still," said I aloud, "God lives and sorcery is but a name."

"Ah," murmured Ysonde, drawing closer to me, "they say, in Yian, the
Kuen-Yuin live; God is but a name."

"They lie," I whispered fiercely.

"Be careful," she pleaded, "they may hear you. Remember that you have
the mark of the dragon's claw on your brow."

"What of it?" I asked, thinking also of the white mark on Barris' arm.

"Ah don't you know that those who are marked with the dragon's claw
are followed by Yue-Laou, for good or for evil,--and the evil means
death if you offend him?"

"Do you believe that!" I asked impatiently..."I know it," she sighed.

"Who told you all this? Your step-father? What in Heaven's name is he
then,--a Chinaman!"

"I don't know; he is not like you."

"Have--have you told him anything about me?"

"He knows about you--no, I have told him nothing,--ah what is this--
see--it is a cord, a cord of silk about your neck--and about mine!"

"Where did that come from?" I asked astonished.

"It must be--in must be Yue-Laou who binds me to you,--it is as my
step-father said--he said Yue-Laou would bind us--"

"Nonsense," I said almost roughly, and seized the silken cord, but to
my amazement it melted in my hand like smoke.

"What is all this damnable jugglery!" I whispered angrily, but my
anger vanished as the words were spoken, and a convulsive shudder
shook me to the feet. Standing on the shone of the lake, a stone's
throw away, was a figure, twisted and bent,--a little old man, blowing
sparks from a live coal which he held in his naked hand. The coal
glowed with increasing radiance, lighting up the skull-like face above
it, and threw a red glow over the sands at his feet. But the face!--
the ghastly Chinese face on which the light flickered,--and the snaky
slitted eyes, sparkling as the coal glowed hotter. Coal! It was not a
coal but a golden globe staining the night with crimson flames--it was
the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin.

"See! See!" gasped Ysonde, trembling violently, "see the moon rising
from between his fingers! Oh I thought it was my step-father and it is
Yue-Laou the Maker of Moons--no! no! it is my step-father--ah God!
they are the same!"

Frozen with terror I stumbled to my knees, groping for my revolver
which bulged in my coat pocket; but something held me--something which
bound me like a web in a thousand strong silky meshes. I struggled and
turned but the web grew tighter; it was over us--all around us,
drawing, pressing us into each other's arms until we lay side by side,
bound hand and body and foot, palpitating, panting like a pair of
netted pigeons.

And the creature on the shore below! What was my horror to see a moon,
huge, silvery, rise like a bubble from between his fingers, mount
higher, higher into the still air and hang aloft in the midnight sky,
while another moon rose from his fingers, and another and yet another
until the vast span of Heaven was set with moons and the earth
sparkled like a diamond in the white glare.

A great wind began to blow from the east and it bore to our ears a
long mournful howl,--a cry so unearthly that for a moment our hearts
stopped.

"The Yeth-hounds!" sobbed Ysonde, "do you hear!--they are passing
through the forest! The Xin is near!"

Then all around us in the dry sedge grasses came a rustle as if some
small animals were creeping, and a damp acrid odor filled the air. I
knew the smell, I saw the spidery crablike creatures swarm out around
me and drag their soft yellow hairy bodies across the shrinking
grasses. They passed, hundreds of them, poisoning the air, rumbling,
writhing, crawling with their blind mouthless heads raised. Birds,
half asleep and confused by the darkness, fluttered away before them
in helpless fright, rabbits sprang from their forms, weasels glided
away like flying shadows. What remained of the forest creatures rose
and fled from the loathsome invasion; I heard the squeak of a
terrified hare, the snort of stampeding deer, and the lumbering gallop
of a bear; and all the time I was choking, half suffocated by the
poisoned air.

Then, as I struggled to free myself from the silken snare about me, I
cast a glance of deadly fear at the sorcerer below, and at the same
moment I saw him turn in his tracks..."Halt!" cried a voice from the
bushes.

"Barris!" I shouted, half leaping up in my agony.

I saw the sorcerer spring forward, I heard the bang! bang! bang! of a
revolver, and, as the sorcerer fell on the water's edge, I saw Barris
jump out into the white glare and fire again, once, twice, three
times, into the writhing figure at his feet.

Then an awful thing occurred. Up out of the black lake reared a
shadow, a nameless shapeless mass, headless, sightless, gigantic,
gaping from end to end.

A great wave struck Barris and he fell, another washed him up on the
pebbles, another whirled him back into the water and then,--and then
the thing fell over him,--and I fainted.

* * *

This, then, is all that I know concerning Yue-Laou and the Xin. I do
not fear the ridicule of scientists or of the press for I have told
the truth. Barris is gone and the thing that killed him is alive to-
day in the Lake of the Stars while the spider-like satellites roam
through the Cardinal Woods. The game has fled, the forests around the
lake are empty of any living creatures save the reptiles that creep
when the Xin moves in the depths of the lake.

General Drummond knows what he has lost in Barris, and we, Pierpont
and I, know what we have lost also. His will we found in the drawer,
the key of which he had handed me. It was wrapped in a bit of paper on
which was written:

"Yue-Laou the sorcerer is here in the Cardinal Woods. I must kill him
or he will kill me. He made and gave to me the woman I loved,--he made
her,--I saw him,--he made her out of a white water-lotus bud. When our
child was born, he came again before me and demanded from me the woman
I loved. Then, when I refused, he went away, and that night my wife
and child vanished from my side, and I found upon her pillow a white
lotus bud. Roy, the woman of your dream, Ysonde, may be my child. God
help you if you love her for Yue-Laou will give,--and take away, as
though he were Xangi, which is God. I will kill Yue-Laou before I
leave this forest,--or he will kill me.

"FRANKLYN BARRIS."

Now the world knows what Barris thought of the Kuen-Yuin and of Yue-
Laou. I see that the newspapers are just becoming excited over the
glimpses that Li-Hung-Chang has afforded them of Black Cathay and the
demons of the Kuen-Yuin. The Kuen-Yuin are on the move.

Pierpont and I have dismantled the shooting box in the Cardinal Woods.
We hold ourselves ready at a moment's notice to join and lead the
first Government party to drag the Lake of Stars and cleanse the
forest of the crab reptiles. But it will be necessary that a large
force assembles, and a well-armed force, for we never have found the
body of Yue-Laou, and, living or dead, I fear him. Is he living?

Pierpont, who found Ysonde and myself lying unconscious on the lake
shore, the morning after, saw no trace of corpse or blood on the
sands. He may have fallen into the lake, but I fear and Ysonde fears
that he is alive. We never were able to find either her dwelling place
or the glade and the fountain again. The only thing that remains to
her of her former life is the gold serpent in the Metropolitan Museum
and her golden globe, the symbol of the Kuen-Yuin; but the latter no
longer changes color.

David and the dogs are waiting for me in the count yard as I write.
Pierpont is in the gun room loading shells, and Howlett brings him mug
after mug of my ale from the wood. Ysonde bends over my desk,--I feel
her hand on my arm, and she is saying, "Don't you think you have done
enough to-day, dear? How can you write such silly nonsense without a
shadow of truth or foundation?"



THE BRIDAL PAIR

"If I were you," said the elder man, "I should take three months'
solid rest."

"A month is enough," said the younger man. "Ozone will do it; the
first brace of grouse I bag will do it--" He broke off abruptly,
staring at the line of dimly lighted cars, where negro porters stood
by the vestibuled sleepers, directing passengers to staterooms and
berths.

"Dog all right, doctor?" inquired the elder man pleasantly. "All
right, doctor," replied the younger; "I spoke to the baggage master."
There was a silence; the elder man chewed an unlighted cigar
reflectively, watching his companion with keen narrowing eyes.

The younger physician stood full in the white electric light, lean
head lowered, apparently preoccupied with a study of his own shadow
swimming and quivering on the asphalt at his feet.

"So you fear I may break down?" he observed, without raising his head.

"I think you're tired out," said the other.

"That's a more agreeable way of expressing it," said the young fellow.
"I hear"--he hesitated, with a faint trace of irritation--"I
understand that Forbes Stanly thinks me mentally unsound."

"He probably suspects what you're up to," said the elder man soberly.

"Well, what will he do when I announce my germ theory? Put me in a
strait-jacket?"

"He'll say you're mad, until you prove it; every physician will agree
with him--until your radium test shows us the microbe of insanity."

"Doctor," said the young man abruptly, "I'm going to admit something--
to you."

"All right; go ahead and admit it."

"Well, I am a bit worried about my own condition."

"It's time you were," observed the other.

"Yes--it's about time. Doctor, I am seriously affected."

The elder man looked up sharply.

"Yes, I'm--in love."

"Ah!" muttered the elder physician, amused and a trifle disgusted; "so
that's your malady, is it?"

"A malady--yes; not explainable by our germ theory--not affected by
radio-activity. Doctor, I'm speaking lightly enough, but there's no
happiness in it."

"Never is," commented the other, striking a match and lighting his
ragged cigar. After a puff or two the cigar went out. "All I have to
say," he added, "is, don't do it just now. Show me a scale of pure
radium and I'll give you leave to marry every spinster in New York. In
the mean time go and shoot a few dozen harmless, happy grouse; they
can't shoot back. But let love alone... By the way, who is she?"

"I don't know."

"You know her name, I suppose?"

The young fellow shook his head. "I don't even know where she lives,"
he said finally.

After a pause the elder man took him gently by the arm: "Are you
subject to this sort of thing? Are you susceptible?"

"No, not at all."

"Ever before in love?"

"Yes--once." 

"When?"

"When I was about ten years old. Her name was Rosamund--aged eight. I
never had the courage to speak to her. She died recently, I believe."

The reply was so quietly serious, so destitute of any suspicion of
humor, that the elder man's smile faded; and again he cast one of his
swift, keen glances at his companion.

"Won't you stay away three months?" he asked patiently.

But the other only shook his head, tracing with the point of his
walking stick the outline of his own shadow on the asphalt.

A moment later he glanced at his watch, closed it with a snap,
silently shook hands with his equally silent friend, and stepped
aboard the sleeping car.

Neither had noticed the name of the sleeping car.

It happened to be the Rosamund.

* * *

Loungers and passengers on Wildwood station drew back from the
platform's edge as the towering locomotive shot by them, stunning
their ears with the clangor of its melancholy bell.

Slower, slower glided the dusty train, then stopped, jolting; eddying
circles of humanity closed around the cars, through which descending
passengers pushed.

"Wildwood! Wildwood!" cried the trainmen; trunks tumbling out of the
forward car descended with a bang!--a yelping, wagging setter dog
landed on the platform, hysterically grateful to be free; and at the
same moment a young fellow in tweed shooting clothes, carrying
gripsack and gun case, made his way forward toward the baggage master,
who was being jerked all over the platform by the frantic dog.

"Much obliged; I'll take the dog," he said, slipping a bit of silver
into the official's hand, and receiving the dog's chain in return.

"Hope you'll have good sport," replied the baggage master. "There's a
lot o' birds in this country, they tell me. You've got a good dog
there."

The young man smiled and nodded, released the chain from his dog's
collar, and started off up the dusty village street, followed by an
urchin carrying his luggage.

The landlord of the Wildwood Inn stood on the veranda, prepared to
receive guests. When a young man, a white setter dog, and a small boy
loomed up, his speculative eyes became suffused with benevolence.

"How-de-so, sir?" he said cordially. "Guess you was with us three year
since--stayed to supper. Ain't that so?"

"It certainly is," said his guest cheerfully. "I am surprised that you
remember me."

"Be ye?" rejoined the landlord, gratified. "Say! I can tell the name
of every man, woman, an’ child that has ever set down to eat with us.
You was here with a pair o' red bird dawgs; shot a mess o' birds
before dark, come back pegged out, an' took the ten-thirty to Noo
York. Hey? Yaas, an' you was cussin' round because you couldn't stay
an' shoot for a month."

"I had to work hard in those days," laughed the young man. "You are
right; it was three years ago this month."

"Time's a flyer; it's fitted with triple screws these days," said the
landlord. "Come right in an' make yourself to home. Ed! O Ed! Take
this bag to 13! We're all full, sir. You ain't scared at No. 13, be
ye? Say! if I ain't a liar you had 13 three years ago! Waal, now!--
ain't that the dumbdest---But you can have what you want Monday. How
long was you calkerlatin' to stay?" 

"A month--if the shooting is good."

"It's all right. Orrin Plummet come in last night with a mess o
pa'tridges. He says the woodcock is droppin' in to the birches south
o' Sweetbrier Hill."

The young man nodded, and began to remove his gun from the service-
worn case of sole leather.

"Ain't startin' right off, be ye?" inquired his host, laughing.

"I can't begin too quickly," said the young man, busy locking barrels
to stock, while the dog looked on, thumping the veranda floor with his
plumy tail.

The landlord admired the slim, polished weapon. "That's the
instrooment!" he observed. "That there's a slick bird dawg, too. Guess
I'd better fill my ice box. Your limit's thirty of each--cock an'
parridge. After that there's ducks."

"It's a good, sane law," said the young man, dropping his gun under
one arm.

The landlord scratched his ear reflectively. "Lemme see," he mused;
"wasn't you a doctor? I heard tell that you made up pieces for the
papers about the idjits an' loonyticks of Rome an' Roosia an' furrin
climes."

"I have written a little on European and Asiatic insanity," replied
the doctor good-humoredly.

"Was you over to them parts?"

"For three years." He whistled the dog in from the road, where several
yellow curs were walking round and round him, every hair on end.

The landlord said: "You look a little peaked yourself. Take it easy
the fust, is my advice."

His guest nodded abstractedly, lingering on the veranda, preoccupied
with the beauty of the village street, which stretched away westward
under tall elms. Autumn-tinted hills closed the vista; beyond them
spread the blue sky.

"The cemetery lies that way, does it not?" inquired the young man.

"Straight ahead," said the landlord. "Take the road to the Holler."

"Do you"--the doctor hesitated--"do you recall a funeral there three
years ago?"

"Whose?" asked his host bluntly.

"I don't know."

"I'll ask my woman; she saves them funeral pieces an' makes a album."

"Friend o' yours buried there?"

"No."

The landlord sauntered toward the barroom, where two fellow taxpayers
stood shuffling their feet impatiently.

"Waal, good luck, Doc," he said, without intentional offense;
"supper's at six. We'll try an' make you comfortable."

"Thank you," replied the doctor, stepping out into the road, and
motioning the white setter to heel.

"I remember now," he muttered, as he turned northward, where the road
forked; "the cemetery lies to the westward; there should be a lane at
the next turning--"

He hesitated and stopped, then resumed his course, mumbling to
himself: "I can pass the cemetery later; she would not be there; I
don't think I shall ever see her again... I--I wonder whether I am--
perfectly--well--"

The words were suddenly lost in a sharp indrawn breath; his heart
ceased beating, fluttered, then throbbed on violently; and he shook
from head to foot.

There was a glimmer of a summer gown under the trees; a figure passed
from shadow to sunshine, and again into the cool dusk of a leafy lane.

The pallor of the young fellow's face changed; a heavy flush spread
from forehead to neck; he strode forward, dazed, deafened by the
tumult of his drumming pulses. The dog, alert, suspicious, led the
way, wheeling into the bramble-bordered lane, only to halt, turn back,
and fall in behind his master again.

In the lane ahead the light summer gown fluttered under the foliage,
bright in the sunlight, almost lost in the shadows. Then he saw her on
the hill's breezy crest, poised for a moment against the sky.

When at length he reached the hill, he found her seated in the shade
of a pine. She looked up serenely, as though she had expected him, and
they faced each other. A moment later his dog left him, sneaking away
without a sound.

When he strove to speak, his voice had an unknown tone to him. Her
upturned face was his only answer. The breeze in the pinetops, which
had been stirring lazily and monotonously, ceased.

* * *

Her delicate face was like a blossom lifted in the still air; her
upward glance chained him to silence. The first breeze broke the
spell: he spoke a word, then speech died on his lips; he stood
twisting his shooting cap, confused, not daring to continue.

The girl leaned back, supporting her weight on one arm, fingers almost
buried in the deep green moss.

"It is three years to-day," he said, in the dull voice of one who
dreams; "three years to-day. May I not speak?"

In her lowered head and eyes he read acquiescence; in her silence,
consent.

"Three years ago to-day," he repeated; "the anniversary has given me
courage to speak to you. Surely you will not take offense; we have
traveled so far together!--from the end of the world to the end of it,
and back again, here--to this place of all places in the world! And
now to find you here on this day of all days--here within a step of
our first meeting place--three years ago to-day! And all the world we
have traveled over since never speaking, yet ever passing on paths
parallel--paths which for thousands of miles ran almost within arm’s
distance--"

She raised her head slowly, looking out from the shadows of the pines
into the sunshine. Her dreamy eyes rested on acres of golden-rod and
hillside brambles quivering in the September heat; on fern-choked
gullies edged with alder; on brown and purple grasses; on pine
thickets where slim silver birches glimmered.

"Will you speak to me?" he asked. "I have never even heard the sound
of your voice."

She turned and looked at him, touching with idle fingers the soft hair
curling on her temples Then she bent her head once more, the faintest
shadow of a smile in her eyes.

"Because," he said humbly, "these long years of silent recognition
count for something! And then the strangeness of it!--the fate of it--
the quiet destiny that ruled our lives--that rules them now--now as I
am speaking, weighting every second with its tiny burden of fate."

She straightened up, lifting her half-buried hand from the moss; and
he saw the imprint there where the palm and fingers had rested.

"Three years that end to-day--end with the new moon," he said. "Do you
remember?"

"Yes," she said.

He quivered at the sound of her voice. "You were there, just beyond
those oaks," he said eagerly; "we can see them from here. The road
turns there--" 

"Turns by the cemetery," she murmured.

"Yes, yes, by the cemetery! You had been there, I think."

"Do you remember that?" she asked.

"I have never forgotten--never!" he repeated, striving to hold her
eyes to his own; "it was not twilight; there was a glimmer of day in
the west, but the woods were darkening, and the new moon lay in the
sky, and the evening was very clear and still."

Impulsively he dropped on one knee beside her to see her face; and as
he spoke, curbing his emotion and impatience with that subtle
deference which is inbred in men or never acquired, she stole a glance
at him; and his worn visage brightened as though touched with
sunlight.

"The second time I saw you was in New York," he said--"only a glimpse
of your face in the crowd--but I knew you."

"I saw you," she mused.

"Did you?" he cried, enchanted. "I dared not believe that you
recognized me."

"Yes, I knew you.... Tell me more."

The thrilling voice set him aflame; faint danger signals tinted her
face and neck.

"In December," he went on unsteadily, "I saw you in Paris--I saw only
you amid the thousand faces in the candlelight of Notre Dame."

"And I saw you.... And then?"

"And then two months of darkness.... And at last a light--moonlight--
and you on the terrace at Amara."

"There was only a flower bed--a few spikes of white hyacinths between
us," she said dreamily.

He strove to speak coolly. "Day and night have built many a wall
between us; was that you who passed me in the starlight, so close that
our shoulders touched, in that narrow street in Samarkand? And the
dark figure with you--"

"Yes, it was I and my attendant."

"And...you, there in the fog--"

"At Archangel? Yes, it was I."

"On the Goryn?"

"It was I.... And I am here at last--with you. It is our destiny."

* * *

So, kneeling there beside her in the shadow of the pines, she absolved
him in their dim confessional, holding him guiltless under the destiny
that awaits us all.

Again that illumination touched his haggard face as though brightened
by a sun ray stealing through the still foliage above. He grew younger
under the level beauty of her gaze; care fell from him like a mask;
the shadows that had haunted his eyes faded; youth awoke,
transfiguring him and all his eyes beheld.

Made prisoner by love, adoring her, fearing her, he knelt beside her,
knowing already that she had surrendered, though fearful yet by word
or gesture or a glance to claim what destiny was holding for him
holding securely, inexorably, for him alone.

He spoke of her kindness in understanding him, and of his gratitude;
of her generosity, of his wonder that she had ever noticed him on his
way through the world.

"I cannot believe that we have never before spoken to each other," he
said; "that I do not even know your name. Surely there was once a
corner in the land of childhood where we sat together when the world
was younger."

She said, dreamily: "Have you forgotten?"

"Forgotten?"

"That sunny corner in the land of childhood."

"Had you been there, I should not have forgotten," he replied,
troubled.

"Look at me," she said. Her lovely eyes met his; under the penetrating
sweetness of her gaze his heart quickened and grew restless and his
uneasy soul stirred, awaking memories.

"There was a child," she said, "years ago; a child at school. You
sometimes looked at her, you never spoke. Do you remember?"

He rose to his feet, staring down at her.

"Do you remember?" she asked again.

"Rosamund! Do you mean Rosamund? How should you know that?" he
faltered.

The struggle for memory focused all his groping senses; his eyes
seemed to look her through and through.

"How can you know?" he repeated unsteadily. "You are not Rosamund...
Are you?...She is dead. I heard that she was dead... Are you
Rosamund?"

"Do you not know?"

"Yes; you are not Rosamund.... What do you know of her?"

"I think she loved you."

"Is she dead?"

The girl looked up at him, smiling, following with delicate perception
the sequence of his thoughts; and already his thoughts were far from
the child Rosamund, a sweetheart of a day long since immortal; already
he had forgotten his question, though the question was of life or
death.

Sadness and unrest and the passing of souls concerned not him; she
knew that all his thoughts were centered on her; that he was already
living over once more the last three years, with all their mystery and
charm, savoring their fragrance anew in the exquisite enchantment of
her presence.

Through the autumn silence the pines began to sway in a wind unfelt
below. She raised her eyes and saw their green crests shimmering and
swimming in a cool current; a thrilling sound stole out, and with it
floated the pine perfume, exhaling in the sunshine. He heard the
dreamy harmony above, looked up; then, troubled, somber, moved by he
knew not what, he knelt once more in the shadow beside her--close
beside her.

She did not stir. Their destiny was close upon them. It came in the
guise of love.

He bent nearer. "I love you," he said. "I loved you from the first.
And shall forever. You knew it long ago."

She did not move.

"You knew I loved you?"

"Yes, I knew it."

The emotion in her voice, in every delicate contour of her face,
pleaded for mercy. He gave her none, and she bent her head in silence,
clasped hands tightening.

And when at last he had had his say, the burning words still rang in
her ears through the silence. A curious faintness stole upon her,
coming stealthily like a hateful thing. She strove to put it from her,
to listen, to remember and understand the words he had spoken, but the
dull confusion grew with the sound of the pines.

"Will you love me? Will you try to love me?"

"I love you," she said; "I have loved you so many, many years; I--I am
Rosamund--"

She bowed her head and covered her face with both hands..."Rosamund!
Rosamund!" he breathed, enraptured.

She dropped her hands with a little cry; the frightened sweetness of
her eyes held back his outstretched arms. "Do not touch me," she
whispered; "you will not touch me, will you?--not yet--not now. Wait
till I understand!" She pressed her hands to her eyes, then again let
them fall, staring straight at him. "I loved you so!" she whispered.
"Why did you wait?"

"Rosamund! Rosamund!" he cried sorrowfully, "what are you saying? I do
not understand; I can understand nothing save that I worship you. May
I not touch you?--touch your hand, Rosamund? I love you so."

"And I love you. I beg you not to touch me--not yet. There is
something--some reason why--"

"Tell me, sweetheart."

"Do you not know?"

"By Heaven, I do not!" he said, troubled and amazed.

She cast one desperate, unhappy glance at him, then rose to her full
height, gazing out over the hazy valleys to where the mountains began,
piled up like dim sun-tipped clouds in the north.

The hill wind stirred her hair and fluttered the white ribbons at
waist and shoulder. The golden-rod swayed in the sunshine. Below, amid
yellow treetops, the roofs and chimneys of the village glimmered.

"Dear, do you not understand?" she said. "How can I make you
understand that I love you---too late?"

"Give yourself to me, Rosamund; let me touch you--let me take you--"

"Will you love me always?"

"In life, in death, which cannot part us. Will you marry me,
Rosamund?"

She looked straight into his eyes. "Dear, do you not understand? Have
you forgotten? I died three years ago to-day."

The unearthly sweetness of her white face startled him. A terrible
light broke in on him; his heart stood still.

In his dull brain words were sounding--his own words, written years
ago: "When God takes the mind and leaves the body alive, there grows
in it, sometimes, a beauty almost supernatural."

He had seen it in his practice. A thrill of fright penetrated him,
piercing every vein with its chill. He strove to speak; his lips
seemed frozen; he stood there before her, a ghastly smile stamped on
his face, and in his heart, terror.

"What do you mean, Rosamund?" he said at last.

"That I am dead, dear. Did you not understand that? I--I thought you
knew it--when you first saw me at the cemetery, after all those years
since childhood....Did you not know it?" she asked wistfully. "I must
wait for my bridal."

Misery whitened his face as he raised his head and looked out across
the sunlit world.

Something had smeared and marred the fair earth; the sun grew gray as
he stared.

Stupefied by the crash, the ruins of life around him, he stood mute,
erect, facing the west.

She whispered, "Do you understand?"

"Yes," he said; "we will wed later. You have been ill, dear; but it is
all right now--and will always be--God help us! Love is stronger than
all---stronger than death."

"I know it is stronger than death," she said, looking out dreamily
over the misty valley.

He followed her gaze, calmly, serenely reviewing all that he must
renounce, the happiness of wedlock, children--all that a man desires.

Suddenly instinct stirred, awaking man's only friend--hope. A lifetime
for the battle!--for a cure! Hopeless? He laughed in his excitement.
Despair?--when the cure lay almost within his grasp! the work he had
given his life to! A month more in the laboratory--two months--
three---perhaps a year. What of it? It must surely come--how could he
fail when the work of his life meant all in life for her?

The light of exaltation slowly faded from his face; ominous,
foreboding thoughts crept in; fear laid a shaky hand on his head which
fell heavily forward on his breast.

Science and man's cunning and the wisdom of the world!

"O God," he groaned, "for Him who cured by laying on His hands!"

* * *

Now that he had learned her name, and that her father was alive, he
stood mutely beside her, staring steadily at the chimneys and stately
dormered roof almost hidden behind the crimson maple foliage across
the valley--her home.

She had seated herself once more upon the moss, hands clasped upon one
knee, looking out into the west with dreamy eyes.

"I shall not be long," he said gently. "Will you wait here for me? I
will bring your father with me."

"I will wait for you. But you must come before the new moon. Will you?
I must go when the new moon lies in the west."

"Go, dearest? Where?"

"I may not tell you," she sighed, "but you will know very soon--very
soon now. And there will be no more sorrow, I think," she added
timidly.

"There will be no more sorrow," he repeated quietly.

"For the former things are passing away," she said.

He broke a heavy spray of golden-rod and laid it across her knees; she
held out a blossom to him--a blind gentian, blue as her eyes. He
kissed it.

"Be with me when the new moon comes," she whispered. "It will be so
sweet. I will teach you how divine is death, if you will come."

"You shall teach me the sweetness of life," he said tremulously.

"Yes--life. I did not know you called it by its truest name."

So he went away, trudging sturdily down the lane, gun glistening on
his shoulder.

Where the lane joins the shadowy village street his dog skulked up to
him, sniffing at his heels.

A mill whistle was sounding; through the red rays of the setting sun
people were passing.

Along the row of village shops loungers followed him with vacant eyes.
He saw nothing, heard nothing, though a kindly voice called after him,
and a young girl smiled at him on her short journey through the world.

The landlord of the Wildwood Inn sat sunning himself in the red
evening glow.

"Well, doctor," he said, "you look tired to death. Eh? What's that you
say?"

The young man repeated his question in a low voice. The landlord shook
his head.

"No, sir. The big house on the hill is empty--been empty these three
years. No, sir, there ain't no family there now. The old gentleman
moved away three years ago."

"You are mistaken," said the doctor; "his daughter tells me he lives
there."

"His--his daughter?" repeated the landlord. "Why, doctor, she's dead."
He turned to his wife, who sat sewing by the open window: "Ain't it
three years, Marthy?"

"Three years to-day," said the woman, biting off her thread. "She's
buried in the family vault over the hill. She was a right pretty
little thing, too."

"Turned nineteen," mused the landlord, folding his newspaper
reflectively.

* * *

The great gray house on the hill was closed, windows and doors boarded
over, lawn, shrubbery, and hedges tangled with weeds. A few scarlet
poppies glimmered above the brown grass. Save for these, and clumps of
tall wild phlox, there were no blossoms among the weeds.

His dog, which had sneaked after him, cowered as he turned northward
across the fields.

Swifter and swifter he strode; and as he stumbled on, the long sunset
clouds faded, the golden light in the west died out, leaving a calm,
clear sky tinged with the faintest green.

Pines hid the west as he crept toward the hill where she awaited him.
As he climbed through dusky purple grasses, higher, higher, he saw the
new moon's crescent tipping above the hills; and he crushed back the
deathly fright that clutched at him and staggered on.

"Rosamund!"

The pines answered him.

"Rosamund!"

The pines replied, answering together. Then the wind died away, and
there was no answer when he called.

East and south the darkening thickets, swaying, grew still. He saw the
slim silver birches glimmering like the ghosts of young trees dead; he
saw on the moss at his feet a broken stalk of golden-rod.

The new moon had drawn a veil across her face; sky and earth were very
still.

While the moon lasted he lay, eyes open, listening, his face pillowed
on the moss. It was long after sunrise when his dog came to him; later
still when men came.

And at first they thought he was asleep.



THE CASE OF MR. HELMER

He had really been too ill to go; the penetrating dampness of the
studio, the nervous strain, the tireless application, all had told on
him heavily. But the feverish discomfort in his head and lungs gave
him no rest; it was impossible to lie there in bed and do nothing;
besides, he did not care to disappoint his hostess. So he managed to
crawl into his clothes, summon a cab, and depart. The raw night air
cooled his head and throat; he opened the cab window and let the snow
blow in on him.

When he arrived he did not feel much better, although Catharine was
glad to see him.

Somebody's wife was allotted to him to take in to dinner, and he
executed the commission with that distinction of manner peculiar to
men of his temperament.

When the women had withdrawn and the men had lighted cigars and
cigarettes, and the conversation wavered between municipal reform and
contes drolatiques, and the Boznovian attaché had begun an
interminable story, and Count Fantozzi was emphasizing his opinion of
women by joining the tips of his overmanicured thumb and forefinger
and wafting spectral kisses at an annoyed Englishman opposite, Helmer
laid down his unlighted cigar and, leaning over, touched his host on
the sleeve.

"Hello! What's up, Philip?" said his host cordially; and Helmer,
dropping his voice a tone below the sustained pitch of conversation,
asked him the question that had been burning his feverish lips since
dinner began.

To which his host replied, "What girl do you mean?" and bent nearer to
listen.

"I mean the girl in the fluffy black gown, with shoulders and arms of
ivory, and the eyes of Aphrodite."

His host smiled. "Where did she sit, this human wonder?"

"Beside Colonel Farrar."

"Farrar? Let's see"--he knit his brows thoughtfully, then shook his
head. "I can't recollect; we're going in now and you can find her and
I'll--"

His words were lost in the laughter and hum around them; he nodded an
abstracted assurance at Helmer; others claimed his attention, and by
the time he rose to signal departure he had forgotten the girl in
black.

As the men drifted toward the drawing-rooms, Helmer moved with the
throng. There were a number of people there whom he knew and spoke to,
although through the increasing feverishness he could scarce hear
himself speak. He was too ill to stay; he would find his hostess and
ask the name of that girl in black, and go.

The white drawing-rooms were hot and over-thronged. Attempting to find
his hostess, he encountered Colonel Farrar, and together they threaded
their way aimlessly forward.

"Who is the girl in black, Colonel?" he asked; "I mean the one that
you took in to dinner."

"A girl in black? I don't think I saw her."

"She sat beside you!"

"Beside me?" The Colonel halted, and his inquiring gaze rested for a
moment on the younger man, then swept the crowded rooms.

"Do you see her now?" he asked.

"No," said Helmer, after a moment.

They stood silent for a little while, then parted to allow the Chinese
minister thoroughfare--a suave gentleman, all antique silks, and a
smile "thousands of years old." The minister passed, leaning on the
arm of the general commanding at Governor's Island, who signaled
Colonel Farrar to join them; and Helmer drifted again, until a voice
repeated his name insistently, and his hostess leaned forward from the
brilliant group surrounding her, saying: "What in the world is the
matter, Philip? You look wretchedly ill."

"It's a trifle close here--nothing's the matter."

He stepped nearer, dropping his voice: "Catharine, who was that girl
in black?"

"What girl?"

"She sat beside Colonel Farrar at dinner--or I thought she did--"

"Do you mean Mrs. Van Siclen? She is in white, silly!"

"No--the girl in black."

His hostess bent her pretty head in perplexed silence, frowning a
trifle with the effort to remember.

"There were so many," she murmured; "let me see--it is certainly
strange that I cannot recollect. Wait a moment! Are you sure she wore
black? Are you sure she sat next to Colonel Farrar?"

"A moment ago I was certain--" he said, hesitating. "Never mind,
Catherine; I’ll prowl about until I find her."

His hostess, already partly occupied with the animated stir around
her, nodded brightly; Helmer turned his fevered eyes and then his
steps toward the cool darkness of the conservatories.

But he found there a dozen people who greeted him by name, demanding
not only his company but his immediate and undivided attention.

"Mr. Helmer might be able to explain to us what his own work means,"
said a young girl, laughing.

They had evidently been discussing his sculptured group, just
completed for the new façade of the National Museum. Press and public
had commented very freely on the work since the unveiling a week
since; critics quarreled concerning the significance of the strange
composition in marble. The group was at the same time repellent and
singularly beautiful; but nobody denied its technical perfection. This
was the sculptured group: A vaquero, evidently dying, lay in a loose
heap among some desert rocks. Beside him, chin on palm, sat an
exquisite winged figure, calm eyes fixed on the dying man. It was
plain that death was near; it was stamped on the ravaged visage, on
the collapsed frame. And yet, in the dying boy's eyes there was
nothing of agony, no fear, only an intense curiosity as the lovely
winged figure gazed straight into the glazing eyes.

"It may be," observed an attractive girl, "that Mr. Helmer will say
with Mr. Gilbert, 'It is really very clever, But I don't know what it
means.'" Helmer laughed and started to move away. "I think I'd better
admit that at once," he said, passing his hand over his aching eyes;
but the tumult of protest blocked his retreat, and he was forced to
find a chair under the palms and tree ferns. "It was merely an idea of
mine," he protested, good-humoredly, "an idea that has haunted me so
persistently that, to save myself further annoyance, I locked it up in
marble."

"Demoniac obsession?" suggested a very young man, with a taste for
morbid literature.

"Not at all," protested Helmer, smiling; "the idea annoyed me until I
gave it expression. It doesn't bother me any more." 

"You said,"
observed the attractive girl, "that you were going to tell us all
about it."

"About the idea? Oh no, I didn't promise that--"

"Please, Mr. Helmer!"

A number of people had joined the circle; he could see others standing
here and there among the palms, evidently pausing to listen.

"There is no logic in the idea," he said, uneasily--"nothing to
attract your attention. I have only laid a ghost--"

He stopped short. The girl in black stood there among the others,
intently watching him. When she caught his eye, she nodded with the
friendliest little smile; and as he started to rise she shook her head
and stepped back with a gesture for him to continue.

They looked steadily at one another for a moment.

"The idea that has always attracted me," he began slowly, "is purely
instinctive and emotional, not logical. It is this: As long as I can
remember I have taken it for granted that a person who is doomed to
die, never dies utterly alone. We who die in our beds--or expect to--
die surrounded by the living. So fall soldiers on the firing line; so
end the great majority--never absolutely alone. Even in a murder, the
murderer at least must be present. If not, something else is there.

"But how is it with those solitary souls isolated in the world--the
lone herder who is found lifeless in some vast, waterless desert, the
pioneer whose bones are stumbled over by the tardy pickets of
civilization--and even those nearer us--here in our city--who are
found in silent houses, in deserted streets, in the solitude of salt
meadows, in the miserable desolation of vacant lands beyond the
suburbs?"

The girl in black stood motionless, watching him intently.

"I like to believe," he went on, "that no living creature dies
absolutely and utterly alone. I have thought that, perhaps in the
desert, for instance, when a man is doomed, and there is no chance
that he could live to relate the miracle, some winged sentinel from
the uttermost outpost of Eternity, putting off the armor of
invisibility, drops through space to watch beside him so that he may
not die alone."

There was absolute quiet in the circle around him. Looking always at
the girl in black, he said:

"Perhaps those doomed on dark mountains or in solitary deserts, or the
last survivor at sea, drifting to certain destruction after the wreck
has foundered, finds death no terror, being guided to it by those
invisible to all save the surely doomed. That is really all that
suggested the marble--quite illogical, you see."

In the stillness, somebody drew a long, deep breath; the easy reaction
followed; people moved, spoke together in low voices; a laugh rippled
up out of the darkness. But Helmer had gone, making his way through
the half light toward a figure that moved beyond through the deeper
shadows of the foliage--moved slowly and more slowly. Once she looked
back, and he followed, pushing forward and parting the heavy fronds
of fern and palm and masses of moist blossoms. Suddenly he came upon
her, standing there as though waiting for him.

"There is not a soul in this house charitable enough to present me,"
he began.

"Then," she answered laughingly, "charity should begin at home. Take
pity on yourself--and on me. I have waited for you."

"Did you really care to know me?" he stammered.

"Why am I here alone with you?" she asked, bending above a scented
mass of flowers.

"Indiscretion may be a part of valor, but it is the best part of--
something else."

That blue radiance which a starless sky sheds lighted her white
shoulders; transparent shadow veiled the contour of neck and cheeks.

"At dinner," he said, "I did not mean to stare so--but I simply could
not keep my eyes from yours--"

"A hint that mine were on yours, too?"

She laughed a little laugh so sweet that the sound seemed part of the
twilight and the floating fragrance. She turned gracefully, holding
out her hand.

"Let us be friends," she said, "after all these years."

Her hand lay in his for an instant; then she withdrew it and dropped
it caressingly upon a cluster of massed flowers.

"Forced bloom," she said, looking down at them, where her fingers,
white as the blossoms, lay half buried. Then, raising her head, "You
do not know me, do you?"

"Know you?" he faltered; "how could I know you? Do you think for a
moment that I could have forgotten you?"

"Ah, you have not forgotten me!" she said, still with her wide smiling
eyes on his; "you have not forgotten. There is a trace of me in the
winged figure you cut in marble--not the features, not the massed
hair, nor the rounded neck and limbs--but in the eyes. Who living,
save yourself, can read those eyes?"

"Are you laughing at me?"

"Answer me; who alone in all the world can read the message in those
sculptured eyes?"

"Can you?" he asked, curiously troubled. "Yes; I, and the dying man in
marble."

"What do you read there?"

"Pardon for guilt. You have foreshadowed it unconsciously--the
resurrection of the soul. That is what you have left in marble for the
mercilessly just to ponder on; that alone is the meaning of your
work."

Through the throbbing silence he stood thinking, searching his clouded
mind.

"The eyes of the dying man are your own," she said. "Is it not true?"

And still he stood there, groping, probing through dim and forgotten
corridors of thought toward a faint memory scarcely perceptible in the
wavering mirage of the past.

"Let us talk of your career," she said, leaning back against the thick
foliage--"your success, and all that it means to you," she added
gayly.

He stood staring at the darkness. "You have set the phantoms of
forgotten things stirring and whispering together somewhere within me.
Now tell me more; tell me the truth."

"You are slowly reading it in my eyes," she said, laughing sweetly.
"Read and remember."

The fever in him seared his sight as he stood there, his confused gaze
on hers.

"Is it a threat of hell you read in the marble?" he asked.

"No, no thing of destruction, only resurrection and hope of Paradise.
Look at me closely."

"Who are you?" he whispered, closing his eyes to steady his swimming
senses. "When have we met?"

"You were very young," she said under her breath--"and I was younger--
and the rains had swollen the Canadian river so that it boiled amber
at the fords; and I could not cross--alas!"

A moment of stunning silence, then her voice again: "I said nothing,
not a word even of thanks when you offered aid... I--was not too heavy
in your arms, and the ford was soon passed---soon passed. That was
very long ago." Watching him from shadowy sweet eyes, she said:

"For a day you knew the language of my mouth and my arms around you,
there in the white sun glare of the river. For every kiss taken and
retaken, given and forgiven, we must account---for every one, even to
the last.

"But you have set a monument for us both, preaching the resurrection
of the soul. Love is such a little thing--and ours endured a whole day
long! Do you remember? Yet He who created love, designed that it
should last a lifetime. Only the lost outlive it."

She leaned nearer:

"Tell me, you who have proclaimed the resurrection of dead souls, are
you afraid to die?"

Her low voice ceased; lights broke out like stars through the foliage
around them; the great glass doors of the ballroom were opening; the
illuminated fountain flashed, a falling shower of silver. Through the
outrush of music and laughter swelling around them, a clear far voice
called "Françoise!"

Again, close by, the voice rang faintly, "Françoise! Françoise!"

She slowly turned, staring into the brilliant glare beyond.

"Who called?" he asked hoarsely.

"My mother," she said, listening intently. "Will you wait for me?"

His ashen face glowed again like a dull ember. She bent nearer, and
caught his fingers in hers.

"By the memory of our last kiss, wait for me!" she pleaded, her little
hand tightening on his.

"Where?" he said, with dry lips. "We cannot talk here!--we cannot say
here the things that must be said."

"In your studio," she whispered. "Wait for me."

"Do you know the way?"

"I tell you I will come; truly I will! Only a moment with my mother---
then I will be there!"

Their hands clung together an instant, then she slipped away into the
crowded rooms; and after a moment Helmer followed, head bent, blinded
by the glare.

"You are ill, Philip," said his host, as he took his leave. "Your face
is as ghastly as that dying vaquero's--by Heaven, man, you look like
him!"

"Did you find your girl in black?" asked his hostess curiously.

"Yes," he said; "good night."

The air was bitter as he stepped out--bitter as death. Scores of
carriage lamps twinkled as he descended the snowy steps, and a faint
gust of music swept out of the darkness, silenced as the heavy doors
closed behind him.

He turned west, shivering. A long smear of light bounded his horizon
as he pressed toward it and entered the sordid avenue beneath the iron
arcade which was even now trembling under the shock of an oncoming
train. It passed overhead with a roar; he raised his hot eyes and saw,
through the tangled girders above, the illuminated disk of the clock
tower all distorted--for the fever in him was disturbing everything--
even the cramped and twisted street into which he turned, fighting for
breath like a man stabbed through and through.

"What folly!" he said aloud, stopping short in the darkness. "This is
fever--all this. She could not know where to come--"

Where two blind alleys cut the shabby block, worming their way inward
from the avenue and from Tenth Street, he stopped again, his hands
working at his coat.

"It is fever, fever!" he muttered. "She was not there."

There was no light in the street save for the red fire lamp burning on
the corner, and a glimmer from the Old Grapevine Tavern across the
way. Yet all around him the darkness was illuminated with pale
unsteady flames, lighting him as he groped through the shadows of the
street to the blind alley. Dark old silent houses peered across the
paved lane at their aged counterparts, waiting for him.

And at last he found a door that yielded, and he stumbled into the
black passageway, always lighted on by the unsteady pallid flames
which seemed to burn in infinite depths of night.

"She was not there--she was never there," he gasped, bolting the door
and sinking down upon the floor. And, as his mind wandered, he raised
his eyes and saw the great bare room growing whiter and whiter under
the uneasy flames.

"It will burn as I burn," he said aloud--for the phantom flames had
crept into his body.

Suddenly he laughed, and the vast studio rang again.

"Hark!" he whispered, listening intently. "Who knocked?"

There was some one at the door; he managed to raise himself and drag
back the bolt.

"You!" he breathed, as she entered hastily, her hair disordered and
her black skirts powdered with snow.

"Who but I?" she whispered, breathless. "Listen! do you hear my mother
calling me? It is too late; but she was with me to the end."

Through the silence, from an infinite distance, came a desolate cry of
grief--"Françoise!"

He had fallen back into his chair again, and the little busy flames
enveloped him so that the room began to whiten again into a restless
glare. Through it he watched her.

The hour struck, passed, struck and passed again. Other hours grew,
lengthening into night.

She sat beside him with never a word or sigh or whisper of breathing;
and dream after dream swept him, like burning winds. Then sleep
immersed him so that he lay senseless, sightless eyes still fixed on
her. Hour after hour--and the white glare died out, fading to a
glimmer. In densest darkness, he stirred, awoke, his mind quite clear,
and spoke her name in a low voice.

"Yes, I am here," she answered gently.

"Is it death?" he asked, closing his eyes.

"Yes. Look at me, Philip."

His eyes unclosed; into his altered face there crept an intense
curiosity. For he beheld a glimmering shape, wide-winged and deep-
eyed, kneeling beside him, and looking him through and through.



THE MESSENGER

Little gray messenger.
Robed like painted Death.
Your robe is dust.
Whom do you seek

Among lilies and closed buds
At dusk?
Among lilies and closed buds
At dusk.

Whom do you seek
Little gray messenger.
Robed in the awful panoply
Of painted Death?--R.W. C.

All--wise.
Hast thou seen all there is to see with thy two eyes?
Dost thou know all there is to know and so.
Omniscient.
Darest thou still to say thy brother lies?

--R.W.C.

"The bullet entered here," said Max Fortin, and he placed his middle
finger over a smooth hole exactly in the centre of the forehead.

I sat down upon a mound of dry seaweed and unslung my fowling piece.

The little chemist cautiously felt the edges of the shot-hole, first
with his middle finger, then with his thumb.

"Let me see the skull again," said I.

Max Fortin picked it up from the sod.

"It's like all the others," he observed. I nodded, without offering to
take it from him. After a moment he thoughtfully replaced it upon the
grass at my feet.

"It's like all the others," he repeated, wiping his glasses on his
handkerchief. "I thought you might care to see one of the skulls, so I
brought this over from the gravel pit. The men from Bannalec are
digging yet. They ought to stop."

"How many skulls are there altogether?" I inquired.

"They found thirty-eight skulls; there are thirty-nine noted in the
list. They lie piled up in the gravel pit on the edge of Le Bihan's
wheat field. The men are at work yet. Le Bihan is going to stop them."

"Let's go over," said I; and I picked up my gun and started across the
cliffs, Fortin on one side, Môme on the other.

"Who has the list?" I asked, lighting my pipe. "You say there is a
list?" 

"The list was found rolled up in a brass cylinder," said the
little chemist. He added: "You should not smoke here. You know that if
a single spark drifted into the wheat--"

"Ah, but I have a cover to my pipe," said I, smiling.

Fortin watched me as I closed the pepper-box arrangement over the
glowing bowl of the pipe.

Then he continued:

"The list was made out on thick yellow paper; the brass tube has
preserved it. It is as fresh to-day as it was in 1760. You shall see
it."

"Is that the date?"

"The list is dated 'April, 1760.' The Brigadier Durand has it. It is
not written in French."

"Nor written in French!" I exclaimed.

"No," replied Fortin solemnly, "it is written in Breton."

"But," I protested, "the Breton language was never written or printed
in 1760."

"Except by priests," said the chemist.

"I have heard of but one priest who ever wrote the Breton language," I
began.

Fortin stole a glance at my face.

"You mean--the Black Priest?" he asked.

I nodded.

Fortin opened his mouth to speak again, hesitated, and finally shut
his teeth obstinately over the wheat stem that he was chewing.

"And the Black Priest?" I suggested encouragingly. But I knew it was
useless; for it is easier to move the stars from their courses than to
make an obstinate Breton talk. We walked on for a minute or two in
silence.

"Where is the Brigadier Durand?" I asked, motioning Môme to come out
of the wheat, which he was trampling as though it were heather. As I
spoke we came in sight of the farther edge of the wheat field and the
dark, wet mass of cliffs beyond.

"Durand is down there--you can see him; he stands just behind the
Mayor of St. Gildas."

"I see," said I; and we struck straight down, following a sun-baked
cattle path across the heather.

When we reached the edge of the wheat field, Le Bihan, the Mayor of
St. Gildas, called to me, and I tucked my gun under my arm and skirted
the wheat to where he stood.

"Thirty-eight skulls," he said in his thin, high-pitched voice; "there
is but one more, and I am opposed to further search. I suppose Fortin
told you?"

I shook hands with him, and returned the salute of the Brigadier
Durand.

"I am opposed to further search," repeated Le Bihan, nervously picking
at the mass of silver buttons which covered the front of his velvet
and broadcloth jacket like a breastplate of scale armour.

Durand pursed up his lips, twisted his tremendous mustache, and hooked
his thumbs in his sabre belt.

"As for me," he said, "I am in favour of further search."

"Further search for what--for the thirty-ninth skull?" I asked.

Le Bihan nodded. Durand frowned at the sunlit sea, rocking like a bowl
of molten gold from the cliffs to the horizon. I followed his eyes. On
the dark glistening cliffs, silhouetted against the glare of the sea,
sat a cormorant, black, motionless, its horrible head raised toward
heaven.

"Where is that list, Durand?" I asked.

The gendarme rummaged in his despatch pouch and produced a brass
cylinder about a foot long. Very gravely he unscrewed the head and
dumped out a scroll of thick yellow paper closely covered with writing
on both sides. At a nod from Le Bihan, he handed me the scroll. But I
could make nothing of the coarse writing, now faded to a dull brown.

"Come, come, Le Bihan," I said impatiently, "translate it, won't you?
You and Max Fortin make a lot of mystery out of nothing, it seems."

Le Bihan went to the edge of the pit where the three Bannalec men were
digging, gave an order or two in Breton, and turned to me.

As I came to the edge of the pit the Bannalec men were removing a
square piece of sailcloth from what appeared to be a pile of
cobblestones.

"Look!" said Le Bihan shrilly. I looked. The pile below was a heap of
skulls. After a moment I clambered down the gravel sides of the pit
and walked over to the men of Bannalec. They saluted me gravely,
leaning on their picks and shovels, and wiping their swearing faces
with sunburned hands.

"How many?" said I in Breton.

"Thirty-eight," they replied.

I glanced around. Beyond the heap of skulls lay two piles of human
bones. Beside these was a mound of broken, rusted bits of iron and
steel. Looking closer, I saw that this mound was composed of rusty
bayonets, sabre blades, scythe blades, with here and there a tarnished
buckle attached to a bit of leather hard as iron.

I picked up a couple of buttons and a belt plate. The buttons bore the
royal arms of England; the belt plate was emblazoned with the English
arms, and also with the number "27."

"I have heard my grandfather speak of the terrible English regiment,
the 27th Foot, which landed and stormed the fort up there," said one
of the Bannalec men.

"Oh!" said I; "then these are the bones of English soldiers?"

"Yes," said the men of Bannalec.

Le Bihan was calling to me from the edge of the pit above, and I
handed the belt plate and buttons to the men and climbed the side of
the excavation.

"Well," said I, trying to prevent Môme from leaping up and licking my
face as I emerged from the pit, "I suppose you know what these bones
are. What are you going to do with them?"

"There was a man," said Le Bihan angrily, "an Englishman, who passed
here in a dog-cart on his way to Quimper about an hour ago, and what
do you suppose he wished to do?"

"Buy the relics?" I asked, smiling.

"Exactly--the pig!" piped the mayor of St. Gildas. "Jean Marie
Tregunc, who found the bones, was standing there where Max Fortin
stands, and do you know what he answered? He spat upon the ground, and
said: 'Pig of an Englishman, do you take me for a desecrator of
graves?'"

I knew Tregunc, a sober, blue-eyed Breton, who lived from one year's
end to the other without being able to afford a single bit of meat for
a meal.

"How much did the Englishman offer Tregunc?" I asked.

"Two hundred francs for the skulls alone."

I thought of the relic hunters and the relic buyers on the
battlefields of our civil war.

"Seventeen hundred and sixty is long ago," I said.

"Respect for the dead can never die," said Fortin.

"And the English soldiers came here to kill your fathers and burn your
homes," I continued.

"They were murderers and thieves, but--they are dead," said Tregunc,
coming up from the beach below, his long sea rake balanced on his
dripping jersey.

"How much do you earn every year, Jean Marie?" I asked, turning to
shake hands with him.

"Two hundred and twenty francs, monsieur." 

"Forty-five dollars a year," I said. "Bah! you are worth more, Jean. Will you take care of
my garden for me? My wife wished me to ask you. I think it would be
worth one hundred francs a month to you and to me. Come on, Le Bihan--
come along, Fortin--and you, Durand. I want somebody to translate that
list into French for me."

Tregunc stood gazing at me, his blue eyes dilated.

"You may begin at once," I said, smiling. "If the salary suits you?"

"It suits," said Tregunc, fumbling for his pipe in a silly way that
annoyed Le Bihan.

"Then go and begin your work," cried the mayor impatiently; and
Tregunc started across the moors toward St. Gildas, taking off his
velvet-ribboned cap to me and gripping his sea rake very hard.

"You offer him more than my salary," said the mayor, after a moment's
contemplation of his silver buttons.

"Pooh!" said I, "what do you do for your salary except play dominoes
with Max Fortin at the Groix Inn?"

Le Bihan turned red, but Durand rattled his sabre and winked at Max
Fortin, and I slipped my arm through the arm of the sulky magistrate,
laughing.

"There's a shady spot under the cliff," I said; "come on, Le Bihan,
and read me what is in the scroll."

In a few moments we reached the shadow of the cliff, and I threw
myself upon the turf, chin on hand, to listen.

The gendarme, Durand, also sat down, twisting his mustache into
needlelike points. Fortin leaned against the cliff, polishing his
glasses and examining us with vague, near-sighted eyes; and Le Bihan,
the mayor, planted himself in our midst, rolling up the scroll and
tucking it under his arm.

"First of all," he began in a shrill voice, "I am going to light my
pipe, and while lighting it I shall tell you what I have heard about
the attack on the fort yonder. My father told me; his father told
him."

He jerked his head in the direction of the ruined fort, a small,
square stone structure on the sea cliff, now nothing but crumbling
walls. Then he slowly produced a tobacco pouch, a bit of flint and
tinder, and a long-stemmed pipe fitted with a microscopical bowl of
baked clay. To fill such a pipe requires ten minutes' close attention.
To smoke it to a finish takes but four puffs. It is very Breton, this
Breton pipe. It is the crystallization of everything Breton.

"Go on," said I, lighting a cigarette.

"The fort," said the mayor, "was built by Louis XI and was dismantled
twice by the English. Louis XV restored it in 1739. In 1760 it was
carried by assault by the English. They came across from the island of
Groix--three shiploads--and they stormed the fort and sacked St.
Julien yonder, and they started to burn St. Gildas--you can see the
marks of their bullets on my house yet; but the men of Bannalec and
the men of Lorient fell upon them with pike and scythe and
blunderbuss, and those who did not run away lie there below in the
gravel pit now--thirty-eight of them."

"And the thirty-ninth skull?" I asked, finishing my cigarette.

The mayor had succeeded in filling his pipe, and now he began to put
his tobacco pouch away.

"The thirty-ninth skull," he mumbled, holding the pipestem between his
defective teeth--"the thirty-ninth skull is no business of mine. I
have told the Bannalec men to cease digging."

"But what is--whose is the missing skull?" I persisted curiously.

The mayor was busy trying to strike a spark to his tinder. Presently
he set it aglow, applied it to his pipe, took the prescribed four
puffs, knocked the ashes out of the bowl, and gravely replaced the
pipe in his pocket.

"The missing skull?" he asked.

"Yes," said I impatiently.

The mayor slowly unrolled the scroll and began to read, translating
from the Breton into French. And this is what he read:

"'ON THE CLIFFS OF ST. GILDAS, April 13, 1760.'"

"'On this day, by order of the Count of Soisic, general in chief of
the Breton forces now lying in Kerselec Forest, the bodies of thirty-
eight English soldiers of the 27th, 50th, and 72d regiments of Foot
were buried in this spot, together with their arms and equipments.'"

The mayor paused and glanced at me reflectively.

"Go on, Le Bihan," I said.

"'With them,'" continued the mayor, turning the scroll and reading on
the other side, "'was buried the body of that vile traitor who
betrayed the fort to the English. The manner of his death was as
follows: By order of the most noble Count of Soisic, the traitor was
first branded upon the forehead with the brand of an arrowhead. The
iron burned through the flesh, and was pressed heavily so that the
brand should even burn into the bone of the skull. The traitor was
then led out and bidden to kneel. He admitted having guided the
English from the island of Groix. Although a priest and a Frenchman,
he had violated his priestly office to aid him in discovering the
password to the fort. This password he extorted during confession from
a young Breton girl who was in the habit of rowing across from the
island of Groix to visit her husband in the fort. When the fort fell,
this young girl, crazed by the death of her husband, sought the Count
of Soisic and told how the priest had forced her to confess to him all
she knew about the fort. The priest was arrested at St. Gildas as he
was about to cross the river to Lorient. When arrested he cursed the
girl, Marie Trevec--'"

"What!" I exclaimed, "Marie Trevec!"

"'Marie Trevec,'" repeated Le Bihan; "'the priest cursed Marie Trevec,
and all her family and descendants. He was shot as he knelt, having a
mask of leather over his face, because the Bretons who composed the
squad of execution refused to fire at a priest unless his face was
concealed. The priest was l'Abbé Sorgue, commonly known as the Black
Priest on account of his dark face and swarthy eyebrows. He was buried
with a stake through his heart.'"Le Bihan paused, hesitated, looked
at me, and handed the manuscript back to Durand. The gendarme took it
and slipped it into the brass cylinder.

"So," said I, "the thirty-ninth skull is the skull of the Black
Priest."

"Yes," said Fortin. "I hope they won't find it."

"I have forbidden them to proceed," said the mayor querulously. "You
heard me, Max Fortin."

I rose and picked up my gun. Môme came and pushed his head into my
hand.

"That's a fine dog," observed Durand, also rising.

"Why don't you wish to find his skull?" I asked Le Bihan. "It would be
curious to see whether the arrow brand really burned into the bone."

"There is something in that scroll that I didn't read to you," said
the mayor grimly. "Do you wish to know what it is?"

"Of course," I replied in surprise.

"Give me the scroll again, Durand," he said; then he read from the
bottom:

"'I, l'Abbé Sorgue, forced to write the above by my executioners, have
written it in my own blood; and with it I leave my curse. My curse on
St. Gildas, on Marie Trevec, and on her descendants. I will come back
to St. Gildas when my remains are disturbed. Woe to that Englishman
whom my branded skull shall touch!'"

"What rot!" I said. "Do you believe it was really written in his own
blood?"

"I am going to test it," said Fortin, "at the request of Monsieur le
Maire. I am not anxious for the job, however."

"See," said Le Bihan, holding out the scroll to me, "it is signed,
'l'Abbé Sorgue.'"

I glanced curiously over the paper.

"It must be the Black Priest," I said. "He was the only man who wrote
in the Breton language. This is a wonderfully interesting discovery,
for now, at last, the mystery of the Black Priest's disappearance is
cleared up. You will, of course, send this scroll to Paris, Le Bihan?"

"No," said the mayor obstinately, "it shall be buried in the pit below
where the rest of the Black Priest lies."

I looked at him and recognised that argument would be useless. But
still I said, "It will be a loss to history, Monsieur Le Bihan."

"All the worse for history, then," said the enlightened mayor of St.
Gildas.

We had sauntered back to the gravel pit while speaking. The men of
Bannalec were carrying the bones of the English soldiers toward the
St. Gildas cemetery, on the cliffs to the east, where already a knot
of white-coiffed women stood in attitudes of prayer; and I saw the
sombre robe of a priest among the crosses of the little graveyard.

"They were thieves and assassins; they are dead now," muttered Max
Fortin.

"Respect the dead," repeated the Mayor of St. Gildas, looking after
the Bannalec men.

"It was written in that scroll that Marie Trevec, of Groix Island, was
cursed by the priest--she and her descendants," I said, touching Le
Bihan on the arm. "There was a Marie Trevec who married an Yves Trevec
of St. Gildas--"

"It is the same," said Le Bihan, looking at me obliquely.

"Oh!" said I; "then they were ancestors of my wife."

"Do you fear the curse?" asked Le Bihan.

"What?" I laughed.

"There was the case of the Purple Emperor," said Max Fortin timidly.

Startled for a moment, I faced him, then shrugged my shoulders and
kicked at a smooth bit of rock which lay near the edge of the pit,
almost embedded in gravel.

"Do you suppose the Purple Emperor drank himself crazy because he was
descended from Marie Trevec?" I asked contemptuously.

"Of course not," said Max Fortin hastily.

"Of course not," piped the mayor. "I only---Hello! what's that you're
kicking?"

"What?" said I, glancing down, at the same time involuntarily giving
another kick. The smooth bit of rock dislodged itself and rolled out
of the loosened gravel at my feet.

"The thirty-ninth skull!" I exclaimed. "By jingo, it's the noddle of
the Black Priest! See! there is the arrowhead branded on the front!"

The mayor stepped back. Max Fortin also retreated. There was a pause,
during which I looked at them, and they looked anywhere but at me.

"I don't like it," said the mayor at last, in a husky, high voice. "I
don't like it! The scroll says he will come back to St. Gildas when
his remains are disturbed. I--I don't like it, Monsieur Darrel--"

"Bosh!" said I; "the poor wicked devil is where he can't get out. For
Heaven's sake, Le Bihan, what is this stuff you are talking in the
year of grace 1896?"

The mayor gave me a look.

"And he says 'Englishman.' You are an Englishman, Monsieur Darrel," he
announced.

"You know better. You know I'm an American."

"It's all the same," said the Mayor of St. Gildas, obstinately.

"No, it isn't!" I answered, much exasperated, and deliberately pushed
the skull till it rolled into the bottom of the gravel pit below.

"Cover it up," said I; "bury the scroll with it too, if you insist,
but I think you ought to send it to Paris. Don't look so gloomy,
Fortin, unless you believe in were-wolves and ghosts. Hey! what the--
what the devil's the matter with you, anyway? What are you staring at,
Le Bihan?"

"Come, come," muttered the mayor in a low, tremulous voice, "it's time
we got out of this. Did you see? Did you see, Fortin?"

"I saw," whispered Max Fortin, pallid with fright.

The two men were almost running across the sunny pasture now, and I
hastened after them, demanding to know what was the matter.

"Matter!" chattered the mayor, gasping with exasperation and terror.
"The skull is rolling uphill again!" and he burst into a terrified
gallop. Max Fortin followed close behind.

I watched them stampeding across the pasture, then turned toward the
gravel pit, mystified, incredulous. The skull was lying on the edge of
the pit, exactly where it had been before I pushed it over the edge.
For a second I stared at it; a singular chilly feeling crept up my
spinal column, and I turned and walked away, sweat starting from the
root of every hair on my head. Before I had gone twenty paces the
absurdity of the whole thing struck me. I halted, hot with shame and
annoyance, and retraced my steps.

There lay the skull.

"I rolled a stone down instead of the skull," I muttered to myself.
Then with the butt of my gun I pushed the skull over the edge of the
pit and watched it roll to the bottom; and as it struck the bottom of
the pit, Môme, my dog, suddenly whipped his tail between his legs,
whimpered, and made off across the moor.

"Môme!" I shouted, angry and astonished; but the dog only fled the
faster, and I ceased calling from sheer surprise.

"What the mischief is the matter with that dog!" I thought. He had
never before played me such a trick.

Mechanically I glanced into the pit, but I could not see the skull. I
looked down. The skull lay at my feet again, touching them.

"Good heavens!" I stammered, and struck at it blindly with my
gunstock. The ghastly thing flew into the air, whirling over and over,
and rolled again down the sides of the pit to the bottom.

Breathlessly I stared at it, then, confused and scarcely
comprehending, I stepped back from the pit, still facing it, one, ten,
twenty paces, my eyes almost starting from my head, as though I
expected to see the thing roll up from the bottom of the pit under my
very gaze. At last I turned my back to the pit and strode out across
the gorse-covered moorland toward my home. As I reached the road that
winds from St. Gildas to St. Julien I gave one last hasty glance at
the pit over my shoulder. The sun shone hot on the sod about the
excavation. There was something white and bare and round on the turf
at the edge of the pit. It might have been a stone; there were plenty
of them lying about.

II When I entered my garden I saw Môme sprawling on the stone
doorstep. He eyed me sideways and flopped his tail.

"Are you not mortified, you idiot dog?" I said, looking about the
upper windows for Lys.

Môme rolled over on his back and raised one deprecating forepaw, as
though to ward off calamity.

"Don't act as though I was in the habit of beating you to death," I
said, disgusted. I had never in my life raised whip to the brute. "But
you are a fool dog," I continued. "No, you needn't come to be babied
and wept over; Lys can do that, if she insists, but I am ashamed of
you, and you can go the devil."

Môme slunk off into the house, and I followed, mounting directly to my
wife's boudoir. It was empty.

"Where has she gone?" I said, looking hard at Môme, who had followed
me. "Oh! I see you don't know. Don't pretend you do. Come off that
lounge! Do you think Lys wants rat-coloured hairs all over her
lounge?"

I rang the bell for Catherine and 'Fine, but they didn't know where
"madame" had gone; so I went into my room, bathed, exchanged my
somewhat grimy shooting clothes for a suit of warm, soft
knickerbockers, and, after lingering some extra moments over my
toilet--for I was particular, now that I had married Lys--I went down
to the garden and took a chair out under the fig-trees.

"Where can she be?" I wondered. Môme came sneaking out to be
comforted, and I forgave him for Lys's sake, whereupon he frisked.

"You bounding cur," said I, "now what on earth started you off across
the moor? If you do it again I'll push you along with a charge of dust
shot."

As yet I had scarcely dared think about the ghastly hallucination of
which I had been a victim, but now I faced it squarely, flushing a
little with mortification at the thought of my hasty retreat from the
gravel pit.

"To think," I said aloud, "that those old woman's tales of Max Fortin
and Le Bihan should have actually made me see what didn't exist at
all! I lost my nerve like a schoolboy in a dark bedroom." For I knew
now that I had mistaken a round stone for a skull each time, and had
pushed a couple of big pebbles into the pit instead of the skull
itself.

"By jingo!" said I, "I'm nervous; my liver must be in a devil of a
condition if I see such things when I'm awake! Lys will know what to
give me."

I felt mortified and irritated and sulky, and thought disgustedly of
Le Bihan and Max Fortin.

But after a while I ceased speculating, dismissed the mayor, the
chemist, and the skull from my mind, and smoked pensively, watching
the sun low dipping in the western ocean. As the twilight fell for a
moment over ocean and moorland, a wistful, restless happiness filled
my heart, the happiness that all men know--all men who have loved.

Slowly the purple mist crept out over the sea; the cliffs darkened;
the forest was shrouded.

Suddenly the sky above burned with the afterglow, and the world was
alight again.

Cloud after cloud caught the rose dye; the cliffs were tinted with it;
moor and pasture, heather and forest burned and pulsated with the
gentle flush. I saw the gulls turning and tossing above the sand bar,
their snowy wings tipped with pink; I saw the sea swallows sheeting
the surface of the still river, stained to its placid depths with warm
reflections of the clouds. The twitter of drowsy hedge birds broke out
in the stillness; a salmon rolled its shining side above tide-water.

The interminable monotone of the ocean intensified the silence. I sat
motionless, holding my breath as one who listens to the first low
rumour of an organ. All at once the pure whistle of a nightingale cut
the silence, and the first moonbeam silvered the wastes of mist-hung
waters.

I raised my head.

Lys stood before me in the garden.

When we had kissed each other, we linked arms and moved up and down
the gravel walks, watching the moonbeams sparkle on the sand bar as
the tide ebbed and ebbed. The broad beds of white pinks about us were
atremble with hovering white moths; the October roses hung all abloom,
perfuming the salt wind.

"Sweetheart," I said, "where is Yvonne? Has she promised to spend
Christmas with us?"

"Yes, Dick; she drove me down from Plougar this afternoon. She sent
her love to you. I am not jealous. What did you shoot?"

"A hare and four partridges. They are in the gun room. I told
Catherine not to touch them until you had seen them."

Now I suppose I knew that Lys could not be particularly enthusiastic
over game or guns; but she pretended she was, and always scornfully
denied that it was for my sake and not for the pure love of sport. So
she dragged me off to inspect the rather meagre game bag, and she paid
me pretty compliments and gave a little cry of delight and pity as I
lifted the enormous hare out of the sack by his ears.

"He'll eat no more of our lettuce," I said, attempting to justify the
assassination.

"Unhappy little bunny--and what a beauty! O Dick, you are a splendid
shot, are you not?"

I evaded the question and hauled out a partridge.

"Poor little dead things!" said Lys in a whisper; "it seems a pity--
doesn't it, Dick? But then you are so clever--"

"We'll have them broiled," I said guardedly; "tell Catherine."

Catherine came in to take away the game, and presently 'Fine Lelocard,
Lys's maid, announced dinner, and Lys tripped away to her boudoir.

I stood an instant contemplating her blissfully, thinking, "My boy,
you're the happiest fellow in the world--you're in love with your
wife!"

I walked into the dining room, beamed at the plates, walked out again;
met Tregunc in the hallway, beamed on him; glanced into the kitchen,
beamed at Catherine, and went up stairs, still beaming.

Before I could knock at Lys's door it opened, and Lys came hastily
out. When she saw me she gave a little cry of relief, and nestled
close to my breast.

"There is something peering in at my window," she said.

"What!" I cried angrily.

"A man, I think, disguised as a priest, and he has a mask on. He must
have climbed up by the bay tree."

I was down the stairs and out of doors in no time. The moonlit garden
was absolutely deserted.

Tregunc came up, and together we searched the hedge and shrubbery
around the house and out to the road.

"Jean Marie," said I at length, "loose my bulldog--he knows you--and
take your supper on the porch where you can watch. My wife says the
fellow is disguised as a priest, and wears a mask."

Tregunc showed his white teeth in a smile. "He will not care to
venture in here again, I think, Monsieur Darrel."

I went back and found Lys seated quietly at the table.

"The soup is ready, dear," she said. "Don't worry; it was only some
foolish lout from Bannalec. No one in St. Gildas or St. Julien would
do such a thing."

I was too much exasperated to reply at first, but Lys treated it as a
stupid joke, and after a while I began to look at it in that light.

Lys told me about Yvonne, and reminded me of my promise to have
Herbert Stuart down to meet her.

"You wicked diplomat!" I protested. "Herbert is in Paris, and hard at
work for the Salon."

"Don't you think he might spare a week to flirt with the prettiest
girl in Finistère?" inquired Lys innocently.

"Prettiest girl! Not much!" I said.

"Who is, then?" urged Lys.

I laughed a trifle sheepishly.

"I suppose you mean me, Dick," said Lys, colouring up.

"Now I bore you, don't I?"

"Bore me? Ah, no, Dick."

After coffee and cigarettes were served I spoke about Tregunc, and Lys
approved.

"Poor Jean! he will be glad, won't he? What a dear fellow you are!"

"Nonsense," said I; "we need a gardener; you said so yourself, Lys."

But Lys leaned over and kissed me, and then bent down and hugged Môme,
who whistled through his nose in sentimental appreciation.

"I am a very happy woman," said Lys.

"Môme was a very bad dog to-day," I observed.

"Poor Môme!" said Lys, smiling.

When dinner was over and Môme lay snoring before the blaze--for the
October nights are often chilly in Finistère--Lys curled up in the
chimney corner with her embroidery, and gave me a swift glance from
under her drooping lashes.

"You look like a schoolgirl, Lys," I said teasingly. "I don't believe
you are sixteen yet."

She pushed back her heavy burnished hair thoughtfully. Her wrist was
as white as surf foam.

"Have we been married four years? I don't believe it," I said.

She gave me another swift glance and touched the embroidery on her
knee, smiling faintly.

"I see," said I, also smiling at the embroidered garment. "Do you
think it will fit?"

"Fit?" repeated Lys. Then she laughed.

"And," I persisted, "are you perfectly sure that you--er--we shall
need it?"

"Perfectly," said Lys. A delicate colour touched her cheeks and neck.
She held up the little garment, all fluffy with misty lace and wrought
with quaint embroidery.

"It is very gorgeous." said I; "don't use your eyes too much, dearest.
May I smoke a pipe?"

"Of course," she said, selecting a skein of pale blue silk.

For a while I sat and smoked in silence, watching her slender fingers
among the tinted silks and thread of gold.

Presently she spoke: "What did you say your crest is, Dick?"

"My crest? Oh, something or other rampant on a something or other--"

"Dick!"

"Dearest?"

"Don't be flippant."

"But I really forget. It's an ordinary crest; everybody in New York
has them. No family should be without 'em."

"You are disagreeable, Dick. Send Josephine upstairs for my album."

"Are you going to put that crest on the--the--whatever it is?"

"I am; and my own crest, too."

I thought of the Purple Emperor and wondered a little.

"You didn't know I had one, did you?" she smiled.

"What is it?" I replied evasively.

"You shall see. Ring for Josephine."

I rang, and, when 'Fine appeared, Lys gave her some orders in a low
voice, and Josephine trotted away, bobbing her white-coiffed head with
a "Bien, madame!"

After a few minutes she returned, bearing a tattered, musty volume,
from which the gold and blue had mostly disappeared.

I took the book in my hands and examined the ancient emblazoned
covers.

"Lilies!" I exclaimed.

"Fleur-de-lis," said my wife demurely.

"Oh!" said I, astonished, and opened the book.

"You have never before seen this book?" asked Lys, with a touch of
malice in her eyes.

"You know I haven't. Hello! what's this? Oho! So there should be a de
before Trevec? Lys de Trevec? Then why in the world did the Purple
Emperor--"

"Dick!" cried Lys.

"All right," said I. "Shall I read about the Sieur de Trevec who rode
to Saladin's tent alone to seek for medicine for Sr. Louis? or shall I
read about--what is it? Oh, here it is, all down in black and white--
about the Marquis de Trevec who drowned himself before Alva's eyes
rather than surrender the banner of the fleur-de-lis to Spain? It's
all written here. But, dear, how about that soldier named Trevec who
was killed in the old fort on the cliff yonder?"

"He dropped the de, and the Trevecs since then have been Republicans,"
said Lys--"all except me." "That's quite right," said I; "it is time
that we Republicans should agree upon some feudal system. My dear, I
drink to the king!" and I raised my wine-glass and looked at Lys.

"To the king," said Lys, flushing. She smoothed out the tiny garment
on her knees; she touched the glass with her lips; her eyes were very
sweet. I drained the glass to the king.

After a silence I said: "I will tell the king stories. His Majesty
shall be amused."

"His Majesty," repeated Lys softly.

"Or hers," I laughed. "Who knows?"

"Who knows?" murmured Lys, with a gentle sigh.

"I know some stores about Jack the Giant-Killer," I announced. "Do
you, Lys?"

"I? No, not about a giant-killer, but I know all about the were-wolf,
and Jeanne-la-Flamme, and the Man in Purple Tatters, and--O dear me! I
know lots more."

"You are very wise," said I. "I shall reach his Majesty English."

"And I Breton," cried Lys jealously.

"I shall bring playthings to the king," said I--"big green lizards
from the gorse, little gray mullets to swim in glass globes, baby
rabbits from the forest of Kerselec--"

"And I," said Lys, "will bring the first primrose, the first branch of
aubepine, the first jonquil, to the king--my king."

"Our king," said I; and there was peace in Finistère.

I lay back, idly turning the leaves of the curious old volume.

"I am looking," said I, "for the crest."

"The crest, dear? It is a priest's head with an arrow-shaped mark on
the forehead, on a field--"

I sat up and stared at my wife.

"Dick, whatever is the matter?" she smiled. "The story is there in
that book. Do you care to read it? No? Shall I tell it to you? Well,
then: It happened in the third crusade. There was a monk whom men
called the Black Priest. He turned apostate, and sold himself to the
enemies of Christ. A Sieur de Trevec burst into the Saracen camp, at
the head of only one hundred lances, and carried the Black Priest away
out of the very midst of their army."

"So that is how you come by the crest," I said quietly; but I thought
of the branded skull in the gravel pit, and wondered.

"Yes," said Lys. "The Sieur de Trevec cut the Black Priest's head off,
but first he branded him with an arrow mark on the forehead. The book
says it was a pious action, and that the Sieur de Trevec got great
merit by it. But I think it was cruel, the branding," she sighed.

"Did you ever hear of any other Black Priest?"

"Yes. There was one in the last century, here in St. Gildas. He cast a
white shadow in the sun. He wrote in the Breton language. Chronicles,
too, I believe. I never saw them. His name was the same as that of the
old chronicler, and of the other priest, Jacques Sorgue. Some said he
was a lineal descendant of the traitor. Of course the first Black
Priest was bad enough for anything. But if he did have a child, it
need not have been the ancestor of the last Jacques Sorgue. They say
this one was a holy man. They say he was so good he was not allowed to
die, but was caught up to heaven one day," added Lys, with believing
eyes.

I smiled.

"But he disappeared," persisted Lys.

"I'm afraid his journey was in another direction," I said jestingly,
and thoughtlessly told her the story of the morning. I had utterly
forgotten the masked man at her window, but before I finished I
remembered him fast enough, and realized what I had done as I saw her
face whiten.

"Lys," I urged tenderly, "that was only some clumsy clown's trick. You
said so yourself. You are not superstitious, my dear?"

Her eyes were on mine. She slowly drew the little gold cross from her
bosom and kissed it. But her lips trembled as they pressed the symbol
of faith.

III About nine o'clock the next morning I walked into the Groix Inn
and sat down at the long discoloured oaken table, nodding good-day to
Marianne Bruyère, who in turn bobbed her white coiffe at me.

"My clever Bannalec maid," said I, "what is good for a stirrup-cup at
the Groix Inn?"

"Schist?" she inquired in Breton.

"With a dash of red wine, then," I replied.

She brought the delicious Quimperlé cider, and I poured a little
Bordeaux into it. Marianne watched me with laughing black eyes.

"What makes your cheeks so red, Marianne?" I asked. "Has Jean Marie
been here?"

"We are to be married, Monsieur Darrel," she laughed.

"Ah! Since when has Jean Marie Tregunc lost his head?"

"His head? Oh, Monsieur Darrel--his heart, you mean!"

"So I do," said I. "Jean Marie is a practical fellow."

"It is all due to your kindness--" began the girl, but I raised my
hand and held up the glass.

"It's due to himself. To your happiness, Marianne," and I took a
hearty draught of the schist.

"Now," said I, "tell me where I can find Le Bihan and Max Fortin."

"Monsieur Le Bihan and Monsieur Fortin are above in the broad room. I
believe they are examining the Red Admiral's effects."

"To send them to Paris? Oh, I know. May I go up, Marianne?"

"And God go with you," smiled the girl.

When I knocked at the door of the broad room above, little Max Fortin
opened it. Dust covered his spectacles and nose; his hat, with the
tiny velvet ribbons fluttering, was all awry.

"Come in, Monsieur Darrel," he said; "the mayor and I are packing up
the effects of the Purple Emperor and of the poor Red Admiral."

"The collections?" I asked, entering the room. "You must be very
careful in packing those butterfly cases; the slightest jar might
break wings and antennae, you know."

Le Bihan shook hands with me and pointed to the great pile of boxes.

"They're all cork lined," he said, "but Fortin and I are putting felt
around each box. The Entomological Society of Paris pays the freight."

The combined collections of the Red Admiral and the Purple Emperor
made a magnificent display.

I lifted and inspected case after case set with gorgeous butterflies
and moths, each specimen carefully labelled with the name in Latin.
There were cases filled with crimson tiger moths all aflame with
colour; cases devoted to the common yellow butterflies; symphonies in
orange and pale yellow; cases of soft gray and dun-coloured sphinx
moths; and cases of garish nettle-bred butterflies of the numerous
family of Vanessa.

All alone in a great case by itself was pinned the purple emperor, the
Apatura Iris, that fatal specimen that had given the Purple Emperor
his name and quietus.

I remembered the butterfly, and stood looking at it with bent
eyebrows.

Le Bihan glanced up from the floor where he was nailing down the lid
of a box full of cases.

"It is settled, then," said he, "that madame, your wife, gives the
Purple Emperor's entire collection to the city of Paris?"

I nodded.

"Without accepting anything for it?"

"It is a gift," I said.

"Including the purple emperor there in the case? That butterfly is
worth a great deal of money." persisted Le Bihan.

"You don't suppose that we would wish to sell that specimen, do you?"
I answered a trifle sharply.

"If I were you I should destroy it," said the mayor in his high-
pitched voice. 

"That would be nonsense," said I--"like your burying
the brass cylinder and scroll yesterday."

"It was not nonsense," said Le Bihan doggedly, "and I should prefer
not to discuss the subject of the scroll."

I looked at Max Fortin, who immediately avoided my eyes.

"You are a pair of superstitious old women," said I, digging my hands
into my pockets; "you swallow every nursery tale that is invented."

"What of it?" said Le Bihan sulkily; "there's more truth than lies in
most of 'em."

"Oh!" I sneered, "does the Mayor of St. Gildas and Sr. Julien believe
in the Loup-garou?"

"No, not in the Loup-garou."

"In what, then--Jeanne-la-Flamme?"

"That," said Le Bihan with conviction, "is history."

"The devil it is!" said I; "and perhaps, monsieur the mayor, your
faith in giants is unimpaired?"

"There were giants--everybody knows it," growled Max Fortin.

"And you a chemist!" I observed scornfully.

"Listen, Monsieur Darrel," squeaked Le Bihan; "you know yourself that
the Purple Emperor was a scientific man. Now suppose I should tell you
that he always refused to include in his collection a Death's
Messenger?"

"A what?" I exclaimed.

"You know what I mean--that moth that flies by night; some call it the
Death's Head, but in St. Gildas we call it 'Death's Messenger.'"

"Oh!" said I, "you mean that big sphinx moth that is commonly known as
the 'death's-head moth.' Why the mischief should the people here call
it Death's Messenger?"

"For hundreds of years it has been known as Death's Messenger in St.
Gildas," said Max Fortin.

"Even Froissart speaks of it in his commentaries on Jacques Sorgue's
Chronicles. The book is in your library."

"Sorgue? And who was Jacques Sorgue? I never read his book."

"Jacques Sorgue was the son of some unfrocked priest--I forget. It was
during the crusades."

"Good Heavens!" I burst out, "I've been hearing of nothing but
crusades and priests and death and sorcery ever since I kicked that
skull into the gravel pit, and I am tired of it, I tell you frankly.
One would think we lived in the dark ages. Do you know what year of
our Lord it is, Le Bihan?"

"Eighteen hundred and ninety-six," replied the mayor.

"And yet you two hulking men are afraid of a death's-head moth."

"I don't care to have one fly into the window," said Max Fortin; "it
means evil to the house and the people in it." "God alone knows why he
marked one of his creatures with a yellow death's head on the back."
observed Le Bihan piously, "but I take it that he meant it as a
warning; and I propose to profit by it," he added triumphantly "See
here, Le Bihan," I said; "by a stretch of imagination one can make out
a skull on the thorax of a certain big sphinx moth. What of it?"

"It is a bad thing to touch," said the mayor, wagging his head.

"It squeaks when handled," added Max Fortin.

"Some creatures squeak all the time," I observed, looking hard at Le
Bihan.

"Pigs," added the mayor.

"Yes, and asses," I replied. "Listen, Le Bihan: do you mean to tell me
that you saw that skull roll uphill yesterday?"

The mayor shut his mouth tightly and picked up his hammer.

"Don't be obstinate," I said; "I asked you a question."

"And I refuse to answer," snapped Le Bihan. "Fortin saw what I saw;
let him talk about it."

I looked searchingly at the little chemist.

"I don't say that I saw it actually roll up out of the pit, all by
itself," said Fortin with a shiver, "but--but then, how did it come up
out of the pit if it didn't roll up all by itself?"

"It didn't come up at all; that was a yellow cobblestone that you
mistook for the skull again," I replied. "You were nervous, Max."

"A--a very curious cobblestone, Monsieur Darrel," said Fortin.

"I also was a victim to the same hallucination," I continued, "and
regret to say that I took the trouble to roll two innocent
cobblestones into the gravel pit, imagining each time that it was the
skull I was rolling."

"It was," observed Le Bihan with a morose shrug.

"It just shows," said I, ignoring the mayor's remark, "how easy it is
to fix up a train of coincidences so that the result seems to savour
of the supernatural. Now, last night my wife imagined that she saw a
priest in a mask peer in at her window--"

Fortin and Le Bihan scrambled hastily from their knees, dropping
hammer and nails.

"W-h-a-t--what's that?" demanded the mayor.

I repeated what I had said. Max Fortin turned livid.

"My God!" muttered Le Bihan, "the Black Priest is in St. Gildas!"

"D-don't you--you know the old prophecy?" stammered Fortin. "Froissart
quotes it from Jacques Sorgue: 'When the Black Priest rises from the
dead, St. Gildas folk shall shriek in bed; When the Black Priest rises
from his grave, May the good God St. Gildas save!'"

"Aristide Le Bihan," I said angrily, "and you, Max Fortin, I've got
enough of this nonsense! Some foolish lout from Bannalec has been in
St. Gildas playing tricks to frighten old fools like you. If you have
nothing better to talk about than nursery legends I'll wait until you
come to your senses. Good-morning." And I walked out, more disturbed
than I cared to acknowledge to myself.

The day had become misty and overcast. Heavy, wet clouds hung in the
east. I heard the surf thundering against the cliffs, and the gray
gulls squealed as they tossed and turned high in the sky. The tide was
creeping across the river sands, higher, higher, and I saw the seaweed
floating on the beach, and the lançons springing from the foam,
silvery threadlike flashes in the gloom.

Curlew were flying up the river in twos and threes; the timid sea
swallows skimmed across the moors toward some quiet, lonely pool, safe
from the coming tempest. In every hedge field birds were gathering,
huddling together, twittering restlessly.

When I reached the cliffs I sat down, resting my chin on my clenched
hands. Already a vast curtain of rain, sweeping across the ocean miles
away, hid the island of Groix. To the east, behind the white semaphore
on the hills, black clouds crowded up over the horizon. After a little
the thunder boomed, dull, distant, and slender skeins of lightning
unravelled across the crest of the coming storm. Under the cliff at my
feet the surf rushed foaming over the shore, and the lançons jumped
and skipped and quivered until they seemed to be but the reflections
of the meshed lightning.

I turned to the east. It was raining over Groix, it was raining at
Sainte Barbe, it was raining now at the semaphore. High in the storm
whirl a few gulls pitched; a nearer cloud trailed veils of rain in its
wake; the sky was spattered with lightning; the thunder boomed.

As I rose to go, a cold raindrop fell upon the back of my hand, and
another, and yet another on my face. I gave a last glance at the sea,
where the waves were bursting into strange white shapes that seemed to
fling out menacing arms toward me. Then something moved on the cliff,
something black as the black rock it clutched--a filthy cormorant,
craning its hideous head at the sky.

Slowly I plodded homeward across the sombre moorland, where the gorse
stems glimmered with a dull metallic green, and the heather, no longer
violet and purple, hung drenched and dun-coloured among the dreary
rocks. The wet turf creaked under my heavy boots, the black-thorn
scraped and grated against knee and elbow. Over all lay a strange
light, pallid, ghastly, where the sea spray whirled across the
landscape and drove into my face until it grew numb with the cold.

In broad bands, rank after rank, billow on billow, the rain burst out
across the endless moors, and yet there was no wind to drive it at
such a pace.

Lys stood at the door as I turned into the garden, motioning me to
hasten; and then for the first time I became conscious that I was
soaked to the skin.

"How ever in the world did you come to stay out when such a storm
threatened?" she said.

"Oh, you are dripping! Go quickly and change; I have laid your warm
underwear on the bed, Dick."

I kissed my wife, and went upstairs to change my dripping clothes for
something more comfortable.

When I returned to the morning room there was a driftwood fire on the
hearth, and Lys sat in the chimney corner embroidering.

"Catherine tells me that the fishing fleet from Lorient is out. Do you
think they are in danger, dear?" asked Lys, raising her blue eyes to
mine as I entered.

"There is no wind, and there will be no sea," said I, looking out of
the window. Far across the moor I could see the black cliffs looming
in the mist.

"How it rains!" murmured Lys; "come to the fire, Dick."

I threw myself on the fur rug, my hands in my pockets, my head on
Lys's knees.

"Tell me a story," I said. "I feel like a boy of ten."

Lys raised a finger to her scarlet lips. I always waited for her to do
that.

"Will you be very still, then?" she said.

"Still as death." 

"Death," echoed a voice, very softly.

"Did you speak, Lys?" I asked, turning so that I could see her face.

"No; did you, Dick?"

"Who said 'death'?" I asked, startled.

"Death," echoed a voice, softly.

I sprang up and looked about. Lys rose too, her needles and embroidery
falling to the floor. She seemed about to faint, leaning heavily on
me, and I led her to the window and opened it a little way to give her
air. As I did so the chain lightning split the zenith, the thunder
crashed, and a sheet of rain swept into the room, driving with it
something that fluttered--something that flapped, and squeaked, and
beat upon the rug with soft, moist wings.

We bent over it together, Lys clinging to me, and we saw that it was a
death's-head moth drenched with rain.

The dark day passed slowly as we sat beside the fire, hand in hand,
her head against my breast, speaking of sorrow and mystery and death.
For Lys believed that there were things on earth that none might
understand, things that must be nameless forever and ever, until God
rolls up the scroll of life and all is ended. We spoke of hope and
fear and faith, and the mystery of the saints; we spoke of the
beginning and the end, of the shadow of sin, of omens, and of love.
The moth still lay on the floor, quivering its sombre wings in the
warmth of the fire, the skull and ribs clearly etched upon its neck
and body.

"If it is a messenger of death to this house," I said, "why should we
fear, Lys?"

"Death should be welcome to those who love God," murmured Lys, and she
drew the cross from her breast and kissed it.

"The moth might die if I threw it out into the storm," I said after a
silence.

"Let it remain," sighed Lys.

Late that night my wife lay sleeping, and I sat beside her bed and
read in the Chronicle of Jacques Sorgue. I shaded the candle, but Lys
grew restless, and finally I took the book down into the morning room,
where the ashes of the fire rustled and whitened on the hearth.

The death's-head moth lay on the rug before the fire where I had left
it. At first I thought it was dead, but, when I looked closer I saw a
lambent fire in its amber eyes. The straight white shadow it cast
across the floor wavered as the candle flickered.

The pages of the Chronicle of Jacques Sorgue were damp and sticky; the
illuminated gold and blue initials left flakes of azure and gilt where
my hand brushed them.

"It is not paper at all; it is thin parchment," I said to myself; and
I held the discoloured page close to the candle flame and read,
translating laboriously:

"I, Jacques Sorgue, saw all these things. And I saw the Black Mass
celebrated in the chapel of St. Gildas-on-the-Cliff. And it was said
by the Abbé Sorgue, my kinsman: for which deadly sin the apostate
priest was seized by the most noble Marquis of Plougastel and by him
condemned to be burned with hot irons, until his seared soul quit its
body and fly to its master the devil. But when the Black Priest lay in
the crypt of Plougastel, his master Satan came at night and set him
free, and carried him across land and sea to Mahmoud, which is Soldan
or Saladin. And I, Jacques Sorgue, travelling afterward by sea, beheld
with my own eyes my kinsman, the Black Priest of St. Gildas, borne
along in the air upon a vast black wing, which was the wing of his
master Satan. And this was seen also by two men of the crew." I turned
the page. The wings of the moth on the floor began to quiver. I read
on and on, my eyes blurring under the shifting candle flame. I read of
battles and of saints, and I learned how the great Soldan made his
pact with Satan, and then I came to the Sieur de Trevec, and read how
he seized the Black Priest in the midst of Saladin's tents and carried
him away and cut off his head, first branding him on the forehead.
"And before he suffered," said the Chronicle, "he cursed the Sieur de
Trevec and his descendants, and he said he would surely return to St.
Gildas. 'For the violence you do to me, I will do violence to you. For
the evil I suffer at your hands, I will work evil on you and your
descendants. Woe to your children, Sieur de Trevec!'" There was a
whirr, a beating of strong wings, and my candle flashed up as in a
sudden breeze. A humming filled the room; the great moth darted hither
and thither, beating, buzzing, on ceiling and wall. I flung down my
book and stepped forward. Now it lay fluttering upon the window sill,
and for a moment I had it under my hand, but the thing squeaked and I
shrank back. Then suddenly it darted across the candle flame; the
light flared and went out, and at the same moment a shadow moved in
the darkness outside. I raised my eyes to the window. A masked face
was peering in at me.

Quick as thought I whipped out my revolver and fired every cartridge,
but the face advanced beyond the window, the glass melting away before
it like mist, and through the smoke of my revolver I saw something
creep swiftly into the room. Then I tried to cry out, but the thing
was at my throat, and I fell backward among the ashes of the hearth.

* * *

When my eyes unclosed I was lying on the hearth, my head among the
cold ashes. Slowly I got on my knees, rose painfully, and groped my
way to a chair. On the floor lay my revolver, shining in the pale
light of early morning. My mind clearing by degrees, I looked,
shuddering, at the window. The glass was unbroken. I stooped stiffly,
picked up my revolver and opened the cylinder. Every cartridge had
been fired. Mechanically I closed the cylinder and placed the revolver
in my pocket. The book, the Chronicles of Jacques Sorgue, lay on the
table beside me, and as I started to close it I glanced at the page.
It was all splashed with rain, and the lettering had run, so that the
page was merely a confused blur of gold and red and black. As I
stumbled toward the door I cast a fearful glance over my shoulder. The
death's-head moth crawled shivering on the rug.

IV The sun was about three hours high. I must have slept, for I was
aroused by the sudden gallop of horses under our window. People were
shouting and calling in the road. I sprang up and opened the sash. Le
Bihan was there, an image of helplessness, and Max Fortin stood beside
him, polishing his glasses. Some gendarmes had just arrived from
Quimperlé, and I could hear them around the corner of the house,
stamping, and rattling their sabres and carbines, as they led their
horses into my stable.

Lys sat up, murmuring half-sleepy, half-anxious questions.

"I don't know," I answered. "I am going out to see what it means." 

"It is like the day they came to arrest you," Lys said, giving me a
troubled look. But I kissed her, and laughed at her until she smiled
too. Then I flung on coat and cap and hurried down the stairs.

The first person I saw standing in the road was the Brigadier Durand.

"Hello!" said I, "have you come to arrest me again? What the devil is
all this fuss about, anyway?"

"We were telegraphed for an hour ago," said Durand Briskly, "and for a
sufficient reason, I think. Look there, Monsieur Darrel!"

He pointed to the ground almost under my feet.

"Good heavens!" I cried, "where did that puddle of blood come from?"

"That's what I want to know, Monsieur Darrel. Max Fortin found it at
daybreak. See, it's splashed all over the grass, too. A trail of it
leads into your garden, across the flower beds to your very window,
the one that opens from the morning room. There is another trail
leading from this spot across the road to the cliffs, then to the
gravel pit, and thence across the moor to the forest of Kerselec. We
are going to mount in a minute and search the bosquets. Will you join
us? Bon Dieu! but the fellow bled like an ox. Max Fortin says it's
human blood, or I should not have believed it."

The little chemist of Quimperlé came up at that moment, rubbing his
glasses with a coloured handkerchief.

"Yes, it is human blood," he said, "but one thing puzzles me: the
corpuscles are yellow. I never saw any human blood before with yellow
corpuscles. But your English Doctor Thompson asserts that he has--"

"Well, it's human blood, anyway--isn't it?" insisted Durand,
impatiently.

"Ye-es," admitted Max Fortin.

"Then it's my business to trail it," said the big gendarme, and he
called his men and gave the order to mount.

"Did you hear anything last night?" asked Durand of me.

"I heard the rain. I wonder the rain did not wash away these traces."

"They must have come after the rain ceased. See this thick splash, how
it lies over and weighs down the wet grass blades. Pah!"

It was a heavy, evil-looking clot, and I stepped back from it, my
throat closing in disgust.

"My theory," said the brigadier, "is this: Some of those Biribi
fishermen, probably the Icelanders, got an extra glass of cognac into
their hides and quarrelled on the road. Some of them were slashed, and
staggered to your house. But there is only one trail, and yet--and
yet, how could all that blood come from only one person? Well, the
wounded man, let us say, staggered first to your house and then back
here, and he wandered off, drunk and dying, God knows where. That's my
theory."

"A very good one," said I calmly. "And you are going to trail him?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"At once. Will you come?"

"Not now. I'll gallop over by-and-by. You are going to the edge of the
Kerselec forest?"

"Yes; you will hear us calling. Are you coming, Max Fortin? And you,
Le Bihan? Good; take the dog-cart."

The big gendarme tramped around the corner to the stable and presently
returned mounted on a strong gray horse; his sabre shone on his
saddle; his pale yellow and white facings were spotless.

The little crowd of white-coiffed women with their children fell back,
as Durand touched spurs and clattered away followed by his two
troopers. Soon after Le Bihan and Max Fortin also departed in the
mayor's dingy dog-cart.

"Are you coming?" piped Le Bihan shrilly.

"In a quarter of an hour," I replied, and went back to the house.

When I opened the door of the morning room the death's-head moth was
beating its strong wings against the window. For a second I hesitated,
then walked over and opened the sash. The creature fluttered out,
whirred over the flower beds a moment, then darted across the moorland
toward the sea. I called the servants together and questioned them.
Josephine, Catherine, Jean Marie Tregunc, not one of them had heard
the slightest disturbance during the night. Then I told Jean Marie to
saddle my horse, and while I was speaking Lys came down.

"Dearest," I began, going to her.

"You must tell me everything you know, Dick," she interrupted, looking
me earnestly in the face.

"But there is nothing to tell--only a drunken brawl, and some one
wounded."

"And you are going to ride--where, Dick?"

"Well, over to the edge of Kerselec forest. Durand and the mayor, and
Max Fortin, have gone on, following a--a trail."

"What trail?"

"Some blood."

"Where did they find it?"

"Out in the road there." Lys crossed herself.

"Does it come near our house?"

"Yes."

"How near?"

"It comes up to the morning-room window," said I, giving in.

Her hand on my arm grew heavy. "I dreamed last night--"

"So did I--" but I thought of the empty cartridges in my revolver, and
stopped.

"I dreamed that you were in great danger, and I could not move hand or
foot to save you; but you had your revolver, and I called out to you
to fire--"

"I did fire!" I cried excitedly.

"You--you fired?"

I took her in my arms. "My darling," I said, "something strange has
happened--something that I cannot understand as yet. But, of course,
there is an explanation. Last night I thought I fired at the Black
Priest."

"Ah!" gasped Lys.

"Is that what you dreamed?"

"Yes, yes, that was it! I begged you to fire--"

"And I did."

Her heart was bearing against my breast. I held her close in silence.

"Dick," she said at length, "perhaps you killed the--the thing."

"If it was human I did not miss," I answered grimly. "And it was
human," I went on, pulling myself together, ashamed of having so
nearly gone to pieces. "Of course it was human! The whole affair is
plain enough. Not a drunken brawl, as Durand thinks; it was a drunken
lout's practical joke, for which he has suffered. I suppose I must
have filled him pretty full of bullets, and he has crawled away to die
in Kerselec forest. It's a terrible affair; I'm sorry I fired so
hastily; but that idiot Le Bihan and Max Fortin have been working on
my nerves till I am as hysterical as a schoolgirl," I ended angrily.

"You fired--but the window glass was not shattered," said Lys in a low
voice.

"Well, the window was open, then. And as for the--the rest--I've got
nervous indigestion, and a doctor will settle the Black Priest for me,
Lys."

I glanced out of the window at Tregunc waiting with my horse at the
gate.

"Dearest, I think I had better go to join Durand and the others."

"I will go too."

"Oh no."'

"Yes, Dick."

"Don't, Lys."

"I shall suffer every moment you are away."

"The ride is too fatiguing, and we can't tell what unpleasant sight
you may come upon. Lys, you don't really think there is anything
supernatural in this affair?"

"Dick," she answered gently, "I am a Bretonne." With both arms around
my neck, my wife said, "Death is the gift of God. I do not fear it
when we are together. But alone--oh, my husband, I should fear a God
who could take you away from me!"

We kissed each other soberly, simply, like two children. Then Lys
hurried away to change her gown, and I paced up and down the garden
waiting for her.

She came, drawing on her slender gauntlets. I swung her into the
saddle, gave a hasty order to Jean Marie, and mounted.

Now, to quail under thoughts of terror on a morning like this, with
Lys in the saddle beside me, no matter what had happened or might
happen, was impossible. Moreover, Môme came sneaking after us. I asked
Tregunc to catch him, for I was afraid he might be brained by our
horses' hoofs if he followed, but the wily puppy dodged and bolted
after Lys, who was trotting along the high-road.

"Never mind," I thought; "if he's hit he'll live, for he has no brains
to lose."

Lys was waiting for me in the road beside the Shrine of Our Lady of
St. Gildas when I joined her. She crossed herself, I doffed my cap,
then we shook out our bridles and galloped toward the forest of
Kerselec.

We said very little as we rode. I always loved to watch Lys in the
saddle. Her exquisite figure and lovely face were the incarnation of
youth and grace; her curling hair glistened like threaded gold.

Our of the corner of my eve I saw the spoiled puppy Môme come bounding
cheerfully alongside, oblivious of our horses' heels. Our road swung
close to the cliffs. A filthy cormorant rose from the black rocks and
flapped heavily across our path. Lys's horse reared, but she pulled
him down, and pointed at the bird with her riding crop.

"I see," said I; "it seems to be going our way. Curious to see a
cormorant in a forest, isn't it?"

"It is a bad sign," said Lys. "You know that Morbihan proverb: 'When
the cormorant turns from the sea, Death laughs in the forest, and wise
woodsmen build boats.'"

"I wish," said I sincerely, "that there were fewer proverbs in
Brittany."

We were in sight of the forest now; across the gorse I could see the
sparkle of gendarmes' trappings, and the glitter of Le Bihan's silver-
buttoned jacket. The hedge was low and we took it without difficulty,
and trotted across the moor to where Le Bihan and Durand stood
gesticulating.

They bowed ceremoniously to Lys as we rode up.

"The trail is horrible--it is a river," said the mayor in his squeaky
voice. "Monsieur Darrel, I think perhaps madame would scarcely care to
come any nearer."

Lys drew bridle and looked at me.

"It is horrible!" said Durand, walking up beside me; "it looks as
though a bleeding regiment had passed this way. The trail winds and
winds about there in the thickets; we lose it at times, but we always
find it again. I can't understand how one man--no, not twenty--could
bleed like that!"

A halloo, answered by another, sounded from the depths of the forest.

"It's my men; they are following the trail," muttered the brigadier.
"God alone knows what is at the end!"

"Shall we gallop back, Lys?" I asked.

"No; let us ride along the western edge of the woods and dismount. The
sun is so hot now, and I should like to rest for a moment," she said.

"The western forest is clear of anything disagreeable," said Durand.

"Very well," I answered; "call me, Le Bihan, if you find anything."

Lys wheeled her mare, and I followed across the springy heather, Môme
trotting cheerfully in the rear.

We entered the sunny woods about a quarter of a kilometre from where
we left Durand. I took Lys from her horse, flung both bridles over a
limb, and, giving my wife my arm, aided her to a flat mossy rock which
overhung a shallow brook gurgling among the beech trees. Lys sat down
and drew off her gauntlets. Môme pushed his head into her lap,
received an undeserved caress, and came doubtfully toward me. I was
weak enough to condone his offence, but I made him lie down at my
feet, greatly to his disgust.

I rested my head on Lys's knees, looking up at the sky through the
crossed branches of the trees.

"I suppose I have killed him," I said. "It shocks me terribly, Lys."

"You could not have known, dear. He may have been a robber, and--if--
nor---Did--have you ever fired your revolver since that day four years
ago, when the Red Admiral's son tried to kill you? But I know you have
not."

"No," said I, wondering. "It's a fact, I have not. Why?" 

"And don't you remember that I asked you to let me load it for you the
day when Yves went off, swearing to kill you and his father?"

"Yes, I do remember. Well?"

"Well, I--I took the cartridges first to St. Gildas chapel and dipped
them in holy water. You must not laugh, Dick," said Lys gently, laying
her cool hands on my lips.

"Laugh, my darling!"

Overhead the October sky was pale amethyst, and the sunlight burned
like orange flame through the yellow leaves of beech and oak. Gnats
and midges danced and wavered overhead; a spider dropped from a twig
halfway to the ground and hung suspended on the end of his gossamer
thread.

"Are you sleepy, dear?" asked Lys, bending over me.

"I am--a little; I scarcely slept two hours last night," I answered.

"You may sleep, if you wish," said Lys, and touched my eyes
caressingly.

"Is my head heavy on your knees?"

"No, Dick."I was already in a half doze; still I heard the brook
babbling under the beeches and the humming of forest flies overhead.
Presently even these were stilled.

The next thing I knew I was sitting bolt upright, my ears ringing with
a scream, and I saw Lys cowering beside me, covering her white face
with both hands.

As I sprang to my feet she cried again and clung to my knees. I saw my
dog rush growling into a thicket, then I heard him whimper, and he
came backing out, whining, ears flat, tail down. I stooped and
disengaged Lys's hand.

"Don't go, Dick!" she cried. "O God, it's the Black Priest!"

In a moment I had leaped across the brook and pushed my way into the
thicket. It was empty. I stared about me; I scanned every tree trunk,
every bush. Suddenly I saw him. He was seated on a fallen log, his
head resting in his hands, his rusty black robe gathered around him.
For a moment my hair stirred under my cap; sweat started on my
forehead and cheekbone; then I recovered my reason, and understood
that the man was human and was probably wounded to death. Ay, to
death; for there, at my feet, lay the wet trail of blood, over leaves
and stones, down into the little hollow, across to the figure in black
resting silently under the trees.

I saw that he could not escape even if he had the strength, for before
him, almost at his very feet, lay a deep, shining swamp.

As I stepped forward my foot broke a twig. At the sound the figure
started a little, then its head fell forward again. Its face was
masked. Walking up to the man, I bade him tell where he was wounded.
Durand and the others broke through the thicket at the same moment and
hurried to my side.

"Who are you who hide a masked face in a priest's robe?" said the
gendarme loudly.

There was no answer.

"See--see the stiff blood all over his robe!" muttered Le Bihan to
Fortin.

"He will not speak," said I.

"He may be too badly wounded," whispered Le Bihan.

"I saw him raise his head," I said; "my wife saw him creep up here."

Durand stepped forward and touched the figure.

"Speak!" he said.

"Speak!" quavered Fortin.

Durand waited a moment, then with a sudden upward movement he stripped
off the mask and threw back the man's head. We were looking into the
eye sockets of a skull. Durand stood rigid; the mayor shrieked. The
skeleton burst out from its rotting robes and collapsed on the ground
before us. From between the staring ribs and the grinning teeth
spurred a torrent of black blood, showering the shrinking grasses;
then the thing shuddered, and fell over into the black ooze of the
bog. Little bubbles of iridescent air appeared from the mud; the bones
were slowly engulfed, and, as the last fragments sank out of sight, up
from the depths and along the bank crept a creature, shiny, shivering,
quivering its wings.

It was a death's-head moth.

* * *

I wish I had time to tell you how Lys outgrew superstitions--for she
never knew the truth about the affair, and she never will know, since
she has promised not to read this book. I wish I might tell you about
the king and his coronation, and how the coronation robe fitted. I
wish that I were able to write how Yvonne and Herbert Stuart rode to a
boar hunt in Quimperlé, and how the hounds raced the quarry right
through the town, overturning three gendarmes, the notary, and an old
woman. But I am becoming garrulous, and Lys is calling me to come and
hear the king say that he is sleepy. And his Highness shall not be
kept waiting.



THE KING'S CRADLE SONG

Seal with a seal of gold
The scroll of a life unrolled;
Swathe him deep in his purple stole;
Ashes of diamonds, crystalled coal.
Drops of gold in each scented fold.
Crimson wings of the Little Death.
Stir his hair with your silken breath;
Flaming wings of sins to be.
Splendid pinions of prophecy.
Smother his eyes with hues and dyes.
While the white moon spins and the winds arise.
And the stars drip through the skies.
Wave, O wings of the Little Death!
Seal his sight and stifle his breath.
Cover his breast with the gemmed shroud pressed;
From north to north, from west to west.
Wave, O wings of the Little Death!
Till the white moon reels in the cracking skies.
And the ghosts of God arise.



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS

Mais je croy que je
Suis descendu on puiz
Tenebreux onquel disoit
Heraclytus estre Verité cachée.

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, for which I
know not:

The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the
way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a
maid.



Chapter I



The utter desolation of the scene began to have its effect; I sat down
to face the situation and, if possible, recall to mind some landmark
which might aid me in extricating myself from my present position. If
I could only find the ocean again all would be clear, for I knew one
could see the island of Groix from the cliffs.

I laid down my gun, and kneeling behind a rock lighted my pipe. Then I
looked at my watch. It was nearly four o'clock. I might have wandered
far from Kerselec since daybreak.

Standing the day before on the cliffs below Kerselec with Goulven,
looking out over the sombre moors among which I had now lost my way,
these downs had appeared to me level as a meadow, stretching to the
horizon, and although I knew how deceptive is distance, I could not
realize that what from Kerselec seemed to be mere grassy hollows were
great valleys covered with gorse and heather, and what looked like
scattered boulders were in reality enormous cliffs of granite.

"It's a bad place for a stranger," old Goulven had said; "you'd better
take a guide;" and I had replied, "I shall not lose myself." Now I
knew that I had lost myself, as I sat there smoking, with the sea-wind
blowing in my face. On every side stretched the moorland, covered with
flowering gorse and heath and granite boulders. There was not a tree
in sight, much less a house. After a while, I picked up the gun, and
turning my back on the sun tramped on again.

There was little use in following any of the brawling streams which
every now and then crossed my path, for, instead of flowing into the
sea, they ran inland to reedy pools in the hollows of the moors. I had
followed several, but they all led me to swamps or silent little ponds
from which the snipe rose peeping and wheeled away in an ecstasy of
fright. I began to feel fatigued, and the gun galled my shoulder in
spite of the double pads. The sun sank lower and lower, shining level
across yellow gorse and the moorland pools.

As I walked my own gigantic shadow led me on, seeming to lengthen at
every step. The gorse scraped against my leggings, crackled beneath my
feet, showering the brown earth with blossoms, and the brake bowed and
billowed along my path. From tufts of heath rabbits scurried away
through the bracken, and among the swamp grass I heard the wild duck's
drowsy quack.

Once a fox stole across my path, and again, as I stooped to drink at a
hurrying rill, a heron flapped heavily from the reeds beside me. I
turned to look at the sun. It seemed to touch the edges of the plain.
When at last I decided that it was useless to go on, and that I must
make up my mind to spend at least one night on the moors, I threw
myself down thoroughly fagged out.

The evening sunlight slanted warm across my body, but the sea-winds
began to rise, and I felt a chill strike through me from my wet
shooting-boots. High overhead gulls were wheeling and tossing like
bits of white paper; from some distant marsh a solitary curlew called.
Little by little the sun sank into the plain, and the zenith flushed
with the after-glow. I watched the sky change from palest gold to pink
and then to smouldering fire. Clouds of midges danced above me, and
high in the calm air a bat dipped and soared. My eyelids began to
droop. Then as I shook off the drowsiness a sudden crash among the
bracken roused me. I raised my eyes. A great bird hung quivering in
the air above my face. For an instant I stared, incapable of motion;
then something leaped past me in the ferns and the bird rose, wheeled,
and pitched headlong into the brake.

I was on my feet in an instant peering through the gorse. There came
the sound of a struggle from a bunch of heather close by, and then all
was quiet. I stepped forward, my gun poised, but when I came to the
heather the gun fell under my arm again, and I stood motionless in
silent astonishment. A dead hare lay on the ground, and on the hare
stood a magnificent falcon, one talon buried in the creature's neck,
the other planted firmly on its limp flank. But what astonished me,
was not the mere sight of a falcon sitting upon its prey. I had seen
that more than once. It was that the falcon was fitted with a sort of
leash about both talons, and from the leash hung a round bit of metal
like a sleigh-bell. The bird turned its fierce yellow eyes on me, and
then stooped and struck its curved beak into the quarry. At the same
instant hurried steps sounded among the heather, and a girl sprang
into the covert in front. Without a glance at me she walked up to the
falcon, and passing her gloved hand under its breast, raised it from
the quarry.

Then she deftly slipped a small hood over the bird's head, and holding
it out on her gauntlet, stooped and picked up the hare.

She passed a cord about the animal's legs and fastened the end of the
thong to her girdle. Then she started to retrace her steps through the
covert. As she passed me I raised my cap and she acknowledged my
presence with a scarcely perceptible inclination. I had been so
astonished, so lost in admiration of the scene before my eyes, that it
had not occurred to me that here was my salvation. But as she moved
away I recollected that unless I wanted to sleep on a windy moor that
night I had better recover my speech without delay. At my first word
she hesitated, and as I stepped before her I thought a look of fear
came into her beautiful eyes. But as I humbly explained my unpleasant
plight, her face flushed and she looked at me in wonder.

"Surely you did not come from Kerselec!" she repeated.

Her sweet voice had no trace of the Breton accent nor of any accent
which I knew, and yet there was something in it I seemed to have heard
before, something quaint and indefinable, like the theme of an old
song.

I explained that I was an American, unacquainted with Finistère,
shooting there for my own amusement.

"An American," she repeated in the same quaint musical tones. "I have
never before seen an American."

For a moment she stood silent, then looking at me she said: "If you
should walk all night you could not reach Kerselec now, even if you
had a guide."

This was pleasant news.

"But," I began, "if I could only find a peasant's hut where I might
get something to eat, and shelter."The falcon on her wrist fluttered
and shook its head. The girl smoothed its glossy back and glanced at
me.

"Look around," she said gently. "Can you see the end of these moors?
Look, north, south, east, west. Can you see anything but moorland and
bracken?"

"No," I said.

"The moor is wild and desolate. It is easy to enter, but sometimes
they who enter never leave it. There are no peasants' huts here."

"Well," I said, "if you will tell me in which direction Kerselec lies,
tomorrow it will take me no longer to go back than it has to come."

She looked at me again with an expression almost like pity.

"Ah," she said, "to come is easy and takes hours; to go is different--
and may take centuries."

I stared at her in amazement but decided that I had misunderstood her.
Then before I had time to speak she drew a whistle from her belt and
sounded it.

"Sit down and rest," she said to me; "you have come a long distance
and are tired."

She gathered up her pleated skirts and motioning me to follow picked
her dainty way through the gorse to a flat rock among the ferns.

"They will be here directly," she said, and taking a seat at one end
of the rock invited me to sit down on the other edge. The after-glow
was beginning to fade in the sky and a single star twinkled faintly
through the rosy haze. A long wavering triangle of water-fowl drifted
southward over our heads and from the swamps around plover were
calling.

"They are very beautiful--these moors," she said quietly.

"Beautiful, but cruel to strangers," I answered.

"Beautiful and cruel," she repeated dreamily, "beautiful and cruel."

"Like a woman," I said stupidly.

"Oh," she cried with a little catch in her breath and looked at me.
Her dark eyes met mine and I thought she seemed angry or frightened.

"Like a woman," she repeated under her breath, "how cruel to say so!"
Then after a pause, as though speaking aloud to herself, "How cruel
for him to say that."

I don't know what sort of an apology I offered for my inane, though
harmless, speech, but I know that she seemed so troubled about it that
I began to think I had said something very dreadful without knowing
it, and remembered with horror the pitfalls and snares which the
French language sets for foreigners. While I was trying to imagine
what I might have said, a sound of voices came across the moor and the
girl rose to her feet.

"No," she said, with a trace of a smile on her pale face, "I will not
accept your apologies, Monsieur, but I must prove you wrong and that
shall be my revenge. Look. Here come Hastur and Raoul."

Two men loomed up in the twilight. One had a sack across his shoulders
and the other carried a hoop before him as a waiter carries a tray.
The hoop was fastened with straps to his shoulders and around the edge
of the circler sat three hooded falcons fitted with tinkling bells.
The girl stepped up to the falconer, and with a quick turn of her
wrist transferred her falcon to the hoop where it quickly sidled off
and nestled among its mates who shook their hooded heads and ruffled
their feathers till the belled jesses tinkled again. The other man
stepped forward and bowing respectfully took up the hare and dropped
it into the game-sack.

"These are my piqueurs," said the girl turning to me with a gentle
dignity. "Raoul is a good fauconnier and I shall some day make him
grand veneur. Hastur is incomparable."

The two silent men saluted me respectfully.

"Did I not tell you, Monsieur, that I should prove you wrong?" she
continued. "This then is my revenge, that you do me the courtesy of
accepting food and shelter at my own house."

Before I could answer she spoke to the falconers who started instantly
across the heath, and with a gracious gesture to me she followed. I
don't know whether I made her understand how profoundly grateful I
felt, but she seemed pleased to listen, as we walked over the dewy
heather.

"Are you not very tired?" she asked.

I had clean forgotten my fatigue in her presence and I told her so.

"Don't you think your gallantry is a little old-fashioned," she said;
and when I looked confused and humbled, she added quietly, "Oh, I like
it, I like everything old-fashioned, and it is delightful to hear you
say such pretty things."

The moorland around us was very still now under its ghostly sheet of
mist. The plover had ceased their calling; the crickets and all the
little creatures of the fields were silent as we passed, yet it seemed
to me as if I could hear them beginning again far behind us. Well in
advance the two tall falconers strode across the heather and the faint
jingling of the hawks’ bells came to our ears in distant murmuring
chimes.

Suddenly a splendid hound dashed out of the mist in front, followed by
another and another until half a dozen or more were bounding and
leaping around the girl beside me. She caressed and quieted them with
her gloved hand, speaking to them in quaint terms which I remembered
to have seen in old French manuscripts.

Then the falcons on the circlet borne by the falconer ahead began to
beat their wings and scream, and from somewhere out of sight the notes
of a hunting-horn floated across the moor.

The hounds sprang away before us and vanished in the twilight, the
falcons flapped and squealed upon their perch and the girl taking up
the song of the horn began to hum. Clear and mellow her voice sounded
in the night air.

"Chasseur, chasseur, chassez encore, Quittez Rosette et Jeanneton,
Tonton, tonton, tontaine, tonton, Ou, pour, rabattre, dês l'aurore,
Que les Amours soient de planton, Tonton, tontaine, tonton."

As I listened to her lovely voice, a gray mass which rapidly grew more
distinct loomed up in front, and the horn rang out joyously through
the tumult of the hounds and falcons. A torch glimmered at a gate, a
light streamed through an opening door, and we stepped upon a wooden
bridge which trembled under our feet and rose creaking and straining
behind us as we passed over the moat and into a small stone court,
walled on every side. From an open doorway a man came and bending in
salutation presented a cup to the girl beside me. She took the cup and
touched it with her lips, then lowering it turned to me and said in a
low voice, "I bid you welcome."

At that moment one of the falconers came with another cup, but before
handing it to me, presented it to the girl, who tasted it. The
falconer made a gesture to receive it, but she hesitated a moment and
then stepping forward offered me the cup with her own hands. I felt
this to be an act of extraordinary graciousness, but hardly knew what
was expected of me, and did not raise it to my lips at once. The girl
flushed crimson. I saw that I must act quickly.

"Mademoiselle," I faltered, "a stranger whom you have saved from
dangers he may never realize, empties this cup to the gentlest and
loveliest hostess of France."

"In His name," she murmured, crossing herself as I drained the cup.
Then stepping into the doorway she turned to me with a pretty gesture
and taking my hand in hers, led me into the house, saying again and
again: "You are very welcome, indeed you are welcome to the Château
d'Ys."



Chapter II



I awoke next morning with the music of the horn in my ears, and
leaping out of the ancient bed, went to a curtained window where the
sunlight filtered through little deep-set panes. The horn ceased as I
looked into the court below.

A man who might have been brother to the two falconers of the night
before stood in the midst of a pack of hounds. A curved horn was
strapped over his back, and in his hand he held a long-lashed whip.
The dogs whined and yelped, dancing around him in anticipation; there
was the stamp of horses too in the walled yard.

"Mount!" cried a voice in Breton, and with a clatter of hoofs the two
falconers, with falcons upon their wrists, rode into the courtyard
among the hounds. Then I heard another voice which sent the blood
throbbing through my heart: "Piriou Louis, hunt the hounds well and
spare neither spur nor whip. Thou Raoul and thou Gaston, see that the
epervier does not prove himself niais, and if it be best in your
judgment, faites courtoisie à l'oiseau. Jardiner un oiseau like the
mué there on Hastur's wrist is not difficult, but thou, Raoul, mayest
not find it so simple to govern that hagard. Twice last week he foamed
au vif and lost the beccade although he is used to the leurre. The
bird acts like a stupid branchier. Paître un hagard n'est pas si
facile."

Was I dreaming? The old language of falconry which I had read in
yellow manuscripts--the old forgotten French of the middle ages was
sounding in my ears while the hounds bayed and the hawks’ bells
tinkled accompaniment to the stamping horses. She spoke again in the
sweet forgotten language:

"If you would rather attach the longe and leave thy hagard au bloc,
Raoul, I shall say nothing; for it were a pity to spoil so fair a
day's sport with an ill-trained sors. Essimer abaisser,--it is
possibly the best way. Ça lui donnera des reins. I was perhaps hasty
with the bird. It takes time to pass à la filière and the exercises
d'escap."

Then the falconer Raoul bowed in his stirrups and replied: "If it be
the pleasure of Mademoiselle, I shall keep the hawk."

"It is my wish," she answered. "Falconry I know, but you have yet to
give me many a lesson in Autourserie, my poor Raoul. Sieur Piriou
Louis, mount!"

The huntsman sprang into an archway and in an instant returned,
mounted upon a strong black horse, followed by a piqueur also mounted.

"Ah!" she cried joyously, "speed Glemarec René! speed! speed all!
Sound thy horn Sieur Piriou!"

The silvery music of the hunting-horn filled the courtyard, the hounds
sprang through the gateway and galloping hoof-beats plunged out of the
paved court; loud on the drawbridge, suddenly muffled, then lost in
the heather and bracken of the moors. Distant and more distant sounded
the horn, until it became so faint that the sudden carol of a soaring
lark drowned it in my ears. I heard the voice below responding to some
call from within the house.

"I do not regret the chase, I will go another time. Courtesy to the
stranger, Pelagie, remember!" And a feeble voice came quavering from
within the house, "Courtoisie."

I stripped, and rubbed myself from head to foot in the huge earthen
basin of icy water which stood upon the stone floor at the foot of my
bed. Then I looked about for my clothes. They were gone, but on a
settle near the door lay a heap of garments which I inspected with
astonishment.

As my clothes had vanished I was compelled to attire myself in the
costume which had evidently been placed there for me to wear while my
own clothes dried. Everything was there, cap, shoes, and hunting
doublet of silvery gray homespun; but the close-fitting costume and
seamless shoes belonged to another century, and I remembered the
strange costumes of the three falconers in the courtyard. I was sure
that it was not the modern dress of any portion of France or Brittany;
but not until I was dressed and stood before a mirror between the
windows did I realize that I was clothed much more like a young
huntsman of the middle ages than like a Breton of that day. I
hesitated and picked up the cap. Should I go down and present myself
in that strange guise?

There seemed to be no help for it, my own clothes were gone and there
was no bell in the ancient chamber to call a servant, so I contented
myself with removing a short hawk's feather from the cap, and opening
the door went downstairs.

By the fireplace in the large room at the foot of the stairs an old
Breton woman sat spinning with a distaff. She looked up at me when I
appeared, and smiling frankly, wished me health in the Breton
language, to which I laughingly replied in French. At the same moment
my hostess appeared and returned my salutation with a grace and
dignity that sent a thrill to my heart. Her lovely head with its dark
curly hair was crowned with a head-dress which set all doubts as to
the epoch of my own costume at rest. Her slender figure was
exquisitely set off in the homespun hunting-gown edged with silver,
and on her gauntlet-covered wrist she bore one of her petted hawks.
With perfect simplicity she took my hand and led me into the garden in
the court, and seating herself before a table invited me very sweetly
to sit beside her. Then she asked me in her soft quaint accent how I
had passed the night and whether I was very much inconvenienced by
wearing the clothes which old Pelagie had put there for me while I
slept. I looked at my own clothes and shoes, drying in the sun by the
garden-wall, and hated them. What horrors they were compared with the
graceful costume which I now wore! I told her this laughing, but she
agreed with me very seriously.

"We will throw them away," she said in a quiet voice. In my
astonishment I attempted to explain that I not only could not think of
accepting clothes from anybody, although for all I knew it might be
the custom of hospitality in that part of the country, but that I
should cut an impossible figure if I returned to France clothed as I
was then.

She laughed and tossed her pretty head, saying something in old French
which I did not understand, and the Pelagie trotted out with a tray on
which stood two bowls of milk, a loaf of white bread, fruit, a platter
of honeycomb, and a flagon of deep red wine. "You see I have not yet
broken my fast because I wished you to eat with me. But I am very
hungry," she smiled.

"I would rather die than forget one word of what you have said!" I
blurted out while my cheeks burned. "She will think me mad," I added
to myself, but she turned to me with sparking eyes.

"Ah!" she murmured. "Then Monsieur knows all that there is of
chivalry--"

She crossed herself and broke bread--I sat and watched her white
hands, not daring to raise my eyes to hers.

"Will you not eat," she asked; "why do you look so troubled?"

Ah, why? I knew it now. I knew I would give my life to touch with my
lips those rosy palms I understood now that from the moment when I
looked into her dark eyes there on the moor last night I had loved
her. My great and sudden passion held me speechless.

"Are you ill at ease?" she asked again.

Then like a man who pronounces his own doom I answered in a low voice:
"Yes, I am ill at ease for love of you." And as she did not stir nor
answer, the same power moved my lips in spite of me and I said, "I,
who am unworthy of the lightest of your thoughts, I who abuse
hospitality and repay your gently courtesy with bold presumption, I
love you."

She leaned her head upon her hands, and answered softly, "I love you.
Your words are very dear to me. I love you."

"Then I shall win you."

"Win me," she replied.

But all the time I had been sitting silent, my face turned toward her.
She also silent, her sweet face resting on her upturned palm, sat
facing me, and as her eyes looked into mine, I knew that neither she
nor I had spoken human speech; but I knew that her soul had answered
mine, and I drew myself up feeling youth and joyous love coursing
through every vein. She, with a bright color in her lovely face,
seemed as one awakened from a dream, and her eyes sought mine with a
questioning glance which made me tremble with delight. We broke our
fast, speaking of ourselves. I told her my name and she told me hers,
the Demoiselle Jeanne d'Ys.

She spoke of her father’s and mother's deaths, and how the nineteen of
her years had been passed in the little fortified farm alone with her
nurse Pelagie. Glemarec Renè the piqueur, and the four falconers,
Raoul, Gaston, Hastur, and the Sieur Piriou Louis, who had served her
father. She had never been outside the moorland--never even had seen a
human soul before, except the falconers and Pelagie. She did not know
how she had heard of Kerselec; perhaps the falconers had spoken of it.
She knew the legends of Loup Garou and Jeanne la Flamme from her nurse
Pelagie. She embroidered and spun flax. Her hawks and hounds were her
only distraction. When she had met me there on the moor she had been
so frightened that she almost dropped at the sound of my voice. She
had, it was true, seen ships at sea from the cliffs, but as far as the
eye could reach the moors over which she galloped were destitute of
any sign of human life. There was a legend which old Pelagie told, how
anybody once lost in the unexplored moorland might never return,
because the moors were enchanted. She did not know whether it was
true, she never had thought about it until she met me. She did not
know whether the falconers had even been outside or whether they could
go if they would. The books in the house which Pelagie the nurse had
taught her to read were hundreds of years old.

All this she told me with a sweet seriousness seldom seen in any one
but children. My own name she found easy to pronounce and insisted,
because my first name was Philip, I must have French blood in me. She
did not seem curious to learn anything about the outside world, and I
thought perhaps she considered it had forfeited her interest and
respect from the stories of her nurse.

We were still sitting at the table and she was throwing grapes to the
small field birds which came fearlessly to our very feet.

I began to speak in a vague way of going, but she would not hear of
it, and before I knew it I had promised to stay a week and hunt with
hawk and hound in their company. I also obtained permission to come
again from Kerselec and visit her after my return.

"Why," she said innocently, "I do not know what I should do if you
never came back;" and I, knowing that I had no right to awaken her
with the sudden shock which the avowal of my own love would bring to
her, sat silent, hardly daring to breathe.

"You will come very often?" she asked.

"Very often," I said.

"Every day?"

"Every day."

"Oh," she sighed, "I am very happy--come and see my hawks."

She rose and took my hand again with a childlike innocence of
possession, and we walked through the garden and fruit trees to a
grassy lawn which was bordered by a brook. Over the lawn were
scattered fifteen or twenty stumps of trees--partially imbedded in the
grass--and upon all of these except two sat falcons. They were
attached to the stumps by thongs which were in turn fastened with
steel rivets to their legs just above the talons. A little stream of
pure spring water flowed in a winding course within easy distance of
each perch.

The birds set up a clamor when the girl appeared, but she went from
one to another caressing some, taking others for an instant upon her
wrist, or stooping to adjust their jesses.

"Are they not pretty?" she said. "See, here is a falcon-gentil. We
call it 'ignoble,' because it takes the quarry in direct chase. This
is a blue falcon. In falconry we call it 'noble' because it rises over
the quarry, and wheeling, drops upon it from above. This white bird is
a gerfalcon from the north. It is also 'noble!' Here is a merlin, and
this tiercelet is a falcon-heroner."

I asked her how she had learned the old language of falconry. She did
not remember, but thought her father must have taught it to her when
she was very young.

Then she led me away and showed me the young falcons still in the
nest. "They are termed niais in falconry," she explained. "A branchier
is the young bird which is just able to leave the nest and hop from
branch to branch. A young bird which has not yet moulted is called a
sors, and a mué is a hawk which has moulted in captivity. When we
catch a wild falcon which has changed its plumage we term it a hagard.
Raoul first taught me to dress a falcon. Shall I teach you how it is
done?"

She seated herself on the bank of the stream among the falcons and I
threw myself at her feet to listen.

Then the Demoiselle d'Ys held up one rosy-tipped finger and began very
gravely, "First one must catch the falcon."

"I am caught," I answered.

She laughed very prettily and told me my dressage would perhaps be
difficult as I was noble.

"I am already tamed," I replied; "jessed and belled."

She laughed, delighted. "Oh, my brave falcon; then you will return at
my call?"

"I am yours," I answered gravely.

She sat silent for a moment. Then the color heightened in her cheeks
and she held up her finger again saying, "Listen; I wish to speak of
falconry--"

"I listen, Countess Jeanne d'Ys."

But again she fell into the reverie, and her eyes seemed fixed on
something beyond the summer clouds.

"Philip," she said at last.

"Jeanne," I whispered.

"That is all,--that is what I wished," she sighed,--"Philip and
Jeanne."

She held her hand toward me and I touched it with my lips.

"Win me," she said, but this time it was the body and soul which spoke
in unison.

After a while she began again: "Let us speak of falconry."

"Begin," I replied; "we have caught the falcon." Then Jeanne d'Ys took
my hand in both of hers and told me how with infinite patience the
young falcon was taught to perch upon the wrist, how little by little
it became used to belled jesses and the chaperon à cornette.

"They must first have a good appetite," she said; "then little by
little I reduce their nourishment which in falconry we call pât. When
after many nights passed au bloc as these birds are now, I prevail
upon the hagard to stay quietly on the wrist, then the bird is ready
to be taught to come for its food. I fix the pât to the end of a thong
or leurre, and teach the bird to come to me as soon as I begin to
whirl the cord in circles about my head. At first I drop the pât when
the falcon comes, and he eats the food on the ground. After a little
he will learn to seize the leurre in motion as I whirl it around my
head, or drag it over the ground. After this it is easy to teach the
falcon to strike at game, always remembering to 'faire courtoisie à
l'oiseau,' that is, to allow the bird to taste the quarry."

A squeal from one of the falcons interrupted her, and she arose to
adjust the longe which had become whipped about the bloc, but the bird
still flapped its wings and screamed.

"What is the matter?" she said; "Philip, can you see?"

I looked around and at first saw nothing to cause the commotion which
was now heightened by the screams and flapping of all the birds. Then
my eye fell upon the flat rock beside the stream from which the girl
had risen. A gray serpent was moving slowly across the surface of the
bowlder, and the eyes in its flat triangular head sparkled like jet.

"A couleuvre," she said quietly.

"Is it harmless, is it nor?" I asked.

She pointed to the black V-shaped figure on the neck.

"It is certain death," she said; "it is a viper."

We watched the reptile moving slowly over the smooth rock to where the
sunlight fell in a broad warm patch.

I started forward to examine it, but she clung to arm crying, "Don't,
Philip, I am afraid."

"For me?"

"For you, Philip,--I love you."

Then I took her in my arms and kissed her on the lips, but all I could
say was: "Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeanne." And as she lay trembling on my
breast, something struck my foot in the grass below, but I did not
heed it. Then again something struck my ankle, and a sharp pain shot
through me. I looked into the sweet face of Jeanne d'Ys and kissed
her, and with all my strength lifted her in my arms and flung her from
me. Then bending, I tore the viper from my ankle and set my heel upon
its head. I remember feeling weak and numb,--I remember falling to the
ground. Through my slowly glazing eyes I saw Jeanne's white face
bending close to mine, and when the light in my eyes went out I still
felt her arms about my neck, and her soft cheek against my drawn lips.

* * *

When I opened my eyes, I looked around in terror. Jeanne was gone. I
saw the stream and the flat rock; I saw the crushed viper in the grass
beside me, but the hawks and blocs had disappeared. I sprang to my
feet. The garden, the fruit trees, the drawbridge and the walled court
were gone. I stared stupidly at a heap of crumbling ruins, ivy-covered
and gray, through which great trees had pushed their way. I crept
forward, dragging my numbed foot, and as I moved, a falcon sailed from
the tree-tops among the ruins, and soaring, mounting in narrowing
circles, faded and vanished in the clouds above.

"Jeanne. Jeanne," I cried, but my voice died on my lips, and I fell on
my knees among the weeds. And as God willed it, I, not knowing, had
fallen kneeling before a crumbling shrine carved in stone for our
Mother of Sorrows. I saw the sad face of the Virgin wrought in the
cold stone. I saw the cross and thorns at her feet, and beneath it I
read:

"Pray for the soul of the
Demoiselle Jeanne d'Ys.
who died
in her youth for love of
Philip, a Stranger
A.D. 1573."

But upon the icy slab lay a woman's glove still warm and fragrant.



OUT OF THE DEPTHS

Dust and wind had subsided, there seemed to be a hint of rain in the
starless west.

Because the August evening had become oppressive, the club windows
stood wide open as though gaping for the outer air. Rugs and curtains
had been removed; an incandescent light or two accentuated the
emptiness of the rooms; here and there shadowy servants prowled, gilt
buttons sparkling through the obscurity, their footsteps on the bare
floor intensifying the heavy quiet.

Into this week's-end void wandered young Shannon, drifting aimlessly
from library to corridor, finally entering the long room where the
portraits of dead governors smirked through the windows at the
deserted avenue.

As his steps echoed on the rugless floor, a shadowy something detached
itself from the depths of a padded armchair by the corner window, and
a voice he recognized greeted him by name.

"You here, Harrod!" he exclaimed. "Thought you were at Bar Harbor."

"I was. I had business in town."

"Do you stay here long?"

"Not long," said Harrod slowly.

Shannon dropped into a chair with a yawn which ended in a groan.

"Of all God-forsaken places," he began, "a New York club in August."

Harrod touched an electric button, but no servant answered the call;
and presently Shannon, sprawling in his chair, jabbed the button with
the ferrule of his walking stick, and a servant took the order,
repeating as though he had not understood: "Did you say two, sir?"

"With olives, dry," nodded Shannon irritably. They sat there in
silence until the tinkle of ice aroused them, and---"Double luck to
you," muttered Shannon; then, with a scarcely audible sigh: "Bring two
more and bring a dinner card." And, turning to the older man: "You're
dining, Harrod?"

"If you like."

A servant came and turned on an electric jet; Shannon scanned the card
under the pale radiance, scribbled on the pad, and handed it to the
servant.

"Did you put down my name?" asked Harrod curiously.

"No; you'll dine with me--if you don't mind."

"I don't mind--for this last time."

"Going away again?"

"Yes."

Shannon signed the blank and glanced up at his friend. "Are you well?"
he asked abruptly.

Harrod, lying deep in his leather chair, nodded.

"Oh, you're rather white around the gills! We'll have another."

"I thought you had cut that out, Shannon."

"Cut what out?"

"Drinking."

"Well, I haven't," said Shannon sulkily, lifting his glass and
throwing one knee over the other.

"The last time I saw you, you said you would cut it," observed Harrod.

"Well, what of it?"

"But you haven't?"

"No, my friend."

"Can't you stop?"

"I could--now. To-morrow--I don't know; but I know well enough I
couldn't day after to-morrow. And day after to-morrow I shall not
care."

A short silence and Harrod said: "That's why I came back here."

"What?"

"To stop you."

Shannon regarded him in sullen amazement.

A servant announcing dinner brought them to their feet; together they
walked out into the empty dining room and seated themselves by an open
window.

Presently Shannon looked up with an impatient laugh.

"For Heaven's sake let's be cheerful, Harrod. If you knew how the
damned town had got on my nerves."

"That's what I came back for, too," said Harrod with his strange white
smile. "I knew the world was fighting you to the ropes."

"It is; here I stay on, day after day, on the faint chance of
something doing." He shrugged his shoulders. "Business is worse than
dead; I can't hold on much longer. You're right; the world has
hammered me to the ropes, and it will be down and out for me unless--"

"Unless you can borrow on your own terms?"

"Yes, but I can't."

"You are mistaken."

"Mistaken? Who will--"

"I will."

"You! Why, man, do you know how much I need? Do you know for how long
I shall need it? Do you know what the chances are of my making good?
You! Why, Harrod, I'd swamp you! You can't afford--"

"I can afford anything--now."

Shannon stared. "You have struck something?"

"Something that puts me beyond want." He fumbled in his breast pocket,
drew out a portfolio, and from the flat leather case he produced a
numbered check bearing his signature, but not filled out.

"Tell them to bring pen and ink," he said.

Shannon, perplexed, signed to a waiter. When the ink was brought,
Harrod motioned Shannon to take the pen. "Before I went to Bar
Harbor," he said, "I had a certain sum--" He hesitated, mentioned this
sum in a low voice, and asked Shannon to fill in the check for that
amount. "Now blot it, pocket it, and use it," he added listlessly,
looking out into the lamp-lighted street.

Shannon, whiter than his friend, stared at the bit of perforated
yellow paper.

"I can't take it," he stammered; "my security is rotten, I tell you.

"I want no security; I--I am beyond want," said Harrod. "Take it; I came
back here for this---partly for this."

"Came back here to--to--help me!"

"To help you. Shannon, I had been a lonely man in life; I think you
never realized how much your friendship has been to me. I had
nobody---no intimacies. You never understood--you with all your
friends--that I cared more for our casual companionship than for
anything in the world."

Shannon bent his head. "I did not know it," he said.

Harrod raised his eyes and looked up at the starless sky; Shannon ate
in silence; into his young face, already marred by dissipation, a
strange light had come. And little by little order began to emerge
from his whirling senses; he saw across an abyss a bridge glittering,
and beyond that, beckoning to him through a white glory, all that his
heart desired.

"I was at the ropes," he muttered; "how could you know it, Harrod?
I---I never whined--"

"I know more than I did--yesterday," said Harrod, resting his pale
face on one thin hand.

Shannon, nerves on edge, all aquiver, the blood racing through every
vein, began to speak excitedly: "It's like a dream--one of the blessed
sort--Harrod! Harrod!--the dreams I've had this last year! And I try--
I try to understand what has happened--what you have done for me. I
can't--I'm shaking all over, and I suppose I'm sitting here eating and
drinking, but--"

He touched his glass blindly; it tipped and crashed to the floor, the
breaking froth of the wine hissing on the cloth.

"Harrod! Harrod! What sort of a man am I to deserve this of you? What
can I do--"

"Keep your nerve--for one thing."

"I will!--you mean that!" touching the stem of the new glass, which
the waiter had brought and was filling. He struck the glass till it
rang out a clear, thrilling, crystalline note, then struck it more
sharply. It splintered with a soft splashing crash. "Is that all?" he
laughed.

"No, not all."

"What more will you let me do?"

"One thing more. Tell them to serve coffee below."

So they passed out of the dining room, through the deserted corridors,
and descended the stairway to the lounging room. It was unlighted and
empty; Shannon stepped back and the elder man passed him and took the
corner chair by the window--the same seat  where Shannon had first
seen him sitting ten years before, and where he always looked to find
him after the ending of a business day. And continuing his thoughts,
the younger man spoke aloud impulsively: "I remember perfectly well
how we met. Do you? You had just come back to town from Bar Harbor,
and I saw you stroll in and seat yourself in that corner, and, because
I was sitting next you, you asked if you might include me in your
order--do you remember?"

"Yes, I remember."

"And I told you I was a new member here, and you pointed our the
portraits of all those dead governors of the club, and told me what
good fellows they had been. I found our later that you yourself were a
governor of the club."

"Yes--I was."

Harrod's shadowy face swerved toward the window, his eyes resting on
the familiar avenue, empty now save for the policeman opposite, and
the ragged children of the poor. In August the high tide from the
slums washes Fifth Avenue, stranding a gasping flotsam at the
thresholds of the absent.

"And I remember, too, what you told me," continued Shannon.

"What?" said Harrod, turning noiselessly to confront his friend.

"About that child. Do you remember? That beautiful child you saw?
Don't you remember that you told me how she used to leave her
governess and talk to you on the rocks--"

"Yes," said Harrod. "That, too, is why I came back here to tell you
the rest. For the evil days have come to her, Shannon, and the years
draw nigh. Listen to me."

There was a silence; Shannon, mute and perplexed, set his coffee on
the window sill and leaned back, flicking the ashes from his cigar;
Harrod passed his hands slowly over his hollow temples: "Her parents
are dead; she is not yet twenty; she is not equipped to support
herself in life; and--she is beautiful. What chance has she, Shannon?"

The other was silent.

"What chance?" repeated Harrod. "And, when I tell you that she is
unsuspicious, and that she reasons only with her heart, answer me--
what chance has she with a man? For you know men, and so do I,
Shannon, so do I."

"Who is she, Harrod?"

"The victim of divorced parents--awarded to her mother. Let her
parents answer; they are answering now, Shannon. But their plea is no
concern of yours. What concerns you is the living. The child, grown to
womanhood, is here, advertising for employment--here in New York,
asking for a chance. What chance has she?"

"When did you learn this?" asked Shannon soberly.

"I learned it to-night--everything concerning her--to-night--an hour
before I--I met you. That is why I returned. Shannon, listen to me
attentively; listen to every word I say. Do you remember a passing
fancy you had this spring for a blue-eyed girl you met every morning
on your way downtown? Do you remember that, as the days went on,
little by little she came to return your glance?--then your smile?--
then, at last, your greeting? And do you remember, once, that you told
me about it in a moment of depression--told me that you were close to
infatuation, that you believed her to be everything sweet and
innocent, that you dared nor drift any farther, knowing the chances
and knowing the end--bitter unhappiness either way, whether in guilt
or innocence--"

"I remember," said Shannon hoarsely. "But that is not--cannot be--"

"That is the girl."

"Not the child you told me of--"

"Yes."

"How--when did you know--"

"To-night. I know more than that, Shannon. You will learn it later.
Now ask me again, what it is that you may do."

"I ask it," said Shannon under his breath. "What am I to do?"

For a long while Harrod sat silent, staring out of the dark window;
then, "It is time for us to go."

"You wish to go out?"

"Yes; we will walk together for a little while--as we did in the old
days, Shannon--only a little while, for I must be going back."

"Where are you going, Harrod?"

But the elder man had already risen and moved toward the door; and
Shannon picked up his hat and followed him our across the dusky lamp-
lighted street.

Into the avenue they passed under the white, unsteady radiance of arc
lights which drooped like huge lilies from stalks of bronze; here and
there the front of some hotel lifted like a cliff, its window-pierced
façade pulsating with yellow light, or a white marble mass, cold and
burned out, spread a sea of shadow over the glimmering asphalt. At
times the lighted lamps of cabs flashed in their faces; at times
figures passed like spectres; but into the street where they were now
turning were neither lamps nor people nor sound, nor any light, save,
far in the obscure vista, a dull hint of lightning edging the west.

Twice Shannon had stopped, peering at Harrod, who neither halted nor
slackened his steady, noiseless pace; and the younger man, hesitating,
moved on again, quickening his steps to his friend's side.

"Where are--are you going?"

"Do you not know?"

The color died our of Shannon's face; he spoke again, forming his
words slowly with dry lips:

"Harrod, why--why do you come into this street--to-night? What do you
know? How do you know? I tell you I--I cannot endure this--this
tension--"

"She is enduring it."

"Good God!"

"Yes, God is good," said Harrod, turning his haggard face as they
halted. "Answer me, Shannon, where are we going?"

"To--her. You know it! Harrod! Harrod! How did you know? I--I did not
know myself until an hour before I met you; I had not see her in
weeks--I had not dared to--for all trust in self was dead. To-day,
downtown, I faced the crash and saw across to-morrow the end of all.
Then, in my journey hellward to-night, just at dusk, we passed each
other, and before I understood what I had done we were side by side.
And almost instantly---I don't know how--she seemed to sense the ruin
before us both--for mine was heavy on my soul, Harrod, as I stood,
measuring damnation with smiling eyes--at the brink of it, there. And
she knew I was adrift at last."

He looked up at the house before him. "I said I would come. She
neither assented nor denied me, nor asked a question. But in her eyes,
Harrod, I saw what one sees in the eyes of children, and it stunned
me... What shall I do?"

"Go to her and look again," said Harrod. "That is what I have come to
ask of you. Good-by."

He turned, his shadowy face drooping, and Shannon followed to the
avenue. There, in the white outbreak of electric lamps, he saw Harrod
again as he had always known him, a hint of a smile in his worn eyes,
the well-shaped mouth edged with laughter, and he was saying: "It's
all in a lifetime, Shannon--and more than you suspect--much more. You
have not told me her name yet?"

"I do not know it."

"Ah, she will tell you if you ask! Say to her that I remember her
there on the sea rocks. Say to her that I have searched for her
always, but that it was only to-night I knew what to-morrow she shall
know and you, Shannon, you, too, shall know. Good-by."

"Harrod! wait. Don't--don't go--"

He turned and looked back at the younger man with that familiar
gesture he knew so well.

It was final, and Shannon swung blindly on his heel and entered the
street again, eyes raised to the high lighted window under which he
had laired a moment before. Then he mounted the steps, groped in the
vestibule for the illuminated number, and touched the electric knob.
The door swung open noiselessly as he entered, closing behind him with
a soft click.

Up he sped, mounting stair on stair, threading the narrow hallways,
then upward again, until of a sudden she stood confronting him, bent
forward, white hands tightening on the banisters.

Neither spoke. She straightened slowly, fingers relaxing from the
polished rail. Over her shoulders he saw a lamplighted room, and she
turned and looked backward at the threshold and covered her face with
both hands.

"What is it?" he whispered, bending close to her. "Why do you tremble?
You need noT. There is nothing in all the world you need fear. Look
into my eyes. Even a child may read them now.
"
Her hands fell from her face and their eyes met, and what she read in
his, and he in hers, God knows, for she swayed where she stood, lids
closing; yielding hands and lips and throat and hair.

She cried, too, later, her hands on his shoulders where he knelt
beside her, holding him at arm's length from her fresh young face to
search his for the menace she once had read there. But it was gone--
that menace she had read and vaguely understood, and she cried a
little more, one arm around his head pressed close to her side.

"From the very first--the first moment I saw you," he said under his
breath, answering the question aquiver on her lips--lips divinely
merciful, repeating the lovers' creed and the confession of faith for
which, perhaps, all souls in love are shriven in the end.

"Naida! Naida!"--for he had learned her name and could nor have enough
of it--"all that the world holds for me of good is here, circled by my
arms. Nor mine the manhood to win out, alone--but there is a man who
came to me to-night and stood sponsor for the falling soul within me."

"How he knew my peril and yours, God knows. But he came like Fate and
held his buckler before me, and he led me here and set a flaming sword
before your door--the door of the child he loved--there on the sea
rocks ten years ago. Do you remember? He said you would. And he is no
archangel--this man among men, this friend with whom, unknowing, I
have this night wrestled face to face. His name is Harrod."

"My name!" She stood up straight and pale, within the circle of his
arms; he rose, too, speechless, uncertain--then faced her, white and
appalled.

She said: "He--he followed us to Bar Harbor. I was a child, I
remember. I hid from my governess and talked with him on the rocks.
Then we went away. I--I lost my father." Staring at her, his
stiffening lips formed a word, but no sound came.

"Bring him to me!" she whispered. "How can he know I am here and stay
away! Does he think I have forgotten? Does he think shame of me? Bring
him to me!"

She caught his hands in hers and kissed them passionately; she framed
his face in her small hands of a child and looked deep, deep into his
eyes: "Oh, the happiness you have brought! I love you! You with whom I
am to enter Paradise! Now bring him to me!"

Shaking, amazed, stunned in a whirl of happiness and doubt, he crept
down the black stairway, feeling his way. The doors swung noiselessly;
he was almost running when he turned into the avenue. The trail of
white lights starred his path; the solitary street echoed his haste;
and now he sprang into the wide doorway of the club, and as he passed,
the desk clerk leaned forward, handing him a telegram. He took it,
halted, breathing heavily, and asked for his friend.

"Mr. Harrod?" repeated the clerk. "Mr. Harrod has not been here in a
month, sir."

"What? I dined with Mr. Harrod here at eight o'clock!" he laughed.

"Sir? I--I beg your pardon, sir, but you dined here alone to-night--"

"Send for the steward!" broke in Shannon impatiently, slapping his
open palm with the yellow envelope. The steward came, followed by the
butler, and to a quick question from the desk clerk, replied: "Mr.
Harrod has not been in the club for six weeks."

"But I dined with Mr. Harrod at eight! Wilkins, did you not serve us?"

"I served you, sir; you dined alone--" The butler hesitated, coughed
discreetly; and the steward added: "You ordered for two, sir--"

Something in the steward's troubled face silenced Shannon; the butler
ventured: "Beg pardon, sir, but we--the waiters thought you might be--
ill, seeing how you talked to yourself and called for ink to write
upon the cloth and broke two glasses, laughing like--"

Shannon staggered, turning a ghastly visage from one to another. Then
his dazed gaze centered upon the telegram crushed in his hand, and
shaking from head to foot, he smoothed it out and opened the envelope.

But it was purely a matter of business; he was requested to come to
Bar Harbor and identify a useless check, drawn to his order, and
perhaps aid to identify the body of a drowned man in the morgue.



A PLEASANT EVENING

Et pis, doucett'ment on s'endort.
On fait sa carne, on fait sa sorgue.
On ronfle, et, comme un tuyan d'orgue.
L'tuyan s'met à ronfler pus fort...

Aristide Bruant



Chapter I



As I stepped upon the platform of a Broadway cable-car at Forty-second
Street, some body said:

"Hello, Hilton, Jamison's looking for you."

"Hello, Curtis," I replied, "what does Jamison want?"

"He wants to know what you've been doing all the week," said Curtis,
hanging desperately to the railing as the car lurched forward; "he
says you seem to think that the Manhattan Illustrated Weekly was
created for the sole purpose of providing salary and vacations for
you."

"The shifty old tom-cat!" I said, indignantly, "he knows well enough
where I've been. Vacation! Does he think the State Camp in June is a
snap?"

"Oh," said Curtis, "you've been to Peekskill?"

"I should say so," I replied, my wrath rising as I thought of my
assignment.

"Hot?" inquired Curtis, dreamily.

"One hundred and three in the shade," I answered. "Jamison wanted
three full pages and three half pages, all for process work, and a lot
of line drawings into the bargain. I could have faked them--I wish I
had. I was fool enough to hustle and break my neck to get some honest
drawings, and that's the thanks I get!"

"Did you have a camera?"

"No. I will next time--I'll waste no more conscientious work on
Jamison," I said sulkily.

"It doesn't pay," said Curtis. "When I have military work assigned me,
I don't do the dashing sketch-artist act, you bet; I go to my studio,
light my pipe, pull out a lot of old Illustrated London News, select
several suitable battle scenes by Caton Woodville--and use 'em too."

The car shot around the neck-breaking curve at Fourteenth Street.

"Yes," continued Curtis, as the car stopped in front of the Morton
House for a moment, then plunged forward again amid a furious clanging
of gongs, "it doesn't pay to do decent work for the fat-headed men who
run the Manhattan Illustrated. They don't appreciate it."

"I think the public does," I said, "but I'm sure Jamison doesn't. It
would serve him right if I did what most of you fellows do--take a lot
of Caton Woodville's and Thulstrup's drawings, change the uniforms,
'chic' a figure or two, and turn in a drawing labelled 'from life.'
I'm sick of this sort of thing anyway. Almost every day this week I've
been chasing myself over that tropical camp, or galloping in the wake
of those batteries. I've got a full page of the 'camp by moonlight,'
full pages of 'artillery drill' and 'light battery in action,' and a
dozen smaller drawings that cost me more groans and perspiration than
Jamison ever knew in all his lymphatic life!"

"Jamison's got wheels," said Curtis,--"more wheels than there are
bicycles in Harlem. He wants you to do a full page by Saturday."

"A what?" I exclaimed, aghast.

"Yes he does.He was going to send Jim Crawford, but Jim expects to go
to California for the winter fair, and you've got to do it."

"What is it?" I demanded savagely.

"The animals in Central Park," chuckled Curtis.

I was furious. The animals! Indeed! I'd show Jamison that I was
entitled to some consideration! This was Thursday; that gave me a day
and a half to finish a full-page drawing for the paper, and, after my
work at the State Camp I felt that I was entitled to a little rest.
Anyway I objected to the subject. I intended to tell Jamison so--I
intended to tell him firmly. However, many of the things that we often
intended to tell Jamison were never told. He was a peculiar man, fat-
faced, thin-lipped, gentle-voiced, mild-mannered, and soft in his
movements as a pussy-cat.

Just why our firmness should give way when we were actually in his
presence, I have never quite been able to determine. He said very
little--so did we, although we often entered his presence with other
intentions.

The truth was that the Manhattan Illustrated Weekly was the best
paying, best illustrated paper in America, and we young fellows were
not anxious to be cast adrift. Jamison's knowledge of art was probably
as extensive as the knowledge of any 'Art editor' in the city. Of
course that was saying nothing, but the fact merited careful
consideration on our part, and we gave it much consideration.

This time, however, I decided to let Jamison know that drawings are
not produced by the yard, and that I was neither a floor-walker nor a
hand-me-down. I would stand up for my rights; I'd tell old Jamison a
few things to set the wheels under his silk hat spinning, and if he
attempted any of his pussy-cat ways on me, I'd give him a few plain
facts that would curl what hair he had left.

Glowing with a splendid indignation I jumped off the car at the City
Hall, followed by Curtis, and a few minutes later entered the office
of the Manhattan Illustrated News.

"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said one of the compositors
as I passed into the long hallway. I threw my drawings on the table
and passed a handkerchief over my forehead.

"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said a small freckle-faced
boy with a smudge of ink on his nose.

"I know it," I said, and started to remove my gloves.

"Mr. Jamison would like to see you, sir," said a lank messenger who
was carrying a bundle of proofs to the floor below.

"The deuce take Jamison," I said to myself I started toward the dark
passage that leads to the abode of Jamison, running over in my mind
the neat and sarcastic speech which I had been composing during the
last ten minutes.

Jamison looked up and nodded softly as I entered the room. I forgot my
speech.

"Mr. Hilton," he said, "we want a full page of the Zoo before it is
removed to Bronx Park. Saturday afternoon at three o'clock the drawing
must be in the engraver's hands. Did you have a pleasant week in
camp?"

"It was hot," I muttered, furious to find that I could not remember my
little speech.

"The weather," said Jamison, with soft courtesy, "is oppressive
everywhere. Are your drawings in, Mr. Hilton?"

"Yes. It was infernally hot and I worked like a nigger--"

"I suppose you were quite overcome. Is that why you took a two days'
trip to the Catskills? I trust the mountain air restored you--but--was
it prudent to go to Cranston's for the cotillion Tuesday? Dancing in
such uncomfortable weather is really unwise. Good-morning, Mr. Hilton,
remember the engraver should have your drawings on Saturday by three."

I walked out, half hypnotized, half enraged. Curtis grinned at me as I
passed--I could have boxed his ears.

"Why the mischief should I lose my tongue whenever that old tom-cat
purrs!" I asked myself as I entered the elevator and was shot down to
the first floor. "I'll not put up with this sort of thing much
longer--how in the name of all that's foxy did he know that I went to
the mountains? I suppose he thinks I'm lazy because I don't wish to be
boiled to death. How did he know about the dance at Cranston's? Old
cat!"

The roar and turmoil of machinery and busy men filled my ears as I
crossed the avenue and turned into the City Hall Park.

From the staff on the tower the flag drooped in the warm sunshine with
scarcely a breeze to lift its crimson bars. Overhead stretched a
splendid cloudless sky, deep, deep blue, thrilling, scintillating in
the gemmed rays of the sun.

Pigeons wheeled and circled about the roof of the grey Post Office or
dropped out of the blue above to flutter around the fountain in the
square.

On the steps of the City Hall the unlovely politician lounged,
exploring his heavy under jaw with wooden toothpick, twisting his
drooping black moustache, or distributing tobacco juice over marble
steps and close-clipped grass.

My eyes wandered from these human vermin to the calm scornful face of
Nathan Hale, on his pedestal, and then to the grey-coated Park
policeman whose occupation was to keep little children from the cool
grass.

A young man with thin hands and blue circles under his eyes was
slumbering on a bench by the fountain, and the policeman walked over
to him and struck him on the soles of his shoes with a short club.

The young man rose mechanically, stared about, dazed by the sun,
shivered, and limped away.

I saw him sit down on the steps of the white marble building, and I
went over and spoke to him.

He neither looked at me, nor did he notice the coin I offered.

"You're sick," I said, "you had better go to the hospital."

"Where?" he asked vacantly--"I've been, but they wouldn't receive me."

He stooped and tied the bit of string that held what remained of his
shoe to his foot.

"You are French," I said.

"Yes."

"Have you no friends? Have you been to the French Consul?"

"The Consul!" he replied; "no, I haven't been to the French Consul."

After a moment I said, "You speak like a gentleman."

He rose to his feet and stood very straight, looking me, for the first
time, directly in the eyes.

"Who are you?" I asked abruptly.

"An outcast," he said, without emotion, and limped off thrusting his
hands into his ragged pockets.

"Huh!" said the Park policeman who had come up behind me in time to
hear my question and the vagabond's answer; "don't you know who that
hobo is?--An' you a newspaper man!"

"Who is he, Cusick?" I demanded, watching the thin shabby figure
moving across Broadway toward the river.

"On the level you don't know, Mr. Hilton?" repeated Cusick,
suspiciously.

"No, I don't; I never before laid eyes on him."

"Why," said the sparrow policeman, "that's 'Soger Charlie';--you
remember--that French officer what sold secrets to the Dutch Emperor."

"And was to have been shot? I remember now, four years ago--and he
escaped--you mean to say that is the man?"

"Everybody knows it," sniffed Cusick, "I'd a-thought you newspaper
gents would have knowed it first."

"What was his name?" I asked after a moment's thought.

"Soger Charlie--"

"I mean his name at home."

"Oh, some French dago name. No Frenchman will speak to him here;
sometimes they curse him and kick him. I guess he's dyin' by inches."

I remembered the case now. Two young French cavalry officers were
arrested, charged with selling plans of fortifications and other
military secrets to the Germans. On the eve of their conviction, one
of them, Heaven only knows how, escaped and turned up in New York. The
other was duly shot. The affair had made some noise, because both
young men were of good families. It was a painful episode, and I had
hastened to forget it. Now that it was recalled to my mind, I
remembered the newspaper accounts of the case, but I had forgotten the
names of the miserable young men.

"Sold his country," observed Cusick, watching a group of children out
of the corner of his eyes--"you can't trust no Frenchman nor dagoes
nor Dutchmen either. I guess Yankees are about the only white men."

I looked at the noble face of Nathan Hale and nodded.

"Nothin' sneaky about us, eh, Mr. Hilton?"

I thought of Benedict Arnold and looked at my boots.

Then the policeman said, "Well, so long, Mr. Hilton," and went away to
frighten a pasty-faced little girl who had climbed upon the railing
and was leaning down to sniff the fragrant grass.

"Cheese it, de cop!" cried her shrill-voiced friends, and the whole
bevy of small ragamuffins scuttled away across the square.

With a feeling of depression I turned and walked toward Broadway,
where the long yellow cable-cars swept up and down, and the din of
gongs and the deafening rumble of heavy trucks echoed from the marble
walls of the Court House to the granite mass of the Post Office.

Throngs of hurrying busy people passed up town and down town, slim
sober-faced clerks, trim cold-eyed brokers, here and there a red-
necked politician linking arms with some favourite heeler, here and
there a City Hall lawyer, sallow-faced and saturnine. Sometimes a
fireman, in his severe blue uniform, passed through the crowd,
sometimes a blue-coated policeman, mopping his clipped hair, holding
his helmet in his white-gloved hand. There were women too, pale-faced
shop girls with pretty eyes, tall blonde girls who might be
typewriters and might not, and many, many older women whose business
in that part of the city no human being could venture to guess, but
who hurried up town and down town, all occupied with something that
gave to the whole restless throng a common likeness--the expression of
one who hastens toward a hopeless goal.

I knew some of those who passed me. There was little Jocelyn of the
Mail and Express; there was Hood, who had more money than he wanted
and was going to have less than he wanted when he left Wall Street;
there was Colonel Tidmouse of the 45th Infantry, N.G.S.N.Y, probably
coming from the office of the Army and Navy Journal, and there was
Dick Harding who wrote the best stories of New York life that have
been printed. People said his hat no longer fitted,---especially
people who also wrote stories of New York life and whose hats
threatened to fit as long as they lived.

I looked at the statue of Nathan Hale, then at the human stream that
flowed around his pedestal.

"Quand même," I muttered and walked out into Broadway, signalling to
the gripman of an uptown cable-car.



Chapter II



I passed into the Park by the Fifth Avenue and 59th Street gate; I
could never bring myself to enter it through the gate that is guarded
by the hideous pigmy statue of Thorwaldsen.

The afternoon sun poured into the windows of the New Netherlands
Hotel, setting every orange-curtained pane a-glitter, and tipping the
wings of the bronze dragons with flame.

Gorgeous masses of flowers blazed in the sunshine from the grey
terraces of the Savoy, from the high grilled court of the Vanderbilt
palace, and from the balconies of the Plaza opposite.

The white marble façade of the Metropolitan Club was a grateful relief
in the universal glare, and I kept my eyes on it until I had crossed
the dusty street and entered the shade of the trees.

Before I came to the Zoo, I smelled it. Next week it was to be removed
to the fresh cool woods and meadows in Bronx Park, far from the
stifling air of the city, far from the infernal noise of the Fifth
Avenue omnibuses.

A noble stag stared at me from his enclosure among the trees as I
passed down the winding asphalt walk. "Never mind, old fellow," said
I, "you will be splashing about in the Bronx River next week and
cropping maple shoots to your heart's content."

On I went, past herds of staring deer, past great lumbering elk, and
moose, and long-faced African antelopes, until I came to the dens of
the great carnivora.

The tigers sprawled in the sunshine, blinking and licking their paws;
the lions slept in the shade or squatted on their haunches, yawning
gravely. A slim panther travelled to and fro behind her barred cage,
pausing at times to peer wistfully out into the free sunny world. My
heart ached for caged wild things, and I walked on, glancing up now
and then to encounter the blank stare of a tiger or the mean shifty
eyes of some ill-smelling hyena.

Across the meadow I could see the elephants swaying and swinging their
great heads, the sober bison solemnly slobbering over their cuds, the
sarcastic countenances of camels, the wicked little zebras, and a lot
more animals of the camel and llama tribe, all resembling each other,
all equally ridiculous, stupid, deadly uninteresting.

Somewhere behind the old arsenal an eagle was screaming, probably a
Yankee eagle; I heard the "rchug! rchug!" of a blowing hippopotamus,
the squeal of a falcon, and the snarling yap! of quarrelling wolves.

"A pleasant place for a hot day!" I pondered bitterly, and I thought
some things about Jamison that I shall not insert in this volume. But
I lighted a cigarette to deaden the aroma from the hyenas, unclasped
my sketching block, sharpened my pencil, and fell to work on a family
group of hippopotami.

They may have taken me for a photographer, for they all wore smiles as
if "welcoming a friend," and my sketch block presented a series of
wide open jaws, behind which shapeless bulky bodies vanished in
alarming perspective.

The alligators were easy; they looked to me as though they had not
moved since the founding of the Zoo, but I had a bad time with the big
bison, who persistently turned his tail to me, looking stolidly around
his flank to see how I stood it. So I pretended to be absorbed in the
antics of two bear cubs, and the dreary old bison fell into the trap,
for I made some good sketches of him and laughed in his face as I
closed the book.

There was a bench by the abode of the eagles, and I sat down on it to
draw the vultures and condors, motionless as mummies among the piled
rocks. Gradually I enlarged the sketch, bringing in the gravel plaza,
the steps leading up to Fifth Avenue, the sleepy park policeman in
front of the arsenal--and a slim, white-browed girl, dressed in shabby
black, who stood silently in the shade of the willow trees.

After a while I found that the sketch, instead of being a study of the
eagles, was in reality a composition in which the girl in black
occupied the principal point of interest. Unwittingly I had
subordinated everything else to her, the brooding vultures, the trees
and walks, and the half indicated groups of sun-warmed loungers.

She stood very still, her pallid face bent, her thin white hands
loosely clasped before her.

"Rather dejected reverie," I thought, "probably she's out of work."
Then I caught a glimpse of a sparkling diamond ring on the slender
third finger of her left hand.

"She'll not starve with such a stone as that about her," I said to
myself, looking curiously at her dark eyes and sensitive mouth. They
were both beautiful, eyes and mouth--beautiful, but touched with pain.

After a while I rose and walked back to make a sketch or two of the
lions and tigers. I avoided the monkeys--I can't stand them, and they
never seem funny to me, poor dwarfish, degraded caricatures of all
that is ignoble in ourselves.

"I've enough now," I thought; "I'll go home and manufacture a full
page that will probably please Jamison." So I strapped the elastic
band around my sketching block, replaced pencil and rubber in my
waistcoat pocket, and strolled off toward the Mall to smoke a
cigarette in the evening glow before going back to my studio to work
until midnight, up to the chin in charcoal grey and Chinese white.

Across the long meadow I could see the roofs of the city faintly
looming above the trees. A mist of amethyst, ever deepening, hung low
on the horizon, and through it, steeple and dome, roof and tower, and
the tall chimneys where thin fillets of smoke curled idly, were
transformed into pinnacles of beryl and flaming minarets, swimming in
filmy haze. Slowly the enchantment deepened; all that was ugly and
shabby and mean had fallen away from the distant city, and now it
towered into the evening sky, splendid, gilded, magnificent, purified
in the fierce furnace of the setting sun.

The red disk was half hidden now; the tracery of trees, feathery
willow and budding birch, darkened against the glow; the fiery rays
shot far across the meadow, gilding the dead leaves, staining with
soft crimson the dark moist tree trunks around me.

Far across the meadow a shepherd passed in the wake of a huddling
flock, his dog at his heels, faint moving blots of grey.

A squirrel sat up on the gravel walk in front of me, ran a few feet,
and sat up again, so close that I could see the palpitation of his
sleek flanks.

Somewhere in the grass a hidden field insect was rehearsing last
summer's solos; I heard the tap! tap! tat-tat-t-t-tat! of a woodpecker
among the branches overhead and the querulous note of a sleepy robin.

The twilight deepened; out of the city the music of bells floated over
wood and meadow; faint mellow whistles sounded from the river craft
along the north shore, and the distant thunder of a gun announced the
close of a June day.

The end of my cigarette began to glimmer with a redder light; shepherd
and flock were blotted out in the dusk, and I only knew they were
still moving when the sheep bells tinkled faintly.

Then suddenly that strange uneasiness that all have known--that half-
awakened sense of having seen it all before, of having been through it
all, came over me, and I raised my head and slowly turned.

A figure was seated at my side. My mind was struggling with the
instinct to remember.

Something so vague and yet so familiar--something that eluded thought
yet challenged it, something--God knows what! troubled me. And now, as
I looked, without interest, at the dark figure beside me, an
apprehension, totally involuntary, an impatience to understand, came
upon me, and I sighed and turned restlessly again to the fading west.

I thought I heard my sigh re-echoed--I scarcely heeded; and in a
moment I sighed again, dropping my burned-out cigarette on the gravel
beneath my feet.

"Did you speak to me?" said some one in a low voice, so close that I
swung around rather sharply.

"No," I said after a moment's silence.

It was a woman. I could not see her face clearly, but I saw on her
clasped hands, which lay listlessly in her lap, the sparkle of a great
diamond. I knew her at once. It did not need a glance at the shabby
dress of black, the white face, a pallid spot in the twilight, to tell
me that I had her picture in my sketch-book.

"Do--do you mind if I speak to you?" she asked timidly. The hopeless
sadness in her voice touched me, and I said: "Why, no, of course not.
Can I do anything for you?"

"Yes," she said, brightening a little, "if you--you only would."

"I will if I can," said I, cheerfully; "what is it? Out of ready
cash?"

"No, not that," she said, shrinking back.

I begged her pardon, a little surprised, and withdrew my hand from my
change pocket.

"It is only--only that I wish you to take these,"--she drew a thin
packet from her breast,---"these two letters."

"I?" I asked astonished.

"Yes, if you will."

"But what am I to do with them?" I demanded.

"I can't tell you; I only know that I must give them to you. Will you
take them?"

"Oh, yes, I'll take them," I laughed, "am I to read them?" I added to
myself, "It's some clever begging trick."

"No," she answered slowly, "you are not to read them; you are to give
them to somebody."

"To whom? Anybody?"

"No, not to anybody. You will know whom to give them to when the time
comes.

"Then I am to keep them until further instructions?"

"Your own heart will instruct you," she said, in a scarcely audible
voice. She held the thin packet toward me, and to humor her I took it.
It was wet.

"The letters fell into the sea," she said; "there was a photograph
which should have gone with them but the salt water washed it blank.
Will you care if I ask you something else?"

"I? Oh, no."

"Then give me the picture that you made of me to-day." I laughed
again, and demanded how she knew I had drawn her.

"Is it like me?" she said.

"I think it is very like you," I answered truthfully. "Will you not
give it to me?"

Now it was on the tip of my tongue to refuse, but I reflected that I
had enough sketches for a full page without that one, so I handed it
to her, nodded that she was welcome, and stood up. She rose also, the
diamond flashing on her finger.

"You are sure that you are not in want?" I asked, with a tinge of
good-natured sarcasm.

"Hark!" she whispered; "listen!--do you hear the bells of the
convent!" I looked out into the misty night.

"There are no bells sounding," I said, "and anyway there are no
convent bells here. We are in New York, mademoiselle"--I had noticed
her French accent--"we are in Protestant Yankee-land, and the bells
that ring are much less mellow than the bells of France."

I turned pleasantly to say good-night. She was gone.



Chapter III



"Have you ever drawn a picture of a corpse?" inquired Jamison next
morning as I walked into his private room with a sketch of the
proposed full page of the Zoo.

"No, and I don't want to," I replied, sullenly.

"Let me see your Central Park page," said Jamison in his gentle voice,
and I displayed it. It was about worthless as an artistic production,
but it pleased Jamison, as I knew it would.

"Can you finish it by this afternoon?" he asked, looking up at me with
persuasive eyes.

"Oh, I suppose so," I said, wearily; "anything else, Mr. Jamison?"

"The corpse," he replied, "I want a sketch by to-morrow--finished."

"What corpse?" I demanded, controlling my indignation as I met
Jamison's soft eyes.

There was a mute duel of glances. Jamison passed his hand across his
forehead with a slight lifting of the eyebrows.

"I shall want it as soon as possible," he said in his caressing voice.

What I thought was, "Damned purring pussy-cat!" What I said was,
"Where is this corpse?"

"In the Morgue--have you read the morning papers? No? Ah,--as you very
rightly observe you are too busy to read the morning papers. Young men
must learn industry first, of course, of course. What you are to do is
this: the San Francisco police have sent out an alarm regarding the
disappearance of a Miss Tufft--the millionaire's daughter, you know.
To-day a body was brought to the Morgue here in New York, and it has
been identified as the missing young lady,---by a diamond ring. Now I
am convinced that it isn't, and I'll show you why, Mr. Hilton."

He picked up a pen and made a sketch of a ring on a margin of that
morning's Tribune.

"That is the description of her ring as sent on from San Francisco.
You notice the diamond is set in the centre of the ring where the two
gold serpents' tails cross!

"Now the ring on the finger of the woman in the Morgue is like this,"
and he rapidly sketched another ring where the diamond rested in the
fangs of the two gold serpents.

"That is the difference," he said in his pleasant, even voice.

"Rings like that are not uncommon," said I, remembering that I had
seen such a ring on the finger of the white-faced girl in the Park the
evening before. Then a sudden thought took shape--perhaps that was the
girl whose body lay in the Morgue!

"Well," said Jamison, looking up at me, "what are you thinking about?"

"Nothing," I answered, but the whole scene was before my eyes, the
vultures brooding among the rocks, the shabby black dress, and the
pallid face,--and the ring, glittering on that slim white hand!

"Nothing," I repeated, "when shall I go, Mr. Jamison? Do you want a
portrait--or what?"

"Portrait,--careful drawing of the ring, and,--er--a centre piece of
the Morgue at night. Might as well give people the horrors while we're
about it."

"But," said I, "the policy of this paper--"

"Never mind, Mr. Hilton," purred Jamison, "I am able to direct the
policy of this paper."

"I don't doubt you are," I said angrily.

"I am," he repeated, undisturbed and smiling; "you see this Tufft case
interests society. I am---er--also interested."

He held out to me a morning paper and pointed to a heading.

I read: "Miss Tufft Dead! Her Fiancé was Mr. Jamison, the well known
Editor."

"What!" I cried in horrified amazement. But Jamison had left the room,
and I heard him chatting and laughing softly with some visitors in the
press-room outside.

I flung down the paper and walked out.

"The cold-blooded toad!" I exclaimed again and again;--"making
capital out of his fiancée's disappearance! Well, I--I'm d--nd! I knew
he was a bloodless, heartless grip-penny, but I never thought--I never
imagined--" Words failed me.

Scarcely conscious of what I did I drew a Herald from my pocket and
saw the column entitled:

"Miss Tufft Found! Identified by a Ring. Wild Grief of Mr. Jamison,
her Fiancé."

That was enough. I went out into the street and sat down in City Hall
Park. And, as I sat there, a terrible resolution came to me; I would
draw that dead girl's face in such a way that it would chill Jamison's
sluggish blood, I would crowd the black shadows of the Morgue with
forms and ghastly faces, and every face should bear something in it of
Jamison. Oh, I'd rouse him from his cold snaky apathy! I'd confront
him with Death in such an awful form, that, passionless, base, inhuman
as he was, he'd shrink from it as he would from a dagger thrust. Of
course I'd lose my place, but that did not bother me, for I had
decided to resign anyway, not having a taste for the society of human
reptiles. And, as I sat there in the sunny park, furious, trying to
plan a picture whose sombre horror should leave in his mind an
ineffaceable scar, I suddenly thought of the pale black-robed girl in
Central Park. Could it be her poor slender body that lay among the
shadows of the grim Morgue! If ever brooding despair was stamped on
any face, I had seen its print on hers when she spoke to me in the
Park and gave me the letters. The letters! I had not thought of them
since, but now I drew them from my pocket and looked at the addresses.

"Curious," I thought, "the letters are still damp; they smell of salt
water too."

I looked at the address again, written in the long fine hand of an
educated woman who had been bred in a French convent. Both letters
bore the same address, in French:

"Captain d'Yniol.

(Kindness of a Stranger.)"

"Captain d'Yniol," I repeated aloud--"confound it, I've heard that
name! Now, where the deuce--where in the name of all that's queer--"
Somebody who had sat down on the bench beside me placed a heavy hand
on my shoulder.

It was the Frenchman, "Soger Charlie."

"You spoke my name," he said in apathetic tones.

"Your name!"

"Captain d'Yniol," he repeated; "it is my name."

I recognized him in spite of the black goggles he was wearing, and, at
the same moment, it flashed into my mind that d'Yniol was the name of
the traitor who had escaped. Ah, I remembered now!

"I am Captain d'Yniol," he said again, and I saw his fingers closing
on my coat sleeve.

It may have been my involuntary movement of recoil,--I don't know,--
bur the fellow dropped my coat and sat straight up on the bench.

"I am Captain d'Yniol." he said for the third rime, "charged with
treason and under sentence of death."

"And innocent!" I muttered, before I was even conscious of having
spoken. What was it that wrung those involuntary words from my lips, I
shall never know, perhaps--but it was I, not he, who trembled, seized
with a strange agitation, and it was I, not he, whose hand was
stretched forth impulsively, touching his.

Without a tremor he took my hand, pressed it almost imperceptibly, and
dropped it. Then I held both letters toward him, and, as he neither
looked at them nor at me, I placed them in his hand. Then he started.

"Read them," I said, "they are for you."

"Letters!" he gasped in a voice that sounded like nothing human.

"Yes, they are for you,--I know it now---Letters!--letters directed to
me?"

"Can you not see?" I cried.

Then he raised one frail hand and drew the goggles from his eyes, and,
as I looked, I saw two tiny white specks exactly in the centre of both
pupils.

"Blind!" I faltered.

"I have been unable to read for two years," he said.

After a moment he placed the tip of one finger on the letters.

"They are wet," I said; "shall--would you like to have me read them?"
For a long time he sat silently in the sunshine, fumbling with his
cane, and I watched him without speaking. At last he said, "Read,
Monsieur," and I rook the letters and broke the seals.

The first letter contained a sheet of paper, damp and discoloured, on
which a few lines were written:

"My darling, I knew you were innocent--" Here the writing ended, but,
in the blur beneath, I read: "Paris shall know--France shall know, for
at last I have the proofs and I am coming to find you, my soldier, and
to place them in your own dear brave hands. They know, now, at the War
Ministry--they have a copy of the traitor's confession---but they dare
not make it public--they dare not withstand the popular astonishment
and rage. Therefore I sail on Monday from Cherbourg by the Green Cross
Line, to bring you back to your own again, where you will stand before
all the world, without fear, without reproach."

"Aline."

"This--this is terrible!" I stammered; "can God live and see such
things done!"

But with his thin hand he gripped my arm again, bidding me read the
other letter; and I shuddered at the menace in his voice.

Then, with his sightless eyes on me, I drew the other letter from the
wet, stained envelope. And before I was aware--before I understood the
purport of what I saw, I had read aloud these half effaced lines:

"The Lorient is sinking--an iceberg--mid-ocean--goodbye you are
innocent--I love--"

"The Lorient!" I cried; "it was the French steamer that was never
heard from--the Lorient of the Green Cross Line! I had forgotten--I--"

The loud crash of a revolver stunned me; my ears rang and ached with
it as I shrank back from a ragged dusty figure that collapsed on the
bench beside me, shuddered a moment, and tumbled to the asphalt at my
feet.

The trampling of the eager hard-eyed crowd, the dust and taint of
powder in the hot air, the harsh alarm of the ambulance clattering up
Mail Street,--these I remember, as I knelt there, helplessly holding
the dead man's hands in mine.

"Soger Charlie," mused the sparrow policeman, "shot his-self, didn't
he, Mr. Hilton? You seen him, sir,--blowed the top of his head off,
didn't he, Mr. Hilton?"

"Soger Charlie," they repeated, "a French dago what shot his-self;"
and the words echoed in my ears long after the ambulance rattled away,
and the increasing throng dispersed, sullenly, as a couple of
policemen cleared a space around the pool of thick blood on the
asphalt.

They wanted me as a witness, and I gave my card to one of the
policemen who knew me. The rabble transferred its fascinated stare to
me, and I turned away and pushed a path between frightened shop girls
and ill-smelling loafers, until I lost myself in the human torrent of
Broadway.

The torrent took me with it where it flowed--East? West?--I did not
notice nor care, but I passed on through the throng, listless, deadly
weary of attempting so solve God's justice---striving to understand
His purpose--His laws--His judgments which are "true and righteous
altogether."



Chapter IV



"More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb!"

I turned sharply toward the speaker who shambled at my elbow. His
sunken eyes were dull and lustreless, his bloodless face gleamed
pallid as a death mask above the blood-red jersey--the emblem of the
soldiers of Christ.

I don't know why I stopped, lingering, but, as he passed, I said,
"Brother, I also was meditating upon God's wisdom and His
testimonies."

The pale fanatic shot a glance at me, hesitated, and fell into my own
pace, walking by my side.

Under the peak of his Salvation Army cap his eyes shone in the shadow
with a strange light.

"Tell me more," I said, sinking my voice below the roar of traffic,
the clang! clang! of the cable-cars, and the noise of feet on the worn
pavements--"tell me of His testimonies."

"Moreover by them is Thy servant warned and in keeping of them there
is great reward. Who can understand His errors? Cleanse Thou me from
secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins. Let
them not have dominion over me. Then shall I be upright and I shall be
innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and
the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight,--O Lord! My
strength and my Redeemer!"

"It is Holy Scripture that you quote," I said; "I also can read that
when I choose. But it cannot clear for me the reasons--it cannot make
me understand--"

"What?" he asked, and muttered to himself.

"That, for instance," I replied, pointing to a cripple, who had been
born deaf and dumb and horridly misshapen,--a wretched diseased lump
on the sidewalk below Sr. Paul's Churchyard,---a sore-eyed thing that
mouthed and mowed and rattled pennies in a tin cup as though the sound
of copper could stem the human pack that passed hot on the scent of
gold.

Then the man who shambled beside me turned and looked long and
earnestly into my eyes.

And after a moment a dull recollection stirred within me--a vague
something that seemed like the awakening memory of a past, long, long
forgotten, dim, dark, too subtle, too frail, too indefinite---ah! the
old feeling that all men have known--the old strange uneasiness, that
useless struggle to remember when and where it all occurred before.

And the man's head sank on his crimson jersey, and he muttered,
muttered to himself of God and love and compassion, until I saw that
the fierce heat of the city had touched his brain, and I went away and
left him prating of mysteries that none but such as he dare name.

So I passed on through dust and heat; and the hot breath of men
touched my cheek and eager eyes looked into mine. Eyes, eyes,--that
met my own and looked through them, beyond--far beyond to where gold
glittered amid the mirage of eternal hope. Gold! It was in the air
where the soft sunlight gilded the floating moats, it was under foot
in the dust that the sun made gilt, it glimmered from every window
pane where the long red beams struck golden sparks above the gasping
gold-hunting hordes of Wall Street.

High, high, in the deepening sky the tall buildings towered, and the
breeze from the bay lifted the sun-dyed flags of commerce until they
waved above the turmoil of the hives below--waved courage and hope and
strength to those who lusted after gold.

The sun dipped low behind Castle William as I turned listlessly into
the Battery, and the long straight shadows of the trees stretched away
over greensward and asphalt walk.

Already the electric lights were glimmering among the foliage althoughthe bay shimmered like polished brass and the topsails of the ships
glowed with a deeper hue, where the red sun rays fell athwart the
rigging.

Old men tottered along the sea-wall, tapping the asphalt with worn
canes, old women crept to and fro in the coming twilight,--old women
who carried baskets that gaped for charity or bulged with mouldy
stuffs,--food, clothing?--I could not tell; I did not care to know.

The heavy thunder from the parapets of Castle William died away over
the placid bay, the last red arm of the sun shot up out of the sea,
and wavered and faded into the sombre tones of the afterglow. Then
came the night, timidly at first, touching sky and water with grey
fingers, folding the foliage into soft massed shapes, creeping onward,
onward, more swiftly now, until colour and form had gone from all the
earth and the world was a world of shadows.

And, as I sat there on the dusky sea-wall, gradually the bitter
thoughts faded and I looked out into the calm night with something of
that peace that comes to all when day is ended.

The death at my very elbow of the poor blind wretch in the Park had
left a shock, but now my nerves relaxed their tension and I began to
think about it all,--about the letters and the strange woman who had
given them to me. I wondered where she had found them,--whether they
really were carried by some vagrant current in to the shore from the
wreck of the fated Lorient.

Nothing but these letters had human eyes encountered from the Lorient,
although we believed that fire or berg had been her portion; for there
had been no storms when the Lorient steamed away from Cherbourg.

And what of the pale-faced girl in black who had given these letters
to me, saying that my own heart would teach me where to place them?

I felt in my pockets for the letters where I had thrust them all
crumpled and wet. They were there, and I decided to turn them over to
the police. Then I thought of Cusick and the City Hall Park and these
set my mind running on Jamison and my own work,--ah! I had forgotten
that,---I had forgotten that I had sworn to stir Jamison's cold,
sluggish blood! Trading on his fiancée's reported suicide,--or murder!
True, he had told me that he was satisfied that the body at the Morgue
was not Miss Tufft's because the ring did not correspond with his
fiancée's ring. But what sort of a man was that!--to go crawling and
nosing about morgues and graves for a full-page illustration which
might sell a few extra thousand papers. I had never known he was such
a man. It was strange too--for that was not the sort of illustration
that the Weekly used; it was against all precedent---against the whole
policy of the paper. He would lose a hundred subscribers where he
would gain one by such work.

"The callous brute!" I muttered to myself, "I'll wake him up--I'll--"

I sat straight up on the bench and looked steadily at a figure which
was moving toward me under the spluttering electric light.

It was the woman I had met in the Park.

She came straight up to me, her pale face gleaming like marble in the
dark, her slim hands outstretched.

"I have been looking for you all day--all day," she said, in the same
low thrilling tones,--"I want the letters back; have you them here?"

"Yes," I said, "I have them here,--take them in Heaven's name; they
have done enough evil for one day!"

She took the letters from my hand; I saw the ring, made of the double
serpents, flashing on her slim finger, and I stepped closer, and
looked her in the eyes.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"I? My name is of no importance to you," she answered.

"You are right," I said, "I do not care to know your name. That ring
of yours--"

"What of my ring?" she murmured.

"Nothing,--a dead woman lying in the Morgue wears such a ring. Do you
know what your letters have done? No? Well I read them to a miserable
wretch and he blew his brains out!"

"You read them to a man!"

"I did. He killed himself."

"Who was that man?"

"Captain d'Yniol--"

With something between a sob and a laugh she seized my hand and
covered it with kisses, and I, astonished and angry, pulled my hand
away from her cold lips and sat down on the bench.

"You needn't thank me," I said sharply; "if I had known that,--but no
matter. Perhaps after all the poor devil is better off somewhere in
other regions with his sweetheart who was drowned,---yes, I imagine he
is. He was blind and ill,--and broken-hearted."

"Blind?" she asked gently.

"Yes. Did you know him?"

"I knew him."

"And his sweetheart, Aline?"

"Aline," she repeated softly,--"she is dead. I come to thank you in
her name."

"For what?--for his death?"

"Ah, yes, for that."

"Where did you get those letters?" I asked her, suddenly.

She did not answer, but stood fingering the wet letters.

Before I could speak again she moved away into the shadows of the
trees, lightly, silently, and far down the dark walk I saw her diamond
flashing.

Grimly brooding, I rose and passed through the Battery to the steps of
the Elevated Road.

These I climbed, bought my ticket, and stepped out to the damp
platform. When a train came I crowded in with the rest, still
pondering on my vengeance, feeling and believing that I was to scourge
the conscience of the man who speculated on death.

And at last the train stopped at 28th Street, and I hurried out and
down the steps and away to the Morgue.

When I entered the Morgue, Skelton, the keeper, was standing before a
slab that glistened faintly under the wretched gas jets. He heard my
footsteps, and turned around to see who was coming. Then he nodded,
saying:

"Mr. Hilton, just take a look at this here stiff--I'll be back in a
moment---this is the one that all the papers take to be Miss Tufft,--
but they're all off, because this stiff has been here now for two
weeks."

I drew out my sketching-block and pencils.

"Which is it, Skelton?" I asked, fumbling for my rubber.

"This one, Mr. Hilton, the girl what's smilin'. Picked up off Sandy
Hook, too. Looks as if she was asleep, eh?"

"What's she got in her hand--clenched tight? Oh,--a letter. Turn up
the gas, Skelton, I want to see her face."

The old man turned the gas jet, and the flame blazed and whistled in
the damp, fetid air. Then suddenly my eyes fell on the dead.

Rigid, scarcely breathing, I stared at the ring, made of two twisted
serpents set with a great diamond,--I saw the wet letters crushed in
her slender hand,--I looked, and--God help me!--I looked upon the dead
face of the girl with whom I had been speaking on the Battery!

"Dead for a month at least," said Skelton, calmly.

Then, as I felt my senses leaving me, I screamed out, and at the same
instant somebody from behind seized my shoulder and shook me
savagely---shook me until I opened my eyes again and gasped and
coughed.

"Now then, young feller!" said a Park policeman bending over me, "if
you go to sleep on a bench, somebody'll lift your watch!"

I turned, rubbing my eyes desperately.

Then it was all a dream--and no shrinking girl had come to me with
damp letters,--I had not gone to the office--there was no such person
as Miss Tufft,--Jamison was not an unfeeling villain,--no, indeed!--he
treated us all much better than we deserved, and he was kind and
generous too. And the ghastly suicide! Thank God that also was a
myth,--and the Morgue and the Battery at night where that pale-faced
girl had--ugh!

I felt for my sketch-block, found it; turned the pages of all the
animals that I had sketched, the hippopotami, the buffalo, the
tigers--ah! where was that sketch in which I had made the woman in
shabby black the principal figure, with the brooding vultures all
around and the crowd in the sunshine--? It was gone.

I hunted everywhere, in every pocket. It was gone.

At last I rose and moved along the narrow asphalt path in the falling
twilight.

And as I turned into the broader walk, I was aware of a group, a
policeman holding a lantern, some gardeners, and a knot of loungers
gathered about something,--a dark mass on the ground.

"Found 'em just so," one of the gardeners was saying, "better not
touch 'em until the coroner comes."

The policeman shifted his bull's-eye a little; the rays fell on two
faces, on two bodies, half supported against a park bench. On the
finger of the girl glittered a splendid diamond, set between the fangs
of two gold serpents. The man had shot himself; he clasped two wet
letters in his hand. The girl's clothing and hair were wringing wet,
and her face was the face of a drowned person.

"Well, sir," said the policeman, looking at me; "you seem to know
these two people--by your looks--"

"I never saw them before," I gasped, and walked on, trembling in every
nerve.

For among the folds of her shabby black dress I had noticed the end of
a paper,--my sketch that I had missed!



THE PURPLE EMPEROR

Un souvenir heureux est peut-être, sur terre.
Plus vrai que le bonheur.

               A. DE MUSSET.



Chapter I.



THE Purple Emperor watched me in silence. I cast again, spinning out
six feet more of waterproof silk, and, as the line hissed through the
air far across the pool, I saw my three flies fall on the water like
drifting thistledown. The Purple Emperor sneered.

"You see," he said, "I am right. There is not a trout in Brittany that
will rise to a tailed fly."

"They do in America," I replied.

"Zut! for America!" observed the Purple Emperor.

"And trout take a tailed fly in England," I insisted sharply.

"Now do I care what things or people do in England?" demanded the
Purple Emperor.

"You don't care for anything except yourself and your wriggling
caterpillars," I said, more annoyed than I had yet been.

The Purple Emperor sniffed. His broad, hairless, sunburnt features
bore that obstinate expression which always irritated me. Perhaps the
manner in which he wore his hat intensified the irritation, for the
flapping brim rested on both ears, and the two little velvet ribbons
which hung from the silver buckle in front wiggled and fluttered with
every trivial breeze. His cunning eyes and sharp-pointed nose were out
of all keeping with his fat red face. When he met my eye, he chuckled.

"I know more about insects than any man in Morbihan--or Finistère
either, for that matter," he said.

"The Red Admiral knows as much as you do," I retorted.

"He doesn't," replied the Purple Emperor angrily.

"And his collection of butterflies is twice as large as yours," I
added, moving down the stream to a spot directly opposite him.

"It is, is it?" sneered the Purple Emperor. "Well, let me tell you,
Monsieur Darrel, in all his collection he hasn't a specimen, a single
specimen, of that magnificent butterfly, Apatura Iris, commonly known
as the 'Purple Emperor.'"

"Everybody in Brittany knows that," I said, casting across the
sparkling water; "but just because you happen to be the only man who
ever captured a 'Purple Emperor' in Morbihan, it--doesn't follow that
you are an authority on sea-trout flies. Why do you say that a Breton
sea-trout won't touch a tailed fly?"

"It's so," he replied.

"Why? There are plenty of May-flies about the stream."

"Let 'em fly!" snarled the Purple Emperor, "you won't see a trout
touch 'em."

My arm was aching, but I grasped my split bamboo more firmly, and,
half turning, waded out into the stream and began to whip the ripples
at the head of the pool. A great green dragon-fly came drifting by on
the summer breeze and hung a moment above the pool, glittering like an
emerald.

"There's a chance! Where is your butterfly net?" I called across the
stream.

"What for? That dragonfly? I've got dozens--Anax Junius, Drury,
characteristic, anal angle of posterior wings, in male, round; thorax
marked with--"

"That will do," I said fiercely. "Can't I point out an insect in the
air without this burst of erudition? Can you tell me, in simple everyday
French, what this little fly is this one, flitting over the eel grass
here beside me? See, it has fallen on the water."

"Huh!" sneered the Purple Emperor, "that's a Linnobia annulus."

"What's that?" I demanded.

Before he could answer there came a heavy splash in the pool, and the
fly disappeared.

"He! he! he!" tittered the Purple Emperor. "Didn't I tell you the fish
knew their business? That was a sea-trout. I hope you don't get him."

He gathered up his butterfly net, collecting box, chloroform bottle,
and cyanide jar. Then he rose, swung the box over his shoulder,
stuffed the poison bottles into the pockets of his silver-buttoned
velvet coat, and lighted his pipe. This latter operation was a
demoralizing spectacle, for the Purple Emperor, like all Breton
peasants, smoked one of those microscopical Breton pipes which
requires ten minutes to find, ten minutes to fill, ten minutes to
light, and ten seconds to finish. With true Breton stolidity he went
through this solemn rite, blew three puffs of smoke into the air,
scratched his pointed nose reflectively, and waddled away, calling
back an ironical "Au revoir, and bad luck to all Yankees!"

I watched him out of sight, thinking sadly of the young girl whose
life he made a hell upon earth--Lys Trevec, his niece. She never
admitted it, but we all knew what the black-and-blue marks meant on
her soft, round arm, and it made me sick to see the look of fear come
into her eyes when the Purple Emperor waddled into the café of the
Groix Inn.

It was commonly said that he half-starved her. This she denied. Marie
Joseph and 'Fine Lelocard had seen him strike her the day after the
Pardon of the Birds because she had liberated three bullfinches which
he had limed the day before. I asked Lys if this were true, and she
refused to speak to me for the rest of the week. There was nothing to
do about it. If the Purple Emperor had not been avaricious, I should
never have seen Lys at all, but he could not resist the thirty francs
a week which I offered him; and Lys posed for me all day long, happy
as a linnet in a pink thorn hedge. Nevertheless, the Purple Emperor
hated me, and constantly threatened to send Lys back to her dreary
flax-spinning. He was suspicious, too, and when he had gulped down the
single glass of cider which proves fatal to the sobriety of most
Bretons, he would pound the long, discoloured oaken table and roar
curses on me, on Yves Terrec, and on the Red Admiral. We were the
three objects in the world which he most hated: me, because I was a
foreigner, and didn't care a rap for him and his butterflies; and the
Red Admiral, because he was a rival entomologist.

He had other reasons for hating Terrec.

The Red Admiral, a little wizened wretch, with a badly adjusted glass
eye and a passion for brandy, took his name from a butterfly which
predominated in his collection. This butterfly, commonly known to
amateurs as the "Red Admiral," and to entomologists as Vanessa
Atalanta, had been the occasion of scandal among the entomologists of
France and Brittany. For the Red Admiral had taken one of these common
insects, dyed it a brilliant yellow by the aid of chemicals, and
palmed it off on a credulous collector as a South African species,
absolutely unique. The fifty francs which he gained by this rascality
were, however, absorbed in a suit for damages brought by the outraged
amateur month later; and when he had sat in the Quimperlé jail for a
month, he reappeared in the little village of St. Gildas soured,
thirsty, and burning for revenge. Of course we named him the Red
Admiral, and he accepted the name with suppressed fury.

The Purple Emperor, on the other hand, had gained his imperial title
legitimately, for it was an undisputed fact that the only specimen of
that beautiful butterfly, Apatura Iris, or the Purple Emperor, as it
is called by amateurs--the only specimen that had ever been taken in
Finistère or in Morbihan--was captured and brought home alive by
Joseph Marie Gloanec, ever afterward to be known as the Purple
Emperor.

When the capture of this rare butterfly became known the Red Admiral
nearly went crazy. Every day for a week he trotted over to the Groix
Inn, where the Purple Emperor lived with his niece, and brought his
microscope to bear on the rare newly captured butterfly, in hopes of
detecting a fraud. But this specimen was genuine, and he leered
through his microscope in vain.

"No chemicals there, Admiral," grinned the Purple Emperor; and the Red
Admiral chattered with rage.

To the scientific world of Brittany and France the capture of an
Apatura Iris in Morbihan was of great importance. The Museum of
Quimper offered to purchase the butterfly, but the Purple Emperor,
though a hoarder of gold, was a monomaniac on butterflies, and he
jeered at the Curator of the Museum. From all parts of Brittany and
France letters of inquiry and congratulation poured in upon him. The
French Academy of Sciences awarded him a prize, and the Paris
Entomological Society made him an honorary member. Being a Breton
peasant, and a more than commonly pig-headed one at that, these
honours did not disturb his equanimity; but when the little hamlet of
St. Gildas elected him mayor, and, as is the custom in Brittany under
such circumstances, he left his thatched house to take up an official
life in the little Groix Inn, his head became completely turned. To be
mayor in a village of nearly one hundred and fifty people! It was an
empire! So he became unbearable, drinking himself viciously drunk
every night of his life, maltreating his niece, Lys Trevec, like the
barbarous old wretch that he was, and driving the Red Admiral nearly
frantic with his eternal harping, on the capture of Apatura Iris. Of
course he refused to tell where he had caught the butterfly. The Red
Admiral stalked his footsteps, but in vain.

"He! he! he!" nagged the Purple Emperor, cuddling his chin over a
glass of cider; "I saw you sneaking about the St. Gildas spinny
yesterday morning. So you think you can find another Apatura Iris by
running after me? It won't do, Admiral, it won't do, d'ye see?"

The Red Admiral turned yellow with mortification and envy, but the
next day he actually took to his bed, for the Purple Emperor had
brought home not a butterfly but a live chrysalis, which, if
successfully hatched, would become a perfect specimen of the
invaluable Apatura Iris. This was the last straw. The Red Admiral shut
himself up in his little stone cottage, and for weeks now he had been
invisible to everybody except 'Fine Lelocard who carried him a loaf of
bread and a mullet or langouste every morning.

The withdrawal of the Red Admiral from the society of St. Gildas
excited first the derision and finally the suspicion of the Purple
Emperor. What deviltry could he be hatching? Was he experimenting with
chemicals again, or was he engaged in some deeper plot, the object of
which was to discredit the Purple Emperor? Roux, the postman, who
carried the mail on foot once a day from Bannalec, a distance of
fifteen miles each way, had brought several suspicious letters,
bearing English stamps, to the Red Admiral, and the next day the
Admiral had been observed at his window grinning up into the sky and
rubbing his hands together. A night or two after this apparition the
postman left two packages at the Groix Inn for a moment while he ran
across the way to drink a glass of cider with me. The Purple Emperor,
who was roaming about the café, snooping into everything that did not
concern him, came upon the packages and examined the postmarks and
addresses. One of the packages was square and heavy, and felt like a
book. The other was also square, but very light, and felt like a
pasteboard box. They were both addressed to the Red Admiral, and they
bore English stamps.

When Roux, the postman, came back, the Purple Emperor tried to pump
him, but the poor little postman knew nothing about the contents of
the packages, and after he had taken them around the corner to the
cottage of the Red Admiral the Purple Emperor ordered a glass of
cider, and deliberately fuddled himself until Lys came in and
tearfully supported him to his room. Here he became so abusive and
brutal that Lys called to me, and I went and settled the trouble
without wasting any words. This also the Purple Emperor remembered,
and waited his chance to get even with me.

That had happened a week ago, and until to-day he had not deigned to
speak to me.

Lys had posed for me all the week, and today being Saturday, and I
lazy, we had decided to take a little relaxation, she to visit and
gossip with her little black-eyed friend Yvette in the neighbouring
hamlet of St. Julien, and I to try the appetites of the Breton trout
with the contents of my American fly book.

I had thrashed the stream very conscientiously for three hours, but
not a trout had risen to my cast, and I was piqued. I had begun to
believe that there were no trout in the St. Gildas stream, and would
probably have given up had I not seen the sea-trout snap the little
fly which the Purple Emperor had named so scientifically. That set me
thinking. Probably the Purple Emperor was right, for he certainly was
an expert in everything that crawled and wriggled in Brittany. So I
matched, from my American fly book, the fly that the sea-trout had
snapped up, and withdrawing the cast of three, knotted a new leader to
the silk and slipped a fly on the loop. It was a queer fly. It was one
of those unnameable experiments which fascinate anglers in sporting
stores and which generally prove utterly useless. Moreover, it was a
tailed fly, but of course I easily remedied that with a stroke of my
penknife. Then I was all ready, and I stepped out into the hurrying
rapids and cast straight as an arrow to the spot where the sea-trout
had risen. Lightly as a plume the fly settled on the bosom of the
pool; then came a startling splash, a gleam of silver, and the line
tightened from the vibrating rod-tip to the shrieking reel. Almost
instantly I checked the fish, and as he floundered for a moment,
making the water boil along his glittering sides, I sprang to the bank
again, for I saw that the fish was a heavy one and I should probably
be in for a long run down the stream. The five-ounce rod swept in a
splendid circle, quivering under the strain. "Oh, for a gaff-hook!" I
said aloud, for I was now firmly convinced that I had a salmon to deal
with, and no sea-trout at all.

Then as I stood, bringing every ounce to bear on the sulking fish, a
lithe, slender girl came hurriedly along the opposite bank calling out
to me by name.

"Why, Lys!" I said, glancing up for a second, "I thought you were at
St. Julien with Yvette."

"Yvette has gone to Bannalec. I went home and found an awful fight
going on at the Groix Inn, and I was so frightened that I came to,
tell you."

The fish dashed off at that moment, carrying all the line my reel
held, and I was compelled to follow him at a jump. Lys, active and
graceful as a young deer, in spite of her Pont-Aven sabots, followed
along the opposite bank until the fish settled in a deep pool, shook
the line savagely once or twice, and then relapsed into the sulks.

"Fight at the Groix Inn?" I called across the water. "What fight?"

"Not exactly fight," quavered Lys, "but the Red Admiral has come out
of his house at last, and he and my uncle are drinking together and
disputing about butterflies. I never saw my uncle so angry, and the
Red Admiral is sneering and grinning. Oh, it is almost wicked to see
such a face!"

"But Lys," I said, scarcely able to repress a smile, "your uncle and
the Red Admiral are always quarrelling and drinking."

"I know oh, dear me!--but this is different, Monsieur Darrel. The Red
Admiral has grown old and fierce since he shut himself up three weeks
ago, and--oh, dear! I never saw such a look in my uncle's eyes before.
He seemed insane with fury. His eyes--I can't speak of it--and then
Terrec came in."

"Oh," I said more gravely, "that was unfortunate. What did the Red
Admiral say to his son?"

Lys sat down on a rock among the ferns, and gave me a mutinous glance
from her blue eyes.

Yves Terrec, loafer, poacher, and son of Louis Jean Terrec, otherwise
the Red Admiral, had been kicked out by his father, and had also been
forbidden the village by the Purple Emperor, in his majestic capacity
of mayor. Twice the young ruffian had returned: once to rifle the
bedroom of the Purple Emperor--an unsuccessful enterprise--and another
time to rob his own father. He succeeded in the latter attempt, but
was never caught, although he was frequently seen roving about the
forests and moors with his gun. He openly menaced the Purple Emperor;
vowed that he would marry Lys in spite of all gendarmes in Quimperlé;
and these same gendarmes he led many a long chase through brier-filled
swamps and over miles of yellow gorse.

What he did to the Purple Emperor--what he intended to do--disquieted
me but little; but I worried over his threat concerning Lys. During
the last three months this had bothered me a great deal; for when Lys
came to St. Gildas from the convent the first thing she captured was
my heart. For a long time I had refused to believe that any tie of
blood linked this dainty blue-eyed creature with the Purple Emperor.
Although she dressed in the velvet-laced bodice and blue petticoat of
Finistère, and wore the bewitching white coiffe of St. Gildas, it
seemed like a pretty masquerade. To me she was as sweet and as gently
bred as many a maiden of the noble Faubourg who danced with her
cousins at a Louis XV fête champêtre. So when Lys said that Yves
Terrec had returned openly to St. Gildas, I felt that I had better be
there also.

"What did Terrec say, Lys?" I asked, watching the line vibrating above
the placid pool.

The wild rose colour crept into her cheeks. "Oh," she answered, with a
little toss of her chin, "you know what he always says."

"That he will carry you away?"

"Yes."

"In spite of the Purple Emperor, the Red Admiral, and the gendarmes?"

"Yes."

"And what do you say, Lys?"

"I? Oh, nothing."

"Then let me say it for you."

Lys looked at her delicate pointed sabots, the sabots from Pont-Aven,
made to order. They fitted her little foot. They were her only luxury.

"Will you let me answer for you, Lys?" I asked.

"You, Monsieur Darrel?"

"Yes. Will you let me give him his answer?"

"Mon Dieu, why should you concern yourself, Monsieur Darrel?"

The fish lay very quiet, but the rod in my hand trembled.

"Because I love you, Lys."

The wild rose colour in her cheeks deepened; she gave a gentle gasp,
then hid her curly head in her hands.

"I love you, Lys."

"Do you know what you say?" she stammered.

"Yes, I love you."

She raised her sweet face and looked at me across the pool.

"I love you," she said, while the tears stood like stars in her eyes.
"Shall I come over the brook to you?"



Chapter II.



That night Yves Terrec left the village of St. Gildas vowing vengeance
against his father, who refused him shelter.

I can see him now, standing in the road, his bare legs rising like
pillars of bronze from his straw-stuffed sabots, his short velvet
jacket torn and soiled by exposure and dissipation, and his eyes,
fierce, roving, bloodshot--while the Red Admiral squeaked curses on
him, and hobbled away into his little stone cottage.

"I will not forget you!" cried Yves Terrec, and stretched out his hand
toward his father with a terrible gesture. Then he whipped his gun to
his cheek and took a short step forward, but I caught him by the
throat before he could fire, and a second later we were rolling in the
dust of Bannalec road. I had to hit him a heavy blow behind the ear
before he would let go, and then, rising and shaking myself, I dashed
his muzzle-loading fowling piece to bits against a wall, and threw his
knife into the river. The Purple Emperor was looking on with a queer
light in his eyes. It was plain that he was sorry Terrec had not
choked me to death.

"He would have killed his father," I said, as I passed him, going
toward the Groix Inn.

"That's his business," snarled the Purple Emperor. There was a deadly
light in his eyes. For a moment I thought he was going to attack me;
but he was merely viciously drunk, so I shoved him out of my way and
went to bed, tired and disgusted.

The worst of it was I couldn't sleep, for I feared that the Purple
Emperor might begin to abuse Lys. I lay restlessly tossing among the
sheets until I could stay there no longer. I did not dress entirely; I
merely slipped on a pair of chaussons and sabots, a pair of
knickerbockers, a jersey, and a cap. Then, loosely tying a
handkerchief about my throat, I went down the worm-eaten stairs and
out into the moonlit road. There was a candle flaring in the Purple
Emperor's window, but I could not see him.

"He's probably dead drunk," I thought, and looked up at the window
where, three years before, I had first seen Lys.

"Asleep, thank Heaven!" I muttered, and wandered out along the road.
Passing the small cottage of the Red Admiral, I saw that it was dark,
but the door was open. I stepped inside the hedge to shut it,
thinking, in case Yves Terrec should be roving about, his father would
lose whatever he had left.

Then after fastening the door with a stone, I wandered on through the
dazzling Breton moonlight. A nightingale was singing in a willow swamp
below, and from the edge of the mere, among the tall swamp grasses,
myriads of frogs chanted a bass chorus.

When I returned, the eastern sky was beginning to lighten, and across
the meadows on the cliffs, outlined against the paling horizon, I saw
a seaweed gatherer going to his work among the curling breakers on the
coast. His long rake was balanced on his shoulder, and the sea wind
carried his song across the meadows to me:

 St. Gildas!

 St. Gildas!

 Pray for us.

 Shelter us.

Us who toil in the sea.

Passing the shrine at the entrance of the village, I took off my cap and
knelt in prayer to Our Lady of Faöuet; and if I neglected myself in
that prayer, surely I believed Our Lady of Faöuet would be kinder to
Lys. It is said that the shrine casts white shadows. I looked, but saw
only the moonlight. Then very peacefully I went to bed again, and was
only awakened by the clank of sabres and the trample of horses in the
road below my window.

"Good gracious!" I thought, "it must be eleven o'clock, for there are
the gendarmes from Quimperlé."

I looked at my watch; it was only half-past eight, and as the
gendarmes made their rounds every Thursday at eleven, I wondered what
had brought them out so early to St. Gildas.

"Of course," I grumbled, rubbing my eyes, "they are after Terrec," and
I jumped into my limited bath.

Before I was completely dressed I heard a timid knock, and opening my
door, razor in hand, stood astonished and silent. Lys, her blue eyes
wide with terror, leaned on the threshold.

"My darling!" I cried, "what on earth is the matter?" But she only
clung to me, panting like a wounded sea gull. At last, when I drew her
into the room and raised her face to mine, she spoke in a heart-
breaking voice:

"Oh, Dick! they are going to arrest you, but I will die before I
believe one word of what they say. No, don't ask me," and she began to
sob desperately.

When I found that something really serious was the matter, I flung on
my coat and cap, and, slipping one arm about her waist, went down the
stairs and out into the road. Four gendarmes sat on their horses in
front of the café door; beyond them, the entire population of St.
Gildas gaped, ten deep.

"Hello, Durand!" I said to the brigadier, "what the devil is this I
hear about arresting me?"

"It's true, mon ami," replied Durand with sepulchral sympathy. I
looked him over from the tip of his spurred boots to his sulphur-
yellow sabre belt, then upward, button by button, to his disconcerted
face.

"What for?" I said scornfully. "Don't try any cheap sleuth work on me!
Speak up, man, what's the trouble?"

The Emperor, who sat in the doorway staring at me, started to speak,
but thought better of it and got up and went into the house. The
gendarmes rolled their eyes mysteriously and looked wise.

"Come, Durand," I said impatiently, "what's the charge?"

"Murder," he said in a faint voice.

"What!" I cried incredulously. "Nonsense! Do I look like a murderer?
Get off your horse, you stupid, and tell me who's murdered." Durand
got down, looking very silly, and came up to me, offering his hand
with a propitiatory grin.

"It was the Purple Emperor who denounced you! See, they found your
handkerchief at his door--"

"Whose door, for Heaven's sake?" I cried.

"Why, the Red Admiral's!"

"The Red Admiral's? What has he done?"

"Nothing--he's only been murdered."

I could scarcely believe my senses, although they took me over to the
little stone cottage and pointed out the blood-spattered room. But the
horror of the thing was that the corpse of the murdered man had
disappeared, and there only remained a nauseating lake of blood on the
stone floor, in the centre of which lay a human hand. There was no
doubt as to whom the hand belonged, for everybody who had ever seen
the Red Admiral knew that the shrivelled bit of flesh which lay in the
thickening blood was the hand of the Red Admiral. To me it looked like
the severed claw of some gigantic bird.

"Well," I said, "there's been murder committed. Why don't you do
something?"

"What?" asked Durand.

"I don't know. Send for the Commissaire."

"He's at Quimperlé. I telegraphed."

"Then send for a doctor, and find out how long this blood has been
coagulating."

"The chemist from Quimperlé is here; he's a doctor."

"What does he say?"

"He says that he doesn't know."

"And who are you going to arrest?" I inquired, turning away from the
spectacle on the floor.

"I don't know," said the brigadier solemnly; "you are denounced by the
Purple Emperor, because he found your handkerchief at the door when he
went out this morning."

"Just like a pig-headed Breton!" I exclaimed thoroughly angry. "Did he
not mention Yves Terrec?"

"No."

"Of course not," I said. "He overlooked the fact that Terrec tried to
shoot his father last night and that I took away his gun. All that
counts for nothing when he finds my handkerchief at the murdered man's
door."

"Come into the café," said Durand, much disturbed, "we can talk it
over, there. Of course, Monsieur Darrel, I have never had the faintest
idea that you were the murderer!"

The four gendarmes and I walked across the road to the Groix Inn
and entered the café. It was crowded with Britons, smoking, drinking,
and jabbering in half a dozen dialects, all equally unsatisfactory to
a civilized ear; and I pushed through the crowd to where little Max
Fortin, the chemist of Quimperlé, stood smoking a vile cigar.

"This is a bad business," he said, shaking hands and offering me the
mate to his cigar, which I politely declined.

"Now, Monsieur Fortin," I said, "it appears that the Purple Emperor
found my handkerchief near the murdered man's door this morning, and
so he concludes"--here I glared at the Purple Emperor--"that I am the
assassin. I will now ask him a question," and turning on him suddenly,
I shouted, "What were you doing at the Red Admiral's door?"

The Purple Emperor started and turned pale, and I pointed at him
triumphantly.

"See what a sudden question will do. Look how embarrassed he is, and
yet I do not charge him with murder; and I tell you, gentlemen, that
man there knows as well as I do who was the murderer of the Red
Admiral!"

"I don't!" bawled the Purple Emperor.

"You do," I said. "It was Yves Terrec."

"I don't believe it," he said obstinately, dropping his voice.

"Of course not, being pig-headed."

"I am not pig-headed," he roared again, "but I am mayor of St. Gildas,
and I do not believe that Yves Terrec killed his father."

"You saw him try to kill him last night?"

The mayor grunted.

"And you saw what I did."

He grunted again.

"And," I went on, "you heard Yves Terrec threaten to kill his father.
You heard him curse the Red Admiral and swear to kill him. Now the
father is murdered and his body is gone."

"And your handkerchief?" sneered the Purple Emperor.

"I dropped it of course."

"And the seaweed gatherer who saw you last night lurking about the Red
Admiral's cottage," grinned the Purple Emperor.

I was startled at the man's malice.

"That will do," I said. "It is perfectly true that I was walking on
the Bannalec road last night, and that I stopped to close the Red
Admiral's door, which was ajar, although his light was not burning.
After that I went up the road to the Dinez Woods, and then walked over
by St. Julien, whence I saw the seaweed gatherer on the cliffs. He was
near enough for me to hear what he sang. What of that?"

"What did you do then?"

"Then I stopped at the shrine and said a prayer, and then I went to
bed and slept until Brigadier Durand's gendarmes awoke me with their
clatter."

"Now, Monsieur Darrel," said the Purple Emperor, lifting a fat finger
and shooting a wicked glance at me, "Now, Monsieur Darrel, which did
you wear last night on your midnight stroll--sabots or shoes?"

I thought a moment. "Shoes--no, sabots. I just slipped on my chaussons
and went out in my sabots."

"Which was it, shoes or sabots?" snarled the Purple Emperor.

"Sabots, you fool."

"Are these your sabots?" he asked, lifting up a wooden shoe with my
initials cut on the instep.

"Yes," I replied.

"Then how did this blood come on the other one?" he shouted, and held
up a sabot, the mate to the first, on which a drop of blood had
spattered.

"I haven't the least idea," I said calmly; but my heart was beating
very fast and I was furiously angry.

"You blockhead!" I said, controlling my rage, "I'll make you pay for
this when they catch Yves Terrec and convict him. Brigadier Durand, do
your duty if you think I am under suspicion. Arrest me, but grant me
one favour. Put me in the Red Admiral's cottage, and I'll see whether
I can't find some clew that you have overlooked. Of course, I won't
disturb anything until the Commissaire arrives. Bah! You all make me
very ill."

"He's hardened," observed the Purple Emperor, wagging his head.

"What motive had I to kill the Red Admiral?" I asked them all
scornfully. And they all cried:

"None! Yves Terrec is the man!"

Passing out the door I swung around and shook my finger at the Purple
Emperor.

"Oh, I'll make you dance for this, my friend," I said; and I followed
Brigadier Durand across the street to the cottage of the murdered man.



Chapter III.



They took me at my word and placed a gendarme with a bared sabre at
the gateway by the hedge.

"Give me your parole," said poor Durand, "and I will let you go where
you wish." But I refused, and began prowling about the cottage looking
for clews. I found lots of things that some people would have
considered most important, such as ashes from the Red Admiral's pipe,
footprints in a dusty vegetable bin, bottles smelling of Pouldu cider,
and dust--oh lots of dust. I was not an expert, only a stupid,
everyday amateur; so I defaced the footprints with my thick shooting
boots, and I declined to examine the pipe ashes through a microscope,
although the Red Admiral's microscope stood on the table close at
hand.

At last I found what I had been looking for, some long wisps of straw,
curiously depressed and flattened in the middle, and I was certain I
had found the evidence that would settle Yves Terrec for the rest of
his life. It was plain as the nose on your face. The straws were sabot
straws, flattened where the foot had pressed them, and sticking
straight out where they projected beyond the sabot. Now nobody in St.
Gildas used straw in sabots except a fisherman who lived near St.
Julien, and the straw in his sabots was ordinary yellow wheat straw!
This straw, or rather these straws, were from the stalks of the red
wheat which only grows inland, and which, everybody in St. Gildas
knew, Yves Terrec wore in his sabots. I was perfectly satisfied; and
when, three hours later, a hoarse shouting from the Bannalec Road
brought me to the window, I was not surprised to see Yves Terrec,
bloody, dishevelled, hatless, with his strong arms bound behind him,
walking with bent head between two mounted gendarmes. The crowd around
him swelled every minute, crying: "Parricide! parricide! Death to the
murderer!" As he passed my window I saw great clots of mud on his
dusty sabots, from the heels of which projected wisps of red wheat
straw. Then I walked back into the Red Admiral's study, determined to
find what the microscope would show on the wheat straws. I examined
each one very carefully, and then, my eyes aching, I rested my chin on
my hand and leaned back in the chair. I had not been as fortunate as
some detectives, for there was no evidence that the straws had ever
been used in a sabot at all. Furthermore, directly across the hallway
stood a carved Breton chest, and now I noticed for the first time
that, from beneath the closed lid, dozens of similar red wheat straws
projected, bent exactly as mine were bent by the lid.

I yawned in disgust. It was apparent that I was not cut out for a
detective, and I bitterly pondered over the difference between clews
in real life and clews in a detective story. After a while I rose,
walked over to the chest and opened the lid. The interior was wadded
with the red wheat straws, and on this wadding lay two curious glass
jars, two or three small vials, several empty bottles labelled
chloroform, a collecting jar of cyanide of potassium, and a book. In a
farther corner of the chest were some letters bearing English stamps,
and also the torn coverings of two parcels, all from England, and all
directed to the Red Admiral under his proper name of "Sieur Louis Jean
Terrec, St. Gildas, par Moëlan, Finistère."

All these traps I carried over to the desk, shut the lid of the chest,
and sat down to read the letters. They were written in commercial
French, evidently by an Englishman.

Freely translated, the contents of the first letter were as follows:

            "LONDON, June 12, 1894.



  "DEAR MONSIEUR (sic): Your kind favour

of the 19th inst. received and contents

noted. The latest work on the Lepidoptera of

England is Blowzer's How to catch British

Butterflies, with notes and tables, and an

introduction by Sir Thomas Sniffer. The price of

this work (in one volume, calf) is £5 or 125

francs of French money. A post-office order

will receive our prompt attention. We beg to

remain.

     "Yours, etc..

        "FRADLEY TOOMER.

     "470 Regent Square, London, S.W."

The next letter was even less interesting. It merely stated that the
money had been received and the book would be forwarded. The third
engaged my attention, and I shall quote it, the translation being a
free one:

  "DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 1st of July

was duly received, and we at once referred it to

Mr. Fradley himself. Mr. Fradley being much

interested in your question, sent your letter to

Professor Schweineri, of the Berlin Entomological

Society, whose note Blowzer refers to on page

630, in his How to catch British Butterflies. We

have just received an answer from Professor

Schweineri, which we translate into French--(see

inclosed slip). Professor Schweineri begs

to present to you two jars of cythyl, prepared

under his own supervision. We forward the

same to you. Trusting that you will find

everything satisfactory, we remain.

     "Yours sincerely.

         "FRADLEY TOOMER.

The inclosed slip read as follows:

"Messrs. FRADLEY TOOMER.

   "GENTLEMEN: Cythaline, a complex hydrocarbon.

was first used by Professor Schnoot, of

Antwerp, a year ago. I discovered an analogous

formula about the same time and named it cythyl.

I have used it with great success everywhere. It

is as certain as a magnet. I beg to present you

three small jars, and would be pleased to have

you forward two of them to your correspondent

in St. Gildas with my compliments. Blowzer's

quotation of me on page 630 of his glorious

work, How to catch British Butterflies, is correct.

   "Yours, etc.

        "HEINRICH SCHWEINERI.

         P.H.D., D.D., D.S., M.S."

When I had finished this letter I folded it up and put it into my
pocket with the others. Then I opened Blowzer's valuable work, How to
catch British Butterflies, and turned to page 630.

Now, although the Red Admiral could only have acquired the book very
recently, and although all the other pages were perfectly clean, this
particular page was thumbed black, and heavy pencil marks inclosed a
paragraph at the bottom of the page. This the paragraph:

 "Professor Schweineri says: 'Of the two

old methods used by collectors for the capture of

the swift-winged, high-flying Apatura Iris, or

Purple Emperor, the first, which was using a

long-handled net, proved successful once in a

thousand times; and the second, the placing of

bait upon the ground, such as decayed meat.

dead cats, rats, etc., was not only disagreeable.

even for an enthusiastic collector, but also very

uncertain. Once in five hundred times would

the splendid butterfly leave the tops of his

favourite oak trees to circle about the fetid bait

offered. I have found cythyl a perfectly sure

bait to draw this beautiful butterfly to the

ground, where it can be easily captured. An

ounce of cythyl placed in a yellow saucer under

an oak tree, will draw to it every Apatura Iris

within a radius of twenty miles. So, if any

collector who possesses a little cythyl, even

though it be in a sealed bottle in his pocket--if

such a collector does not find a single Apatura

Iris fluttering close about him within an hour.

let him be satisfied that the Apatura Iris does

not inhabit his country.'"

When I had finished reading this note I sat for a long while thinking
hard. Then I examined the two jars. They were labelled "Cythyl." One
was full, the other nearly full. "The rest must be on the corpse of
the Red Admiral," I thought, "no matter if it is in a corked bottle--"

I took all the things back to the chest, laid them carefully on the
straw, and closed the lid. The gendarme sentinel at the gate saluted
me respectfully as I crossed over to the Groix Inn. The inn was
surrounded by an excited crowd, and the hallway was choked with
gendarmes and peasants. On every side they greeted me cordially,
announcing that the real murderer was caught; but I pushed by them
without a word and ran upstairs to find Lys. She opened her door when
I knocked and threw both arms about my neck. I took her to my breast
and kissed her. After a moment I asked her if she would obey me no
matter what I commanded, and she said she would, with a proud humility
that touched me.

"Then go at once to Yvette in St. Julien," I said. "Ask her to harness
the dog-cart and drive to the convent in Quimperlé. Wait for me there.
Will you do this without questioning me, my darling?"

She raised her face to mine. "Kiss me," she said innocently; the next
moment she had vanished.

I walked deliberately into the Purple Emperor's room and peered into
the gauze-covered box which held the chrysalis of Apatura Iris. It was
as I expected. The chrysalis was empty and transparent, and a great
crack ran down the middle of its back, but, on the netting inside the
box, a magnificent butterfly slowly waved its burnished purple wings;
for the chrysalis had given up its silent tenant, the butterfly symbol
of immortality. Then a great fear fell upon me. I know now that it was
the fear of the Black Priest, but neither then nor for years after did
I know that the Black Priest had ever lived on earth. As I bent over
the box I heard a confused murmur outside the house which ended in a
furious shout of "Parricide!" and I heard the gendarmes ride away
behind a wagon which rattled sharply on the flinty highway. I went to
the window. In the wagon sat Yves Terrec, bound and wild-eyed, two
gendarmes at either side of him, and all around the wagon rode mounted
gendarmes whose bared sabres scarcely kept the crowd away.

"Parricide!" they howled. "Let him die!"

I stepped back and opened the gauze-covered box. Very gently but
firmly I took the splendid butterfly by its closed fore wings and
lifted it unharmed between my thumb and forefinger. Then, holding it
concealed behind my back, I went down into the café.

Of all the crowd that had filled it, shouting for the death of Yves
Terrec, only three persons remained seated in front of the huge empty
fireplace. They were the Brigadier Durand, Max Fortin, the chemist of
Quimperlé, and the Purple Emperor. The latter looked abashed when I
entered, but I paid no attention to him and walked straight to the
chemist.

"Monsieur Fortin," I said, "do you know much about hydrocarbons?"

"They are my specialty," he said astonished.

"Have you ever heard of such thing as cythyl?"

"Schweineri's cythyl? Oh, yes! We use it in perfumery."

"Good!" I said. "Has it an odour?"

"No--and yes. One is always aware of its presence, but nobody can
affirm it has an odour. It is curious," he continued, looking at me,
"it is very curious you should have asked me that, for all day I have
been imagining I detected the presence of cythyl."

"Do you imagine so now?" I asked.

"Yes, more than ever."

I sprang to the front door and tossed out the butterfly. The splendid
creature beat the air for a moment, flitted uncertainly hither and
thither, and then, to my astonishment, sailed majestically back into
the café and alighted on the hearthstone. For a moment I was non-
plussed, but when my eyes rested on the Purple Emperor I comprehended
in a flash.

"Lift that hearthstone!" I cried to the Brigadier Durand; "pry it up
with your scabbard!"

The Purple Emperor suddenly fell forward in his chair, his face
ghastly white, his jaw loose with terror.

"What is cythyl?" I shouted, seizing him by the arm; but he plunged
heavily from his chair, face downward on the floor, and at the moment
a cry from the chemist made me turn. There stood the Brigadier Durand,
one hand supporting the hearthstone, one hand raised in horror. There
stood Max Fortin, the chemist, rigid with excitement, and below, in
the hollow bed where the hearthstone had rested, lay a crushed mass of
bleeding human flesh, from the midst of which stared a cheap glass
eye. I seized the Purple Emperor and dragged him to his feet.

"Look!" I cried; "look at your old friend, the Red Admiral!" but he
only smiled in a vacant way, and rolled his head muttering; "Bait for
butterflies! Cythyl! Oh, no, no, no! You can't do it, Admiral, d'ye
see. I alone own the Purple Emperor! I alone am the Purple Emperor!"

And the same carriage that bore me to Quimperlé to claim my bride,
carried him to Quimper, gagged and bound, a foaming, howling lunatic.

.......

This, then, is the story of the Purple Emperor. I might tell you a
pleasanter story if I chose; but concerning the fish that I had hold
of, whether it was a salmon, a grilse, or a sea-trout, I may not say,
because I have promised Lys, and she has promised me, that no power on
earth shall wring from our lips the mortifying confession that the
fish escaped.



THE YELLOW SIGN

Along the shore the cloud waves break.
The twin suns sink behind the lake.
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
Strange is the night where black stars rise.
And strange moons circle through the skies.
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing.
Where flap the tatters of the King.
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead.
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

Cassilda's Song in The King in Yellow.
Act 1. Scene 2.

Being the Contents of an Unsigned Letter Sent to the Author

There are so many things which are impossible to explain! Why should
certain chords in music make me think of the brown and golden tints of
autumn foliage? Why should the Mass of Sainte Cécile send my thoughts
wandering among caverns whose walls blaze with ragged masses of virgin
silver? What was it in the roar and turmoil of Broadway at six o'clock
that flashed before my eyes the picture of a still Breton forest where
sunlight filtered through spring foliage and Silvia bent, half
curiously, half tenderly, over a small green lizard, murmuring: "To
think that this also is a little ward of God!"

When I first saw the watchman his back was toward me. I looked at him
indifferently until he went into the church. I paid no more attention
to him than I had to any other man who lounged through Washington
Square that morning, and when I shut my window and turned back into my
studio I had forgotten him. Late in the afternoon, the day being warm,
I raised the window again and leaned out to get a sniff of air. A man
was standing in the courtyard of the church, and I noticed him again
with as little interest as I had that morning. I looked across the
square to where the fountain was playing and then, with my mind filled
with vague impressions of trees, asphalt drives, and the moving groups
of nursemaids and holidaymakers, I started to walk back to my easel.
As I turned, my listless glance included the man below in the
churchyard. His face was toward me now, and with a perfectly
involuntary movement I bent to see it. At the same moment he raised
his head and looked at me. Instantly I thought of a coffin-worm.
Whatever it was about the man that repelled me I did not know, but the
impression of a plump white grave-worm was so intense and nauseating
that I must have shown it in my expression, for he turned his puffy
face away with a movement which made me think of a disturbed grub in a
chestnut.

I went back to my easel and motioned the model to resume her pose.
After working awhile I was satisfied that I was spoiling what I had
done as rapidly as possible, and I took up a palette knife and scraped
the color out again. The flesh tones were sallow and unhealthy, and I
did not understand how I could have painted such sickly color into a
study which before that had glowed with healthy tones.

I looked at Tessie. She had not changed, and the clear flush of health
dyed her neck and cheeks as I frowned.

"Is it something I've done?" she said.

"No,--I've made a mess of this arm, and for the life of me I can't see
how I came to paint such mud as that into the canvas," I replied.

"Don't I pose well?" she insisted.

"Of course, perfectly."

"Then it's not my fault?"

"No. It's my own."

"I'm very sorry," she said.

I told her she could rest while I applied rag and turpentine to the
plague spot on my canvas, and she went off to smoke a cigarette and
look over the illustrations in the Courier Français.

I did not know whether it was something in the turpentine or a defect
in the canvas, but the more I scrubbed the more that gangrene seemed
to spread. I worked like a beaver to get it out, and yet the disease
appeared to creep from limb to limb of the study before me. Alarmed I
strove to arrest it, but now the color on the breast changed and the
whole figure seemed to absorb the infection as a sponge soaks up
water. Vigorously I plied palette knife, turpentine, and scraper,
thinking all the time what a séance I should hold with Duval who had
sold me the canvas; but soon I noticed that it was not the canvas
which was defective nor yet the colors of Edward. "It must be the
turpentine," I thought angrily, "or else my eyes have become so
blurred and confused by the afternoon light that I can't see
straight." I called Tessie, the model. She came and leaned over my
chair blowing rings of smoke into the air.

"What have you been doing to it?" she exclaimed.

"Nothing," I growled, "it must be this turpentine!"

"What a horrible color it is now," she continued. "Do you think my
flesh resembles green cheese?"

"No, I don't," I said angrily, "did you ever know me to paint like
that before?"

"No, indeed!"

"Well, then!"

"It must be the turpentine, or something," she admitted. She slipped
on a Japanese robe and walked to the window. I scraped and rubbed
until I was tired and finally picked up my brushes and hurled them
through the canvas with a forcible expression, the tone alone of which
reached Tessie's ears.

Nevertheless she promptly began: "That's it! Swear and act silly and
ruin your brushes! You have been three weeks on that study, and now
look! What's the good of ripping the canvas? What creatures artists
are!"

I felt about as much ashamed as I usually did after such an outbreak,
and I turned the ruined canvas to the wall. Tessie helped me clean my
brushes, and then danced away to dress. From the screen she regaled me
with bits of advice concerning whole or partial loss of temper, until,
thinking, perhaps, I had been tormented sufficiently, she came out to
implore me to button her waist where she could not reach it on the
shoulder.

"Everything went wrong from the time you came back from the window and
talked about that horrid-looking man you saw in the churchyard," she
announced.

"Yes, he probably bewitched the picture," I said, yawning. I looked at
my watch.

"It's after six, I know," said Tessie, adjusting her hat before the
mirror.

"Yes," I replied, "I didn't mean to keep you so long." I leaned out of
the window but recoiled with disgust, for the young man with the pasty
face stood below in the churchyard. Tessie saw my gesture of
disapproval and leaned from the window.

"Is that the man you don't like?" she whispered.

I nodded.

"I can't see his face, but he does look fat and soft. Someway or
other," she continued, turning to look at me, "he reminds me of a
dream,--an awful dream I once had. Or," she mused, looking down at her
shapely shoes, "was it a dream after all?"

"How should I know?" I smiled.

Tessie smiled in reply.

"You were in it," she said, "so perhaps you might know something about
it."

"Tessie! Tessie!" I protested, "don't you dare flatter by saying you
dream about me!"

"But I did," she insisted; "shall I tell you about it?"

"Go ahead," I replied, lighting a cigarette.

Tessie leaned back on the open window-sill and began very seriously.

"One night last winter I was lying in bed thinking about nothing at
all in particular. I had been posing for you and I was tired out, yet
it seemed impossible for me to sleep. I heard the bells in the city
ring ten, eleven, and midnight. I must have fallen asleep about
midnight because I don't remember hearing the bells after that. It
seemed to me that I had scarcely closed my eyes when I dreamed that
something impelled me to go to the window. I rose, and raising the
sash, leaned out. Twenty-fifth Street was deserted as far as I could
see. I began to be afraid; everything outside seemed so--so black and
uncomfortable. Then the sound of wheels in the distance came to my
ears, and it seemed to me as though that was what I must wait for.
Very slowly the wheels approached, and, finally, I could make out a
vehicle moving along the street. It came nearer and nearer, and when
it passed beneath my window I saw it was a hearse. Then, as I trembled
with fear, the driver turned and looked straight at me. When I awoke I
was standing by the open window shivering with cold, but the black-
plumed hearse and the driver were gone. I dreamed this dream again in
March last, and again awoke beside the open window. Last night the
dream came again. You remember how it was raining; when I awoke,
standing at the open window, my nightdress was soaked."

"But where did I come into the dream?" I asked.

"You--you were in the coffin; but you were not dead."

"In the coffin?"

"Yes."

"How did you know? Could you see me?"

"No; I only knew you were there."

"Had you been eating Welsh rarebits, or lobster salad?" I began
laughing, but the girl interrupted me with a frightened cry.

"Hello! What's up?" I said, as she shrank into the embrasure by the
window.

"The--the man below in the churchyard;--he drove the hearse."

"Nonsense," I said, but Tessie's eyes were wide with terror. I went to
the window and looked out. The man was gone. "Come, Tessie," I urged,
"don't be foolish. You have posed too long; you are nervous."

"Do you think I could forget that face?" she murmured. "Three times I
saw the hearse pass below my window, and every time the driver turned
and looked up at me. Oh, his face was so white and--and soft? It
looked dead--it looked as if it had been dead a long time."

I induced the girl to sit down and swallow a glass of Marsala. Then I
sat down beside her, and tried to give her some advice.

"Look here, Tessie," I said, "you go to the country for a week or two,
and you'll have no more dreams about hearses. You pose all day, and
when night comes your nerves are upset. You can't keep this up. Then
again, instead of going to bed when your day's work is done, you run
off to picnics at Sulzer's Park, or go to the Eldorado or Coney
Island, and when you come down here next morning you are fagged out.
There was no real hearse. That was a soft-shell-crab dream."

She smiled faintly.

"What about the man in the churchyard?"

"Oh, he's only an ordinary unhealthy, everyday creature."

"As true as my name is Tessie Reardon, I swear to you, Mr. Scott, that
the face of the man below in the churchyard is the face of the man who
drove the hearse!"

"What of it?" I said. "It's an honest trade."

"Then you think I did see the hearse?"

"Oh," I said, diplomatically, "if you really did, it might not be
unlikely that the man below drove it. There is nothing in that."

Tessie rose, unrolled her scented handkerchief, and taking a bit of
gum from a knot in the hem, placed it in her mouth. Then drawing on
her gloves she offered me her hand, with a frank, "Good-night, Mr.
Scott," and walked out.

II The next morning, Thomas, the bellboy, brought me the Herald and a
bit of news. The church next door had been sold. I thanked Heaven for
it, not that being a Catholic I had any repugnance for the
congregation next door, but because my nerves were shattered by a
blatant exhorter, whose every word echoed through the aisle of the
church as if it had been my own rooms, and who insisted on his r's
with a nasal persistence which revolted my every instinct. Then, too,
there was a fiend in human shape, an organist, who reeled off some of
the grand old hymns with an interpretation of his own, and I longed
for the blood of a creature who could play the doxology with an
amendment of minor chords which one hears only in a quartet of very
young undergraduates. I believe the minister was a good man, but when
he bellowed: "And the Lorrrrd said unto Moses, the Lorrrd is a man of
war; the Lorrrd is his name. My wrath shall wax hot and I will kill
you with the sworrrd!" I wondered how many centuries of purgatory it
would take to atone for such a sin.

"Who bought the property?" I asked Thomas.

"Nobody that I knows, sir. They do say the gent wot owns this 'ere
'Amilton flats was lookin' at it. 'E might be a bildin' more studios."

I walked to the window. The young man with the unhealthy face stood by
the churchyard gate, and at the mere sight of him the same
overwhelming repugnance took possession of me.

"By the way, Thomas," I said, "who is that fellow down there?"

Thomas sniffed. "That there worm, sir? 'E's night-watchman of the
church, sir. 'E maikes me tired a-sittin' out all night on them steps
and lookin' at you insultin' like. I'd a punched 'is 'ed, sir--beg
pardon, sir--"

"Go on, Thomas."

"One night a comin' 'ome with 'Arry, the other English boy, I sees 'im
a sittin' there on them steps. We 'ad Molly and Jen with us, sir, the
two girls on the tray service, an' 'e looks so insultin' at us that I
up and sez: 'Wat you looking hat, you fat slug?'--beg pardon, sir, but
that's 'ow I sez, sir. Then 'e don't say nothin' and I sez; 'Come out
and I'll punch that puddin' 'ed.' Then I hopens the gate an' goes in,
but 'e don't say nothin', only looks insultin' like. Then I 'its 'im
one, but, ugh! 'is 'ed was that cold and mushy it ud sicken you to
touch 'im."

"What did he do then?" I asked, curiously.

"'Im? Nawthin'."

"And you, Thomas?"

The young fellow flushed with embarrassment and smiled uneasily.

"Mr. Scott, sir, I ain't no coward an' I can't make it out at all why
I run. I was in the 5th Lawncers, sir, bugler at Tel-el-Kebir, an' was
shot by the wells."

"You don't mean to say you ran away?"

"Yes, sir; I run."

"Why?"

"That's just what I want to know, sir. I grabbed Molly an' run, an'
the rest was as frightened as I."

"But what were they frightened at?"

Thomas refused to answer for a while, but now my curiosity was aroused
about the repulsive young man below and I pressed him. Three years'
sojourn in America had not only modified Thomas' cockney dialect but
had given him the American's fear of ridicule.

"You won't believe me, Mr. Scott, sir?"

"Yes, I will."

"You will lawf at me, sir?"

"Nonsense!"

He hesitated. "Well, sir, it's God's truth that when I 'it 'im 'e
grabbed me wrists, sir, and when I twisted 'is soft, mushy fist one of
'is fingers come off in me 'and."

The utter loathing and horror of Thomas' face must have been reflected
in my own for he added: "It's orful, an' now when I see 'im I just go
away. 'E maikes me hill."

When Thomas had gone I went to the window. The man stood beside the
church-railing with both hands on the gate, but I hastily retreated to
my easel again, sickened and horrified, for I saw that the middle
finger of his right hand was missing.

At nine o'clock Tessie appeared and vanished behind the screen with a
merry "Good-morning, Mr. Scott." While she had reappeared and taken
her pose upon the model-stand I started a new canvas much to her
delight. She remained silent as long as I was on the drawing, but as
soon as the scrape of the charcoal ceased and I took up my fixative
she began to chatter.

"Oh, I had such a lovely time last night. We went to Tony Pastor's."

"Who are 'we'?" I demanded.

"Oh, Maggie, you know, Mr. Whyte's model, and Pinkie McCormick--we
call her Pinkie because she's got that beautiful red hair you artists
like so much--and Lizzie Burke."

I sent a shower of spray from the fixative over the canvas and said:
"Well, go on."

"We saw Kelly and Baby Barnes the skirt-dancer and--and all the rest.
I made a mash."

"Then you have gone back on me, Tessie?"

She laughed and shook her head.

"He's Lizzie Burke's brother, Ed. He's a perfect gen'l'man."

I felt constrained to give her some parental advice concerning
mashing, which she took with a bright smile.

"Oh, I can take care of a strange mash," she said, examining her
chewing gum, "but Ed is different. Lizzie is my best friend."

Then she related how Ed had come back from the stocking mill in
Lowell, Massachusetts, to find her and Lizzie grown up, and what an
accomplished young man he was, and how he thought nothing of
squandering half a dollar for ice-cream and oysters to celebrate his
entry as clerk into the woolen department of Macy's. Before she
finished I began to paint, and she resumed the pose, smiling and
chattering like a sparrow. By noon I had the study fairly well rubbed
in and Tessie came to look at it.

"That's better," she said.

I thought so too, and ate my lunch with a satisfied feeling that all
was going well. Tessie spread her lunch on a drawing table opposite me
and we drank our claret from the same bottle and lighted our
cigarettes from the same match. I was very much attached to Tessie. I
had watched her shoot up into a slender but exquisitely formed woman
from a frail, awkward child.

She had posed for me during the last three years, and among all my
models she was my favorite.

It would have troubled me very much indeed had she become "tough" or
"fly," as the phrase goes, but I never noticed any deterioration of
her manner, and felt at heart that she was all right.

She and I never discussed morals at all, and I had no intention of
doing so, partly because I had none myself, and partly because I knew
she would do what she liked in spite of me. Still I did hope she would
steer clear of complications, because I wished her well, and then also
I had a selfish desire to retain the best model I had. I knew that
mashing, as she termed it, had no significance with girls like Tessie,
and that such things in America did not resemble in the least the same
things in Paris. Yet, having lived with my eyes open, I also knew that
somebody would take Tessie away some day, in one manner or another,
and though I professed to myself that marriage was nonsense, I
sincerely hoped that, in this case, there would be a priest at the end
of the vista. I am a Catholic. When I listen to high mass, when I sign
myself, I feel that everything, including myself, is more cheerful,
and when I confess, it does me good. A man who lives as much alone as
I do, must confess to somebody. Then, again, Sylvia was Catholic, and
it was reason enough for me. But I was speaking of Tessie, which is
very different. Tessie also was Catholic and much more devout than I,
so, taking it all in all, I had little fear for my pretty model until
she should fall in love. But then I knew that fate alone would decide
her future for her, and I prayed inwardly that fate would keep her
away from men like me and throw into her path nothing but Ed Burkes
and Jimmy McCormicks, bless her sweet face!

Tessie sat blowing rings of smoke up to the ceiling and tinkling the
ice in her tumbler.

"Do you know, Kid, that I also had a dream last night?" I observed. I
sometimes called her "the Kid."

"Not about that man," she laughed.

"Exactly. A dream similar to yours, only much worse."

It was foolish and thoughtless of me to say this, but you know how
little tact the average painter has.

"I must have fallen asleep about 10 o'clock," I continued, "and after
awhile I dreamt that I awoke. So plainly did I hear the midnight
bells, the wind in the tree-branches, and the whistle of steamers from
the bay, that even now I can scarcely believe I was not awake. I
seemed to be lying in a box which had a glass cover. Dimly I saw the
street lamps as I passed, for I must tell you, Tessie, the box in
which I reclined appeared to lie in a cushioned wagon which jolted me
over a stony pavement. After a while I became impatient and tried to
move but the box was too narrow. My hands were crossed on my breast so
I could not raise them to help myself. I listened and then tried to
call. My voice was gone. I could hear the trample of the horses
attached to the wagon and even the breathing of the driver. Then
another sound broke upon my ears like the raising of a window sash. I
managed to turn my head a little, and found I could look, not only
through the glass cover of my box, but also through the glass panes in
the side of the covered vehicle. I saw houses, empty and silent, with
neither light nor life about any of them excepting one. In that house
a window was open on the first floor and a figure all in white stood
looking down into the street. It was you."

Tessie had turned her face away from me and leaned on the table with
her elbow.

"I could see your face," I resumed, "and it seemed to me to be very
sorrowful. Then we passed on and turned into a narrow black lane.
Presently the horses stopped. I waited and waited, closing my eyes
with fear and impatience, but all was silent as the grave. After what
seemed to me hours, I began to feel uncomfortable. A sense that
somebody was close to me made me unclose my eyes. Then I saw the white
face of the hearse-driver looking at me through the coffin-lid--"

A sob from Tessie interrupted me. She was trembling like a leaf. I saw
I had made an ass of myself and attempted to repair the damage.

"Why, Tess," I said, "I only told you this to show you what influence
your story might have on another person's dreams. You don't suppose I
really lay in a coffin, do you? What are you trembling for? Don't you
see that your dream and my unreasonable dislike for that inoffensive
watchman of the church simply set my brain working as soon as I fell
asleep?" She laid her head between her arms and sobbed as if her heart
would break. What a precious triple donkey I had made of myself! But I
was about to break my record. I went over and put my arm about her.

"Tessie dear, forgive me," I said; "I had no business to frighten you
with such nonsense. You are too sensible a girl, too good a Catholic
to believe in dreams."

Her hand tightened on mine and her head fell back upon my shoulder,
but she still trembled and I petted her and comforted her.

"Come, Tess, open your eyes and smile."

Her eyes opened with a slow languid movement and met mine, but their
expression was so queer that I hastened to reassure her again.

"It's all humbug, Tessie, you surely are not afraid that any harm will
come to you because of that."

"No," she said, but her scarlet lips quivered.

"Then what's the matter? Are you afraid?"

"Yes. Not for myself."

"For me, then?" I demanded gayly.

"For you," she murmured in a voice almost inaudible, "I--I care--for
you."

At first I started to laugh, but when I understood her, a shock passed
through me and I sat like one turned to stone. This was the crowning
bit of idiocy I had committed. During the moment which elapsed between
her reply and my answer I thought of a thousand responses to that
innocent confession. I could pass it by with a laugh, I could
misunderstand her and reassure her as to my health, I could simply
point out that it was impossible she could love me. But my reply was
quicker than my thoughts, and I might think and think now when it was
too late, for I had kissed her on the mouth.

That evening I took my usual walk in Washington Park, pondering over
the occurrences of the day. I was thoroughly committed. There was no
backing out now, and I stared the future straight in the face. I was not
good, not even scrupulous, but I had no idea of deceiving either
myself or Tessie. The one passion of my life lay buried in the sunlit
forests of Brittany. Was it buried forever? Hope cried "No!" For three
years I had been listening to the voice of Hope, and for three years I
had waited for a footstep on my threshold. Had Sylvia forgotten? "No!"
cried Hope.

I said that I was not good. That is true, but still I was not exactly
a comic opera villain. I had led an easy-going reckless life, taking
what invited me of pleasure, deploring and sometimes bitterly
regretting consequences. In one thing alone, except my painting, was I
serious, and that was something which lay hidden if not lost in the
Breton forests.

It was too late now for me to regret what had occurred during the day.
Whatever it had been, pity, a sudden tenderness for sorrow, or the
more brutal instinct of gratified vanity, it was all the same now, and
unless I wished to bruise an innocent heart my path lay marked before
me. The fire and strength, the depth of passion of a love which I had
never even suspected, with all my imagined experience in the world,
left me no alternative but to respond or send her away.

Whether because I am so cowardly about giving pain to others, or
whether it was that I have little of the gloomy Puritan in me, I do
not know, but I shrank from disclaiming responsibility for that
thoughtless kiss, and in fact had no time to do so before the gates of
her heart opened and the flood poured forth. Others who habitually do
their duty and find a sullen satisfaction in making themselves and
everybody else unhappy, might have withstood it. I did not. I dared
not. After the storm had abated I did tell her that she might better
have loved Ed Burke and worn a plain gold ring, but she would not hear
of it, and I thought perhaps that as long as she had decided to love
somebody she could not marry, it had better be me. I, at least, could
treat her with an intelligent affection, and whenever she became tired
of her infatuation she could go none the worse for it.

For I was decided on that point although I knew how hard it would be.
I remembered the usual termination of Platonic liaisons and thought
how disgusted I had been whenever I heard of one. I knew I was
undertaking a great deal for so unscrupulous a man as I was, and I
dreaded the future, but never for one moment did I doubt that she was
safe with me. Had it been anybody but Tessie I should not have
bothered my head about scruples. For it did not occur to me to
sacrifice Tessie as I would have sacrificed a woman of the world. I
looked the future squarely in the face and saw the several probable
endings to the affair. She would either tire of the whole thing, or
become so unhappy that I should have either to marry her or go away.
If I married her we would be unhappy. I with a wife unsuited to me,
and she with a husband unsuitable for any woman. For my past life
could scarcely entitle me to marry. If I went away she might either
fall ill, recover, and marry some Eddie Burke, or she might recklessly
or deliberately go and do something foolish. On the other hand if she
tired of me, then her whole life would be before her with beautiful
vistas of Eddie Burkes and marriage rings and twins and Harlem flats
and Heaven knows what. As I strolled along through the trees by the
Washington Arch, I decided that she should find a substantial friend
in me anyway and the future could take care of itself. Then I went
into the house and put on my evening dress for the little faintly
perfumed note on my dresser said, "Have a cab at the stage door at
eleven," and the note was signed "Edith Carmichael, Metropolitan
Theater, June 19th, 189--."

I took supper that night, or rather we took supper, Miss Carmichel and
I, at Solari's and the dawn was just beginning to gild the cross on
the Memorial Church as I entered Washington Square after leaving Edith
at the Brunswick. There was not a soul in the park as I passed among
the trees and took the walk which leads from the Garibaldi statue to
the Hamilton Apartment House, but as I passed the churchyard I saw a
figure sitting on the stone steps. In spite of myself a chill crept
over me at the sight of the white puffy face, and I hastened to pass.
Then he said something which might have been addressed to me or might
merely have been a mutter to himself, but a sudden furious anger
flamed up within me that such a creature should address me.

For an instant I felt like wheeling about and smashing my stick over
his head, but I walked on, and entering the Hamilton went to my
apartment. For some time I tossed about the bed trying to get the
sound of his voice out of my ears, but could not. It filled my head,
that muttering sound, like thick oily smoke from a fat-rendering vat
or an odor of noisome decay. And as I lay and tossed about, the voice
in my ears seemed more distinct, and I began to understand the words
he had muttered. They came to me slowly as if I had forgotten them,
and at last I could make some sense out of the sounds. It was this:

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

"Have you found the Yellow Sign?"

I was furious. What did he mean by that? Then with a curse upon him
and his I rolled over and went to sleep, but when I awoke later I
looked pale and haggard, for I had dreamed the dream of the night
before and it troubled me more than I cared to think.

I dressed and went down into my studio. Tessie sat by the window, but
as I came in she rose and put both arms around my neck for an innocent
kiss. She looked so sweet and dainty that I kissed her again and then
sat down before the easel.

"Hello! Where's the study I began yesterday?" I asked.

Tessie looked conscious, but did not answer. I began to hunt among the
piles of canvases, saying, "Hurry up, Tess, and get ready; we must
take advantage of the morning light."

When at last I gave up the search among the other canvases and turned
to look around the room for the missing study I noticed Tessie
standing by the screen with her clothes still on.

"What's the matter," I asked, "don't you feel well?"

"Yes."

"Then hurry."

"Do you want me to pose as--as I have always posed?"

Then I understood. Here was a new complication. I had lost, of course,
the best nude model I had ever seen. I looked at Tessie. Her face was
scarlet. Alas! Alas! We had eaten of the tree of knowledge, and Eden
and native innocence were dreams of the past--I mean--for her.

I suppose she noticed the disappointment on my face, for she said: "I
will pose if you wish. The study is behind the screen here where I put
it."

"No," I said, "we will begin something new;" and I went into my
wardrobe and picked out a Moorish costume which fairly blazed with
tinsel. It was a genuine costume, and Tessie retired to the screen
with it enchanted. When she came forth again I was astonished. Her
long black hair was bound above her forehead with a circlet of
turquoises, and the ends curled about her glittering girdle. Her feet
were encased in the embroidered pointed slippers and the skirt of her
costume, curiously wrought with arabesques in silver, fell to her
ankles. The deep metallic blue vest embroidered with silver and the
short Mauresque jacket spangled and sewn with turquoises became her
wonderfully. She came up to me and held up her face smiling. I slipped
my hand into my pocket and drawing out a gold chain with a cross
attached, dropped it over her head.

"It's yours, Tessie."

"Mine?" she faltered.

"Yours. Now go and pose." Then with a radiant smile she ran behind the
screen and presently reappeared with a little box on which was written
my name.

"I had intended to give it to you when I went home tonight," she said,
"but I can't wait now."

I opened the box. On the pink cotton inside lay a clasp of black onyx,
on which was inlaid a curious symbol or letter in gold. It was neither
Arabic nor Chinese, nor as I found afterwards did it belong to any
human script.

"It's all I had to give you for a keepsake," she said, timidly.

I was annoyed, but I told her how much I should prize it, and promised
to wear it always. She fastened it on my coat beneath the lapel.

"How foolish, Tess, to go and buy me such a beautiful thing as this,"
I said.

"I did not buy it," she laughed.

"Where did you get it?"

Then she told me how she had found it one day while coming from the
Aquarium in the Battery, how she had advertised it and watched the
papers, but at last gave up all hopes of finding the owner.

"That was last winter," she said, "the very day I had the first horrid
dream about the hearse."

I remembered my dream of the previous night but said nothing, and
presently my charcoal was flying over a new canvas, and Tessie stood
motionless on the model-stand.

III The day following was a disastrous one for me. While moving a
framed canvas from one easel to another my foot slipped on the
polished floor and I fell heavily on both wrists. They were so badly
sprained that it was useless to attempt to hold a brush, and I was
obliged to wander about the studio, glaring at unfinished drawings and
sketches until despair seized me and I sat down to smoke and twiddle
my thumbs with rage. The rain blew against the windows and rattled on
the roof of the church, driving me into a nervous fit with its
interminable patter. Tessie sat sewing by the window, and every now
and then raised her head and looked at me with such innocent
compassion that I began to feel ashamed of my irritation and looked
about for something to occupy me. I had read all the papers and all
the books in the library, but for the sake of something to do I went
to the bookcases and shoved them open with my elbow. I knew every
volume by its color and examined them all, passing slowly around the
library and whistling to keep up my spirits. I was turning to go into
the dining-room when my eye fell upon a book bound in yellow, standing
in a corner of the top shelf of the last bookcase. I did not remember
it and from the floor could not decipher the pale lettering on the
back, so I went to the smoking-room and called Tessie. She came in
from the studio and climbed up to reach the book.

"What is it?" I asked.

"The King in Yellow."

I was dumbfounded. Who had placed it there? How came it in my rooms? I
had long ago decided that I should never open that book, and nothing
on earth could have persuaded me to buy it. Fearful lest curiosity
might tempt me to open it, I had never even looked at it in book-
stores. If I ever had had any curiosity to read it, the awful tragedy
of young Castaigne, whom I knew, prevented me from exploring its
wicked pages. I had always refused to listen to any description of it,
and indeed, nobody ever ventured to discuss the second part aloud, so
I had absolutely no knowledge of what those leaves might reveal. I
stared at the poisonous yellow binding as I would at a snake.

"Don't touch it, Tessie," I said, "come down."

Of course my admonition was enough to arouse her curiosity, and before
I could prevent it she took the book and, laughing, danced away into
the studio with it. I called to her but she slipped away with a
tormenting smile at my helpless hands, and I followed her with some
impatience.

"Tessie!" I cried, entering the library, "listen, I am serious. Put
that book away. I do not wish you to open it!" The library was empty.
I went into both drawing-rooms, then into the bedrooms, laundry,
kitchen, and finally returned to the library and began a systematic
search. She had hidden herself so well that it was half an hour later
when I discovered her crouching white and silent by the latticed
window in the store-room above. At the first glance I saw she had been
punished for her foolishness. The King in Yellow lay at her feet, but
the book was open at the second part. I looked at Tessie and saw it
was too late. She had opened The King in Yellow. Then I took her by
the hand and led her into the studio. She seemed dazed, and when I
told her to lie down on the sofa she obeyed me without a word. After a
while she closed her eyes and her breathing became regular and deep,
but I could not determine whether or not she slept. For a long while I
sat silently beside her, but she neither stirred nor spoke, and at
last I rose and entering the unused store-room took the yellow book in
my least injured hand. It seemed heavy as lead, but I carried it into
the studio again, and sitting down on the rug beside the sofa, opened
it and read it through from beginning to end.

When, faint with the excess of my emotions, I dropped the volume and
leaned wearily back against the sofa, Tessie opened her eyes and
looked at me.

We had been speaking for some time in a dull monotonous strain before
I realized that we were discussing The King in Yellow. Oh the sin of
writing such words,--words which are clear as crystal, limpid and
musical as bubbling springs, words which sparkle and glow like the
poisoned diamonds of the Medicis! Oh the wickedness, the hopeless
damnation of a soul who could fascinate and paralyze human creatures
with such words,--words understood by the ignorant and wise alike,
words which are more precious than jewels, more soothing than Heavenly
music, more awful than death itself.

We talked on, unmindful of the gathering shadows, and she was begging
me to throw away the clasp of black onyx quaintly inlaid with what we
now knew to be the Yellow Sign. I never shall know why I refused,
though even at this hour, here in my bedroom as I write this
confession, I should be glad to know what it was that prevented me
from tearing the Yellow Sign from my breast and casting it into the
fire. I am sure I wished to do so, but Tessie pleaded with me in vain.

Night fell and the hours dragged on, but still we murmured to each
other of the King and the Pallid Mask, and midnight sounded from the
misty spires in the fog-wrapped city. We spoke of Hastur and of
Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled against the blank window-panes
as the cloud waves roll and break on the shores of Hali.

The house was very silent now and not a sound from the misty streets
broke the silence. Tessie lay among the cushions, her face a gray blot
in the gloom, but her hands were clasped in mine and I knew that she
knew and read my thoughts as I read hers, for we had understood the
mystery of the Hyades and the Phantom of Truth was laid. Then as we
answered each other, swiftly, silently, thought on thought, the
shadows stirred in the gloom about us, and far in the distant streets
we heard a sound. Nearer and nearer it came, the dull crunching of
wheels, nearer and yet nearer, and now, outside before the door it
ceased, and I dragged myself to the window and saw a black-plumed
hearse. The gate below opened and shut, and I crept shaking to my door
and bolted it, but I knew no bolts, no locks, could keep that creature
out who was coming for the Yellow Sign. And now I heard him moving
very softly along the hall. Now he was at the door, and the bolts
rotted at his touch. Now he had entered. With eyes starting from my
head I peered into the darkness, but when he came into the room I did
not see him. It was only when I felt him envelop me in his cold soft
grasp that I cried out and struggled with deadly fury, but my hands
were useless and he tore the onyx clasp from my coat and struck me
full in the face. Then, as I fell, I heard Tessie's soft cry and her
spirit fled to God, and even while falling I longed to follow her, for
I knew that the King in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and
there was only Christ to cry to now.

I could tell more, but I cannot see what help it will be to the world.
As for me I am past human help or hope. As I lie here, writing,
careless even whether or not I die before I finish, I can see the
doctor gathering up his powders and phials with a vague gesture to the
good priest beside me, which I understand.

They will be very curious to know the tragedy--they of the outside
world who write books and print millions of newspapers, but I shall
write no more, and the father confessor will seal my last words with
the seal of sanctity when his holy office is done. They of the outside
world may send their creatures into wrecked homes and death-smitten
firesides, and their newspapers will batten on blood and tears, but
with me their spies must halt before the confessional. They know that
Tessie is dead and that I am dying. They know how the people in the
house, aroused by an infernal scream, rushed into my room and found
one living and two dead, but they do not know what I shall tell them
now; they do not know that the doctor said as he pointed to a horrible
decomposed heap on the floor--the livid corpse of the watchman from
the church: "I have no theory, no explanation. That man must have been
dead for months!"

I think I am dying. I wish the priest would--



THE END




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